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From Slaving to

The Bight of Biafra and Fernando Po in the
Era of Abolition, 1827-1930
Ibrahim Kt:_undiata
The University of Wisconsin Press
Maps and Figures
Chapter One
The Island Background
Indigenous Origins and Society
Aborted Slaving
Chapter Two
Aborted Antislaving
The Genesis of an Antislaving Base
The Question of Impact
The Disease Factor
Chapter Three
Spain in the Bight
Fernando Po in Antislaving Diplomacy
Spain and Rio Muni
The Development Decade, 1858-1868
The Cubans in Africa
Colonial Torpor
Chapter Four
Trade and Politics
The Colonial Nucleus
Company Versus Peasant Development
The Inculcation of Values
Racism and Competition
Chapter Five
Islanders and Interlopers
Society and Change
"Trading in Boobe"
Chapter Six
The Cocoa Economy
The Black Planters
The Spanish Presence
Femandinos: Continuity and Change
The Problematic of Black Enterprise
Chapter Seven
The Search for Labor
Slavery and Neoslavery
Recruitment: Rio Muni
Recruitment: Cameroon
Recruitment: The Kru
Labor Abuse and the British
Labor Abuse and the African Farmers
Labor Agreements, 1914-1930
Chapter Eight
Creole Culture and Change
The Protestant Paradigm
Chapter Nine
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
The Attack on Tradition
The Bubi and the Labor Question
Instruments and Elements of Change
A "Model" Colony
The Creation of the "Model" Colony
1.1 The Biafran Region
5.1 Fernando Po in 1841
6.1 Fernando Po Plantation Locations, c. 1913
10.1 Land Distribution Between Social Categories, 1941
2.1 Slave Ship Captures, 1825-1839
6.1 Recorded Cocoa Production and Exports, 1899-1930
This work concerns a portion of Equatorial Guinea, one of the world's most
isolated countries. During my first visit twenty-five years ago, I was placed
under house arrest and my research destroyed.
This book is the reconstruction and fruition of that research. It has
involved travels in Great Britain, Spain, and the United States. Most
rewardingly, it took me back to Equatorial Guinea. Much had changed;
much had not. Access to information was easier. However, many persons
who had been living repositories of history were dead. I mourn their deaths
both as a closing off of historical memory and as the loss of kind and
fascinating interlocutors.
Hopefully this work will justify its long gestation. I wish to thank all of
those colleagues who have made it possible. In Boston Patrick Manning and
David Northrup made excellent suggestions and criticisms. Gwendolyn M.
Hall, a friend and an historian of encyclopedic scope, read the manuscript
early on and made greatly appreciated suggestions. I am also very thankful
for the information and feedback provided by Gervase Clarence-Smith,
Teresa Pereira Rodriguez, Ralph Austen, David Eltis, Cord Jakobeit, Daniel
Headrick, Max Liniger-Goumaz, and Gonzalo Sanz Casas. In Equatorial
Guinea Samuel Ebuka and Trinidad Morgades provided friendship and
orientation, as did the late Constantino Ochaga Nve Bengobesama. My oral
informants, many of whom have now passed on, were exemplars of courage
in the face of adversity. I thank them all, especially the late Abigail Mehile,
Fernanda Broderick and Edward Barleycorn.
There are many scholars whose work has inspired this project, most
notably Jan Vansina. In a different vein, the same could be said of the work
of Philip Curtin, who mentioned the importance of Fernando Po more than
a generation ago. At the level of moral support, this work could not have
xii Preface
been completed without the good wishes and faith of Betsy Elderedge and
David Plank.
I thank the University of Wisconsin Press, which has seen this long
process to fruition. I am particularly grateful to Raphael Kadushin of the
press and his staff. The manuscript itself was prepared by Susan C. Isaacs,
who saw it go through many changes. G. Patton Wright served as proof-
reader and did an excellent job of picking his way through a welter of
languages and styles. The translations in the work are my own. I thank John
Kraman, my graduate assistant, who was indefatigable. Because of his
efforts and those of my other helpers, any errors of analysis or fact are
entirely my own.
From Slaving to Neoslavery
In the 1960s Fernando Po (present-day Bioko), an African island larger than
Zanzibar or Mauritius, was a model of colonial development. A plantation
system based on cocoa and coffee cultivation benefited both European capital
and indigenous cash crop farmers. In 1960 exports from Spanish Guinea,
of which Fernando Po was the economic mainstay, were the highest per
capita in Africa ($135). Six years later the colony was the fifth largest
African cocoa producer, after the much larger territories of Ghana, Nigeria,
Ivory Coast, and Cameroon. Literacy was over 80 percent, and per capita
government expenditure was higher for the whole of Spanish Guinea than it
was in Spain itself.

Fernando Po is the largest of a series of islands in the Gulf of Guinea, the
majority of which have been part of the world economy since the fifteenth
century. They gained importance as fifteenth-century European sugar
growing shifted from the Mediterranean to Madeira and then to the West
African coast. As Fernand Braude! noted, "the discovery of the Cape Verde
islands in 1455, and of Fernando Po and Sao Tome in 1471 ... brought
into being a coherent economic zone, based essentially on trade in ivory,
malaguetta [pepper] ... gold dust ... and the slave trade. "
By the early
sixteenth century Sao Tome was the world's largest sugar plantation
economy. It provided the model for developments in Brazil, the Caribb.ean,
and, ultimately, the American South.
4 Introduction
Remarkably, Fernando Po stood outside these developments. When
compared with the other Guinea Islands, it appeared to be a "developmental
failure." In spite of volcanic soils suitable for plantation agriculture, the
territory entered the world economy only in the late nineteenth century.
European colonization attempts in the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries foundered. The indigenous people, the Bantu-speaking Bubi,
remained unconquered by European imperialism until the opening of the
twentieth century. This delay resulted both from their political and cultural
resistance to colonization and from difficulties created by the physical
environment in which they live.
On Fernando Po, as elsewhere, ecology played a momentous historical
role in determining the fate of European colonizing attempts. For example,
Walter Rodney has pointed out that sugar plantation agriculture and
settlement in Guyana were, in fundamental ways, constrained by the physical
Of the Americas in general, Marvin Harris notes that
demography and epidemiology influence landholding patterns, patterns of
racial intermixing, methods of social control, and the general open or closed
nature of labor systems.
Philip Curtin has shown that tracking the
movement of European administrators and landowners to the tropics cannot
avoid the question of epidemiological costs.
Unfortunately, little discussion has focused on African islands. Yet it is
obvious that these territories, so important from the fifteenth through the
nineteenth centuries, were prime examples of intercontinental migration and
epidemiological impact. Fernando Po's history argues against any "teleologi-
cal" explanation of the movement of capital into new areas. Capital, like
nature, may abhor a vacuum, but it is constrained by material conditions.
Although some imperialists argued that Fernando Po must be developed
simply because it was "there," European economic exploitation was
restrained by a plethora of environmental factors. Sleeping sickness,
malaria, and other tropical diseases are still, or have been, present on the
island. It shares with the rest of West and Equatorial Africa the prevalence
of falciparum malaria and trypanosomiasis. These diseases, along with
yellow fever, have had a detectable, but differential impact on settlement.
Trypanosomiasis was a continuing problem for the African population;
malaria has been of most concern to would-be European colonizers.
As late as 1910 Sir Harry Johnston remarked that Fernando Po "is one of
the most beautiful islands in the whole world, yet although it has no great
tracts of marsh, [it] is nevertheless very unhealthy for Europeans in the coast
districts. "
He estimated that.its undercolonized state would soon pass away:
"Btelna what a successful, healthy, prosperous European colony has grown
Introduction 5
up under the Portuguese on the not far distant island of Sao Thome, there is
no reason why, under an energetic Spanish administration, a similar fate
should not be in store for Fernando Po." Thirty-one years later a: spokesman
for the Franco regime expressed a similar hope and, at the same time,
acknowledged the force of the environment: "The Portuguese, blood of our
blood, bear centuries of adaptation on Sao Tome and Principe, neighbors of
Fernando Po and Annob6n. There is no tabu, nor any racial or climatic
impossibility, which, by its existence, would mean our expulsion as a
colonizing country. "
However, it was only in the post-World War II
period, when epidemiological impediments had been overcome, that this
hope became a full reality.
Fernando Po's experience speaks to the larger issues of overseas
expansion and the creation of plantation economies in the tropics. The
island's pre-nineteenth-century history is not the history of alien colonization.
Rather, it is the story of the repulse of that colonization by the indigenes and
the environment. The territory reminds us that ecology is more than just the
mise-en-scene of the historical drama; it can, under certain circumstances,
determine the pace of the drama's unfolding or, whether the drama will take
place at all.
The history of the big island in the Bight calls for a broader and deeper
examination of the general role of ecology in intracontinental and interconti-
nental migration. European plans to employ Asian, Arab, and Afro-
Caribbean labor in the Bight were not consistently followed through, in part
because of the disease factor. Obviously, this factor is not confined to the
Bight of Biafra, although its salience there was greater than elsewhere in
Africa. In the 1860s, a German anthropologist opined that "in ...
Fernando Po and Zanzibar aliens could neither live nor become acclimated,
whilst the natives enjoy good health. "
Of course, in the comparative case
of Zanzibar, nineteenth-century immigrants from the Arabian peninsula did,
over time, become acclimated. However, newcomers from Asia did not
enter without paying an epidemiological price.
As Zanzibar colonial
medical reports indicate, alien settlement and residence were very much
. ilfccted by disease.
For instance, hyperendemic malaria had a clearly
visible differential impact on the settlement patterns and viability of various

groups. Writing of the East African island, Frederick Cooper has
the role of hegemonic ideology, world markets, and praedial labor
,., . "'"'"'" in molding island plantation systems.
To the resistance of labor
be added the resistance and interaction of the environment itself.
After the 1820s permanent alien settlement did, in spite of epidemiological
mpedl:meJilts, become implanted on Fernando Po and increasingly impinged
6 Introduction
on the Bubi. The changes undergone by the islanders in the nineteenth
century raise a number of broad questions and provide one scenario for
Bantu state-formation. On Fernando Po it is possible to see the forces
impelling socio-political change, especially those contributing to the rise of
central political institutions. Increased trade, principally in palm oil, and
pressure from outside groups led to the creation of a paramount authority
over the more than twenty-five political units on the island. At the same
time, contact with outsiders brought new diseases, followed by precipitous
population decline.
In the early nineteenth century the most persistent outsiders were the
British. For the twenty years following 1821 Fernando Po was the cynosure
of their interest in Niger Delta region. Some saw it as the future emporium
of West Africa, the "free" labor antipode of Zanzibar. Britishers as diverse
as the parliamentary abolitionist Thomas Powell Buxton and the proslavery
geographer James MacQueen proclaimed the island essential to antislaving
or to commercial success in Africa. The latter urged his compatriots to
"Plant the British standard on the Island of Socotra [in the Indian
Ocean]-and upon the Island of Fernando Po-and inland upon the banks of
the Niger, and then we may say Asia and Africa-for all their productions
and wants-are under our control."
The development of a British
antislaving base in the years from 1827 to 1835 was the partial fruition of
this idea. The Buxton-inspired Niger expedition of 1841 used the island as
the launch site for a grand, but unsuccessful, attempt at the "civilization" of
the African interior. A few years later the island was the focus of a
Jamaican colonization scheme, and in the earlY. 1850s Edward Jones, an
African-American missionary from South Carolina, envisioned it as the
gateway for evangelization of the region east of the Niger Delta.
Before and after the British, other Europeans also attempted to settle on
Fernando Po. Spain laid claim to the island in 1778, but an attempt to
establish a slaving base ended in failure in 1781. For most of the early
nineteenth century there was no Spanish representative, and Madrid thought
of selling the island to Britain. A spasm of colonial activity occurred in the
1860s when Fernando Po received approximately six hundred Cuban
immigrants as part of an unsuccessful colonization scheme. After 1868
Spain kept its claim, but maintained only a minimal administration.
Metropolitan interest increased again in the twentieth century, and the Bubi
were brought under Spanish control in 1904. In the following decade
. metropolitan planters and commercial interests entered the colony in
increasing numbers. Cocoa and coffee production increased over 100 per-
cent between 1910 and 1925, and by 1930 Europeans were economically
Introduction 7
The impact of this "development" on the Bubi was devastating.
In 1912 they numbered only around 6,800 or 54 percent of the population.
By 1936 they accounted for only 36 percent of the population.
Like the
Wahadimu on Zanzibar, they had been pushed into a marginal position.
Unlike Zanzibar or the Mascarenes, nineteenth-century Fernando Po was
not a classic slave plantation economy managed by non-Africans. Outside
labor and managers both came, in the main, from African societies on the
West African coast. A perdurable legacy of the British occupation was the
creation of an African settler population largely descended from recaptured
slaves. By 1830 these mostly Igbo freedpeople and their liberators constituted
the largest British establishment in the Bights of Benin and Biafra region.
To the original recaptured slaves there were later added immigrants from
Sierra Leone and elsewhere on the coast. Gradually, they coalesced into a
community known as "Fernandino." By the 1840s the settlers were already
engaged in the palm oil trade with the Bubi. By the 1880s many were
prosperous cocoa farmers who employed Mende and Kru migrant labor.
Fernando Po, against all expectations and stereotypes showed "that," in the
words of Christopher Fyfe, "given suitable conditions, [Western-educated
Africans] could prosper in agriculture. "
The island was a magnet for
persons seeking an outlet for their capital or enterprise. Many succeeded in
activities they found difficult or closed in British West Africa.
Using Fernando Po as an example, Richard Burton asked in the 1860s
whether or not the world had "been sufficiently cleared to dispense with
forced labor. "
Indeed, greater inputs of coerced labor and capital would
have been needed to exploit the island as successfully as nineteenth-century
Silo Tome, Principe, or Zanzibar. As it was, labor tended to shift, over
time, toward "conditions analogous to slavery." Given the difficulty of
procuring willing wage labor, employers tried to bind workers to the island.
Recently Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts have observed that "slavery in
Africa sometimes ended suddenly, causing widespread disruption, and
sometimes petered out with apparently minimal repercussions. "
In the case
of Fernando Po, coerced labor linked to traditional slaving networks petered
out with maximal repercussions. Wage labor has been present since the
early nineteenth century, but has failed to overcome the objective circum-
stances which led to attempts to tie workers to plantations. The failure of
Fernando Po and its neighbors to produce a self-replicating population
created policies which made the distinction between slave and contract
worker at times no more than nominal. One outcome of this situation was
a "slavery" scandal in 1929. On the largest of the Guinea Islands the lack
of a labor catchment area and a precipitous population decline raised, and
continue to raise, serious problems for those intending to impose the
plantation model.
We must avoid seeing "slavery," in and of itself, as necessarily incompat-
ible with European imperialism in all areas of Africa after the Scramble. On
the contrary, in the Gulf of Guinea, the triumph of British-imposed abolition
and emancipation coincided with the increasing exploitation of the worker
and the tying of the laborer to the plantation. The development of various
forms of forced labor and slavery was not linear, but fluctuated with the
intensity of economic activity. The introduction of coffee and cocoa
increased the value of bound workers and emphasized their role as producers
rather than as dependents. Far from collapsing, traditional slaving networks
interdigitated with the new traffic in "contract laborers." And, it must be
remembered, these plantation economies were, or were to become, among
the most productive in colonial Africa.
Chapter 1
The Island Background
Jan Vansina notes that "the establishment of the English at Clarence on
Bioko in 1827, and of the French on the Gabon Estuary in 1839 ...
launched a direct assault on the western Bantu worldview. "
This is the
history of that first assault and its agents, African and European. It is a
story of settlement and labor. What began in the 1820s was finally to result
in the marginalization of Fernando Po's indigenous population and the
creation of a plantation economy dependent on numbers of imported African
Before the third decade of the nineteenth century, Fernando Po, unlike its
neighbors, was largely unknown to outsiders. The largest Guinea Island is
forty-four miles long from northeast to southwest and measures twenty-two
miles across. At its nearest point, the island lies approximately twenty miles
from the African mainland. Its mountainous relief is formidable. In
essence, Fernando Po is the steep peak of a submerged volcano. The group
of islands to which it belongs is basaltic and rests on a seabed platform.
Over time the platform has sunk, causing the islands to dip to the southwest.
This slippage is evident on Fernando Po, where the southern coast drops
abruptly into the sea. The island was, at one time, a peninsula of the
mountainous and volcanic Cameroon region. At some distant time, during
a seismic disturbance, the ocean broke in and separated the island from the
mainland. A continuous submerged ledge, about thirty miles in breadth and
lying at a depth of from 200 to 290 feet, connects the island with the
10 The Island Background
mainland. On either side of this ledge the ocean suddenly increases to a
depth of six thousand feet. Between Sao Tome and Principe and the
southern end of Fernando Po, the depths range from nine to ten thousand
Fernando Po's highest peak, an extinct volcanic crater known as the Pico
de Basile (formerly Pico de Santa Isabel), reaches 9,480 feet. The second
most prominent is the Pico de Moka, or Biao. The third is the Grand
Caldera, the semicircular remnant of an extinct volcano. Out of this last
peak flows the Thdela River, the largest watercourse in the southern part of
the island. In the south also lies the crater lake Moka (previously Lake
Loreto), some five thousand feet above sea level. To the north of this lake,
along the mountainous ridge of the island, are other smaller crater lakes.
Its rugged topography deprives Fernando Po of much easily cultivable
land. Arable terrain lies around the perimeter in a band around four miles
. wide and at an average height of sixteen hundred feet above sea level. The
use of small rivers and creeks is inhibited by wet and dry seasons. Normally
watercourses flow only during the wet season from April to October. All
the Guinea Islands are pluvial and have average yearly temperatures of 80F.
From July to September the weather is drier.
Fernando Po's interior was once heavily forested, and there are still areas
of virgin forest. Vegetation varies greatly because of differences in altitude.
Flora is mixed; at least 826 plant species exist. The island contains
subalpine heaths, monsoon forests, subtropical forests, as well as tropical
lowlands in the north. There is a marked similarity between the flora of
Cameroon and that of Fernando Po. At the same time, climate and
vegetation differ greatly from those of southeastern Nigeria. There are
mangroves on Fernando Po, but they do not compare with the dense growths
of continental wetlands. In coastal areas, there are coconut groves on the
landward sides of beaches. The oil palm (Elaeis guineesis) grows in coastal
regions and has been of major historical significance.
Fernando Po's neighbors, Sao Tome and Principe, are located about 275
and 125 miles, respectively, off the northern coast of Gabon (see Map 1.1).
In spite of their relatively small size, they have been historically very
significant and present a striking contrast to Fernando Po's comparative
obscurity. The geography of the three islands, however, is quite similar.
The two smaller islands have a total area of 372 square miles; Sao Tome is
thirty miles long and twenty miles across. The 6,640-foot Pico de Sao Tome
is the highest point on the two islands; in addition, there are ten other
elevations over 3,500 feet. Principe is about ten miles from northeast to
southwest, and five miles across. Like Sao Tome, which is ninety miles
The lslan.d Background
away, Principe has a rugged coastline. The northern portion of the island
is relatively flat. Again, like Fernando Po and Sao Tome, the southern
portion is craggy. Principe's highest elevation is the Pico de Principe at
3,110 feet.
The groundwork for European plantation agriculture in the Guinea Islands
was laid when the Portuguese arrived on Sao Tome in 1470. Within a
French Congo
Map 1.1. The Biafran Region
SOURCE: Billy Gene Hahs, "Spain and the Scramble for Africa: The 'Africanistas' and the
Gulf of Guinea" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1980), p. 4.
12 The Island Background
generation the island had become an important home and entrepot for sugar
plantation agriculture. This development occurred only after several
obstacles had been overcome, the most serious being the peopling of the
territories. Portuguese, Spaniards, Frenchmen, and Genoese were lured or
forced to the islands. Over the years Portuguese convicts, designated
degredados, and Jewish exiles were transported to the Bight of Biafra. More
importantly for future developments, the holders of land grants were
authorized to trade in slaves with the mainland. The majority of the captives
brought to the island came from the kingdom of the Kongo. Female slaves
were imported for the specific purpose of creating an island population.
Greater and greater numbers of slaves were exported from the mainland
as the sixteenth century progressed. Four to five thousand slaves per annum
were exported from Angola to Sao Tome around 1530.
In 1548 the number
was between six and seven thousand. Intra-African trade was also important
business during this time. Four to six Sao Tome-based ships were busily
employed in taking slaves to the Gold Coast from the kingdom of Benin in
the period between 1510 and 1540.
Although sugar production boomed in the early sixteenth century, the
prosperity of Sao Tome did not outlast the first one hundred years of
colonization. There were many reasons for the decline of the sugar culture,
including a major slave revolt in 1595. The most serious damage to the
sugar industry on Sao Tome, however, was caused by competition from new
areas of production, notably Brazil. By the end of the sixteenth century,
sugar cultivation on the island had ebbed into insignificance and,
ingly, African slaves were shipped directly to Brazil. Gradually, Principe
became the more important of the two islands economically. In 1696 the
Cacheu Company set up a permanent slaving base there; the company had
already acquired the license (asiento) to supply slaves to Spanish America.
The seat of government was eventually moved to Principe in 1753.
Why, despite their geographic similarities were Sao Tome and Principe
regarded so differently from their bigger neighbor? Why did the early
Portuguese avoid Fernando Po? In 1500 colonists on Sao Tome were
granted trade with Fernando Po, but made little headway. On Fernando Po
in 1507 a would-be sugar planter, Luis Ramos de Esquivel, saw his
installations destroyed by the Bubi. Twenty-two years later, a Portuguese
mariner complained to the king of Portugal that an area near the island
produced malaguetta pepper, but that his countrymen neglected to exploit the
It could perhaps be argued that the Portuguese did not use Fernando Po
because they already had territory enough.
The idea of self-limiting tropical
The Island Background
exploitation is intriguing, but ignores the fact that the Portuguese colonized
the other Biafra Islands, including relatively' small territories like Annob6n.
In the early sixteenth century Sao Tome and the other Guinea Islands
demonstrated that sugar growing was highly profitable. Before extensive
Portuguese investment in Brazil there would have been little cause for
Europeans to avoid Fernando Po because of fears of overproduction.
Certainly Sao Tome was better situated than Fernando Po for navigation
under sail. It is near an "intertropical convergence zone"; winds are
northerly north of it and southerly south of it. Ships sailing to Portugal from
the Guinea Coast could sail southward from Sao Tome's vicinity and then
use the southerly wind to carry them out into the Atlantic before taking the
prevailing westerlies back to Europe. Fernando Po, however, was not
convenient. Sailing between it and the mainland was difficult given
sixteenth-century marine technology. In 1529 the Portuguese Crown was
informed that ships were being outfitted with oars to get there from Sao
Tome. Around 1600 a Dutch navigator advised ships "to pass by all the
rivers which are inside the bend [of the Bight of Biafra] because there is
nothing profitable to do there, and if one happens to fall behind the island
of Fernando Po, one is in danger of staying there all one's life without
escaping. "
Two centuries later, the same view was voiced by British
mariners using considerably more sophisticated technology.
The island's location was not the only possible impediment to European
colonization. Unlike Sao Tome and Principe, Fernando Po was inhabited at
the time it was first visited by the Portuguese. Fernando Po may have had
as many as thirty thousand people at one point during the early nineteenth
century. This would have given it a population density of fifteen people per
square kilometer overall. In those areas available for habitation the densities
would have been as high as thirty people per square kilometer.
Europeans, the smaller and less mountainous islands of Sao Tome and
Principe would have had the advantage of being easier to control with a
limited pool of manpower.
Indigenous Origins and Society
We should remember that reconstructing the past from the "anthropological
present" is always fraught with difficulties. In Africa this is perhaps
nowhere more true than on Fernando Po where an eventual tide of European
cultural imperialism engulfed the inhabitants, obscuring old values and
traditions. For the Bubi, one of the most isolated peoples of Bantu Africa,
14 The Island Background
change in the nineteenth century was momentous. During that time they
entered the palm oil trade, created a central political authority, and neared
extinction. All the while, their view of themselves and their past changed
radically. Unfortunately, it is only through the prism of colonial culture that
we can attempt to see the lineaments of the precolonial. A further misfor-
tune is that, due to the political exigencies of present-day Equatorial Guinea,
much of what we know of Bubi culture call be obtained only by consulting
the written records of outsiders; fieldwork on the island has been at a
standstill for the past quarter century.
Would-be sixteenth-century colonizers spread the legend that it was
impossible to settle Fernando Po because the Bubi poisoned the water
supply. This was. an early, but incorrect, explanation of the high mortality
Europeans experienced. In 1642 Antonio de Maris Carneiro, a Portuguese,
said that it was impossible to land without a guide who knew the land
because the indigenous people maintained no trade or other contact with
At the end of the century, Willem Bosman observed: "The
island of Fernando Po is inhabited by a savage and cruel sort of people,
which he that deals with [them] ought not to trust." He added, "I neither
can nor will say more of them."
A century later, when the Portuguese
from Principe thought about establishing a base on Fernando Po, they
commented that "language which they [i.e., the islanders] spoke was
[unknown] to us Portuguese and they were only understood my means of
signs .... "
The core of the island population inhabited Fernando Po at least a
millennium before the visits of the first Europeans in the late fifteenth
century. The term "Bubi" was first applied to the islanders in 1821 by a
British naval officer. It supposedly derives from the Bubi word for man,
boobe in the north and moome in the south. The Bubi call Fernando Po
Oche in the north and Oricho in the south. In the north the indigenes call
themselves Bochoboche and in the south Bochoboricho. Outsiders are
referred to as Bapot6.
Early Bantu speakers themselves arrived in Gabon between 1500 and
1000 B.C. Jan Vansina holds that Bubi culture reflects that of the Western
Bantu in general at the time their migrations began. He concludes that early
Western Bantu culture "was purely neolithic and the archaeological evidence
must therefore relate to 'neolithic' sites, not sites from the Iron Age. "
Bubi are associated with a sequence of stone-using cultures: Cabonera
(400-800 A.D.), Bolaopi (800-1300 A.D.), Buela (1300-1700 A.D.), and
Balombe (1700-1900 A.D.). The most recent culture developed as the popu-
lation of Fernando Po grew, and mountainsides were cleared and persisted
The Island Background
long after the introduction of metal weapons and tools by nineteenth-century
African and European settlers.
Bubi origins are old and mixed; the "language cluster of Bioko" was one
of the first language groups to break away from the parent Western Bantu. 1s
There are four principal Bubi dialects and various secondary ones. In some
cases they are not mutually intelligible. The principal ones are found in the
north, in the northeast, in Ureka in the south, and in the southeastern areas
of Batete and Balacha. The latter two dialects are most different from the
The four dialects within the "language cluster of Bioko" indicate a
composite population. The island's rugged terrain and the small size of
incoming groups would account, in part, for the extreme fragmentation in
such a confined space. From oral evidence it is obvious that some of the
islanders are fairly recent arrivals. Early in the twentieth century Sir Harry
Johnston thought that occasional groups of Basa, Isubu, or Bakwerri from
Cameroon might have landed on the east coast of Fernando Po at various
In the 1950s the linguist Malcolm Guthrie placed the Bubi in the
"Bube-Benga" group of coastal Cameroon and Rio Muni. In his classifica-
tion the group included "Bube" (or Ediya), Batanga, Yasa, Kombe, and
Linguistically, this classification is flawed. However, very
interestingly, many Bubi traditions indicate migration in the present
millennium. Early in the twentieth century an ethnographer observed that
"as proof of the view that the Bubi [fairly recently] came from across the
sea, an oar was shown to me in one of the small villages near Ribiri, with
which the ancestors were [said] to have propelled the canoes."
traditions in the north say that the population is autochthonous, while others
in the south speak of fairly recent settlement.
The sheer volume and detailed quality of the migration accounts are
intriguing. Those who have made attempts to systematize and synthesize
them say that migration occurred in four waves, the last of which were the
Batete and Bokoko Bubi. Such can be put within the context of
the Great Migration of Bantu peoples in equatorial Africa. Vansina
surmises, on the basis of largely linguistic evidence, that the migrants
described in oral tradition were iron-using conquerors by or before the
fourteenth. century. For instance, the Batete and the Bokoko in this view
formed part of a highly coordinated system of conquest. The
band of warriors, were the vanguard, followed by political leaders, women,
and dependents. The rearguard was made up of Batete warriors. "The
military advantage of the immigrants probably lay in their use of massed
spearmen, whose first lines were protected by huge shields and cuirasses,
16 The Island Background
and in their practice of fighting until the enemy surrendered without
conditions, so that the victors could destroy enemy settlements and disperse
their inhabitants. "
In addition to superior organization, the new Bantu
invaders would have had the advantage of iron weapons during the initial
period of conquest. The newcomers superimposed themselves on the
existing population and, at some point, adopted their language.
Based on traditions of origin and migration, the Bubi form several
subgroups. The fundamental division is between those of the north and those
of the south. The northern groups are the Baney, Basakato, and Batete; the
southern are the Buebbe, Baabba, Baloketo, Babiaoma, Bareka Batete, and
Bokoko. On the island groups often migrated and overlapped. For instance,
the Babiaoma first resided at Concepcion on the eastern side of the island;
later migrants pushed them toward San Carlos (Luba) Bay on the western
littoral. The Baabba and the Baloketo migrated from the vicinity of Bilelipa
on the eastern shore and extended their sway over the highest portions of the
During the nineteenth century this population's material culture was
sparse; the most common possessions were digging sticks, canoes, conical
straw hats, and short pieces of logs used as pillows. The islanders kept
chickens and collected honey and palm oil. They hunted antelopes, deer,
monkeys, squirrels, and other forest animals. Interestingly, fishing was a
far less important source of food. Perhaps because of fears of seaborne
invaders, it was practiced by only a few scattered fishing villages.
Yams were the staple crop. Men alone were allowed to eat them, and
each chief participated in yam planting rituals, along with his relatives and
dependents.' In addition to yams, the Bubi also grew cocoyams (malanga).
They were harvested in January, when the yam crop had been consumed.
Cocoyams were planted, interspersed between rows of yams, a month or two
after yams were planted. Women raised the cocoayams and consumed them;
men ate them only in cases of dire necessity. Once harvested, the crop was
stored in piles separated by beds of dried grass. Sugar was also a major
Recently, Vansina has come to the conclusion that "contrary to the typical
description, the Bubi were not organized in segmentary patrilineages, did not
practice matrilineal succession, had no secret societies, no formal age-
grading system, and did not live just in compact villages. "
What some
have seen as matriclans, he now says, on closer examination, are villages.
Among the Western Bantu these were collections of Houses, that is,
aggregations of kin, dependents, and wives around the person of a "Big
Man." Houses were clustered into villages, whose existence was ephemeral
The Island Background 17
due to the out-migration and reorganization of Houses. A group of villages
constituted a district, a unit often called a "tribe" by early travelers.
Before the fourteenth century, Bubi political organization had developed
certain novel features. Districts disappeared before the large-scale
migrations from the coast, although they were subsequently reintroduced.
As elsewhere among the Western Bantu, early villages were composed of
Houses, but on Fernando Po the villages were inhabited for only part of the
year. The chief function of the village was as a place for the settling of
disputes, and it became a small-scale version of the western Bantu district.
House members dwelt separately in hamlets on their own lands during the
major farming seasons.
Aborted Slaving
In the three centuries following the Portuguese arrival in the Bight, the Bubi
and their island remained largely outside the trade networks established by
Europeans. This was in spite of the fact that the Biafran region was the
center of a burgeoning slave trade. The area supplied far more captives per
mile of coast or square mile of economic hinterland than any other part of
More than a decade ago Philip Curtin suggested that after 1730 the
number of slaves traded increased sharply. According to his data, from
1741 to 1750 a yearly average of 7,100 slaves was exported. This number
supposedly increased to about 12,500 per annum in the 1760s and 1770s.
According to this scenario, eighteenth-century slaving peaked in the last
decade of the century when an average 17,400 persons was shipped per year.
Biafran slaving was probably even more important than has previously
been estimated. Recently, using a wider range of sources, David Richardson
has shown that the flow of captives from the Biafran region was much
steadier throughout the century and much greater in volume than earlier
thought. For instance, Biafran slave exports were seven times larger than
previously assumed by writers such as Paul Lovejoy.
Already, in the first
decade of the eighteenth century, the area embarked 23,130 slaves or 6.4
percent of the West and West-Central African total. Forty-five percent of
the slaves embarked from western Africa came from the Bight of Biafra. and
West-Central Africa in the period 1710-29. Instead of roughly 63,900
slaves being exported from the Biafran region in the 1740s, the new figures
indicate higher numbers (i.e., 76,790 in the decade 1740-49).
In the next
decade the number rose to 106,100 or 18.2 percent of the West and
West-Central African total. Overall, about 40 percent of the Africans shipped
The Island Background
from West Africa in British ships in the period between 1700 and 1807 were
embarked from the Bight of Biafra.
For the period from 17 61 to 1810, the
region supplied, even at Curtin's low estimate, more than one person ,in
every six in the Atlantic slave trade.
By the late eighteenth century some
previously fairly uninvolved peoples like the Duala of Cameroon were
increasingly drawn into the burgeoning traffic.
Fernando Po stood outside these developments. A German ethnographer
spoke to Bubi informants around 1916 and came to the conclusion that
[l]t is not probable that this [i.e., Portuguese slaving] happened
on any great scale, or that it occurred in the form of slave
robbing against single tribes or villages which had shown
themselves unfriendly to the Portuguese . . . . Obviously, for
the most part, as the Bubi have told me, slaving was never more
than a matter of the more or less forcible abduction of single
persons . . . . [Supposedly,] the whites never penetrated much
farther inland than about Moka (Riabba) because the Bubi, in
spite [of being armed] with wooden spears, were nevertheless too
dangerous for them, because the Bubi knew the terrain and
[because] the whites would be easily overpowered in the thick
vegetation ....
One consequence of the slave trade, an unplanned one, was the establish-
ment of maroon settlements. In the early 1780s a Spaniard observed: "It
is known that the southern part of Fernando Po is inhabited by a great
number of slaves, refugees from Principe and Sao Tome. These miserable
creatures, whom the Portuguese used to treat with excessive rigor, today
enjoy complete liberty and live in a kind of republic that is governed by its
own laws and without any dependency on the part of the people of the
country. "
In the following century the Bubi still distinguished between the
Potugi ("Portuguese"), descendants of maroons, and genuine Bubi, although
the maroons had assimilated Bubi culture in its entirety. Insofar as Fernando
Po had a role in the slave trade, it was as a provisioning station. Yams were
sold to occaisonal passing slavers, and the island's produce was well known ~
for its quality.
In the late eighteenth century it did seem as if the island would, at last,
be drawn fully into the orbit of the overseas slave trade. In 1765 the
Portuguese noted that a group of British merchants, who traded east of the
kingdom of Benin, had asked for rights on the island. In the years 1766-67
the British Chancellor of the Exchequer seriously considered funding a force.
Partially as a response, in 1772, Vicente Gomes Ferreira, governor of
The Island Background 19
Principe and Sao Tome, sent his son, Manuel Gomes da Silva, to take
possession, but nothing of substance came of this attempt.
In 1777 Portugal transferred Fernando Po and Annob6n to Spanish
suzerainty. In April of 1778 an expedition left Montevideo bound for the
Bight of Biafra. Finally, in. October of 1778, Spanish and Portuguese envoys
landed on Fernando Po, and the new "owner" claimed possession. The
Spanish were unaware of how the ecological conditions in the proposed new
acquisition differed from those on Sao Tome and Principe. Settlement had
barely commenced before it occurred to some members of the expedition that
their government had been duped. Jose de Varela y Ulloa, a frigate
commander, wrote a report which outlined the situation of the new
possessions. Most tellingly, he informed his superiors that the areas
intended for Spanish slaving were not under Portuguese control. Simply put,
"the Portuguese do not have any rights to this island [Fernando Po] save that
of discovery, because they have never established themselves on it; nor have
they ever conducted any commerce with its inhabitants." He further noted
that "foreigners who trade on Principe have assured me that the principal
village of Fernando P6o is in the northern zone and it is there that the
English . . . supply themselves with provisions for the slaves that they buy
in New and Old Calabar. This commerce. is done by means of iron bars,
bells, knives, hooks and other trinkets with the drawback that the inhabitants
do not like to see Europeans . . . . "
In spite of misgivings, the Spaniards continued reconnoitering. In
November the expedition sailed on to take possession of Annob6n, after brief
stops at Sao Tome and Principe. En route the leader of the flotilla, the
Conde de Argelejos, died and was replaced by Lt. Colonel Joaquin Primo
de Rivera, who suffered a hostile reception from the Annobonese. The
expeditionaries then sailed back to Sao Tome and, in late 1779, returned to
Fernando Po, where they remained from November of 1779 to October of
1780. As time progressed, some black slaves and soldiers from the Spanish
expedition deserted to the Bubi, taking weapons along with them. Heat,
malaria, and the Bubi finally combined to defeat the Spanish enterprise. In
September of 1780, mutiny erupted, and the entire expedition was forced to
return to Sao Tome. As the Europeans fled, the Bubi sacked and burned the
Spanish installations. Disillusioned with Fernando Po, the Spanish flotilla
left Sao Tome for American waters in December of 1781 and arrived at
Bahia, Brazil, in February of 1782. In 1783 a British expedition arrived and
attempted to open trade with the Bubi, but met with no better success than
the Spanish had.
The Island Background
In the early nineteenth century some Bubi continued to resist great
involvement in external trade, whether slave or "legitimate." For instance,
in 1810 an English merchant ship anchored at San Carlos (Luba) and was
attacked by a group of Bubi, who then withdrew. In 1817 and 1819 the
English government sent expeditions to reconnoiter the island. They did not
make significant contact with the indigenes. In 1821 British expeditionaries
did make contact with a black castaway from Martinique who had been on
the island for more than thirty years. After appearing once, he disappeared,
"perhaps prevented by the natives, from an impression that he . . . would get
more than his share of knives and other articles which were given in
exchange for poultry, yams, and other species of provisions. "
The Bubi's avoidance of strangers was, no doubt, conditioned by their
experience of sporadic slaving expeditions. In 1820 or 1821, for instance,
Spanish traders entered into a slaving agreement with King Akwa of the
Cameroons. The plan was to lure Bubi onto European ships, or, failing that,
to seize a number violently. Akwa provided war canoes, and his men, along
with their European confederates, raided the eastern coast of Fernando Po:
"They accordingly landed well armed, but met with a stout resistance, which
proved, however, unavailing; the invaders succeeded in making about 150
prisoners, whom they carried off to the West Indies, and killing as many
more in the Skirmish. n35
The Bubi would seem to bear out J. D. Page's assertion that "the
Europeans preferred to deal with societies which had developed monarchical
governments, whose leaders had control of sufficient surpluses to make trade
worthwhile. "
This is an oversimplification, however. Certainly Europeans
had little difficulty trading with the small-scale societies of eastern Nigeria.
Also, servitude, especially the pawning of adulterers, existed among the
Bubi. Given the fairly simple nature of the economy, however, it is doubtful
that superiors could command sizable amounts of labor. Lack of a varied
overseas trade, including captives, was probably more related to their limited
technology and precarious demographic situation. When contact with ~
outsiders did occur in the nineteenth century, it precipitated rapid population
Chapter 2
Aborted Antislaving
When nineteenth-century Britain attempted to occupy Fernando Po, its
motives were far different from those of eighteenth-century Spain. The
ideology of "free" wage labor was in the ascendant in industrializing
England. In addition, the old slave-based South Atlantic system was seen as
wasteful. The forced migration of thousands of unwilling laborers to the
Americas was attacked as unnecessary. Africans, in situ, might trade
enough tropical produce to obviate the need for slaving. In 1807 the British
outlawed their own slaving and tried to force other powers into doing
likewise. Treaties with various countries, including Spain and Portugal,
gave the British navy the authority to seize foreign slavers. For instance,
Spain, the soi-disant owner of Fernando Po, became a signatory to such a
treaty in 1817. The binational Mixed Commission Court in Freetown, Sierra
Leone, adjudicated the status and disposition of slaves ("recaptives")
captured from slave ships.
Recently David Eltis has written a provocative work which comments on
the inefficiency of much of this antislaving effort. Of the Bight of Biafra he
Measured in terms of losses inflicted per ship embarked, the
impact of the navy was only slightly greater here than, say, in
Aborted Antislaving
the Bight of Benin. Most significantly the loss ratio averaged
nearly 40 percent per annum in the years 1836-39 when slave
exports underwent their final decline. But for the period
1821-39 the annual loss ratio explains only 6 percent of the
annual variations in slave exports. And Bight of Benin ports
experienced annual loss ratios of almost one third in the same
period, without seeing any permanent decline in slave departures.
It seems unlikely that ship losses alone brought the traffic to a
close. A key event was the signing of the abolition treaties
between the British and African rulers in the rivers [i.e., Niger
Delta] that began in 1839 and continued into the 1840s. These,
in effect, gave belligerent rights to the British if the trading states
failed to abide by their terms. As Bonny and Calabar, unlike
Dahomey, were well within range of the squadron's guns, a
treaty here meant something more than did subsequent conven-
tions in the lagoons of the Slave Coast to the west.
It is perhaps indicative of the oblivion into which Fernando Po had fallen
that he makes no mention of Fernando Po, where the British maintained a
, base, at some expense, between 1827 and 1835. Since the antislaving base
was more than a drawing board scheme and since it was approximately fifty
miles from some slaving centers, one would assume that in the late twenties
the Biafran trading states were already "well within range of the squadron's
guns." British policy makers probably exercised a greater degree of
rationality than Eltis gives them credit for. Whether their attempt to be more
efficient succeeded is another question.
The Genesis of an Antislaving Base
The center for British antislaving activity, Freetown, was far from the Bight
of Biafra. However, in the early 1820s at least 15,000 slaves were exported
annually from the Biafran ports of Old Calabar and Bonny.
The trade may
have averaged about 12,500 a year in 1821-1830, with a peak of about
17,000 in 1825.
Bonny and Old Calabar exported between 20,000 and
36,000 slaves in 1825-1826. Early in 1828 the average annual trade of the
major Biafran ports was between 12,650 and 16,200.
The annual traffic
declined just over 10,000 during the period 1830-34. It rebounded and
reached about 18,500 people in 1835. Subsequently, the flow of labor
overseas dwindled to a trickle; it was only a few hundred a year in 1841-42.
According to Eltis, slaves from the Bight of Biafra were 15.3 percent of the
Aborted Antislaving 23
total Atlantic slave trade between 1821 and 1843-some 227,000 individu-
The provenance of the recaptured Africans varied. British officials in
Sierra Leone calculated that, in 1821-22, 42 percent of the slaves leaving
Old Calabar were lbibio and 56 percent were Igbo. Two percent were of
other origin. Composite numbers for the same years for Old Calabar and
Bonny give 68 percent lgbo and 26 lbibio. A mid-century ethnic breakdown
of Biafran recaptives in Sierra Leone gives the Igbo 46 percent, Hausa
24 percent, Cameroonian (Northwest Bantu) 18 percent, and lbibio
12 percent.
This breakdown probably does not accurately reflect the flow
from the hinterland. Many Hausa slaves were shipped through Yorubaland
and exited via the Bight of Benin.
Certainly most slaves recaptured by the
British in the Bight of Biafra in the 1820s and 1830s were lgbo, most of
whom had been captured just over 100 kilometers from their embarkation
Recaptured slaves taken to Sierra Leone often died on the thousand-mile
voyage. Between 1819 and 1826, sixty-nine ships were taken before the
Mixed Commission, but only four of these were taken north of Sierra Leone.
The other vessels had been captured an average of 790 miles away.
Seventeen of the captured ships had to sail against the wind for sixty days
before reaching their destination. The passage to Sierra Leone from the
Bights of Benin and Biafra could take as long as the transatlantic passage to
In 1827 a committee of Parliament concluded that it was "consonant
to British feeling, to consider slaves as liberated from the moment of their
capture by the King's ships . . . but under existing circumstances, the
officers of the navy have it not in their power to alleviate . . . the sufferings
of the negroes, which for a long time after capture, they are compelled to
witness, and in which they too often largely participate. "
Freetown had other drawbacks. For one, it was expensive. In 1824 the
costs of its administration reached 95,000, an increase of 300 percent in ten
Another demerit was the climate. Europeans stationed there had the
highest death rates of any stationed on the African coast. For Europeans the
death rate was more than 400 per thousand per annum.
In May of 1822
one of the Spanish commissioners requested the removal of the court for
health reasons. Conditions among recaptives also caused concern; the freed
population did not replicate itself. In 1826, after more than thirty years' of
immigration, the total number of inhabitants of Freetown was only 13,000.
Fernando Po presented a seemingly viable alternative to Sierra Leone.
In 1821 a naval officer thought that "[with] a very trifling establishment ...
Aborted Antislaving
and a small depot for the supply of His Magesty's cruizers in the neigh-
boring Bights of Biafra and Benin, the blockade of rivers in the Bights might
be carried on without any intermission, because the river Old Calabar would
require to be actually visited only once in three or four weeks. "
In 1826
the commander of the West Africa squadron offered to remain in Africa and
take charge of an establishment on Fernando Po, if Parliament would permit.
Medical opinion provided an additional argument in favor of removal
from Sierra Leone. The state of knowledge pointed to Fernando Po as a
"natural hospital for the low and marshy shores of the mainland. "
causes of malarial fevers were unknown, but various theories connected such
diseases with decaying vegetable matter and swamps. Supposedly altitude
or passage over water, or both, could destroy the effects of such "miasmas."
In 1830 a Parliamentary committee concluded "that it [Fernando Po] is not
more unhealthy than either the Gambia, Sierra Leone, or Cape Coast; and
that when the neighbouring land shall be entirely cleared of Wood, there is
reason to suppose that it will prove more healthy than any of the Settlements
yet made on the Coast. "
A clinching argument was "Legitimate Commerce," especially palm oil.
Oil imports to Britain from West Africa reached 1,000 tons in 1810.
Prices reached a record high in the teens (60 per ton in Liverpool in 1818,
as compared to 30 in 1831).
Importantly, Fernando Po was near the
major centers of production. By contrast, the area near Sierra Leone was
commercially insignificant. In 1828, 4,461 hundredweight (cwt) of oil was
imported from the Sierra Leonean and Gambian region; 7,350 cwt from the
Gold Coast; and 114,335 cwt "southward from the River Volta, including
Fernando Po. "
Britishers G. A. Robertson, W. Hutton, and James
MacQueen wrote to London urging occupation for commercial reasons.
Robertson's view, the Oil Rivers were the navigable mouths of the Niger
and, thus, philanthropy and profit dictated occupation of Fernando Po.
Since, in his belief, Europeans could not survive on the coast, the big island
in the Bight would serve as a permanent entrepot for the exchange of goods,
including palm oil, with coastal African middlemen.
MacQueen, a geographer and ex-slave overseer in the West Indies, also
concluded that the Oil Rivers were mouths of the Niger. In 1820 he
suggested the British government thoroughly explore the course of the rivers.
The following year he recommended that Sierra Leone be evacuated and that
attention be shifted to the Bights. MacQueen reiterated the idea that
Fernando Po was the "only proper station on the African coast, for our
Aborted Antisla'Ping 25
cruizers to watch and cut up the slave trade, which is, and while it
continues, will always be, greatest on the coast opposite . . . . " Sierra
Leone, however, was an unmitigated disaster: "We have not succeeded in
any one undertaking which we had in view; we have done no good whatever;
we have removed no existing evil . . . . Look at this enormous expenditure,
and say what Great Britain and Africa have obtained in return. The reply
must be made in one word-NOTHING. "
Sierra Leonean interests struck back in this debate, arguing for the known
against the unknown. The Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertizer opined
that, although it was true that voyages of antislaving squadron vessels had
"occasionally been protracted by calms and contrary winds to four or five
weeks . . . it is usually accomplished in much less time." Also, the
newspaper argued that little was known of the Bubi or their attitude toward
alien settlement. The British were "ignorant ... of the nature, extent, and
capabilities of the soil of this island, and of the population, language,
observances of the natives . . . . "
By the middle 1820s the battle lines on Sierra Leone were clearly drawn.
The colony was supported by the philanthropic African Institution and by
those who championed direct government rule in West Africa. The already
established base was opposed by West Indian interests, who were against
antislaving activities per se, and by those deeply interested in pushing the
palm oil trade. Thomas Powell Buxton and Sir George Murray defended
Sierra Leone in Parliament, but by 1826 the idea of an insular base appeared
already to have won the contest. An official report on Britain's West
African colonies recommended moving the Courts of Mixed Commission.
