When you take the train for the North
at Capetown you start on the first lap of what is
in many respects the most picturesque journey in the
world. Other railways tunnel mighty mountains,
cross seething rivers, traverse scorching deserts,
and invade the clouds, but none has so romantic an
interest or is bound up with such adventure and imagination
as this. The reason is that at Capetown begins
the southern end of the famous seven-thousand-mile
Cape-to-Cairo Route, one of the greatest dreams of
England’s prince of practical dreamers, Cecil
Rhodes. Today, after thirty years of conflict
with grudging Governments, the project is practically
an accomplished fact.
Woven into its fabric is the story
of a German conspiracy that was as definite a cause
of the Great War as the Balkan mess or any other phase
of Teutonic international meddling. Along its
highway the American mining engineer has registered
a little known evidence of his achievement abroad.
The route taps civilization and crosses the last frontiers
of progress. The South African end discloses an
illuminating example of profitable nationalization.
Over it still broods the personality of the man who
conceived it and who left his impress and his name
on an empire. Attention has been directed anew
to the enterprise from the fact that shortly before
I reached Africa two aviators flew from Cairo to the
Cape and their actual flying time was exactly sixty-eight
The unbroken iron spine that was to
link North and South Africa and which Rhodes beheld
in his vision of the future, will probably not be
built for some years. Traffic in Central Africa
at the moment does not justify it. Besides, the
navigable rivers in the Belgian Congo, Egypt, and
the Soudan lend themselves to the rail and water route
which, with one short overland gap, now enables you
to travel the whole way from Cape to Cairo.
The very inception of the Cape-to-Cairo
project gives you a glimpse of the working of the
Rhodes mind. He left the carrying out of details
to subordinates. When he looked at the map of
Africa, and he was forever studying maps, and
ran that historic line through it from end to end
and said, “It must be all red,” he took
no cognizance of the extraordinary difficulties that
lay in the way. He saw, but he did not heed,
the rainbow of many national flags that spanned the
continent. A little thing like millions of square
miles of jungle, successions of great lakes, or wild
and primitive regions peopled with cannibals, meant
nothing. Money and energy were to him merely means
to an end.
When General “Chinese”
Gordon, for example, told him that he had refused
a roomful of silver for his services in exterminating
the Mongolian bandits Rhodes looked at him in surprise
and said: “Why didn’t you take it?
What is the earthly use of having ideas if you haven’t
the money with which to carry them out?” Here
you have the keynote of the whole Rhodes business
policy. A project had to be carried through regardless
of expense. It applied to the Cape-to-Cairo dream
just as it applied to every other enterprise with
which he was associated.
The all-rail route would cost billions
upon billions, although now that German prestige in
Africa is ended it would not be a physical and political
impossibility. A modification of the original
plan into a combination rail and river scheme permits
the consummation of the vision of thirty years ago.
The southern end is all-rail mainly because the Union
of South Africa and Rhodesia are civilized and prosperous
countries. I made the entire journey by train
from Capetown to the rail-head at Bukama in the Belgian
Congo, a distance of 2,700 miles, the longest continuous
link in the whole scheme. This trip can be made,
if desirable, in a through car in about nine days.
I then continued northward, down the
Lualaba River, Livingstone thought it was
the Nile then by rail, and again on the
Lualaba through the posts of Kongolo, Kindu and Ponthierville
to Stanleyville on the Congo River. This is the
second stage of the Cape-to-Cairo Route and knocks
off an additional 890 miles and another twelve days.
Here I left the highway to Egypt and went down the
Congo and my actual contact with the famous line ended.
I could have gone on, however, and reached Cairo,
with luck, in less than eight weeks.
From Stanleyville you go to Mahagi,
which is on the border between the Congo and Uganda.
This is the only overland gap in the whole route.
It covers roughly, and the name is no misnomer
I am told, 680 miles through the jungle
and skirts the principal Congo gold fields. A
road has been built and motor cars are available.
The railway route from Stanleyville to Mahagi, which
will link the Congo and the Nile, is surveyed and
would have been finished by this time but for the outbreak
of the Great War. The Belgian Minister of the
Colonies, with whom I travelled in the Congo assured
me that his Government would commence the construction
within the next two years, thus enabling the traveller
to forego any hiking on the long journey.
Mahagi is on the western side of Lake
Albert and is destined to be the lake terminus of
the projected Congo-Nile Railway which will be an
extension of the Soudan Railways. Here you begin
the journey that enlists both railways and steamers
and which gives practically a straight ahead itinerary
to Cairo. You journey on the Nile by way of Rejaf,
Kodok, (the Fashoda that was) to
Kosti, where you reach the southern rail-head of the
Soudan Railways. Thence it is comparatively easy,
as most travellers know, to push on through Khartum,
Berber, Wady Halfa and Assuan to the Egyptian capital.
The distance from Mahagi to Cairo is something like
2,700 miles while the total mileage from Capetown
to Cairo, along the line that I have indicated, is
This, in brief, is the way you make
the trip that Rhodes dreamed about, but not the way
he planned it. There are various suggestions for
alternate routes after you reach Bukama or, to be more
exact, after you start down the first stage of the
journey on the Lualaba. At Kabalo, where I stopped,
a railroad runs eastward from the river to Albertville,
on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. Rhodes wanted
to use the 400-mile waterway that this body of water
provides to connect the railway that came down from
the North with the line that begins at the Cape.
The idea was to employ train ferries. King Leopold
of Belgium granted Rhodes the right to do this but
Germany frustrated the scheme by refusing to recognize
the cession of the strip of Congo territory between
Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kivu, which was an essential
This incident is one evidence of the
many attempts that the Germans made to block the Cape-to-Cairo
project. Germany knew that if Rhodes, and through
Rhodes the British Empire, could establish through
communication under the British flag, from one end
of Africa to the other, it would put a crimp into
the Teutonic scheme to dominate the whole continent.
She went to every extreme to interfere with its advance.
This German opposition provided a
reason why the consummation of the project was so
long delayed. Another was, that except for the
explorer and the big game hunter, there was no particular
provocation for moving about in certain portions of
Central Africa until recently. But Germany only
afforded one obstacle. The British Government,
after the fashion of governments, turned a cold shoulder
to the enterprise. History was only repeating
itself. If Disraeli had consulted his colleagues
England would never have acquired the Suez Canal.
So it goes.
Most of the Rhodesian links of the
Cape-to-Cairo Route were built by Rhodes and the British
South Africa Company, while the line from Broken Hill
to the Congo border was due entirely to the courage
and tenacity of Robert Williams, who is now constructing
the so-called Benguella Railway from Lobito Bay in
Portuguese Angola to Bukama. It will be a feeder
to the Cape-to-Cairo road and constitute a sort of
back door to Egypt. It will also provide a shorter
outlet to Europe for the copper in the Katanga district
of the Congo.
When you see equatorial Africa and
more especially that part which lies between the rail-head
at Bukama and Mahagi, you understand why the all-rail
route is not profitable at the moment. It is for
the most part an uncultivated area principally jungle,
with scattered white settlements and hordes of untrained
natives. The war set back the development of
the Congo many years. Now that the world is beginning
to understand the possibilities of Central Africa
for palm oil, cotton, rubber, and coffee, the traffic
to justify the connecting railways will eventually
Shortly after my return from Africa
I was talking with a well-known American business
man who, after making the usual inquiries about lions,
cannibals and hair-breadth escapes, asked: “Is
it dangerous to go about in South Africa?” When
I assured him that both my pocket-book and I were
safer there than on Broadway in New York or State Street
in Chicago, he was surprised. Yet his question
is typical of a widespread ignorance about all Africa
and even its most developed area.
