Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life of James Stewart
South African By-Products

The Mont Aux Sources—How Languages have been reduced to Writing—Livingstone’s Services—John Mackenzie— Coillard of the Zambesi—Moshesh—Basutoland—King Lewanika—Our Empire-builders—A Plea for Missions.

[In addition to the books mentioned in previous chapters, Bryce’s Impressions of South Africa and the Africander Land by Colquhoun have been consulted in the preparation of this chapter.]

‘Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall.’—Genesis xlix. 22.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’ (given into the bargain, or as by-products).—Jesus Christ.

Facts form the fuel with which missionary fervour is fired and fed.’— Mackay of Uganda.

‘The Government had learned to know the use of missionaries in East Africa. In all departments of life, the missionary there was essential to progress.’— The Marquis of Salisbury.

THE Mont Aux Sources in the Drakensberg still retains the name given to it by Gosselin, one of the earliest of the French missionaries and the first white man who discovered it, or, at least, made it known. It is the ‘many-fountained,’ to use Homer’s phrase, and the well-head of the great African rivers. From the Tugela to the Orange, from the Vaal to the St. John’s, all are replenished from its bountiful and perennial springs. Had they speech, they might say to that mountain, ‘All my well-springs are in thee.’

Christian missions guide us to the Mont Aux Sources of those influences which have largely made South Africa what it is to-day. All these are the offspring of one sweet spring on a hillside in Galilee, though many who prize the ever-flowing streams forget the source.

After Livingstone, Stewart has probably had as large a share as any other man in creating and guiding these influences. A brief review of the social development of the land may be welcome to the reader, as Africa is now probably the most interesting part of the globe. Out of this wonderland will come another new surprise to him who studies this subject.

While the missionary plants one limb of his compass at the centre, which is Christ, he makes a very wide sweep with the other limb till his circle encloses everything fitted to make the native a Christian man, a manly Christian, and a good citizen. We have seen that Stewart wished this circumference to embrace every part of the native’s life. In South Africa more than in any other land have missionaries been directly and indirectly empire-builders and moulders of national history. In these directions Stewart has had a large share, and it will probably appear greater in the future than it does to-day.

The missionaries are like modern chemists who, when manufacturing one article, have also, to their surprise and joy, produced other precious articles, which they call by-products. Stewart’s whole heart was given to the winning of the natives to Christ, but he appreciated as much as Dr. Chalmers did, the widespread civil and social benefits which accompany and flow from pure religion and undefiled.

One hundred years ago the Kafirs had no written language. Who reduced it to writing? Who published the first grammar and text-books?

An Indian civilian tells us that he has been examined in three native languages, in which the only printed books were the Bible and the Pilgrim’s Progress, and that missionaries were the only qualified examiners.

About four hundred languages have been reduced to writing in recent times. It would be interesting to know how much of this great work has been done by men who were not missionaries. Max Muller says: ‘I date the beginning of the science of language from Pentecost.’

As several by-products have been mentioned in Chapters XIX., XX., XXI., XXII., and xxv., we shall specify the one which bulks most largely in our country, and which has had incalculable effects. The expansion of South Africa is in great measure the work of the missionaries. ‘We owe it to our missionaries,’ the Times wrote, ‘that the whole region (South Africa) has been opened up. . . . The progress of South Africa has been mainly due to men of Moffat’s stamp.’ Some of the earliest main roads were known as the ‘Missionary Roads,’ and many place-names preserve the names of missionaries. The heralds of Christ have been the great pioneers and pathfinders in this land. In these enterprises Stewart had an honourable share.

Dr. Philip, the doughty champion of the natives, was the trusted adviser of successive Governments, and had a very great share in the liberation of the slaves. He called attention to their position, and secured the sympathy of British philanthropists. One by-product of this activity was the great Boer Trek in 1836, and the founding of the Transvaal Republic.