Britain would retain Sierra Leone with a reduced European staff.
In January of 1827 the Admiralty was asked to send a seasoned officer to the
island. The proposed settlement was to be under the jurisdiction of the
governor of Sierra Leone, who was to supply black troops and a quantity of
supplies. On June 27 instructions were given to Captain William Fitzwilliam
Owen of HMS Eden to proceed.
The Captain was a man whose experience
seemed to fit him for his new post. Four years before, he had intervened
against the Arab slave trade on the East African coast and proclaimed a
short-lived and unsanctioned protectorate over Mombasa.
Owen finally arrived at his new West African assignment on October 27,
1827, with his vessel, accompanied by the Diadem, a transport. The
26 Aborted Antislaving
settlement was christened Clarence in honor of the Duke of Clarence, the
head of the Admiralty. Within weeks a path up the steep cliff surrounding
a bay on the northern coast had been cut and a battery and a storehouse
constructed on two small islets. Shore defenses were initiated, and the
expedition began a small farm called "Paradise. "
The Bubi did not offer military resistance. On Christmas Day, 1827, the
British formally claimed Clarence and entered into a thriving trade with the
islanders. Owen believed that eagerness for commerce kept the islanders
honest. The indigenous punishment for theft was the amputation of the
hands, and the captain observed that this was "apparently by no means an
uncommon proceeding, as several who visited us were in that mutilated
state. "
Once the settlement was in place, Owen increasingly found that
trade with the Bubi for yams and palm wine distracted many of his imported
wor:kers from their tasks.
In late 1828 the settlement consisted of a lieutenant of the Royal African
Corps and seventy-one noncommissioned personnel. There were 120 Sierra
Leonean "native mechanics." Laborers, including liberated Africans,
numbered 241. Owen's ship had a complement of two hundred, officers and
crew. In late 1828 it was withdrawn, which left a militia, composed of 120
African artisans. The settlement also contained migratory contract laborers
from the Windward Coast (in what is now Liberia), whose number was
listed, rather vaguely, as between thirty and one hundred.
Owen landed slaves from captured vessels, although this strained his
resources. Yet; mortality on ships bound for Freetown necessitated, in his
mind, settlement on Fernando Po. For instance, one capture, the Henrietta,
lost nearly one hundred Africans or one-fourth of her captives on a twenty-
day voyage to Freetown. This was after Owen had removed the seriously
ill. In another case, he wrote that he had captured two slavers with four
hundred slaves on board.
In order to lessen the burden on Fernando Po,
recaptive women and children were allowed to accompany Sierra Leonean
workers back to Freetown as wives or wards. Such outflow was more than
matched by the influx of recaptives. This was partially caused by unclear
instructions. In April of 1828 Owen reported the capture of a Spanish ship
carrying 126 Africans, as well as the seizure of a Brazilian slaver. Request
for guidance on the disposal of the people met with no definite response. By
the time the impossibility of liberating slaves on Fernando Po according to
the existing antislaving treaties had become manifest, a community of
unadjudicated freedmen had come into existence. In March of 1829 the
population was 1,277 and still growing.
Aborted Antislaving 27
Owen's proceedings were of dubious legality. Some of the slavers had
been tried before Admiralty courts instead of before the Courts of Mixed
Commission. Admiralty courts had the right to try piracy, but clearly their
use circumvented the provisions of the bilateral antislaving treaties. The
commission complained to the British Foreign. Office about the captain's
methods, and the Admiralty was requested to reprimand him.
Feeling against the Fernando Po settlement continued in Freetown. In
February of 1828 Owen was warned that he and the settlement had powerful
enemies there.
In October Owen publicly attacked the colonial secretary.
In early 1829 the captain was reprimanded for complaining of obstruc-
tionism. Owen was offered the option of leaving his naval commission and
becoming a full-time administrator. He refused. In April of 1829
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Nicolls, former governor of Ascension, became
superintendent of the settlement.
Changes introduced by Nicolls did not meet with the approval of his
predecessor; indeed, Owen viewed the new administration as arbitrary and
exploitative. He took it upon himself to act as tribune of the Sierra Leonean
workers and protested that his successor was keeping contract laborers
beyond their time. Owen also accused Nicolls of changing the hours of
work and physically coercing the recaptives to adhere to them. Nicolls, for
his part, attacked his predecessor for his friendly working relationship with
former slavers. He wrote the Colonial Office that he, Nicolls, had dismissed
several foreigners who were former traffickers in human flesh.
Nicolls had more formidable adversaries than ex-Superintendent Owen.
Clarence had been founded as a means toward an end; after its foundation
it had taken on a life of its own. For both Owen and Nicolls the colony
represented a permanent investment in the "regeneration of Africa." Like
overly ambitious architects, they both formulated grand schemes whose
scope exceeded their instructions. By the early thirties it was obvious that
even the instructions themselves would not be carried out.
The Question of Impact
The British had, by the mid-1820s, formed a plan, which on the face of it,
would have greatly increased the efficiency of antislaving. The trajectory of
the trade in the years 1825-35 seemed, to them, to bear out the efficacy of
their strategy. Unfortunately, their actions have been largely ignored in
recent discussions of the Biafran trade.
28 Aborted Antislaving
Table 2.1. Slave Ships Captured by Owen's Forces, 1827-1830'
Ship Nationality Of Slaves Result
Nirzee 280 retaken
Moskito Spanish 126 condemned
Voadora Portuguese 61 condemned
Feliz Victoria Spanish 2 condemned
Jules Dutch 220 condemned
Jeune Eugenie Dutch 50 condemned
Fourmi Dutch 0 condemned
Bolivar Spanish(?) 429 freed by French
Coquette Dutch 220 condemned
Buenos Ayres Dutch 0 condemned
Henriette Dutch 426 condemned
Emprendedor Spanish 3 condemned
Guadeloupienne retaken
Mensaqeiro Brazilian 353 condemned
Hirondella Dutch 1'12 condemned
Ismenia Brazilian 0 kept by Owen
Portuguese 0 kept by Owen
St. Joao Brazilian 0 released by court
El Vencendorn Brazilian 0 released by court
In addition there were a number of captures of small coastal vessels which Owen never
declared and kept for his own use.
SOURCE: Robert Thomas Brown, "William Fitzwilliam Owen: Hydrographer of the African
Coast, 1774-1857" (Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1972), p. 334.
Between them, Owen and Nicolls did manage to stop over a thousand
slaves from reaching their destination. Owen had, according to his own
account, captured at least seven vessels and liberated 1,300 recaptives by
November of 1828.
According to the captain, he stopped twenty slavers
and liberated 4,000 Africans between 1827 and 1829.
According to a more
conservative estimate, he captured twenty vessels carrying 2,281 slaves (see
table 2.1). The number of slaves recaptured by Owen and Nicolls was small
in comparison to the total number of slaves exported. Also, on the face of
it, their activities represent diminishing returns. In 1828-29 the number of
captures from Fernando Po rose, and then declined. David Northrup's
published data indicate that the number of Biafran slavers captured went
from ten in 1829 to two in 1830.
In 1836 the number was fifteen.
Aborted Antislaving 29
According to Eltis, the number of recaptured Biafran slave ships dropped
from fourteen in 1829 to five in 1830. The number for 1832 was four.
While the trajectories traced by Northrup and Eltis are not exactly congruent,
they do show decreased captures in the years of the British occupation (see
figure 2.1).
Clarence's impact was not immediate. Indeed, on cursory examination,
it would appear negligible. Biafran slave exports in 1830 were well above
the annual average of the previous decade and only twelve percent below the
total for 1829, the highest volume year since 1807 (see table 2.2).
Yet, it must be remembered that, by 1832, the number was seven
thousand less than it had been three years before. Exports for the decennium
1825-35 were at their lowest in 1831-32. Indeed the 1831-32 level of
embarkations was twenty percent below the average for 1821-30.
16 r--------------------------------------------------.
II) 10
a. 8
u 6
t-, Northrup Eltls
,, ............ ,,, ....... ,r)-.; _..,_ a--+
I '
I '
I '
...................... ,. .....
0 L L - - ~ ~ - - - L - - ~ - J - - - L - - L - ~ - - ~ - - L - ~ - - ~ - - L - ~
1825 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 1839
Figure 2.1. Slave Ship Captures, 1825-1839
SOURCE: David Northrup, "Slaves from the Bight ofBiafra Captured by the British Navy and
Liberated in Sierra Leone, 1821-1939," in Trade without Rulers, Pre-Colonial Econqmic
Development in Southeastern Nigeria (Oxford, 1978), pp. 235-39. David Eltis, printout
(July 7, 1988) of list of slave ships embarking from the Bight of Biafra and disembarking in
Sierra Leone, Fernando Po, or the Americas, 1827-1835. Also see David Eltis, Economic
Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York, 1987), pp. 250-51.
Aborted Antislaving
Table 2.2. Annual Transatlantic Export of Slaves from the Bight of Benin,
Southward, 1821-1835 ('000)
Bight of Bight of Congo Southeast
Benin Biafra North Angola Africa Africa
1821 8.4 10.8 4.5 19.9 10.3 59.3
1822 10.7 12.4 7.9 23.7 8.6 68.9
1823' 4.5 8.0 2.8 18.8 8.5 45.8
1824 8.6 13.1 6.5 19.6 8.4 61.5
1825 12.0 16.3 2:.2
19.1 .M
1821-25 44.2 60.6 27.3 101.1 43.2 302.7
1826 11.6 8.7 6.4 23.6 7.4 61.4
1827 13.1 11.7 9.5 19.8 6.6 65.5
1828 13.3 15.4 15.0 25.5 14.4 90.1
1829 21.0 16.7 18.5 22.1 15.5 101.8
1830 .!ld
14.2 JL2
15.1 14.2 72.3
1826-30 70.5 66.7 58.3 106.1 58.1 391.1
1831 4.8 11.1 1.5 4.5 0.5 26.7
1832 6.5 9.7 1.0 9.8 0.4 32.0
1833 5.3 11.5 1.4 13.5 0.0 39.4
1834 9.1 15.1 3.8 20.6 0.6 54.0
1835 12.0
Md ..Qd
39.6 1d
1831-35 37.7 71.9 14.9 87.9 3.0 243.7
It could be argued that diminishing captures and a downward slide in
exports indicate the essential irrelevance of antislaving efforts. Certainly
there are market and other factors to be taken into account. For instance,
Brazilian slave imports took a radical dip in 1830. Because of the anticipat-
ed cessation of the slave trade due to British pressure, the number of slaves
Aborted Antislaving
. 31
imported dropped from 175,000 in the years 1827-30 to a trickle in 1831
and in 1832.
Explanations attributing a dip in Biafran slave exports to Brazilian trends
are not entirely convincing. The areas from which Brazil drew the majority
of its slaves-Angola, the Bight of Benin, southeast Africa, and Congo
North-appear far more attuned to fluctuations in the market. From 1830
to 1831 the Angolan trade declined by roughly 10,000 individuals. At the
same time, southeast Africa, an area almost completely monopolized by
Portuguese and Brazilian slavers, saw a decline of roughly 14,000. Bight
of Benin exports went down by roughly 6,000; those for Congo North, by
roughly 7,000 (see table 2.2). If David Eltis's figures are correct, the drop
in Brazilian imports from around 41,000 in 1830 to 3,500 in 1831 can be
accounted for by the corresponding numerical drop (37 ,000 slaves) in these
usual catchment areas. It is perhaps significant that the majority of ships
captured by the British on Fernando Po were neither Brazilian nor Portu-
guese (see table 2.1),37
To see the fall in the capture of slavers by 1830 as a failure is to miss the
central point of the Fernando Po base. The issue is avoidance, rather than
growing ineptitude on the part of the British. It was only after the firm
establishment of Clarence that slavers began to stay away from the area.
The British officials on Fernando Po strenuously argued that the base made
it difficult for slavers to continue in the area as before, regardless of
demand. Simply put, navigationally it was impossible for traffickers to
cruise the Bight without the very high possibility of capture. Owen
specifically maintained that slavers who braved the British presence took
only two-thirds of their normal cargoes; on the Wouri Estuary in Cameroon,
Duala slave exports ceased to be of any importance in part because of the
threat of interdiction from Fernando Po.
In the early 1830s Nicolls
predicted that the trade in general in the region was on the wane. After
1832 British efforts at capture abated. Nicolls noted the effect. There were
forty-two slavers, a "horde of miscreants, the refuse of all nations" in the
region in late 1833. In the spring of 1834 he wrote that slavers, "thinking
we are gone," had reinfested the area.
Indeed, embarkations in 1835, the
year Nicolls returned to England, were more than double what they had been
three years before (see table 2.2).
The removal of the Clarence base did not mean the cessation of
antislaving on the West African coast. In 1834-1836 there were fifty
percent more cruisers there than in the period of the Fernando Po base.
There were more losses and seizures exacted on slavers in terms of both
capture ratios and absolute numbers in the mid-1830s than before.
In spite
32 Aborted Antislaving
of this, the trade expanded. It was, obviously, not an absolute decrease in
ships and manpower in the wake of the Clarence experiment which permitted
the upsurge in slaving.
Manpower and forces maintained are not the main point, however.
Rather it is the deployment of resources and their greatest efficiency. A
permanent base in the Bight of Biafra offered advantages which roving
cruisers could not. Owen and Nicolls had been convinced that, with
sufficient force, they could close down Old Calabar and its environs.
Reviewing the data, their government concurred. In 1839 the British
Colonial Office concluded that a Biafran base was essential because it
"would probably involve a great abridgement both of costs and labor
For the next two years the British seriously negotiated with Spain
for the purchase of "essential" Fernando Po. The issue was not simply how
much antislaving force was applied, but where that force was applied.
The area near Fernando Po experienced an economic shift and a definitive
decline in slaving in the latter part of the 1830s. The prices of slaves
slumped in the 1830s because of declining American demand and British
antislaving activities.
The falling export of labor was more than compen-
sated for by increased exports of palm oil.
The British occupation impacted the trading area in various ways. In the
long run it called for more and more intervention. The idea of foisting
antislavery treaties on African states preceded the late 1830s. The very
exigencies and frustrations of duty with antislaving squadrons no doubt
prodded many British navy men, regardless of considerations of abstract
humanitarianism, toward ad hoc interventions. Assigned to perform a task,
but seemingly hamstrung by their inability to control slaving, many captains
were tempted to expand their authority. An example is Owen, who believed
African governments to be small and ineffectual. His abolitionism easily
translated into cultural and political imperialism. He thought African culture
was passive and awaiting a higher social and technological order. While
engaged in hydrography in the coastal waters of Bonny, Owen saw no need
to ask permission of the local king, Opubu, and decried the "deference and
respect" shown the king by European traders. Owen, the abolitionist,
complained: "They [the slave traders] administer to his whims and
caprice . . . . Had a stranger heard the earnest consultation held by these
people when the trade was closed upon this occasion, he would have been
more inclined to think himself in the purlieus of St. James' than in a Negro
town on the West Coast of Africa. "
According to Owen, the region was divided into myriads of puny states.
At the same time he had to recognize the power of men like Great Duke
Aborted Antislaving
Ephraim of Duke Town, Old Calabar, who supplied foodstuffs to Clarence.
In 1828 and 1829 the Efik leader established plantations and apparently
hoped to supply Clarence with fresh meat and other victuals. He also
extended loans to oil traders and marketed their produce. The situation was
ambiguous; to the antislavers, men like Duke Ephraim were the chief culprits
in the slave trade. For his part, the African ruler was suspicious of the
British presence. During Owen's tenure relations were tense and had to be
subsequently smoothed over by a British mission to Old Calabar.
Owen believed that the raison d'etre of the Delta states was slaving and
that it could be abolished only by "absolute subjugation and conquest,
dictating our will. "
Nicolls also envisioned spreading British sovereignty
to the mainland; he sought to gain a foothold in Cameroon and briefly
secured the cession of land from Bimbia Island to Rio Del Rey. In 1833 the
colonel invited rulers of Bimbia, Old Calabar, Cameroon, Malimba, and
Bonny to Fernando Po to form an antislaving alliance.
Nicolls doubtlessly hoped that the free cession of territory on the nearby
mainland would supplement Fernando Po as a landing point for recaptured
slaves. He pointed out to the Colonial Office that 78 out of 278 liberated
Africans had recently died on the voyage from the Niger to Sierra Leone.
This could be avoided if slaves could still be landed on Fernando Po or at
a "convenient settlement on the opposite coast such as Amboises Bay or
Bimbia. "
The acquisition of territory in Cameroon, like Owen's previous
undertaking in East Africa, was not approved by the British government.
Such ideas did not become part of the policy mainstream until the late 1830s.
Partially because of failure to get Spanish permission for an antislaving
base on Spanish-claimed Fernando Po, work on the Clarence base stopped
at the end of 1831. The Colonial Office asked the Admiralty to remove all
supplies and persons not essential for the maintenance of a population of two
hundred. In July of 1832 the same office warned the Foreign Office that if
it could not resolve diplomatic problems by October, the Colonial Office
would withdraw its support. In August of 1832 the British government
decided to dismantle the establishment; on August 29, it told Nicolls to
disperse his forces and evacuate. In October the Spanish were officially
informed that the British proposals concerning the island were withdrawn.
Nicolls was greatly disappointed when he was told to disband the
settlement and send recaptives to Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast. The
colonel's task was complicated by the arrival of new recaptives. He did not
arrive back in England until April of 1835. Even after his departure,
evacuations continued. On June 29, 1835, a cruiser was dispatched to
transport 152 Africans to Sierra Leone. Over a year later, on October 6,
34 Aborted Antislaving
1836, the Sierra Leone commissioners complained that these people had still
not reached Freetown.
The Disease Factor
Even if British occupation had survived the Anglo-Spanish imbroglios of the
1830s, other factors would have militated against it. As a member of
Owen's expedition noted: "All our attempts to penetrate into Africa, to
establish a friendly intercourse with the people, and to abolish the traffic in
human life are repelled, and frequently rendered abortive, by the fatal
influence of the climate . . . . "
In 184 7 a British government medical
study found that the average number of yearly deaths of its personnel in
West Africa between 1825 and 1845 was 54.4 per thousand mean force.
This compared with 9.8 for the Home Fleet. In 1829, the year by which the
Fernando Po establishment was firmly fixed, it was 255.1 per thousand mean
force for West Africa, more than one in four.
The decision to abandon the
island in the early 1830s was clinched by official information on "the
excessive insalubrity of Fernando Po and the great expense which the
Establishment would inevitably entail." John Hay of the Colonial Office
agreed that it was "very doubtful whether any colony could be maintained
in a position where the annual consumption of life and money would in all
probability be more formidable than the Mother Country would be disposed
to incur. "
The Fernando Po experiment began as an attempt to prevent
African deaths on the high seas; it foundered on the issue of European
mortality in the tropics.
As early as the sixteenth century, the Biafran climate showed itself to be
especially deadly for outsiders. On Sao Tome "the general debilitation
caused by the inescapable heat and humidity . . . caused many attested cases
of physical collapse . . . . [The] inability of the home government to secure
the health of its agents is one vital cause of the independent and erratic
course that the island took in its formative years. "
Fernando Po was
believed to be the great Biafran epidemiological exception. In 1827 a British
admiral wrote to Owen that "if this new Settlement prove as much healthier
than Sierra Leone as it's supposed to be, the whole of the establishment of
the latter and indeed of our other Establishments on the Coast of Africa may
by degrees be transferred to this Island. "
Fernando Po's insularity and its
altitude (a peak of over 9,000 feet) caused many to persist in seeing it as the
safe gateway to Africa.
Aborted Antislaving 35
However, only at the outset did the island seem healthy for outsiders. In
December of 1827, four of the Europeans were seized with fever, and two
died. 5
Belief in the special clemency of the climate was further brought into
question in May of 1829. Owen and his ship visited Freetown, and fever
broke out among his men. The malady was not malaria, but yellow fever.
The captain sailed from Freetown in hopes of avoiding further pestilence.
By the time he reached Clarence, 40 men had died out of just over 130.
Conditions were horrendous:
"The men were dying daily, amidst almost incessant rain and
frequent tornadoes, accompanied with much thunder and
lightning; the main-deck was crowded with sick, and constantly
wet. The moral effects of these scenes became palpable in every
countenance; while from the want of medical attendance, the
surgeon and two assistant surgeons having died, it was impossible
to pay the attention to the ventilation of the ship, or even to the
personal comforts of the sick, which their situation required. "
Between May 1, 1829 and December 1, 1829, 110 men died, 50 on board
the Eden and the rest onshore. Of the total, only thirteen were Africans. 5
When Nicolls arrived in Sierra Leone shortly thereafter, he discovered
that the Eden was credited with the introduction of the new plague. As a
British doctor later noted: "The entire complement of the Eden was one
hundred and sixty officers and men; making an allowance for a few that
were not seized, and for those who recovered, the deaths must have
exceeded two-thirds of the persons attacked. "
Owen himself put his ship
in quarantine off Fernando Po and waited for his replacement's arrival. This
accomplished, he sailed for Ascension. When he reached that island, more
than half of his men were dead or dying.
The fever spread to the British West African settlements. The fact that
it had early peen reported on Owen's ship did nothing to improve Fernando
Po's reputation. Over fifty percent of the men who arrived there from
England in 1827 died, including all of the physicians.
Nineteen of the
thirty-four men in Nicolls' contingent died soon after their arrival. Only five
of the forty-seven marines who accompanied him in 1829 survived two
years. Nicolls was sick himself for most of the year. In 1831, 274
Europeans came down with fever. Many of these were not connected with
the Nicolls expedition, but were palm oil traders or ex-slavers. The
Clarence hospital took in 384 patients, of whom 79 died. Among the total
number of cases, the number of nonfever illness was 110; 26 of these died.
36 Aborted Antislaving
In 1832 an English traveler wrote that the Commissioners in Freetown
were very loath to move to the island in the Bight because "they considered
[Sierra Leone] as a paradise in point of salubrity compared with their
intended place of residence. "
The Foreign Office had already concluded
that, if the Commissioners were removed from Freetown, "they would only
change their residence to a spot still more unhealthy to Europeans. "
It was
also felt that Clarence did not possess "those conveniences, which tend to
lessen the effect of a baneful climate, [that exist] in an old established
settlement." In 1842 it was reported that a British medical doctor believed
"it [Fernando Po] to be as prejudicial [a place] to Europeans as could ...
have been selected for a settlement. "

Yellow fever was an exceptional occurrence on the island, although it was
to recur again in the century. Malaria was a constant. As mentioned,
medical opinion had drawn a connection between fevers and altitude.
Although the "miasma" theory of disease causation was faulty, it could lead
to effective prophylaxis, since a carrier of malaria, Anopheles gambiae, has
an upward range of only four thousand feet. By the 1830s it was obvious
that Clarence, on the beach, was no less deadly than the mainland. The
second British superintendent said that with sufficient laborers he would
"soon get up to the elevation which would be healthy .... "
The Niger
Expedition was also aware of the need to reach a safe altitude, but Buxton
erroneously thought it could be reached at only four hundred feet.
pointed out that Europeans would have to reach four thousand feet in order
to be safe. In 1837 Macgregor Laird, the sponsor of several expeditions on
the Niger, set the upper limit of the malarial belt at three thousand feet.
Later he revised his estimate upward to five thousand feet.
In addition to various plans to establish mountain sanitaria, would-be
colonists resorted to medicine. Owen opposed "energetic" measures, such
as bleeding and the application of calomel; instead, "having witnessed the
frequent and fatal result of 'energetic treatment,' he had imbibed a kind of
horror of bleeding, and, at the same time, a predilection in favour of mild
measures, probably from observing the greater success that attended the
simple means employed by the natives and resident Europeans. "
Quinine was one remedy of which Owen approved. In 1828 he noted that
the settlement's surgeons employed it.
As elsewhere, ideas of the proper
dosage varied. A British doctor reported that "quinine was given as usual,
when the fever abated, in three-grain doses every third hour; but was
supposed to be of but little utility until the alvine secretions became natural."
The doctor thought: "Smaller doses of quinine only increase the febrile
symptoms. "
After Owen, Nicolls spoke of quinine as the colony's
Aborted Antislaving 37
"mainstay." The Baptist nnsstonary John Clarke used the drug as a
prophylactic in the 1840s, but was probably not regular in its application.
However, T. R. H. Thompson used quinine specifically as a preventive in
the early 1840s.
In 1844 Baptist missionaries attempted to overcome the problem of
European mortality in Africa by sending black West Indian immigrants to do
their work on Fernando Ro. They hoped "that friends from Jamaica being
in the first-place descendants of Africa and again coming from a tropical
country would be able to stand the climate of Africa and not be subject to the
African fevers." These suppositions proved incorrect. No provision was
made for the West Indians falling ill, "but it was soon seen that all had to
pass through the same ordeal and in some instances suffered as much as their
European brethren. "
The mission doctor tried to put the best face on the
matter and concluded that "the Jamaica friends have all sickened, one only
. .. [out of approximately forty] excepted. The sicknesses are commonly
of a mild, tractable nature-nothing so alarming as those of the West
Indies. "
In spite of the doctor's optimism, the Jamaican Baptists returned
to the West Indies in 1848. In the same year, the London Times called the
Bights of Benin and Biafra "the most deadly sea," and Fernando Po "the
most pestiferous land which the universe is known to contain. "
non-African settlement had to wait mitil the present century. In the waiting
period, an African settler community began, prospered, and decayed.
1 Jniv R::.vrAIIth I
Chapter 3
Spain in the Bight
The British government's occupation of Fernando Po was over by 1835. By
the early 1840s Spain had, in the eyes of Europeans, an uncontested legal
claim. Madrid kept the island largely because it feared the effect of British
possession on Spanish trade, specifically the slave trade, in West Africa. At
the same time, a British consular presence after 1849 obviated the island's
utility as a base from which to send African labor to the Antilles.
Political conditions in Spain did not favor the development of a consistent
policy toward the Biafran territories in the nineteenth century. The French
occupation (1808-1814) was followed by continued political instability and,
finally, civil war (1833-1839). In this tumultuous era Spain's attention
remained focused on the South Atlantic system-the growth in the Americas
of tropical produce with African slave labor.
The South Atlantic system was not simply an anachronism in an era of
free labor, but a response to new opportunities in a system previously
monopolized by others. Philip Curtin has noted that the British feared
competition from the "modem, slave-run plantations of Cuba and Puerto
What Spanish capital there was, was siphoned off to the burgeoning
Caribbean, for which West Africa remained a labor catchment area. Indeed,
Fernando Po's budget was not separated from Cuba's until 1884.
Given the fact that Spain was not prominent in the eighteenth-century
slave trade, its nineteenth-century performance was impressive. Nearly
500,000 slaves were landed in Cuba from 1821 to 1867.
Between 1822 and
Spain in the Bight 39
1827, 111 ships sailed from Havana, and not one returned with what the
British termed "legitimate commerce." Jose de Moros, officer of a Spanish
merchantman, visited the Bights three times in the 1830s and estimated that
at least a hundred ships left the area each year bound for Cuba.
majority of these ships were negreros (slave ships).
Fernando Po in Antislaving Diplomacy
In 1816 a London pamphlet warned that "slave factories will be established
on many points of the [African] coast; great numbers of ships will be built
or purchased for the trade; and a vast capital will be employed in their outfit
from Europe and the consignees at the Havannah and Cadiz will raise their
heads into the ephemeral splendour and consequence which from the
magnitude of the early returns generally distinguish houses embarked in this
. . . commerce. "
The Anglo-Spanish antislaving treaty of the following
year was a continual sore point. Under its terms Spain had agreed to
suppress the trade north of the equator immediately and to abolish all slaving
after May 30, 1820. British cruisers were given a limited right of search.
In return for Madrid's signing, Britain agreed to pay 400,000 to compen-
sate for losses caused by abolition. The treaty was signed at the very time
that the Spanish slave trade, which the occupation of Fernando Po had been
meant to assure, began to "take off." It set off a flurry of trade; between
1817 and 1820, 67,059 African were sent to Cuba.
When, in 1820, the 1817 treaty came into effect, a temporary check was
placed on the Spanish slave trade. In 1820 only 4,122 slaves were imported
into Cuba.
However, the shock of legal prohibition soon evaporated; for
the next fifteen years the number of slaves taken to Cuba augmented
considerably. In 1822, in an attempt to prevent evasion of the treaty of
1817, the British and Spanish negotiated an additional article. The treaty
itself had provided that no vessel could be detained if slaves were not
a ~ t u a l l y found on board. The new article provided that if there was clear and
undeniable proof that slaves had been on board a captured vessel, antislaving
cruisers could detain it and take it before the Mixed Commissions.
A new Anglo-Spanish antislaving treaty in 1835 extended the British right
of seareh, and the number of Spanish slavers captured increased rapidly.
From 1830 to 1835 the British West African Squadron had captured only ten
negreros per annum on average. This average rose to thirty-five from 1835
to 1839. The Court of Mixed Commission in Freetown received thirty-five
Spanish slavers in 1836; twenty-four were condemned under the terms of the
40 Spain in the Bight
1835 treaty.
In 1844 the annual number of ships sailing from the Spanish
Caribbean to West Africa was not less than one hundred, of which about
twenty-five could be expected to be captured by the British antislaving
The continued British antislaving measures challenged the slavers to
develop new evasive strategies. Clandestine bases on the coast held supplies
of equipment and supplies to abet rapid departures. Foreign flags were used
by Spanish vessels. Smaller ships, which were less easily sighted, were
employed and sailed from the Caribbean carrying ballast. They rendez-
voused at appointed places on the coast and separated in different directions
when the antislaving squadron was sighted.
Some nineteenth-century observers argued that antislaving was the use of
immoral means for a moral purpose, an argument that has echoes in the
present debate over the interdiction of illegal drug traffic between South and
North America. From Havana to Rio de Janeiro complaints were heard
about the high-handedness of British officials, the misapplication of
diplomatic clout, and the suborning of local officials. According to a
present-day critic, David Eltis, some antislaving "elements were involved in
supplementing the regular channels of law enforcement, gaining access to
and using the official sources of information normally barred, to the private
citizen, bribery, spying, breaking international law and even sponsoring
activities that could only undermine the social structure of foreign slave
societies. "
For Eltis one of the central demerits of the nineteenth-century
antislaving campaign was its frequent and flagrant violation of international
When looked at from the vantage point of Fernando Po, the issue appears
somewhat more nuanced. Although the men on the spot between 1827 and
1835 frequently took actions which violated their legal authority, they were
just as frequently severely reprimanded by their superiors. Also, although
Fernando Po was viewed as central to Biafran antislaving success, the British
were unusually legalistic in their attempts to establish an antislaving base
there. Spain, as the result of eighteenth-century treaties, claimed the
territory from the Niger Delta to Cape Lopez in Gabon. This included the
main palm oil centers. Given the paucity of Spanish "legitimate" trade or
the shadow of Spanish authority in Old Calabar or Bonny, the disallowance
of any claims would have been a possibility. Indeed, the possibility of
taking over Fernando Po as a "derelict" territory was discussed. Yet, Britain
did not "take" Fernando Po as Theodore Roosevelt "took" the Panama
Canal. In the case of the Biafran island, possession was not nine-tenths of
the law. It would be hard to justify a claim that British policy was simply
Spain in the Bight 41
one of Machtpolitik throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. It
was only in the late 1830s and early 1840s, at a time when efforts to obtain
a Biafran base were failing, that the sacking of shore installations and threats
against European slave merchants were begun in earnest.
Fernando Po's role in the debate on antislaving diplomacy and tactics
needs to be reviewed in some detail. When, in the early 1820s, the British
began to contemplate using the island, they were aware of possible
objections. Opinions on how to proceed varied. There were several
alternatives. On the one hand, British merchants could go and establish
themselves on the island, after which time their government could suggest
the transfer of the antislaving courts, assuming control of the island from the
traders. Traders were fearful, however, of entering an area in which they
had no protection from their government. On the other hand, the British
could first approach the other states involved in the Court of Mixed
Commission and propose that Great Britain intended to occupy an unoccu-
pied island. The British government could also declare: "You had certain
rights of possession or occupation in the island of Fernando Po which we
presume you consider as obsolete. Therefore with your permission we will
occupy the island . . . . "
This last course also posed difficulties. A British
Foreign Secretary observed that "notice to former owners of an intention to
occupy a derelict goes very near to an admission that it is an intention which
they may oppose if they will. "
The British finally decided to announce the removal of the Court of
Mixed Commission, omitting all reference to potential claims of Portuguese
or Spanish sovereignty. In September of 1825 they proposed the move to
the Portuguese, and Lisbon replied that the island was indeed theirs. Later
the Portuguese corrected their mistake and informed London that Spain was
the owner of the island. In February of 1826 Madrid was asked to consent
to the transfer of the Anglo-Spanish commission to Fernando Po. Madrid
answered that it would need more detailed information on the proposal
before committing itself. Later, when the matter was pushed, the Spanish
gave their verbal assent to the sending of an expedition. On the basis of this
assurance the British proceeded.
In September of 1827 the Spanish strongly protested the British occupa-
tion. Madrid then offered to sell the island. It again complained, in early
1828, noting that it had positive knowledge of the arrival of the O;.ven
expedition. Spain made it clear that any such occupation was in violation of
the antislaving treaty of 1817. It said that the expressed "favorable
disposition" to the transfer of the Mixed Commission was not a formal
agreement. The British supplied the Spanish government with copies of its
42 Spain in the Bight
intragovernmental correspondence and continued to negotiate. In December
of 1829 Spain seemed to agree, in principle, to a base. However, full
official assent was still not given, and in 1830 the British were still issuing
assurances of their good intentions. In August Spain finally agreed to the
transfer of the Mixed Commission. However, a new difficulty arose. The
status of liberated Africans was a sticking point. In May of 1831 Britain
asked Spain to allow liberated Africans to settle on Fernando Po as British
subjects. Spain balked, and another impasse ensued.
In February of 1831 the British Board of Trade asked for retention of the
island. In July, when members of Parliament asked, the government said
that Britain might have to abandon its settlement if Spain held on to its
claim. Commercial interests protested, and the government continued its
efforts. The following September the British proposed the exchange of
Fernando Po for Beque (Vieques) or Crab Island, a small island near
Puerto Rico. The Spanish rejected the idea, pointing out that Fernando Po
was far larger. Time lapsed, and the British abandoned the effort.
After the evacuation in 1835, British interest in the island continued. For
more than a decade the island had been spoken of as the key to slave trade
suppression, and the idea persisted. In the summer of 1837 Thomas Powell
Buxton conceived of a scheme to open the heart of Africa by navigating the
Niger. Part of the plan was the proposal that Britain should reoccupy
Fernando Po. Under a system of free trade, the territory would prosper as
Singapore had; it would also be the base from which expeditions could
penetrate the mainland interior.
Buxton's ideas of introducing Africa to the "Bible and Plow" were not
novel, but the enthusiasm generated by his idea of commercial penetration
of the Niger region had great impact. In the summer of 1838 he approached
his government with a plan which would go well beyond the antislaving
squadron in the suppression of the trade. He proposed that treaties with
African kings be made "from the Gambia in the West to Bergharmi
[Bargirrni] in the East; and from the Desert on the North to the Gulf of
Guinea in the South."
He also encouraged the government to promote
legitimate trade with Africans as a way of weaning them away from the slave
trade. Buxton and his supporters organized the African Civilization Society
to provide the scientific staff. They asked the government to supply the
ships and the official church missionaries. A privately organized Agricul-
ti.Iral Association took charge of the construction and management of the
model farm.
In July of 1838 Buxton approached his government about reoccupying
Fernando Po. Foreign Secretary Palmerston was skeptical and favored
Spain in the Bight 43
continuing the policy of interdicting slavers on the high seas, rather than
establishing bases in Africa itself.
Nevertheless, in November of 1838 the
government wrote Nicolls for information on the state of the island.
the Foreign Office regretted "that the acknowledgement of the Spanish
Sovereignty of Fernando Po, appears . . .. to have been made in terms so
absolute and unqualified as to preclude the possibility of any further
discussions between the British and the Spanish Governments on that point."
Since the possession of the island was not in doubt, purchase from Spain on
some terms was necessary: "The Sovereignty of that Island is an object of
so much importance to Great Britain with a view to the suppression of the
Slave Trade that that consideration [that is, compensation to Spain] ought not
to oppose an insuperable obstacle to its acquisition." The value of the island
was unknown, but the Colonial Office felt that "whatever abridges the labors
and cost of effecting our purpose is so much saved from the National
Expenditure, and as the possession of Fernando Po would probably involve
a great abridgement both of costs and labor, it would be worth our while to
pay for it more than the real value, however estimated.
In the spring of 1839 negotiations on Fernando Po and Annob6n began
again. In April the British proposed transfer to the Spanish government,
which seemed disposed to sell. The Spanish studied the question and pointed
out that, when Spain had offered purchase in 1828, the price asked had been
2,000,000. The British replied that this price was too high. The British
Colonial Office suggested that if Madrid insisted on payment in money, the
British might suggest taking over the entire cost of the Court of Mixed
Delay followed; negotiations dragged on until August of
1840 and then lapsed. To speed the cession, Britain increased its offer from
50,000 to 60,000.
In April of 1841 the Spanish government announced willingness to
complete the sale. Payment for the islands would be used to reimburse
British holders of Spanish bonds. The British drew up a draft convention
and, on June 13, the Spanish government accepted it. On July 9 the treaty
went before the Cortes. The proposed sale was ill-timed. Some members
of the Spanish Cortes suspected that cession of Fernando Po was the price
the liberal government of Baldomero Espartero was willing to pay for British
support. Almost simultaneously, British attacks on Spanish nationals in
Africa increased. In 1840 the British attacked several slaving bases,
including the Rio Gallinas factories of Pedro Blanco, a Malagan slaver.
They destroyed most of the shore installations and took nine hundred slaves
back to Sierra Leone. Blanco, who had left the Rio Gallinas territory before
the British attack, made a tour of the coast before his departure and
Spain in the Bight
supposedly stopped, incognito, at Fernando Po.
His visit convinced him
of the necessity of having a Spanish naval presence on the coast. An offer
by him to represent Spanish interests there was ultimately rebuffed.
However, the destruction of his property was ample proof of the vulnera-
bility of Spanish trade to British seapower. Madrid saw the sackings of the
Rio Gallinas factories as the outcome of economic competition. The
government denounced British plans to obtain contract labor from the same
area as used by Blanco. At the end of 1841 the Spanish foreign minister
attacked these plans as nothing more than a ruse to cover attempts to
continue to supply the failing British Caribbean with slave labor.
Caribbean interests strenuously opposed giving ground to British antislaving
efforts in West Africa. Cuban sugar production, based on black labor, went
from 63,000 metric tons in 1821-1825 to 129,800 metric tons in the period
from 1836 to 1840.
Many Spaniards attacked the abandonment of Fernando Po as an attempt
to wreck the colonial economy. The newspapers El Eco del Comercio and
El Cangrejo also argued that if foreign bondholders were to be paid off with
Fernando Po and Annob6n, others would, in time, ask to be compensated
through the sale of the Philippines, the Marianas, the Antilles, the Canaries,
or, even, the Balearics.
El Correo Nacional attacked the cession as little
less than theft. It argued that if the government wanted to embark on the
liquidation of the national and foreign debt, it was first necessary to know
extent of the debt and who had first claim to repayment. Why should the
demands of British bondholders be given priority? The loss of Fernando Po
and its dependencies would not benefit the national treasury and would only
demonstrate the ease with which the remaining colonial empire could be
pried away. "The first thing that jumps into view in this project," said the
paper, "is the futility and feebleness of the motives which are a l l e g e ~ for
such a grave business as that of ceding to the foreigner a part of the terntory
of the nation." The sale was being imposed on a "State impoverished and
weak after a bloody [civil] war of seven years; without commerce, without
a navy, without resources, spirits cruelly divided by the effects of not so
remote events in which the hand of the foreigner may, perhaps, not have
been absent . . . . " The situation was comparable "to that of a needy
magnate who pawns and sacrifices to a vain and immoral usurious interest
all his goods, in exchange for living and sustaining one day, or, one week
more, his luxury and his caprices. "
Besides, Fernando Po w ~ the
economic gateway to West Africa. The newspaper echoed the sentiments
expressed by George MacQueen twenty years earlier: "Open the map and
Spain in the Bight 45
it will be seen that the island occupies the situation closest to the
markets and, especially, to the powerful country of Timbuctu . . . . "
In the face of such opposition, the proposal for the cession failed.
Meanwhile, Buxton's brainchild, the Niger expedition, based on Fernando
Po, also failed. The expedition had sailed to West Africa in April of 1841
charged with exploring the Niger and making treaties with the local kings.
In addition, the flotilla planned to establish a model farm at the confluence
of the Niger and the Benue. European mortality on the expedition was high.
Fifty-five of the 159 Europeans who went out with the expedition in 1842
failed to return to Britain.
The renmants of the expedition up the Niger
remained on Fernando Po during the dry season of 1841-1842, but were
ordered not to return to their explorations. One vessel did enter the Niger
in 1842, but the experiment, as originally envisioned was over. In 1842 a
Select Parliamentary Committee suggested the purchase of Sao Tome or
Principe, but the proposal was not acted upon.
British efforts to gain a
permanent Biafran base had come to an end. Madrid kept Fernando Po. A
second rate power with no established governmental presence in West Africa
had refused to sell a seemingly useless property. The continued viability of
the South Atlantic system and resentment at the new and violent phase in
British antislaving tactics helped determine the issue.
Spain and Rio Muni
At the time that the cession of Fernando Po came before the Cortes, the
small island of Corisco and Cape San Juan north of Gabon were centers of
increasing Spanish slave trade. In 1840 this commerce received a rude
shock. In November of that year the British attacked Corisco and captured
Miguel Pons, second factor of the firm of Juan Fales and Company of
Matanzas, Cuba. The head of the British expedition informed one of the
local Benga leaders: "I come this day to destroy the Spaniard's houses ...
if you permit any people to fire at English men-of-war's boats again, I will
come and destroy your place also. "
Three years later Britain told Spain
that it planned to destroy slaving bases at Cabo Lopez, where Spanish slavers
had retreated after the destruction of their Corisco stations. The French
proposed an antislaving base farther south at what became Libreville.
The Rio Muni trade in the 1840s was dominated by the Benga, relative
newcomers to the coast. The group inhabited twenty or thirty villages, on
and offshore, and were already divided into two competing districts. The
inhabitants devoted themselves to trade and cultivated manioc, peanuts, com,
46 Spain in the Bight
and plantains. After establishing themselves on Corisco, some Benga moved
farther south and settled in northern Gabon. Movement into the northern
Gabon region probably occurred between 1830 and 1845, a time of
increasing trade on the coast.
Corisco remained a center of the illegal
slave trade as slaving in the Bight of Biafra declined rapidly in the late 1830s
and moved southward. After 1842 almost all slave departures from the
wider Biafran region were from Gabon and Cape Lopez.
The region was
already visited by more than a hundred ships per year.
In 1834 the
Minorcan traders Baltasar Simo and Francisco Vincent set themselves up on
Corisco. Responding to demand, the Benga engaged in a lively slave trade
with their Enviko neighbors.
In 1841 Spain's minister of state, Antonio Gonzalez, proposed to the
Senate that Spain send a government-sponsored expedition to the Bight of
Biafra, including the Rio Muni region. Captain Juan Jose de Lerena left
Spain in December of 1842 and arrived in Sierra Leone in early January to
make an examination of the Court of Mixed Commission. In addition, he
investigated the destruction of Spanish trading stations at Rio Gallinas. He
also collected information on the free immigration of African labor to British
plantations in Jamaica. De Lerena then continued on to the Bight of Biafra.
One of the purposes of his mission was to maintain Spain's rights. Another,
and not so loudly proclaimed aim, was to assure African trading partners of
continued support.
De Lerena's most lasting contribution on Fernando Po was to rename the
Clarence settlement Santa Isabel, although most of the inhabitants continued
to call it Clarence throughout the nineteenth century. A disappointing
discovery for the captain was that the Spanish population of Fernando Po
was almost nonexistent. There were two Spaniards, plus a Mexican and a
native of the Antilles. The two Spatiiards and the Mexican were former
De Lerena could do little but confirm an English trader, John
Beecroft, as governor. After a stay of less than two weeks, he went on to
Corisco to receive the fealty of the inhabitants. De Lerena observed that the
"burning of the Spanish establishments by the English. in 1840 was
premeditated . . . . [I]t made the natives hate the English and not permit
them to set foot in their territory. "
King Bonkoro I (Bafie) was so
overjoyed with de Lerena's presence that he declared himself a Spanish
Spanish imperialists later claimed that de Lerena received the allegiance
of five hundred coastal chiefs, as well as authority over the Kombe, Bapuku,
Enviko, and Balenke peoples. In terms of practical development, however,
there was no quick follow-up on the Spanish captain's voyage. On his
Spain in the Bight
return, the government proposed another visit, but a new expedition was
delayed by Spain's internal strife until July of 1845 when it departed Cadiz
headed bY Nicolas Manterola and Adolfo Guillemard de Aragon. The latter
was also Spanish consul in Sierra Leone. He arrived on Fernando Po on
Christmas day 1845 and stayed for forty days. Guillemard de Aragon toured
the island and made a trip to Corisco, the Elobeys, and Cape San Juan. On
Corisco he reasserted the claim put forth by de Lerena.
If the Spanish had established a firm presence on Corisco, it probably
would have served Fernando Po as a labor catchment area in the nineteenth
century. As it was, the Benga received little assistance from official Spanish
visits. Their willingness to accept Spanish assistance reflects their political
and economic position. They were a rapidly shrinking coastal trading
society. An unfortunate consequence of European visits was a high rate of
venereal disease. Corisco was famous for the trading acumen of both its
men and its women. The "Isle of Love" had a large number of "mammies"
who provided trade goods and sexual services for European sailors.
Unfortunately, as their population stagnated, the Benga were unable to push
back migrants, such as the Fang, from the interior.
The Spaniards' trading partners were unable to stop fission within their
own society. Increased . opportunities for trade increased violence among
contending groups. New groups migrated toward the coast, while some
groups moved away from the new "paroxysm of violence" in "a massive
zone of turbulence [between] Cameroon and Gabon. "
Within groups
violence also increased. After the death of Bonkoro I around 1846 the
succession was disputed by Bonkoro II, his son, and several imp;rtant
leaders, most notably Munga. The latter won on Corisco, and Bonkoro II
fled to the mainland and established his capital at Santome on
Cape San Juan.
The Development Decade, 1858-1868
W. G. Clarence-Smith has said that, unlike the Spanish government, "the
Portuguese crown possessed internationally. recognised sovereign rights in
parts of Africa, a great asset in frustrating British naval attempts to control
shipping in African waters. "
It is not entirely correct to say that Spain had
no areas of legal claim. On June 27, 1843, two years after its failure to
purchase the island, the British government unequivocally recognized Spanish
claims to Fernando Po. One difference between the Spanish and Portuguese
was that the territory of the former lay close to areas of British trade.
48 Spain in the Bight
The Spanish had not had time to build extensive slaving networks. In the
1840s and 1850s the idea of using Fernando Po for the purpose for which
it was purchased in the eighteenth century was advanced by some Spaniards.
The presence of a vigilant British consulate for the Bights of Benin and
Biafran foiled any such plans.
As Spain entered a period of increased prosperity in the 1850s, the idea
of opening West Africa to Spanish legitimate trade was appealing. Standing
in the way, in the Spanish view, was the ruthless desire of the British to
monopolize all of West Africa's commerce. Antislaving was just a ploy in
economic competition. In the early 1840s the newspaper El Corresponsal
claimed that "an English colony placed on Fernando Po would have in its
hands [the power] to impede, or better yet, annul, completely the commerce
of our Antilles with that part of Africa, because on the pretext that they are
engaged in the slave traffic, the ships cruising there would all be registered,
harassed and, perhaps . . . judged with injustice. "
In 1844
Jose A. Irigoyen, Fernando Antonio de Alvear, and N. Dominques y
Alvarez, members of the Tribunal de Comercio, protested that the anti-
slaving treaties destroyed any chance for legitimate Spanish trade in Africa.
