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   Chapter 29 THE TRADE FEATURES OF AFRICA

Up To Date Business By Various Characters: 13840

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


AFRICA FIFTEEN YEARS AGO

Within a period of about fifteen years the continent of Africa has been the scene of a vast partition. At the beginning of that period the amount of African territory that was subject to European control was comparatively small. The British were firmly established in South Africa, and had possessions along the coasts elsewhere principally in the west. The French were firmly established in Algeria and in Senegal. The Portuguese had their ancient settlements in Mozambique and Lower Guinea. Morocco on the northwest and Abyssinia in the northeast were more or less well-established governments that were independent. Egypt in the extreme northeast, with tributary possessions extending along the Nile into the far interior of the continent, was also a more or less well-established government that possessed a quasi-independence, though it was nominally dependent upon Turkey. But elsewhere, except in a few other places controlled by European authority, the whole continent may be described as having been in its original state of savagery or semi-savagery. No government existed anywhere that was either beneficent or stable. The slave-traffic abounded everywhere.

EUROPEAN SPHERES OF INFLUENCE IN AFRICA

The European governments that had possessions in Africa were all doing their best to suppress the slave-traffic. But they could not take very salutary steps in this direction without exercising authority beyond the territorial limits they were supposed to occupy. Gradually, for these reasons, and also for the reason that they were all anxious to extend their commercial dealings in Africa, they began to exercise authority beyond their old-time territorial limits. In this way began the establishment on the part of European nations of what are known as "spheres of influence" in Africa. At first England and France were the only nations that were at all active in establishing these spheres of influence. Later on Germany and Italy and other nations began to establish them also. Beginning, therefore, with the years 1883 and 1884 there has been a general establishment and gradual extension of these spheres until now the whole continent has been practically parcelled out among a few European powers.

THE GREAT PARTITION OF AFRICA

The partition of Africa.

The ancient empire of Morocco still exists in an independent state. Abyssinia, though Italy attempted to subjugate it, is again also independent. The little republic of Liberia is nominally independent. Some territory in the very heart of the Sahara or Great Desert is yet in its aboriginal independence. But elsewhere, throughout the whole continent, Africa is either British, or French, or German, or Belgian, or Portuguese, or Italian. Spain's holding is not worth mentioning. Italy's holding also is scarcely worth mentioning. Portugal's holding has not been increased in the recent "scramble"-only made more definite. France's holding, however, has been enormously increased, and is now the largest (3,300,000 square miles), although much of the French area is barren desert, and much of the rest of it uninhabitable by white people. Great Britain's holding also has been greatly increased, but not nearly so much so as it would have been if in the earlier years of the scramble the British government had not been singularly blind to the actions of other governments in the matter. Germany, too, has got a substantial holding (925,000 square miles). The Kongo Free State, which, though nominally independent, is practically under the suzerainty of Belgium, and must look to Belgium for the funds with which to promote its development, is also a substantial possession, being a little less than Germany's holding-900,000 square miles.

GREAT BRITAIN IN AFRICA

Great Britain's holding, however, in the partitioned continent comprises its best portions. Much of Africa is uninhabitable by white men. Wherever, however, white men can live-except in northern Africa-there Great Britain has managed to get control. Excluding the shore of the Mediterranean, the best part of Africa, considered from the view points of colonisation and commerce, is what is now known as "British South Africa." This is an immense area-an area of almost 1,000,000 square miles. It comprises (1) that whole southern portion of the continent known as Cape Colony, and (2) that portion of the great central plateau of the continent which extends from Cape Colony northward to Lakes Nyassa and Tanganyika-all except the two Boer republics, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. British East Africa (800,000 square miles) includes the territory of Uganda, north of Lake Victoria, a territory which from the character of its native population and its possibilities of trade has been called the "pearl of Africa." British West Africa (500,000 square miles) includes the basin of the lower Niger, the most densely peopled area in all Africa, the seat of the great Fula-Hausa empire of Sokoto-Gandu, the wealthiest and greatest trading nation in the continent. Furthermore, in the northeast, Great Britain exercises "protectorate control" over Egypt-a control that is likely to be instrumental in reclaiming for Egypt, and thus for civilisation and commerce under British authority, the whole of Egypt's ancient possessions along the Nile as far at least as Uganda. The total area of the British possessions in Africa, exclusive of the two Boer republics and Egypt, is over 2,300,000 square miles.

THE "DOMINION OF SOUTH AFRICA"

"South Africa" is practically "British South Africa." The German portion is either largely barren or else inaccessible. The Portuguese portion is only a narrow strip along the east coast, much of which is too unhealthy for habitation other than by natives. The two Boer republics are rapidly filling up with British people, are being developed by British capital, and must in time become confederated with the states that environ them. One of them, too, is already under British suzerainty. British South Africa, however, is as yet only a name. It has no real existence except in hope. The aspiration of statesmen in southern Africa is that all the territories of southern Africa under British control shall form one confederation, and that in this confederation the Orange Free State and the South African Republic shall join. The territories entering into this confederation would therefore be as follows: The self-governing colonies of Cape Colony and Natal, the crown colony of Basutoland, the protectorates of Bechuanaland and Zululand, the territory now administered by the British South Africa Company, popularly known as "Rhodesia," and the British Central Africa protectorate, with in addition the two Boer republics previously mentioned. The length of this proposed South African dominion would be 1800 miles. Its width would be from 600 to 800 miles. And, as said above

, its area would be about 1,000,000 square miles. Mr. Stanley predicts that in a hundred years the "Dominion of South Africa" will have a white population of 8,000,000, and a coloured population of 16,000,000.

