« PreviousContinue »
and all of them probably entertain hopes of advantages to accrue to them from the protection which was promised.
I am bound to report that, whether rightly or wrongls, the impression conveyed to the different native Cviefs and peoples in this region, when they signed Treaties and received in return the Con pany's flag and promise of protection, was that they were thereby placing themselves under the protection of the Government of Great Britain. Even among the more intelligent people of Uganda the same belief obtained, and until the matter was explained to them on my arrival in a way not to be misunderstood, Mwanga himself, the Chiefs of his Council, and the whole mass of the people thought that they were under British protection, and that the flag flown by the King was the flag of England. As a matter of fact, ever since his restoration by the Company's officers in March 1892, Mwanga bas flown the English blue ensigo; and as shortly after my arrival I refused to accede to his demand for a Union Jack, he continues to fly the same flag.
Since this impression undoubtedly prevails, it must be clearly understood that the withdrawal of all English control from Uganda and the surrounding countries would mean that the trust of these peoples in English promises and English credit, which has hitherto formed a marked contrast with their opinions of other European countries, would be so completely broken that any future extension of British private enterprise or trade in those regions will be impossible, except by force of arms, until confidence may be restored in a future generation.
There is another and equally serious aspect of the question which must not be lost sight of in considering the whole subject. Everything, I fear, seems to point to & desperate and, perhaps, longcontinued struggle in the centre of Africa, between the advances of European civilization from the coasts on the east and west, and the old class of Arab traders who are being driven back to the neighbourhood of Lake Tanganyika, the north end of Nyassa, the upper waters of the Congo, and the south-west side of the Victoria Nyanza. This struggle may take the form of a series of petty individual revolts and skirmishes, or it may result in a crusade of the forces of Christianity against the whole creed of Islam in Central Africa. In determining both the nature and the result of this contest the position of the Christian country of Uganda is of vital importance. Even now it is known that frequent communications pass from the Arabs of Tanganyika and Tabora to the fanatical Mahommedans at Wadelai and along the White Nile, as well as to the nearest and most dangerous neighbour of Uganda, Kaba-Rega, King of Unyoro. So long as Uganda is under European supervision there is little or no danger of these probable disturbances spreading
rom south to north, but I fear that the withdrawal of the present ontrol, and the consequent loss of prestige, might have conseuences which, if our place is not at once taken by some other uropean Power, would imperil much of the admirable work done in Jganda by Catholic and Protestant missionaries alike, would shake he position of Europeans throughout East and Central Africa, and ould react seriously in the neighbouring Colonies of Germany, taly, and the Congo State.
Any one of these countries, and more especially the first named, rould be fully justified, in their own self-defence, in insisting that in our withdrawal our place should at once be taken by some other European Power. In the present condition of African evolution it is iardly possible that Uganda, the natural key to the whole of the Nile Valley and to the richest parts of Central Africa, and the only country which offers any present hope of profitable commerce, should be left unprotected and unnoticed by other Powers because an English Company has been unable to hold it, and because Her Majesty's Government have been unwilling to interfere.
With regard to the effect, in Uganda itself, of a complete evacuation, I have the honour to report that King Mwanga, his Katikiro or Vizier, and many of the leading Protestant Chiefs, have informed me that in such case they would leave Uganda at the same time with all their people, and ask our assistance to enable them to settle in the neighbouring country of Usoga. Not only would such an exodus be disastrous for Uganda, and for such of the Protestants as elected to run the risk of remaining in the country, but it would also be rather hard on the people of Usoga to be compelled to support such an inroad of Uganda Christians. That evacuation would be quickly foilowed by a recommencement of civil war is, I think, almost certain, and I am supported in this opinion by both the Protestant and the Catholic Bishops, each of whom has written me a letter, copies of which are herewith inclosed, expressing themselves on this point in the clearest manner. In order to form some idea of the savage nature of such a war, of the deeds of bloodshed and of nameless barbarity which would infallibly be perpetrated, I need only refer your Lordship to the history of Uganda for the last eight years.
Another difficult question arises as to the disposal, in case of evacuation, of the Soudanese troops brought into Uganda by the Company's representatives. These troops number rather more than 500, but their women, children, and followers amount to nearly 6,000
. They were so great a danger on the frontier of Uganda, and were committing so many acts of atrocity in the raids which they were forced to make for food while they were unpaid by the Company, that I thought it best to engage 500 of the men as
soldiers, and to bring half of them to Kampala and Port Aliee, placing them all under strict discipline. I would remark here that these men, under good officers, make excellent soldiers. They are the material from which the best Egyptian battalions ar formed. They are engaged at an exceptionally low rate of paronly 4 rupees per month for a private soldier—and their presence in Uganda enabled me to take away with me four-fifths of the more expensive, but much less efficient, Zanzibar soldiers who aecompanied me from the coast. If these Soudanese are left behind on our retirement they are capable of over-running the whole of Uganda, and it must be remembered that, in this respect, evacuttion would not leave Uganda in the same condition in which it was found on the arrival of the Company. The presence of these men, good soldiers when paid and controlled by European officers. but untrustworthy when unpaid and left to take care of themselves, is a new complication, which has been introduced since the first interference of the English Company in the affairs of the country,
The strategical value of the position of Uganda, as controlling the bead-waters of the Nile and the three great lakes of Victoria, Albert, and Albert Edward, can perhaps be better estimated in England than in Uganda; this is, moreover, a question of wide and general policy which it is outside my province to discuss.