What people generally do not understand
is that the lower part of that one-time Dark Continent
is one of the most prosperous regions in the world,
where the home currency is at a premium instead of
a discount; where the high cost of living remains
a stranger and where you get little suggestion of
the commercial rack and ruin that are disturbing the
rest of the universe. While the war-ravaged nations
and their neighbors are feeling their dubious way
towards economic reconstruction, the Union of South
Africa is on the wave of a striking expansion.
It affords an impressive contrast to the demoralized
productivity of Europe and for that matter the United
South Africa presents many economic
features of distinct and unique interest. A glance
at its steam transportation discloses rich material.
Fundamentally the railroads of any country are the
real measures of its progress. In Africa particularly
they are the mileposts of civilization. In 1876
there were only 400 miles on the whole continent.
Today there are over 30,000 miles. Of this network
of rails exactly 11,478 miles are in the Union of
South Africa and they comprise the second largest
mileage in the world under one management.
More than this, they are Government
owned and operated. Despite this usual handicap
they pay. No particular love of Government control, which
is invariably an invitation for political influence
to do its worst, animated the development
of these railways. As in Australia, where private
capital refused to build, it was a case of necessity.
In South Africa there was practically no private enterprise
to sidestep the obligation that the need of adequate
transportation imposed. The country was new,
hostile savages still swarmed the frontiers, and the
white man had to battle with Zulu and Kaffir for every
area he opened. In the absence of navigable rivers there
are none in the Union the steel rail had
to do the pioneering. Besides, the Boers had
a strong prejudice against the railroads and regarded
the iron horse as a menace to their isolation.
The first steam road on the continent
of Africa was constructed by private enterprise from
the suburb of Durban in Natal into the town. It
was a mile and three-quarters in length and was opened
for traffic in 1860. Railway construction in
the Cape Colony began about the same time. The
Government ownership of the lines was inaugurated in
1873 and it has continued without interruption ever
since. The real epoch of railway building in
South Africa started with the great mineral discoveries.
First came the uncovering of diamonds along the Orange
River and the opening up of the Kimberley region,
which added nearly 2,000 miles of railway. With
the finding of gold in the Rand on what became the
site of Johannesburg, another 1,500 miles were added.
Since most nationalized railways do
not pay it is interesting to take a look at the African
balance sheet. Almost without exception the South
African railways have been operated at a considerable
net profit. These profits some years have been
as high as L2,590,917. During the war, when there
was a natural slump in traffic and when all soldiers
and Government supplies were carried free of cost,
they aggregated in 1915, for instance, L749,125.
One fiscal feature of these South
African railroads is worth emphasizing. Under
the act of Union “all profits, after providing
for interest, depreciation and betterment, shall be
utilized in the reduction of tariffs, due regard being
had to the agricultural and industrial development
within the Union and the promotion by means of cheap
transport of the settlement of an agricultural population
in the inland portions of the Union.” The
result is that the rates on agricultural products,
low-grade ores, and certain raw materials are possibly
the lowest in the world. In other countries rates
had to be increased during the war but in South Africa
no change was made, so as not to interfere with the
agricultural, mineral and industrial development of
Nor is the Union behind in up-to-date
transportation. A big program for electrification
has been blocked out and a section is under conversion.
Some of the power generated will be sold to the small
manufacturer and thus production will be increased.
Stimulating the railway system of
South Africa is a single personality which resembles
the self-made American wizard of transportation more
than any other Britisher that I have met with the possible
exception of Sir Eric Geddes, at present Minister
of Transport of Great Britain and who left his impress
on England’s conduct of the war. He is Sir
William W. Hoy, whose official title is General Manager
of the South African Railways and Ports. Big,
vigorous, and forward-looking, he sits in a small
office in the Railway Station at Capetown, with his
finger literally on the pulse of nearly 12,000 miles
of traffic. During the war Walker D. Hines, as
Director General of the American Railways, was steward
of a vaster network of rails but his job was an emergency
one and terminated when that emergency subsided.
Sir William Hoy, on the other hand, is set to a task
which is not equalled in extent, scope or responsibility
by any other similar official.
Like James J. Hill and Daniel Willard
he rose from the ranks. At Capetown he told me
of his great admiration for American railways and
their influence in the system he dominates. Among
other things he said: “We are taking our
whole cue for electrification from the railroads of
your country and more especially the admirable precedent
established by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway.
I believe firmly in wide electrification of present-day
steam transport. The great practical advantages
are more uniform speed and the elimination of stops
to take water. It also affords improved acceleration,
greater reliability as to timing, especially on heavy
grades, and stricter adherence to schedule. There
are enormous advantages to single lines like ours in
South Africa. Likewise, crossings and train movements
can be arranged with greater accuracy, thereby reducing
delays. Perhaps the greatest saving is in haulage,
that is, in the employment of the heavy electric locomotive.
It all tends toward a denser traffic.
“Behind this whole process of
electrification lies the need, created by the Great
War, for coal conservation and for a motive power that
will speed up production of all kinds. We have
abundant coal in the Union of South Africa and by
consuming less of it on our railways we will be in
a stronger position to export it and thus strengthen
our international position and keep the value of our
Since Sir William has touched upon
the coal supply we at once get a link, and
a typical one with the ramified resource
of the Union of South Africa. No product, not
even those precious stones that lie in the bosom of
Kimberley, or the glittering golden ore imbedded in
the Rand, has a larger political or economic significance
just now. Nor does any commodity figure quite
so prominently in the march of world events.
In peace, as in war, coal spells life
and power. It was the cudgel that the one-time
proud and arrogant Germany held menacingly over the
head of the unhappy neutral, and extorted special
privilege. At the moment I write, coal is the
storm center of controversy that ranges from the Ruhr
Valley of Germany to the Welsh fields of Britain and
affects the destinies of statesmen and of countries.
We are not without fuel troubles, as our empty bins
indicate. The nation, therefore, with cheap and
abundant coal has a bargaining asset that insures industrial
peace at home and trade prestige abroad.
South Africa not only has a low-priced
and ample coal supply but it is in a convenient point
for distribution to the whole Southern hemisphere, in
fact Europe and other sections. On past production
the Union ranked only eleventh in a list of coal-producing
countries, the output being about 8,000,000 tons a
year before the war and something over 10,000,000
tons in 1919. This output, however, is no guide
to the magnitude of its fields. Until comparatively
recent times they have been little exploited, not
because of inferiority but because of the restricted
output prior to the new movement to develop a bunker
and export trade. Without an adequate geological
survey the investigations made during the last twelve
months indicate a potential supply of over 60,000,000
tons and immense areas have not been touched at all.
The war changed the whole coal situation.
Labour conflicts have reduced the British output;
a huge part of Germany’s supply must go to France
as an indemnity, while our own fields are sadly under-worked,
for a variety of causes. All these conditions
operate in favor of the South African field, which
is becoming increasingly important as a source of supply.
Despite her advantage the prices remain
astonishingly low, when you compare them with those
prevailing elsewhere. English coal, which in
1912 cost about nine shillings a ton at pithead, costs
considerably more than thirty shillings today.