At mid-century the situation in the Spanish-claimed Biafran territories was
an embarrassment for Spain and added fuel to anti-British sentiment. The
only permanent "Spanish" official in the Bights of Benin and Biafra was
John Beecroft. When he died in 1854, Madrid tried to appoint
Domingo Mustrich. Mustrich headed a Barcelona trading company which
was accused by the British of slaving; his factory at Badagry was supposedly
infamous. Mustrich had sent several large slave shipments to Cuba in 1853
and 1854. He accompanied his "property," but the British government
seized two of his shipments of disembarked Africans. On the West African
coast, the antislaving squadron captured one of the Spaniard's ships, the
Fernando Poo, and took it to Sierra Leone. Mustrich's candidacy fell apart,
and William Lynslager, another Britisher, succeeded as the second "Spanish"
governor of Fernando Po.
Spaniards continued to complain of British interdiction of legitimate
Spanish commerce. In a session of the Cortes in June of 1856, a deputy
from Barcelona demanded an explanation of the capture of a corvette by two
English cruisers. Later, in August of 1857, the British captured the
Conchita, a vessel owned by the Barcelona company of Jose Vidal y Ribas,
in the Dahomean port of Ouidah. In Spain the condemnation of the ship
raised a firestorm of protest. At the same time a rumor spread that the
corvette Taimaida, owned by Carlos Montagut and Company, had been
Spain in the Bight 49
In 1858 the Sociedad Economica de Barcelona petitioned the government
lo modify the antislaving treaty and to encourage colonization. The Sociedad
also demanded the establishment of a Spanish naval station so that the right
of search would be reciprocal. A member of Madrid's Sociedad Economica
Matritense echoed the sentiments of many of his compatriots when he
denounced the treaties with Britain. The latter was accused of neglecting no
opportunity "to molest, detain and even seize and ruin, in the manner of
pirates, our merchant ships, submitting them to the unappealable sentence of
the so-called 'Mixed Tribunal,' although [the British] alone sit on it in Sierra
Leone. "
Demands for increased action by Spain in the Bight of Biafra met with a
positive response. At the end of the 1850s Leopoldo O'Donnell, a former
captain-general of Cuba, headed the Spanish government. His administra-
tion, for the first time in decades, undertook foreign adventures. O'Donnell
encouraged Spanish colonial forays in places as disparate as Peru, Morocco,
Indochina, Mexico, and Santo Domingo. In keeping with the general tenor
of national policy, Spain decided to occupy Fernando Po.
After years of hesitation, an expedition headed by a naval officer, Carlos
Chacon, steamed from Spain on April19, 1858, and arrived on Fernando Po
on May 23. The expedition brought a prefabricated hospital capable of
serving forty patients, along with medicines and supplies for six months. A
building owned by the English firm of Horsfall and Company was purchased
as a governor's residence. Chacon almost immediately began plans for the
construction of roads, an improved dock, and a harbor light.
During this spurt of colonial activity in the Bight of Biafra, one Spaniard
optimistically said that "this island [Fernando Po] is a precious jewel,
destined to serve in time as the anchor of salvation for the white race in the
humanitarian enterprise of African civilization and as an emporium for the
commerce of all this western part of the continent. "
Spaniards recognized,
however, that an underpopulated island was of little economic value. In
1859 Chacon was superseded as governor by Jose de la Gandara, and a
policy of European colonization began. The government sent circulars to the
Spanish provinces encouraging emigration, and a royal decree promised free
The new governor's expedition carried 128 colonists and 166
military personnel. Madrid, having carefully prepared for the venture, was
convinced of the island's salubrity, especially at the higher elevations. After
reconnoitering, one Spaniard believed: "The costly and risky investigations
. . . show the existence of many points in which rich towns will be able to
be founded, as healthy as the best in Spain . . . . " The expedition
guaranteed "the civilization and commerce of West Africa, and that with the
50 Spain in the Bight
discoveries made on the mountain . . . colonization is assured forever. "
Even more grandiosely, Governor P. Lopez de Ia Torre Ayl16n (1862-1865)
advised his government to occupy the whole area between the Bonny River
and Cape Esterias. A naval officer, Jose Pelion y Rodriquez, was commis-
sioned to reconnoiter the area; he succeeded in producing an exhaustive
multivolume survey, which was subsequently lost by the Spanish govern-
From previous experience, it should have been evident that the climate
was unsuitable for Europeans. In the 1830s, of the roughly 2,000 Spanish
traders and sailors who visited Corisco, fever killed between 100 and 500.
On the Guillemard de Arag6n-Manterola expedition of 1845, almost all of
the 178 sailors and marines fell ill.
With the mid-century push to colonize,
the epidemiological factor again asserted itself. Late in 1859 Governor
Gandara had to send some of the colonos to Corisco from Fernando Po for
reasons of health. Half died, including the doctor. Yellow fever was
supposedly brought from Havana in March of 1862; in two months, 78 out
of 250 whites on Fernando Po died. More than half of a special military
company of 166 men sent to garrison the island found its way into the
After four years of European colonization, the project ended in
European penal settlement held out certain attractions. In 1861 a presidio
was created and thirteen prisoners transported from Malaga. They were too
weak for agricultural labor and had, therefore, been confined to a scow,
where fever took its toll. In 1866, nineteen political prisoners arrived as a
consequence of a republican and. socialist movement in Andalucia. They
remained in the colony only ten months; half of them falling victim to the
climate and yellow fever. The following year the government began
experimenting with sending colonial troops to the Canaries as a "seasoning"
measure against tropical fevers.
Such a measure would have been of little
use in the Biafran disease climate. Eight years later, when La Real
Academia de Ciencias Morales y Politicas debated penal settlement, Pedro
Armengol y Comet warned his countrymen that to send prisoners to the
Bight was as good as a death sentence.
The Cubans in Africa
Spain, one of the last great transatlantic slaving powers, could perhaps have
been induced to introduce black slavery into its African possessions in the
1860s. Slavery was not abolished in Puerto Rico until 1873 and in Cuba
Spain in the Bight 51
until 1886. Despite this reluctance to abandon slavery, a Spanish royal order
of August 18, 1859 proclaimed all slaves arriving on Fernando Po free. It
was a proclamation specifically aimed at forestalling Portuguese claims for
, the return of runaway slaves from Sao .Tome and Principe. A further order
of 1861 authorized the transport to Fernando Po of Africans recaptured from
slave ships by United States cruisers.
Spain also prohibited slavery on Fernando Po, in part, to avoid foreign
intervention. There was always the danger that if other countries thought of
Madrid's presence on the island as only a blind for negreros, Spain's claims
might be completely disallowed. When, in May of 1860, King William of
Bimbia recognized a Spanish protectorate and agreed to supply Fernando Po
with laborers, the British Foreign Office told its consul to warn the Spanish
that such arrangements could easily promote a market for captives.
treaty with Bimbia remained a dead letter. In the 1870s the Spanish traveler
Manuel Iradier sadly noted that Spanish "commerce and navigation from
1865 onward had not counted on the African coast." He complained that the
British caused legitimate trade to continue to suffer. For example, in 1866
the Encarnacion, registered in Barcelona, made the voyage to Fernando Po,
but was turned back because it had not obtained a license and safe conduct
from London beforehand.
Spain was in the ironic position of clandestinely
transporting black labor to the Caribbean, while denying itself the privilege
of exploiting its African possessions by the same means. Fernando Po was
forced to rely on an eclectic and unpredictable labor supply, a situation
which persisted into the twentieth century.
One proposed solution to the problem of colonizing Fernando Po was the
emigration of unwanted free blacks from the New World. Africans illegally
landed in Cuba and freed according to the antislaving treaties (emancipados)
were put forth as the solution to the labor problem in Spanish Africa. Their
presence in Cuba since 1824 was subversive of the slave order, and in 1825
the captain-general of Cuba, Dionisio Vives, suggested that emancipados be
taken to Africa. The need for labor drove Cuban planters in contradictory
directions. On the one hand, it called for more Africans. On the other, fear
of revolution called for black emigration. Suggestions were periodically
made that emancipados be taken to Sierra Leone or, even, to Spain itself,
where they would work on public projects. Haiti was also considered; in the
early 1830s some were taken to the British colony of Trinidad.
Given the prevailing political and racial climate in Cuba, some freed-
people attempted to return to Africa on their own. In 1844 Jose Salome
Valdes, an emancipado known as Veles, and ninety-seven other black men,
along with their wives and children, bought their own passage to Africa.
52 Spain in the Bight
Unfortunately, the ship that was to transport them belonged to Pablo
Alvarez, an associate of Pedro Blanco. The authorities became concerned
because of the large amount of provisions the vessel carried. The ship was
condemned as a slaver, and the prospective repatriates did not make it to
Africa. The following year the Duque de Sotomayor wrote to the Earl of
Aberdeen that his government wanted to send free Cuban blacks and
mulattoes to Fernando Po and Anno bon as voluntary emigrants.
Guillemard de Aragon's visit was supposed to help determine the feasibility
of the project; nothing was done, although the numbers of emancipados
continued to increase. They numbered 2,000 in Cuba in 1854 and were
joined by another 14,417 during the following twelve years.
The relative unimportance of Fernando Po is clear from the fact that the
Cuban emancipados were not sent overseas until the 1860s. In 1859 a
Spanish royal order accepted a proposal made by two Cubans to transport
freedmen to Fernando Po. In the same year, a new plan to develop
Fernando Po with a nucleus of free blacks was put forth. The plan
stipulated that cadres of twenty-five men would clear bush, cut timber, and
serve on naval vessels. A decree of May 28, 1861 proposed enlisting and
sending seventy-five or eighty freedmen to replace half of a white infatitry
company sent in 1859. Besides serving as soldiers, ex-slaves would be
artisans and laborers. Paradoxically, the Havana slaving firm of Zulueta and
its London branch, headed by Pedro de Zulueta, obtained the right to
provide foodstuffs to the emigrants.
The role of the Zuluetas in the free emigration scheme was bound to raise
susp1c1ons. Given their area of expertise, there was some fear that the
emancipados might be taken to Fernando Po and then reenslaved. The
founder of the firm, Julian Zulueta, had arrived in Cuba in 1832 as a poor
immigrant. He invested in the slave commerce from the late 1830s to the
middle of the 1860s. In 1845 his profits from the trade enabled him to
become a large plantation owner. He used his official contacts to the best
advantage and played a key role in the distribution of newly arrived slaves
(bozales). He was the largest shareholder in the Expedici6n por Africa
Company and the island's richest planter. By 1860 he probably owned more
blacks than any other single person in Cuba. In March of 1866, while free
black emigration to Fernando Po was still being considered, the slaves on the
Zulueta plantations in Mantanzas withheld their labor, maintaining that they
had been freed by the Cortes in Madrid. Troops were called in to make the
slaves return to work, although there was no actual violence.
In Cuba there was no great rush to return to Africa. The authorities there
inquired in September of 1861 if they should send emancipados a forciori.
' Spain in the Bight 53
Madrid replied that if sufficient volunteers did not present themselves, sixty
blacks serving as soldiers and two hundred day workers were to be sent.
The conditions of labor and the advantages conferred on those in the military
company were defined by an order of March, 1862; in July another order set
forth the terms under which the two hundred day laborers were to work.
The emigration scheme came to fruition in 1862. 1\vo hundred black
emigrants, indentured for seven years, arrived from Havana. The emigrants
were to serve their terms and then be granted their unconditional freedom.
In November of 1862, Madrid ordered another two hundred blacks sent.
The following February further measures for their support were decreed, and
the government approved a barracks for their lodging. Emigration had the
support of the home government, but it soon became evident that there was
a lack of coordination with the Cuban authorities. A letter to Cuba from
Madrid in 1863 repeated previous requests, but no response was made.
Another royal decree for emigration was issued in October, 1865. Under its
terms, 103 Africans landed in September at El Gato, Cuba, were ordered to
West Africa.
The Spanish government sought to generate favorable international
opinion on the emigration of Cuban blacks by clarifying and ameliorating the
emancipado status. In October of 1865 Madrid withdrew from the captain-
general the power to assign freedpersons. All emancipados who had been
in Cuba for five years were to be at liberty when their contracts were
terminated. Africans recaptured from slavers were to be transported to
Fernando Po or to the African mainland. Captain-General Domingo Dulce
reassigned many of the blacks to labor in Cuba supposedly before he knew
of Madrid's decree. He later justified his actions as necessary to protect
Cuban agriculture. In March of 1866 the captain-general attempted to recall
emancipados taken from slave ships and distributed among plantation
owners. Few of the planters complied with his order. Finally he was forced
by their demands to make the emancipados available for the sugar harvest.
Emancipado emigration was prohibited in September of 1866. The
number of emigrants to this date remains somewhat indistinct. It is known
that, in approximately one year of the emancipado scheme, 400 freedmen
arrived voluntarily. In total, at least 563 blacks, Cuban-born and those
recaptured from slave ships, were sent in the 1860s.
As with previous
colonization attempts, disease took its toll. In 1869 there were only 150
emancipados, 120 men and 30 women.
Even so, the idea of Afro-Cuban
emancipation lingered. In 1872 when the Ley Moret, partially abolishing
Cuban slavery, went into effect, it gave freedmen the choice of remaining
in Cuba or returning to Spanish Africa.
54 Spain in the Bight
The end of the emancipatio scheme did not mean the cessation of Cuban
immigration. An Antillean presence remained. By the late 1860s the
dilatory attitude of the Cuban authorities on ex-slave emigration was matched
by their enthusiasm for the expatriation of political dissidents. The Ten
Years War (1868-1878) in Cuba saw a new type of settlement on Fernando
Po. At the beginning of the conflict over a hundred political deportees
arrived from Havana. Two hundred and fifty more rebels arrived in May
of 1869, and the total number for the year reached four hundred.
Unfortunately, mortality was high. On the fifteen-day voyage from Cuba,
there were ninety-five sick and eight dead within a few days. Because of the
death rate, a royal order soon prohibited such deportations. However, some
Cubans stayed after receiving permission to leave, and many went into
agriculture. For instance, tobacco cultivated by Cubans won a gold medal
at the Amsterdam Exposition of 1878. Also, some of the Cubans transported
in the 1860s were members of an expedition around Fernando Po undertaken
in 1884-1886. Others were transported during the Cuban war of indepen-
dence in the 1890s; in 1897 there were 119 such deportees on the island.
The state of emergency proclaimed with the arrival of the early exiles was
not lifted until 1904.
Colonial Torpor
Spain's mid-century colonial push, of which the Cuban scheme was part, was
only an episode. The rhythm of Spanish activity in West Africa was out of
sync with that of other colonial powers. The pace of the earlier Spanish
boom slowed before the wider European scramble for Africa began. In the
1870s the Spanish merchant marine, which had seemed so promising, went
into a steep decline in the face of foreign competition. Economic growth
was considerably below that of the other industrializing countries, and the
gap was probably greater in 1875 than it had been in 1845.
funds went to special foreign-backed financial groups and to agricultural
interests. In spite of grandiose plans, West Africa did not attract much
Spanish capital, aside .from that necessary for the declining slave and
ancillary trades. In the 1870s the Vizconde de San Javier, Jose Munoz y
Gaviria, complained that "those possessions [i.e., Fernando Po and its
dependencies], so rich in timber, are worthless for Spain because no one
goes there to export it, nor has a single commercial house been established,
and rare are the boats which arrive from time to time from Spain. "
Spain in the Bight
Spanish governor lamented that it was impossible to compete on the Guinea
Coast, where British commercial and naval power was so much stronger.
A royal decree of December 1869 created a consultative council to study
the future of Fernando Po. The preamble questioned the utility of the
possession and noted that "from 1858 to the present ... there is not one'
meter of road, nor one solid bridge, nor even one masonry building, nor one
newly created town, nor one native or Bubi conquered for Spanish civiliza-
tion; everything remaining as it was twelve years ago.
The council
concluded that Spain must
determine if that country contains enough
favorable conditions for the creation for the State of an advantageous Spanish
province . . . or if it will be more convenient to absorb the expense and
abandon this project.
The government settled on retrenchment. Direct
passage of naval vessels between Spain and the colony was suspended, and
the colonial government had to have its supplies transferred to English ships
in the Canaries.
In 1872 the buildings and storehouses of the government were sold,
except for the Catholic mission. In the mid-1880s English shipping arrived
at Fernando Po four times per month and often stopped at San Carlos and
Concepcion to take the island's produce to Great Britain. The German
Woermann Line arrived, at most, twice monthly. Money from the
metropole arrived irregularly, and the government was always in debt.
English money was the medium of exchange, although old Spanish pesetas,
worthless in Spain, were in circulation. A foreign visitor remarked: "On
my journeys in the Bubi villages I have decidedly lived much better than the
Europeans in Santa Isabel, particularly the Spanish officials who are served
in the house of a dirty colonist for a lot of money.
Colonial administra-
tion itself showed a marked lack of continuity. Between 1865 and 1910
there were over forty-five governors. The colonial torpor was lifted only in
the wake of the Spanish-American War, when, divested of its Caribbean
colonies, Spain tried in earnest to exploit its remaining tropical real estate.
Chapter 4
Trade and Politics
More than a quarter of a century ago, K. 0. Dike emphasized the impor-
tance of Fernando Po and wrote that British abandonment of the island
"meant that the only possible base for the establishment of a British post to
guard the growing trade of the oil rivers disappeared . . . . The absence of
a permanent base from which to control the activities of British traders in the
[Niger] Delta gave free rein to the elements of violence, disorder, and
instability in the first 50 years of 'equitable traffic. "'
What should be
realized is that the island continued to play a significant role in Biafran
politics after 1835. The British consular presence after 1849 was of
increasing importance in the arbitration of disputes among coastal societies.
Furthermore, British economic and political influence continued to flow from
the island. Much of this influence was carried forward by Africans claiming
British protection. Sierra Leoneans and Fernando Po recaptives, pursuing
their own interests, were a dynamic economic reality more than a generation
after the failed British occupation.
The Colonial Nucleus
Unlike the Creoles of Sierra Leone, the recaptured Africans of Fernando Po
lived in a noncolonial context. In 1843, four years before the granting of
legal independence to African-American freedmen in Liberia, the people of
Trade and Politics 57
Santa Isabel found themselves nominally Spanish and practically free. The
settlers had access to Western education, but escaped the direct imposition
of European political domination. During the high point of British activity
in the early 1830s, the Clarence settlement contained around 2000 people;
this was higher than the population of many Delta villages at the beginning
of the Atlantic trade. In the wake of the British government's withdrawal,
there was a dip in Clarence's population. In 1835 it had 788 inhabitants,
including migrant workers. By 1841 population had grown to 873. In 1848
it ranged between 800 and 900. In 1856 it was 982. The number slowly
increased late in the century. In 1877 it was 1,106 and in 1885, 1,284.
Clarence, or Santa Isabel, was a unique place, one where a black settler
population could evolve without the checks imposed by an imperial power.
It was a frontier where the "educated African" could fully exploit his natural
environment and his fellow Africans. The town contained Western schools,
medical care, commercial transactions, and a brothel for visiting sailors. A
number of exotic transients passed through. In the early 1840s Baptist
missionaries reported a visit "from a socialist, who avows his principles very
boldly." He was "a man of colour from the Island of Nevis" who "said ...
that he is surprised to see what people think of missionaries here, for they
stone them in the West Indies."
In 1841 there was "an [African] American,
from Cape Palmas" working as a clerk in one of the local shops. Important-
ly, by the 1850s, Fernando Po was the residence of a British consul, the
representative of all of the area's varied British subjects.
The coalescence of the Clarence community took place only gradually.
The people landed from1827 to 1835 were ethnically diverse, and they had
undergone the demoralizing process of enslavement and, then, recapture and
disembarkation in an alien place. In the years following 1835 the bulk of the
settler population was composed of Sierra Leoneans, Cape Coasters (Fanti),
Cameroonian (Bakwerri and Isuwu) and Calabar (Efik) migrant laborers, Kru
laborers, runaways from Principe and Sao Tome (mostly laborers), and
liberated Africans. In the mid-1850s the largest group among the surviving
recaptives (65 out 238) were Igbo who had been traded through Aboh.
Many cultivated plots while their "masters" engaged in trade with the interior
or with passing ships. In the 1840s ties of dependency still persisted
between these Igbo and some Sierra Leoneans: "Those who got them from
the ship still keep them: they give them no wages; they often flog
them .... None of the people of the town will hire them, if they wish to
change their master or mistress, as this would be called taking away another
person's servant; if they hide among the natives, they are sought out and
natives are bribed to bring them back . . . . "
On the island social distance
58 Trade and Politics
and labor subordination were both symbolic and instrumental. Black
masters, as well as white ones, used corporal punishment to insure the
performance of tasks. Additionally, physical punishment was viewed as
inherent in the master-servant relationship. The ability to command labor
was, like the ability to command wealth, a symbol of high status.
For a time, hired labor from the Biafran mainland was important. In
1835 there were 110 such workers, fourteen percent of the population. Thn
years later, there were 374-around forty percent of the total population.
Semi-skilled sawyers (26 in 1845) and carpenters (29 in 1845) stood above
servants and laborers in the social hierarchy.
Somewhat higher in status
were skilled workers and craftsmen: coopers, tailors, shipwrights, and
sailors. In the mid-1850s the recaptives were outnumbered by 416 Africans
from the coast (mainly Bimbia), who worked as artisans and servants.
Outside the town the bulk of the laborers were Kru migrants. In town, the
Kru lived separately, and residential segregation was enforced.
At the opposite end of the socioeconomic hierarchy from the laborers
stood the major traders. They were a small group of European, Sierra
Leonean, and Fanti immigrants. Most had arrived during the British
occupation. Foremost among the traders was John Beecroft (1790-1854).
He had served under Nicolls as superintendent of works and remained in
Clarence after the 1835 evacuation. His eminence was reinforced by his
dual position as both "Spanish" governor of the island (1843) and British
consul for the. Bights of Benin and Biafra (1849). Indeed, the merchant-
governor is best known for his activities away from the island. As consul
he traveled widely. He paid one visit to Gezo, King of Dahomey, and two
to the Egba Yoruba. He occupied Lagos in 1851 and deposed King Pepple
of Bonny in 1854. K. 0. Dike has maintained that "in time Africans came
to look on the British Consul as the de facto Governor of the Bights of Benin
and Biafra, "
but this is an exaggeration. Beecroft had at his command
considerably fewer personnel than did the British administration of
1827-1835. He had almost no staff and had to depend on the Royal Navy
for transport. Rather than a governor of the Bights, he was principally an
arbiter in matters of external trade.
Beecroft's deputy and successor as governor was another European trader,
William Lynslager (1810-1864), a British subject of Dutch ancestry. He
began his career in the Dutch navy; he then left it for the merchant marine
and spent five years in Batavia. Shortly afterwards he came to Fernando Po,
where he earned a living by making and mending sails and making hats. His
situation improved later when, during the official occupation, he was put in
Trade and Politics
charge of the British government's beach stores. At his death, Lynslager's
trading business was taken over by his African wife.
Most prominent among the Sierra Leoneans was John Scott. After
receiving an education from the Church Missionary Society, he came to
Fernando Po in 1827 as a clerk and stayed on as treasurer for a British firm.
Captain Wauchope, who visited Clarence in 1840, cited Scott as an example
"that the African is not incapable of receiving instruction, or civilization, or
discharging the duties of life in any situation to which he may be
raised . . . . " The visiting captain had a check for 230 cashed by Scott and
afterwards dined with him. Beecroft observed to Wauchope: "You will be
surprised to hear, that ten years ago, that man [Scott] was in the hold of a
slaver."ll Scott, who was probably supplied with goods by the London firm
of Forster and Smith, owned a schooner and traded with the mainland.
After he died in the 1840s, Beecroft lived with his widow.
Scott's partner was William Henry Matthews, another Sierra Leonean and
also Scott's brother-in-law. Like Scott, Matthews had come to Fernando Po
with Owen's expedition and, after starting out as a mechanic, was promoted
to the position of African clerk in 1829. In 1845 a member of the Baptist
mission sold the largest warehouse in Santa Isabel to Matthews and William
Lynslager. By 1852 Matthews was the owner of a schooner and was trading
along the Cameroon River for palm oil. After his death, his affairs were
managed by his widow, whom a Spanish traveler observed to be "a black
woman, who with her daughters . . . ;received an excellent education in
England . . . and to this they owe the preservation of their house. "
visitor in the 1860s remarked on the business acumen of the widow and her
daughters, who spoke English, French, and Spanish.
John Scott's son Jonathan showed early promise, but was unable to build
upon the business established by his father. Jonathan Scott was born in
Sierra Leone in 1826 and educated in England. He studied steam navigation
for a short time in Woolwich and also served as a ship's carpenter in
Liverpool. Jonathan accompanied Beecroft aboard the Ethiope on Beecroft's
fourth ascent of the Niger in 1845, but their friendly relationship must have
declined when Beecroft later accused the young man of murder in a
Cameroon trade dispute. In early 1852 Scott was engaged by his uncle,
Matthews, as a supercargo. Three years later he was embroiled with him
in a dispute over his father's estate.
Another person who was to play a significant role in the community and
its expansion was Samuel Richard Brew, scion of a well-known Fanti family.
The Brews were from the Gold Coast town of Cape Coast. Samuel Brew
was born there in 1819, the son of Richard Brew (1778-c.1849), a grandson
60 Trade and Politics
of an Irish slaver. The date of Brew's arrival on Fernando Po is unknown
but early in his career he served as a clerk in John Scott's store. In 1840 h;
was charged with a breach of trust and imprisoned for five months. He was
a member of the Baptist Church and married twice, the second time to a
~ a r i a Beecroft (it is not known whether she was related to John Beecroft)
m 1855. After the expulsion of a Baptist mission in 1858, Brew followed
it to Victoria, Cameroon, where he operated as a palm oil trader and agent
for the German Woermann shipping line.
There were other important traders. Among them were Samuel Cooper,
John Showers, T. H. Johnston, and Thomas Collins. It was such men who
gave goods on "trust" to smaller-scale traders. These men were "able to
have arrested those who left their employ; they made up [the city] council
and thus had a role in what legal processes there were. They provided the
Deacons of the Church. They built 'respectable houses' and were the
literates in society; they could afford to send their sons to school. "
1843, when the settlement's name was officially changed to Santa Isabel, the
governing council was invested with control of the town and its environs.
The council passed ordinances and imposed fines for drunkness, fighting, the
carrying of firearms, and the selling of alcohol to the Bubi.
By the mid-1860s Beecroft, Lynslager, and most of the black traders
connected with the British occupation were dead. Some new men came and
prospered. The most successful was an Englishman, John Holt. His career
mirrors changes in West African trade after the mid-century and . Fernando
Po's changing relationship to them. Later the founder of a large commercial
enterprise, Holt arrived on the island in 1862, while still in his early
twenties, and found work with Lynslager. He remained on Fernando Po for
twelve years, using the island as it traditionally had been used-as an
entrepot and transshipment point. Goods were shipped to Britain via mail
or cargo boat, and mainland "factories" were stocked from the island. In
1867 his only serious competitor retired from the trade, and the following
year Holt began operations on the mainland by reopening a small post in
Bimbia that Lynslager had used. Although the venture was not very
successful, it marked a shift of interest away from the Biafran littoral.
Subsequently, Holt traded in Gabon and Nigeria and rose to become a major
investor in West Africa. By the time of his death in 1915, Fernando Po was
a small part of the trader's interest in West Africa. Imperialism and the
"trade frontier" had moved inland.
Trade and Politics 61
Company Versus Peasant Development
In the first half of the nineteenth century, would-be developers of Fernando
Po faced several choices: "trade vs. agriculture, open trade vs. monopolized
trade, peasant proprietorship vs. European-managed plantations. "
Development of Fernando Po was influenced by the larger debate on the
economic future of West Africa. A. G. Hopkins notes: "For historians the
[West African agricultural] schemes are especially noteworthy because they
expressed the realisation that the external slave trade would not simply die
of its own accord, and that a positive effort was required to find substitute
exports. "
Even before the abolition of the English slave trade, the Danes
had experimented with European-controlled plantations in the Bight of
Biafra. In 1802 Johan Wrisberg, a sometime governor of Fort Christianborg
on the Gold Coast, tried to buy territory in Bimbia on the Cameroonian
shore to carry out a plan for an agricultural colony. . A schooner, the
Experiment, sailed to a small island off the coast and began a small
settlement. As in other cases of planned European colonization in the
region, it fell victim to disease. Interestingly enough, in light of the soon to
be launched British crusade for "Legitimate Commerce," the establishment
was sacked in 1803 at the instigation of Liverpool slavers.
After the failure of the Owen expedition, the British government's
intention was certainly not to exploit Fernando Po for itself. Mere
occupation, however, presented a series of questions which Britishers were
forced to attempt to answer. Had the epidemiological problem been
overcome, the economic history of the island would have been far different.
The fact that Fernando Po was seen as a strategic stepping stone to other
activities is irrelevant. As in the case of the Cape of Good Hope or even the
Falklands, occupation would have brought in its train a demand for a
modicum of economic self-sufficiency.
During the British occupation Owen had foreseen a classic insular
economy in which landless peasants worked plantations containing the
majority of the productive land. He claimed that he could create an
economically viable colony in two years. Plantations run by white colonists
(including convicts) could supplement the island's entrerot role. Clarence's
proximity to the slaving areas of the Niger Delta promised a steady flow of
liberated African labor.
"Developmental" schemes, like Owen's, were proposed, almost none of
which came to fruition. For instance, in the wake of the evacuation of the
British antislaving base, a British trading and lumber firm established itself.
Superficially, the situation resembled that of British Honduras (present-day
Trade and Politics
Belize), where English commercial interests had gradually extended their
authority since the seventeenth century. There, British lumberers operated
in an area which was lightly populated and claimed by Spain. The
indigenous population remained in the interior and only gradually came
within the ambit of outside authority.
The similarities are deceptive, however. For one, Fernando Po was
settled in the post-abolition period. Few voluntary migrants wanted to stay
on the island. Thus, the British slave-using plantation and timber oligarchy
that developed in Belize never had an opportunity to do so in the Bight of
Biafra. Attempts to import coerced labor were tried, but they failed to
create a labor force sufficient to support large-scale exploitation of the
island. Also, the climate of the Mosquito Coast proved far less mortiferous
than that of the Bights.
Owen favored plantation development; his successor favored peasant
production spurred on by want and the ideology of free labor. Unskilled
labor would become skilled; the island would be cultivated, and a useful
property would be delivered to the British government. Nicolls believed that
in the tropics black men were better laborers than whites. With a few
officers to direct them and a small number of skilled Europeans to teach
trades and cattle raising, he was convinced that he could mold the recaptives
into model wage laborers.
Nicolls envisioned Africans as essential, but dependent, producers of raw
materials. They should be taught how to repair, but not how to manufacture
British products. "I am clearly of the opinion," said Nicolls later, "that
confining the Natives of Africa to the production of the raw materials of
their native land with which it so richly abounds, is the most advantageous
employment both for that and this country (at least) for a very long time to
come. "
In the 1840s he thought that British companies and a black
yeomanry might coexist if land on Fernando Po could be leased in perpetuity
in return for six percent of gross production. Such a course was consonant
with Nicolls's views on the role of trade. The former superintendent's
method "for putting down slavery and the slave-trade by a safe and judicious
mode would be for the friends of Africa to form a large and efficient
commercial company, and let the British Government take up positions on
the coast, giving the governor permission to accept the sovereignty of any
territory that may be freely offered to him and pass an act to declare every
man free that comes into these colonies. "
In the wake of the British evacuation, government properties were sold
to Richard Dillon and Company, a firm with ties to both Nicolls and John
Beecroft. Dillon had first applied to trade on the island in 1831 and hoped
Trade and Politics 63
to break Liverpool merchants' hold on the Niger Delta trade by employing
Beecroft as his mainland trading agent. The company did not achieve its
aims and went bankrupt in 1836 through mismanagement. The West African
Company, which bought Dillon out, was composed largely of Dillon's
London creditors, led by J. Blunt, and used the ships Dillon formerly
owned. The company wanted a transshipment point for gum copal, gum
senegal, coffee, and grain, as well as a source of lumber. Beecroft served
briefly as its agent and was succeeded by at least three others.
The company did not do well financially. Coercion of the resident
recaptive population did little to increase profits. For most of its short
existence the company's chief exports were palm oil and timber. In 1843 its
last shipment to England was only ninety-eight casks of palm oilY This was
especially unfortunate because the enterprise was liable to forfeit almost
2,000 if incapable of filling its chartered ships. Beecroft, the largest
individual trader, also weakened his former employer. He bought up land
around Santa Isabel and encouraged laborers to work for him at his trading
establishment (New Town) on the western side of the island. In late 1842
a British naval officer suggested that the British government buy out the
ailing firm. The company decided to leave the island after suffering losses
amounting to 50,000.
Its property and claims were sold to the Baptist
Missionary Society.
The West African Company's tenure during the years from 1836 to 1843
highlighted the problems inherent in any concessionaire plan. Once
established, the methods of the company agents had created protests from the
free black population. The firm desired a landless population working in its
lumbering and entrepot activities. This desire raised the same question that
had surfaced during the establishment of Sierra Leone in the previous
century-the question of purpose. Was the territory a philanthropic haven
for freed slaves or tropical property to be run for profit? If the latter was
the aim, Fernando Po would have to pay, and this could be accomplished
only by prodding the resident labor force into company employ.
By the late 1830s, Nicolls, an advocate of some form of company rule,
assumed the guise of protector and benefactor of the Fernando Po recaptives.
Before leaving, he had given each householder a certificate giving him or her
title to a home. The West African Company requisitioned some of these
homes. In July of 1838 the former superintendent received a letter whiph
denounced the company's demand for a symbolic rent payment from Santa
Isabel's residents. "They dare not refuse," confided Nicolls's correspondent,
"or are subject to be severely flogged or sent off the island to any of the
neighbouring places, viz. Bimbia, Calabar, Cameroons or Bonny." The
Trade and Politics
liberated Africans themselves protested to Nicolls and said that they feared
The company's agents and overseers, at least one of whom had been
employed in the Gambia and Brazil, forged ahead with plans to reduce the
inhabitants to a docile labor force. Expulsions and imprisonments were
frequent. When a company agent heard that sawyers were cutting timber
and keeping the softwood for he had their houses broken into
and some planks confiscated. In protest over this and other actions, about
fifty sawyers went to North-West Bay (San Carlos Bay) and returned only
after the company's agent had given assurances that the actions would not be
Nicolls informed the British government of conditions on Fernando Po.
It, in tum, demanded an explanation from the West African Company's
secretary, who replied that his business was turning a profit. Given the
loudly professed antislaving nature of British involvement, the government
was troubled about reports of forced labor. The Foreign Office also thought
"it singular that this self-formed Company should be levying Duties by their
own Authority in an Island which belongs to the Spanish Crown. "
commander in the British navy had already refused to enforce the company's
claims against some Old Calabar chiefs, a refusal which met with the
government's approval. It was under these circumstances, facing financial
loss and ambiguous legal status, that the West African Company withdrew.
The idea of company development died hard. In 1842 the African
Agricultural Association hoped to raise 40,000 and to grow tropical produce
on Fernando Po and its dependencies as if they were "West India Estates."
Furthermore, the company proposed that "this large Estate of Clarence shall
be divided into Farms as may be required by the present Settlers and those
who may come from the Coast and those who may come from Liberia, the
United States or elsewhere, to enjoy the feeling of independence, and a
retreat from the contempt and contumely of supercilious ignorance and
presumption." The immigrants would pay rent to the company and "have
a vote on the laying on of Taxes in Clarence, which as a Free Port will
eventually have as large, and as independent a Population as there is at
present in Texas. "
Unfortunately for its planners, the plan remained only
at the drawing board stage. In 1844, Robert Jamieson, a Liverpool merchant
who was Beecroft's sometime employer, suggested that an African
association be formed for the Niger trade from Fernando Po. For 20,000
of capital spread over four years, a steamer could be placed on the Niger
and palm oil taken to the island by tender. Beecroft made a trip for the
fledgling association, but Jamieson subsequently turned his attention to other
Trade and Politics 65
African ventures. The following year MacQueen proposed the African
Agricultural and Commercial Company. With Fernando Po as a base, the
company could concentrate on trade at the junction of the Niger and the
Benue. Like many of his previous plans, the company was never realized.
The Inculcation of Values
For the vast proportion of the nineteenth century, Fernando Po's export-
oriented activities were dominated not by European concessionaires, but by
African settlers. Their creation and nurturance was one outgrowth of the
idea of the "Bible and the Plow." It rested on the notion that African
societies would appropriate European religion and that, motivated by a desire
for European manufactures, African ruling classes would redirect their
societies' economies in ways complementary to those of Europe. At the
same time, antislaving gave rise to groups of recaptives who could serve as
the vanguard of socioeconomic change. In 1787 Freetown, Sierra Leone,
was founded as a "free" labor experiment; twenty years later Britain
abolished its slave trade. Soon, from the Gambia to the Bight of Biafra,
liberated slaves were urged to engage in agricultural schemes based on wage
labor and the demands of the world market. Often these communities of
liberated slaves were of the type the economic historian Ralph Austen calls
"creole" ("Afro-European," culturally and/or physically).
Many engaged
in middleman trade. At a certain level, and to varying degrees, they were
"Westernized." They had, usually through missionary agency, appropriated
cultural traits which emanated from the capitalist West.
The inculcation of the proper values of the wage labor system started
during the official occupation. It was Nicolls who first elaborated a plan to
"civilize" the disparate recaptive elements in Clarence. To the second
superintendent, the liberated Africans in Clarence were little different from
the lower orders at home: "The intellect of a Negro is in no way deficient,
he is only what all ignorant and savage men are and equally capable of being
instructed and enlightened with the rest of the human race. "
Work and
vocational training were necessary. Just as reformers in the metropole, in
the words of David Brion Davis, wanted "to inculcate the lower classes with
various moral and economic virtues, so that workers would want to do what
the emerging economy required," so Nicolls hoped that the liberated
66 Trade and Politics
Africans would, through the internalization of the proper attitudes, transform
themselves into willing wage laborers.
The colonel said:
The liberated African when first taken from a Slave Ship requires
to be subjected to a peculiar mode of management in order to
render him a useful member of the Community-In his own
Country his state even at the best is a species of Slavery, as he
is robbed by his Chief of whatever Property he may acquire that
is more than sufficient for his own support; deprived thus of
every stimulus to industry, he is consequently the laziest of
Human Beings, and until he can be taught some of the wants of
civilized life, and convinced that by his own exertions he can
obtain the means of satisfying them it is both cruel and impolitic
to abandon him to his own guidance . . . . It is therefore some
time after he comes amongst us before he can believe his
bondage is ended, and still longer before he feels any security of
our keeping faith with him respecting the indoucements [sic] held
out to make him work.
Nicolls's experiment in pedagogy was short-lived. It ended with the
withdrawal of the official British presence. The chief inculcators of the
values of nineteenth-century Britain were to be English missionaries. In
1841 two Baptists, Rev. John Clarke of Jericho, Jamaica, and
Dr. G. K. Prince, arrived. Their visit was inspired by the ideas of
William Knibb, a proponent of West Indian colonization in Africa.. After
visiting the Cameroons and Fernando Po, Clarke and Prince took back a
favorable report of the possibilities of mission work. The Baptist Missionary
Committee decided to establish a permanent ministry, and two groups set out
for West Africa. One left from England and arrived in September of 1843.
Rev. Clarke and Rev. Alfred Saker headed another group which left Jamaica
in December of 1843 and landed on Fernando Po in February of 1844,
carrying forty-two West Indian immigrants.
The newcomers were quartered among the town's African residents and
soon began to grumble. The climate was not as healthy as was supposed.
In addition, the Jamaicans were not given useful tasks, and their inactivity
added to their discontent. The Europeans looked upon them as "educators"
in the larger and more figurative sense. The immigrants saw themselves as
fit for positions as classroom teachers and saw no reason why school
management was chiefly reserved for Europeans. Resentment was inherent
in the situation. African children were also seen as having a bad moral
influence on the immigrants' offspring. The West Indians asked to send
Trade and Politics 67
their children home. Early in 1846 the Jamaican teachers requested to go
as well when it appeared that the Spaniards would expel the mission. The
mission was not expelled, but the difficulties facing the immigrants did not
abate. In 1848 an English pastor returned to Jamaica with the dissatisfied
settlers. An ambitious and ambiguous scheme had come to an end.
In spite of the failure of the Jamaican colonization scheme, the Baptist
mission continued and left a durable legacy. Guillemard de Aragon, who
disapproved of Protestantism was forced to acknowledge the mission's
utility: "The blacks have acquired habits of industry . . . . In consideration
of this, the last Spanish commissioner [in 1843] ... permitted one of them
[the missionaries] to remain in order to prevent the ruin of such healthy
principles . . . . "
For some residents, Western education aided ii:J. trade
and provided entree to employment. The mission functioned as an institution
which gave some in the community tools with which to achieve worldly
social and economic aspirations. While these aspirations might not seem
inconsistent with the spiritual aims of the British missionary, the meaning of
the process was different for the missionary and the missionized. Indeed,
the potentially missionized might overlook the separation of means and end,
and view them as synonymous. Some missionaries became aware of this and
cautioned against materialism.
The Baptists frequently criticized the labor practices and sexual morality
of the settler community. The missionaries' purchase of the West African
Company's rights also grated on the governor and his colleagues. For
instance, in 1844 Rev. John Clarke disagreed with Scott, Matthews, and
Lynslager on the use of the cleared ground in and around the town. Beecroft
wrote to Nicolls protesting the property claims of the missionaries. The
colonel, in turn, complained to the Spanish ambassador in London. In late
1845 serious disputes occurred; it was partially in response to these that the
Spanish expedition of 1845 visited Fernando Po. The Spanish proclaimed
Roman Catholicism the religion of the colony. Although an expulsion order
was ultimately overturned, the temporal claims of the missionaries were
The Baptists' land claims were not the only source of tension. Some
settlers, both African and European, were critical of the level of education
provided by the Baptist mission. In the 1850s Lynslager said that "the
instruction given in the school in connection with the Church of the Baptist
Mission, has been of such an inferior nature, that those of the inhabitants
here who could afford the means, have been under the necessity of sending
their children to Sierra Leone to receive an education . . . . "
The Church
Missionary Society Grammar School in Freetown was seen as a remedy to
68 Trade and Politics
the limited educational horizon of Clarence/Santa Isabel; its curriculum of
mathematics, Biblical and English history, Greek, geography, and music
made it highly attractive to those who could afford it. In 1853 Edward
Jones, an African-American Anglican missionary, visited and took four Santa
Isabel youths back to Sierra Leone. Three years later the British consul
urged Bishop Crowther of the Church Missionary Society to consider the
possibility of establishing an Anglican mission on Fernando Po.
When the Chacon expedition arrived in 1858, Roman Catholicism was
again proclaimed the sole religion. The Baptist missionaries decided to
depart for Cameroon. In early 1859 a British ship was sent to aid evacua-
tion. The emigrants numbered from 100 to 150 persons, more than
two-thirds of them women and children. Most went off to found the Baptist
mission town of Victoria (Limbe). The majority of the creoles stayed.
Racism and Competition
Some nineteenth-century racists attacked the idea that Africans themselves
could develop their continent's agricultural potential. By mid-century those
at home and abroad who fought a rearguard action against the doctrine of
wage labor fell back upon doctrines of Africa's natural abundance and
Africans' "natural" indolence. In 1849 Thomas Carlyle argued in The
Nigger Question that experience proved that something besides wages was
needed as a spur to industry in the tropics.
Increasingly, such views found
their followers. The stereotype of the "lazy African" persisted and grew in
force after the Scramble for Africa. Western education, once seen as an aid
to the Africans' production for export, now supposedly aggravated the
aversion to farming. Also, educated Africans were of decreasing utility to
white administrators and merchants. The unyoking of the "Bible and the
Plow" was possible only in a situation where outsiders managed and
governed and where Africans were basically drawers of water and hewers
of wood.
By the 1850s the relationship between creoles in the Bight and their
erstwhile British trading partners and mentors was in a state of flux. Rising
trade competition, combined with increasing racism, created new problems.
The introduction of steamship service between the Bight of Biafra and Britain
in the 1850s meant that numerous small creole traders from Sierra Leone and
Fernando Po could now export palm oil on their own. European traders
often viewed these small competitors as the. bane of commerce. As friction
increased, the creoles often appealed for protection as British subjects to the
Trade and Politics 69
consul on Fernando Po. In the end, their appeals went unanswered. By the
1880s the changed attitude toward creoles, already evident in Sierra Leone,
was apparent on Fernando Po, too. The difference was that, on the island,
European authority was largely powerless to transform its prejudices into
The African societies of the eastern Delta and Cross River regions were
also ambivalent about these "English blacks." The year before steamer
service started, the Rev. Edward Jones brought some lgbo recaptives to
Fernando Po and then proceeded on to Old Calabar. Jones was told that
Efik recaptives could be resettled, and in October, 1854, the first party
arrived. Most lived in Duke Town near an English mission. The next year
two began to trade in palm oil, a move which angered British traders on the
river. Men like Peter Nicholls, a Sierra Leonean recaptive, did very well.
In general creoles, whether from Sierra Leone or Fernando Po, traded,
engaged in crafts, and claimed to be beyond the authority of local officials.
Also problematic was their purchase of slaves to whom they later gave
emancipation papers. In 1858 King Duke, one of the Efik leaders, wrote to
Fernando Po that "a number of Sierra Leone men and others have come here
to reside in my town and now these men say they are Englishmen and British
subjects and are not amenable to any law of mine . . . . "
The following
year two Sierra Leoneans were deported. The Efik asked for a general
What concerned the British more than the slave issue were trade delays
and attendant violence. In 1855 an important incident occurred. British
supercargoes complained that oil was being held up because, instead of
paying their trust, the Efik were selling to Sierra Leoneans. Efik King
Eyo II, the most important trader, had traded with Peter Nicholls. In
retaliation, Black Davis, a Sierra Leonean trader, and Eyo's son were both
seized and imprisoned on a British vessel. Later, more of Nicholls's oil was
seized from the beach where it was stored prior to export. The following
year a British captain seized palm oil belonging to the Sierra Leonean
Daniel Hedd. Nicholls, disgusted, had already returned to Sierra Leone.
Recognition as British subjects became extremely important for creoles
wanting to do business in the Bights of Biafra and Benin. Unfortunately for
them, the British government was of the opinion that British supercargoes
were not responsible under English law for their behavior towards S ~ e r r a
Leoneans and others beyond areas of British jurisdiction. The situation was
especially painful for the Fernando Po community. They dwelled in a town
that housed the British consulate and were "ruled" by the British consul in
the name of Spain. Further confusion in the status of settlers on Fernando
Trade and Politics
Po was created in 1852 when the Royal Navy landed thirty-eight slaves from
Lagos at the request of King Akitoye of Lagos. Three years later Benjamin
Campbell, British consul in Lagos, designated Fernando Po as a place of
exile for Sierra Leoneans convicted of crimes in the town.
In March of 1853 Beecroft wrote to the British government in an attempt
to establish the nationality of the black population on Fernando Po and was
told that they were not British.
In spite of this disclaimer, on the arrival
of Consul Thomas Hutchinson in 1856, a group of inhabitants introduced
themselves to him "as British subjects, several of whom are liberated
Africans who were landed here when our Government had the loan of the
Island, and some of us have emigrated here . . . from Freetown . . . . " The
group urged the consul "to more firmly establish our commercial relations
with England. "
Hutchinson asked for clarification and was informed that
they were not British subjects.
In 1857, an incident occurred which reveals how far relations between
the British and Fernando Po's black settlers had deteriorated. In March of
that year, Governor Lynslager and a creole carpenter, Thomas Williams, had
a violent argument. The creole was sent to prison, but managed to escape
with the tacit connivance of two black constables. Hutchinson, still the
British consul, was much alarmed, fearing that "such an open defiance as
this might prove the first step to an insurrection-he [Lynslager] and I being
the only official personages in a colony containing a thousand
negroes . . . . " Members of the community attempted to calm the situation,
but Williams later organized a protest meeting. The governor was infuriated
and wanted to arrest one of Williams's supporters, the prominent trader
Peter Nicholls. The white crews of British merchantmen were called in.