I may, however, be allowed to call attention to the fact that an evacuation of Uganda means a great deal more than a mere withdrawal of a few officers and a flag from a distant and partlyknown country in Central Africa. It means, practically, the renunciation of the whole of that vast territory reserved by the Anglo-German Convention for the sphere of British influence. The country lying between Lake Victoria and the east coast is valuable chiefly as being the road to Uganda, and the evacuation of the latter would soon be recognized as being equivalent to the restriction of British influence and British commerce to the coastjine and to the ports of the Zanzibar Sultanate.
So long as the race of Waganda continue to exist as a homogeneous people, they must, in virtue of their higher civilization and of their greater intelligence and initiative, occupy a leading position among the natives of Central Africa, and the European Power which exercises a controlling influence over Uganda will ultimately be able to control the politics and to guide the commerce of an immense section of the richest part of the continent. I have already stated the reasons for my conviction that the withdrawal of English influence must be followed by the establishment of the control of some other European Power, and I renture to repeat that such control would almost inevitably extend, not only over Uganda and its immediate dependencies, but would embrace a??
he neighbouring countries, the great lakes, the Nile Valley, and he natural highways of the interior. The control of Uganda neans, in the course of a few years, a preponderance of influence ind of commerce in the richest and most populous section of Cenral Africa; a withdrawal from Uganda entails, besides the legacy of war and bloodshed left to that country itself, a renunciation on he part of England of any important participation in the present rork of development, in the suppression of slavery, and in the uture commerce of East and Central Africa.
For the above as well as for other reasons which need scarcely e detailed here, I venture to submit to your Lordship that all . question of a complete evacuation of Uganda, at all events for the present, should be set aside.
2. To intrust the management of Uganda and of the whole sphere of influence to Zanzibar, under the guidance of Her Majesty's Consul-General, is a scheme which, at first sight, appears to have some advantages. It would relieve Her Majesty's Government of some responsibilities and expense, and would keep these countries open to British commerce.
On the other hand, this plan is open to several grave objections. In the first place, I do not consider that Zanzibar is as yet strong enough to undertake this task unsupported. Either the control exercised would be insufficient, or else Zanzibar would become inrolved in pecuniary difficulties, from which she would expect eventually to be extricated by English help.
Secondly, it will be readily understood, from what I have said above, that to replace a Christian by a Mahommedan flag in these countries would not only dangerously excite the Christians of Uganda, but would have a bad effect throughout Central and Eastern Africa, and might lead to serious complications.
Thirdly, if the Hinterland were to become part of Zanzibar, the East Africa Company, even were they to resign their Charter, would continue to hold their Concession of the coast from the Sultan of Zanzibar, and would perhaps claim import and export duties on all goods passing through the Zanzibar ports, though such a claim would be open to discussion. This would unduly enrich the Company at the expense of Zanzibar, and it is, I
now generally admitted that the experience of the last five years has not shown that it is desirable that the Company should be encouraged to continue its existence as an administrative body. The Zanzibar authorities in the interior would be forced, in self-defence, either to claim free transit for their goods through the German territory, or to avoid their own ports on the coast, and to find a new outlet beyond the limits of the Company's
3. The third suggestion, that Zanzibar should take over charge of Uganda and the sphere of influence as the tenant of Her Majesty's Government, and under the English flag, has more to recommend it. The difficulty about the flag would partly disappear, but the Sultan of Zanzibar would probably claim that his flag should fly with or below that of England. But this scheme would only nominally take the responsibility off the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government; a constant supervision, both financial and political, would have to be exercised by Her Majesty's officers, on whom would be the real onus of administration or control of these regions, and it is to be feared that Zanzibar has not yet had time for the consolidation of sufficient resources or force for such an extension of its responsibilities. It should be remembered that less than two years ago the Government of Zanzibar was an Arab despotism of the worst class, with all its usual accompaniments of oppression, ertortion, misappropriation of funds, and general insolvency. In order to gain sufficient elasticity to enable it to undertake such a duty with a fair chance of success, Zanzibar will require some three or four years more of careful tutelage. If the attempt were to be made now, it is probable that Her Majesty's Government would soon be called upon for pecuniary assistance.
4. The fourth suggestion is that the direct administration of Uganda should be undertaken by Her Majesty's Government. This is the solution which would recommend itself most strongly to the missionaries, and even to many among the Waganda themselves. I regret, however, that after a careful examination of the country, I am unable to recommend it for the acceptance of Her Majesty's Government. So many English officers would be required for the conduct of such an administration, so great would be its expenses, and so inadequate, at all events for several years to come, its returns, that the advantages conferred upon Uganda by such a system could hardly, it appears to me, be commensurate with the sacrifices made by England. The people of Uganda, from highest to lowest, are essentially conservative in their instincts; my preceding despatches have shown that they already have a constitutional and executive machinery of their own, bowever defective; and so long as sufficient supervision is exercised to prevent acts of gross oppression and cruelty, and to protect the lives of Europeans, I am of opinion that it would be better on every account to leave the native King and Chiefs to conduct their own administration.
5. The fifth course which remains open, and which I have described as a compromise between the last three, is that, by the appointment of Commissioners with a sufficient staff and force at their disposal to insure their safety, their political ascendency, and