The average pithead price of South African coal in
1915 was five shillings twopence a ton and at the time
of my visit to South Africa in 1919 was still under
seven shillings a ton. Capetown and Durban, the
two principal harbours of the Union, are coaling stations
of Empire importance. There you can see the flags
of a dozen nations flying from ships that have put
in for fuel. Thanks to the war these ports are
in the center of the world’s great trade routes
and thus, geographically and economically their position
is unique for bunkering and for export.
The price of bunker coal is a key
to the increased overhead cost of world trade, as
a result of the war. The Belgian boat on which
I travelled from the shores of the Congo to Antwerp
coaled at Teneriffe, where the price per ton was seven
pounds. It is interesting to compare this with
the bunker price at Capetown of a little more than
two pounds per ton, or at Durban where the rate is
one pound ten shillings a ton. In the face of
these figures you can readily see what an economic
advantage is accruing to the Union of South Africa
with reference to the whole vexing question of coal
We can now go into the larger matter
of South Africa’s business situation in the
light of peace and world reconstruction. I have
already shown how the war, and the social and industrial
upheaval that followed in its wake have enlarged and
fortified the coal situation in the Union. Practically
all other interests are similarly affected. The
outstanding factor in the prosperity of the Union
has been the development of war-born self-sufficiency.
I used to think during the conflict that shook the
world, that this gospel of self-containment would be
one of the compensations that Britain would gain for
the years of blood and slaughter. So far as Britain
is concerned this hope has not been realized.
When I was last in England huge quantities of German
dyes were being dumped on her shores to the loss and
dismay of a new coal-tar industry that had been developed
during the war. German wares like toys and novelties
were now pouring in. And yet England wondered
why her exchange was down!
In South Africa the situation has
been entirely different. She alone of all the
British dominions is asserting an almost pugnacious
self-sufficiency. Cut off from outside supplies
for over four years by the relentless submarine warfare,
and the additional fact that nearly all the ships
to and from the Cape had to carry war supplies or
essential products, she was forced to develop her internal
resources. The consequence is an expansion of
agriculture, industry and manufactures. Instead
of being as she was often called, “a country
of samples,” she has become a domain of active
production, as is attested by an industrial output
valued at L62,000,000 in 1918. Before the war
the British and American manufacturer, and
there is a considerable market for American goods
in the Cape Colony, could undersell the
South African article. That condition is changed
and the home-made article produced with much cheaper
labour than obtains either in Europe or the United
States, has the field.
Let me emphasize another striking
fact in connection with this South African prosperity.
During the war I had occasion to observe at first-hand
the economic conditions in every neutral country in
Europe. I was deeply impressed with the prosperity
of Sweden, Spain and Switzerland, and to a lesser
extent Holland, who made hay while their neighbors
reaped the tares of war. Japan did likewise.
These nations were largely profiteers who capitalized
a colossal misfortune. They got much of the benefit
and little of the horror of the upheaval.
Not so with South Africa. She
played an active part in the war and at the same time
brought about a legitimate expansion of her resources.
One point in her favor is that while she sent tens
of thousands of her sons to fight, her own territory
escaped the scar and ravage of battle. All the
fighting in Africa, so far as the Union was concerned,
was in German South-West Africa and German East Africa.
After my years in tempest-tossed Europe it was a pleasant
change to catch the buoyant, confident, unwearied
spirit of South Africa.
I have dwelt upon coal because it
happens to be a significant economic asset. Coal
is merely a phase of the South African resources.
In 1919 the Union produced L35,000,000 in gold and
L7,200,000 in diamonds. The total mining production
was, roughly, L50,000,000. This mining treasure
is surpassed by the agricultural output, of which
nearly one-third is exported. Land is the real
measure of permanent wealth. The hoard of gold
and diamonds in time becomes exhausted but the soil
and its fruits go on forever.
The moment you touch South African
agriculture you reach a real romance. Nowhere,
not even in the winning of the American West by the
Mormons, do you get a more dramatic spectacle of the
triumph of the pioneer over combative conditions.
The Mormons made the Utah desert bloom, and the Boers
and their British colleagues wrested riches from the
bare veldt. The Mormons fought Indians and wrestled
with drought, while the Dutch in Africa and their
English comrades battled with Kaffirs, Hottentots and
Zulus and endured a no less grilling exposure to sun.
The crops are diversified. One
of the staples of South Africa, for example, is the
mealie, which is nothing more or less than our own
American corn, but not quite so good. It provides
the principal food of the natives and is eaten extensively
by the European as well. On a dish of mealie
porridge the Kaffir can keep the human machine going
for twenty-four hours. Its prototype in the Congo
is manice flour. In the Union nearly five million
acres are under maize cultivation, which is exactly
double the area in 1911. The value of the maize
crop last year was approximately a million six hundred
thousand pounds. Similar expansion has been the
order in tobacco, wheat, fruit, sugar and half a dozen
South Africa is a huge cattle country.
The Boers have always excelled in the care of live
stock and it is particularly due to their efforts that
the Union today has more than seven million head of
cattle, which represents another hundred per cent
increase in less than ten years.
This matter of live stock leads me
to one of the really picturesque industries of the
Union which is the breeding of ostriches, “the
birds with the golden feathers.” Ask any
man who raises these ungainly birds and he will tell
you that with luck they are far better than the proverbial
goose who laid the eighteen-karat eggs. The combination
of F’s femininity, fashion and feathers has
been productive of many fortunes. The business
is inclined to be fickle because it depends upon the
female temperament. The ostrich feather, however,
is always more or less in fashion. With the outbreak
of the war there was a tremendous slump in feathers,
which was keenly felt in South Africa. With peace,
the plume again became the thing and the drooping industry
expanded with get-rich-quick proportions.
Port Elizabeth in the Cape Colony
is the center of the ostrich feather trade. It
is the only place in the world, I believe, devoted
entirely to plumage. Not long before I arrived
in South Africa L85,000 of feathers were disposed
of there in three days. It is no uncommon thing
for a pound of prime plumes to fetch L100. The
demand has become so keen that 350,000 ostriches in
the Union can scarcely keep pace with it. Before
the war there were more than 800,000 of these birds
but the depression in feathers coupled with drought,
flood and other causes, thinned out the ranks.
It takes three years for an ostrich chick to become
a feather producer.
America has a considerable part in
shaping the ostrich feather market. As with diamonds,
we are the largest consumers. You can go to Port
Elizabeth any day and find a group of Yankees industriously
bidding against each other. On one occasion two
New York buyers started a competition that led to
an eleven weeks orgy that registered a total net sale
of more than L100,000 of feathers. They are still
talking about it down there.
South Africa has not only expanded
in output but her area is also enlarged. The
Peace Conference gave her the mandate for German South-West
Africa, which was the first section of the vanished
Teutonic Empire in Africa. It occupies more than
a quarter of the whole area of the continent south
of the Zambesi River. While the word “mandate”
as construed by the peace sharks at Paris is supposed
to mean the amiable stewardship of a country, it really
amounts to nothing more or less than an actual and
benevolent assimilation. This assimilation is
very much like the paternal interest that holding
companies in the good old Wall Street days felt for
small and competitive concerns. In other words,
it is safe to assume that henceforth German South-West
Africa will be a permanent part of the Union.