Hutchinson prevailed on the governor not to use them, "although the sailors
had not reached their ships, when half a dozen negroes appeared at the
comer of Governor Lynslager's garden and defied him to fire. "
Santa Isabel was aroused by the affair, and a warning was given to the
Such act of cruelty [i.e., the imprisonment of Williams] has
greatly excited us if not exactly but almost to a sens [sic] of
"Rebellion" . . . . Surely if a man who is endowed with
intellectual powers and feelings like any other individual whether
white or black is treated thus-surely we as inhabitants will
similarly be treated alike . . . if this young man had been killed
on the very spot . . . then [it] will not lead us to a sense of
rebellion only-but a total insurrection and bloodshed . . . .
Trade and Politics 71
The protesters demanded the restoration of the town council which had
been established in the 1840s and then fallen into disuse. This demand for
political participation fell on deaf ears. The African community stood
disillusioned. The British consul had been far from neutral in the dispute;
a group of residents accused him of "instigating Governor Lansteger [sic]
. . . to proclaim war against the inhabitants of this place, subjecting them to
create mutiny which will lead to the great destruction and ruin of this
Island." The European power which was the focus of a kind of cultural and
political loyalty seemed openly hostile to black political aspirations.
Furthermore, it disowned them. The residents announced to the British
representative: "you have declared to us in times past that we are not
British, neither Spanish subjects, but we do well know that we have been
liberated by the hands of British cruisers, and brought to this Island, we
therefore consider ourselves (altho' under the Spanish flag) as British
subjects. "
The consul dismissed these protests as the work of
semi-educated malcontents, noting the author was "a native of Sierra Leone
who is the clerk to Mr. Peter Nichols [sic], a negro trader of the colony. "
Into this highly charged atmosphere the early anthropologist and pseudo-
scientific racist Richard Burton . stepped as consul in 1861. He already
detested "Westernized" Africans. During his tenure, creole traders received
little backing and much overt hostility. In Freetown he had observed that
"[the Creole] drinks, he gambles, he intrigues, he over-dresses him-
self . . . . "
Burton was quite convinced that Africans were best off as
simple laborers and that Europeans were their born supervisors. On
Fernando Po he struck an African he considered too familiar and was
accused of not remitting estate funds to a Sierra Leonean widow. He most
admired the "simple" Bubi, the group which mostly clearly fit within his
perceptions of "the Negro's Place in Nature." "Though ... highly
conservative," Burton wrote, the Bubi "is not as some might imagine, greatly
destitute of intelligence: he pronounces our harsh and difficult English less
incorrectly than any West African tribe, including the Sierra Leonite. "
Above all else, Burton rejected any African claim for equality before the
law or for political participation. He complained that "we-in these
days-read such nonsense pure and simple as 'Africa for the Africans.' "
Burton was the "Africanist" par excellence. He, in the eye of his European
contemporaries, combined the latest theories with on-the-spot observation.
His opinions carried weight simply because he had seen so much of Africa.
To doubters, he argued that "touching the African, it may be observed that
there are in England at least two distinct creeds: 1. That of those who know
him; 2. That of those who do not. "
Burton felt that the relation between
72 Trade and Politics
the laborer and the controller of labor in the tropics must involve compul-
sion. Simply put, climate made labor in the tropics difficult and wants few.
Africans would have to be forced to "work." While on the island he opined
that "no white who has lived long in the outer tropics can prevent feeling
that he is pro tempore the lord, master and the proprietor of the black
humanity placed under him. "
In practice, such views undergirded the
expansion of European authority. In Old Calabar Burton set up a Court of
Equity composed of European trading agents and the two principal Efik
political authorities. Significantly, in this arrangement, the consul had the
final say.
In Burton's view there was no room for educated Africans or creole
traders. He was not alone in disparaging a group the British had previously
carefully cultivated. In 1856 Lynslager had written the British consul,
asking him to "give every possible publicity to the fact that no immigrants
from Sierra Leone or Lagos will be allowed to land here unless provided
with a certificate of good character. "
In the early 1860s the price of palm
oil declined, but immigrants from Sierra Leone continued to come to the
Bight and to settle on Fernando Po. In 1865 there were approximately fifty
Sierra Leoneans in Old Calabar. As late as 1874 the tailors, carpenters, and
other artisans there asked the consul to determine whether or not they were
due British protection, a question apparently not answered satisfactorily
because two years later many African settlers fled Old Calabar out of fear
for their lives.
British consuls in general were far from sympathetic to African settlers.
In 1869 Consul C. Livingstone gave permission for chiefs to punish
individuals who claimed British citizenship. Nine years later, when
King Archibong of Old Calabar hoped to expel all creole immigrants, the
British consulate there described immigrants as "the most meddlesome and
dangerous people on the Coast. "
Although the government in London
agreed, it officially refused to withdraw its protection. Nevertheless, creoles
in Old Calabar seemed to sense the tenuousness of their position. At the end
of 1878 there were only twenty-six left, half the number living there in
As imperialism expanded, small-scale middlemen, creole or otherwise,
were not needed. European traders increasingly abandoned hulks and
established onshore trading posts in Old Calabar. The West African
Company began operations there in 1864; Miller Brothers, in 1868; the
United Africa Company, in 1879. Already in 1866 there were seventeen
foreign companies doing business in Old Calabar waters. Six years later
there were twenty-four Bristol, Liverpool, and Glasgow firms, plus one
Trade and Politics 73
German and one Dutch firm. Together these enterprises had 207 European
employees, 419 African artisans and cooks, 2,000 Kru laborers, and
55 trading posts.
As the partition of Africa loomed, and then took place, the estrangement
between British authorities ~ d creoles continued and grew. This was
evidenced on Fernando Po, as elsewhere. In 1879 an altercation occurred
between Nathaniel Cooke, a Sierra Leonean immigrant, and the Spanish
governor. The British consul was loath to support the African British
subject. After Cooke threatened to write to London, the consul dismissed
him as "one of that dangerous class from Sierra Leone ... [who] come and
settle in out of the way places and with the aid of the 'African Times'
endeavour to injure the reputation of everyone in authority. "
By the 1880s,
creoles, once seen as the vanguard of British commerce and evangelization,
were increasingly seen as impediments to the spread of the British economic
Chapter 5
Islanders and Interlopers
The inhabitants of Fernando Po underwent tremendous change in the
nineteenth century. Much of this upheaval had to do with the evolving
internal dynamics of Bubi society. Other changes were, no doubt, sparked
by the impingement of alien trade and, for the first time, permanent alien
settlement. Amador Martin del Molino, the foremost collector of island oral
tradition, believes that a dramatic shift began as early as the mid-eighteenth
century. In his view, extensive contact between the Bubi and outside
African palm oil traders disrupted Bubi society and increased warfare:
Villages broke up [and] political unity was carved up, ... many
compounds moved to zones under 100 to 200 meters where the
oil palms were, while others continued in the heights. With the
enrichment of some villages over others, there ensued the
fratricidal struggle which lasted until the end. of the last century.
Martin del Molino's time frame is too early. In the eighteenth century the
Bubi's main contact with outsiders was through the yam trade with passing
slave ships. It was only in the opening decades of the nineteenth century
that the palm oil trade took off to any extent. However, permanent alien
settlement on the northern coast of Fernando Po in 1827 was, doubtlessly,
a factor in the disruption of Bubi society. Warfare among the Bubi and
Islanders and Interlopers
between the Bubi and the newcomers increased in intensity for the next
twenty years.
Society and Change
The Bubi subgroups of supposedly common origin did not constitute the
political units of nineteenth-century Fernando Po. Around the middle of the
century the island was divided into twenty-eight districts and contained more
than two hundred inland villages (see Map 5.1).
In addition, there were
about fifty fishing villages. It appears that, once the earliest inhabitants and
their later conquerors had coalesced into a new composite people, new
sociopolitical institutions developed. Districts, called nse, evolved, compris-
ing several central villages, bese or erfa (plural, biria or erija).
These, in
tum, were composed of compounds or lova.
In spite of their fairly simple material culture, the nineteenth-century Bubi
had an elaborate system of socioeconomic stratification. Nobles (baita) and
commoners (babala) were divided by rules of social segregation. The
babala were further divided into various occupational categories. Specializa-
tion was indicated by a number of names: balako biao (laborers), baeba or
baema (hunters), boobe or boome (fishermen), baeba (vintners), and bisoko
(fish sellers). When a babala acquired riches and power, he could ask his
chief to raise his status to that of mese. This status, intermediate between
noble and nonnoble, could be granted upon the payment of twenty goats.
District chiefs, drawn from the baita; collected fines and tributes. A new
title for "lord," botuku in the north or mochuku in the south, had come into
use by the 1800s. Succession was passed on among uterine brothers of
noble status. On the death of the last of a group of brothers, a new chief
was elected by a council composed of all the local nobles and, perhaps,
neighboring chiefs. The new chief was usually an unrelated member of the
noble class. The person elected had to be rich in goats and shell money.
In addition, he had to possess a large amount of palm oil, plant at least four
thousand yams in five years, and have at least five wives.
Within chiefdoms there were generational sets: "although the entire male
adult population continued to settle together in Houses, a differentiation had
occurred in two age-related categories, the older married men and . the
younger adult bachelors . . . . "
Each man belonged from his birth to a
buala; membership was not contingent upon any rite of passage. In some
villages there were three or four buala.
At times, these corresponded to the
76 Islanders and Interlopers
Map 5.1. Fernando Po in 1841
SOURCE: Map drawn by Rev. John Clarke, Baptist Missionary. Illustration in A. Manfn del
Molino, Los Bubis, ritos y creencias (Malabo, 1989), n.p.
four living generations: great-grandfathers, grandfathers, fathers, and sons.
The buala's function was military and ideological; through song and dance
it emphasized trans-kinship loyalty. Its power manifested itself in a cult
Islanders and Interlopers 77
object or lobedde, which could be a miniature clay canoe or other object
:,ymbolic of migrant origins. Only one buala reigned at a time; when most
of the members of the oldest group had become infirm, power was passed
on to its "son" in a series of ceremonies that took one year.
The buala, at
least those comprising men of noble status, had considerable consultative
power before the mid-nineteenth century. In the 1840s John Clarke wrote:
Each town has its head man, and he has a second, who is his
friend, and who, on the death of the Chief, usually, in the most
quiet manner, enters into his office; a number of councillors are
also appointed to assist the chief in every important matter, and
these are taken from among the aged and experienced, whose
conduct has raised them to the situation ofBotuku, or Gentlemen;
they have also a man to lead on the fighting-men to war, and
another to guard the rear when they fly or retreat, and are
followed by the foe. fu each town there are two Buallas or
bands; the one of old men, and the other of young; and each has
its principal men to direct in all deliberations for the settling of
differences-for a general hunt preparatory to a feast-and for all
great matters connected with peace and war. On a sort of
Parade, called the Diosa [riosa], they meet for exercise in
throwing the barbed lance and contending against a wall of
shields ....
Over the base of these existing sociopolitical structures, a high-king arose
at Riabba in the southern highlands by the 1860s. Previous attempts at a
paramountcy, one as early as the late eighteenth century, had been
Before the Bahitaari, the paramount family, came to power, there had been
two other dynasties: the Babuuma and the Bapolo. These three families
have their origin in Ureka on the extreme southern coast. This old site may
have seen earlier attempts at constructing overarching kingship. At Riabba,
where the kings paid ceremonial tribute to Ureka, the Bahitaari kings were
Buadjamita (Moadyabita) (c. 1860-c. 1875), Moka (c. 1875-1899),
Sas Ebuera (1899-1904), Malabo (1904-1937), Alobari (1937-1943), and
Oriche (1943-1952).
Vansina places the rise of Moka, who died in 1899, in the decennium
This is probably too early a date. It is doubtful if, given the
Bubi fraternal succession system, one brother's reign would have embraced
the better part of the nineteenth century. Martin del Molino, relying on oral
sources, believes that Buadjamita was probably reigning around 1860 and
was succeeded by Moka around 1875.
This date is congruent with external
78 Islanders and Interlopers
evidence; John Clarke traveled around the island extensively in the 1840s
and heard no mention of a paramount, although he did note the presence of
the district of Biappa (Riabba). Primitive Methodists, who arrived in the
early 1870s, soon heard of Moka's rule and made an unsuccessful attempt
to visit him in 1875.
Looking at the paramountcy, Vansina has been led to conclude that "a
kingdom could emerge out of the whole sociopolitical system when people
had come to accept the idea of a supreme title as a desirable outcome to the
dynamic drift of their political institutions." Specifically he rejects the idea
that war and diminishing population were sufficient factors, in and of
themselves, to impel the rise of an overlord: "Yet why success in c. 1840
and not before? Wars had been equally frequent when the earlier attempts
were made. No doubt both population density and insecurity played a role
in the rise of the kingdom, but they were only background factors among
many others."
War and general insecurity cannot so easily be pushed into the back-
ground. What is significant about the 1835-1845 period is that it
corresponds to the time in which competition between Bubi groups and
incursions by foreign traders reached major proportions. By the early 1840s
the Bubi were not only fighting among themselves, but also facing serious
forays by alien palm oil traders and runaway migrant labors equipped with
firearms. Parties of raiders descended on the northern districts and
demanded oil, food, and women. Such a threat had never existed before.
There may have been earlier attempts at paramountcy, for instance at Ureka
or Concepcion Bay. However, the conditions of the nineteenth century
added a new imperative to whatever ideological substrate might have been
present before. A king in the southern highlands would have been better
placed than his northern compeers to resist the near-fatal alien military and
epidemiological threat. The need for control of trade, protection, and the
adjudication of intra-Bubi disputes was evident as never before. Northern
Bubi chiefs may have had more trade goods and guns at their disposal, but
they faced the Clarence community, which had still more.
Warfare changed Fernando Po, and the nature of warfare changed as
well. In general, traditional Bubi warfare fitted into a general pattern found
among the western Bantu, for whom there exist two types of war, "restric-
ted" and "destructive." "Restricted" warfare was circumscribed by rigid
rules. These acted to limit the severity and length of fighting. A war
declaration preceded an agreement to gather on the boundaries of the
territories concerned. War ceased when the elders of either contending
group decided that they had had enough, usually after the death of two or
Islanders and Interlopers
three armed men. "Destructive" war usually involved the sacking of the
vanquished village. Territory, portable wealth, and people were seized.
We possess information in detail on traditional Bubi warfare. Before the
momentous changes of the nineteenth century the chief object of many wars
was the taking of women. The outcome of military contests reflected the
mohuta (collective spiritual force) that each of the contending sides was able
to muster. The outcome of battle itself rested on the success or failure of
advance scouting parties. When these failed, a religious war leader often
ordered hostilities suspended. After battle, warriors purified themselves.
In the southern part of the island the soldiers went to a priest who passed all
implements of war, which contained mohuta, over the chest and back of the
soldiers. This ritual provided an expiation for the crime of shedding blood.
In the north, shrines were maintained by the baoleole, a group of men whose
special function was purification. After combat the warriors visited the
shrines to reconcile themselves with the spirits of the fallen of both sides.
By the fourth decade of the nineteenth century, it became clear to
European observers that war among the Bubi was increasingly destructive.
In 1830 the governmental system was described by Nicolls, a Scot, "as a
kind of patriarchal government, and I am sorry to say they are like the
people of my own country, all fighting." He observed that near the northern
coast "there is one chief called Cut-throat, and there is another called
Bosralawalhe; they are always fighting; I stopped them by threatening
them . . . . "
In the 1840s the Baney Bubi were especially known for their
fighting propensities. Visitors in 1841 remarked of the islanders that "every
one above the age of fifteen is liable to take part in their wars. They are all
exercised with a precision which astonished a European [,] forming into
sections, and marching in regular order, armed with long wooden spears
[and] slings .... "
At the time some warriors already possessed guns,
although these were few. Poisoned-tipped, fire-hardened barbed spears,
originally used in hunting, were adapted for use in warfare.
Three years
later two Spaniards reported that an intense war was going on between the
Bubi of the north and the Bubi of the south.
In 1848 an English missionary
noted that among the Bubi in general "often, wild and savage war prevails
... and after the battle, a fierce spirit of-revenge ... takes possession of
the breast of the contending parties. "
In the early 1870s warfare was so
intense that "neither age nor sex" were spared.

Strife between chiefdoms was initially fed by a fierce competition for iron
and, to a lesser degree, tobacco. As early as 1821 a foreign knife could
purchase a goat; a piece of iron hoop, a couple of inches long, would buy
two or three large fowl. A British sailor remarked that "there was a degree
80 Islanders and Interlopers
of jealousy shown by the natives with whom our traffic commenced, towards
such of their countrymen who came from the interior to offer their
produce . . . . "
Six years later the English established a base and set up
a fenced-in marketplace. A member of the expedition noted: "This
establishment of a neutral ground was a measure of great importance and
advantage, as we had now discovered that the natives are not only divided
into distinct tribes, but that each tribe possesses a distinct portion of
territory, and is extremely jealous of admitting others within its bound-
aries. "
Over sixty years later a Spaniard spoke of the reluctance of the
Bubi to permit travel inland as a "ruse employed by the tribes of the littoral,
interested in preventing us from communicating with those of the interior,
in order to be the intermediaries between these [interior people] and the
whites. "
By the mid-1870s the paramount Moka was able to create, through
suasion and diplomacy, a loose confederacy to mediate intra-ethnic strife.
He also attempted to limit the disruptive effects of trade. The king limited
his use of European wares to guns and machetes and scorned the use of
European cloth, rum, salt, or tobacco. He steadfastly refused to see
Europeans, while at the same time he attempted to increase his control over
the Bubi. Footpaths led to his residence from all directions, and at times he
forced his people to detour and pass by his town. For instance, he blocked
the road between Ureka and Bokoko and made its people go through Riabba.
Moka had at his disposal a judicial militia of 150 men called the lojua or
lohua. Its members were all volunteers, under a leader (boakirsi) selected
from among veterans who belonged to the baita (the nobles). This force had
the right to confiscate the property of those found guilty of crimes. At the
time of its creation, perhaps before mid-century, it was armed with
hardwood lances, javelins, and large shields of hide. Gradually guns
increased in use.
Other pan-Bubi institutions of order were also created. In the 1880s a
visitor observed that "the most beautiful achievement of Moka's during his
. . . long years of government ... is: unity of the Bubi, abolition of war,
[and] introduction of the people's court." A central assembly was estab-
lished to adjudicate disputes and all murder cases were put in its hands. "As
soon as a murder had taken place, delegates from all communities immedi-
ately unite on the dance square of the village of the presumed murderer.
Often up to 2000 men come together . . . . "
Moka had seventy wives and concubines, who served as symbols of
wealth and power. His progeny were numerous and his servants even more
numerous. We have at least one eye-witness account of the Bubi king's
Islanders and Interlopers 81
court in the 1890s. The visitor passed through a shaded grove of sacred iko
trees, before walking under an arch similar to, but larger than, those found
in other Bubi villages. The arch opened onto a large, ill-kept courtyard. At
one side of the courtyard stood the boencha or boecha, the council house.
On the other side stood the royal throne, an elevated platform reached by
means of a rustic stairway built with tree trunks. Crossing the courtyard, the
visitor approached a fence which enclosed all the edifices of the royal palace
(ritaka). A door of movable stakes allowed entrance. Inside this barrier
dwelt the servants of the king, along with their families:
There followed a second barrier which separated the family of
the mochuku [king], his wives and children. A double stairway
constructed with rough trunks, supported and attached to posts
... , gave entrance to the dwellings of the latter. From here
continued a narrow alley which led to a small square, in the
middle of which was found a somewhat spacious hut which
served as a dining room and a reception room . . . in which only
persons of the nobility and [those] very intimate with the chief
had admittance; the royal bedroom adjoined. From there led off
some alleys . . . in which were put, in order of their dignity, the
bedrooms and kitchens of the wives and concubines, and their
respective children of less than seven years of age-because those
over this age slept in separate apartments, one for the youths and
another for the girls.
Among the most distinguished persons at the royal court was the obele,
the daughter of the eldest sister of the king. She lived in the palace as the
first lady of the realm. She ate with the king and received half of all gifts
and debts paid to her uncle. Also, in the late nineteenth century, old and
venerated widows of the nobility were of great social importance. They
were given an annual gift of yams by all the inhabitants of a district. Some
women were rich in goats and cattle in their own right and commanded
considerable respect in political deliberations .
The Bubi king's position was reinforced by considerable magico-religious
powers and prohibitions. In this he was aided by the Abba Mote, the chief
priest of the island who had a significant part in rituals guaranteeing the
well-being of the whole people. The office of the high-king was also highly
ritualized. In the 1920s Sir James Frazer observed: "As might have been
expected, the superstitions of the savage cluster thick about the subject of
food . . . . In Fernando Po the king after installation is forbidden to eat
cocco (arum acaule), deer, and porcupine, which are the ordinary foods of
82 Islanders and Interlopers
the people."
More broadly, according to Vansina, "one should ...
interpret such typical cases of 'sacred kingship' that occur, among others in
the Kuba kingdom, on Bioko, and in Loango, as enriched variants of what
was an ideological complex justifying and legitimizing the authority of 'big
The Bubi paramount was known as Etako Ote (Great Chief) or as Mocuku
m'Oricho (Lord of the World). All of the chiefs claimed kinship with him.
The paramount's court set the model for his subchiefs. It had a variety of
titleholders. Moka ruled with a council which contained, among others, the
Abba Mote and the chief military leader, the takabaala or takamaala.
Another official was the botuku oboho, the leader of the baita. A further
title was that of koracho, head judge; another was buac or sam, keeper of
the treasury. The offices of tchoko o botuku, keeper of the palace, and the
looba lo botuku, chief executioner, were also included on the council.
Moka's subchiefs (batuku) bore the titles of the districts over which they
ruled (e.g., botuku bo Isupu, mochuku mo Elacha, mochuku mo Motehe;
chief of Basupu, of Balacha, of Batete, etc.). Chiefs had a number of
subofficials, whose titles were similar to those of the royal court. With the
rise of chieftainship, harems proliferated, and the accumulation of women
became a conspicuous sign of wealth and power. By the mid-nineteenth
century some harems contained as many as two hundred wives.
Centralizing tendencies among the Bubi were never complete; it seems
that only gradually did batuku gain the upper hand in the distribution of
power. Supposedly, by the last decade of the nineteenth century, superior
chiefs exercised absolute authority .over their people.
Although this may
be an exaggeration, it is doubtless that the rapid increase in chiefly authority
did create new opportunities for command. The tension between patri-
monialism and gerontocracy may have been mediated by ritual as the balance
of forces tipped in favor of the former. For instance, on the way back from
a botuku 's investiture, mock resistance was made by the chiefs new
"Trading in Boobe"
In the 1840s a Spaniard thought of the settlers of Clarence as "the lords in
the midsts of the rustics," or "the Franks among the Gauls in the fourth
century"; "civilization in an enclosure in the midst of the savage state; the
fourth phase of humanity in the midst of the first. "
Outsiders knew
relatively little about the complex Bubi society of the interior. The degree
Islanders and Interlopers 83
of their ignorance is remarkable. At one point, Beecroft, for instance,
suggested sending a Bubi to Europe as an ethnological "curiosity."
Theories of their origins varied from the fanciful to the almost correct. In
the 1820s a British naval officer observed: "The hair of these islanders were
[sic] matted into several locks; a mixture of palm oil and red ochre affords
a protection against the rain as well as against vermin; the whole body was
smeared over with this composition, even to their hands, and gives them the
appearance of North American Indians rather than African negroes. "
Another Englishman, in his Natural History of the Human Species, described
the Bubi as being related to the Gaunches of the Canaries.
Thomas Hutchinson opined in the 1850s: "The Fernandians [Bubi] ... do
not seem to have an affinity with any of the races of the continent." He
went on to deduce, on the basis of a similarity between facial scars, that "it
is not at all improbable that these Fernandians may be of a mixed race
between the Okoos [Yoruba] and the Portuguese, who visited Lagos some
hundreds of years ago, and who were the first colonisers of Fernando Po. "
At least one writer, Wilhelm Bleek, did correctly surmise that the Bubi were
related to the Bantu-speaking peoples of the neighboring coasts.
Lack of familiarity with the islanders reflected the lack of political
dominance on the part of the settlers and the tenuousness of trade links
between the entrepot and hinterland. The Bubi continued to avoid outside
contact except for trade in necessities. However, although most Bubi
avoided permanent residence in the settlement, the settlement, by its very
existence provided an alternative to traditional Bubi society. A number of
Bubi women sought refuge there. Such women were often those accused of
some misdemeanor. The first arrived in 1827: "A female, about twenty-
five years of age, who resided at a village in the neighbourhood of our
settlement, had been guilty of an offense, probably infidelity to her husband
. . . . " The woman, accompanied by a small child, fled to the British
settlement. In the case of this first refugee, "the husband soon after came
again and induced her to permit him to stay the night with her, and to take
away the child . . . under the promise of bringing it back, which rendered
the lady . . . indignant . . . . "35
The interest of Bubi fathers in retaining their children was, no doubt,
reinforced by beliefs in the spiritual tie between father and offspring. All
newborn infants had a specific lifelong male guardian spirit (mmo or morimo)
who had bought the baby's soul from the spiritwho created embryos. The
spirit came from the family of the husband. Each individual belonged to the
loka, or spiritual lineage, of his father. Membership in the loka implied a
common spiritual connection between the spirit of the place (i.e., the
84 Islanders and Interlopers
boteribo of the land) and the inhabitants. This force was first possessed by
the "founder" and transmitted to his successors in the paternal line. The
connection is an expression of the wider sacred force, mohula.
The flight of women reflected their position in Bubi society. Increasing
competition for women was the outcome of the increasing importance of
harems as a male status symbol. Adultery was harshly punished-sometimes
by crucifixion. A widow could become a concubine, with the understanding
that new offspring belonged to the dead husband. A dead man could be the
"begettor" of his wife's first subsequent child and, in some cases, of the first
three children born to her and a later spouse.
From the 1840s onward, missionaries, first English Protestants and, later,
Spanish Catholics, did some proselytization among the Bubi beyond
Clarence. John Clarke, thought that these "quiet, inoffensive and unassum-
ing" people would be good candidates for future evangelization. In the
1840s he wrote that many were "acquiring a knowledge of English, and ...
we might soon see the Fernandian [Bubi] people enlightened, and among the
most interesting to be found on the coast of Africa. "
In an effort to
forward his mission, Clarke studied the Bubi language, or Adeeya, as he
called it. However, in the long term, little of significance was achieved. In
1848, for instance, the Baptist Mission had eighty members. Four were
The islanders remained highly resistant to outside cultural blandish-
What contact there was came through the palm oil trade. Although the
Biafran coast produced far more than did Fernando Po, an oil trade grew up
on the island itself. Bubi groups close to Clarence/Santa Isabel resold goods
to southern Bubi at a good profit. The inhabitants of more isolated zones
were increasingly eager for direct trade. By the early 1840s commerce
around North-West Bay (San Carlos Bay) burgeoned as settler traders
expanded into the interior.
Palm oil collection was old among the Bubi. The villages of Bepepe,
Eori, Ariha, Etoddo, and Moobe were almost completely dedicated to the
cultivation of the palm. In each town, besides the principal chief, there was
a "palm chief" called the muema, in whose house offerings were made to the
ancestors, and who was in charge of providing palm wine (tope) to the
political chief.
Bubi markets were called bitobam in the north, and bochimba or selano
in the south. These consisted of small squares situated near paths between
villages. Usually trade centers were spaced at distances of a few miles from
one another. Trade goods were generally carried on the heads of women or
by older children of both sexes. Oil was sold in wicker pots called bectapas,
Islanders and Interlopers 85
which held from one to ten gallons. The Bubi extracted oil at a fairly steady
pace, but largely left the business of trading to settlers. In the 1820s trade
was conducted only by means of barter. Later it was carried out by means
of Bubi money (chibo) which consisted of strings of Achitina shells. In the
1870s an English missionary observed that Bubi women wore large necklaces
of shell money: "One large necklace of them is equal to a twelve-gallon tub
of palm oil, the native value of which is six dollars, being two shillings and
a penny per gallon. "
Later an exchange rate between Bubi currency and
Spanish pesetas was fixed.
Strings of four and a half inches were worth
twenty-five centimos, but generally they were counted by ronchila, which
was a packet of twenty strings. The ronchila was valued at twenty-five
pesetas. Also, guns served as a unit of value; for instance, a goat was worth
two guns.
In the 1840s the main trader "in Boobe" was Beecroft, who had managed
to make the right trade connections during his twenty-five years on
Fernando Po. After Richard Dillon and Company went bankrupt, he had
worked briefly for the West African Company. However, he opposed the
firm's attempt at monopoly and sought out new commercial connections.
The merchant-administrator's special relationship with Robert Jamieson of
Liverpool no doubt proved an advantage. Beecroft supplied palm oil from
New Town, his own trading post on the western side of the island. He also
had use of Jamieson's small steamer, the Ethiope. After 1843 his exports
left the island duty free, and he also enjoyed influence as the governor.
Import and export duties were set at two percent, and fixed anchorage fees
were demanded of all the shipping in the harbors. Fixed fees were also
charged for supplying ships with casks of water. In 1848 Beecroft set the
import duties at five percent and export duties at two and a half percent ad
By the 1840s Beecroft and his confreres had established shops which
supplied petty traders with European manufactures. Some petty traders
worked directly for Beecroft and were allowed use of his trade goods and his
trading post. Others had more informal ties to him, such as occasionally
working on his trading vessel. Among the significant traders was
John Showers from the Gold Coast, a man who owned a wharf at Melville
(Concepcion Bay), as well as a house at Bepoh in the southeast. Another
prominent trader was Samuel Cooper, "an old Nuffie man" who had once
worked on the Ethiope. He had a wharf at Basualla on the east coast, but
also traded in the interior.
Henry Bull based himself at Bolokko on the
west coast and at Aooh. A very prominent Igbo trader, with extensive trade
contacts in the interior, was Peter Nicholls, who had landings at Bililipa in
86 ' Islanders and Interlopers
the east and also at ltokopwa. Other traders of importance were George .
Richardson, Peter Collins, and Jacob Collyer. In addition to the major .
traders, there were small-scale itinerant traders who went from bese to bese
buying small amounts of oil. An example is John Marklin, a Hausa sawyer
who traded with passing ships on the western side of the island. Marklin
owned a house, and was helped by his wife who bought yams and palm oil
for him. His list of trade goods included textiles, muskets, soap, and
After the late 1840s North-West Bay (San Carlos Bay) was a main center
of trade for numerous small-scale traders. Smaller centers on the same coast
were at Basupu and between North-West Bay and Basupu among the
Bolokko group. Basualla on the east coast was also important. The largest
east coast area was near Melville Bay (Concepcion Bay). The environs
contained at least seven markets, and in 1845 approximately two hundred
people were reported trading there.
From its start, the trade on Fernando Po between settlers and the Bubi
was often marked by violence. During the British occupation, when Nicolls
left the island for a short period, he instructed Beecroft that "the Liberated
Africans, having behaved so ill in robbing the yam stores of the inhabitants,
are not to be trusted. "
Tension was exacerbated by the trading propensities
of the freed Africans. Charges of extortion and abuse were frequent. In
1832 Richard and John Lander said that "the natives pay frequent visits to
the colony, and however they may deal out justice among themselves, are by
no means backward in seeing it administered among the free negroes and
Kroomen of Clarence." It often happened "that, in the scarcity of live stock,
some of the former, unable to restrain their desire for more substantial food,
and tired of their Indian com, venture to help themselves to what the natives
will bring them." Townsfolk were accused of taking yams, goats, and
whatever else they could seize. In the interests of tranquility, the British
authorities sought to act as a buffer between the two groups: "The
punishment is great [for stealing from the Bubi]; but with a certainty of
receiving it if discovered, the negro will run the risk of incurring it by what
may be termed a breach of the first law of civilized society
[i.e., property]. "
We have a fairly detailed picture of the situation in the 1840s; both 'settler
traders and Kru laborers left Clarence in some numbers. There were several
hundred Kru on the island, and Bubi/Kru relations were often perturbed.
The Kru were frequently accused of kidnapping Bubi women and of stealing
supplies. For instance, in December of 1841, their behavior provoked a
clash in which eleven Bubi and seven Kru died. In addition, they defied
IBlanders and Interlopers 87
their ex-employers. By 1841 Kru who had escaped to North-West Bay had
established their own political organization under a leader nicknamed
"Baffter." An attempt to dislodge him in the preceding decade had failed.
"Baffter" and his followers were accused of forcing the local fishing Bubi to
supply them with fish and women. In 1841 the West African Company took
action against the Kru after a previous attempt had failed. "Baffter" was
captured and transported to Sierra Leone. Those Kru charged with stealing
from Clarence people were imprisoned, and a new headman was appointed.
Later Beecroft went to the western side of the island and threatened
recalcitrant Kru with destruction.
Three years later, in 1844, a Btibi chief informed a group of black settlers
that he would trade with them, but complained bitterly about the depreda-
tions of runaway Kru.
By the mid-1840s fragmentation and conflict of
mutually antagonistic groups produced a period of intense strife. In late
1845, violence broke out even among the Kru themselves. By the end of
1846 black traders had successfully intervened and removed most of the
independent Kru from the interior.
Their departure brought little relief to the Bubi. Many Clarence creoles
harassed the Bubi with similar demands: fish and women.
Also, as
elsewhere in West Africa, the "trust" system produced disputes. For
instance, in 1846 a Bubi of the Banni (Baney) district bought a cow from a
settler and promised to pay for it with small quantities of palm oil. When
the islander failed to deliver the oil, an armed party from Clarence went to
collect it. In another case, in May of 1848 over sixty people from Clarence
set out to capture Beti-Beti, a recalcitrant chief. Combined "friendly" Bubi
and Santa Isabel forces finally came upon his village. The chief fled, and
the village was destroyed.
In the 1840s the Baptist mission tried to forbid trade because the trust
system was morally subversive. In April of 1845, for example, "Sisters
John, Duroo and Derry [were] reproved for absenting themselves from the
table of the Lord . . . . " Pastor exhorted them to the exercise of love and
unity and pointed out to them the evil effects of Bobe [sic] trading. "
missionaries feared that, "unless some improved methods of trading are
adopted, mutual hatred and jealousies will be indulged and the palm oil trade
(which may be greatly increased) will become less, as it is now the common
practice for traders to sell a cow, a goat, or a gun to the natives, depend\ng
for payment simply upon their promise. "
In the 1840s the profits of the
trade reportedly ran from 150 to 300 percent, and it was difficult, if not
impossible, to suppress the settler's commercial urge.
88 Islanders and Interlopers
Fernando Po retained importance into the 1850s as a transshipment point,
especially for some firms like J. Horsfall. However, the amount of oil
produced on the island itself was paltry when compared with that of the
societies of the Biafran littoral. The island supposedly exported 300 tons of
oil per annum in the 1850s and 400 tons per annum in the next decade. In
1855 it produced 360 tons of palm oil as against 16,124 tons produced in
New Calabar and Bonny, 2,280 tons produced in Brass, 4,090 tons produced
in Old Calabar, and 2,110 tons produced in Cameroon.
By 1879 only
about 500 puncheons of oil (at an average of 150 gallons each) were shipped
per annum. The value of this export was estimated to be $30,000.
The trust system persisted. In the late 1860s John Holt spoke of
nonpayment and the "continual complaints that oil is stolen in Boobe. "
1872 an associate, W. J. Jones, attacked trust as "the wretched credit
system, which may be stigmatized as the 'bane' of the trade. "
was almost as turbulent as it had been twenty years before. The year 1874
is illustrative. In August palm oil was coming in fairly well, but a new
merchant had entered the trade and paid such high prices that the other
merchants could not compete. By November commerce was in a state of
uproar: "He [the new trader] has ruined the boobie trade on the East side
as far as Basualla-the boobies are selling all of their oil for cash-saying we
cannot get a spoon full to put in their casks. "
Holt's firm threatened the
Bubi and told them that if they did not pay the black middleman on contract
to it, it would take violent action against them. The Santa Isabel traders
threatened to suspend trade if the price of goods was not lowered and
inveighed against the outflow of money from the town.
In the next decade the palm oil trade continued, while the nationalities of
the traders became more varied: "The coast of the island [was] occupied by
small factories out of which the Poto people [i.e., Santa Isabel people],
Bassa men [former contract laborers from Liberia], a few Cubans and other
blacks . . . traded with the Bubi." The factories of these petty traders
were, "for the most, part very poor board huts with a small garden, often
vacant for months." Inland, no one area was able to monopolize the trade.
A visitor in the 1880s said that "earlier the inland villages (except Riabba)
were forbidden to trade directly with the coast. Today this trade barrier is
quite broken .... "
Fernando Po had been a marginal producer even in the heyday of the
trade. The Bubi did not appear likely to increase production. In 1862,
Gustav Mann, botanist on the Baikie Niger Expedition, said that "the island
would yield ten times as much palm-oil, if the Boobees would make use of
all [the palm oil] that is growing; but these people have so few necessities
Islanders and Interlopers
of life that they are not to be depended on. "
Over twenty years later
another visitor wrote:
It is understandable that the fall in oil prices, as is currently the
case on European markets, must be positively fatal for the
business people of Fernando Po. In other places like Cameroon,
Calabar, etc., European products have already become so much
of a necessity to the blacks that they, for good or ill, must adapt
to the new conditions of the business people. They usually, I
suppose, block the trade for a while, yet soon they appear ready
for concessions. The Bubi, however, who can easily cover their
minimal need for European articles through the sale of food, hold
on to the old price for palm oil with their own persistence, and
do not at all think of going away from that price. As long as the
palm oil price is not raised, trade in Fernando Po will remain
closed down.
Fernando Po doubtlessly suffered from the general decline in oil prices
after mid-century. The boom in the commodity came to an end in 1861.
Prices declined from 37 per ton, from 1861 to 1865, to 20 a ton, from
1886 to 1890. In a twenty-five year period prices fell by half, and expansion
levelled off in the late 1870s and in the 1880s. In major centers, like
Opobo, exports declined. By the 1880s the Santa Isabel community was
turning away from palm oil trading. Settlers began to secure land from the
Bubi and invest in cocoa farming on the island.
Chapter 6
The Cocoa Economy
By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the Fernandinos, along with
some Sierra Leonean settlers, had begun to move from palm oil trading into
cocoa growing. The 1880-1914 period can rightly be seen as the period of
creole cash crop dominance on Fernando Po. During this period, most land
grants went to black settlers. After 1880, "the model of colonial agricultural
exploitation was represented by an intermediate type of }inca-plantation
which fell between the small indigenous }inca of less than 20 hectares and
the business of the large companies like the Colonial Africana, the old
Transatlantica, whose properties on Fernando Po were more than 2,000
hectares in 1930. "
This intermediate position was occupied by the more
prosperous black planters, who were some of the richest agriculturalists in
West Africa.
Creole agriculture on Fernando Po presents something of a West African
anomaly. Elsewhere, European merchants and officials increasingly
criticized the failure of African societies to accept the "Bible and the Plow."
Ominous, from the colonialist point of view, was the fact that most heavily
missionized groups of uprooted Africans did not take to agriculture.
Christopher Fyfe notes of Sierra Leone: "During the nineteenth century,
when the commerce and industry of Europe expanded unprecedentedly, there
were nevertheless many [Europeans] ready to assert the moral superiority of
agricultural life." Furthermore, outsiders criticized "the inhabitants as
immoral and lazy because they did not farm, and declare[ d] their preferring
The Cocoa Economy 91
trade an excuse for idleness "
Looking at West Africa generally,
J. D. Hargreaves has said that none of the coastal creole groups succeeded
in agriculture.
Fernando Po, against all expectations and stereotypes showed that, in the
words of Fyfe, "given suitable conditions, Creoles could prosper in
agriculture. "
By the 1880s local cocoa cultivation had "taken off." In
addition, the island was a magnet for persons seeking an outlet for their
capital or enterprise, or both. Many succeeded in activities they found
difficult or closed in places like Sierra Leone. There, as late as the end of
the 1860s, no creole farm was larger than ten acres. Only about ten percent
of a total acreage of 100,000 cultivated acres was planted with export crops
in 1886.
In 1903 a Britisher observed of Sierra Leone that "agriculture is
very primitive still, in fact [it] has little improved in method since Colonel
Denham's days [1828-1837]. The same source said, "It is most important
that a portion of the people should become agriculturalists and develop the
capabilities of the soil, abandoning the too common practice of becoming
small traders to the detriment of that branch of employment. "
Many Sierra
Leoneans felt that, in spite of such urgings, European colonialism did not
favor export agriculture. In the early twentieth century Abayomi Cole,
Sierra Leonean nationalist and entrepreneur, moved to black-ruled Liberia
because he felt that the British colonial administration stifled large-scale
African farming.
If Sierra Leone failed expectations as an area of Creole agriculture,
Fernando Po succeeded only too well. With an area larger than the
nineteenth-century British colony of Sierra Leone, the big Biafran island
became the chief arena for creole agriculture. In the 1840s Fernando Po was
described as a place "where a lazy population of liberated Africans from
Sierra Leone neglected the advantages of one of the richest soils in the
world. "
Forty years later a Spanish missionary remarked: "The island of
Fernando Po . . . has been captured by the English blacks of Sierra
Leone . . . . They have herded the Bubi into the interior of the island, the
worst part of all, where the means of subsistence are hardly found and those
foreign English blacks have, for the most part, the better coastal soil. "
Rather than fleeing from export farming, many creoles ran to it on
Fernando Po. Some even wanted to continue their success in Sierra Leone.
For example, in 1894 James MacFoy wrote the Freetown administration that
he was "desirous of turning ... attention to . . . [agricultural] pursuits
within the Colony ... for my purposes, which is [sic] the cultivation of
Cocoa and Coffee. "
He had already achieved considerable success with
these crops on Fernando Po. His request was denied. In another case, a
92 The Cocoa Economy
tailor, H. H. Lardner, returned from Fernando Po and attempted to open a
nursery garden in Sierra Leone. He was granted land, but because of
mismanagement and a lack of capital, he went broke.
The Black Planters
An official report to the Spanish government in 1860 said cash farming on
any large scale on Fernando Po was still unknown.
The United States Civil
War and the attendant "Cotton Famine" in England created false hopes for
cotton cultivation on the island. However, cocoa had already been
introduced, and it did take root. The cultigen was brought to Sao Tome
from Brazil in 1822. Sao Tome seeds were first taken to Fernando Po in
1854. In the 1860s a Spanish colonial functionary who was given a
concession of 260 hectares made a trip to the Portuguese island to obtain
cocoa pods.U In 1879 the amount of cocoa exported was approximately
100,000 pounds, valued at about $20,000.
In the same year cocoa
supposedly spread from Fernando Po to the Gold Coast through the
purported agency of a migrant worker, Tetteh Quashie.
It also diffused
elsewhere. In the 1880s Holt's agents gave out cocoa plants to chiefs in Qua
Igbo. In Old Calabar Joseph Henshaw, an Efik trader who had witnessed
the growth of the cocoa crop on Fernando Po in the late 1870s, pushed for
cocoa farming. He worked with George Watts, political advisor to the
leaders of Henshaw Town. In Cameroon prominent Duala began cocoa
plantations around 1900, using both hired and slave labor.
On Fernando Po, the future lay with cocoa and coffee, the latter crop also
introduced from Sao Tome. In 1879 an American naval visitor observed that
"the principal coffee and cocoa plantation is owned by the Spanish Govern-
ment and was once an extensive affair, but it has been suffered to fall into
decay through want of attention . . . . "
The first major cocoa producer was Francisco Romera, a naval officer
with Cuban experience. He commenced cultivation on 300 hectares at
Bokoko in the southwest part of the island. Eventually he went bankrup and
returned to Spain. Romera's holding is generally thought to have been used
to establish Amelonado cocoa farming in other parts of the island, especially
between San Carlos and Bokoko. The most successful nineteenth-century
planter was William Allen Vivour, a Sierra Leonean immigrant. In 1871
John Holt sold him a schooner for use in the yam and palm oil trade. The
following year Holt's assistant wrote that the black merchant was thriving:
"Vivour has come back, he looks first rate, and is going to ship his oil direct
The Cocoa Economy 93
if he can. . . . I am sorry he has come back as he will not do the trade any
good. "
By 1887, when he accompanied Catholic missionaries on their first
trip to the western side of the island, Vivour had acquired several cocoa
At the end of the 1880s a few agriculturalists were trading directly with
Manchester trading houses, among them Vivour. By the mid-1880s he was
the largest landowner on the island and employed more than a hundred
workers. In the 1890s, after Vivour's death, a visiting African-American
noted that the opulence of his tomb bore testimony to his business success:
"In the cemetery ... [is] a monument erected to the memory of Mr.
William Vivour, formerly a native planter. This monument is forty feet high
and was brought from Liverpool at a cost of $600. "
His widow, Amelia
Barleycorn Vivour, owned the largest cocoa plantation on the island-four
hundred hectares in San Carlos.
Cocoa farmers, many of whom were palm oil traders, occupied unused
land or bought plots from the Bubi, some of whom went into cocoa
cultivation themselves. In the mid-1880s notable plantations were owned by
Laureano Diaz da Cunha, an Afro-Portuguese from Sao Tome, a Mrs.
Gardner (Mammy Gardner), MontesdeOca (sometime governor), Romera,
S. Rogozinski, Vicente Lopez, Louis Lolin, Antonio Borghes, and the
Catholic Mission. The John Holt Company also had a plantation on the
western side of the island. In addition to these holdings, there were smaller
holdings owned by Cubans, Sierra Leoneans, and discharged Kru laborers.
In 1892 a Spaniard noted that "the major part [of the fincas] are of less than
20 hectares, there are only some of 50, one of 100, two of 200, one of 400,
another of 500 and another of 600. "
In the mid-1890s, Vivour, Romera,
Cipriano Gainza, and the Barcelona trading house of La Vigatana had the
largest plantations. John Barleycorn, Nacimiento Brusaca, Lopez,
Rogozinski, Lolin, and the Catholic mission (near Santa Isabel) were also
Vivour's eminence was followed by that of several other Africans
(Maximiliano Jones, Joseph Dougan, Samuel Kinson, J. W. Knox). Jones
was to be the dominant black planter of the twentieth century, but in the
1890s he was but one of a constellation of young men drawn to Fernando Po
by the prospects for cocoa farming. Some of the newcomers were well
connected. For instance, a friend of Jones, William Fergusson Nicol
(1867-1927) emigrated from Sierra Leone and remained on the island for the
rest of his life. In 1896 he was placed in charge of the Bottler Point
Primitive Methodist mission. Nicol was caught up in the cocoa "boom,"
The Cocoa Economy
and, after quitting the ministry, purchased a farm of forty hectares in
San Carlos.
Before the 1880s comparatively few concessions were granted. Between
1862 and 1869, 1,642 hectares were conceded, and in the 1870s only 87
hectares were conceded (see appendix). In 1880 a metropolitan decree ended
the free grant of lands. Concessions were limited to fifty hectares, a move,
in part, aimed at preventing the island from falling into the hands of
non-Spanish capitalists. The decree provided two means of obtaining of
lands. One was concession for ground rent, through the payment of an
annual tax of five centavos de peso per hectare. The other was purchase;
title was granted once the payment of one peso per hectare was verified.
In the 1880s the pace of concessions quickened somewhat. Between 1880
and 1893 more than 3,000 hectares were conceded. In 1899 concessions
exceeded 8,695 hectares.
Grants were further regulated by a royal decree
of 1891, which established the price of one peso for each hectare conceded,
with tax exemption for a period of three years. A royal order of 1897
limited concessions to fifty hectares for nationals and ten for foreigners. The
holder of the concession was obliged to cultivate his or her new land within
the space of one year; in order to receive a new grant, land already conceded
had to be cultivated.
A 1904 land law gave the Spanish governor-general the right to confer
deeds to plots of undeveloped land not permanently claimed by the state.
The governor-general's right to confer such grants was confined to areas not
exceeding one hundred hectares (or one square kilometer). The president of
the Council of Ministers in Spain could grant from one hundred to one
thousand hectares. The approval of the government as a whole was
necessary for a grant of over one thousand hectares. Land transferred from
state control to private or corporate ownership constituted a contract of
beneficence (that is, the owner did not pay for it immediately and usually
was not taxed for a certain period). Petitions for concessions needed precise
documentation and a deposit of ten percent of the value of the land solicited.
The law denied new concessions to those landowners who did not have in
cultivation two-thirds of the lands already conceded. It also threatened
cancellation of the grant if, in the space of five years, half of the grant was
not put into cultivation.