Livingstone’s influence as a benefactor of Africa can scarcely be measured. The history of British Central Africa begins with him. It has been said that he did more for it than all the other men of his century put together. It was he who unveiled bleeding Ethiopia and laid her on the heart of Christendom, and so accomplished the very greatest results by the simplest, noblest, and purest means. It was he who put a stop to the slave-trade.

The Bechuana missionaries did yeoman service to the Empire by keeping the northern route open.

John Mackenzie, ‘South African missionary and statesman,’ ‘multiplied the significance of his life by promoting the expansion of the British Empire over the regions Livingstone explored. He thus saved native states from annihilation by the Boers, and ensured the best colonial rule in the world to vast stretches of Africa’ (Daybreak in the Dark Continent, by Naylor, an American). He happily influenced our policy, and was Deputy-Commissioner of Bechuanaland. ‘Hereafter,’ the Pall Mall Gazette says, ‘he will live in the annals of our Empire, for at a grave crisis he saved Africa for England.’ We are told that if his advice had been followed, there would have been no Boer war.

Newmann, in his Matabeleland and How We Got It, says: ‘A treaty of friendship with the Matabeles through the Rev. J. S. Moffat (son of Dr. Moffat) secured the land for us. This is called the "Moffat Treaty," and was made in 1888. But for this Rhodesia would not have been.’

It was Sir Bartle Frere’s oft-expressed opinion that if in South Africa the missionaries had gone first, we should have had none of the nine Kafir wars.

The by-products of mission-work are found in many places. Four years ago the contractors for the Victoria Bridge over the Zambesi had great difficulty in finding riveters. Boys from mission schools were trained to help in the work. They earned two or three shillings a day, while their fathers could earn only threepence or fourpence. Some of the boys were employed as interpreters.

The two most remarkable of the by-products of missions have yet to be mentioned. They will convince us that the romance of Imperialism is a part of the romance of missions.

In the Life of Coillard of the Zambesi it is said: ‘The French mission has given two new spheres of labour to the Church of God, and, indirectly, two new provinces to the British Empire.’ The first of these two provinces is Basutoland, the Switzerland of South Africa. The Basuto king, Moshesh, was the ablest native ruler South Africa has produced. He governed with a cabinet of French missionaries, and usually took their advice. In 1852 the Basutos inflicted a severe defeat on our troops. Moshesh, as advised by the missionaries, sent to the British Governor ‘the most politic document that has ever been penned in South Africa.’

[It is as follows:-

‘THABA Bosigo, Midnight, 20th Dec. 1852.

‘YOUR EXCELLENCY, - This day you have fought against my people and taken much cattle. As the object for which you have come is to have a compensation for Boers, I beg you will be satisfied with what you have taken. I entreat peace from You have chastised; let it be enough, I pray you; and let me be no longer considered an enemy to the Queen. I will try all I can to keep my people in order in the future. O my master, I am still your man, I am still the child of the Queen. I am ashamed of what happened yesterday. Let it be forgotten. —Your humble servant, MOSHESH.’]

The African statesman thus gained a diplomatic victory and completed the work of the African soldier. In 1868 Basutoland was placed under the protection of our Government on the most favourable terms. ‘The nation has now,’ to quote Bryce, ‘under the guiding hand of the missionaries and latterly of the British Government also, made greater progress in civilisation and Christianity than any other Kafir race.’

This simple French mission, with a purely spiritual aim, has ‘largely changed Basutoland from a heathen to a Christian country.’ Imports of the Basuto, who had no use for a yard of calico when the missionaries found them in 1833, amounted to £289,790 in 1903.

Barotsiland is the other province which the French mission has given to Great Britain. In 1890-91 it became a British Protectorate by the earnest desire of King Lewanika. It is now known as NorthWestern Rhodesia, and covers nearly two hundred thousand square miles. It is about the same size as the whole German Empire. Not one shot was fired for its annexation. The story of it is one of the highest compliments ever paid to our nation.

