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AFRICANISTS IN COUNCIL

The sixth International Geographical Congress, which met in London towards the close of July, included among its delegates and members a majority of the leading geographers of the world. On no previous occasion, probably, have so many geographers assembled in congress to discuss the progress and some of the outstanding problems of their science.

Of the two subjects that received exceptional attention-Polar Exploration, and the Development of Tropical Africa—the latter was, perhaps, the more popular, on account of its intense human interest and practical importance to the community.

The question submitted some months beforehand to a selected number of exponents was : To what extent is Tropical Africa suited for development by the White races or under their superintendence ?

Those who took part in the debate represented two schools of experience—the theoretical and the practical : the geographer and the pioneer. A considerable divergence of opinion was consequently elicited, not only on what constituted the elemental factors of the problem, but also in regard to numberless details concerning the exploitation of Inner Africa. The selected speakers were : Sir John Kirk, who introduced the subject ; Count von Pfeil, one of the founders of German Colonial policy ; Mr. E. G. Ravenstein; Mr. Lionel Dècle, who walked from the Cape to Uganda ; Mr. H. M. Stanley, and myself. All, with the exception of Mr. Stanley and Mr. Ravenstein, who spoke extempore, had prepared special papers. Captain Lugard, who was present, collaborated with Sir John Kirk; Slatin Pasha spoke only of his personal experiences in the Sudan ; whilst Mr. Scott Keltie was prevented by pressure of work, as Secretary to the Congress, from contributing the paper he had contemplated.

It was not to be expected that anything new would be elicited from this organised discussion ; but, owing to the character of the meeting, it was certain that the subject would receive adequate treatment. In that respect the audience may have been satisfied; but it rested with them to draw, each for himself, his own conclusions, since no attempt was made to sum up the results and to pronounce a verdict on the points of agreement and disagreement between the various speakers. That is a task I have set myself to perform in this paper.

Ten years ago the geography and politics of Tropical Africa were left largely to experts for discussion ; but nowadays no journalist who respects himself hesitates to tackle these subjects. He does not stop to inquire whether he is properly equipped for the purpose. He boldly adopts the dicta of men who 'ought to know,' as, for instance, explorers, who are more or less intimately acquainted with the districts through which they have passed, but who are apt to generalise rather hastily in regard to regions they have never visited and to which their generalisations do not always apply. The consequence is, that popular ideas on the development of African lands are frequently based on false principles or on the sanguine expectations of company promoters, platform crators, and other interested or unreliable persons. Thus, under the guise of philanthropy, of patriotism, and of national commercial enterprise, many premature and ill-conceived schemes have received the imprimatur of public approbation; whilst those who raise their voices in denunciation of them are too often regarded as being bigoted, unpatriotic, and decadent. To advance into Africa without due regard to national responsibilities, under the illusory hope that all will come right in the end-since, forsooth, the British Empire has been built up by adventurers '-is a dictum very difficult to combat, because those who support this opportunist policy are unaccustomed to look very far ahead. So long as some immediate end is to be gained, either by the bold pioneers or by the philanthropists and speculators who finance them, a sufficient excuse can be found for staking so intangible a thing as national honour and for risking so impersonal a consideration as commercial credit.

It is, therefore, highly desirable that unromantic geographers, who sit quietly at home and take stock of these movements, should occasionally be called into the councils of a nation whose ambition for foreign conquests may occasionally outstripits discretion. Equipped with precise knowledge, which cannot be imposed upon, and trained by long experience to weigh evidence, geographers are in a position to regard such problems from an impersonal and academic point of view: comparative geography is, in fact, the best prophylactic against earth-hunger. The superficial critic, on the other hand, being unable to detect general principles underlying all popular and national movements, too often invests the leading actors or pioneers with a prescience to which they cannot lay claim, since the mainspring of their actions

| The component factors of the problem cover the following wide range of sub. jects : (1) the climatology of Tropical Africa ; (2) tropical hygiene, and the theory of acclimatisation ; (3) the physical, political, and social conditions of Tropical Africa, in their effect upon European colonisation and development; (4) the natural resources of Tropical Africa, with reference to the law of demand and supply; and other economical problems.

is chiefly to be sought in the circumstances under which they set forth in quest of their ideal. Thus, Mr. Stanley, who ridiculed the value of scientific teaching, and attempted to classify all knowledge appertaining to the subject under the generic term of common sense,' triumphantly asked his audience of English and foreign experts whether the early navigators and founders of colonies were scientific geographers ? Himself the founder, broadly speaking, of an African colony, he remarked that, with regard to the constitution of the Congo Independent State, he and his patrons did not waste time in studying scientific geography'-an admission which partly accounts for the unstable conditions upon which the administration of that enterprising State is based. But his platform rhetoric proved to be more impressive than convincing, and was easily disposed of, amidst rounds of repeated cheering, by Count von Pfeil, who, in a lucid and temperate speech, reduced the question to its proper dimensions. Count Pfeil simply explained that the subject under discussion was not the founding, but the development, of colonies in Africa, and that the rough work of exploration, being past, must yield to more scientific and methodical efforts in opening up the continent to European enterprise,

I refer to this incident merely to illustrate how loose terms of expression and special pleading? are apt to confuse an inattentive audience, and to lead to unmerited applause. The same remark applies to the indiscriminate use of the words colonisation and political settlement, development and exploitation, &c.3

Since, therefore, the whole question of the development of Tropical Africa is one upon which geographers are entitled to speak

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? According to a newspaper paragraph, Mr. Stanley, since his election to Parliament, has relinquished his position as an official of the Congo Independent State.