The Colony’s chief asset is
comprised in the so-called German South-West African
Diamond Fields, which, with the Congo Diamond Fields,
provide a considerable portion of the small stones
now on the market. These two fields are alike
in that they are alluvial which means that the diamonds
are easily gathered by a washing process. No shafts
are sunk. It is precisely like gold washing.
The German South-West mines have an
American interest. In the reorganization following
the conquest of German South-West Africa by the South
African Army under General Botha the control had to
become Anglo-Saxon. The Anglo-American Corporation
which has extensive interests in South Africa and
which is financed by London and New York capitalists,
the latter including J. P. Morgan, Charles H. Sabin
and W. B. Thompson, acquired these fields. It
is an interesting commentary on post-war business
readjustment to discover that there is still a German
interest in these mines. It makes one wonder if
the German will ever be eradicated from his world-wide
contact with every point of commercial activity.
It is not surprising, therefore, that
South Africa, in the light of all the facts that I
have enumerated, should be prosperous. Take the
money, always a test of national economic health.
At Capetown I used the first golden sovereign that
I had seen since early in 1914. This was not only
because the Union happens to be a great gold-producing
country but because she has an excess of exports over
imports. Her money, despite its intimate relation
with that of Great Britain, which has so sadly depreciated,
is at a premium.
I got expensive evidence of this when
I went to the bank at Capetown to get some cash.
I had a letter of credit in terms of English pounds.
To my surprise, I only got seventeen shillings and
sixpence in African money for every English pound,
which is nominally worth twenty shillings. Six
months after I left, this penalty had increased to
three shillings. To such an extent has the proud
English pound sterling declined and in a British dominion
South Africa has put an embargo on
the export of sovereigns. One reason was that
during the first three years of the war a steady stream
of these golden coins went surreptitiously to East
India, where an unusually high premium for gold rules,
especially in the bazaars. The goldsmiths find
difficulty in getting material. The inevitable
smuggling has resulted. In order to put a check
on illicit removal, all passengers now leaving the
Union are searched before they board their ships.
Nor is it a half-hearted procedure. It is as
drastic as the war-time scrutiny on frontiers.
To sum up the whole business situation
in the Union of South Africa is to find that the spirit
of production, the most sorely needed thing
in the world today is that of persistent
advance. I dwell on this because it is in such
sharp contrast with what is going on throughout the
rest of a universe that staggers under sloth, and
where the will-to-work has almost become a lost art.
That older and more complacent order which is represented
for example by France, Italy and England may well seek
inspiration from this South African beehive.
With this economic setting for the
whole South African picture and a visualization of
the Cape-to-Cairo Route let us start on the long journey
that eventually took me to the heart of equatorial
Africa. The immediate objectives, so far as this
chapter is concerned, are Kimberley, Johannesburg
and Pretoria, names and towns that are synonymous
with thrilling chapters in the development of Africa
and more especially the Union.
You depart from Capetown in the morning
and for hours you remain in the friendly company of
the mountains. Table Mountain has hovered over
you during the whole stay at the capital and you regretfully
watch this “Gray Father” fade away in
the distance. In the evening you pass through
the Hex River country where the canyon is reminiscent
of Colorado. Soon there bursts upon you the famous
Karoo country, so familiar to all readers of South
African novels and more especially those of Olive
Schreiner, Richard Dehan and Sir Percy Fitz Patrick.
It is an almost treeless plain dotted here and there
with Boer homesteads. Their isolation suggests
battle with element and soil. The country immediately
around Capetown is a paradise of fruit and flowers,
but as you travel northward the whole character changes.
There is less green and more brown. After the
Karoo comes the equally famous veldt, studded with
the kopjes that became a part of the world vocabulary
with the Boer War. Behind these low, long hills, they
suggest flat, rocky hummocks the South
African burghers made many a desperate stand against
When you see the kopjes you
can readily understand why it took so long to conquer
the Boers. The Dutch knew every inch of the land
and every man was a crack shot from boyhood.
In these hills a handful could hold a small army at
bay. All through this region you encounter places
that have become part of history. You pass the
ruins of Kitchener’s blockhouses, they
really ended the Boer War and almost before
you realize it, you cross the Modder River, where
British military prestige got a bloody repulse.
Instinctively there come to mind the struggles of
Cronje, DeWet, Joubert, and the rest of those Boer
leaders who made this region a small Valhalla.
Late in the afternoon of the second
day you suddenly get a “feel” of industry.
The veldt becomes populated and before long huge smokestacks
loom against the sky. You are at Kimberly.
The average man associates this place with a famous
siege in the Boer War and the equally famous diamond
mines. But it is much more for it is packed with
romance and reality. Here came Cecil Rhodes in
his early manhood and pulled off the biggest business
deal of his life; here you find the first milepost
that the American mining engineer set up in the mineral
development of Africa: here is produced in greater
quantities than in any other place in the world the
glittering jewel that vanity and avarice set their
Kimberley is one of the most unique
of all the treasure cities. It is practically
built on a diamond mine in the same way that Johannesburg
rests upon a gold excavation. When the great diamond
rush of the seventies overwhelmed the Vaal and Orange
River regions, what is now the Kimberley section was
a rocky plain with a few Boer farms. The influx
of fortune-hunters dotted the area with tents and
diggings. Today a thriving city covers it and
the wealth produced the diamond output is
ninety per cent of the world supply exceeds
in value that of a big manufacturing community in
the United States.
At Kimberley you touch the intimate
life of Rhodes. He arrived in 1872 from Natal,
where he had gone to retrieve his health on a farm.
The moment he staked out a claim he began a remarkable
career. In his early Kimberley days he did a
characteristic thing. He left his claims each
year to attend lectures at Oxford where he got his
degree in 1881, after almost continuous commuting
between England and Africa. Hence the Rhodes
Scholarship at Oxford created by his remarkable will.
History contains no more striking contrast perhaps
than the spectacle of this tall curly-haired boy with
the Cæsar-like face studying a Greek book while he
managed a diamond-washing machine with his foot.
Rhodes developed the mines known as
the DeBeers group. His great rival was Barney
Barnato, who gave African finance the same erratic
and picturesque tradition that the Pittsburgh millionaires
brought to American finance. His real name was
Barnett Isaacs. After kicking about the streets
of the East End of London he became a music hall performer
under the name by which he is known to business history.
The diamond rush lured him to Kimberley, where he
displayed the resource and ingenuity that led to his
organization of the Central mine interests which grouped
around the Kimberley Mine.
A bitter competition developed between
the Rhodes and Barnato groups. Kimberley alternated
between boom and bankruptcy. The genius of diamond
mining lies in tempering output to demand. Rhodes
realized that indiscriminate production would ruin
the market, so he framed up the deal that made him
the diamond dictator. He made Barnato an offer
which was refused. With the aid of the Rothschilds
in London Rhodes secretly bought out the French interests
in the Barnato holdings for $6,000,000, which got
his foot, so to speak, in the doorway of the opposition.
But even this did not give him a working wedge.
He was angling with other big stockholders and required
some weeks time to consummate the deal. Meanwhile
Barnato accumulated an immense stock of diamonds which
he threatened to dump on the market and demoralize
the price. The release of these stones before
the completion of Rhodes’ negotiations would
have upset his whole scheme and neutralized his work
He arranged a meeting with Barnato
who confronted him with the pile of diamonds that
he was about to throw on the market. Rhodes, so
the story goes, took him by the arm and said:
“Barney, have you ever seen a bucketful of diamonds?