Coillard had gained the complete confidence of Lewanika, king of Barotsiland. The missionary said that as he was a Frenchman he would naturally wish to see Lewanika in alliance with France. He told the king that he must be under the protection of some nation, and that Great Britain would treat him better than any other nation would. ‘My father,’ Lewanika replied, ‘you have given me many advices. Sometimes I have taken them, and sometimes I have not. When I have not accepted your advice, I have found that I had made a mistake, and so I will take your advice this time.’ This is how in the scramble for Africa the Barotsi nation was saved amid the break-up of all the surrounding tribes. His biographer is justified in saying that Coillard ‘influenced the map of South Africa, and the natives, far and wide.’

Stewart, as the founder of Livingstonia, stands in the front rank of real, though unintentional, empire-builders. As is shown in Chapter viii., through the influence of Livingstonia, North-Eastern Rhodesia became a part of our Empire. Two missions have thus added to our Empire two territories, each of which is as large as Germany, and contains vast mineral wealth. They tell us that England might be hid in this new territory, and that the explorer might search long without finding a trace of it. ‘Thus,’ writes Stewart, ‘the territory that forty years ago was an utterly unknown land of wide area, with a great inland sea, has been added to what is slowly taking shape in that continent, a great British African dominion. For this great change the way was prepared by an easy transition from a state of social and civil chaos through the missionary occupation. That occupation was also just in time. It took place ten years before the great partition of the continent. It was thus explained, not by a missionary magazine, but by an influential political paper at the time of the proclamation of the British Protectorate.

‘The founding of the missionary establishments had an important political effect, for it enabled Her Majesty’s Government to successfully resist the claim of the Portuguese Government to the whole of that territory, to demand the free navigation of the Zambesi, and to justify the claim for the British Empire, not only to the Shire Highlands, but generally speaking, to the best parts of the Nyasa region.

‘This is true, and may be legitimately stated, even though it is not the territorial but the spiritual conquest of the land which is the aim of the mission. The date when Christianity enters any country begins a new era in its history; and from that date the life of its people begins to be slowly revolutionised. This is what is being done now by the Livingstonia mission, which first planted Christianity on the western shore of Lake Nyasa.’ Cecil Rhodes told the representatives of the Scots missions in Central Africa that he owed them something, as the action of the British Government at their suggestion and on their behalf encouraged him to believe that his dream about Rhodesia would be realised. ‘We owe all that land (Rhodesia) to you Scotsmen,’ he said to one of the chief promoters of Livingstonia.

Joseph Chamberlain described himself as a missionary of empire. But the Christian missionaries were empire-makers and creative imperialists, and from the most unselfish motives, long before Chamberlain advocated imperial expansion or Cecil Rhodes had dreamt of his Cape-to-Cairo Railway. The missionaries desired only the good of Africa, and that demanded a settled government. To all of them might be applied the words which the administrator of North-Western Rhodesia (Barotsiland) used about Coillard: ‘I think it was M. Coillard’s constant endeavour to have as little as possible to do with political questions, and to alienate himself from all controversy and connection with such matters.’

All these annexations to our Empire, without the firing of a single shot or the loss of a single human life, are assets of the highest value. If it has been our national destiny to conquer by the arts of peace more nations than Alexander the Great and Caesar ever conquered by war, it was chiefly by the messengers of the Prince of Peace that this high destiny was fulfilled. The best empire-building, like the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, has been done without noise. These bloodless conquests are byproducts in the true sense of the word. For it was no part of the original aim of the missionaries to enlarge the possessions of Great Britain. They had not the ‘lust of horizon,’ nor an ambition for personal gain or fame. They served the best interests of our Empire all the more because they were loyal to a Kingdom ‘not of this world.’ They have thus ennobled African history. We have here not ‘Reality versus Romance,’ but ‘Romance in Reality.’ ‘South Africa,’ W. T. Stead says, ‘is the product of three forces—conquest, trade, and missions, and of the three the first counts for the least, and the last for the greatest, factor in the expansion of civilisation in Africa. Missionaries have been everywhere the pioneers of empire. The frontier has advanced on the stepping-stones of missionary graves.’ The last extension of our Empire in South Africa cost our nation a three years’ war, and over £200,000,000.