3 Without attempting to give a precise definition of these terms, it may be useful to define their general significance, so far as the discussion of this topic is concerned. Colonisation is meant to imply a capacity on the part of the colonists to live constantly in the country of their adoption, to create a home there, and to raise families able to remain in the country of their birth, without constant and prolonged visits to Temperate climes, either for the purpose of recruiting bealth or for the advantages of elementary education. Political settlement, on the other hand, does not involve this stringent adherence to the needs of a self-contained colony, but only the commercial and political domination of the White race under a flexible form of administration, which may sufficiently guarantee all reasonable requirements. With colonisation we associate development, or progress; with political settlement, exploitation. The former is conceived in the interest, not only of the colonisers, but of all the inbabitants of the country; the latter provides simply for the selfish benefits of European taskmasters and capitalists. Thus, the only true European colonies in Africa are to be found in Algeria, Cape Colony, Natal, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal ; though the fundamental bases of a colony are being laid also in Matabeleland and in one or two districts to the north. It is, however, to be noted that the only regions which up to the present have proved to be suitable for European colonisation lie outside the Tropics, either in sub-Tropical or Temperate climates. Finally, it should be scarcely necessary to add that by Tropical Africa we mean the portion of the continent lying within the Tropics. Vol. XXXVIII—No. 223

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with exceptional authority—it being a geographical rather than a political problem in its present initial stage-some profit may be derived from learning what precisely were the verdicts of the experts who took part in the discussion at the Congress, and in how far a consensus of opinion was established.

Sir John Kirk laid down five essential conditions for the successful colonisation of African lands by Europeans: (1) The climate, as expressed chiefly by the diurnal and yearly range of temperature, and the moisture present in the air, must approximate to those of countries already settled by Europe ; (2) Aggravated malaria [? the remittent varieties] must be absent; (3) The country must be capable of supporting Europeans, and must also offer additional attractions ; (4) These conditions must extend over an adequate area, so that the colony may be sufficiently large for self-defence, &c.; and (5) a rapid means of transit through the unhealthy zone must be found.' Developing his argument, Sir John Kirk stated that, of all these conditions, climate was the most important; and our data in that respect were insufficient. All maritime zones and districts below 5,000 feet in elevation might be dismissed as useless for the purpose of colonisation. But in the higher central plateaux a climate was found which contrasted favourably with that of countries outside of, but bordering on, the Tropics, and already settled ’ [? colonised] by the White races. He therefore concluded that there were districts in Tropical Africa in which climate alone would not interfere with European colonisation. It was true that the localities fulfilling his conditions were few and far apart : all Western Africa was impossible of colonisation, excepting, perhaps, German South-west Africa, which lacked harbours; but Matabeleland fulfilled his conditions, and would probably be the first site for a colony in Tropical Africa; the same might be said, too, in favour of Masailand and Abyssinia. Settlement, he contended, was possible everywhere, though in the low-lying areas periodic change to Europe was essential. In the less unhealthy districts change to hill-stations and sanatoria would be sufficient ; but these hill-stations, owing to limited area and inaccessibility, would not be colonisable: they would, however, be useful as seats of government. He emphatically condemned the institution of a half-caste race; though he advocated the introduction of small colonies of British Indians in the districts less suited to Europeans, as an example to the Negro. Finally, he maintained that native labour abounded; but that the increase of the native races, due to good government, would constitute a danger to the European settlers, unless the importation of firearms were restricted to Europeans and the laws compelled the natives to comply with European usages.

Captain Lugard, in a footnote to Sir John Kirk's paper, expressed his opinion that 'the object-lesson of Indian village life would be an important factor in raising the [morale of the] Negro,' and that such

colonies would be important allies to the Whites.' The natives, be believed, would pay for imports with their own industrial products, labour, and local food-supplies; the Europeans would develop the countries by the preservation of forests, reafforestment, protection of the elephant, zebra, and game, the drainage of swamps, reclamation of waste lands, &c.

Count von Pfeil urged that success in the labour of colonising Tropical Africa depended on three conditions: (1) We must possess a thorough knowledge of the character of the country we wished to colonise, to obtain which we required the services of the geographer. The areas of exploration should be more restricted and more exhaustively examined at the present day. (2) Greater attention should be paid to Tropical hygiene. To make. Tropical Africa a healthy abode was the first step towards colonising it. And (3) the Negro must be taught to want, and then he would work : it was no use setting him a good example, which he would not follow, nor reading homilies to him. It was true that Nature supplied him with food and shelter, and that there were few material wants left for him to desire; but the art lay in creating desires that might be legitimately satisfied by Europeans : as, for instance, security against racial enemies, undisturbed possession of property, &c. To do this it would become necessary to keep the native under adequate control : it would be wise, in fact, to establish so-called native reservations, and to levy direct or indirect taxation. The missionaries would take up their residence in these reservations,

Mr. H. M. Stanley expressed agreement with the paper read by Sir John Kirk, though he thought it looked too far ahead. He himself knew of no intention to colonise any part of Tropical Africa; but he knew of many efforts being made to open out the country to commerce, to improve the native tribes, and to prepare the way for colonisation in the distant future. He believed in pioneering slowly, and not going too recklessly into rash enterprises. Central Africa was, probably, just as habitable as India or Brazil. He mentioned several cases of men who had lived many years in Africa without apparent detriment to their health. It was the art of living'they needed to teach in Tropical climates. He had never seen a colony that had been founded on scientific geography. He believed, with all his soul, in those lines of Shakespeare :

All places that the eye of Heaven visits
Are to a wise man ports and happy harens.

Mr. E. G. Ravenstein was of opinion that, until a systematic and scientific study of African climatology had been carried out, no attempt to found colonies should be made in Tropical Africa; and he characterised one of the colonisation projects as being almost criminal. Our knowledge of climatic conditions in Central Africa was extremely

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