SOUTH AFRICA'S AGRICULTURAL POSSIBILITIES

Of South Africa as above defined Cape Colony and Natal are at present the most important portions. Their climate is in some respects the finest in the world. Their soil is of remarkable richness. The number of distinct species of indigenous plants found upon it is greater than for any other equal area on the globe. The same remark was once true of the animals found in South Africa, which again is testimony to the great fertility of the soil. But a serious drawback is the insufficiency and uncertainty of the rain supply. Irrigation, however, is practised, and wherever irrigation is possible the land may be made to blossom like the rose. Agriculture, however, is only indifferently pursued. The vine in Cape Colony produces more abundantly, very much more abundantly than anywhere else in the world, and yet neither grape-raising nor wine-making can be said to be successful. Pasturing is the principal occupation of the people in rural districts. There are 17,000,000 sheep in Cape Colony, and 6,000,000 goats. Natal, which is warmer, has 500,000 sheep. Another principal occupation is ostrich-farming. The ostrich, once wild in South Africa, is now bred domestically. Cape Colony has 230,000 ostriches. Ostrich feathers fetch from $150 to $300 a pound. The raising of cattle is another principal occupation, and draught cattle are much used for transport purposes. Cape Colony has 2,000,000 cattle; Natal, 1,000,000. The principal food crops are wheat and maize, but little is raised for export. In Natal, sugar is an important product, and also tea. Many magnificent timber woods are found, but the trees are stunted and little timber is exported. Much has been wasted by fires. The great agricultural possibilities of South Africa are wool, mohair (the hair of the Angora goat), fruit, wine, and skins. The breadstuffs of South Africa will probably all be needed for home consumption.

SOUTH AFRICA'S GREAT MINERAL WEALTH

All the world over South Africa is famous for its diamond mines and its gold-mines. The diamonds are found principally in Griqualand, north of the Orange River, now a part of Cape Colony, but they are also found in the Orange Free State. The diamond areas are very circumscribed, the diamond-bearing "pipes" being supposed to be craters of extinct volcanoes. The principal "pipes" are at Kimberley (28,718), in Griqualand. These constitute the richest diamond-fields in the world. It is estimated that over $350,000,000 worth of diamonds have been taken out of Kimberley since their first discovery there in 1867. The largest South African diamond yet found was worth $300,000, but many other large ones have been found. The annual diamond export now is about $20,000,000. For 1896 the export was $23,200,000; for 1897 a little less. The production and export are strictly limited, so that prices may not depreciate. Next in interest to the diamond-fields are the gold-mines. These so far have been found principally in the South African Republic, or "Transvaal" as it is popularly called, in the "rand," or "reef," near the far-famed town of Johannesburg (102,078). Since gold was first discovered in the rand (1871) $250,000,000 worth has been taken out. The annual output now is nearly $50,000,000, but it is estimated that before the rand can be exhausted $2,250,000,000 worth of gold must be taken out-an amount much greater than the total public debt of the United States, national, state, and municipal. But north of the Transvaal, in Rhodesia, especially in Mashonaland, is a territory popularly called the "Land of Ophir," where mining operations are only just begun, but where gold is supposed to be even more richly stored than in the Transvaal. Of this district the newly built town of Salisbury is the centre. Other mineral products of South Africa are coal in Natal, mined at Newcastle, and copper in the northwest of Cape Colony, shipped at Port Nolloth.

SOUTH AFRICA'S FOREIGN TRADE

The import trade of South Africa so far consists of almost everything needed by the inhabitants except meat, flour, vegetables, and fruit, for there are as yet almost no manufactures. The principal exports are: (1) gold, $60,000,000 per annum, including that from the Transvaal; (2) diamonds, $22,500,000; (3) wool, $12,500,000; (4) mohair, the hair of the Angora goat, $3,000,000; (5) ostrich feathers, over $2,500,000; (6) hides and skins, $2,200,000; and (7) copper ore, $1,250,000. The export of wine and fruit, for the production of which the country is so well suited, and also of grain, is inconsiderable.

SHIPPING PORTS AND RAILWAYS OF SOUTH AFRICA

British South Africa, like all of Africa, is wanting in seaports. In fact, it has but few. However, it has one, Walfish Bay, which territorially does not belong to it, inasmuch as it is in the middle of the coast of German Southwest Africa-the only port in that coast. The principal port in British South Africa is Cape Town (83,718), which is also the capital and principal place. The next principal ports are, for Cape Colony, Port Elizabeth (23,266) and East London, and for Natal, Durban. Lorenzo Marquez, on Delagoa Bay, and Beira, at the mouth of the Pungwe, both in Portuguese East Africa, are natural ports for northern British South Africa, and are used as such, railways being constructed from them into the interior. Railroad-making, indeed, is now the all-important matter in South Africa. Lines are already built from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, and Lorenzo Marquez to the diamond-fields of Kimberley and the gold-mines of Johannesburg. These also give to the pastoral and agricultural parts of the interior facilities of access to the sea. But the line from Cape Town to Kimberley is being rapidly extended northward to Salisbury, the central point of the gold-fields of Rhodesia, and already has reached Bulawayo, 1600 miles from Cape Town. The line from Beira is also to end at Salisbury. Already a telegraph line extending from Salisbury northward has reached the west shore of Lake Nyassa, and by the close of this year (1898) it will reach the south end of Lake Tanganyika. It is proposed that the railroad from Bulawayo shall follow this same route, and it is the dream (or shall we say the hope?) of the empire-builders of South Africa that this railway shall before many years be so far advanced northward that it will meet the railway that is now being built from Cairo southward through the continent along the Nile. Mr. Stanley predicts that the "Cape to Cairo" railway will be an accomplished fact before 1925. The white population of South Africa, even including the Boer republics, is still less than 750,000.

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