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(image overlying "OPINION" of an African American on the left writing on a piece of paper facing a white man on the right also writing with a round mirror or window separating them) OPINION THE LAZY NEGRO MODERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT Mr. E.D. Morrell, an English student of West African affairs has a striking paper in the Nineteenth Century and After from which we quote the following passages: “Experience suggests that there is some indestructible element in Negro blood: that the Negro can survive even the slave trade and a Leopold the Second. ‘A great race,’ as Mary Kingsley said, ‘not destined to pass off the stage of human affairs.’ And, too, history has throwing into strong relief a singular power inherent to this race. No white people can interfere with the Negro and shake him off again. He clings, somehow: just as his country, once entered, beckons. The mere haunting of the Western Coasts of Africa with ships, and the organization, mainly from their decks, of slave hunts and barterings, has profoundly affected mankind. To speak on of positive, tangible effects which may be seen, it has resulted in the presence to-day of twenty-four and a half millions of Negroes and Negroids in the New World. It has created what is, perhaps, the most formidable social problem which any white people has to face. It has brought into existence one of the world’s greatest industries—the cotton trade.*** “The African peoples are being whirled along at an incredible speed into the uncharted spaces of the future. The European Powers which have the reins in hand are finding themselves compelled to handle with embarrassing precipitancy problems which, in Europe, took several centuries to mature. “Of these problems, one surpasses all the rest in fundamental significance. Is the economic future, and, consequently, the racial future, of the tropical African native to be one of dependence or independence? In other words, is he to exploit the riches of the soil and cultivate the land under his own national systems, or is the white man to become the exploiter and the African the hired laborer (or the slave) of the more mentally advanced European? Economic in its essence, the problem is, nevertheless, for the white over-lords of the African tropics, a problem not of economics only, but of morality and statesmanship in the true meaning of those much abused terms. For the African everything is involved in the answer to that question. For him the problem is the spinal column of the present and of the time to be. The free usage and enjoyment of his land; the preservation of his polity, his social life; his moral, material, and spiritual development; the part h he is to play in the world under the new dispensation—all are bound up in its solution. “A widespread, rooted fallacy may induce the reply that the native of Africa is himself incapable of developing his land. It will be argued that he possesses neither the requisite capital nor the requisite brains, nor the requisite energy. Under cover of that popular fallacy, white exploiters of human labor have committed great crimes and great errors in Africa, as detestable as they are stupid.*** “Not only is trade the breath in the nostrils of the West African races, but the world is more and more indebted to them on that very score. Export industries of increasing value to white mankind have sprung up in West Africa which the West African has himself created and which he prosecutes in co-operative fashion without the assistance of European capital, except in so far as it is indirectly utilized. “The most considerable of these native industries at present is the exploitation of the oil-palm.*** “Towards the close of the eighteenth century, when the slave-trade was smitten with OPINION 225 impending dissolution, it occurred to a firm of British merchants to obtain some of the oil from the natives and ship it home. Its value was at once recognized. A regular export industry began, the natives responding with alacrity to the demand. With the disappearance of the slave-trade the industry grew rapidly. A return issued through the House of Commons in 1845 showed that the quantity of palm-oil exported from West Africa to the United Kingdom had increased from 283 tons in 1800 to 5,300 tons in 1820; 15,000 tons in 1840, and 25,000 tons in 1845. In 1865 the export had grown to 35,000 tons. About that time another British merchant firm conceived the idea of shipping home the nuts as well as the oil contained in the outer covering. A demand immediately arose. Since then the palm-oil and palm-kernel oil industry has increased in enormous proportions. Liverpool, which is the European import center for palm-oil, as Hamburg is for palm-kernels, imported 80,000 tons of oil last year and 23,826 tons of kernels. Hamburg imported no less than 256,618 tons of kernels. In the last two years the natives of British West Africa have produced palm-oil and kernels to the sterling value of just under then millions, and the natives of West Africa under German and French protection have produced just under two millions sterling of these articles. In the last two years, then, European and American industries have been indebted to the West African free producer for 12,000,000l. of this particular raw material alone. This export has demanded, in turn, a corresponding increased output of manufactured goods to pay for it, thus benefiting other industries in Europe and America. “Here then is a striking object-lesson of what the West African native is capable, working as a trader and a free man. “We have heard a good deal about slave-grown cocoa. But how many Englishmen are acquainted with the romance of free-grown cocoa in one of their own West African dependencies? How many Englishmen are aware that their African protected subjects in the Gold Coast and Ashanti, working for themselves on their own national lands, have succeeded, in a phenomenally short space of time, in placing that British Colony and Protectorate actually at the head of the cocoa-exporting countries of the world? Yet such is the fact, and the story should go far to convince even the most obstinate skeptic of the Negro’s capabilities that in a natural setting of circumstances and conditions this maligned race can accomplish wonders, provided it is given a chance.*** “In 1890 the Gold Coast Administration made up for many political errors by a most excellent economic measure. It created an agricultural and botanical station in a carefully selected spot and distributed young plants and pods of the cocoa tree gratuitously. Four years later the native farmers produced 20,312 pounds of cocoa, valued at £547. By 1900, the plantations yielded 1,200,794 pounds, valued at £27,280. By 1904 the value of the output was £200,025. In 1908 it rose to £540,821. Last year the Gold Coast headed the list of cocoa-producing countries with an export of 88,987,324 pounds, valued at £1,613,468.*** “Let us look into it a little more closely to appreciate how astonishing is the feat of the small cultivator, the unlettered African farmer. In most of the cocoa-producing countries everything which white brains and capital could do to bring the industry to its highest state of development and perfection has been done.*** “The Gold Coast farmer had no capital, no machinery, no up-to-date appliances, no railways, no transport animals, few roads. Armed with nothing better than an axe and a machete, he attacked the mighty virgin forest. He smote it this way and that, carving from its shady depths vast clearings. Wielding a locally made hoe—his one agricultural implement—he covered those clearings with cocoa-farms, and in some parts of the colony is continuing the process with such vigor that, in his energy (this lazy African!), he is endangering the future by too wholesale felling, and will have to be restrained, in his own and the general public interest, by tactful legislation. He has rolled his casks full of beans to the sea for miles and miles; or carried them on his solid cranium. To-day the homeward-bound liner pitches uncomfortably for hour after hour in the trough of the sea off the low-lying palm-fringed shore dotted with its old-time castles of grey stone, while lighters and canoes, crammed with the product of this free and honorable labor, rush through the serf to greet her, manned by the chanting boatmen whose muscles ripple beneath their glossy skin as they dig their three-pronged paddles into the curling waves. And, with all his
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