The story of the growth of our Empire contains abundant matter both for deep humiliation and fervent gratitude. It is said that empires have been thrust upon us, and that we have been compelled to annex, while protesting against annexation. Our annexations have contributed largely to the weal of mankind. The Briton who visits Central Africa has good cause to thank God for what his nation has done there in a very short time. It is only fifteen years since Lobengula ruled at Bulawayo, the last stronghold of South African heathenism, which appropriately means ‘the place of slaughter.’ The field around his Great Kraal, or Judgment Seat, was covered with the bones of those whom he had slain for offences against himself and for witchcraft. It is only thirty years since Sepopa, king of Barotsiland, ‘used to amuse himself capturing children and throwing them to the crocodiles (in the Zambesi) as we should feed ducks (Coillard, p. 270). But enormous changes are taking place in Africa.’ The Briton who visits Bulawayo and the Zambesi may thank God that his nation has made life and property as safe there as at home, and that marvellous improvements have been achieved in a few years. Litia, the heir to the throne of Barotsiland, has bad a Christian marriage, and has made such progress in civilisation that he drives his own motor-car. Better still, ‘he alone of all his countrymen accords to his wife the position in which Christian marriage places her; every day they and their child sit down to table together, European fashion.’ Young Ethiopians are already unable to believe the stories of slave-raiding. These are unthinkable to them now, and seem to belong to another planet.

Missions are a guarantee of peace all over the world. True missionaries are ever peacemakers. [For the preservation of peace between the colonists and natives, one missionary is worth a battalion of soldiers’ (Sir Chas. Warren, Governor of Natal).] In war the faithful adherence of native Christians can be counted on. Christian Kafirs have more than once prevented bloodshed. The life of Soga informs us that, in the wars in his day, not one Christian Kafir took up arms against Britain, and the native converts helped to save India in the mutiny. Both Anthony Trollope and Sir Bartle Frere testified ‘that nothing would do more to prevent future Kafir wars than a multiplication of such institutions as Lovedale.’

These facts should secure a generous interest in Foreign Missions among all classes in the land, including even those to whom the by-products are more interesting than the chief spiritual products. Stewart often appealed for unsalaried helpers, and his appeal was not in vain. He offered a great and alluring field to those who wished to share in the regeneration of Africa. Livingstone hoped that the day was coming when rich men would not spend all their money on dogs and horses, but would send missionaries to the most downtrodden races. Could they make a better investment of their sympathies and money? But the appeal is not to the rich only., The black slab on Livingstone’s grave bears the inscription: ‘All I can say in my solitude is, may Heaven’s rich blessing come down on every one— American, English, Turk—who will help to heal this open sore of the world. For thirty years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelise the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets, and abolish the desolating slave-trade of South Africa.’

These thirty years were added to his life by the generous help of a minister’s wife, who collected and sent him twelve pounds a year for a native assistant. One of the most popular pictures some years ago was that of the lion standing over Livingstone ready to devour him. In the corner of the picture stands Mebaiwe, the native assistant secured by the twelve pounds, taking aim at the lion, which at once rushed towards him. Dr. Livingstone’s life was thus saved for thirty years, during which he did nearly the whole of his great work for Africa. No one can tell what money may do when it is offered in the right spirit. For our small is often God’s great.

As African women gain grace and strength from their burdens, so the Church of Christ would develop her fettered powers by sharing the general burden of the heathen world. The Church in its best estate is like the poet’s well-fashioned arch, which purchases strength from its increasing load.

The first Foreign Mission report runs: ‘And when they were come, and had gathered the church to-. gether, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles’ (Acts xiv. 27). Paul and Barnabas reported spiritual achievements and wonderful opportunities. No former age has witnessed achievements and opportunities like those in our day, and opportunity is the authoritative finger-post of duty. We need now to pray, not for open doors, but for open eyes, minds, hearts, and purses.

Return to Book Contents Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus