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AN UNWRITTEN CHAPTER OF HISTORY.
THE STRUGGLE FOR BORGU.
It is a mark of the nature of from the Berlin Conference in the British empire, and of the 1884-85.
Within ten years conditions under which we hold from that date the French, it, that hardly a month passes, working south and south-east certainly never so much as half from Senegambia and the a year, but some place which Upper Niger, had interposed the average well-educated
themselves between the proson cannot even find on the map tectorate of Sierra Leone and leaps into sudden publicity, and the Niger so completely that is on every newspaper placard there was nothing to be done and in every one's mouth. but fix a frontier by joint comYesterday they were unknown, mission, which left that colony to-morrow probably they will practically resourceless; and be forgotten. Fashoda made they were pushing with fevera somewhat deeper impression; ish activity into the regions yet for a week or so last year north of the Gold Coast. In eyes were fixed on Borgu and the meanwhile Dahomey, conMossi just as keenly as they quered in 1890, had become were later on the Bahr-el-Gha- another base, and expeditions zal—and with good reason, for from it were moving norththere was more serious danger ward. Thus in the acute period of a conflict over the Niger of the struggle the French than ever arose over the Nile. were making their way southNow the strain has been for- east from their posts of Ségu gotten: the men out there who and Bandiagara in the French were doing the empire's work Sudan, and north and northon its frontiers are no longer west from Carnotville in Upactors before a great theatre; per Dahomey. By 1896 their but the work goes on all the forces had joined hands behind same, and it is just as well to the Gold Coast, and set on record what was done striving to retrench as far as and is being done.
possible the hinterlands of that The Convention signed last colony, and of German TogoJuly in Paris between Great land, while at the same time Britain and France ended sud- they endeavoured to make denly and summarily a chapter themselves masters of the west of history which has not yet been bank of the Niger and secure written—the story of French ag a port on its waters accessible gressions on territories claimed direct from the
Thus by us in West Africa, and of there were two distinct points our too-long-deferred resistance of friction between English to those aggressions. The en and French: first, the hintercroachment proceeded steadily land of the Gold Coast (Mossi,
VOL. CLXV. —NO. MI.
Gurunsi, and the surround- vessel is insured beyond Jebba. ing countries); and secondly, Above Badjibo the river is Borgu, which is part of the practically unnavigable
for natural hinterland of Lagos. more than 500 miles. In the The French forces working from meantime a strong expedition, the French Sudan and from under Commandant Decoeur, Dahomey were, when matters had been despatched in July came to a critical juncture, 1894 from Dahomey northward, in touch with each other as having for its main objects to well as with their respective secure a treaty with the chief bases; forces resisting of Gurma, a country lying to them, almost non-existent at the north of Borgu and Togofirst, were up to the end dis- land, thus cutting the Germans connected. The object of this off from the Niger; and to paper is to relate what took obtain treaties with the king place during the final phase of of Nikki, which, the French the struggle in Borgu, part of asserted, was the capital of the territory held by the Royal Borgu. Borgu, comprising the Niger Company. The story of riverine inhabitants of the the resistance offered in the right bank of the Niger from hinterland of our Crown Colony Illo southward to near Jebba, of the Gold Coast is similar would, it was thought, give but quite distinct. It consti- them a port on the navigable tutes by itself another chapter waters of the Lower Niger. of history not yet written, but Now the Royal Niger Comwhich we hope to write as soon pany claimed both these counas the facts are available. tries, Gurma and Borgu. They
In 1894 Commandant Toutée claimed Gurma in virtue of started on a voyage, professedly treaty rights on the ground of private exploration, and ap- that it was a province of Gando, plied to the Royal Niger Com- with which country they had pany for leave to pass through a treaty. Moreover, Gando is territories under their jurisdic- itself a fief of the Sultanate of tion ; but as he was taking Sokoto, and by the convention with him a considerable armed of 1890 the Company had rights force, this request was refused. over all appanages of Sokoto. Accordingly he set out from They claimed Borgu, first, on Porto Novo on the Dahomey the ground that the Say-Barrua coast, and from Carnotville line, fixed in 1890, gave to Great made his way north - east Britain all included by a line through the Bariba country, drawn from Say south to the till he struck the Niger opposite ninth parallel, up to which the Badjibo, a point about midway frontiers were delimited from between Bussa and Jebba. Here the coast; and secondly, on the he established a camp and forti- ground that the king of Bussa fied a position which he called alleged himself to be sovereign Fort d'Arenberg From this of all Borgu, and with this king point it is possible to navigate they had concluded a treaty in to the sea, though not safe; no 1890 and paid him a subsidy.
But as the French asserted that
arms, all recruits), Nikki, not Bussa, was the cap- insisted that the king of Nikki ital of Borgu, it was thought should accept the French flag, advisable to despatch Captain and wrote home to say that a Lugard to secure a treaty with treaty had been concluded on that town.