I never have. I’ll make a proposition to
you. If these diamonds will fill a bucket, I’ll
take them all from you at your own price.”
Without giving his rival time to answer,
Rhodes swept the glittering fortune into a bucket
which happened to be standing nearby. It also
happened that the stones did not fill it. This
incident shows the extent of the Rhodes resource,
for a man at Kimberly told me that Rhodes knew beforehand
exactly how many diamonds Barnato had and got the right
sized bucket. Rhodes immediately strode from the
room, got the time he wanted and consummated the consolidation
which made the name DeBeers synonymous with the diamond
output of the world. One trifling feature of
this deal was the check for $26,000,000 which Rhodes
gave for some of the Barnato interests acquired.
The deal with Barnato illustrated
the practical operation of one of the rules which
guided Rhodes’ business life. He once said,
“Never fight with a man if you can deal with
him.” He lived up to this maxim even with
the savage Matabeles from whom he wrested Rhodesia.
Not long after the organization of
the diamond trust Rhodes gave another evidence of
his business acumen. He saw that the disorganized
marketing of the output would lead to instability
of price. He therefore formed the Diamond Syndicate
in London, composed of a small group of middlemen
who distribute the whole Kimberley output. In
this way the available supply is measured solely by
Rhodes had a peculiar affection for
Kimberley. One reason perhaps was that it represented
the cornerstone of his fortune. He always referred
to the mines as his “bread and cheese.”
He made and lost vast sums elsewhere and scattered
his money about with a lavish hand. The diamond
mines did not belie their name and gave him a constant
In Kimberley he made some of the friendships
that influenced his life. First and foremost
among them was his association with Doctor, afterwards
Sir, Starr Jameson, the hero of the famous Raid and
a romantic character in African annals. Jameson
came to Kimberley to practice medicine in 1878.
No less intimate was Rhodes’ life-long attachment
for Alfred Beit, who arrived at the diamond fields
from Hamburg in 1875 as an obscure buyer. He
became a magnate whose operations extended to three
continents. Beit was the balance wheel in the
Rhodes financial machine.
The diamond mines at Kimberley are
familiar to most readers. They differ from the
mines in German South-West Africa and the Congo in
that they are deep level excavations. The Kimberley
mine, for example, goes down 3,000 feet. To see
this almost grotesque gash in the earth is to get the
impression of a very small Grand Canyon of the Colorado.
It is an awesome and terrifying spectacle for it is
shot through with green and brown and purple, is more
than a thousand feet wide at the top, and converges
to a visible point a thousand feet below. You
feel that out of this color and depth has emerged
something that itself incarnates lure and mystery.
Even in its source the diamond is not without its element
The diamonds at Kimberley are found
in a blue earth, technically known as kimberlite and
commonly called “blue ground.” This
is exposed to sun and rain for six months, after which
it is shaken down, run over a grease table where the
vaseline catches the real diamonds, and allows
the other matter to escape. After a boiling process
it is the “rough” diamond.
I spent a day in the Dutoitspan Mine
where I saw thousands of Kaffirs digging away at the
precious blue substance soon to be translated into
the gleaming stone that would dangle on the bosom or
shine from the finger of some woman ten thousand miles
away. I got an evidence of American cinema enterprise
on this occasion for I suddenly debouched on a wide
level and under the flickering lights I saw a Yankee
operator turning the crank of a motion picture camera.
He was part of a movie outfit getting travel pictures.
A hundred naked Zulus stared with open-eyed wonder
at the performance. When the flashlight was touched
off they ran for their lives.
This leads me to the conspicuous part
that Americans have played at Kimberley. Rhodes
had great confidence in the Americans, and employed
them in various capacities that ranged from introducing
California fruits into South Africa and Rhodesia to
handling his most important mining interests.
When someone asked him why he engaged so many he answered,
“They are so thorough.”
First among the Americans that Rhodes
brought to Kimberley was Gardner F. Williams, a Michigander
who became General Manager of the DeBeers Company
in 1887 and upon the consolidation, assumed the same
post with the united interests. He developed
the mechanical side of diamond production and for
many years held what was perhaps the most conspicuous
technical and administrative post in the industry.
He retired in favor of his son, Alpheus Williams,
who is the present General Manager of all the diamond
mines at Kimberley.
A little-known American had a vital
part in the siege of Kimberley. Among the American
engineers who rallied round Gardner Williams was George
Labram. When the Boers invested the town they
had the great advantage of superiority in weight of
metal. Thanks to Britain’s lack of preparedness,
Kimberley only had a few seven pounders, while the
Boers had “Long Toms” that hurled hundred
pounders. At Rhodes’ suggestion Labram
manufactured a big gun capable of throwing a thirty-pound
shell and it gave the besiegers a big and destructive
surprise. This gun, which was called “Long
Cecil,” was built and booming in exactly twenty-eight
days. Tragically enough, Labram was killed by
a Boer shell while shaving in his room at the Grand
Hotel exactly a week after the first discharge of
The part that Americans had in the
development of Kimberley is slight compared with their
participation in the exploitation of the Rand gold
mines. Not only were they the real pioneers in
opening up this greatest of all gold fields but they
loomed large in the drama of the Jameson Raid.
One of their number, John Hays Hammond, the best-known
of the group, was sentenced to death for his rôle
in it. The entire technical fabric of the Rand
was devised and established by men born, and who had
the greater part of their experience, in the United
The capital of the Rand is Johannesburg.
When you ride in a taxicab down its broad, well-paved
streets or are whirled to the top floor of one of
its skyscrapers, it is difficult to believe that thirty
years ago this thriving and metropolitan community
was a rocky waste. We are accustomed to swift
civic transformations in America but Johannesburg surpasses
any exhibit that we can offer in this line. Once
called “a tin town with a gold cellar,”
it has the atmosphere of a continuous cabaret with
a jazz band going all the time.
No thoroughly acclimated person would
ever think of calling Johannesburg by its full and
proper name. Just as San Francisco is contracted
into “’Frisco,” so is this animated
joytown called “Joburg.” I made the
mistake of dignifying the place with its geographical
title when I innocently remarked, “Johannesburg
is a live place.” My companion looked at
me with pity it was almost sorrow, and replied,
“We think that ‘Joburg’
(strong emphasis on ‘Joburg’) is one of
the hottest places in the world.”
The word Rand is Dutch for ridge or
reef. Toward the middle of the eighties the first
mine was discovered on what is the present site of
Johannesburg. The original excavation was on the
historic place known as Witwatersrand, which
means White Water Reef. Kimberley history repeated
itself for the gold rush to the Transvaal was as noisy
and picturesque as the dash on the diamond fields.
It exceeded the Klondike movement because for one
thing it was more accessible and in the second place
there were no really adverse climatic conditions.
Thousands died in the snow and ice of the Yukon trail
while only a few hundred succumbed to fever, exposure
to rain, and inadequate food on the Rand. It
resembled the gold rush to California in 1849 more
than any other similar event.
The Rand gold fields, which in 1920
produced half of the world’s gold, are embodied
in a reef about fifty miles long and twenty miles wide.