Between 1899 and 1909 land concessions rose from 8,695 to 13,233
hectares, and lands under cultivation increased from 2,166 to 11,320
hectares. Uncleared, but cultivable, land was reduced from 6,530 hectares
in 1899 to 1,913 hectares in 1909. Besides, while in 1899 the 2,166
hectares were planted almost completely with cocoa, in 1909 the cultivation
The Cocoa Economy 95
of cocoa occupied some 9,020 hectares; some 2,300 hectares were dedicated
to other crops.
Perhaps because of the erratic pace at which the island was
cleared, land was cheap. Early in this century uncleared land could be
purchased from the government for about forty pesetas per hectare (twelve
English shillings an acre), including fees. An annual tax of ten pesetas was
paid to the government; collection began five years after initial concession.
Soil conditions restricted the locations in which cocoa could be grown.
Although in some areas cocoa is cultivated with success up to an altitude of
one thousand meters, in general the cocoa tree does not develop well higher
than six hundred meters. The most favorable zone is in protected locations
near the sea, at a range from fifty to one hundred meters above sea level.
The crop needs a hot, humid climate, no prolonged dry seasons, and
well-drained clay soils.
Compared with that of Sao Tome and Principe, the expansion of cocoa
production on Fernando Po was slow. A factor operating against expansion
was the nature of cocoa itself. Amelonado cocoa does best when cultivated
on virgin soil. The trees take several years to mature. Farmers clear lands
and then wait seven years for the first trees to produce. In the first two
years some benefit can be derived from planting food crops among the young
cocoa trees. Later the canopy of cocoa leaf makes the farm too shady for
food cultivation. Cocoa planters on Fernando Po, therefore, faced the
difficult task of supporting themselves for several years before receiving any
return from their investment. In addition, cocoa farms deteriorated rapidly
when neglected. Many farmers considered a holding untouched for five or
six years less worth having than a virgin plot.
" It was unprofitable to clear land and begin a new farm unless it was fairly
definite that labor was available, more or less continuously, for a period of
years. For this reason many small farms on Fernando Po were abandoned;
their owners could not obtain labor, and their property decayed. Also,
perhaps in an attempt to maximize production, many farmers cleared away
shade trees. This exposed the cocoa plants to thrips and other insects; by the
third decade of the twentieth century such practices were taking a heavy toll
on production. Around the same time, a new type of cocoa was introduced.
It was produced by hybridization with a Venezuelan variety and was
designated Drumen criollo or Cacao hybrido.
Beyond these problems, the black planters also faced increased competi-
tion, especially after the First World War.
After "opening" Fernando Po
to cocoa production, the black planters gradually lost out to others.
Financially weaker members of the community were buffetted by new
economic winds, even as some individuals continued to increase their wealth.
96 The Cocoa Economy
The issue was not that racism, per se, operated as the official ideology of the
colony. It did not. The creole community was too entrenched and the
Spanish presence too weak to quickly undermine the black planters. At the
same time, it would be naive to argue that the Spaniards were immune to the
ideological currents of European racism or that they had little desire to
hispanicize the island, culturally and economically. Although members of
the Fernandino community were legally Spanish, their English affinities
created problems. For instance, in 1900 Henry Gardner complained to
British officials that his property had unjustly fallen into the hands of one
Antonio Perez to whom he owed money and who was living in his house.
In December of 1903, popular feeling among the black planters was running
high against the secretary of the colonial government who had bought a farm
at a greatly devalued price.
Eight years later Elizabeth White, James
MacFoy's widow, wrote to the governor-general complaining that she and
her late husband had been defrauded by one Antonio Maria del Valle.
The Spanish administration increasingly questioned the wisdom of
allowing black settlers to establish farms. A Spanish official averred that
their life-style led them into debt and "that money which should have been
paid to the merchants has been squandered by these debtors in trips to Sierra
Leone and Europe and the buying of luxuries such as horses, bicycles,
musical boxes, etc.; to such an extent has this taken place that merchants are
now in many cases not willing to advance money for development and the
Island suffers in consequence. "
A member of the Protestant mission later
commented on "their [the Fernandinos] utter inability to forecast the future
[in regards to] income and expenditure; their frequent failure tq meet their
repayments to the merchants who are their creditors and the badgering which
often results . . . . "
The Fernandinos were at yet another disadvantage. For some, lack of
facility in Spanish made the winning of land disputes in the courts extremely
difficult. Numerous instances show that the Spanish also made alienation of
land to foreigners more difficult-but not impossible. In one case in 1915,
Thomas Albert MacCarthy, a widower from Sierra Leone, was granted six
hectares in Belelipa only after "renouncing all foreign privileges and the
protection of my country, submitting myself to Spanish laws, tribunals and
authorities. "
Poor European Spaniards also lost properties; what is
significant is that by 1930 Spanish and Portuguese agriculturalists were
replacing members of the Fernandino community who were emigrating to
more promising areas elsewhere.
If the creoles, Fernandino and Sierra Leonean, were not legally discrimi-
nated against, they certainly perceived of themselves as the victims of
The Cocoa Economy 97
invidious treatment. In the case of the Sierra Leoneans, their foreignness
was the stated cause of friction. In November of 1905, the British
government took note "of assaults on the persons and property of British
subjects, largely natives of Sierra Leone, in the Spanish Colonies on the
W. Coast of Africa. "
Around the same time the British government
recommended that periodic visits be made by a British man-of-war. In June
of the following year, an island resident asked that Fernando Po be removed
from the consular jurisdiction of Loanda and placed under that of Calabar.
There were, at the time, twenty British subjects and around one hundred
"native British subjects" who owned property on the island. "As Spanish
justice has a tendency to become somewhat erratic at times," it was pleaded,
"the need of some assistance from our own government is increasingly
felt. "
A consular agent for Fernando Po existed, but complaints from
African British subjects continued to be heard. A naval officer had
previously concluded that "judging by the number of petitions which a man-
of-war always receives when visiting Fernando Po, the British subjects
resident there do not receive the treatment they have a right to expect[;] this
I consider is a mild way of expressing the case. "
Here, for example, is the
appeal by Joseph Emmanuel Taylor, a cocoa farmer, to the British consul in
Loanda in the autumn of 1907:
Permit me approaching you with this my humble cry. I am a
native of New Calabar, Southern Nigeria. I came to this Island
in the year 1880, and I have several children here, who are all
educated under the British Flag. And I have properties here
which are taking [sic] from me by force by the Judge of
Fernando Poo, and give [sic] to his countryman for which reason
I cannot tell.
And the Judge stated to me that I being an English Subject I
am not worthy of having such properties, and fortunately before
appealing for help and assistance under the British Flag, I learnt
that the "Dwarf' is here. So I am begging your Majesty's help
and assistance to assist me in a strange land being an English
The case was not atypical. Taylor owned two farms, one of twenty acres
in Santa Teresa, and one of fifty-seven acres in San Carlos. In 1904 he .had
secured a mortgage of 16,000 pesetas from the Ambas Bay Trading
Company. The terms of the mortgage gave an unlimited time to repay. The
company had the right to foreclose after six months' notice; the mortgage
contained no clause as to the interest to be paid. Taylor maintained that he
98 The Cocoa Economy
had paid 37,343 pesetas in settlement of the mortgage, partially at the
prodding of the courts. The company sold Taylor's supposed debt to one
Desedorio Marcos, who, after consulting the judge of Fernando Po, seized
Taylor's lands, several thousand pesetas, and a quantity of goods. The
African then appealed to the judge, pleading that he had been trying to get
a proper accounting of where his debt stood.
All farmers, African and European, were confronted with a fluctuating
and unpredictable monoculture. In September of 1903, "the cocoa market,
upon which everybody is dependent," was "steadily deteriorating and appears
likely to continue so, hence the material position of most of our people is far
less rosy than it was. "
In February of the next year, the people had "been
affected by 2 bad cocoa seasons and a fall in the cocoa market. It is
probably not too much to say that the financial condition of the town has had
no parallel in recent years. "
Complaints were heard: "All the Stations are
feeling the effects of the cocoa crisis, altho the more disastrous results will
come later." A month later Fernando Po's traders were "a bit desperate
owing to a falling market and to make it up are using every endeavor to push
their business . . . . "
Many planters moved to their farms in an effort to
save expenses.
The island had suffered neglect in the nineteenth century. Such neglect
had benefited the black trading intermediaries. However, it also bequeathed
the island a paucity of infrastructure needed for continued and expanding
exploitation. Fernando Po contrasted strongly with Sao Tome where many
of the plantations had their own small railways and where, early in this
century, there were 250 kilometers of track. On the other hand, the
Fernando Po government made little headway in linking the port to the rest
of the island. The agriculturalists of San Carlos, for instance, had to send
their produce to Santa Isabel by sea because there was no road spanning the
thirty miles between the two settlements. As early as 1893 there was a
proposal to construct a tramway in the capital. A complete system was not
constructed, but a Decauville railway was built ascending to Basile. A
fourteen-kilometer standard-gauge line was laid in 1913 to join Santa Isabel
and Basupu del Oeste via Banapa. In 1929 Moroccan workers extended the
line to the shore near Basupu. Although the planters undertook to finance
it, it brought little profit and was abandoned.
Fernando Po was constantly compared and contrasted with richer, but
smaller Sao Tome and Principe. They had far greater capital inputs and
longer experience with cocoa growing. Fernando Po trailed far behind. The
island exported 1,123,830 kilograms of cocoa in 1901; Sao Tome had
exported more than twelve million kilograms in the previous year.
The Cocoa Economy
1912 only 20,000 hectares had been conceded on Fernando Po and, of those,
only 15,000 were in production. In 1915 about 40,000 acres paid taxes, and
around 30,000 acres, distributed among 1,350 plantations, large and small,
were producing cocoa.
A far greater portion of Sao Tome was cultivated.
Already, at the end of the nineteenth century, 52,407 hectares were in
production there, along with an additional 10,000 hectares on Principe.
The neighboring islands had not always be so different. At mid-century,
Sao Tome and Principe were, like their larger Spanish neighbor, "underex-
ploited": "The only asset that existed in abundance was unused land. Most
of the old sugar estates had been abandoned and even the ownership of them
was only vaguely known. "
Divergence began in the 1850s when
Sao Tomense coffee production began to take off, trailed by cocoa. The
latter crop became very important from the 1880s onward.
In the decade
following 1891, cocoa production increased fourfold.
Many of the first cocoa farmers on Sao Tome and Principe were the long-
established Afro-Portuguese population. They brought formerly cultivated
lands back into production and opened new farms, in a move in many ways
similar to that of the Fernandinos. In 1872, 96 out of the 153 Sao Tomense
landowners were non-Europeans.
As late as 1882, three fifths of the cocoa
and half of the coffee was reportedly produced on small African farms.
The viability of such holdings changed rapidly in the closing years of the
century. The was partially due to the entrance of substantial metropolitan
capital. By the 1870s the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU) had entered
the colonial arena. Credit was extended to farmers, who, in the end, fell
victim to foreclosures. The activities of metropolitan plantation owners and
agricultural companies were backed by metropolitan banks, especially the
BNU and the Burnay Bank.
Two tendencies were evident: increasing cocoa production and marginali-
zation of African farmers.
Between 1900 and 1919, yearly cocoa
production was 31,000 tons. The island produced about fifteen percent of
the world's cocoa and seemed to be a triumph of European-managed
plantation agriculture. Importantly, in 1909, in the midst of the boom,
African smallholders accounted for only six percent of cocoa production.
This adumbrated developments on Fernando Po, but Sao Tome was a least
a generation ahead. On Fernando Po, only well after 1914, were African
jinqueros eliminated as the major players in the island's economy.
Spanish protection of Fernando Po's export economy varied over time.
In 1891-1892 duties on imports into Spain were abolished. In 1894
differential export duties were introduced to encourage the shipping of
produce to the metropole in Spanish vessels. Free export of cocoa to Spain
100 The Cocoa Economy
contrasted with an eight percent ad valorem export duty on produce bound
for other destinations. In the metropole, direct imports of Fernando Po
cocoa carried by Spanish vessels were exempt from duty, while heavy
imposts were placed on competing cocoa from Latin America. Given this
impetus, exports to Barcelona rose rapidly. National steamers received
subsidies to call at minor ports, limiting the risks and costs of storing and
transporting cocoa. The price paid by Spanish consumers was well above
that in Britain, to the advantage of Fernando Po.
In 1898 after the Spanish-American War, Madrid imposed a stiff import
duty on Fernando Po cocoa. The price earned for the island's cocoa was
approximately cut in half between 1902 and 1912, although this phenomenon
was partially illusory, reflecting the peseta's rise in value after a period of
rapid depreciation in the late 1890s.
In 1904 a Catalan firm, pressing for
preferential duties, noted that Spain imported more cocoa from other
sources, such as Sao Tome, than from Fernando Po: 4,636,483 kilograms
versus 1,490,162.
In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Fernando Po
cocoa had been hit with a import duty of ninety pesetas per kilo. Govern-
mental regulation also greatly increased.
In 1901 thefinqueros petitioned
for a reduction in duties on cocoa. They noted that before the
Spanish-American War duty had been forty-five pesetas per one hundred
kilos; after 1900 it was upped to ninety pesetas per one hundred kilos. Their
protest, which took the form of a slowdown, had some effect. The threat
of trade interruption caused the government to modify its position. In June
of 1901 it suspended some of the shipping requirements for cocoa and
coffee. These changes and the lowering of customs duties, from ninety to
fifty pesetas per one hundred kilos, achieved some price recuperation.
However, foreign cocoa continued to be cheaper.
In an effort to provide some form of coordination, planters and trading
interests formed an agricultural chamber of commerce, the Camara Agricola,
in 1906. At the same time, metropolitan efforts to aid agriculture were
halfhearted. The Spanish minister of state, in a 1910 memorial to the
Cortes, acknowledged the government's responsibility for the retarded state
of agriculture, but also cited the avarice and inefficiency of the planters.
In order to salvage the situation, the establishment of an agricultural bank
was proposed. The state allocated funds, but the projected bank did not
A 1907 study of a plantation over a period of thirteen years concluded
that the costs, and, in particular, customs duties had reduced the profit from
the sale of cocoa by 39.9 percent. "Definitely, the economic calculus of a
plantation of 50 hectares on Fernando Po shows that . . . cocoa production
The Cocoa Economy 101
. . . was excessively expensive because of the system of customs duties and
because of the elevated cost of labor which . . . converted the cocoa
plantation ... into a unstable and unprofitable business .... "
as a reaction to the risks, an importer's cocoa "trust" was formed in
Barcelona. Members had difficulty cooperating, and the attempt failed
within a year. For one thing, in 1908 Ambas Bay Company, which was not
part of the group, sold its cocoa at a relatively lower price, and the "trust"
was forced to lower its prices.
The Spanish Presence
Economic change, like cultural change, was gradual on Fernando Po, but
important differences became clearly evident in the wake of World War I.
Neutral Spain emerged with good foreign reserves, coupled with a desire to
expand markets. In the 1920s the island took on the look of a European-
controlled plantation colony. Individual Fernandinos remained important,
but as a group they were overshadowed, by 1930, by a rapidly increasing
European population.
Spain's participation in the rush of late-nineteenth-century imperialism in
Africa was sporadic and undercapitalized. In the midst of chronic instability,
Antonio Canovas del Castillo, the most prominent politician in the later
decades of the century, was cool toward imperialism. Manual Iradier
y Bulfy (1854-1911), the country's foremost African traveller, visited
Rio Muni in 1875, but had trouble collecting enough financial backing.
Imperialists like Francisco Coello and Joaquin Costa tried to keep the idea
of sub-Saharan colonization alive. In 1876 Coello was the moving force
behind the organization of the Sociedad Geografica de Madrid. A year later
he played a similar role in the foundation of the Associaci6n Espanola para
Ia Exploraci6n del Africa. In 1877 Iradier, who was deeply inspired by the
exploits of Henry M. Stanley, presented the Associaci6n with an ambitious
plan for the exploration of Central Africa, including the interlacustrine
region. Funding for such a mission was not immediately available. In 1883
the Congreso de Geografia Colonial y Mercantil met in Madrid and adopted
a number of resolutions intended to further the goals of the various
metropolitan economic groups. Fernando Po was to be developed through
the stimulation of trade, immigration, and agriculture. The congress asked
for a government-subsidized West African steamship line.
Most impor-
tantly, the body urged the Ministry of Overseas Territories to support
Iradier's exploration. When it did take place in 1884, Iradier's expedition
102 The Cocoa Economy
was a modest affair. The German annexation of Cameroon effectively
closed off part of the coast and frustrated the aims of lradier and his
colleague, Amadeo Ossorio Zabala.
In 1884 lradier's colonialist hero, the Anglo-American explorer
Henry M. Stanley, suggested that a railroad be built to the Fernando Po
uplands to encourage the emigration of Spaniards. Eight years later, ten
Spanish families were settled at Basile, 450 meters above sea level. The
colonos were given a free passage, tools, African contract labor, and two
hectares of land per family. Even with state aid, the arrangements proved
inadequate. Although the upland climate proved healthy, the paucity of
assistance and difficulty in clearing the land were discouraging. By 1911
only four or five of the original families remained; most had drifted down
to the broader opportunities afforded in the colonial capital.
In spite of this relative failure, some Spanish interests did successfully put
down roots on Fernando Po. In the late nineteenth century Catalan and, to
a certain degree, Canarian firms began to benefit from the largely neglected
In 1899 there were sixty business houses in the colony, two
English, one or two Portuguese, and the rest African or Spanish.
Barcelona cocoa broker, Casa Huelfn, joined with a Basque financier and
established the Compafiia Colonial de Fernando P6o in the 1890s. Another
Barcelona concern, the Rius y Torres Shipping Company, bought some three
hundred hectares by the end of the decade. In 1900, a two hundred hectare
estate, La Vigatana de Fernando P6o, was owned by yet another Catalan
The Compafiia Trasathintica (or Transathintica), which began its
operations on Fernando Po in 1887, was the most prominent Spanish
concern. The company clearly demonstrated the expansion of Spanish
interests from the Antilles to West Africa. Its founder was Antonio LOpez
y LOpez, a Cuban slaver. Originally, in the 1850s, the firm owned steamers
plying the route to the Caribbean. In 1876 LOpez started the Banco
Hispano-Colonial; five years later he obtained a major interest in Philippines
tobacco. LOpez died the first Marquis of Comillas and was succeeded by his
son, Claudio LOpez y Bru. The younger LOpez directed his energies to
railway, fishing, and mining interests in North Africa and to the encourage-
ment of expansion in tropical Africa.
It was the younger LOpez's agent,
Lieutenant-Colonel Emilio Bonelli, who explored the Rio Muni coast in the
1880s and attempted to secure territory for Spain and the Trasathintica.
Governor Jose Montes de Oca (1885-1887) and Ossorio Zabala, a
founding member of the Sociedad de Africanistas y Colonistas, favored the
new enterprise. In 1898, the year of Spain's colonial Desastre, the
The Cocoa Economy
Trasathintica's operations on Fernando Po were taken over by Pedro Bengoa
Arriola. As chairman of the Camara Agricola, he energetically pushed the
export economy, until his suicide in 1925. At the end of the 1890s the
firm's properties were considerable-for Fernando Po. It owned three
fincas. One was on the east coast and covered 113 hectares. It fronted the
beach and was four hours by boat from Santa Isabel. The second holding
(forty hectares) was at Concepcion, also on the eastern side of the island.
The third plantation was three kilometers from Santa Isabel and was
traversed by the road that went to Basile. It covered 112 hectares, 70 of
which were in production.
The entrance of metropolitan capital and Spain's relative economic
weakness could have encouraged the creation of a colonial empire sur-
rounded by tariff barriers. "As late industrializing countries, Portugal and
Spain were extremely vulnerable to the 'Great Depression,' which affected
the capitalist world from the early 1870s to the mid-1890s . . . . The
Iberian participation in the scramble for Africa would seem to illustrate a
paradoxical 'law' of imperialism ... the poorer a colonial power, the
greater the economic motivations for imperial expansion. "
In the case of
Spain, unlike Portugal, this scenario did not play itself out. According to a
modern Spanish scholar, free trade, rather than protectionism, was the battle
cry of many who encouraged investment in Equatorial Africa. Supposedly,
after an economic crisis in 1890-1892, metropolitan commercial groups were
opposed to proposals for colonial expansion. There were several reasons:
the free trade arguments adopted by some Africanistas were opposed by the
interests of wide sectors of the Spanish bourgeoisie; the profits of some
firms, like the Trasathintica, had been disappointing; government support for
initiatives of colonial expansion was meager. 5
One thing is certain. By 1900 very little had been invested in Spanish
Guinea (Rio Muni and Fernando Po). While arguing for the imperialism of
the weak, Clarence-Smith recognizes that "from 1898 to the aftermath of the
First World War, the overseas territories were of negligible commercial or
foreign exchange significance and were the source of small but persistent
fiscal deficits for the metropolitan treasury. "
In 1897, Fernando Po and its
dependencies spent 226,000 duros per annum, of which the metropolitan
government paid 130,000, the Philippines 70,822, and the colony itself, the
Tentative plans for selling the colony came to naught; there
was little foreign interest. British economic concerns were paramount on the
island, but the carving out of an empire in Nigeria consumed far more
capital and interest than did the former "gateway to the Niger. "
104 The Cocoa Economy
In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Belgian capitalists were
rumored to be interested in island concessions. Supposedly, financiers with
Belgian Congo connections wanted to secure a lease of all unoccupied land.
More threatening to the British was the fear that the Germans wanted to
round off their Cameroon colony through the acquisition of Rio Muni and,
perhaps, Fernando Po. Because of such fears, some Britishers urged that
their country preempt others by buying the territory. However, after
considering the options, the British government concluded that it was better
to leave the island in the hands of a weak power like Spain. The Foreign
Office did not want to antagonize Germany during a period when relations
were already strained due to the South African War. Also, the example of
Zanzibar intruded. Fernando Po and its dependencies were closer to
Cameroon than to Nigeria, and it was doubtful that "the German government
would be pleased to see a repetition . . . of the Zanzibar and Pemba
0 116()
gnevance ....
Spain kept its island, but its military weakness was pathetically evident.
In 190 1 the Deputy Antonio Castro y Casaleiz proposed that the American
indemnity for the cession of certain Pacific islands be used to establish a
telegraph between Spanish Guinea and the Canaries, as recent events had
shown how easily imperial communications could be severed. A year later,
in the midst of speculation over how it would manage its territories, the
Spanish government was empowered to devolve its administration upon a
private company.
In 1903 a plan was put forth for the formation of a
Sociedad de Explotaci6n Agricola, Industrial y Minera (Society for
Agricultural, Industrial, and Mineral Development). It requested 25,000
hectares on Fernando Po and 50,000 in Rio Muni. The Society asked not
to be taxed for thirty years, to establish a bank, and to have its own
maritime communications.
The plan did not come to fruition.
In 1907 another group, the Sociedad Fundadora de Ia Compafiia Espanola
de Colonizaci6n, asked for full exploitation rights. Symbolic of the shift in
Spanish interests since the debacle of 1898, the Sociedad included among its
leading members Valeriano Weyler, leader of the Spanish forces in Cuba in
the 1890s and sometime minister of war. The group proposed that the
remnants of the empire be developed and optimistically argued that what
remained was the richest part of Africa. "Our Guinea colonies," said the
Sociedad, "by their maritime position, have a great advantage over other
African possessions, such as the Belgian Congo or the Sudan where the
prices of merchandise suffer great surcharges because of the long distances
that they have to cover. "
A royal decree of 1907 authorized the subvention
of La Sociedad General Hispano-Africana, a body headed by Weyler.
The Cocoa Economy
Unfortunately for Spanish imperialism in tropical Africa, the group's
attention turned to Morocco, and any plans it might have had for West
Africa were stillborn. Development of the colony was not given to a
concessionaire, although the proposal was made in the annual budgets until
1914. Africanist congresses, which met in Madrid in 1907 and 1910, in
Saragossa in 1908 and in Valencia in 1910, attempted to keep the colonial
flame alive. The hope that something might be done in sub-Saharan Africa
was maintained by Emilio Bonelli, J. Sanchez Toea, R. Labra, and others.
Their efforts bore partial fruit in the creation of the Liga Africanista in
By 1912 Fernando Po and Rio Muni had thirty-five Spanish firms. Some,
like Pedro Amilivia, Perez y Mora, and the Trasathintica, were, or went on
to become, major trading concerns. Eleven "commercial firms" (which were
often only humble stores on fincas) were listed as belonging to Sierra
Leoneans. The large planter Maximiliano Jones was among them. There
was an almost equal number belonging to Africans born in Spanish Guinea.
There were eight commercial firms listed as "Syrian" and five Portuguese
ones. E. H. Moritz Company was German, and the Ambas Bay Company
Ltd., John Holt and C9mpany, and Francis Wilson were British.
Many impecunious Spaniards entered the cocoa economy after accumu-
lating capital by engaging in trade with the Bubi. They established trading
posts similar to those that the creoles had pioneered. General merchandise
was sold in return for cocoa and other native produce. The returns from
such trade allowed them to enter land ownership. Gradually, the Spanish
presence increased. In 1907 a medical report opined that Europeans were
capable of all fonns of agricultural labor at the higher elevations, if properly
regulated. The report said that there were three eight-hundred hectare sites
for possible white colonization on Fernando Po. Sixteen years later there
were 655 Europeans on the island, the majority of them in the capital. Of
these, 426 were Spaniards and 117 Portuguese.
By the early 1930s Santa
Isabel had grown to some nine thousand inhabitants. Much of this growth
was attributable to the influx of Europeans and African contract labor.
Efforts were made to encourage the export of a number of products,
including cocoa, coffee, coconuts, copra, palm kernels, plantains, ivory, in
addition to lumber. Juan Bravo Carbonell, the secretary general of the
Camara, was particularly concerned with economic diversification. In 1926
he recommended banana growing, a proposal strenuously opposed by
Canarian interests. The Compafiia Trasatlantica had success with cattle
ranching. In 1905 Bengoa Arriola had visited Moka (formerly Riabba) to
survey the possibility of establishing a ranch. Two years later the govern-
106 The Cocoa Economy
ment granted the company 150 hectares, and by 1910 there were already 150
head of cattle. The number had grown to 1,067 by 1922.
Spanish colonialists were able to argue that, at last, the colony was of use
to the metropole. In the years after the First World War, Governor General
Angel Barrera, who served his longest term from 1910 to 1924, using all the
means at his disposal, seemed to be developing Madrid's last tropical
outpost. In 1921 he succinctly outlined his problems and successes:
Thus it is seen, that, at the end of 1911, 13,233 hectares of land
had been conceded, of which only about 7,000 were planted; [by]
December 31 of 1917 the concessions amounted to 24,205
hectares, and, at the end of the year 1919, these concessions
reached 26,000 hectares, of which around 16,000 hectares were
in production, and a great part of the rest opened [for future
cultivation] ... production has tripled, and this increase will go
on accentuating itself annually, since now the lands conceded at
the beginning of the year 1915 will begin to enter into produc-
tion, unless agriculture is newly held back for lack of protection,
with grave prejudice for the economy of the country; ... it
needs [protection] urgently today in order to save itself from . : .
economtc cnsts . . . .
Partially as a result of colonial nurturance, agricultural output increased.
Colonial cocoa received preferential treatment in the metropolitan market
after 1910. The government fixed a special rate of 50 pesetas per 100 kilos
for the first 2,000 tons imported and applied a duty of 120 pesetas per 100
kilos to the rest. Non-Spanish cocoa paid the higher duty. Also, there was
an export duty on cocoa not shipped to the metropole, a policy which
encouraged export to Spain. The difference between the price of colonial
and noncolonial produce made Spain a sheltered market. Over time, the
colonial cocoa quota moved upwards: 2000 tons in 1910, 2,750 in 1912,
4,000 in 1914, and 5,000 in 1920. The rise probably reflected increasing
consumption in the metropole. While colonial production and the quota
ascended at the same rate, Fernando Po cocoa's price could stay at about the
same level.
By 1925 cocoa production had increased 143 percent over that in 1910
(see Figure 6.1).
In the late twenties over ninety percent of the arable land
was devoted to cocoa. Fifty-eight percent of Spain's cocoa came from
Spanish Guinea in 1925. Five years later this proportion had risen to eighty
percent; it reached 100 percent in 1935.
By 1930 most of the. major
plantations were European: La Barcelonesa, Vigatana, Montserrat,
The Cocoa Economy
Montseny (Catalan), La Macarena (Andalusian), La Valderense (Castillian),
Boa Esperanc;a (Portuguese).
The exports of Spanish Guinea were, almost exclusively, cocoa and wood
from Rio Muni.
Ten thousand tons of wood were sent from the colony
(mostly to Hamburg because of the paucity of Spanish shipping). Spain
earned foreign exchange from the shipment of goods, principally okume
wood, through Barcelona and other metropolitan ports. In the late 1920s
exchange control was imposed, and it became easier to allow direct exports
from the overseas territories to foreign ports. Spain asked that a fixed
Cocoa Production and Exports
Metric Tons (OOOs)
Figure 6.1. Recorded Cocoa Production and Exports, 1899-1930
SOURCE: Max Liniger-Goumaz, Statistics of Nguemist Equatorial Guinea (Geneva, 1986),
p. 37, table 6.6.
108 The Cocoa Economy
proportion of foreign exchange earnings be converted into pesetas and
refused to allocate foreign exchange for imports which could be gotten in the
Peninsula. The policy gave Madrid the additional advantage of artificially
increasing Spanish exports to its colonies.
The colony's intake of metropolitan goods and services also increased.
In 1925 the flow of money from Spanish Guinea in personal drafts was some
2,000,000 pesetas per year. The colony's imports were 20,000,000 pesetas
per year and exports 32,000,000.
Before 1914 the export of cotton goods
to Spanish Guinea and other overseas territories had been below ten percent
of Spanish exports. It accounted for twenty-six percent in 1925 and thirty-
four percent five years later.
Between 1911 and 1932 the volume of
merchandise imported to Fernando Po passed from a little more than six
million to almost eleven million kilograms. The value of imports, estimated
at 12,340,340 pesetas in 1932, was monopolized and traded by the great
commercial companies, such as Trasatlantica, Woermann, John Holt, La
Vigatana, Ambas Bay, J. Mallo, Perez and Company, W. A. Moritz, and
In the years before World War I, two thirds of Spanish Guinea's
expenditure came from the metropolitan treasury. The amount was not
significant, however; the colony's total annual expenditure in the early 1900s
was only about two million pesetas.
The metropole's own was over a
billion. Colonial supporters argued that Spanish Guinea produced more than
it received from Spain. For instance, between 1921 and 1920 it received
18,236,889 pesetas from Madrid and contributed 19,658,129 in customs
According to colonial boosters, the amount received was
undervalued since it was paid in gold. A call for protection for colonial
cocoa was based, in part, on this fact. Colonialist propagandists argued that
colonial produce was cheap and that complaints against the price of Fernando
Po cocoa were the result of the inflated prices charged by Peninsular
chocolate manufacturers.
In 1918 Fernando Po ranked third in terms of tropical imports after the
Philippines and the Canaries; imports from the Bight of Biafra were far
higher than those from Rio de Oro or the Spanish zones in Morocco.
Between 1911 and 1933, exports from Fernando Po, measured in kilograms,
multiplied 345 times, while their value in pesetas multiplied 812 times. In
1911, exports to Spain were 94.4 percent in kilograms and 95.8 percent in
pesetas of total exports; in 1932, the same tendency maintained itself, and
exports to the metropole represented 82.2 percent in kilograms and 88.8
percent in pesetas of all exports.
The Cocoa Economy
By the 1920s more consistent attempts were made to lobby for colonial
preferences. Early in the decade production increased more rapidly than did
either Peninsular consumption or the colonial cocoa quota. Planters could
still export to Spain, but production which exceeded the quota ("overproduc-
tion") was taxed at the same rate as foreign cocoa. Growers tried to export
to other markets, but were hardly competitive. Also, with the end of the
First World War, transport and production costs increased and foreign
competition became sharper. A planters' consortium was formed in 1920 to
deal with the problem of overproduction, but it failed. Three years later the
Union de Agricultores de Ia Guinea Espanola was organized, with aims
somewhat more precise than those of the Camara. Their goals were to seek
the introduction of new products, stimulate consumption of colonial produce,
harmonize the interests of different segments of the cocoa industry, and
provide agricultural credit to members. By the mid-1920s the Union had
consolidated its hold over the market and controlled more than seventy
percent of the cocoa imported into Spain. By 1929 it formed part of a mixed
commission made up of representatives from the Agricultural Services, the
Camara Agricola, and the Treasury Department. In 1928, another group,
the Sindicato Agricola de los Territorios Espafioles del Guinea was formed.
In spite of (or, perhaps, because ot) the creation of these various bodies,
agricultural interests continued to jostle one another. For example, in 1930
the Union and the Camara were in grave disagreement over cocoa quotas.
In spite of differences, and although the problem of overproduction was
not solved, cooperation among producers did achieve some successes. The
case of the Union de Agricultores is illustrative. In the agricultural year
1924-1925 the Union achieved a price of 3.86 pesetas per kilo, 19 centimos
more than in the 1923-1924 season. The price continued to rise; in the
1926-1927, season it was 4.02 pesetas per kilo. In the 1927-1928 season
there was a price decline; cocoa received 62 centimos per kilogram less than
in the previous season. The cause of the fluctuation was probably over-
production and a glut on the metropolitan market. The colonial cocoa quota
had been raised to 7,000 tons per annum, and production had widely
exceeded the fixed quota. The Union resolved not to supply the metropole
with any cocoa beyond the colonial quota; members would be free send their
surplus to other markets. In 1930 the colonial quota was raised again, this
time to 8,000 tons per annum. Many cocoa producers resolved to sell. as
much cocoa in Spain as possible, a move which depressed prices.
Colonial interests agitated throughout the 1920s for a reduction in duties.
In 1928, after several years of deliberation, Madrid liberalized its import
policy. Some products were exempted altogether. Duties on coffee, coconut
110 The Cocoa Economy
palms, and wood planks were reduced. The export of rubber to the
metropole was taxed only to a minimal degree, and imposts on kola and oily
almonds were considerably reduced. The duty on cocoa entering Spain was
not reduced, but that leveled on cocoa exported elsewhere was cut. In
December of 1930, .the previous duty of 10 pesetas per 100 kilos of cocoa
was raised to 20 pesetas. For various reasons, some having little to do with
Madrid's policy, the price paid for cocoa rose. In the agricultural year
1930-1931 the price was 3.78 pesetas per kilo, 0.05 pesetas per kilogram
more than the previous season.
In the midst of the expanding cocoa economy, capital remained a
problem. In the 1890s Spanish cocoa brokers began making loans to
producers and taking payment in produce in Barcelona. In 1900, Casa
Huelin was the major broker in Santa Isabel and advanced loans to
Fernandino and Spanish planters. This did not obviate the need for a
colonial bank. The Bank of British West Africa was the chief bank and
governor-generals frequently talked of the need to deposit revenues in a
Spanish bank. In 1916 a Banco Colonial Espanol del Golfo de Guinea was
formed with the blessing of the government, but encountered opposition in
the Spanish Parliament. The project collapsed and was not revived until
after 1923. Seven years later an agreement with the Banco Exterior de
Espana gave that bank the deposits of the colonial treasury. Unfortunately,
this move came at a time of worldwide economic distress. The bank did not
begin its functions and, in 1932, the project was abandoned.
The pace of Spanish investment increased, nonetheless. In 1926 the
dictatorship of Primo de Rivera made a special credit of twenty-three million
pesetas available for public works over a period of ten years.
In the same
year, the Compaiiia Nacional de Colonizaci6n Africana (ALENA), which
came to rely heavily on the Banco Exterior de Espana, acquired most of the
island uplands held by the Trasathintica.
Two years later General Luis
Valdes Cavanilles, formerly the head of military affairs in the Direcci6n
General de Marruecos y Colonias (General Bureau of Morocco and
Colonies), visited Spanish Guinea to explore investment opportunities. The
following year the General proposed the concession of 3,750 hectares in the
Rio Benito region of Rio Muni and 2,000 hectares on Fernando Po. With
the aid of the Spanish monarch, the general and his backers (among them the
Banco Urquijo and the Banco Hispano Americano) were able to launch the
Compaiiia Espanola del Golfo de Guinea in 1929. On the eve of the Great
Depression the government-protected enterprise paid a dividend of ten
The linkage of military, governmental, and financial interests
adumbrated the practices of the Franco period.
The Cocoa Economy
Fernandinos: Continuity and Change
At the beginning of the 1920s, a ball at the governor-general's mansion was
described as an event at which "the select of both colours will be present,
and when the band strikes up the waltz, black and white whirl off together."
It was "a galaxy of colour, a brilliant display of jewellery and silk, of black
and white, yellow and red, all lit up by electricity. "
This picture of the
Fernandinos' prosperity and life-style was deceptive; several years later it
was observed that "thirty to forty years their fathers worked hard, lived
simply and amassed wealth. The present generation, for the most part have
not the same hard discipline, have formed expensive habits of life, and
during the last few years, have been subjected to a keenness of competition
their fathers never knew. "
Addressing Governor-General Angel Barrera in 1921, the Fernandino
president of Santa Isabel's Consejo de Vecinos noted that the majority of the
planters could "recall the anguished situation that held back agriculture on
your arrival in 1910, and [how] by your initiative, with your insistence, you
secured the immigration of laborers from the Continent [that is, Rio Muni]
first, from Liberia afterwards, the results being evident . . . . "
In spite of
such praise, agricultural expansion and new sources of labor did not benefit
the black planters as a class. Most Femandinos, as assimilated Africans, had
seats reserved for them in the Camara Agricola, but they did not dominate
the body, nor did they have great influence in the Barcelona- or Madrid-
based producers' associations. As in the past, their financial situation made
it impossible for them to live up to the terms of their contracts. They also
experienced difficulty in putting the lands they held into cultivation.
Before the First World War there was little or no information on native
property; of the 509 landowners cited in 1899 and the 500 fincas listed in
1909, only registered colonial farms were referred to. In 1913 the number
of farms owned by Liberians (mostly Kru ex-laborers) was 129. The
holdings occupied some 830 hectares; most were not freehold. Only some
forty-three titleholders had definite possession, and the eight-six others
were in the process of gaining possession or were landholders with titles
held up because of lack of payment. Liberianfincas were small; of the 129
112 The Cocoa Economy
Mary Bube Transatlantica
A. Bibiano
Map 6.1. Fernando Po Plantation Locations, c. 1913
SOURCE: Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana (Madrid, 192-), 23, p. 835.
recorded, only three were more than 20 hectares, and the average was
6.6 hectares.
W. G. Clarence-Smith has noted that "the ethnic composition of the
planter class changed relatively little between 1885 and 1910. "
In 1891
some 500 hectares (around fifteen percent of the total ceded area) were
The Cocoa Economy 113
owned by Fernandinos. Around 1913 there were roughly the same numbers
of Spanish and Fernandino planters, if surnames are any indication (see
Map 6.1).
However, by this period, the eve of World War I, change was
clearly on the horizon. Clarence-Smith maintains that this has little to do
with colonial discrimination against Africans, as small-scale European
planters suffered too. What is significant is that discrimination took the form
of "color-blind" land and labor legislation, which made it hard for smaller
planters in general. By the late 1920s, many Fernandinos had come to the
conclusion that the economic and cultural tide was running against them and
that economic opportunities on the island were narrowing.
By World War I certain trends were obvious. In late 1915 Theophilus
(Teofilo) Thompson, Henry (Enrique) Allen, Catherine (Catalina) Willis,
Jeremiah (Jeremias) Barleycorn, Manuel Balboa, Daniel Niger, and
Amelia Vivour, all prominent Fernandinos, lost land through failure to
develop it. The situation was even more acute for the myriad of small-scale
African farmers, for government had little interest in small-scale native
agriculture. The accounts of fifty percent of the workers' wages deposited
in the Curadoria (Labor Office) between 1915 and 1920 reveal the most
important employers to have been Europeans.
Admittedly, many of the
white employers were shippers who provided laborers to African planters.
However, the figures do emphasize who controlled labor influx and its
distribution. The situation had shifted greatly since the 1880s, when
Africans like Vivour had contracted their own labor on the African coast.
Also, the plantations and larger planters did their own exporting, but the
smaller planters had to come to terms with either an exporter or a large
planter to get their cocoa shipped.
In 1923 the majority of the land, 76.1 percent, was registered as freehold.
Land in public and private lease was 14.93 percent and 8.39 percent,
respectively. Land in trust was 0.65 percent.
The process of land
engrossment and tightening land ordinances was well on its way. In 1926
the administration reiterated a rule which confined much landholding to
nationals and gave a deadline of six months for compliance. By the late
1920s the colonial regime was dedicated to the idea of plantation agriculture
and the diminution of small-scale African farming. In 1927 a local
commentator pleaded that "the large uncultivated terrains should be divided
into plots of greater or smaller dimensions, thus converting the laborious and
proportionally intelligent [African] labourer into an owner .... " It was
obvious that peasant production had worked wonders elsewhere: "We plead
on behalf of the small estate owners and in them we see a salvation for
agriculture . . . . This is the orientation taken by all peoples when there is
114 The Cocoa Economy
a lack of manpower; it is natural. "
The regime did not favor the
large-scale transformation of laborers into landholders. Simultaneously,
many of the laborers' employers were struggling to make ends meet. Some
continued to do very well, however.
One, gauging the winds of change, assiduously cultivated the goodwill of
the colonial regime. Maximiliano Jones was the Fernandino survivor par
excellence. Early in his career he had made himself useful to Emilio Bonelli
of the Compafiia Trasathintica. In 1902 he solicited a small grant of land at
a place called Moba in the San Carlos district. Two years later Jones
obtained plantations in San Carlos originally owned by Francisco Romera.
The following year he asked the Spanish administration for ten hectares in
Balombe. By 1907 the Fernandino was in a commanding position in San
Carlos; this position enabled him to ingratiate himself with the administration
by freely granting lands to the town for its expansion. Jones practically
owned the place because the inhabitants were dependent on him for building
supplies. In 1928 Jones held 275 hectares in San Carlos and title to another
forty. Of his holdings, only thirty-three hectares were uncultivated.
There were other Fernandinos who continued to prosper. One smaller
planter was Wilwardo Jones, a son of Maximiliano. He, through purchase
or rental agreement, controlled over 152 hectares; 86 hectares of his land
were rented from the Grange family. Edward Emilio Barleycorn
(1891-1978), a scion of one of the island's longest established families,
farmed his father's lands at Achepepe, Bantabare, and elsewhere. In the
1920s he was also employed by his godmother and aunt, Amelia Vivour. In
1924 he started his own plantations and by 1928 was prominent enough to
be entrusted by the island's planters with negotiations for foreign workers.
In 1928 Manuel Balboa, another Fernandino, held or leased a total of 334
hectares and had a labor force of 137 men working on all thejincas.
had 27 hectares in production in Laka and also owned 120 hectares in
Basuala, of which 67 were in production. In Concepcion he owed
89 hectares of which only 20 were in production. In the same locale he used
87 hectares which were the legal property of Ysabel Arkins de Balboa. In
Loboha he had land in a lease arrangement with two women, one of whom
was Gertrude Johnson Barleycorn.
Joseph Walter Dougan, who gained control of most of the Vivour estate,
was one of the most important planters of the 1920s. In 1928 Dougan
possessed outright 162 hectares in cultivation in Belaboo, Batete, Boimoriba,
and Musola de San Carlos. In addition he had 125 hectares leased to
tenants, of which 61 hectares were in Batete. Fifty of these were in
production, and 11 were uncultivated. Thirty-eight hectares were in Musola,
The Cocoa Economy 115
of which 28 hectares were under cultivation and 10 were forested. The 25
hectares in Belaboo were all cultivated. Altogether Dougan had 265 hectares
planted and 21 uncultivated. According to his reckoning, he retained
approximately 225 of the 365 hectares he had purchased in September of
1927 from the heirs of the Vivour estate. One hundred and forty planted
hectares had been turned over to the Spanish firm of Mallo Brothers.
The Problematic of Black Enterprise
The history of the Fernandinos is one example of the general unrolling of
"black capitalism." Throughout Africa many groups exposed to the capitalist
West developed entrepreneurship or cash farming, or both in the 1850-1910
period. They were often on the leading edge of capital's penetration, but,
by the second decade of the twentieth century, they had been swept away by
competition. That the prosperity of the Fernandinos endured longer than
elsewhere is testimony to the weakness of their competitors and ultimate
In economic struggles with Europeans, many other Western-educated
African comme,rcial and agricultural groups were squeezed into a marginal
position. Their former functions were often abandoned for clerical roles in
colonial bureaucracies. If groups remained active, it was often under the
dominance of European capital. Speaking of Africa in general, Austen notes
that creole groups "constituted one element in the larger population of small
merchant firms which found it difficult to survive under the dual pressure of
fluctuating price conditions and competition from giant conglomerates." To
meet the situation, "some African entrepreneurs attempted to capture a major
place in the export-import trade through ambitious oligopolistic schemes of
their own, but these foundered on both the hostility of European govern-
ments and the unrealistic economic perceptions of their founders. " Many
moved into real estate and salaried employment within the colonial
government or private European firms.
In addition to what Austen has
perceived as "unrealistic economic perceptions" there is, in the case of
Fernando Po, the obstacle of environment. Ecology allowed the creole
group to establish a foothold for itself; it also placed limits on the foothold's
Fernandino decline is, in some ways, parallel to the decline of the jiliws
da terra (Afro-Portuguese creoles) on nearby Sao Tome. By 1900 this group
had been swamped by a flood of European capital. European banks,
funneling their money through Lisbon, helped create a whole new plantation
The Cocoa Economy
system which gradually plowed under a class of smallholders. As on
Fernando Po, their decline was attributed to "an extravagant life-style and
uncontrolled indebtedness. "
Even closer at hand is the example of the Duala in Cameroon, who
benefited from their middleman position on the coast. Around 1900 some
leaders took advantage of the situation to engage in fairly large-scale cocoa
farming using slave and hired labor. This was particularly true of lands
along the Mungo River belonging to the Bell clan. As on Fernando Po,
cocoa production increased until around 1930. Simultaneously, the area
attracted migrants from the interior, and the Duala came to be regarded by
colonial administrators as a colonial elite. Unfortunately, the "period during
which the Duala flourished as pioneer indigenous cocoa planters proved to
be an Indian summer, both for their control of slaves and their general
preeminence in the development of Cameroon. "
In 1923 two Duala: a
merchant and a plantation owner, sat in the European-controlled Consultative
Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture. The group .was hard hit by the
Depression and never completely recovered. By 1936 non-Duala immigrants
made up forty-three percent of what had been, in 1884, an almost exclusive-
ly Duala area.
The trajectory can be observed in the Bight of Benin area. In Dahomey,
black Brazilian immigrants, Yoruba and, above all, Westernized representa-
tives of traditional landholding groups, attempted to expand their economic
horizons in the late nineteenth century. The commercial group was in and
around Ouidah; the group most concerned with land acquisition centered on
Porto Novo. Developing African capitalists were found scattered throughout
the area: Brazilian immigrants in Agoue, traders and proprietors such as
Pierre Johnson in the Mono Valley, Yoruba moneylenders and proprietors
in the environs of Porto Novo. More important than isolated entrepreneurs
were groups with economic power and status from the pre-colonial era .. ~ o r
instance, in 1896 Joseph Tovalou Quenum gained French legal recogmtwn
of his trusteeship of the collective property of the Quenum. The most
consistent effort to become a "modem" landowning group came from the
Adjovi family which had held palm oil plantations under the Kingdom of
Dahomey. Led by Jean Adjovi and others, the African landholding class
attempted to agitate for an important place within the colonial economy. It
was, in the end, unsuccessful. The would-be class of African planters lacked
an ideology which could successfully confront the racism and nationalism of
the colonial state, which countered with the argument that it stood for the
protection of the rights of the peasantry. By the 1930s Adjovi ambitions
The Cocoa Economy 117
were stymied by the opposition of the French colonial administration and
foundered under the weight of restrictive legislation and court cases.
To the east, in Lagos, Western-educated merchants flourished after
mid-century. Some individuals also tried their hand at cash-crop production.
In the 1880s the colonial governor, Alfred Moloney, proposed encouraging
Sierra Leoneans and Yoruba returnees from Brazil to start cash-crop
1\venty years later at least one Lagosian, J. K. Coker, employed
two hundred migrant workers in plantation agriculture.
