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- Travels in West Africa - 1/89 -


Travels in West Africa (Congo Francais, Corisco and Cameroons) by Mary H. Kingsley.

To my brother, C. G. Kingsley this book is dedicated.

CONTENTS

PREFACE. PREFACE TO THE ABRIDGED EDITION OF TRAVELS IN WEST AFRICA. INTRODUCTION. CHAPTER I. LIVERPOOL TO SIERRA LEONE AND THE GOLD COAST. CHAPTER II. FERNANDO PO AND THE BUBIS. CHAPTER III. VOYAGE DOWN COAST. CHAPTER IV. THE OGOWE. CHAPTER V. THE RAPIDS OF THE OGOWE. CHAPTER VI. LEMBARENE. CHAPTER VII. ON THE WAY FROM KANGWE TO LAKE NCOVI. CHAPTER VIII. FROM NCOVI TO ESOON. CHAPTER IX. FROM ESOON TO AGONJO. CHAPTER X. BUSH TRADE AND FAN CUSTOMS. CHAPTER XI. DOWN THE REMBWE. CHAPTER XII. FETISH. CHAPTER XIII. FETISH--(Continued). CHAPTER XIV. FETISH--(Continued). CHAPTER XV. FETISH--(Continued). CHAPTER XVI. FETISH--(Concluded). CHAPTER XVII. ASCENT OF THE GREAT PEAK OF CAMEROONS. CHAPTER XVIII. THE GREAT PEAK OF CAMEROONS--(Continued). CHAPTER XIX. THE GREAT PEAK OF CAMEROONS--(Continued). CHAPTER XX. THE GREAT PEAK OF CAMEROONS--(Concluded). CHAPTER XXI. TRADE AND LABOUR IN WEST AFRICA. CHAPTER XXII. DISEASE IN WEST AFRICA. APPENDIX. THE INVENTION OF THE CLOTH LOOM.

PREFACE

TO THE READER.--What this book wants is not a simple Preface but an apology, and a very brilliant and convincing one at that. Recognising this fully, and feeling quite incompetent to write such a masterpiece, I have asked several literary friends to write one for me, but they have kindly but firmly declined, stating that it is impossible satisfactorily to apologise for my liberties with Lindley Murray and the Queen's English. I am therefore left to make a feeble apology for this book myself, and all I can personally say is that it would have been much worse than it is had it not been for Dr. Henry Guillemard, who has not edited it, or of course the whole affair would have been better, but who has most kindly gone through the proof sheets, lassoing prepositions which were straying outside their sentence stockade, taking my eye off the water cask and fixing it on the scenery where I meant it to be, saying firmly in pencil on margins "No you don't," when I was committing some more than usually heinous literary crime, and so on. In cases where his activities in these things may seem to the reader to have been wanting, I beg to state that they really were not. It is I who have declined to ascend to a higher level of lucidity and correctness of diction than I am fitted for. I cannot forbear from mentioning my gratitude to Mr. George Macmillan for his patience and kindness with me,--a mere jungle of information on West Africa. Whether you my reader will share my gratitude is, I fear, doubtful, for if it had not been for him I should never have attempted to write a book at all, and in order to excuse his having induced me to try I beg to state that I have written only on things that I know from personal experience and very careful observation. I have never accepted an explanation of a native custom from one person alone, nor have I set down things as being prevalent customs from having seen a single instance. I have endeavoured to give you an honest account of the general state and manner of life in Lower Guinea and some description of the various types of country there. In reading this section you must make allowances for my love of this sort of country, with its great forests and rivers and its animistic-minded inhabitants, and for my ability to be more comfortable there than in England. Your superior culture-instincts may militate against your enjoying West Africa, but if you go there you will find things as I have said.

January, 1897.

PREFACE TO THE ABRIDGED EDITION OF TRAVELS IN WEST AFRICA.

When on my return to England from my second sojourn in West Africa, I discovered, to my alarm, that I was, by a freak of fate, the sea- serpent of the season, I published, in order to escape from this reputation, a very condensed, much abridged version of my experiences in Lower Guinea; and I thought that I need never explain about myself or Lower Guinea again. This was one of my errors. I have been explaining ever since; and, though not reconciled to so doing, I am more or less resigned to it, because it gives me pleasure to see that English people can take an interest in that land they have neglected. Nevertheless, it was a shock to me when the publishers said more explanation was required. I am thankful to say the explanation they required was merely on what plan the abridgment of my first account had been made. I can manage that explanation easily. It has been done by removing from it certain sections whole, and leaving the rest very much as it first stood. Of course it would have been better if I had totally reformed and rewritten the book in pellucid English; but that is beyond me, and I feel at any rate this book must be better than it was, for there is less of it; and I dimly hope critics will now see that there is a saving grace in disconnectedness, for owing to that disconnectedness whole chapters have come out without leaving holes.