All the mines immediately in and about Johannesburg
are practically exhausted. The large development
today is in the eastern section. People do everything
but eat gold in Johannesburg. Cooks, maids, waiters,
bootblacks indeed the whole population are
interested, or at some time have had an interest in
a gold mine. Some historic shoestrings have become
golden cables. J. B. Robinson, for example, one
of the well-known magnates, and his associates converted
an original interest of L12,000 into L18,000,000.
This Rand history sounds like an Aladdin fairy tale.
What concerns us principally, however,
is the American end of the whole show. Hardly
were the first Rand mines uncovered than they felt
the influence of the American technical touch.
Among the first of our engineers to go out were three
unusual men, Hennen Jennings, H. C. Perkins and Captain
Thomas Mein. Together with Hamilton Smith, another
noted American engineer who joined them later, they
had all worked in the famous El Callao gold mine in
Venezuela. Subsequently came John Hays Hammond,
Charles Butters, Victor M. Clement, J. S. Curtis, T.
H. Leggett, Pope Yeatman, Fred Hellman, George Webber,
H. H. Webb, and Louis Seymour. These men were
the big fellows. They marshalled hundreds of
subordinate engineers, mechanics, electricians, mine
managers and others until there were more than a thousand
in the field.
This was the group contemporaneous
and identified with the Jameson Raid. After the
Boer War came what might be called the second generation
of American engineers, which included Sidney Jennings,
a brother of Hennen, W. L. Honnold, Samuel Thomson,
Ruel C. Warriner, W. W. Mein, the son of Capt.
Thomas Mein, and H. C. Behr.
Why this American invasion? The
reason was simple. The American mining engineer
of the eighties and the nineties stood in a class by
himself. Through the gold development of California
we were the only people who had produced gold mining
engineers of large and varied practical experience.
When Rhodes and Barnato (they were both among the early
nine mine-owners in the Rand) cast about for capable
men they naturally picked out Americans. Hammond,
for example, was brought to South America in 1893
by Barnato and after six months with him went over
to Rhodes, with whom he was associated both in the
Rand and Rhodesia until 1900.
Not only did Americans create the
whole technical machine but one of them Hennen
Jennings really saved the field. The
first mines were “outcrop,” that is, the
ore literally cropped out at the surface. This
outcrop is oxidized, and being free, is easily amalgamated
with mercury. Deeper down in the earth comes
the unoxidized zone which continues indefinitely.
The iron pyrites found here are not oxidized.
They hold the gold so tenaciously that they are not
amalgamable. They must therefore be abstracted
by some other process than with mercury. At the
time that the outcrop in the Rand become exhausted,
what is today known as the “cyanide process”
had never been used in that part of the world.
The mine-owners became discouraged and a slump followed.
Jennings had heard of the cyanide operation, insisted
upon its introduction, and it not only retrieved the
situation but has become an accepted adjunct of gold
mining the world over. In the same way Hammond
inaugurated deep-level mining when many of the owners
thought the field was exhausted because the outcrop
indications had disappeared.
These Americans in the Rand made the
mines and they also made history as their part in
the Jameson Raid showed. Perhaps a word about
the Reform movement which ended in the Raid is permissible
here. It grew out of the oppression of the Uitlander the
alien by the Transvaal Government animated
by Kruger, the President. Although these outsiders,
principally English and Americans, outnumbered the
Boers three to one, they were deprived of the rights
of citizenship. The Reformers organized an armed
campaign to capture Kruger and hold him as a hostage
until they could obtain their rights. The guns
and ammunition were smuggled in from Kimberley as
“hardware” under the supervision of Gardner
Williams. It was easy to bring the munitions
as far as Kimberley. The Boers set up such a
careful watch on the Transvaal border, however, that
every subterfuge had to be employed to get them across.
Dr. Jameson, who at that time was
Administrator of Southern Rhodesia, had a force of
Rhodesian police on the Transvaal border ready to come
to the assistance of the Committee if necessary.
The understanding was that Jameson should not invade
the Transvaal until he was needed. His impetuosity
spoiled the scheme. Instead of waiting until the
Committee was properly armed and had seized Kruger,
he suddenly crossed the border with his forces.
The Raid was a fizzle and the commander and all his
men were captured by the Boers. This abortive
attempt was the real prelude to the Boer War, which
came four years later.
Most Americans who have read about
this episode believe that John Hays Hammond was the
only countryman of theirs in it. This was because
he had a leading and spectacular part and was one
of the four ringleaders sentenced to death. He
afterwards escaped by the payment of a fine of $125,000.
As a matter of fact, four other prominent American
mining engineers were up to their necks in the reform
movement and got long terms in prison. They were
Capt. Thomas Mein, J. S. Curtis, Victor M. Clement
and Charles Butters. They obtained their freedom
by the payment of fines of $10,000 each. This
whole enterprise netted Kruger something like $2,000,000
The Jameson Raid did more than enrich
old Kruger’s coffers and bring the American
engineers in the Rand to the fore. Indirectly
it blocked a German scheme that might have played
havoc in Africa the moment the inevitable Great War
broke. If the Boer War had not developed in 1899
it is altogether likely that, judging from her whole
campaign of world-wide interference, Germany would
have arranged so that it should break out in 1914.
In this unhappy event she could have struck a death
blow at England in South Africa because in the years
between the Boer War and 1914 she created close-knit
colonial organizations in South-West and East Africa;
built strategic railways; armed and drilled thousands
of natives, and could have invaded the Cape Colony
and the Transvaal.
In connection with the Jameson Raid
is a story not without interest. Jameson and
Rudyard Kipling happened to be together when the news
of Roosevelt’s coup in Panama was published.
The author read it first and handed the paper to his
friend with the question: “What do you think
Jameson glanced at the article and
then replied somewhat sadly, “This makes the
Raid look like thirty cents.”
I cannot leave the Rand section of
the Union of South Africa without a word in passing
about Pretoria, the administrative capital, which is
only an hour’s journey from Johannesburg.
Here you still see the old house where Kruger lived.
It was the throne of a copper-riveted autocracy.
No modern head of a country ever wielded such a despotic
rule as this psalm-singing old Boer whose favorite
hour for receiving visitors was at five o’clock
in the morning, when he had his first cup of strong
coffee, a beverage which he continued to consume throughout
The most striking feature of the country
around Pretoria is the Premier diamond mine, twenty-five
miles east of the town and the world’s greatest
single treasure-trove. The mines at Kimberley
together constitute the largest of all diamond fields
but the Premier Mine is the biggest single mine anywhere.
It produces as much as the four largest Kimberley
mines combined, and contributes eighteen per cent of
the yearly output allotted to the Diamond Syndicate.
It was discovered by Thomas M. Cullinan,
who bought the site from a Boer farmer for $250,000.
The land originally cost this farmer $2,500. The
mine has already produced more than five hundred times
what Cullinan paid for it and the surface has scarcely
been scraped. You can see the natives working
in its two huge holes which are not more than six
hundred feet deep. It is still an open mine.
In the Premier Mine was found the Cullinan diamond,
the largest ever discovered and which made the Koh-i-noor
and all other fabled gems look like small pebbles.
It weighed 3,200 karats and was insured for $2,500,000
when it was sent to England to be presented to King
Edward. The Koh-i-noor, by the way, which was
found in India only weighs 186 karats.
No attempt at an analysis of South
Africa would be complete without some reference to
the native problem, the one discordant note in the
economic and productive scheme. The race question,
as the Smuts dilemma showed, lies at the root of all
South African trouble. But the racial conflict
between Briton and Boer is almost entirely political
and in no way threatens the commercial integrity.
