Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/758

This page needs to be proofread.



light for safety, and serious accidents happened. The line in the island of Mombasa is still worked by human labour. Finally, the company decided to withdraw Captain Lugard and his forces in August 1891 ; the occupation was, however, prolonged to 31st March 1893, on the promise of the Government to bear the expense. The company found itself involved in further difficulties through having to undertake the administration of the coast towns. Witu it took over with great Adminis- reluctance, as it did not regard it as part of difficulties t-^ie contract under the charter, though the Government held the opposite view. Kismayu, however, was a port of little importance to Great Britain, for it is a poor harbour, difficult of approach, and much exposed to the south-west monsoon. The trade is small, for there is no trade route there to the interior. To facilitate trade the company had adopted the policy of subsidizing the Somali tribes in the hinterland, and the Government agents took exception to this method of proceeding. The pecuniary interests of the company further sustained a severe blow owing to the action of the British Government in Zanzibar, which had been taken under the protectorate of Great Britain in October 1891, by the agreement with Germany made in 1890, though its administration remained in the hands of the Zanzibar Government.1 In June 1892 the British Government declared the dominions of the sultan of Zanzibar, including the mainland territory under the company’s rule, to be within the free zone. This act extinguished the treaties regulating all tariffs and duties with foreign Powers, and gave free trade all along the line. This was plainly a violation of the rights of the company under its original agreement with the sultan. The answer of the British Foreign Office to the company’s protest was that there was only a “ delegation ” of the sultan’s powers, which he had a right to withdraw when he liked • yet the company was still held liable to pay the compensation for the customs dues which it had originally undertaken to pay. The result for the company was that dues were now swept away without compensation, and the company was left saddled with the payment of the rent, and with the cost of administration in addition, though administration had been the inevitable corollary of taking the dues over. In June 1894 the sultan signified his willingness to negotiate with the company for its withdrawal from the contract. A final difficulty between the company and the British Government remains to be noted. At the invitation of the Foreign Office the company had instituted efficient tribunals and secured consular powers in the coast towns for the benefit of British subjects, and had been invited to prepare a scheme of taxation which might be offered for the approval of the Government. Such a scheme was duly drawn up and submitted, but never approved, and ultimately the Foreign Office took up the position that, in instituting a system of administration, the company had been merely fulfilling its obligations to the untaxed population (principally British-Indian), and that the whole question must be considered apart from that of taxation and jurisdiction over foreigners. With regard to British subjects residing beyond the concession limits the difficulties were very great. The company found itself responsible for the maintenance of order, yet was not permitted to arrest offenders who were British subjects and bring them to the coast for trial.

COMPANIES In every direction the company’s affairs had drifted into an impasse. In addition to the causes already indicated, this may be attributed to insufficient capital, want of funds, and small revenue. Plantations had been taken over on the coast and worked at a loss, money had been advanced to native traders and lost, and expectations of trade had been disappointed. At a meeting of shareholders on 8th May 1894 an offer to surrender the charter to the Government was approved, though not without strong protests. Negotiations dragged on for over two years, and ultimately the terms of settlement were that the Government should purchase the property, rights, and assets of the company in East Africa for £250,000. Uganda had been made a protectorate before the extinction of the company, on the Portal report being received by the Foreign Office. Altogether, considering the slow development which this region has since shown, the commercial prospects of the company, and the cost to it of administranesuits tion, it cannot be said that the price paid at the time by the British Government was so insufficient as it appears at first sight. Sir William Mackinnon, through whose judgment, foresight, and patriotism British influence had become predominant in East Africa, had died in June 1893. He was fated to see the company by no means a success commercially, yet it had accomplished a solid work in advancing the civilization of the dark continent. In exploring and development it could point to several successful expeditions : to the founding of the Scottish Industrial Mission at Kibwezi (which is now extinct), about 200 miles from the coast on the way to Uganda, and its connexion with the sea by a track known as the “ Mackinnon road ”; and to the establishment of telegraphic and telephonic communication between Mombasa and Lamu. It had set up a system of administration which had helped to create confidence and stimulate trade. In 1893 the cost of transport for a ton of merchandise between Mombasa and Uganda had been as much as £300. It had made pioneer experiments in transport, the results of which were reaped by later traders; its official reports afforded valuable information about the tribes of the interior, and under its administration more than 3000 slaves had been freed, though this is a small number compared with those saved in stopping the trade itself. The drink traffic, too, had been prohibited. On the successful termination of the Sudan war in 1898, the importance of its work in establishing British influence in the region of Victoria Nyanza became clear.

When the company’s affairs were finally wound up in March 1897, it was found that in acquiring, developing, and administering the territories ultimately taken over by H.M. Govern- s-, ment there was a total deficit of £193,757, 7s. 8d., which was made up as follows :— (1) Outlay within the sultan of Zanzibar’s 10miles limit under deduction of all revenues £139,404 14 1 (2) Outlay in the interior, including Uganda and Witu, under deduction of grants by Sir W. Mackinnon and friends of Church Missionary Society (£26,633, 13s. 6d.) . 122,542 2 6 (3) Costs of all assets handed over to H.M. Government ...••• 145,780 12 4 (4) Home charges, including costs of charter less amount recovered on forfeited shares (£2825) 36,029 18 9 Total £443,757 7 8 Payment from H.M. Government . . ■ 250,000 0 0 1 Total deficit £193,757 7 8 In giving his assent to the Berlin Act the sultan had (on the advice of H.M. Government) reserved his fiscal rights against the At the time of the company’s liquidation the accounts showed operation of the free trade provisions of that Act. Subsequently the reservation was overruled, and without any quid pvo quo his highness s a total revenue during the whole period of its existence of £171,469, 0s. Id. •dominions were included in the free-zone system.