However, contrary
trends were already in the wind. Traders and agriculturalists faced
increasing competition as the colonial order imposed itself. Africans hoping
to accumulate capital for trade or for the purchase of land were at a
disadvantage because "expatriate concerns ... lost no time in adopting new
forms of business organization, such as the limited liability company. "
Also, the African elite was affected by an economic depression which started
in the 1880s and ended in the first decade of the twentieth century. Palm oil
prices reached their nadir around 1885; it was only competition for scarce
shipments coming down from Yorubaland that kept the price relatively high.
The majority of African traders had either switched to the import trade or
gone out of business altogether by the last decade of the century.
Agriculture grew apace, but not under the auspices of large-scale African
landowners. A similar trend could be seen in the Gold Coast.
One of the first non-European West African groups to enter large-scale
agriculture, the Americo-Liberians, also experienced difficulties. After some
success with coffee growing and export in the middle of the nineteenth
century, Liberian agriculture and commerce faltered. Between 1885 and
1900 competition from areas like Brazil halved coffee exports. Sugar
exports were driven down by a rise in European beet sugar cultivation.
Liberian sailing craft could not compete with European-owned steamships.
In the early twentieth century, those Americo-Liberians who remained in
commerce were employed as agents or employees of European companies.
An indication of the trough into which the group had fallen is the fact that
in the mid-1920s Gabriel Johnson, sometime mayor of Monrovia and
Supreme Potentate of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement
Association, found the position of Liberian consul on Fernando Po and
controller of coerced labor traffic far more lucrative than any post in his
Much farther afield, the same rise and fall of incipient black agricultural
capitalism can be seen. As a result of the pull of trade and the "Bible and
the Plow" urgings of Christian missionaries, a class of black "capitalist
farmers" emerged in nineteenth-century South Africa. The ideology of the
118 The Cocoa Economy
missionaries freed some individuals from the constraints of traditional
society. At the same time, the expanding demands of the economy created
new opportunities. The process began in the 1830s and reached its peak
with the Mineral Revolution of the 1870s and 1880s. In 1882 some African
farmers in Thembuland possessed over 3000 acres and 200 cattle. By 1890
there were between 1000 and 2000 African landholders in Cape Province;
smaller numbers could be found in Natal and the Boer Republics.
development did not long survive the tum of the nineteenth century: "From
the 1890s, and perhaps even earlier, white competition for land and markets
and labour, backed by legislation imposed by growing white political power,
destroyed South Africa's first black capitalism. "
In South Africa, "like
Kansas farmers [,] or, for that matter, like the white settlers of Natal,
African Christians acquired a boom mentality. " As in the Bight of Biafra,
"they did not at first realise that they had traded.a life made insecure by the
caprices of nature for a life dominated by the vagaries of the free market.
[Christian Africans] in remote areas planted extensively, without considering
that the absence of good roads and ready markets would prevent them from
emulating the successes of their more fortunately situated fellows. "
such a situation "the first generation of ill-educated, socially disoriented
African Christians (kholwa) stood a far greater chance of growing wealthy
than did their literate, skilled and politically sophisticated children and
grandchildren. "
Each of these examples illustrates general socio-economic processes.
Models of African economic development had shifted considerably by the
First World War. A showcase colony was the Gold Coast, by 1914 the
world's largest cocoa producer. Its economy, built upon small-scale African
peasant cultivation and initiative, was dominated by European oligopolies.
In Cameroon, around the same time, cocoa production moved from the
plantations run by members of Westernized Duala elite to small-scale farms
employing little outside labor. Increasingly, "German and particularly
French administrators could dismiss [the Duala elite] as a selfish, corrupt,
and parasitic minority, trying . . . to impose themselves upon the loyal,
unspoiled, and hard-working majority groups of the interior .... "
colonial administrators, especially in West Africa, touted peasant farming as
most beneficial to colonialist and colonized alike. Significantly, it was also
an arrangement in which Western-educated African merchants and planters
became, in the calculus of colonialism, redundant.
Chapter 7
The Search for Labor
When Richard Burton advocated forced labor as the only means of
"developing" Fernando Po, he was no lone voice crying in the wildemess.
David Eltis points out that "eventually ... the basic tenets of Palmerstonian
[abolitionist] liberalism itself were called into question . . . . Burton's
comment, 'I see no objection to render liberated labour forcible ... '
suggests that the full circle had been completed by 1864. "
At the peak of
European imperialism such views were part of colonialist orthodoxy. In the
1920s the British colonial secretary observed that the aim of policy was to
steer "a middle course between allowing the natives to live in idleness and
vice and using improper means to get them to work. "
The pull of wages
alone would not be enough to insure colonial development.
Slavery and Neoslavery
Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts have recently pointed out that the issue
of the end of slavery in Africa is highly complex and caution "that we need
to . . . resist the temptation to generalize from the few examples we now
have. "
Indeed, caution is warranted. Studies of nineteenth-century slavery
have, generally, seen it as an anachronism. Eric Hobsbawm, writing on. the
period from 1848 to 1875, says that "for practical purposes, by the end of
our period, chattel slavery had retreated to the more backward parts of the
120 The Search for Labor
Middle East and Asia, where it no longer played a significant agricultural
role. "
There is a similar tendency to see the withering away of slavery in
the colonial areas of Africa. According to A. G. Hopkins, "the colonial
powers regarded slavery as obstructing their long-term economic interests. "
Jean Suret-Canale says of French Africa that "the [African] master, who by
definition did not furnish any surplus labour himself, unproductively
consumed the products of the slave's surplus labour . . . . In the eyes of the
colonisers it was a 'barbaric' system, because it presented an obstacle to the
progress of their interests and the growth of their profits. "
Paul Lovejoy
believes that:
Once the forces of abolition began to sever the link in this
intercontinental system, slavery was confined to an African
context. The separation continued, with slaves taken to Sao
Thome and Principe, scattered places along the Angolan coast,
and the Arab-Swahili plantations of Zanzibar, Pemba, and the
east coast. This transformation presaged the collapse of the
system, for the emancipation of slaves in these locations eliminat-
ed the need for continued enslavement.
European colonialism, whatever its drawbacks in terms of labor abuse, is
usually depicted as the death of slavery as an articulated system: "The
imposition of colonialism terminated slavery as a mode of production and
marked the fuller integration of Africa into the orbit of capitalism. "
The Guinea Islands destroy any such generalization. There "slavery" and
"forced labor" often interdigitated. In 1900 cocoa was produced in greatest
quantity on Sao Tome by a coerced and largely lifelong work force.
Plantation agriculture on the island was underwritten by English, Belgian,
and other capital.
By the end of the 1880s slavery was illegal in all of the Guinea Islands.
However, charges of labor abuse and "slavery" scandals have persisted into
the 1990s. Contract labor has often drifted towards conditions analogous to
slavery, a fact which raises the question, What is a slave? Lovejoy has very
clearly pointed out, "Other forms of labour ... existed alongside slavery in
the nineteenth century . . . . The erosion of slavery as a mode of production
freed these alternative forms of labour, which in one way or another marked
the transition to a more complete articulation with capitalism. "
We need
to distinguish carefully between what Lovejoy calls the slave "mode of
production" and the existence of slaves. The mode "existed when the social
and economic structure of a particular society included an integrated system
of enslavement, slave trade, and the domestic use of slaves. Slaves had to
The Search for Labor
be emplo!ed in production .... "
Even after noting this distinction, we
must avmd the tendency to create linear conceptualizations of slavery. The
withering away of slavery was not inevitable and was not necessarily a sign
of economic advance. The premier place occupied by "an integrated system
of enslavement, slave trade, and the domestic use of slaves" in the "post-
abolition" Biafran region is evidence of this fact.
In the 1920s colonial reformers correctly found categories of subordinates
hard to disentangle: "you cannot for long separate, at least in the minds of
the natives, the imposition of forced labour from certain forms of slavery
... the only way to prevent forced labour from developing into 'conditions
analogous to slavery' was to abolish it altogether. "
Indeed, a coerced
contract laborer who never returned home probably viewed himself or
herself as a slave, and the distinction between slave and nonslave was,
undoubtedly, lost on the unhappy worker.
In reality, slavery, as we shall see, has its periods of intensification and
waning. These were often dependent on internal political consolidation or
on expansion of the demands of the world economy, or both. As Francisco
Scarano has observed concerning slavery in Latin America: "the practice of
slavery in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies varied from one historical
epoch to another in accordance with the type and intensity of agricultural
commodity production. . . . [I]n Puerto Rico, as in Cuba and elsewhere in
Spanish America, it flourished under the unique conditions of scant external
market connections and diminished slave imports-conditions which held true
in the 1600s and early 1700s, but no longer obtained at a later date." Later,
"the sugar revolution of the nineteenth century led slaveowners to exercise
stricter controls over their chattel, to limit opportunities for manumission,
and to import such massive numbers of Africans as to [change] completely
the cultural configuration of the subject class. "
In West Africa there is ample evidence that customary statuses were
shifted to benefit from changed economic conditions. Given new demand,
for example, pawns might increasingly be unredeemed and even sold
overseas. Within the status of "slave" itself, changes and shifts might occur
which modified the whole nature of those within the status. Thus, the
contract worker on Sao Tome in 1900 probably approximated various
definitions of "slave" more than did those persons in 1800 who, while legally
slaves, were left to devote most of their time to the cultivation of small
subsistence plots. This is because plantations flourished on Sao Tome and
Principe in the period from 1500 to 1550 and again in the period from 1880
to 1910.
122 The Search for Labor
Recruitment: Rio Muni
Could Rio Muni, which Spain claimed, have served Fernando Po as Angola
served Sao Tome? Unfortunately for the Spanish, the answer was no. The
10,000 square miles of Rio Muni could not serve as the 481,351 square
miles of Angola did. Internal supplies of colonial labor could be tapped,
but they were limited. Penetration of the Spanish-claimed area between the
Rio Campo and the Muni Estuary was slow, hampered as it was by the
presence of powerful African peoples and competition froni German,
English, and other traders. In addition, the terrain did not facilitate
European conquest. The area was heavily forested; a narrow coastal plain
rises gradually to a range of hills from 1,000 to 1,200 meters in the east.
In Rio Muni the Fang, in particular, resisted. Their origins lie in the
expansion of the Sanaga-Ntem Bantu-speakers in the fourteenth or fifteenth
centuries. The expansion of the Fang toward the coast probably began only
in the nineteenth century. Movement was motivated, in part, by a desire to
eliminate middlemen in the trade with Europeans. Warfare with interior
groups and mythico-religious beliefs also played a part. In the late 1850s
Mpongwe merchants in northern Gabon sought marriage alliances with
migrant groups and invited individual Fang to the coast for visits. By the
early 1870s some clans were south of the estuary of the Ogowe River.
Around 1890 the Fang reached their southernmost point, deep in Gabon.
Groups in their path were often conquered and absorbed.
As the Fang moved in and threatened the position of coastal traders like
the Benga, the Spanish attempted to expand their claim to Rio Muni. The
colonialist and traveler Manuel Iradier made two largely ignored trips to the
area. In the spring of 1875 he visited Rio Muni in hopes of awakening
interest in African exploration. Iradier's penetration of the area was hardly
monumental. He was never more than one hundred miles from the coast.
Nine years later, he, along with a colleague, Amadeo Ossorio, visited again
to conclude treaties with local leaders. On the basis of these and other
treaties, Spain claimed 180,000 square kilometers at the Berlin Conference.
Part of this was already held by Britain and became Eastern Nigeria. The
1884 German annexation of Cameroon effectively frustrated plans for
acquiring the coast nearest Fernando Po. To the south, Spanish and French
interests conflicted. In 1892 Denmark was asked to mediate the boundary,
but little was accomplished. In 1900, in the wake of the Spanish-American
War, Madrid was left with a tiny enclave almost surrounded by French
The Search for Labor 123
Catholic missionaries introduced Fang labor to Fernando Po in 1894 when
they brought over forty Fang workers from Elobey. Lack of control over
the mainland precluded the steady recruitment of labor. For instance, in
1897 several Fernando Po planters went to Bata. They recruited no more
than seven men because of the opposition of the French.
years later there were 1,384 men and 147 women from Rio Muni out of a
total African population in Santa Isabel of 2,148.
In the late twenties, due
to the difficulty of obtaining workers elsewhere, the percentage of Fang
workers increased. In 1925, 3,200 Fang laborers were divided among 59
employers. Seven commercial houses in Santa Isabel kept 2,500 laborers.
The remainder was parceled out among 52 agriculturalists. In addition,
some 1,200 to 1,800 Liberian laborers were recruited annually, and smaller
numbers came from Cameroon and elsewhere.
As in other situations, recruitment depended on gerontocratic manipulation
of the supply of women. A Spaniard in Rio Muni observed:
The recruiter looks for Fang paths, in the virgin forest
towns ignored by the state. And in a language half Fang, half
broken-English, he makes himself known to the kukuman who is
the mayor of the village, the chief of the tribe, the owner of all.
Do you have men who may go to work on Fernando Po? No,
the kukuman answers categorically. Another would say, ambolo
(goodbye), and would continue on his way. The recruiter knows
what must work with the kukuman. Some little necklaces, some
trinkets, a handful of salt and many, many of the things from my
factory: clothes, pails, lamps, hats, etc. The struggle was
joined. The kukuman stopped by conceding. He had the money.
The kukuman called all of the youths who wanted a mininga manf
[wife]. Some were produced. To them 300 pesetas was given,
more or less half of the payment for a woman, which does not
buy her, but is something like a pledge in the indigenous
marriages. These 300 [pesetas] are discounted, naturally, from
the salary earned on thefinca where the [worker] would work for
two years for a wage of 70 pesetas per month, plus food .... "
Labor recruitment was hindered by conditions in the enclave. Low
population made one proposal for the forcible two-year recruitment of all
African males unattractive.
Missionary paternalism sought to conserve the
indigenous population. Spanish colonialism itself wanted to avoid charges
of labor abuse. The beginning of coffee production in Rio Muni in 1926
was a further disincentive to labor outflow. Returned Fang migrants from
124 The Search for Labor
Fernando Po, along with others, developed the crop. In addition, by 1930
cocoa plantations had been established along the Bata-Ebeyiyin road. Large
palm oil plantations were also established using Asian oil plants and
mechanical presses. In spite of this development, in 1929 only 0.026 percent
of Rio Muni's cultivatable area was under cash crop cultivation.
Much of
the colony's labor continued to be imported from Cameroon or Liberia.
While some Fang were drawn to lumbering camps in Rio Muni, others
fled them. Interestingly, lax Spanish control of Rio Muni, in comparison
with French control in neighboring Gabon, caused some migration into the
Spanish territory to escape the corvee. In the 1920s and 1930s the
construction of the Congo-Ocean Railway in the French Congo drained a
large area of Gabon of its available manpower. The Fang referred to such
recruitment as "The Terror" and used any means to escape. In 1922 a
French report lamented the fact that the Fang's most "ardent desire is to
avoid any kind of authority, whether native or foreign." Spanish Guinea was
viewed as a magnet for the border population because it was a place "where
censuses, native taxation, levies and native justice are unknown. "
Spaniards took note of the permeability of colonial boundaries and, in 1926,
the Camara Agricola noted that "many of the [labor] recruits, upon returning
to their country and not considering themselves secure in our territory,
passed over the frontier and went to Gabon or Cameroon. "
The next year
the Camara authorized the establishment of recruiting agencies in Bata,
Benito, and Elobey and prohibited recruitment by agents not authorized by
Although Rio Muni was sending several thousand laborers per annum to
Fernando Po by the late 1920s, the enclave could not provide the bulk of the
island's labor. Spanish colonialism continued to look further afield. This
set it on a collision course with other colonialisms intent upon conserving
their own supplies of labor and imbued with a strong ideological commitment
to "free labor."
Recruitment: Cameroon
Neither Fernando Po itself nor Rio Muni provided sufficient labor for
colonial development schemes. The Cameroon coast seemed a convenient
source from a geographical point of view. As early as the 1840s the island
obtained labor from the various Cameroonian polities. The Duala population
under the Bell and Akwa dynasties were divided into free and slave groups,
most generally designated as wonja and mukom. Most of the latter were
The Search for Labor 125
Bamileke from the Cameroon Grassfields area. Some laborers were slaves
freed by their masters. Others were legally free people who paid their
sovereigns a portion of their earnings. In 1841 John Clarke observed:
"King Bell does not exact [money] ... from his people, the people settle
with King Acqua themselves on their return home, but with King William
it is settled in regular slavery fashion . . . . "
After the Scramble for Africa, labor recruitment from Cameroon became
much more difficult. After 1884 the Germans pushed plantation agriculture
and labor recruitment. In 1891 there were seven European planters; by 1903
there were a hundred.
The Germans gained control of the interior by
1900, a move that facilitated recruitment within the colony itself. Increas-
ingly railways and roads linked the littoral to the hinterland. As elsewhere,
contract labor and preexisting slaving systems interdigitated. Laborers were
recruited by private licensed agents employed by plantation companies or
obtained from defeated groups in the interior. In 1899 the governor
proposed that "slaves of conquered tribes should be sent with their families
to the coast, where they could obtain work as labourers. "
Internal labor
migration from upland areas to the coast resulted in a high death rate and
complaints from traders who used Africans as porters. In 1900, because of
high mortality, each plantation was required to have its own cemetery. In
1912 the military administrator for Bamenda said that, of three hundred Bali
people sent to the coast in that year, ninety-four died.
In the 1920s in
contrast to Eastern Nigeria's population density of one thousand per square
mile in the central Igbo region, densities of only fifteen to twenty per square
mile were reported in the Kumba area of Cameroon.
The German administration attempted to prevent the outflow of the scarce
labor resource. For instance, it prosecuted several Duala charged with
supplying illegal labor to Fernando Po.
Ironically, the collapse of the
Germans in World War I provided a unexpected benefit to the labor-starved
planters of Spanish Guinea. During the war the island was blockaded by the
Allies, and plantation agriculture survived only through the fortuitous arrival
of refugees from Cameroon. In 1915 Governor Ebermaier and all colonial
officials fled from Yaounde toward the border of Rio Muni, 125 miles away.
The retreating Germans fought a fierce battle with Allied troops on the banks
of the Nyong River in early 1916 and then crossed over into neutral
territory. The refugees totaled twenty-four thousand persons, including
European officials, African troops, and their family members.
thousand Cameroonians were taken to Fernando Po. About five to six
thousand of these were African troops who temporarily helped alleviate the
labor shortage.
In 1919, 834 Germans were evacuated via Spain.
126 The Search for Labor
1920 Chief Atangana of Yaounde and 150 followers were repatriated to
Cameroon via Douala.
Recruitment: The Kru
Limited labor flow from Cameroon continued until the mid-1930s, when the
French administration, unhappy over the treatment of laborers, stopped it.
Fernando Po planters had to look further afield, as they traditionally had.
As early as the 1880s William Vivour employed an ethnically mixed force
drawn from well beyond the Biafran region. The majority were from the
Lower Guinea coast; most were Loango men. In addition, he employed
some thirty workers from Accra, who performed basically artisanal jobs (for
example, coopers, carpenters, and smiths), a few Cape Palmas "Kruboys"
(Grebo), several Bassa, and four Bubi. Vivour's contemporary,
Laureano Da Cunha, used his coastal boats to obtain laborers from Batanga
or Bimbia. The majority of his laborers were from the Loango Coast,
Cape Palmas, or were Beribe "Kruboys."
From 1892 to 1893 over three
thousand African workers supposedly went to Fernando Po, and, of these,
one thousand were reengagedY
"Kruboys," migrant laborers from the Windward Coast, were brought to
the island by Vivour and others in increasing numbers. They were already
the mainstay of Fernando Po's alien labor force. The island was one of the
, few places where such migrants accepted other than maritime employment;
1 they cut timber, cleared land, and farmed. Laborers leaving vessels could
usually find employment or stay with countrymen while awaiting return to
, the Windward Coast. In 1841 there were 192 Kru laborers resident in
Santa Isabel, with another 400 outside itY In the 1840s Fernando Po was,
with the possible exception of Sierra Leone, the chief place of overseas Kru
employment. In 1856, out of a total population of982 in Santa Isabel, there
were 380 transient workers, the majority of whom must have been Kru.
Two years later Kru laborers alone numbered 209.
The workers from the Windward Coast, along with the Bassa and Grebo,
were part of the largest linguistic group in Liberia. The coastal area
between River Cess and Grand Cess is the present home of the Kru,
although it is thought that they arrived from the interior two to four hundred
years ago. In the past they organized themselves into a large number of
towns, each with its own independent head. Towns frequently split off from
others. This gave rise to satellite villages. Tensions between towns were
frequent and political alliances ephemeral. Cultural, rather than political,
The Search for Labor 127
unity was what identified the group. Towns formed dako or what some have
called "sub-tribes." The majority of laborers came from coastal dako.
Since the late eighteenth century, the area had supplied seamen and
stevedores for European vessels. The "Kru" were probably the amalgam-
ation of related but distinct peoples: shore-living "Fishmen" and inland
agriculturalists or "Bushmen." It may have been that "the furtherance of
mutually sustaining social ties between neighboring Fishmen and Bushmen
lineages over a number of generations would explain the linguistic, social,
and cultural amalgam characteristic of the Kru Coast, one distinctive feature
being the language (Krawin) spoken by inhabitants of the 'Five Towns'
(Krao) and satellite communities."
By the late nineteenth century the term
"Kru" was applied to a series of interrelated peoples. In addition to the Kru,
their Grebo neighbors were often included under the same rubric.
The Kru were often pictured as model wage workers-or as near to this
ideal as it was possible to find on the African continent. In the 1860s Burton
accepted the widespread contemporary view of them as docile and contented
laborers. He added, "nothing will prevent them calling themselves my ...
slaves . . . . "
At the tum of the century a Spanish official noted that "up
to the present the labourers have been Krooboys . . . . Physically consi-
dered, these negroes are extremely strong and robust, and capable of
working as none others could, and fond of the salt waters; they are, besides
fairly intelligent and obedient to their masters. "
More recently it has been
said that "it is surprising that no commentator on the Kru has ever called
attention to the almost total absence of any mention of a Kru striking, or
threatening violence to a white man while in his employ. "
The Fernando
Po experience argues to the contrary. From the 1840s onward, workers'
resistance to coercion was manifest both on the island and in the areas from
which they were recruited.
Although Kru migration is usually depicted as voluntary, there is reason
to doubt that it was so throughout the nineteenth century. It is certain that
the shipment of workers involved some coercion. . In 1843 John Clarke
described labor procurement as coercive and involving payment to someone
other than the workers themselves.
To some colonial reformers, the fact
such coercion came from within African society made it fundamentally
different from forced labor under European auspices. We know little of
what the workers thought of this distinction, although they may have had
some difficulty in sifting through the legalisms involved. Henry Nevinson,
a critic of labor abuse, drew a firm distinction between "domestic" and
"foreign" slavery, a distinction which continues to bedevil discussions of
slavery in Africa. Describing Kru labor migration, he said: "When they
128 The Search for Labor
return, they give the chief a share of their earnings as a tribute . . . . This
is a kind of feudalism, but it has nothing to do with slavery, especially as
there is a keen competition among the boys to serve. "
Early in the nineteenth century, enslaved persons may have been sent
overseas. Later it appears that migration was a means by which younger
men satisfied gerontocratic economic demands. The Kru seem to fit a
pattern observed elsewhere. The evolution of slavery in subsistence
economies has been discussed by Claude Meillassoux as the competition
between elders and their juniors.
More recently this opposition has been
seen in terms of classes. Pierre-Philippe Rey, looking at Equatorial Africa,
perceives the genesis of slavery in the pawning of younger males. This
exchange was an element in the gerontocracy's power. It reinforced their
control over the reproducers in society-women. According to Rey, this
brokering of individuals aided the elders by expanding lineage groups
through dependents and by removing potentially troublesome young men.
In Rey's view, gerontocratic dominance provided the base from which
certain societies launched themselves into the Atlantic slave trade.
Even if all the elements of Rey's analysis are not accepted, its lineaments
are seen in Kru migration. Early in the nineteenth century, a European
noted the circulation and control of earned goods:
A certain portion is given to the head of the town; all his
relations and friends partake of his bounty, if there be but a leaf
of tobacco for each; his mother, if living, has a handsome
present. All this is done in order "to get him good name": what
remains is delivered to his father "to buy him a wife." One so
liberal does not long want a partner; the father obtains a wife for
him; and after a few months of ease and indulgence, he sets off
afresh for Sierra Leone, or some of the factories on the coast, to
get more money. By this time he is proud of being acquainted
with "white man's fashion"; and takes with him some raw,
inexperienced youngster, whom he initiates into his own profes-
sion, taking no small portion of the wages of the eleve for his
trouble. In due time his coffers are replenished; he returns
home; confirms his former character for liberality; and gives the
residue of his wealth to his father to "get him another wife." In
this way he proceeds perhaps for ten or twelve years, or more,
increasing the number of his wives, and establishing a great
character among his countrymen.
The Search for Labor
Migration from the Windward Coast does not represent an inevitable shift
from the dynamics of African slaving to wage labor imposed by European
imperialism. As Monica Schuler notes of Kru migration to Guyana in the
1840s: "European employers did not really desire a free and independent
labor force after emancipation, merely one that they could control without
the stigma of slavery." Ideology demanded "free" labor, while, at the same
time other ideological currents insisted that labor management in the tropics
required some form of coercion. Thus, "even as they claimed to be
searching for free labor market conditions in Africa, they devised indentured
labor systems to prevent the development of free labor markets in the
plantation colonies." At the recruitment points "what employers sought in
theory, at least, was some sovereign people willing and able to devise a
system by which disciplined hardworking young men could be detached
without force from land and lineage to rotate in and out of European
overseas export enclaves under a system with low, fixed wages." Even on
the Windward Coast, "it was difficult to find African societies which would
participate in labor traffic on such terms, especially when they discovered
how erratic repatriation could be. "
In the early twentieth century, internal pressure to emigrate from the Kru
Coast was increasingly substituted by the coercive machinery of the Liberian
state. As the options for the workers narrowed, Kru migrants attempted to
avoid plantation labor on Fernando Po. In 1903 a British official said that
workers from the Kru, Bassa, and Grebo peoples of Grand Bassa, River
Cess, Sinoe, Cape Palmas, and Cavally (Cavalla) usually did not go to
Fernando Po because they preferred to be paid in British specie.
Most of the laborers leaving Liberia were from the Vai, Mandinka, and
Kpelle peoples. The Vai, who inhabit the Gallinas territory of southern
Sierra Leone and northern Liberia, probably did not provide their own
people for "contract" labor, but, instead, relied on interior groups to provide
export manpower. Vai society was already divided into free-born persons
(manju dennu: literally chiefs children) and jonnu, persons without full
kinship status and rights. The jonnu included pawns and men working as
punishment for adultery. Most jonnu were individuals who had fallen under
an economic obligation and who, in certain instances, retained certain
kinship rights. Individuals captured or traded from the interior constituted
another group of jonnu-export slaves.

The area inhabited by the Vai was fairly unimportant in the Atlantic trade
until after 1807. Thereafter, slaving became the dominant trade, andjonnu
of all categories probably constituted the majority of the population. The
increasing population was supported in part by increased produce trading
130 The Search for Labor
with the interior in return for European trade goods. At mid-century, in the
aftermath of the destruction of the factories of Pedro Blanco, slaving was
terminated by the combined actions of the American and British squadrons
and the Liberian government. The network of labor supply continued,
however. In 1853 a British firm contracted to supply "free" labor to the
Caribbean and Guyana. Vai chiefs were paid to produce workers for two-
year contracts, and the political leaders responded with alacrity. Four years
later the French obtained labor for Reunion using the same methods. Such
trafficking was discouraged by the sixties, and the number of jonnu taken in
and exported probably declined.
When, in the 1890s, the Liberian government permitted the shipment of
contract labor to Spanish Guinea and French and Belgian Equatorial Africa,
the free Vai (manja dennu) responded again. Initially the persons sent
abroad were their domestic servants, individuals of low status and pawns.
As the century continued, the system underwent modifications. Increasingly
"pawns" from peoples such as the Kpelle were produced as contract
Until the 1890s, some Fernando Po finqueros sent recruiters to Liberia,
gave them money, and promised them a large bonus for every laborer.
Labor procurers were equipped with passage orders to present to the captains.
of outbound steamers. The recruiters proceeded inland and arranged for
labor contingents, brought them to Monrovia, and, when a steamer arrived,
smuggled them aboard. Such recruitment was curtailed in the nineties; in
1891 the Liberian legislature established a Native African Shipping Bureau.
A Liberian act demanded a $150 bond for the laborer's return and imposed
a fine of $100 for each laborer who might die overseas. Monrovia had
turned over recruitment to German shipping firms, first August Humplmyr,
and, then, Wiechers and Helm. This move created murmurs of protest in
British West Africa, where Kru labor was in great demand. The two British
companies operating on Fernando Po, John Holt and Ambas Bay Company,
were particularly concerned, since labor recruiters preferred to deliver labor
to Spaniards because they allowed workers to draw more wages in advance.
Labor Abuse and the British
Labor abuse was a major problem on late nineteenth, and early twentieth-
century Fernando Po. It raised British concern and, finally, that of the
League of Nations. British interest in labor conditions was sincere, if
myopic. Like complaints against labor abuse elsewhere, it arose out of an
The Search for Labor
ideological commitment to the superiority of "free" labor. As Cooper has
observed in the East African case:
Antislavery circles had, in the aftermath of abolition, kept a
vigilant lookout for Government policies that were "slavery by
another name." Then a crisis over forced labor erupted in 1919,
provoked by the order of the Government of Kenya for official
"encouragement" of African labor for settler farms. All con-
cerned knew quite well that "encouragement" was a euphemism
for coercion, pressure brought to bear by District Officers and
African headmen . . . .
In labelling as slavery-and hence archaic and un-British-the
policy of "encouragement," the Christian critics were making the
underlying structure of settler economy appear all the more
British and moral. The encouragement issue was easily papered
over by better-phrased memoranda. As the crisis passed more
and more Kenyans were going to work.
In addition to their ideological commitment, the British made a concerted
effort to confine a resource, "British" African labor, within their colonies.
Specifically, there was little reason to encourage the rise of foreign cocoa
production at a time when the Gold Coast and areas in Nigeria were rushing
to produce the same crop.
Significantly, British colonialists were more concerned about labor
conditions on Sao Tome and Principe than on Fernando Po. As early as
190 1 rumors of labor abuse-" neoslavery "-on the Portuguese islands caused
grave concern. The chocolate manufacturer William Cadbury visited Lisbon
and was assured that new labor legislation would do away with abuse. At
the end of 1903 Cadbury visited again and received further assurances. An
investigation followed; this continued to be an important bone of contention
until the First World War.
Fernando Po was not the cynosure of British attention in the era preceding
the First World War. However, if only because of the proximity of the
Guinea Islands, the British were drawn into an investigation of conditions in
the decade before the War. Labor abuse was a growing, rather than a r
diminishing, problem. Worsening labor conditions were partially
by-products of the small cocoa farmers' struggle for survival. Lacking
capital, they were delinquent in paying their workers; lacking workers, they
were less than scrupulous about honoring the lengths of contracts. A British
investigator, somewhat incorrectly, observed: "The small cocoa farmers
... who are mostly half-bred mulattos [sic] are probably the chief offenders
The Search for Labor
in ill-treating the 'boys.' "
When the British investigated labor conditions
before the First World War, the naval officer making the inquiry cautioned
the "that it must be remembered that visits were only paid to some
of the nchest and most successful plantations, and the conditions on the
smaller ones. in the interior and on the other side of the island, owned by
educated natives, are probably infinitely worse . . . . On some of the small
farms it is quite probably that they [the workers] get no pay at all. "5o
The British justified their concern with labor conditions in a Spanish
colony as concern with British subjects. Much of the labor on Fernando Po
was British West Africa, especially Sierra Leone. This was already
true m the last decade of the nineteenth century. The Creole businessman
A. T. Porter was one of the most important labor contractors in Freetown.
In May of 1895, in one instance, he sent over sixty men to Francisco
Romera. They were engaged for three years at twenty pesetas or one pound
sterling per month and obliged to work from 6 A.M. to 12 noon and again
from 2 P.M. to 6 P.M.
In 1894 the planter Da Cunha Lisboa visited
and personally took workers back to his estates. Subsequently, he
sent h1s agent, Thomas Graham, for more. In 1895 at least thirty-three
' workers were dispatched to work for Cunha Lisboa. Another recruiter,
B. Edwards, took thirty-one Sierra Leonean workers to various planters
m 1895. Three years later there were so many Mende workers on the island
that planters feared that they might rise against Europeans on hearing of the
Hut Tax War in their homeland.
Tales of labor abuse were numerous. In 1886 William Vivour's
among laborers was so bad that it was very difficult for him to
workers. On the planter's San Carlos estate, Loango workers
received "a very small wage in kind ... only bananas and some yams, as
well as fish . . . [and were] often held for months over their service
1152 c d".
year . . . . on 1t1ons were better on the Da Cunha plantation, but even
there payment was "extremely" irregular. In 1888 Charles Cole a laborer
recruited in Freetown, complained that he had not been paid at end of
one year and that he was told that payment would not be forthcoming for at
least three years. Reportedly "Cole was locked up with a chain round his
neck, and [the] overseer ordered to set the others to work and shoot anyone
refusing to work. "
A complaint was made to Amelia Vivour, an employer
of the laborers, and she replied that it was her understanding that the
workers were slaves.
In the 1890s reports of labor abuse multiplied. In 1892 the British
consulate in Calabar reported that British West African subjects had escaped
by canoe from Fernando Po. The men had been duped and, instead of being
The Search for Labor 133
employed in Nigeria, had been sent to the Spanish island. Other workers
also escaped, some of whom had been employed by Bernardo Jose de
Barros, the surveyor of works, and by the widow Vivour.
In 1895 and in
1897 trouble again rose over breaches of workers' contracts. Large numbers
of laborers engaged in Cape Coast complained of not being paid in
accordance with their contracts and had to recover the balance due them
through the Gold Coast courts. Against this background Carlos Abellos, the
colonial treasurer, visited Sierra Leone in 1898 and requested fifty men.
Pennission was refused. The following year a British consul-general visited
Fernando Po and exacted a promise that foreign labor contracts would not
be altered once workers reached the island.
In the summer of 1899 the consular agent for the island was told that,
although foreign contracts would be honored, payment would be in Spanish
money. The agent noted that the "truck system" prevailed and that laborers
were charged 25-30 percent more by their employers than by stores. The
British consul-general suggested the British West Africa colonies prohibit
engagement of laborers for Spanish Guinea.
The Government of the Gold
Coast issued a warning to workers, making it clear that wages were paid in
Spanish currency and that workers should be careful to ask for payment of
equivalent value to British currency. The other British West African
colonies took similar steps.
Manipulation of labor contracts continued. So did physical abuse of
workers. In 1899 "on or about the 3rd of December ... the Cabo
[overseer] at San Carlos Bay accused one of his labourers of stealing, the
boy denied the charge, the Cabo tied him up and flogged him to death
.... " Reportedly, when the overseer "saw the boy was dead, he took a
knife, cut open the boy's belly, poured kerosine oil over all, then took a
rope, tied it round the boy's neck, hoisted him up to a beam and then set fire
to the dead body . . . . "
In late January of 1900 between 350 and 450
agricultural workers from Western Nigeria and the Gold Coast went on
strike. Some Europeans feared a general colonial insurrection. The
Africans assembled in the capital and demonstrated in front of the governor's
house. Complaints centered on mistreatment, lack of food, and failure to
observe the terms of contracts. The Spanish sent military reinforcements,
and the incident brought forth the British Parliament's denunciations of the
Spanish colonial regime. The workers from Western Nigeria and Gold
Coast were repatriated en masse at the expense of the Fernando Po
The strike of 1900 expressed the willingness of the workers to mobilize
on an inter-ethnic basis for the protection of their common interests. It also
The Search for Labor
gave impetus to calls for a labor embargo from Africa, .an
action which only served to increase dependence on mcreasmgly coerctve
labor recruitment elsewhere. Unfortunately, the workers' ability to organize
ongoing and consistent labor resistance was partially impeded by their
position as overseas workers (i.e., the largely male work force was
dependent 01_1 Europeans for their repatriation to their . .
The year of the strike, and partially in response to tt, the Bnush
embargoed labor migration to Fernando Po. This action, which should
been the end of the question, was only the beginning of a long inter-colomal
struggle to secure British West African labor for Spanish Three
years later a British official in Sierra Leone reported that Afncans were
being enticed over the border into Liberia and sent on to other European
colonies in what was "nothing more or less than a gigantic and abominable
traffic in human flesh. "
A decade later, the British consul-general in
Monrovia complained: "Reports continue to be received relative to
shipment from the western portion of the Liberian Republic of nattve
subjects from Sierra Leone to the Spanish and Portuguese Islands m the Gulf
of Guinea . . . . "
In an effort to ameliorate conditions, in 1906 a Native Labor Code
(Reglamento del Trabajo Indigena) was put into effect. It provided for a
minimum wage, one-year contracts; and the deposit of half of the workers'
wages with a labor officer (curador). Children under ten and nursing
mothers were not to do heavy manual labor. Males were required to work
ten hours a day; females were to work eight. The role of the plantation as
an instrument of social control was recognized; workers could not change
their employers or even leave the plantations without pennission ..
In spite of official discouragement, labor from Bnttsh West Afnca
continued to find its way to Fernando Po. In late 1905 a member of the
Lagos Native Council complained that three men of his household were
induced to go there, where they were ill treated and not paid.
Later, the
consul at Boma reported that all migrant Africans were being made to work
on roads.
In spite of attempts at amelioration, evidence of continued
illegalities accumulated:
What is suspected to take place at times is that gangs of natives
drawn from the Benin and Warri districts are shipped as ordinary
passengers and consigned ostensibly to one of the large firms in
the Calabar district. They are then conveyed by land or water to
German territory, from whence there appears to be no difficulty
in shipping them to one of the islands of the Fernando Po group,
where labour is very scarce and in great demand.
The Search for Lahor 135
The governor-general of Spanish Guinea corresponded with the British
consul in Calabar, stating that he would do everything in his power to put
down illegal migration if the government of Southern Nigeria would remove
its embargo. The British consul, who favored British investment, was
sympathetic and felt "the present prohibition taken together with the illicit
traffic going on in labour represents a worse case of things than the
withdrawal of the prohibition, with an arrangement made as between the
Spanish Government and the Government of Nigeria, would entail. "
to cases of mistreatment: "In no single instance was the boy complaining
found to be in the right." Besides this, he said, the majority of workers
were from Sierra Leone and Monrovia; very few were from central or
eastern Nigeria; only fifty or sixty from those two regions were registered
as laborers with the Curadoria (Labor Office). Governor-General Barrera
defended conditions on the islands and alleged that "there was at bottom of
it a commercial reason on the part of the English chocolate manufacturers
... and this campaign [against alleged labor abuse] coincided with the offer
made by a company with English capital to buy in this island 10,000
hectareas [sic] planted with cacao-trees in full production .... "
In spite of Spanish protestations about outside interference, British
officials visited the island frequently in the five years preceding the First
World War. Depositions taken from workers indicated that they were often
deceived as to their destinations at the time of contract. In 1912 a laborer
from the Gold Coast said:
I am a native of Amanfru, in Secondee. About 9 months ago,
Benjamin, came to Amanfru and asked one, Kwakun, to get him
some men to take to Calabar . . . . Benjamin asked us to
accompany him to Elmina. We did so. After a week at Elmina
[the] steam-ship 'Bakana' arrived and Benjamin gave us in charge
of a Lagos man . . . . After 9 days we arrived at Fernando Po.
The Lagos man took us ashore and handed us to one Bikitana
[Vigatana?], a Spaniard. Bikitana took us to his cocoa farm and
gave us matchets and set us to work at the farm. He gave us two
cups of rice weekly, and some salted fish. We worked for four
months, but no pay was given us. He used to flog us every
By 1912 Vice-Consul Robert Smallbones, an investigator of the labor
traffic to Sao Tonie, was deeply involved with conditions on Fernando Po.
In late 1912 a serious incident occurred when a Sierra Leonean escaped to
the British boat Dwarf and complained of ill-treatment by Joseph Dougan.
The Search for Labor
Barrera reprimanded the British consular agent who protested, and the matter
was taken up in Madrid. The Spanish were informed that a British subject
had been induced to Fernando Po under false pretenses, detained for two
years under a compulsory contract, and finally sent to Elobey island to serve
as a soldier. Later Barrera had to defend his administration in the case of
two workers from Elmina. He stoutly maintained that under "existing laws
of the colonies no corporal punishment can be inflicted without judgement."
As far as illegal labor recruitment was concerned, Madrid said it had
received no communication on the question. All it could do was warn
against the use of illegally procured labor.
The British remained unappeased. In August, 1912, conditions were
directly investigated by Commander F. E. K. Strong and the British consul
in Calabar. The naval officer found: "The natives are badly housed and
clothed, receive insufficient food, and do not always obtain the small amount
of pay which they have earned; they are also flogged by the native overseers
and their employers . . . . There were at the time of my visit, besides
natives of Liberia and French colonies, over 300 labourers, British subjects
who had been brought against their will and were anxious to return to their
countries. "
The naval officer visited La Vigatana plantation, Ambas Bay
plantation, and the plantation of the widow Cunha Lis boa. In San Carlos he
visited the Jones, Roig, Vivour, and Ruiz y Torres plantations, finding "the
conditions under which the 'boys' work vary considerably in the different
farms-some looked cowed, frightened, and miserable, while others
appeared to be comparatively happy." However, visits were paid only to
some of the richest and most important plantations. Conditions on the
smaller holdings were probably worse. Strong reported:
The "receivers" at Fernando Po will pay 5 for each "boy"
landed. They are mostly cocoa shippers, and their method
appears to be to make an agreement with the small cocoa farmers
to receive all their produce in return for which they supply them
with the "boys" they require. This 5, plus 16s.8d. headmoney,
plus 1 7s.6d. their passage by steamer, plus the cost of their
food on transit is all deducted from the "boys" [sic] pay. I
understand they are paid 4d. a-day, and surmise that this is the
balance of the full wages, which is probably one peseta a-day, so
that it can be calculated how long it will take to pay off this debt
which each "boy" starts with .... Note:-They [the workers]
think a peseta is a shilling, and if they change it in their own
country, they can only get 6d. for a peseta . . . . At Grand Cess
[on the Kru Coast] numbers of "boys" were seen to jump
The Search for Labor
overboard from a steamer on a rumour getting round that they
were going to Fernando Po.
As a result of Strong's inquiry, new foreign enlistment ordinances were
issued by Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Southern Nigeria. The Spanish
and Portuguese governments promised to cooperate against illicit labor
traffic. The Southern Nigerian government instituted a patrol of the mouth
of the Calabar and Little Akwayafe Rivers, plus one on the Cameroonian
boundary up to the Cross River. The Sierra Leonean government put two
policemen on all steamers bound southward from Freetown. A resident
vice-consul was placed on Fernando Po, and German cooperation was asked.
All of these measures were supported by continuing evidence of illegalities.
In September of 1912 there were approximately 490 natives of British West
Africa on Fernando Po: 200-250 from Sierra Leone; 150 from the Gold
Coast; 60 from Southern Nigeria; 30 from Northern Nigeria. In late 1913
there were supposedly 735 "British" Africans working on the Spanish island;
141 of these had finished their contracts and been paid off.
In 1913 Governor-General Barrera complained that, because of British
agitation, "the labourers have abandoned work and have come to the town,
many not having returned to their lodgings and others having compelled the
police to catch them and bring them back to the plantations." He accused
the British vice-consul of encouraging Africans to strike, a prospect which
the colonial regime viewed as disruptive of the very core of the colonial
economy. As for the charge that there were large numbers of illegally
recruited laborers, the Spanish governor-general replied: "The uncivilized
natives had no idea of what is their mother country, they change it often, and
they say as easily that they came from Nigeria as that they are from Liberia
or any other place . . . . " Besides, Barrera argued, the workers simply
needed women. He was "certain that if there were sufficient women they
would never think of being repatriated, as those never do who have procured
one, and who, when they have finished their contract, attempt to stay in the
island, becoming the proprietors of small plantations . . . . "
Labor Abuse and the African Farmers
African agriculturalists, the majority of them Fernandino, were frequently
cited as the worst abusers of labor. Many black farmers could not retain
what they already possessed; the attempt to maximize the output of an
inadequate labor force resulted in labor abuse. For instance, in 1909 a
138 The Search for Labor
number of complaints were heard against Manuel Balboa. In March he was
fined one hundred pesetas and also charged with the death of a worker. On
May 6 he was charged with the nonpayment of a contract. Twenty days
later he was accused of the nonpayment of a fine in the death of a laborer.
On April 13 improper conditions were discovered on his farm; on July 24
a further fine of one hundred pesetas was levied. The colonial section of the
Ministry of State in Madrid, doubtless aware of British criticism, opined that
Balboa should "be warned that, if he persists in his attitude of hostility and
rebellion in the completion of legal obligations, the most severe judgements
against him would be adopted. "
The black planter did not appear to heed
this warning. Further complaints were lodged against him in 1911.
There were other cases. For instance, in 1913 Vice-Consul Smallbones
lodged a complaint regarding one of Samuel Kinson's workers. As in most
cases, the laborer charged that he was detained by his employer after the
expiration of his contract. At the same time Momobut, a Sierra Leonean
laborer, complained that he had been employed by the widow of
James MacFoy for four years and not paid. Also "Josiah, a native of
Sierra Leone . . . complained . . . that he had been forced to make a
contract for four years [with a Mrs. Wright], though he only wanted to stay
6 mons. "
Another laborer, Joe Mendi, complained of not being paid at all.
A native of Accra, James Cobler, complained that he had made a two-year
contract with a Fernandino named Edgerley and was physically abused and
underfed. He and two others showed their weekly ration: one and one-half
kilograms of salted fish and six kilograms of rice-350 grams per day for
seven days. For the three the minimum ration should have been 7.350
In 1914 the British vice-consul reported the rather sensational case of
Amara, another Sierra Leonean, who, along with some others, stole a boat
and managed to reach Victoria. He and his fellows were returned to
Fernando Po by the Germans and imprisoned. In still another case, early in
1914, the vice-consul reported that "a farmer named Nicoll [i.e., probably
William Fergusson Nicoll], who ten or eleven months ago flogged or caused
to be flogged, a boy whose arms subsequently became partly paralysed, has
been fined 1 ,500 pesetas, and had had a serious case brought against him
which is now going before the High Court at Grand Canary for trial. "
For the majority of the island's Fernandino agriculturalists, the twentieth
century offered increasingly adverse conditions. In August of 1913 the
government surveyed the situation, noting "a not inconsiderable number of
small planters who, without cash to pay at once the wages of their workers,
cannot pay them off until they receive the proceeds of their harvest, and who
The Search for Labor 139
beg to be allowed to wait until that time to pay the wages, which not only
causes exceptional work to the curadoria . . . it is the cause, as the
procedure is complicated, why in some cases the return of the labourer to his
country is retarded, which cannot be permitted . . . . "
Small- and medium-scale cocoa farmers were under increasing pressure
from both the British and the Spanish. A new labor ordinance was
promulgated in 1913, and its conditions were onerous for the small planters.
It provided that if an employer failed to pay a laborer for three consecutive
months, the laborer was to be removed and assigned to another for the
remainder of his contract. Rations were to be given daily instead of weekly;
the amount increased to 500 grams of rice and 400 grams of dried fish.
Money due to laborers was to be paid to the curadoria on a monthly basis.
No contract could be for longer than two years. Employers could be fined
for flogging workers, but laborers could be punished for a series of
misdemeanors: refusing, without justification, to work; leaving the
plantation without permission; stubborn disobedience; insubordination
accompanied by violence to persons or property; groundless complaints;
inciting other workers to abandon work.
The Camara Agricola opposed the new regulation; the governor-general
was petitioned to omit altogether the clauses referring to monthly payment.
He was also urged to have the curador make a list of those employers whose
financial position did not, in his opinion, offer sufficient guarantee of ability
to pay. The curador should be empowered to have all such employers find
some person or firm of unquestioned financial stability to guarantee them.
If this was lacking, the employer's labor contracts should be cancelled and
the laborers removed from the plantation. The Camara further asked that,
fifteen days before the expiration of a contract, the amount due to the
laborers should be deposited with the curador. The body protested the
provision that the maintenance of jailed workers would be at the employer's
expense. The provision that a worker be informed of fines imposed on
employers was also criticized.
The finqueros asked that the proposed
ordinance not be enforced before January 1, 1914.
The economic blow to the small planters was severe. The British
vice-consul observed that "if it [the labor code] is enforced it will certainly
have the effect of driving the small planter out of business, as many of them
. . . can only pay wages at the end of the cocoa season; but it is obvious that
this is precisely one of the ends the Governor had in view when he framed
the law." The vice-consul hoped that some good might emerge out of what
he viewed as reform: "The planters will find one advantage in the monthly
payment, namely that it is easier for those who dispose of but little capital
140 The Search for Labor
to pay monthly small sums than to pay a large sum at the termination of the
contracts; besides this, another and not smaller one will accrue to many
employers because, finding themselves obliged to economise to pay monthly
the wages of the labourers they will become used to saving instead of
wasting the products of their harvest. "
The Spanish administration had little interest in preserving medium- and
small-scale cocoa farming. In 1913 the governor-general told the Camara
that he looked forward to a time when there would be no more small farms
of from one to one hundred hectares. He envisioned an agricultural future
in which holdings would run from at least four hundred to one thousand
hectares. The British were aware of the effect of labor regulation on
small-scale landowning, most of it African. "The extinction of the small
planters, if it really happens," said the British Foreign Office, "will be an
unexpected result of our efforts and, in some respects, an unfortunate one.
If, however, these men can only keep their farms going by giving their
labourers less than is now thought necessary . . . there is nothing for it but
that they must go under. "
The new labor regulations were, thus, in part provoked by the crisis of
undercapitalized farmers. Their situation also worsened because of their
increasing dependence on large firms and big planters for labor. In addition
to other problems, labor procurement was increasingly risky. For instance,
in 1913 Manuel Balboa went to Sinoe in Liberia and brought back twelve
workers. They had their contracts registered before the curador, but the
period of the contracts was too long. The laborers were recontracted to
another finquero.
By the late 1920s such an individual operation would
have been almost unthinkable.
Because the rulers of the labor catchment areas were English-speaking,
certain members of the Fernandina found a niche for themselves
as useful, if subordinate, colonial interlocators. In 1914 Balboa was active
in pushing a Hispano-Liberian labor agreement. He and the Spaniard
Francisco LOpez lent their support to the accord and, at the same time,
signed a labor agreement with the firm of Dennis Brothers. This inter-
mediary role for the Fernandinos increased in the 1920s and ultimately
involved them in a "slavery" scandal.
Labor Agreements, 1914-1930
It has been said of West Africa that, "unlike the situation in southern Africa,
there are no labour contracting firms, no specially laid on advantages of
The Search for Labor 141
moving. "
In this context, labor traffic to Spanish Guinea is a West African
anomaly. In 1914 Liberia and Spain signed a labor convention which
remained in force until 1927. In some ways it resembled a similar accord
between Portuguese Mozambique and South Africa. Unlike the South
African agreement, it was short-lived.
The 1914 agreement had had a long genesis. For some years labor
procurement had been complicated by the desire of the Monrovia govern-
ment to profit by it. The Liberian legislature forbade recruiting in 1903
unless the recruiter bought a license costing $250 and made a deposit of
$150 guaranteeing each worker's return. No "boy" under twenty-one could
be sent, and a fee of five dollars per man was charged. In 1905 Spain
agreed to stop paying 150 pesos to each contract laborer and, instead, pay
in gold to the Liberian treasury. In 1908 a Liberian act forbade labor traffic
from Grand Bassa and Montserrado counties. Early the next year, two
Spanish officials visited Monrovia to persuade the government to adopt a
more favorable position. In 1913 the British consul-general in Monrovia
complained that Liberians were being enslaved and sent to Fernando Po.
The Liberian secretary of state was sent to inspect conditions. In spite of
British hopes, he later announced that no further restriction on labor
shipment was contemplated.
The 1914 labor agreement provided for a Liberian consul on Fernando
Po. It authorized labor recruitment in selected Liberian ports by agents
under the supervision of the Spanish consul. Copies of contracts were given
to the Liberian secretary of state, the Liberian customs, and the Liberian
consul on Fernando Po. Each statement contained the worker's name,
country, town, district, tribe, chief, and period of contracted labor.
Contracts were for a maximum period of two years and a minimum of one
year. Labor was refused to employers not approved by the governor-general
and the Liberian authorities. Contracts were not subject to extension, and
wages were paid in English money, half in Spanish Guinea and half through
the Spanish consul in Monrovia on the worker's return. The agreement itself
was subject to termination by either party on six months' notice. In 1914 the
British consul-general in Monrovia thought the usual wage for laborers
shipped was 1.5.0. per month.
In 1915 the Fernando Po Primitive
Methodist Mission reported that "boys from Liberia cost more than boys
from Bata [Rio Muni]. There is much more passage money to pay and they
require a higher standard of wages. "
Workers from Liberia cost 6 to 8
per month, while workers from Rio Muni were paid about 2 to 3, or less.
The shipment of labor was difficult in the years immediately after 1914.
As a wartime measure, a 1918 decree authorized the reengagement for an
The Search for Labor
additional two years of workers who had completed their contracts. In early
1919 the Liberians reportedly intended to terminate the agreement because
of labor abuse and because Spanish ships landed workers only at Monrovia.
The labor agreement remained in force, however. Between 1919 and 1926,
4,268 laborers were recruited and employed.
The labor agreement was not without its problems. An act of the
Liberian legislature in 1921 directed the Liberian president to give six
months' notice that shipment of laborers from Montserrado County and the
territories of Grand Cape Mount and Marshall was prohibited. However, the
following year full-scale labor traffic resumed. This vacillation reflected
divisions within the Liberian ruling group. For some politicians labor
trafficking represented an easily tapped source of income. For instance, in
1924 Gabriel Johnson, onetime Supreme Potentate of Marcus Garvey's
Universal Negro Improvement Association and former mayor of Monrovia,
acquired the lucrative post of consul on Fernando Po. For some others in
the Liberian ruling group, labor migration was a drain on an essential
resource. In 1924, due to internal and external pressures, the Liberian
legislature prohibited migration from the county of Grand Bassa. The next
year, it appeared as if the labor traffic might be unexpectedly canceled
altogether after a diplomatic imbroglio involving the Liberian consulate. No
Liberian laborers were sent in 1925, and only forty were sent in the first six
months of 1926.
Complaints about the labor traffic appeared in the Liberian press in
February of 1925. The Agricultural WJrld, commenting on the visit to
Liberia of the governor-general of Spanish Guinea, said: "We would drop
this hint just here . . . that unless we see more of our boys returning home
when the time for which they shipped to Fernando Po is out . . . certain
steps will be taken to put an end to the labor shipping contract, if this part
of the Agreement is not satisfied . . . . " A year later the Liberian News
both assured and threatened by saying that the labor demands of the
American Firestone Company would have no effect on the shipment of
workers if "our boys are treated more humanly [sic] than heretofore by the
authorities at Fernando Po. "
In March of 1925, President C. D. B. King visited Fernando Po. He
explained that Liberia was about to embark on a vast program of internal
development (involving the investment of American capital by the Firestone
Rubber Company), which would interfere with the overseas shipment of
labor. Nevertheless, while on Fernando Po, King held out the promise of
business as usual. Taking a different tack in an address to the Liberian
legislature, he subsequently emphasized the conservation of labor.
The Search for Labor 143
Friction continued. In August of 1927 the branch of the Camara Agricola
charged with apportioning laborers, La Junta Prorrateadora, attacked the
noncooperative attitude of the Liberian government. For his part, the
Liberian consul, George Johns, protested that deductions from some
workers' pay amounted to almost six months' salary. In October of 1927 he
wrote disapprovingly of the landing of approximately two hundred laborers
who had been shipped from Sinoe, Liberia, under the mistaken impression
that they were going to Monrovia.
In 1927 Liberia cancelled the 1914 agreement. The Fernando Po's
economy appeared to be on the verge of collapse. Only eighty thousand
hectares were under cultivation, and it was estimated that forty thousand
Fang workers from mainland Spanish Guinea would be needed to put the
maximum amount of land into cocoa production.
The following year the
majority of labor on Fernando Po was from Rio Muni.
However, their
numbers were insufficient to maintain the colonial economy. This forced the
planters and government to go much farther afield. In 1927 the idea of
colonizing the island with Asian workers was proposed, and early in 1928
the governor-general suggested that workers could be found in China or
Although Asian labor was discussed, help was closer at hand. Allen
Yancy and Samuel Ross, the superintendents of Maryland and Sinoe
Counties in Liberia, stepped into the breach with private labor agreements.
In early 1928 a private agreement was concluded between the Sindicato
Agricola de Guinea and a group of Liberian citizens headed by Ross.
Edward Barleycorn was one of the negotiators on the Spanish side. The
thirty-nine-year-old Fernandino had been educated in Sierra Leone, where
he had known President King at school. The Sindicato promised to pay the
Liberian recruiting agents for 3,000 laborers at 9 each. It also promised
to provide transportation and a bonus of 1,000 for each 1,500 laborers
shipped. Ross paid $2.50 per head into the Liberian treasury, which gave
the national government an interest in the labor operation.
Yancy also concluded a private labor agreement with overseas users of
Liberian labor. He and Ross, along with associates and subordinates,
managed to ship over 2,000 workers to Fernando Po. Between the autumn
of 1928 and December 31, 1929, 2,431 workers were sent to the island:
1,005 from Cape Palmas and 1,426 from Sinoe.
In 1930 when the tr!J.ffic
was under international investigation, shipments from Maryland County were
still in progress.
In June of 1929 investigation of this traffic came from an unexpected
source. The American government announced that there had come to its
144 The Search for Labor
attention evidence of a "slave trade" from Liberia.
Liberia was bluntly told
by the United States to effect "material alteration or radical change in
interpretation of the present agreement with Spain." In September of 1929
Liberia dutifully asked the League of Nations for a commission of inquiry.
A report was finished in September of 1930. It concluded that Ross, Yancy,
and other officials had connived at the forcible export of labor, although
"slavery" (meaning organized slave markets) did not exist.
The League of Nations condemned internal pawning and forced porterage
in Liberia. Curiously, it did not address the issue of forced labor on
Fernando Po. This is especially strange since, in the period after the First
World War, reports 9f labor abuse . had been rife.
Also, in 1930
Chief Hoto of Manohlu in Liberia directly informed the League investigators
that, after visiting the island, he was very disturbed by what he saw: "I did
not like the idea of my boys going to Fernando Po because they were not
being treated at all good down there . . . . I was not satisfied and I still am
not satisfied with the whole Fernando Po business. "
The League itself said
many workers complained that they received insufficient payment or none at
all. They were usually illiterate and rarely retained payment slips. Only in
the case of one worker was the commission able to see such a document.
The laborer had been on Fernando Po for fourteen months and carried a slip
calling for the paltry sum of 1.12.13. When workers changed employers,
they were paid only by the last employer and only for the time they were
employed by him or her.
In 1931 the African-American journalist George Schuyler visited
Fernando Po and reported that conditions were still deplorable: "In addition
to the weekly rice-and-fish ration, they [the laborers] received also a kilo of
coffee and a cup of palm oil. They revealed that on Fernando Po they were
put to work at 6 A.M., worked until 11 A.M., went to work again at 1 P.M.
and quit at 6." Living conditions were a greater hardship than the hours of
work. Laborers "lived in warehouses, fifty 'boys' being packed close
together on beds of cocoa staves and banana leaves . . . . If the 'boys'
contracted sleeping sickness, venereal disease or any of the other numerous
maladies to be caught there, the Spanish sent them to the hospital, but they
received no pay. "
The following year the Nigerian nationalist Nnamdi
Azikiwe asserted that "observers have reported that instead of 'punctual
repatriation' Spain devised a subterfuge to prefer a criminal charge against
laborers whose contracts are nearing termination, and by imprisoning them,
it derives an unjust benefit from free convict labor. "
Many observers asked how Spanish Guinea and French Gabon, where
some the laborers had been sent, could escape blame. Azikiwe thought it
The Search for Labor
odd that the "so-called commentators on Liberian affairs have failed to drag
Spain, in unequivocal terms without mincing their words into this interna-
tional debacle. "
One American journal observed that "the Liberians do not
export slaves without inducement, and in this case the inducement apparently
comes from Spaniards at Fernando Po. "
The Associated Negro Press
questioned the absence of much concern over the European role and noted
that "when the League delegates learned that France and Spain were the
nations to be censured, the matter was dropped-there was not even a
suggestion that Paris and Madrid be asked to explain. "
The Crisis, the
organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,
said that Spain and France deserved "quite as much censure as the Liberian
Government." The journal felt that the Spaniards and their neighbors had
"demanded the enslaved labor which was supplied. "
The United States went out of its way not to involve Spain in its
accusations. Madrid, for its part, denied culpability, but an internal
governmental report acknowledged infractions in the work code and coercion
in the reengagement of workers.
In spite of this, abuse continued well past
1930. Spain adhered to the Forced Labor Convention of 1930, but forced
labor (prestacion personal) was not abolished until the late thirties. In 1932
a Transmediteminea Company ship ran aground near Fernando Po with eight
hundred passengers, of which six hundred were illegal African laborers. A
French journal took the issue up and gave it wide publicity. Madrid denied
wrong doing, but, sensitive to the slavery scandal, the Direcci6n General de
Marruecos y Colonias initiated an investigation.
Six years after the League
investigation, the British Foreign Office ordered an on-the-spot report. It
was discovered that Nigerian laborers continued to be smuggled. As in the
past, many workers complained of insufficient payment. Conditions of labor
were hard, especially at the higher elevations.
In the same year, two
writers reported that illegal labor shipments continued from Liberia.
In retrospect, the official cessation in 1931 of what was perceived by
many as a "slave trade" represented the victory of American capital over a
less powerful Iberian capitalism in West Africa. Forced labor within
"reformed" Liberia continued into the 1960s, when it was condemned by the
United Nations. The Liberian ruling group's economic collaboration with
the planters of Spanish Guinea was replaced by a new economic symbiosis,
one which endured into the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Chapter 8
Creole Culture and Change
In the Franco era (1936-1968) the colonial government boasted of hispani-
cization as the fruition of the mision civilizadora which had begun with
Argelejos and Primo de Rivera. After independence in 1968 Equatorial
Guinean politicians decried Spanish religion and education as a damnosa
heritas of two centuries of Iberian imperialism. Yet, the Francoist view and
the post-independ!!nce view were both incorrect. The triumph of the weighty
hand of Spanish cultural imperialism was a fairly recent phenomenon. It
went hand in hand with the economic triumph of Spanish imperialism, a
triumph only fully achieved after World War I.
The Protestant Paradigm
For most of the years between 1827 and 1930 the Fernandinos were
economically and culturally turned toward British West Africa, and many
remained attached to an Anglo-Saxon cultural paradigm. Rene Pelissier has
commented, "One is able to start from the hypothesis that the Fernandinos,
concentrated in Santa Isabel or San Carlos, traditionally imbued with an
inaccessible Anglo-Saxon superiority, underestimated these generations of
miserable [Spanish] functionaries, of Cuban deportees and merchant-colonists
whom they saw march past from 1858 until the Great War. "
The failure
of Spanish colonialism in the 1860s had been a cultural and political reprieve
Creole Culture and Change
for the Santa Isabel community. Significantly, "pidgin" English became the
lingua franca, even among the Bubi, and remained so well into the twentieth
Just as the intermediary economic role of the Fernandinos had parallels
elsewhere on the West African coast, so too their culture was part of a larger
West African cultural ecumene. "Creolization" is a facet of the more
general process of westernization and occurs with the juxtaposition of an
uprooted black population and European cultural and economic dominance.
In such a society, given the opportunity to accumulate wealth or status, or
both, the upwardly mobile will exhibit many of the facets of the worldview
and life-style identified as "creole."
The material aspects of the "creole" life-style have been described by
In Sierra Leone, "in order to distinguish themselves from the
indigenous peoples, the creoles tended to identify themselves closely with the
European communities and their values. "
In late nineteenth-century Lagos,
"the elite's distinctive life-style defined the group, set it apart from the rest
of the population, and gave content and meaning to elite status. "
process was not peculiar to West Africa. In South Africa, thousands . of
miles away, economic change, including the creation of individual land-
holdings, brought with it many .of the traits seen on the Guinea Coast.
There, in the nineteenth century, "small-scale commercial [African] farmers
built square houses, and stocked them with furniture, crockery, cutlery,
the like; they bought the bulk of the food that they consumed,
sent their children to boarding-schools, and were a mainstay of agricultural
societies or associations. "
Superficially, the Fernandino community resembled many of the "elite"
communities which sprang up in the aftermath of British abolition and
activities. Recently, in studying the westernized group in Lagos,
Kristm Mann has chosen to study it "as an elite rather than a social class. "
An elite is a group marked off from others by prestige or wealth, or both.
She notes: "In simpler or smaller-scale societies a single elite may perform
a. number of different roles, or, as in Lagos, the few persons who perform
different roles may form a single elite." Elites "share common interests and
a common culture. This common culture finds in a distinctive
style of life learned through formal and informal training . . . . ,7
Although the African settlers on Fernando Po maintained contacts with the
groups in Lagos and elsewhere and although their life-style came to resemble
that of their compeers on the coast, they should not be analyzed as an
"elite." The settlers did not constitute simply one strata within a colonial
society. Rather, the creole settlement constituted an arrested colonial
148 Creole Culture and Change
nucleus, rather loosely connected to the rest of the island's
elite, to be an elite, must be accorded a degree of status by those outside It.
It is significant that the Bubi viewed the newcomers as "Poto," a term first
used for the small poor maroon settlements of refugees from Sao Tome and
Principe. The Fernandinos belong somewhere on a .continuum that would
run: from semi-autonomous groups like the Ambakistas of Angola. to the
colonial creoles of Sierra Leone. Only in the twentieth century did the_Y
become part of an articulated system of classes, as Europeans and their
capital created a new colonial hierarchy. . .
To outsiders the community presented a defensive and acculturative face.
It emerges from European documents through the prism of and
European hopes and expectations. The testimony of present-day
is also colored by years of cultural indoctrination. The cultural paradigm
presented as desirable in nineteenth-century Santa Isabel was undoubt:dly
European. Yet, it was obvious that the core of lgbo and other recaptt;es
was not completely deracine. In spite of disclaimers, the .
community was an African one constantly in touch with an Afncan mtheu.
For instance, missionary doctrine had little impact on general patterns of
marriage and kinship. .
After 1858, in spite of its reluctance to abandon Its home follow_ the
Baptists to Cameroon, the Clarence/Santa Isabel . remmned
Protestant in its sympathies. Even after the I_IUSSionaries .left,. many
Fernando Po children continued to be educated m . In
Santa Isabel itself, many African Protestants conducted their own rehgious
services and literacy classes.

In spite of what seemed to be a gloomy prognosis for
work, it was resumed in 1870 under new auspices. The Spanish
of 1868 had proclaimed freedom of religion. In August of 1869 a Bnttsh
ship's captain and a member of his crew visited Fernando Po and to
proselytize for the Primitive Methodists. The path of the new miSSion
proved no smoother than that of the Baptists. In the 1870s and 1880s
reduced Spanish administration made unsuccessful efforts to contr_ol alien
cultural influence. The dominance of the English language (or Its West
African variant) was an embarrassment. Minor disputes continued and
eventually reported to the metropolitan authorities, who were forced to admtt
that the mission was too valuable to European colonialism to be
Women were especially important in Protestant church affmrs. In the
early 1880s, one Spanish missionary. "It is certain that
Santa Isabel will remain Protestant while there IS no one to educate the
women in the Catholic faith; I am sure that the Protestants will flee as soon
Creole Culture and Change
as the [Catholic] Sisters present themselves, because they [the sisters] will
work with the women much more we do . . . it is the women who sustain
the .Protestant mission. "
Several elderly women were an important force for
religious conservatism and the rock upon which the first wave of Catholic
proselytizing broke.
The community also contained several prominent male traders and farmers
who participated in the affairs of the Protestant mission. Most notable
among them were Joseph Palmer, Jacob Scholar, Nathaniel Cooke,
Thomas Davies, and Fred Brown. Others prominent in the Primitive
Methodist Mission were Joseph Wilson, who had been a member of the old
Baptist mission, and Abraham Savage. Foremost among the island-born
creoles was William Napoleon Barleycorn (1848-1925), whose life spanned
the period which saw the rise of his community. Barleycorn, of Igbo
descent, was born in Santa Isabel and educated in Victoria, Cameroon. In
the early 1870s the young man was a Sunday school teacher and a member
of the Native Missionary Class, where he was assistant society class leader.
He also preached in Bubi in the village of Basupu. In 1871 he gave up a
small trading store and became the assistant of a European missionary
working at San Carlos (North-West Bay). At the beginning of 1873 he went
to San Carlos as the head of the Primitive Methodist day school.
Barleycorn's skills were manifold: he served as Spanish and Bubi
interpreter, schoolmaster, native assistant minister, and, finally, ordained
missionary. He went to England several times and in 1881 was received by
a conference in Hull as a probationer. Three years later he was placed on
the list of regular ministers. He also obtained a Spanish teaching certificate
after studying for two years in Barcelona. By the 1890s Barleycorn
appeared to be the tacit head of Santa Isabel's creole community. At the
time of his death in the 1920s, he was a patriarchal renmant of the period of
Anglophone and Protestant dominance.
Not all the components of the "creole" life-style were present in all creole
communities, nor did all members of such communities participate in the
life-style to the same extent.
Among those who had the means, salient
characteristics were conspicuous consumption and strict maintenance of
social distance vis-a-vis subordinate groups. The social function of the
former is well known. According to Robert Merton, paraphrasing Thorstein
Veblen, "the conspicuous consumption of relatively expensive commodities
150 Creole Culture and Change
'means' [symbolizes] the possession of sufficient wealth to 'afford' such
expenditures. Wealth . . . is honorific." Furthermore, "persons engaging
in conspicuous consumption not only derive gratification from . . . direct
consumption but also from the heightened status reflected in the attitudes and
opinions of others who observe their consumption. "
Among West African
creole groups, conspicuous consumption was further abetted by the need to
distance themselves from phenotypically similar non-elite African popula-
tions. The life-style of these groups has been seen as the result of
"transfrontal cultural learning," in which the cultural paradigm was derived
from the narrow segment of European society represented by missionaries
and colonial functionaries.
We must be careful. Life-style was, no doubt,
greatly influenced by the ideas and concepts of missionaries, yet the
emphasis on conspicuous consumption in such communities should not be
seen as a direct implantation of the nineteenth-century consumption patterns
of the average middle-class Briton. Indeed, as evidenced on Fernando Po,
British visitors were usually critical of extravagance.
Conspicuous consumption can better be seen as arising from the
ambiguities inherent in being an "educated African." Dress has long been
recognized as an index of status in most cultures; the Westernized African's
dress affirmed adhesion to European culture, to which the highest value was
attached. In late nineteenth-century Lagos a newspaper noted that "unless
his opposite sex ... [wears] a guinea gown, embroidered gown, lace gown,
velvet gown, a splendid silk shawl, and other up-to-date garments that fall
to the lot of well-to-do Westerners, she is not worth call[ing] civilized not
withstanding her high education. "
The citizens of Santa Isabel were aware of the criticisms leveled against
their consumption patterns. In the 1890s James MacFoy, a Sierra Leonean
immigrant, strongly responded to a missionary's attacks on the community's
life-style. He answered criticism of a marriage ceremony by saying "Mr. P.
[Pickering] said he never saw a grand marriage as he has seen in Fernandopo
[sic] [, but] I doubt it . . . . " MacFoy also replied to other criticisms,
notably conspicuous consumption in dress. He wrote: "Mr. P. did . . . tell
the people in England that we are very imitative. . . . I believe the people
in England and in other countries make clothes and send them out for us to
wear[.] if they did not want us to put them on they ought not to sent [sic]
them out for sale . . . . "
MacFoy and others were also extremely defensive on the question of
African religion. For instance, in the 1890s he vigorously defended the
community against charges that it was rife with African "fetishism."
MacFoy asked a missionary to explain charges that MacFoy and others had
Creole Culture and Change
in their houses.
Few Africans were above European suspicion.
Wllh:UU Barleycorn himself was suspected of tolerating African religious
practices. In the autumn of 1907 an English missionary accused several
members of the Primitive Methodist church, including Barleycorn and
members of his family, of "dabbling with juju. "'7
Indigenous religious practices did, indeed, persist. In the 1880s
Barleycorn wrote to England "to ask ... for English games for my school
boys to prevent them from joining those wild semi-heathenish plays which
abound here especially at Christmas time. "
One such "heathenish" practice
was. the Nankue ceremony. At the sound of a drum at twelve midnight on
Chnstmas Eve, celebrants would begin gathering and singing a slow chant.
They moved toward the cemetery, calculating their arrival to coincide with
the dawn. Early in the 1930s, fifty years after Barleycorn's complaint
Nankue was still observed.
Perhaps more trouble to would-be cultural arbiters than the persistence of
traditional African religious beliefs was the community's sexual morality.
Many men had more than one spouse, a fact which often drew outside
criticism. As Curtin notes, to non-Africans, "polygyny stood out as a
special evil, epitomizing the low condition of women . . . . It also
caused a low birth rate, slow population growth, and, by
slow progress toward civilization. "
After the beginning of the
twentieth the debate on sexual morality, including polygyny, grew
more abrasive. Many Fernandinos left the Primitive Methodist Church. In
1905 a member of the Protestant mission criticized the use of mission
premises "for the most elaborate and shameless display on the occasion of
baptizing illegitimate children . . . . "
The English missionary added that
"rather than have the ceremony quietly performed at home they will go to
the Roman Catholic Church, where, of course, they are welcomed. " The
:ommunity's general lack of a feeling of sexual guilt was deeply troubling:
Women have sold themselves to immorality . . . . When 1 told them of it
and pointed out to them the wickedness of it all, I was calmly told by
different individuals that I must find them a husband . . . . " The male
congregants were equally recalcitrant: "When approached on the subject
they tear and rave and shout like madmen and want to know what business
it is of mine, it is a matter between God and themselves. ,zz
failed to ap?reciate the nature and function of polygyny. The
of the capital usually condoned polygyny and the incorpora-
tiOn of children from various wives. Multiple and durable unions existed
polygyny provided the family with the new wives' income from trade
152 Creole Culture and Change
agriculture. At the same time, the richer Fernandinos used marriage as a
way to consolidate property and links with the world beyond Fernando Po.
The creoles of Fernando Po were related to each other and to members
of the community in Freetown, Cape Coast, and Lagos. Officially, they
appeared highly endogamous. Misalliances, which would lead to devolution
of property, were avoided. This did not mean that "bush marriages" with
persons outside the community were not made. However, although socially
recognized, many Fernandino men would have objected to having these
marriages solemnized in church or tied to claims of inheritance. In 1899 a
spectacular case emphasized how culturally insular some Fernandinos could
be. Henry Hugh Gardner, a Fernandino and the son of a Scottish father,
was beaten by the Spanish authorities after the murder of his common-law
wife, Victoria Castellanos, an African Catholic originally from Cameroon.
Gardner had, at his mother's insistence, refused to marry the immigrant, and
Castellanos had enraged him by taking up with a missionized Catholic.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the capital of Fernando Po still
seemed to be a cultural appendage of British West Africa. The Anglophone
and Protestant orientation of the creole community appeared to be intact.
However, in the new century this would change as the Fernandinos were
subject to the cultural, as well as economic, pull of the island's European
In the twentieth century changes in creole culture more and more reflected
economic reality. The behavior of some Fernandinos was consciously
designed to allay the traditional suspicions of the colonial regime and the
official clergy. Achieving a modus vivendi with these two institutions was
essential to economic survival. New colonial conditions presented the
Anglophone and Protestant community with a severe challenge, insofar as
traditional badges of group membership became financial and political
Given the economic dominance of the British and the intermittent nature
of Madrid's imperialism, it was perhaps natural that the Santa Isabel
community was unimpressed with Spanish culture. The first Spanish
missionaries, Jeronimo Usera and Juan del Cerro, had arrived in 1845.
They soon became ill and left. In 1856 Padre Miguel Martinez y Sanz
arrived, bringing with him thirty-one religious and lay workers. He faced
a hostile or indifferent population, and was further handicapped by the fact
Creole Culture and Change
that none of the Spanish mission could speak the language of the colony.
The Martinez mission, like its predecessor, was short-lived. Most of its
members fell ill, and Padre Miguel was soon recalled to Madrid to serve as
royal chaplain.
In 1858 the Baptists left Fernando Po, and the Jesuits arrived to take their
place. The government gave the new mission six thousand duros per year
and made its head an ex officio member of the governor's council. Even
with financial support, the new group found its task difficult. Their
educational activities met with faint enthusiasm, and the Jesuits had to
content themselves with educating marginal members of the community or
transients. The order failed to make any significant inroads among the
creole population and struggled on until 1872. During its fourteen-year
presence, it employed thirty-six missionaries (nineteen priests and seventeen
coadjutors), thirteen of whom died in Africa.
In 1883 a new order, Los Hijos del Inmaculado Corazon de Maria
(Claretians), entered the field with government support and an acculturative
aim. The following year the Claretians' sister order, Las Religiosas
Misioneras de la Inmaculada Concepcion, received permission to serve with
government protection. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s these two groups
'labored to wean the creole population away from the English mission. The
colonial administration was frequently caught between the conflicting
demands of the colonial Santa Isabel population and shifting directives
handed down from Madrid. From the 1880s onwards, attempts to enforce
hispanicization created an increasingly abrasive cultural conflict.
Relations between the Primitive Methodists and the government grew
more acrimonious as the latter strove to implement the policy urged by
Madrid and the Claretians. In order to further hispanicization, the order was
subsidized. In 1901 the metropole gave them 100,000 pesetas: 40,000 for
education, 26,000 for staff costs, and the remainder for general purposes.
Increased allocations were made the following year. Nevertheless, the order
~ a s forced to admit that, after nearly twenty years of active proselytizing,
1t had been largely unsuccessful. The Claretians had also failed to inculcate
a love of the Spanish language: "In Santa Isabel, where almost all
inhabitants have imbibed English with their [mothers'] milk; even if the
majority of them understand Spanish, they nevertheless retain such an
inclination for the former, that the English preaching of the pastor is much
more agreeable to them than the Spanish of the missionary. "
In November
of 1903 the Spanish Ministry of State gave its appraisal of the situation: "To
the general amazement and great disgust of the authorities existing there and
very especially to those at this Center, it is known that the majority of the
Creole Culture and Change
nonwhite proprietors and wealthy people of their class speak only English,
and that their tastes, their affections, their customs, are all English. "
Ministry viewed the manual- training of the Catholic mission as all well and
good, but felt the standards of their teaching were too low to attract the more
sophisticated and important segments of the colonial population. If the
Claretians could not elevate the level of their teaching so as to reach these
people, the government threatened to replace them with a more effectual
order. Stung by criticism of their effectiveness, the missionaries argued
back that the prevalence of English had been much exaggerated.
Cognizant of the tenuousness of its cultural and political hold on the
colony, Spain sought to make the administration more rational and visible.
The old Ministerio de Ultramar (Ministry of Overseas Territories) was
in 1899, and the colony was placed under the authority of the
Ministry of State. In 1902 a Consultative Council for the Spanish Posses-
sions in West Africa was created under its authority. In 1925 the increasing
complexity of administration was recognized, and the colony was transferred
to the Bureau of Morocco and Colonies (Direcci6n de Marruecos y
Colonias), a department of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
In the colony itself an order of 1907 recognized the city council (Consejo
de Vecinos) and charged it with overseeing municipal concerns. In 1929 this
order was superseded by one which defined the council as the legal
representative of the town population. The body was headed by a president,
and, in addition, included the head of the Catholic mission, the sanitary
inspector, the educational inspector, and a financial officer as ex officio
members. It also included four citizens (two of whom were to be Africans)
selected for three-year terms by the head of the colony. Three members
were elected by Spaniards and educated Africans.
Santa Isabel gradually became a superficially hispanicized colonial town
where the European community, largely Spanish and Portuguese, was larger
than the Fernandino one. An influx of European males increased concu-
binage and, at the same time, exacerbated concerns about mestizaje. Overt
discrimination by the European population was masked through the
proclamation of an official policy of assimilation. The town "belonged" to
Europeans and not to the static Fernandino population.
Population statistics for the period are scanty and inconsistent. Around
the turn of the century, the population of Santa Isabel was between 1,000
and 1,500. There were 200 whites, 1;000 blacks, and a few persons of
mixed race.
In 1907 Spanish Guinea held 404 Europeans, the majority of
them on Fernando Po. Three years later the colonial capital counted 2,021
inhabitants, 1,815 of them black. Of the latter, 556 were FernandinosY By
Creole Culture and Change 155
1920 Santa Isabel had a total population of 3,530.
The white population
rose to 655 in 1923.
By the 1930s the town population had risen to almost
9,000 inhabitants. By the time credible statistics are available in the 1936,
a numerical shift is clearly obvious. The European population had increased
fivefold over the number given thirteen years earlier. There were 3,319
whites, as compared with only 623 Fernandinos.
Sierra Leonean
immigrants were still present, but their numbers were scant. The 1936
census lists 155, of whom 83, more than half, resided in Santaisabel.
Residential segregation continued to be based on socio-economic criteria,
rather than purely racial ones. The European and Fernandino communities
occupied the old town center, while subsidiary centers housed the working
population. Beneath the Fernandinos in the colonial hierarchy were those
Africans who had received primary education and some elementary technical
knowledge: clerks in government and private enterprise, renters, and small
agriculturalists, craftsmen, and work overseers. The next lowest order were
workers who had managed to distinguish themselves through rudimentary
education or by acquiring special skills. Beneath them were illiterate
workers. At the base was a substratum of unemployed illiterates.
In the face of growing Spanish economic and cultural impingement, the
creole community demonstrated a growing independence in its dealings with
the English mission. Fernandino traders and planters were sensitive to shifts
in the political climate and were increasingly unwilling to let their cultural
attachments jeopardize their position vis-a-vis the colonial regime actually in
power. As early as 1895 James MacFoy attacked a Methodist missionary
writer for depicting the Fernandinos as smarting under Spanish oppression.
Eight years later Rev. James Johnson of Nigeria noted the interconnection
between culture and economics: "A good many Natives who profess
themselves Roman Catholics are really Protestants at heart and . . . hold a
merely formal connection with the Roman Catholic Church only for the sake
of saving themselves from persecution . . . . "
English missionaries increasingly noted the weakening of the influence of
their church. After the turn of the century, a note of pessimism began to be
heard in their reports. A pastor noted economic instability was having a
serious effect on the constancy of church attendance: "The strain on our
Santa Isabel people to get every pound of cocoa . . . has compelled them to
be away in their farms for months past. . . . The labor question is acute and
a desperate struggle for existence is upon us. Meanwhile, the padres have
strengthened their entrenchments, and our whole position is one of imminent
peril. "
Insofar as the Anglophone mission lacked influence with the
colonial regime, it lost ground. The relationship between minimal bilin-
156 Creole Culture and Change
gualism and economic viability was obvious. Those who failed to master the
official language were at the mercy of interpreters in legal matters regarding
land titles and the extent of holdings. Also, in 1911 and 1912 Amelia
Vivour, the inheritor of the richest nineteenth-century landholding, asked the
Ministry of State to recognize her 1882 Protestant marriage. As the
colonizers did not acknowledge such marriages, she was well aware that the
Primitive Methodists would be of little help in her property case.
In 1919 the English mission painted a sad portrait of its educational
situation: "A very few [of the African Protestants] can read the Bible in
English with ease and intelligence, but the great majority read stumblingly
and often with little comprehension. We have not been allowed to teach
English properly, we have not been able to teach Spanish." Furthermore,
"those of our children who do not attend school spend the greater part of
their time without discipline and without guiding and restraining influ-
In 1919 there were four European Protestant missionaries on the
island. The total number of people reached by the mission was probably not
more than 1 ,000, and there was no possibility of extension.
Unlike their Protestant counterparts, the Claretians enjoyed a government
subsidy and great visibility. The hospitals in Concepcion and Santa Isabel
had been administered by the Conceptionist sisters from early in the century.
In 1916 a cathedral was inaugurated in the capital as the seat of Bishop
Armengol Coll. The state and the Marques de Comillas, head of the
Compaiiia Trasathmtica, provided the money for the project. Considering
the small size of the colonial territory, the Roman Catholic Church was quite
well represented. In 1917 the Claretians had eighty-six missionaries in
Spanish Guinea, eighty Spanish and six French. There were thirty
Conceptionist sisters, five of them French.
The number of priests and nuns caused alarm among their Protestant
coreligionists. The quarterly meeting of the Primitive Methodist mission
reported in 1925 "that the Roman Catholic priests are most energetic in
attempting to undermine our work. . . . In Santa Isabel there are now two
priests and a number of nuns whose only work is to visit the people. "
Three years later Catholic missions received the right to free and untaxed
land grants in each locality in which they established missions.
In 1922 a Protestant missionary analyzed the growing estrangement
between the English mission and the Femandino population:
Mission work on the island is not what it was twenty, or even ten
years ago. Most of the natives have quite a different temper and
attitude toward us. This change does not easily lend itself to
Creole Culture and Change
accurate psychological analysis, for many facts are operating to
produce it. The traditional social order has passed away and
nothing effective has arisen to take its place. There is an
increasing influx of natives from other parts of the coast who
introduce ideas and customs which encourage moral laxity. The
new generation of Africans feels little of that obligation to, and
dependence on, the mission which many of their forefathers felt.
Contact with Europeans, chiefly Spaniards, is much more
extensive, and the "atmosphere" in which they live and move is
not that in which humility and piety flourish. The activities of
the Roman Catholic Church have produced around us a baptised
heathenism which is ignorant, self-satisfied and unapproachable.
Added to these is the fact, that, while we have been unable to do
educational work our people have gradually come to feel their
need of education. Both boys and girls are leaving us to go to
Roman Catholic schools. A few of those who realise the need
are too loyal to our Church to send their children that way, but
such a position could not long be maintained.
In an effort to preserve their cultural and economic ties with British West
Africa, some Femandinos sent their children to be educated in Sierra Leone,
Lagos, or Calabar. This practice was frowned upon by the Protestant
mission because it gave rise to "jealousy in the Spanish Authorities . . .
[and] it is an expensive method for the parents; it takes the children from
their homes for several years and makes family life impossible, already a
weak point with the African; it constantly drains the best children from our
Sunday Schools . . . .
The Primitive Methodists, against the odds,
attempted to reopen a school. In August of 1923, they were again granted
limited permission to run a school. Once the construction of a schoolhouse
was begun, political difficulties arose. After an impasse of several years, the
government again relented, and school construction resumed in 1926. A
Spanish Protestant teacher arrived in the summer of 1927. He resigned in
the autumn of 1929 and was not replaced by another Spaniard until the
spring of 1930.
Gradually, those creoles who could drifted off to British West Africa.
For those Femandinos who did not emigrate, such as the Joneses, the
Barleycoms, and the Dougans, bilingualism became a sine qua non. The
1928 elaboration of emancipatio status, which originally had been mentioned
in 1904, made the matter essential. It gave an African European rights,
provided that a number of conditions were met. It was available from the
Patronato de Indigenas (Native Trusteeship) to Africans who possessed
158 Creole Culture and Change
academic degrees from a metropolitan institution and to those who earned an
annual salary of more than five thousand pesetas. The status provided a
niche for the Fernandinos within the colonial order. At the same time, since
the granting of "emancipation" required Spanish sanction and approval, it
was a powerful tool in determining the cultural and economic bent of the
In 1929 Maximiliano Jones (1871-1944), the island's richest black
planter, received his certificate of emancipation. His life illustrates the
ambivalences of and pulls on the Fernandina community. Although he
considered himself a British subject, as Spanish economic dominance made
itself felt, the planter made himself indispensable to the administration. As
a survivor par excellence, Jones indeed had cause to say, toward the end of
his life, "I only have reason to thank the Spanish Nation. "
Jones's devotion to the colonial order was sycophantic. One benefit of
his loyalty was government support in his disputes with other Africans. In
1913, for instance, he protested to the colonial government about the
advances of a young man, Issac Scholar, toward one of his daughters,
Mariana Mehile, and demanded Scholar's severe punishment. A misalliance
would, in the mind of the wealthy Fernandina, destroy the social prestige
and economic position he had fought so hard to attain:
Head of an honored family, which I succeeded to form in
a habitually jaded atmosphere, I believe that I have
succeeded, by my conduct and that of my family, to make
myself worthy of guarantees for my honor, which is
assumed to be fully assimilated to the civilization which
... you came to bring us; thus I have believed, and,
because of this, full of great confidence, I placed myself
in the hands of the Administration of Justice . . . .
"Civilization" demanded the preservation of the family, and Jones urged
the colonial administration to take note of "the distinction which it is so
convenient to make, between those of us who assimilate the imported
civilization and those who, rejecting it, cling to savage customs." A Spanish
official, who sided with Jones, advised the governor-general that such
protection was essential for the achievement of the colonial mission.
Scholar was sent to Bata in Rio Muni for a year as an example to others.
Although he held himself up as a paragon of European family morality,
Jones's position on polygyny was typical of members of his community.
When he died in 1944, he claimed to be unmarried, a move designed to
Creole Culture and Change 159
avoid the rules of inheritance laid down by European law. He left holdings
to children he had fathered by seven women, in addition to property left to
ten "officially" recognized offspring. Many of his female "friends" already
held small farms which they were expected to pass on to their children.
Jones was bilingual and took the precaution of assuring that his children
were. Of his ten "legitimate" children, two sons, Daniel and Adolfo (Adolf)
were trained in Spain. The latter became an electrical engineer after
spending four years in Saragossa. The daughters of the family, Clara,
Mabel, and Juana (Joan), also completed their education in the metropole.
Mabel's wedding in Barcelona in 1921 was a social occasion of great
significance for the Fernandina community. The three-story beaux-arts
mansion Jones built for Mabel with materials imported from Europe had no
rival in either Lagos or Freetown. At his death Jones had shares in the bank
of British West Africa, as well as Brazilian national and municipal bonds,
imperial Japanese government bonds, and Chilean government bonds. In
addition, he owned urban property on Rawdon Street in Sierra Leone and in
Spain at Bilbao.
Given his continuing commercial contacts with British West Africa,
combined with his heavy real property investment in Spanish Guinea, the
planter's economic and cultural loyalties were divided. Toward the end of
his life, Jones's nationality became of some concern to him. In his will he
announced: "I declare expressly that I possess English nationality from
having been born of an English father and from not having undertaken the
proper steps in Spanish legislation to have acquired the latter nationality."
He professed "nevertheless, my deep love for Spain, for in her territory
where I was born, I have fought, I have loved and suffered, and almost all
of my life has transpired. "
Throughout his long life Jones continued to enjoy an extremely amicable
relationship with the administration. In 1939 he was described as the
"wealthiest man in the island" and as one "with a pull with the Govern-
ment . . . . "
Jones's son, Alfred, the island's second wealthiest individual,
was the assistant director of agriculture and a future head of the Camara
Agricola. Like most Fernando Po planters, the Joneses supported the
Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. During it the younger Jones exulted:
"Today Generalfsimo Franco, taking into account the [importance] that the
small exuberant island of Fernando Po has for Spain, is paying p r i m ~
interest to its development, not withstanding the hard struggle that Spain
sustains .... "
The family's fortunes remained intact until the 1960s,
when they were swept away by the first post-independence government.
Chapter 9
The Bubi: Acculturation and
In 1962 a Spaniard writing about Fernando Po described "a new period of
[agricultural] expansion with improvement in the yields, in which the Bubi
population now participates, compensating for the decline of the Feman-
dinos. "
Because there were relatively small numbers of both Femandinos
and Bubi, both were bypassed as a source of labor. These two groups
instead tended to become small-scale agriculturalists dependent on inputs of
migrant labor and European credit. Bubi farmers were often persuaded to
lease their plots for less favorable ones in order to allow European
agrobusinesses (casas fuertes) to amalgamate farms into plantations. Most
black agriculturalists were in debt to large European companies, a situation
only foreshadowed before 1930. In the period after the Second World War,
it intensified and attached the islanders ever more firmly to Spain.
In 1949, 98 percent of the Bubi were already baptized Catholics, and 86
percent were married according to Catholic ritual. At the end of the 1940s
supposedly all the islanders had some knowledge of Spanish, and 75 percent
knew how to read and write.
In 1962 school enrollment stood at 90 per-
cent, and the ratio of schools to population was high. In addition, the almost
nonexistent Spanish presence of the 1800s had been replaced by a growing
number of Europeans.
By 1960 the number on Fernando Po had risen to
4,222, out of a total island population of roughly 63,000, the highest
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 161
European population in West-Central Africa: one per square kilometer,
versus 0.2 in Cameroon and 0.3 in Gabon at the end of the decade.
Important for future political and cultural relations was the fact that the
two parts of Spanish Guinea were very differently impacted by Spanish
cultural imperialism. Only after 1926 was a concerted effort made to extend
Spanish missionizing into the interior of Rio Muni. The Fang remained
resistant both to the colonial economy and to the colonial religion. They had
come into contact with French missionaries from Gabon in the early 1840s,
but little was accomplished. Many Fang remained devoted to the traditional
Bieri religion, and an increasing number of young men who worked in
lumber camps embraced the transethnic Bwiti movement.
Fang cultural resistance contrasts with the seeming radical erosion of
traditional Bubi belief on Fernando Po. Under the Franco regime, a
proponent of Spain's "civilizing mission" remarked: "The modem Bubi
remembers absolutely nothing of his ancient customs nor any of the ancient
history of his people, [he] classifies all of this disparagingly as things of old
people . . . . "
This is an overstatement. Bubi religion, although subject to
intensive outside attack, has retained some of its integrity through the
present. In the late 1940s a Spaniard observed that "there ... exists in him
[the Bubi], established deep in his soul as in the other primitives, fear
towards the supernatural, towards the Morim6 [spirits] and [he has] respect
for all the little sorcerers and wizards that still exercise their secret craft. "
Two decades later a European observed that "in the highlands of the center
and south there are villages in which fresh traces of the [religious] past are
conserved. "
What was precolonial belief like among the Bubi? As with other aspects
of Bubi culture, many beliefs and religious institutions underwent rapid
change and evolution in the nineteenth century. While some represent
age-old ideological complexes, others evidence more recent changes. Some
religious terms, like Poto for the chief god, are of fairly recent origin and
reflect outside influence.
Different nineteenth-century visitors came away from Fernando Po with
highly different views of the islanders' religion. To some it was remarkable
in its lack of "idolatry." To others it represented one of the best examples
of humankind bowing down to "wood and stone." On the one hand, in 1862
a Spanish traveler wrote: "They do not have idols and the only thing I have
seen in the tribe of Basile is a hut expressly made for the cult of a divinity
for whom there is no image or simulacrum . . . . "
On the other hand, in
the 1880s Catholic missionaries maintained that the Bubi worshipped only "a
tree and a stone. "
162 The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
Venerated erect-standing stones are, indeed, still found throughout the
island. These stones, however, did not serve as the image of a deity, but
rather as the image of spiritual energy-energy essential to the fecundity and
vitality of the locale. During the nineteenth century many people moved to
new zones for reasons of trade and abandoned the menhirs in their region.
Later, when many were rediscovered, the Bubi averred that the stones had
not been erected by humans but, instead, were signs from the spirits. Many
menhirs were located at commercial crossroads and places for palavers.
Sacred stones had three functions: they were places where this world
encountered the world of the spirits; places that acknowledged the presence
of the earth goddess, and places that marked the initial settlement of
families. The latter were frequently encountered. A Spanish missionary
remarked: "Elders of Batete respected the old man bobo bo Boake and in
his honor, on the same spot where he died, they placed a sacred muaririmo
stone that perpetuated his memory, together with a small chapel in whose
interior they placed a small bowl. "
Memorial stones are especially
abundant in places like Batete, Moka (formerly Riabba), Ureka, and Ombori.
At times there was only one stone, which represented the founding male.
At times there were two, representing the founding couple. In other cases
there was a third, smaller, stone which represented basoome (children).