Both the Dutchman and the Englishman agree on the
whole larger proposition and the necessity of settling
once and for all a trouble that carries with it the
danger of sporadic outbreak or worse. Now we
come to the whole irritating labor trouble which has
neither color, caste, nor creed, or geographical line.
First let me bring the South African
color problem home to America. In the United
States the whites outnumber the blacks roughly ten
to one. Our coloured population represents the
evolution of the one-time African slave through various
generations into a peaceful, law-abiding, and useful
social unit. The Southern “outrage”
is the rare exception. We have produced a Frederick
Douglass and a Booker Washington. Our Negro is
a Christian, fills high posts, and invades the professions.
In South Africa the reverse is true.
To begin with, the natives outnumber the whites four
and one-half to one in Rhodesia they are
twenty to one and they are increasing at
a much greater rate than the Europeans. Moreover,
the native population draws on half a dozen races,
including the Zulus, Kaffirs, Hottentots and Basutos.
These Negroes represent an almost primitive stage
of development. They are mainly heathens and
a prey to savagery and superstition. The Cape
Colony is the only one that permits the black man
to go to school or become a skilled artisan.
Elsewhere the white retains his monopoly on the crafts
and at the same time refuses to do any labour that
a Negro can perform. Hence the great need of
white immigration into the Union. The big task,
therefore, is to secure adequate work for the Negro
without permitting him to gain an advantage through
It follows that the moment the Kaffir
becomes efficient and picks up a smattering of education
he begins to think about his position and unrest is
fomented. It makes him unstable as an employee,
as the constant desertions from work show. The
only way that the gold and diamond mines keep their
thousands of recruited native workers is to confine
them in compounds. The ordinary labourer has
no such restrictions and he is here today and gone
It is not surprising to discover that
in a country teeming with blacks there are really
no good servants, a condition with which the American
housewife can heartily sympathize. Before I went
to Africa nearly every woman I knew asked me to bring
her back a diamond and a cook. They were much
more concerned about the cook than the diamond.
Had I kept every promise that I made affecting this
human jewel, I would have had to charter a ship to
convey them. The only decent servant I had in
Africa was a near-savage in the Congo, a sad commentary
on domestic service conditions.
The one class of stable servants in
the Colony are the “Cape Boys,” as they
are called. They are the coloured offspring of
a European and a Hottentot or a Malay and are of all
shades, from a darkish brown to a mere tinge.
They dislike being called “niggers.”
The first time I saw these Cape Boys was in France
during the war. South Africa sent over thousands
of them to recruit the labour battalions and they did
excellent work as teamsters and in other capacities.
The Cape Boy, however, is the exception to the native
rule throughout the Union, which means that most native
labour is unstable and discontented.
Not only is the South African native
a menace to economic expansion but he is likewise
something of a physical danger. In towns like
Pretoria and Johannesburg there is a considerable
feeling of insecurity. Women shrink from being
left alone with their servants and are filled with
apprehension while their little ones are out under
black custodianship. The one native servant,
aside from some of the Cape Boys, who has demonstrated
absolute fidelity, is the Zulu whom you see in largest
numbers in Natal. He is still a proud and kingly-looking
person and he carried with him a hint of the vanished
greatness of his race. Perhaps one reason why
he is safe and sane reposes in his recollection of
the repeated bitter and bloody defeats at the hands
of the white men. Yet the Zulu was in armed insurrection
in Natal in the nineties.
South Africa enjoys no guarantee of
immunity from black uprising even now in the twentieth
century when the world uses the aeroplane and the
wireless. During the past thirty years there have
been outbreaks throughout the African continent.
As recently as 1915 a fanatical form of Ethiopianism
broke out in Nyassaland which lies north-east of Rhodesia,
under the sponsorship of John Chilembwe, a negro preacher
who had been educated in the United States. The
natives rose, killed a number of white men and carried
off the women. Of course, it was summarily put
down and the leaders executed. But the incident
Prester John, whose story is familiar
to readers of John Buchan’s fine romance of
the same name, still has disciples. Like Chilembwe
he was a preacher who had acquired so-called European
civilization. He dreamed of an Africa for the
blacks and took his inspiration from the old kings
of Abyssinia. He too met the fate of all his
kind but his spirit goes marching on. In 1919
a Pan-African Congress was held in Paris to discuss
some plan for what might be called Pan-Ethiopianism.
The following year a negro convention in New York
City advocated that all Africa should be converted
into a black republic.
One example of African native unrest
was brought strikingly to my personal attention.
At Capetown I met one of the heads of a large Cape
Colony school for Negroes which is conducted under
religious auspices. The occasion was a dinner
given by J. X. Merriman, the Grand Old Man of the
Cape Colony. This particular educator spoke with
glowing enthusiasm about this institution and dwelt
particularly upon the evolution that was being accomplished.
He gave me a pressing invitation to visit it.
He happened to be on the train that I took to Kimberley,
which was also the first stage of his journey home
and he talked some more about the great work the school
When I reached Kimberley the first
item of news that I read in the local paper was an
account of an uprising in the school. Hundreds
of native students rebelled at the quality of food
they were getting and went on the rampage. They
destroyed the power-plant and wrecked several of the
buildings. The constabulary had to be called out
to restore order.
In many respects most Central and
South African Negroes never really lose the primitive
in them despite the claims of uplifters and sentimentalists.
Actual contact is a disillusioning thing. I heard
of a concrete case when I was in the Belgian Congo.
A Belgian judge at a post up the Kasai River acquired
an intelligent Baluba boy. All personal servants
in Africa are called “boys.” This
particular native learned French, acquired European
clothes and became a model servant. When the
judge went home to Belgium on leave he took the boy
along. He decided to stay longer than he expected
and sent the negro back to the Congo. No sooner
did the boy get back to his native heath than he sold
his European clothes, put on a loin cloth, and squatted
on the ground when he ate, precisely like his savage
brethren. It is a typical case, and merely shows
that a great deal of so-called black-acquired civilization
in Africa falls away with the garb of civilization.
The only African blacks who have really
assimilated the civilizing influence so far as my
personal observation goes are those of the West Coast.
Some of the inhabitants of Sierra Leone will illustrate
what I mean. Scores have gone to Oxford and Cambridge
and have become doctors, lawyers and competent civil
servants. They resemble the American Negro more
than any others in Africa. This parallel even
goes to their fondness for using big words. I
saw hundreds of them holding down important clerical
positions in the Belgian Congo where they are known
as “Coast-men,” because they come from
the West Coast.
I had an amusing experience with one
when I was on my way out of the Congo jungle.
I sent a message by him to the captain of the little
steamboat that took me up and down the Kasai River.
In this message I asked that the vessel be made ready
for immediate departure. The Coast-man, whose
name was Wilson they all have English names
and speak English fluently came back and
“I have conveyed your expressed
desire to leave immediately to the captain of your
boat. He only returns a verbal acquiescence but
I assure you that he will leave nothing undone to
facilitate your speedy departure.”
He said all this with such a solemn
and sober face that you would have thought the whole
destiny of the British Empire depended upon the elaborateness
of his utterance.
To return to the matter of unrest,
all the concrete happenings that I have related show
that the authority of the white man in Africa is still
resented by the natives. It serves to emphasize
what Mr. Lothrop Stoddard, an eminent authority on
this subject, so aptly calls “the rising tide
of colour.” We white people seldom stop
to realize how overwhelmingly we are outnumbered.
Out of the world population of approximately 1,700,000,000
persons (I am using Mr. Stoddard’s figures),
only 550,000,000 are white.
A colour conflict is improbable but
by no means impossible. We have only to look
at our own troubles with the Japanese to get an intimate
glimpse of what might lurk in a yellow tidal wave.
The yellow man humbled Russia in the Russo-Japanese
War and he smashed the Germans at Kiao Chow in the
Great War. The fact that he was permitted to fight
shoulder to shoulder with the white man has only added
to his cockiness as we have discovered in California.
Remember too that the Germans stirred
up all Islam in their mad attempt to conquer the world.
The Mohammedan has not forgotten what the Teutonic
propagandists told him when they laid the cunning train
of bad feeling that precipitated Turkey into the Great
War. These seeds of discord are bearing fruit
in many Near Eastern quarters. One result is that
a British army is fighting in Mesopotamia now.
A Holy War is merely the full brother of the possible
War of Colour. In East Africa the Germans used
thousands of native troops against the British and
Belgians. The blacks got a taste, figuratively,
of the white man’s blood and it did his system
Throughout the globe there are 150,000,000
blacks and all but 30,000,000 of them are south of
the Sahara Desert in Africa. They lack the high
mental development of the yellow man as expressed in
the Japanese, but even brute force is not to be despised,
especially where it outnumbers the whites to the extent
that they do in South Africa. I am no alarmist
and I do not presume to say that there will be serious
trouble. I merely present these facts to show
that certainly so far as affecting production and
economic security in general is concerned, the native
still provides a vexing and irritating problem, not
The Union of South Africa is keenly
alive to this perplexing native situation. Its
policy is what might be called the Direct Rule, in
which the whole administration of the country is in
the hands of the Europeans and which is the opposite
of the Indirect Rule of India, for example, which
recognizes Rajahs and other potentates and which permits
the brown man to hold a variety of public posts.
The Government of the Cape Colony
is becoming convinced that Booker Washington’s
idea is the sole salvation of the race. That great
leader maintained that the hope for the Negro in the
United States and elsewhere lay in the training of
his hands. Once those hands were skilled they
could be kept out of mischief. I recall having
discussed this theory one night with General Smuts
at Capetown and he expressed his hearty approval of
The lamented Botha died before he
could put into operation a plan which held out the
promise of still another kind of solution. It
lay in the soil. He contended that an area of
forty million acres should be set aside for the natives,
where many could work out their destinies themselves.
While this plan offered the opportunity for the establishment
of a compact and perhaps dangerous black entity, his
feeling was that by the avoidance of friction with
the whites the possibility of trouble would be minimized.
This scheme is likely to be carried out by Smuts.
Since the Union of South Africa profited
by the whirligig of war to the extent of acquiring
German South-West Africa it only remains to speak of
the new map of Africa, made possible by the Great Conflict.
Despite the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France one
fails to see concrete evidence of Germany’s
defeat in Europe. Her people are still cocky and
defiant. There is no mistake about her altered
condition in Africa. Her flag there has gone
into the discard along with the wreck of militarism.
The immense territory that she acquired principally
by browbeating is lost, down to the last square mile.
Up to 1884 Germany did not own an
inch of African soil. Within two years she was
mistress of more than a million square miles.
Analyze her whole performance on the continent and
a definite cause of the World War is discovered.
It is part of an international conspiracy studded with
Africa was a definite means to world
conquest. Germany knew of her vast undeveloped
wealth. It is now no secret that her plan was
to annex the greater part of French, Belgian, Italian
and Portuguese Africa in the event that she won.
The Berlin-to-Bagdad Railway would have hitched up
the late Teutonic Empire with the Near East and made
it easy to link the African domain with this intermediary
through the Turkish dominions. Here was an imposing
program with many advantages. For one thing it
would have given Germany an untold store of raw materials
and it would also have put her into a position to
dictate to Southern Asia and even South America.
The methods that Germany adopted to
acquire her African possessions were peculiarly typical.
Like the madness that plunged her into a struggle
with civilization they were her own undoing. Into
a continent whose middle name, so far as colonization
goes, is intrigue she fitted perfectly. Practically
every German colony in Africa represented the triumph
of “butting in” or intimidation. The
Kaiser That Was regarded himself as the mentor, and
sought to recast continents in the same grand way
that he lectured his minions.
The first German colony in Africa
was German South-West, as it was called for short,
and grew out of a deal made between a Bremen merchant
and a native chief. On the strength of this Bismarck
pinched out an area almost as big as British East
Africa. Before twelve months had passed the German
flag flew over what came to be known as German East
Africa, and also over Togoland and the The Cameroons
on the West Coast.
Germany really had no right to invade
any of this country but she was developing into a
strong military power and rather than have trouble,
the other nations acquiesced. Once intrenched,
she started her usual interference. The prize
mischief-maker of the universe, she began to stir
up trouble in every quarter. She embroiled the
French at Agadir and got into a snarl with Portugal
The Kaiser’s experience with
Kruger is typical. When the Jameson Raid petered
out William Hohenzollern sent the dictator of the Transvaal
a telegram of congratulation. The old Boer immediately
regarded him as an ally and counted on his aid when
the Boer War started. Instead, he got the double-cross
after he had sent his ultimatum to England. At
that time the Kaiser warily side-stepped an entanglement
with Britain for the reason that she was too useful.
It is now evident that a large part
of the Congo atrocity was a German scheme. The
head and front of the expose movement was Sir Roger
Casement of London. He sought to foment a German-financed
revolution in Ireland and was hanged as a traitor
in the Tower.
Behind this atrocity crusade was just
another evidence of the German desire to control Africa.
By rousing the world against Belgium, Germany expected
to bring another Berlin Congress, which would be expected
to give her the stewardship of the Belgian Congo.
The result would have been a German belt across Africa
from the Indian to the Atlantic Oceans. She could
thus have had England and France at a disadvantage
on the north, and England and Portugal where she wanted
them, to the south. Hence the Great War was not
so much a matter of German meddling in the Balkans
as it was her persistent manipulation of other nations’
affairs in Africa. She was playing “freeze-out”
on a stupendous scale. You can see why Germany
was so much opposed to the Cape-to-Cairo Route.
It interfered with her ambitions and provided a constant
irritant to her “benevolent” plans.
So much for the war end. Turn
to the peace aspect. With Germany eliminated
from the African scheme the whole region can enter
upon a harmonious development. More than this,
the fact that she is now deprived of colonies prevents
her from recovering the world-wide economic authority
she commanded before the war. A congested population
allows her no more elbow room at home. Before
she went mad her whole hope of the future lay in a
colonization where her flag could fly in public, and
in a penetration which cunningly masked the German
hand. The world is now wise to the latter procedure.
The new colour scheme of the African
map may now be disclosed. The Union of South
Africa, as you have seen, has taken over German South-West
Africa; Great Britain has assumed the control of all
German East Africa with the exception of Ruanda and
Urundu, which have become part of the Belgian Congo.
Togoland is divided between France and Britain, while
the greater part of The Cameroons is merged into the
Lower French West African possessions of which the
French Congo is the principal one. Britain gets
the Cameroon Mountains.
The one-time Dark Continent remains
dark only for Germany.