As for the part that is left in, I have already apologised for its form, and I cannot help it, for Lower Guinea is like what I have said it is. No one who knows it has sent home contradictions of my description of it, or its natives, or their manners or customs, and they have had by now ample time and opportunity. The only complaints I have had regarding my account from my fellow West Coasters have been that I might have said more. I trust my forbearance will send a thrill of gratitude through readers of the 736-page edition.

There is, however, one section that I reprint, regarding which I must say a few words. It is that on the trade and labour problem in West Africa, particularly the opinion therein expressed regarding the liquor traffic. This part has brought down on me much criticism from the Missionary Societies and their friends; and I beg gratefully to acknowledge the honourable fairness with which the controversy has been carried on by the great Wesleyan Methodist Mission to the Gold Coast and the Baptist Mission to the Congo. It has not ended in our agreement on this point, but it has raised my esteem of Missionary Societies considerably; and anyone interested in this matter I beg to refer to the Baptist Magazine for October, 1897. Therein will be found my answer, and the comments on it by a competent missionary authority; for the rest of this matter I beg all readers of this book to bear in mind that I confine myself to speaking only of the bit of Africa I know--West Africa. During this past summer I attended a meeting at which Sir George Taubman Goldie spoke, and was much struck with the truth of what he said on the difference of different African regions. He divided Africa into three zones: firstly, that region where white races could colonise in the true sense of the word, and form a great native-born white population, namely, the region of the Cape; secondly, a region where the white race could colonise, but to a less extent--an extent analogous to that in India--namely, the highlands of Central East Africa and parts of Northern Africa; thirdly, a region where the white races cannot colonise in a true sense of the word, namely, the West African region, and in those regions he pointed out one of the main elements of prosperity and advance is the native African population. I am quoting his words from memory, possibly imperfectly; but there is very little reliable printed matter to go on when dealing with Sir George Taubman Goldie, which is regrettable because he himself is an experienced and reliable authority. I am however quite convinced that these aforesaid distinct regions are regions that the practical politician dealing with Africa must recognise, and keep constantly in mind when attempting to solve the many difficulties that that great continent presents, and sincerely hope every reader of this work will remember that I am speaking of that last zone, the zone wherein white races cannot colonise in a true sense of the word, but which is nevertheless a vitally important region to a great manufacturing country like England, for therein are vast undeveloped markets wherein she can sell her manufactured goods and purchase raw material for her manufactures at a reasonable rate.

Having a rooted, natural, feminine hatred for politics I have no inclination to become diffuse on them, as I have on the errors of other people's cooking or ideas on decoration. I know I am held to be too partial to France in West Africa; too fond of pointing out her brilliant achievements there, too fond of saying the native is as happy, and possibly happier, under her rule than under ours; and also that I am given to a great admiration for Germans; but this is just like any common-sense Englishwoman. Of course I am devoted to my own John; but still Monsieur is brave, bright, and fascinating; Mein Herr is possessed of courage and commercial ability in the highest degree, and, besides, he takes such a lot of trouble to know the real truth about things, and tells them to you so calmly and carefully--and our own John--well, of course, he is everything that's good and great, but he makes a shocking fool of himself at times, particularly in West Africa.

I should enjoy holding what one of my justly irritated expurgators used to call one of my little thanksgiving services here, but I will not; for, after all, it would be impossible for me to satisfactorily thank those people who, since my publication of this book, have given me help and information on the subject of West Africa. Chief amongst them have been Mr. A. L. Jones, Sir. R. B. N. Walker, Mr. Irvine, and Mr. John Holt. I have not added to this book any information I have received since I wrote it, as it does not seem to me fair to do so. My only regret regarding it is that I have not dwelt sufficiently on the charm of West Africa; it is so difficult to explain such things; but I am sure there are amongst my readers people who know by experience the charm some countries exercise over men--countries very different from each other and from West Africa. The charm of West Africa is a painful one: it gives you pleasure when you are out there, but when you are back here it gives you pain


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