November 26, making no menDecour's expedition did not tion of Captain Lugard. Then make rapid progress. Borgu is the various French exploring a difficult country; its inhabit- parties pushed on hastily to the ants, the Baribas, are a warlike, north, to anticipate Dr Grüner predatory people, whose chief and Lieutenant von Karnap, weapon is the poisoned arrow. who were on a similar errand According to Mockler Ferry- on behalf of Germany. Flags man, they came originally from of both colours were distributed Northern Africa, and profess freely through the country, and not to be pagans, but to wor as the signing of each treaty ship“Kisra, a Jew." At all
was accompanied by a handevents, their country was un some gratuity, some chiefs did explored, and they had beaten a profitable trade in the busiback the wave of Fulah con
The ruler of Sansanné quest which, sweeping over all Mango accepted three within a the countries between Lake space of six months. Tchad and the Niger, had So ended in 1895 the first surged across the river into
race for Borgu,” in which Gurma and Illórin, Borgu's European expeditions hunted neighbours. Consequently, al- treaties from negro chiefs. The though Decoeur left Dahomey result was somewhat to disbefore Captain Lugard sailed credit all such treaties, but to from England, the English strengthen the Niger Comofficer, proceeding by water to pany's claim to Borgu. WhethJebba, succeeded in organising er Nikki or Bussa was the capia force, and reaching Nikki tal of Borgu might be a matter before the French. Marching of* opinion ; but in each place by way of Kiama, he entered the Company had a prior claim. Nikki, and concluded a treaty The French practically recogthere on November 10, 1894, nised this by shifting their then passed on southward to ground and attempting to secure the Company's rights secure the country by what in Okuta and Ilesha. Five
occupadays later the French came on tion,” but in reality was open the scene. M. Ballot, governor usurpation. of Dahomey, hearing of the
In the end of 1896 two exEnglish mission, had sent uppeditions were organised by M. two other expeditions. That Ballot in Dahomey: one under under M. Alby was the first to Lieutenant Bretonnet, whose arrive; M. Decoeur joined him object was Borgu and the naviwith a strong force (whereas gable Niger; the other, under Captain Lugard had been ac- Captains Baud and Vermeersch, companied only by twenty-four which was directed to interpose
between the German hinterland addition to repeated breaches and the Niger. Lieutenant of their treaties, had endeavBretonnet left Carnotville on oured to bring about a general December 28, 1896, with three rising against the Company. white officers, 100 Senegalese, They had solicited help from and a number of porters. It the king of Bussa; yet he had is noticeable that he did not not only refused it, but had advance direct to Nikki and informed the Company of the claim the benefit of the treaty: plot. At this time diplomacy on the contrary, he turned west was still slowly endeavouring from Paraku and made a cir- to solve the problem presented cuit to avoid what was theo- by the conflicting treaty claims retically a friendly town. He in Borgu, and the French Govestablished posts at Bori, Bouay, ernment represented to the and, after some skirmishing on English that if the Niger Comthe road, at Kandi. From pany had a considerable force Kandi he marched to Illo on on foot, they would be tempted the Niger, thence down-stream to strengthen their claims by to Bussa, which he entered— going in and occupying Nikki. by his own account, at the Lord Salisbury's Government king's invitation—on February accordingly exacted from Sir 5, 1897. Now a great deal had George Goldie a pledge that happened since Captain Lugard he would not undertake any went out to Borgu in 1894. operations north of Jebba, The Niger Company had com which is the head of the naviplained of the act of aggression gable Niger. Nikki is well to committed by Captain Toutée the north of this point, and in occupying Fort d'Arenberg, Bida and Illórin, the objectives and Lord Rosebery had said of the expedition, were well to definitely that the place must the south of it; and the pledge be evacuated. France yielded, was accordingly given. Naturand Fort d'Arenberg became ally it was taken as binding Fort Goldie. Further, it was both sides to abide by the notified to France that Bussa status quo. But just as the was under British protection, brilliant campaign against the and an announcement to that Fulahs was practically decided effect was made in the ‘Lon- by the victory at Bida on Janudon Gazette' in June 1895 ary 29, 1897, news came that a In the face of this, Lieutenant French expedition was at Illo, Bretonnet's entry into the and shortly after a letter from town
no less than an the king of Bussa reached Sir act of war, and the Niger George Goldie, stating that his Company would have instantly capital had been occupied, and repelled the aggression, but asking for assistance. In face their hands were tied. In the of the pledge given to Governlatter part of 1896 it had been ment, however, nothing could found necessary to organise a be done by the Company, force to punish the Fulah Emirs though they probably never of Nupe and Illórin, who, in expected that Lord Salisbury