Because the meDhirs were exposed to the elements, small chapels were built
close to them for the maintenance of perpetual fires. The chapel was marked
by small stones, and the sacred precinct was protected by rites of purifica-
tion. The principal function of rites before "earth-mother" monoliths was to
insure agricultural and human reproduction.
In some locales sacred trees were venerated as places where the spirits of
the other world manifested themselves. Sacred trees were considered the
great terrestrial wand of the spirits, and their vitality was a sign of the
continued productivity of the area. In the 1890s a Spaniard remarked: "We
see in many points trees consecrated to religious ceremonies, all with their
bases surrounded with stones. "
Some spirits were also venerated in caves.
Overarching the physical manifestations of Bubi religion was a complex
theology. The Bubi worshipped a supreme spirit and a dense variety of
lesser spirits. Creation was the act of an original supreme god, after which
the universe was divided into heaven and earth. Heaven was the abode of
the supreme force, while the earth was dominated by humankind and spirits.
The high-god was called Rupe in the north and Eri in the south. The name
Poto was also used in the south to designate the Supreme Being; its use
probably reflects alien influence, and it may be derived from the word for
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 163
"Portuguese." In addition, the Bubi also believed in a female agricultural
spirit, Esila (Bisila), who guarded nature's fertility.
The "Great Spirit and Supreme Lord," Rupe or Eri, created all things and
gave life to pure spirits, bajula, and to bad spirits, bajula babe. These latter
spirits are the cause of humanity's calamities. The supreme god also sold
souls to the spirits of the ancestors of families, called baribO in the north and
morimo (m'mo) in the south. The latter protected and guided the human
heart until death. Each settlement had its titular spirit. Morimo or baribO
were arranged hierarchically in accordance with the fear and respect they
engendered among the living. Especially honored were the spirits of
sanguinary chiefs who had been famous in battle.
A variety of religious specialists existed, surmounted by the chief priest,
the Abba Mote. The office is probably not very old. The first Abba Mote
had nine successors, six of whom reigned in the past century. As with
political leadership, the chief priestly office passed from brother to brother.
The Abba Mote lived in seclusion in the southern part of the island and was
surrounded with prohibitions. He could not bear arms, could not take long
trips, could not sleep away from his residence, could not eat food which was
not cooked in a sacred fire, and could not eat deer or goat. He participated
in governmental councils and was not subject to civil authority.
The primacy of the Abba Mote rested on belief in powers received from
Maobuabioko, the principal spirit of Riabba and all the island. This spirit
had the title of Takidye ("he who governs the land). Through it, the Abba
Mote was in communication with the spirit who made heaven and earth.
The most sacred ritual of the Bubi religion was undertaken by the Abba
Mote to communicate with the Maobuabioko. He communed with the voice
of the spirit through a sacred stone which was anointed every day. The
Abba Mote and three ritual assistants also looked after a special and
symbolic. "yam of God." In Riabba the populace waited until the Abba Mote
planted the Eberl ole, or the sacred plot, before they began to plant their
own. After the harvest, solemn thanksgivings (Roomo) to protective spirits
were made. These were attended by a great number of people from all over
the island. At them, the Abba Mote announced the _beginning of the year
and made the dry season arrive by spreading the ashes of a sacred fire over
the land.
Besides the Abba Mote and his assistants, there were numerous ether
religious specialists, bojiamo or mohiammo, who communicated with the
spirits though ritual and who transmitted the spirits' will to the faithful.
Both men and women could be religious specialists, and each village had
one. Membership was not hereditary, but came through skill at divination.
164 The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
Entrance was granted after the completion of certain rites. The aspirant first
dedicated himself or herself to the cult of one spirit; the object of devotion
was determined by a consultation with the Abba Mote. Once the spirit was
known, the candidate would seek it out in a cave, in a forest rock, or in a
lagoon, as was indicated by the supreme priest.
Priests had considerable influence. A chief could not be elected without
the consent of a bojiammo; neither could a legal marriage be celebrated, nor
a war declared, nor peace made. The bojiammo could bring about the
dissolution of a marriage when this was demanded by titular spirits. Since
death in Bubi belief was seldom the result of natural causes, priests had to
seek out those responsible and punish them by asking them to indemnify the
deceased person's family.
The Attack on Tradition
From the 1840s onward throughout the nineteenth century, the Spanish
attempted, without much success, to win over the Bubi. In 1845 Guillemard
de Aragon gave the Bubi gifts and guns, and left Fernando Po believing that
he had succeeded in securing the allegiance of the chiefs of Banapa, Basupu,
Basile, and Rebola. Given the brevity of his visit, the gesture was purely
symbolic. Fifteen years later Governor Jose de Ia Gandara witnessed a Bubi
parade and personally gave each chief some liquor, tobacco, and cloth. In
the early 1860s the Jesuits began working at Banapa. They started a
boarding school for thirty to forty pupils and by 1863 had baptized
ninety-five children, five of whom died. From Banapa the Jesuits moved out
to work in other villages, and the colonial government planned to construct
a mission house for them at Rebola, near the capital. This effort came to
naught in the wake of the colonial retrenchment of the 1870s.
When the Claretians arrived on Fernando Po, some colonial administra-
tors were skeptical of their desire to act as buffers between the colonial
government and the Bubi. In addition, missionizing was anathema to Ule
positivistic anticlericalism of certain imperialists. Joaquin Costa, an ardent
colonialist, opposed the Claretians because he considered missions to be an
extravagance. Christianity was beyond "the embryonic intelligence" of
Africans. In his opinion it was not surprising that Africans were confused
by Christianity "if we of the Aryan race, children of the nineteenth century,
heirs of a civilization of six thousand years, educated in the universities of
Europe, are affected the same way . . . . "
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 165
In 1887 a government official and two clerics went to Riabba to induce
Moka to acknowledge Spanish sovereignty and to persuade the Bubi to
become laborers. The embassy did not have success. Moka continued to act
independently of any other authority. The Bubi-Spanish relationship tended
to oscillate between tepid friendship and flashes of hostility. Many times it
was marked by indifference. A visitor observed: "I once received the
answer: 'The whites are fish, not humans; they may. well lose their way
onto land. . . . [I]n the end they again enter their ships and disappear with
them at the point of the horizon in the ocean. How can a fish own land?'"
Furthermore, "even the Bubi near Santa Isabel respect the Spanish Governor
not perhaps as their superior, but as chief of the town of Sta. Isabel . . . .
The other Bube worry themselves about him about as much as he worries
himself about the Bube. "
In the next decade Mary Kingsley was told a
story of the continuing inability of the Claretians to influence the natives:
"A priest had enterprisingly settled himself one night in the middle of a Bubi
village with intent to devote the remainder of his life to quietly but
thoroughly converting it. Next morning, when he rose up, he found himself
alone, the people having taken all their portable possessions and vanished to
build another village elsewhere." According to Kingsley, "the worthy Father
spent some time chivying his flock about the forest, but in vain."
In spite of such setbacks, the Claretians persisted. From 1889 to 1913 the
fathers maintained a health station and mission at Musola, 450 meters above
sea level. They also worked in Basile and at Banapa, where a vocational
school was begun in 1886. Its head, Padre Ciriaco Ramirez, set up a forty-
hectare experimental farm which employe4 127 Kru within a year and which
had a cigar factory staffed by Cubans. In 1886 the fathers also founded a
mission at the village of Bolobe in the Concepcion area headed by Fathers
Manuel Puente and Joaquin Juanola, the latter fluent in Bubi. In 1887 a
mission was established in San Carlos through the goodwill of the botuku of
the Batete.
Missionary success was far from rapid. By the end of the 1880s the
San Carlos mission had baptized only thirty-one Bubi and made eight
catechumens; their school contained thirty-four children. In Concepcion
there were eight converts and fourteen children in school.
In spite of slow
progress, the mission astutely exploited the propaganda value of symbolic
advances. For example, in 1888 the son of the botuku of San Carlos was
baptized in Madrid in the presence of Queen Maria Cristina; the follow"ing
year the first Catholic marriage was solemnized between a Bubi couple.
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
Increased contact did not deepen comprehension of, or respect for, the
inner workings of indigenous religion. In the late 1880s one Claretian
The religion of the Bubi does not consist of anything other than
the adoration of demons that they call M6 or Morimo. They
offer it sacrifices of goats, yams, and palm wine (tope), in order
that it will not harm them or prevent them from obtaining
something good. They are not jealous of their religion, for at
various times we have attacked their Morimos, which are some
stones, with sticks and they have not manifested any indignation,
but, instead, admiration and fear, believing that we are able to do
more than their gods. One time I was with the second [noble]
after the king, before one of the principal Morim6s, and I began
to hit the stone with a stick, and a poor old little woman began
to run . . . . The poor creature believed that the demon would
come out and. was going to kill all of us; and he that accompa-
nied me, in spite of being a courageous man, trembled, and
asked me not to hit the stone further, because something bad
would happen to me.
In spite of their rather jaundiced view of belief, the
had as their persistent aim the peaceful wmnmg over of Bub1 pohtlcal
authority. By 1888 the missionaries in Concepcion in the
friendship of Moka. In June the king sent an embassy whtch contamed
of his sons and various relatives, escorted by one hundred men of the lohua
armed with rifles and lances. Moka offered the missionaries his protection.
He also warned them not to molest their Bubi neighbors. He reminded all
that he had the power of life and death. Moka's embassy was repaid with
a visit from the head of the Concepcion mission to Riabba in September of
1888. In 1891 the commander of the gunship Pelicano visited the paramount
in the company of Padre Juanola, who interpreted. The Spanish flag was
raised and given a rifle salute. Six years later Governor-General Adolfo
Espaiia decided to visit Moka personally. Espana's three-day was truly
spectacular; he was received with pomp and .Moka flew flag.
Moka wanted to manipulate European mfluence wtthout bemg over-
whelmed by it, obviously a course fraught with dangers. The Claretians were
a potential source of both help and political meddling. of
the superior of the mission at Batete stopped the decap1tat1on of a botuku m
the Balachli area who had disobeyed Moka's orders. Eight years later the
padres came to the aid of one of Moka's subordinates. The chief of Mueri
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 167
was accused of failing to respect the administrator of San Carlos and
imprisoned. The Bubi escaped and then convinced the Claretians to present
his case to the governor-general. The chief was restored to his village. In
February of 1891 Moka visited the village of Bantabare, where a man,
accused of causing a death, refused to pay a fine. The king's presence,
seconded by that of a missionary, secured the fine.
Use of Europeans as mediators and facilitators did not translate into
acceptance ofhispanicization. In early 1889 Moka flatly denied petitions to
start missionary education in his area, although seven years later he did
accept one missionary innovation-potato cultivation. At the end of the
1890s the king of the Bubi continued to present a good face to the European
interlopers, in spite of ominous rumblings from his own camp. When, in
late 1897, three missionaries went up to Riabba from M usola, they were well
received. Moka's lieutenant, Sas Ebuera, objected to their visit and returned
cloth they had given to village children. Moka was angered and took away
Sas Ebuera's house. It became increasing clear that the two men differed.
Moka was for a policy of conciliation designed to retain as much freedom
of action as possible. His chief subaltern stood for a firmer policy. It was
not long before the tension inherent in the situation burst forth into violence.
On September 1, 1898, Sas Ebuera manifested open resistance to the
Spanish. A week later a group of fifteen men was sent against him, but
Bubi strength caused the force to return home. As in the past, the
confrontation was resolved through the intercession of the Claretians. Moka
died in February of 1899, one day before the arrival of a missionary. The
Spaniard was not allowed to view the body and was not told where it was
buried. Malabo, who would have been Moka's successor, was pushed aside
by Sas Ebuera. The coronation took place in October of 1899, and a few
days later the new king forbade all contact with Europeans.
The Bubi and the Labor Question
The collapse of the authority of the Bubi kings and the erosion of Bubi
religious belief were paralleled by attempts to bring the Bubi within the
colonial labor pool. The continued forced migration of laborers to
Fernando Po was a testament to the ongoing problems posed by epidemio- .
logy. After looking at Fernando Po, Gonzalo Sanz Casas disagrees with any
argument that "forced labor in Africa [was] a historic necessity of capitalism
to overcome the resistance of non-capitalist modes [of production] and, [that]
at the same time . . . forced labor is a form of transitional exploitation,
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
distinct from the 'typical' exploitation of capitalism, that is to say, free
labor." On Fernando Po the chief problem was the scarcity of labor rather
than "the tenacious resistance of the indigenous population to wage labor. "
Disease impacted Fernando Po even more than Sao Tome and Principe.
In the late nineteenth century the Bubi population seemed to be wending its
way toward extinction. The island may have had a population of as many
as 30,000 people in the 1820s.
There were an estimated 20,000 inhabitants
in 1848.
In 1900 the estimate was no more than 14,818, and in 1911 the
Bubi numbered about 10,000.
A year later, according to another authority,
there were only about 6,800 out of an African population of 12,545 (54
Nineteenth-century epidemics are a probable cause of this
decline: yellow fever in 1868; smallpox in 1889; whooping cough in 1893,
dysentery in 1896. Late in the century trypanosomiasis was introduced on
the eastern side of the island by Fang laborers from Rio Muni. By the last
decade of the century, the consequences of population decline were very
Some colonialists persisted in seeing the Bubi as the island's labor force.
Indeed, some Bubi had voluntarily done plantation work for wages as early
as the 1880s. The majority of workers on the new cocoa estates in the San
Carlos area were Bubi at the tum of the century. They came on their own
terms, as day laborers or to do piece work, and they hired themselves out
to both Femandinos and Spaniards. Missionaries alleged that the Bubi
laborers were attracted by the availability of alcoholY Occasionally, they
acted as labor tenants. Planters complained that they were an unstable labor
force, prone to sudden disappearances back to their villages. Moreover, they
were few in number and they disliked the poor working conditions on
plantations. Most Bubi preferred to meet their cash needs by selling crops,
small stock, or products of hunting and gathering. "Pagan" Bubi were
ostracized by their families if they worked for outsiders, so plantation labor
was said to be restricted to Christians.
Some Bubi continued to harvest
palms on colonial plantations without permission; in retaliation, planters
destroyed trees, supposedly driving certain of the Bubi harvesters to
In the early 1890s a governor-general demanded village labor for public
works. Eventually nearly one hundred Bubi were procured and set to work
on bridge construction. The governor-general's death in 1893 ended plans
for further public works, and the conscripted Bubi returned to their villages.
Five years later the towns of Balacha, Kodda, and Bepepe took to arms,
under the leadership of botuku Esasi, to resist the imposition of forced labor.
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 169
The issue was finally settled, more or less to the Bubi's satisfaction, without
In 1904 Sas Ebuera "revolted" against European authority. His resistance
was specifically sparked by Spanish attempts to step up labor recruitment.
All "unemancipated" Africans (that is, those not specifically given European
rights after petitioning) were obliged to give two years' labor service on a
European plantation. Emancipated Africans could avoid this labor draft by
providing an African to serve in their place or by paying a fee. The replace-
ment, or prestado, had to labor for four years on a selected plantation. Each
Bubi bese council was made responsible for fulfilling the labor quota.
Sas Ebuera, at the instigation of one of his subordinates, Bioko, and of
his half-Kru commander, Pasy, refused to provide labor. In June of 1904
the Spanish official at Concepcion ordered him to present himself, but the
monarch refused. Even after he was visited by the police, Sas Ebuera
remained obdurate. Reinforcements were sent, and, when again confronted,
the paramount gave himself up and was arrested, along with his children.
Upon arriving in Santa Isabel, on the first of June, 1904, the deposed king
refused to speak or to take food or medicines, agreeing only to receive Padre
Juanola. The latter succeeded in instructing the prisoner in the Catholic
faith, baptizing him with the name of Pablo. Sas Ebuera's death in custody
marked the end of a phase of Bubi culture. Malabo, who followed as Bubi
paramount, became a pitiful alcoholic relic of a bygone age.
In 1906 the governor-general informed Malabo that chiefs would have to
provide laborers for plantations. The Bubi of San Carlos revolted and were
put down by an expedition led by Manuel Balboa and Daniel Kinson. The
defeated were forced to sign three-year contracts. By the end of the year,
around 1,800 Bubi were working on plantations.
The coerced laborers
worked as little as possible, and the colonial administration was unimpressed
with their performance.
In April of 1907 Spanish officials were again instructed to have Bubi
present themselves for road work. The next month a decree announced that
disputes would henceforth be settled by European authority if the Bubi could
not solve their differences among themselves. At the same time, Bubi chiefs
were told to plant cotton, cocoa, tobacco, palm oil, and rubber trees. The
colonial government promised that those who showed greatest zeal would
receive stipends. In September the chiefs were told to present their
"unemployed" men to Spanish delegates and post commandants. These
islanders were to work as contract laborers on plantations during September,
October, and November. The government official receiving the labor was
empowered to distribute the workers among plantations already employing
170 The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
approved labor. Bubi liable for labor draft, but not participating, would
have to perform corvee labor for forty days, instead. The coerced wage
laborers were proniised one unpaid Sunday per week to devote to their own
subsistence farming. The salary was one peseta per day, including a ration.
Payment was fortnightly. Women who presented themselves "voluntarily"
were paid three reales per day. To enable workers to spend the night at
home, the hours of work were from six to eleven and from one to six. At
the end of their three-month service, workers were free to continue working
on plantations without contracts.
In May of 1908 a decree said that Bubi who had not presented themselves
for farm labor in the previous year would be subject to forced labor for forty
days. Recalcitrant botukos were to be denied gunpowder, guns, and knives.
In June of 1910 Governor Luis Dahan issued an order which produced the
last major Bubi resistance. He demanded labor; this time resistant chiefs
were threatened with confiscation of their guns and hunting licenses.
Resentment was especially strong in the south. A rumor circulated that Bubi
,, were being beaten to death on European farms and that Malabo had been
kidnapped and was being held prisoner in Santa Isabel. On July 19, three
unarmed African guards went to Balachii to convey the government's labor
demands. Armed Bubi refused to discuss the matter. On their return the
African guards reported to a Spanish corporal who then returned to the
village with three armed guards. The Spaniard spoke to Luba, the local
ruler; and attempted to make him promise loyalty to the colonial regime.
Violence ensued, and when the colonial forces marched on Balacha, they
found it deserted and burned it. The Bubi put up guerrilla resistance, but
eventually Luba was killed. As in the past, the two sides negotiated.
Malabo remained as Bubi paramount; he had not joined the revolt, although
he had not actively opposed it.
Many ji.nqueros were dissatisfied; the Camara Agricola criticized the too
lenient policy which, it felt, had precipitated the clash:
The act of rebellion of those degenerate savages, ignorant and
idiotic men of the forest, that led them to perpetrate cowardly
murders on the persons of three representatives of the authorities,
one of them European, can never be pardoned. If some reason
(arbitrariness, abuse, oppression) might have existed, still we
would in conscience be able to concede a generous forgiveness.
But when the act comes from the stupid and sensitive pride of an
idiotic and criminal little king, followed by the petty chiefs of his
villages, drunk and useless, that believe themselves powerful and
fearless by the work and grace of our too humanitarian policy of
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
attraction and protection, that grants them considerations that no
other nation recognizes among the savages of its colonies . . . it
demands harsh, long and cruel punishment.
In September of 1910 the Camara Agricola recommended the creation of
a force to capture escaped laborers. A sometime governor, who prided
himself on his enlightenment, was forced to admit that there were "many
who believe that the policy that ought to be followed with the natives of our
Guinea colonies is one of terror . . . in order to bring them to civilized life
and that the policy which is employed, titled attraction, is judged by those
natives as a sign of weakness. "
Subsequently, Maximiliano Jones praised
Governor-General Barrera for implementing "a much more practical native
policy ... than that of attraction, invented by 'salon Africanists' and
carrying to conclusion a series of expeditions in which he succeeded by very
personal [and] superhuman exertion to leave the prestige of our Fatherland
better established. "
The following year, Bubi anger over loss of land and labor abuse led to
protest meetings, allegedly organized by mission Africans. They maintained
that all the land on the island belonged, by right, to the indigenes. Given the
plethora of Bubi complaints, the metropolitan government ruled that forced
labor for the benefit of private employers was illegal.
This response to the
labor question did not stop the erosion of n a t i ~ e rights, however. For
instance, in 1913, the Trasathmtica received the right to harvest oil palms on
crown lands.
Since most unconceded land was deemed "crown land "the
Bubi saw this as a further diminution of their sphere of economic ac;ivity.
The disarming of the Bubi was not completed until1917, by which time over
a thousand rifles and over a million cartridges had been turned over to the
The end of Bubi resistance did not mean the end of the Bubi population
decline. It was only in 1909 that the government opened a medical
laboratory in Santa Isabel. In 1915 there was an outbreak of trypano-
somiasis, and it was another eight years before the governor-general
introduced stringent methods for the eradication of the disease. In 1928 the
Patronato de Indigenas (Native Trusteeship) introduced personal health cards
and began a program of hospital construction. Nevertheless, the 1930
League of Nations commission found evidence that disease, especially
sleeping sickness, was still prevalent.
172 The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
Instruments and Elements of Change
By the close of the first decade of the twentieth century it appeared, to
colonialists, that the core of Bubi cultural and political resistance had been
broken. The last Abba Mote died in 1909, and his sacred fire was
extinguished. Malabo, who lived on into the 1930s, experienced widespread
disobedience to his vestigial authority. Disaffection came from men like
Bioko, who had revolted with Sas Ebuera and who lived on in Moka until
the 1940s. The same was true of another survivor of the past, Borik6,
botuku of Basakato del Este.
New instruments of cultural change came with the new century. In 1904
the colonial government set up the Patronato de Indigenas. Since most
islanders were considered legal minors, the ostensible aim of this body was
to protect its wards. At the same time, it tried to bring them nearer the
norms and control of the metropole. The government financed the Patronato
by levying a special tax on exported coffee and cocoa. Its head was the
Apostolic Vicar (bishop) of Santa Isabel, assisted by a committee composed
of the governor-general and other clerical and administrative personnel who
sat on its governing body, the Junta de Patrones. Before its abolition in
1959, the Patronato had acquired landholdings, orphanages, warehouses,
small businesses, and savings organizations. The body, along with the
Claretians, controlled education and the colony's press.
The Patronato, among other things, urged the reduction of English
missionary influence. In 1871 the Primitive Methodists had attempted to
penetrate the interior, but failed to make contact with Moka. In 1896 they
officially asked to establish themselves at the king's court and were
Elsewhere missions were set up with a modicum of success.
Notable were Basupu and San Carlos. The Bubi called the English mission
at the latter place Rikara, "English Town." Initially the missionaries had
settled in the midst of the Bubi village, but accomplished little; only four or
five families were won over. Later, at a location near San Carlos, the
Primitive Methodists attracted more adherents.
They encouraged cocoa
farming and the construction of storied houses with zinc roofs. School was
taught in English, and European dress was encouraged:
The English
mission supposedly gave out medicines only grudgingly, and many Bubi left
it to join with the Catholic mission in Batete.
In 1904 the Claretians bought land for their own San Carlos mission from
Gueningo Boukabouka, a man of supposedly Protestant sympathies. Three
years later the Spanish traveler Enrique d' Almonte visited the Primitive
Methodist Mission at San Carlos "whose powerful influence . . . according
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
to what was said years ago in the Ministry, was so great that it surpassed
those exercised by the Catholic Spanish missionaries. "
He went away
unimpressed. Some of the dwellings were roofed with zinc, but he classed
the majority as shacks and concluded that the mission had accomplished little
in over twenty years of existence. The English mission followed an
ecumenical line, a position favored by the Claretians. More and more Bubi
came to Catholic services after the Protestant pastor affirmed that salvation
did not depend on denomination.
The Bubi, especially missionized Bubi, were pulled into the colonial cash
crop economy. This development was fraught with dangers for traditional
life because it pulled them away from political and religious authority. For
this very reason, the spread of cocoa held special interest for missionaries.
The Claretians encouraged its cultivation from the 1880s onward and used
their cocoa-growing expertise as a tactic in proselytization. At the end of the
nineteenth century, palm oil was -still the dominant Bubi export, but some
cocoa was bartered for firearmsY By 1908, as demand increased, traders
were sending agents up into Bubi villages to barter for cocoa, rather than
waiting for it to be brought down to the beaches. Bubi-grown cocoa was
badly processed, and while it found a ready market, it sold at a lower price
than that of the plantations. In 1910 Angel Barrera guessed that the Bubi
produced around one third of the cocoa crop. During the First World War
a German anthropologist also thought the islanders' contribution to be one
third of Fernando Po's total production.
An employee of the John Holt
Company estimated the islanders' share to be even higher.
Missionized Bubi were encouraged to gain freehold title to land. The
Spanish missions adopted the practice of parceling out their land concessions
in lots of around two hectares per family. They also helped other Bubi,
including some non-Christians, to register land claims. Besides indicating
the transition to "civilization," such claims had an added benefit: title to a
minimum of one hectare provided exemption from forced labor. Islanders
were sometimes refused concessions because they lacked a surname and
proof of identity, but missionized individuals could get around this by
producing a baptismal certificate. Some Bubi obtained considerably more
than a hectare in freehold according to records covering the years between
1909 and 1916.
Prominent Bubi farmers procured labor in a variety of ways. A f r i ~ a n
contract laborers who fled Fernandina and Spanish plantations were a
potential source of workers, but, as in the 1840s, relations were bedeviled
by disputes over women.
As of old, but in a new economic setting, corvee
labor was performed for chiefs, and younger men worked for older men to
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
accumulate marriage payments. Debt pawns may also have been used as
laborers. In addition, people with little land worked for those who owned
more. Probably the most common form of labor on Bubi farms was
familial, supplemented by that of neighbors when needed.
Cocoa brought socio-economic change, including increased wealth, to
some Bubi. However, on the whole, the effects of the colonial imposition
were deleterious. Indeed, it seemed that the Bubi were on their way to
extinction. An idee fixe of the Claretians became the concentration of the
declining population in larger villages. The missionary journal La Guinea
Eepaiiola frequently petitioned the colonial authorities to aid in the project.
The Claretians cited the precedent of the reducciones in South America and
argued that a similar policy on Fernando Po would facilitate conversion. In
1908 the missionaries established the Maria Cristina (in Bubi, Ripafia or
"Spanish Town") mission among the Batete Bubi. Under missionary
direction the one hundred inhabitants constructed wide streets, a church, and
various schools. Upon Christian marriage each Bubi was given a plot of
.; land for the production of cocoa and other crops. Two years later the
missionaries inaugurated a chapel in the missionary settlement of Zaragoza
de Etomu. A year later the inhabitants of diverse Bubi settlements were
gathered together in San Antonio de Ureca, under the authority of Botuku
Boo and his subaltern Bioko. After 1916 four villages were combined into
one in the Basuala area. In the same year the settlement of Batorichi was
joined to Baho. Ityoy or Batui and Bakona (or Rikona) joined with Bareso
in 1919. Bilelipa took over three villages (Rapi, Riaso, and Oloco), as did
Balacha: Bosoco, Mmado, and Alahu. On the Moka plain, where eighteen
settlements had existed as dependents of the villages of Chiefs Bioko and
Malabo, the number was considerably reduced. In the 1920s three villages
(Basupu, Baricana, and Bariobata) were merged to create Bariobe. In spite
of the power of the colonial church and state, some Bubi continued to resist.
In 1931 the people of the reduccion of Baho abandoned the settlement and
returned to their previous homes.
It was in the period after the First World War, a period of demographic
decline and cultural dislocation, that the first small group of
mission-educated Bubi emerged to take their subordinate place in the colonial
hierarchy. In 1914 an escuela external (secondary school for nonboarding
pupils) was established. The largest ethnic group in attendance was Bubi.
Among the school's most notable graduates was Apolonio Eria, who obtained
a Spanish teaching certificate and went on to serve as an auxiliary teacher in
the Official Children's School. In 1914 a "Minor Seminary" was also
formally opened, although some youths had begun to prepare for the
The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance 175
priesthood as early as 1912 at the Banapa seminary of Nuestra Senora de
Pilar. It was some time before the first priest, Joaquin Maria Sialo, was
ordained. The sisters of the Immaculate Conception pursued a gradualist and
authoritarian policy. In 1911 the sisters were accused of employing the girls
at the school in Basile in heavy manual labor. The following year the
Claretians were accused of detaining girls against their parents' wishes and
forcing them into Catholic marriage. Imelda Makole, a trainee at the sisters'
school in Basile, became the first African woman to enter the Association of
Native Religious Auxiliaries. Few followed in her path; in 1918 there were
no more than five African nuns.
In the late 1920s, 903 boys and 282 girls were receiving secondary
education through the Roman Catholic missions in Spanish Guinea, almost
all on Fernando Po. Five thousand boys and 1,034 girls received primary
education. To create loyalty to the metropolitan regime, youths were taken
to Spain for education, the avowed intent being that, on their return, they
would be colonial propagandists. As a Roman Catholic missionary pro-
claimed, the purpose of Spain's missions was "to instruct hundreds of youths
in letters, arts and trades, the knowledge of which has been frequently
employed . . . on our men-of-war and merchant steamers." The utility of
missions was already seen as "many of the natives educated by the mission,
are at present already able employees in the government offices and heads
and administrators of important commercial enterprises, on their own and as
employees. "
From the colonialist point of view, the missionary vocational
school at Banapa rendered outstanding service in this regard.
By 1930 what remained of the Bubi population seemed to be firmly under
European cultural and political control. A decade later, the pattern was even
more clearly visible. Fernando Po had 1,766 fincas indigenas (native plots
of less than twenty hectares) in 1940, and Bubi cocoa represented eleven
percent of exports. The islanders produced 1,629 tons of cocoa, and their
plots had a combined area of 9, 811 hectares, of which a little over half were
ceded with title.
A small number of Bubi, especially those with access to
land, entered the African elite, as was the case with the Mehile family, who
intermarried with Fernandinos.
However, these and other indigenous
strivers faced continuing problems. Many Bubi farmers mortgaged their
plots to Europeans and could not keep up with payments.
Tradition continued but, in some cases, was a travesty of its former self.
Malabo died in 1937 and was succeed by his brother, Alobari. In 1943
Governor-General Mariano Alonso Alonso married a Bubi princess and
briefly proclaimed himself Bubi king, before being removed from office after
furious Bubi protests.
Oriche, a brother of Alobari, was the last Bubi king:
176 The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
"By the time of Oriche's death in 1952, the group's traditional religion and
institutions had been set aside for the ways of Roman Catholicism and
modem education. "
It seemed as if Fernando Po were one of the most
acculturated areas in Africa. A Spanish anthropologist commented:
Perhaps none of the African natives are able to show a transfor-
mation of their culture as rapid and complete as that of the Bubi,
with the complete forgetfulness of their ancient customs and
traditions and with a total and complete adaptation, within the
possibilities of the native mind, to the customs and mode of life
of the European peoples. It is hardly thirty years ago that the
Bubi were a completely savage race, with their barbaric customs
and primitive laws; today the Bubi group, although reduced, is
an example of what the black African might be in the future
when he will have completely assimilated civilization.
In the 1960s the Bubi were described as "quasi-literate well housed cocoa
farmers proud of their Spanish citizenship. "
In the colony, Bubi customs
were "harassed or suppressed altogether in favor of the only true values of
triumphant Hispanism: love of the Spanish mother country, the Caudillo
[Generalissimo Franco] and the Church. "
Yet, traditional religion persisted
under the watchful eye of Spanish colonialism. Indeed, in the late 1960s
Bubi traditional priests emerged as important participants at rallies of the
Union Bubi political party. In the late 1980s Equatorial Guinea's director
of cultural affairs noted that "there exist Fang, Bubi, and Ndowe customs
[which] ... continue spreading .... The Bubi ... welcome morimo . ..
in their catacombs in order to adore the dead and purify their spirits. " He
acknowledged: "Thus is the reality of the Guinea we have inherited from
our ancestors. The Church wanted to combat these practices, but was not
able. "
. A "Model" Colony
The changes that began on Fernando Po in 1827 were truly momentous, but
few could have predicted the developments which transformed the island by
the mid-twentieth century. On Fernando Po, from the 1820s onwards,
change was perceptible, but, at the same time, gradual. Economically the
period 1830-1880 was dominated by the palm oil trade. The colonial
nucleus implanted by the British did not have the power to impose itself on
the island as a whole, although it did contribute to Bubi population decline
and political change. In the years from 1880 to 1910, the islanders were
increasingly pressured by the Fernandinos for coastal lands. Creole
agriculture reached its zenith, although it did not overcome the problems
presented by lack of credit, labor, and infrastructure. After World War I the
energetic push by Spanish officials and agrobusiness reduced, but did not
destroy, the economic role of the Fernandinos and transformed the majority
of the Bubi into permanent wards of the colonial state.
A continuing thread throughout the period 1827-1930, and beyond, was
the dearth of labor and recurrent charges of labor abuse. The "slavery"
scandal of 1929 and 1930 was only one indication of the deeper problem of
securing labor for a viable plantation economy.
The pattern of labor
recruitment and use which began in the 1820s continues into the 1990s
although pools of laborers have all but dried up. Increasingly "modernized,;
178 Epilogue
and monitored migration has failed to check the tendency towards abuse.
Migration has always veered toward coercion; the most serious complaints
were registered in the 1820s and 1840s, in 1900, 1930, and 1975.
Had the island been conquered early on by Europeans, as were its
neighbors, the economy would have, no doubt, paralleled theirs.
Fernando Po would have developed an extroverted economy based on a
landless, enslaved, and ethnically distinct population. A more tantalizing
speculation is: what would happened if the colonial powers had turned a
blind eye to the illicit smuggling of labor in the fifty years after 1880?
There are interesting comparisons. Of nearby Cameroon, Ralph Austen
notes that "had slavery been allowed to continue . . . it is conceivable that
Duala planters might have been able to survive the vicissitudes of inter-
national price fluctuations, thus providing Cameroon with much-needed
elements of large-scale indigenous entrepreneurship." The Duala experience
"challenges the contention that slavery, even in an African context, need
necessarily be classified as an institution out of step with economic
'' modernization. "
Attention has been drawn to the development of a "brash and vigorous
African capitalism" in parts of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
It is tempting to applaud findings of such development. However,
it was a mixed blessing. As Rodney noted for nineteenth-century black
planters in Guyana: "To survive, members of this embryonic class had to
exploit village labor and immigrant labor. As landlords and employers, they
had exploitative relations with tenants and displayed towards workers
attitudes which were necessarily those of the capitalist class. "
The same
situation obtained on Fernando Po and elsewhere in West Africa. The
island's experience itself highlights ambiguities surrounding the emergence
of capitalism in modem Africa-ambiguities which persist today. If, as we
enter the twentieth-first century, we have learned anything, it should be that
"development" is meaningless unless we determine "development for
whom?" At what cost?
The Creation of the "Model" Colony
In the decades after 1930 Fernando Po succeeded at last, in colonialist terms.
Especially in the Francoist period (1936-1968), colonial development was
molded by two considerations, one minor and one major-prestige and
patronage. The regime gained through the creation of a colonial
showplace-an achievement denied its predecessors. Importantly, a network
of marketing syndicates, banks, and companies was created with links to the
regime. The planters secured a stable labor supply, and the economy was
manipulated for the benefit of large national companies.
Success was highly managed and terribly vulnerable. Statist economic
policies, along with oligopolistic manipulation of cocoa and coffee prices,
assured invested capital a handsome return and transformed the previously
marginal indigenous population into dependent and largely complacent cash
croppers. Spanish colonialism, unlike British colonialism in Nigeria or
Kenya, was able to coopt an exiguous and dwindling native population.
Fernando Po became home to a peculiar dichotomy. Workers were
invariably alien; managers and landowners were nationals, whether African
or European.
The Great Depression and the subsequent Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)
affected the island's economy in different ways. The value of the island's
exports fell immediately after 1930.
During the Civil War, Spanish
colonialists on Fernando Po declared for Franco, and the island became
important in the war effort. Moroccan troops were sent in support of the
Francoists, and Rio Muni, which supported the Republic, was subdued'by
October of 1936. Fernando Po contributed almost all of the Nationalists'
crude lumber and almost half of their copra and palm oil. Spain's neutrality
during World War II benefited the economy through diversification. The
impact of the war was directly felt in 1940 when Franco sent 2,500 Spanish
and Moroccan troops to thwart any British attempt to take the island. The
war situation cut down on shipping between Spain and its colony. At the
same time rubber production stepped up, and cocoa planters were able to
shift to coffee and and other crops.
Overall, Spanish colonial imports increased dramatically. From 1932 to
1934 only three percent of the metropole's imports came from the Canaries
and the African colonies. In 1940 the budget of Spanish Guinea was
separated from that of Rio de Oro; until then the Biafran colony had
underwritten Spain's desert colony. From 1940 to 1946 Spanish Guinea's
and the Canaries' percentage of Spain's imports rose to sixteen percent. The
year 1942 marked the height of colonial imports in percentage terms; Spain's
small empire accounted for twenty-one percent of its imports. The Canaries,
which were listed as a colony for the purposes of trade statistics, contributed
half of these imports, whereas Spanish Guinea contributed most of the rest.
By 1945 almost three quarters of Spain's coffee came from its sub-Saharan
After 1930 new firms entered the colonial field; for instance, in 1933 the
Trasathintica's shipping line was taken over by the Transmediteminea firm.
180 Epilogue
In addition, there was a marked tightening of oligopolistic control of the
economy. In 1941 the Barcelona-based Casa de Guinea superseded the old
Union de Agricultores and coordinated the casas fuertes. The Francoist
colonial economy was guarded by three groups: forestry concessionaires,
resident Spanish finqueros, and metropolitan tropical produce companies
(among them ALENA, GAESA, and CEGUI). Economic development was
overseen by marketing syndicates, formed between 1935 and 1946, which
guaranteed a higher than world price for bankers and planters. The Cocoa
Syndicate, the Coffee Syndicate (PROGUINEA), and the Forestry Syndicate
were each run by a metropolitan central committee. Key individuals in
government had an interest in highly inflated prices for colonial produce.
The burden for what was in essence a grand colonial subsidy was borne by
the metropolitan consumer. This would have been difficult in a liberal
democratic capitalist regime. It was possible under an authoritarian capitalist
As early as 1930, it was apparent that Spain intended Fernando Po
(especially its uplands) for use by European cultivators. At that time 18,000
hectares had been conceded to Africans, while some 21,000 hectares had
gone to Europeans, a situation which remained legally frozen until1948. In
1942 and 1943, out of 40,000 hectares devoted to to coffee and cocoa, only
4,000 were in the hands of the Africans (see Map 10.1).
By the 1960s the
coastal band on the north, east and west, up to 2,000 feet was almost
completely devoted to Spanish plantations; in 1964, 600 European plantations
occupied about 90,000 acres (on the average about 150 acres per plantation),
and 40,000 acres were occupied by African farms (averaging thirteen acres
per farm).
Other land-use statistics indicate that fifty-five percent of the
island's cultivators controlled less than three percent of the crop producing
land in 1962, while 2.3 percent of the farms controlled fifty-three percent of
the land in use. In 1968 there were 1,142 cocoa farms of less than ten
hectares, 242 of from ten to thirty hectares, 124 of from thirty to 100
hectares, and 100 larger than 100 hectares. The 1,608 plantations covered
twenty-nine percent of Fernando Po's surface.
Migrant labor fueled agricultural development. With the cessation of the
Liberian labor traffic, some labor was obtained from Cameroon. In 1933 the
French government complained to the League of Nations about continuing
labor abuse. The following year the French commissioner for Cameroon
and the Spanish governor-general signed a labor agreement which permitted
the annual recruitment of 4,000 laborers. The agreement did not prove
satisfactory to the French, and in early 1936 it was abrogated. Thereafter,
Nigeria became the predominant source. In 1942 an Anglo-Spanish labor
Estates assumed to
be in European hands
:.-::.::: Est.ates assumed to
be 1n Creole hands
-< <-:
1 < 'J Reserves
Abandoned estates
- - - Proposed road
- Rivers
10 km
10.1: Land between social categories, 1941. Reprinted from Journal of
Afrzcan H1story, 35 (1994), with permission from Cambridge University Press.
SOURCE: William Gervase Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers on
Fernando 1880s to 1910s," Journal of African History, 35 (1994), p. 191, citing "Viaje
a las poses1ones Espaiiolas del Golfo de Guinea, Abrii-Septiembre de 1941."
agreement permitted the recruitment of up to 250 Nigerian laborers per
month. It recognized a fact; in 1941, 10,000 Nigerians were already on
Fernando Po. In 1954-1955 a very conservative estimate of the total
number of Nigerian migrants on the island was. "about 15,800. "
In the
182 Epilogue
mid-1960s there were approximately 100,000 people on Fernando Po, of
whom the majority were Nigerians, two thirds of them Igbo, lbibio, and Efik
A stable source of labor benefited the remaining large- and medium-scale
farmers. In addition, the Patronato encouraged Bubi agricultural coopera-
tives. The first was founded near the village of Moka (formerly Riabba) in
the late 1930s with the aim of acquiring seeds, fertilizer, and tools, and
organizing the sale and distribution of harvests. After 1945 there were
cooperatives in, among other places, Moka (European vegetables and
poultry), Batete (cocoa, palm oil), and Baho Chico (cocoa, oil palm). After
1952 the Delegaciones de Asuntos Indigenas (Offices of Native Affairs)
oversaw lands, the buying and selling of harvests, and the making of loans
against native lands. With the abolition of the Patronato in 1959, members
of cooperatives enjoyed full shareholder rights. However, the organizations
remained under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture. Fernando Po had
thirty cooperatives in 1962 with a membership of 1,610.
By the late 1960s
the organizations were flourishing. In 1964 and 1965, companies based in
the metropole were responsible for 36.5 percent of the cocoa crop, while
42.8 percent was produced on lands controlled by Spanish family concerns
or resident farmers. The remaining 20.7 percent was largely composed of . .
the cooperatives's harvests.
Increased costs for migrant labor allowed Bubi
cooperatives to compete more effectively with European plantations, and in
1968 the African organizations had a budget of $600,000.
Bubi agriculture was abetted by the partial demographic comeback of the
community. In 1936 the indigenes numbered 9,352, or thirty-six percent of
the total island population of 25,770. In 1942 the number was almost the
same (9,350). This was out of a total population of 33,980, of whom
30,661 were African. In 1950 the Bubi numbered 11,355, a significant
increase considering their long decline, although they comprised only 28.9
percent of the total population.
After 1945 once rampant diseases declined
in importance, although new ones took their place; Trypanosomiasis was
practically eliminated. Whereas at one time forty-three percent of the
populace had been listed as infected, by the end of the 1940s the rate was
one case per 4,000Y Mortality from smallpox and yellow fever also
declined. Unfortunately, malaria, gonorrhea, and syphilis remained
significant health problems.
In 1960 there were approximately 20,000
Bubi, 3,000 Fernandinos, 6,000 Europeans, 35,000 Nigerians, 170,000
Fang, and 20,000 others (including the coastal Ndowe of Rio Muni) in
Spanish Guinea.
The Bubi and their Spanish overlords appeared to be prospering by the
1960s. For the colony as a whole, the balance of trade was favorable; in
1964 reached million pesetas.
Ninety percent of colonial produce
was shipped to Sprun. The production of high quality cocoa reached a total
of about 35,000 tons in 1968, three times Sao Tome's production.21 Coffee
also did well. In the midst of this prosperity, the Bubi and the Fernimdinos
were small and relatively wealthy communities, linked to the casas fuertes
by debt. The Bubi, under the leadership of Enrique Gori Molubuela
became loyal servitors of the colonial regime. Among the Fernandinos'
Wilwardo Jones Niger and Armando Balboa were prominent in the municipai
government of Santa Isabel, and Alfredo Jones continued to play an
important part in the Camara Agricola. The Bubi and the remaining
Fernandinos became, in the main, extremely loyal supporters of the colonial
status quo. The colonial administration and the Church continued to oversee
a network of and social services. In the 1960s, in spite
of the mterest of men hke Salome Jones in Nkrumahist and other
Pan-African thought, island opinion, represented by the Union Bubi and the
Union Democratica Fernandina, was strongly in favor of continuing links
with Spain.
What appeared as ethnic tension (Bubi/Fernandino versus Fang) at the end
of the 1960s was a reflection of the vast differences in overall wealth and
class structure in the two parts of Spanish Guinea. Whereas Spanish capital
converted Fernando Po into an agricultural "factory," its penetration of
Rio Muni was delayed until after the Second World War. Through corvee
labor and taxation, the Spanish attempted to transform subsistence cultivators
into peasants, although the territory's low population density and the
possibility of out-migration militated against this. Educational services and
infrastructure were retarded, and Spanish military rule often harsh. The
economic mainstay, silviculture, was not labor intensive. In 1955, 625
kilograms of cocoa per hectare were produced on Fernando Po on the
350 per hectare were produced in the same In
1962 Rw. Mum had only four agricultural cooperatives, with a total
of 2,622.
Although in 1968 the mainland had a population of
200,000 (versus 62,612 on the island), timber was its only
maJor export (250,000 tons of okume wood).
Its population of peasants
and fishermen had an annual per capita income of $40, compared to between
$250 and on Po and Annobon. In the 1960s only 3.4 percent
of the was cultivated for cash crops, compared with 24.4 percent
of the Island. In 1960 cash crop agriculture employed eighty-three percent
. t,
184 Epilogue
of the wage laborers on Fernando Po versus only twenty-five percent of
those in Rio Muni.
When, in 1964, Spanish Guinea was given limited autonomy, tensions
between the constituent parts increased. It became obvious that African
nationalism in Rio Muni would, at some point, demand independence. When
independence came in 1968, the colony's highly artificial economy collapsed
like a house of cards. President Francisco Macias Nguema (1968-1979), a
Fang from Rio Muni, made it clear that he was going to dismantle the
inherited colonial economic organization. Large Spanish agrobusinesses
were removed, along with Bubi cocoa cooperatives and the remnants of
creole fincas. Eventually most private properties were seized. The export
economy ran down and practically ceased to function by the late 1970s. The
Bubi and the Fernandinos, having weathered the onslaught of European
imperialism in the nineteenth century, were dispossessed by an indigenous
dictatorship in the twentieth .
-. j.
184 Epilogue
of the wage laborers on Fernando Po versus only twenty-five percent of
those in Rio Muni.
When, in 1964, Spanish Guinea was given limited autonomy, tensions
between the constituent parts increased. It became obvious that African
nationalism in Rio Muni would, at some point, demand independence. When
independence came in 1968, the colony's highly artificial economy collapsed
like a house of cards. President Francisco Macias Nguema (1968-1979), a
Fang from Rio Muni, made it clear that he was going to dismantle the
inherited colonial economic organization. Large Spanish agrobusinesses
were removed, along with Bubi cocoa cooperatives and the remnants of
creole fincas. Eventually most private properties were seized. The export
economy ran down and practically ceased to function by the late 1970s. The
Bubi and the Femandinos, having weathered the onslaught of European
imperialism in the nineteenth century, were dispossessed by an indigenous
dictatorship in the twentieth.
Land Concessions on Fernando Po, 1862-1890
Nov. 7, 1862 Edmundo J. Smith Mar. 17, 1879 John Armobiz
Nov. 7, 1862 Juliana Ysabel Apr. 20, 1880 Elias S. Hollist
Linslager May 24, 1880 Tomas R. Prince
Aug. 3, 1863 Eduardo Langland July 13, 1880 Guillermo A.
Aug. 19, 1863 Jose Mufioz y Vivour
Gaviria July 17, 1880 Enrique M. Torp
Aug. 19, 1863 Faustina Carlota July 11, 1881 J.M. Valcarcel
, .
. , Betty July 15, 1882 Compafiia
July 29, 1864 Carlos Marsons Trasatlantica
July 29, 1864 William Richard Sept. 19, 1882 Compafiia
Sept. 28, 1864 Anselmo Guzulla Trasatlantica
Feb. 16, 1865 Catholic Mission Aug. 16, 1883 Laureano Diaz da
(Jesuit) Cunha
Feb. 16, 1865 Heirs of Tomas July 8, 1884 Francisca Cristian
Juvert July 3, 1884 John Holt
Apr. 17, 1865 Saturnino Perez July 18, 1884 Pascual (nephew of
July 17, 1865 Compafiia Agricola Margarita .Gardney)
y Comercial de July 19, 1884 James R. MacFoy
Fernando P6o July 23, 1884 Francisca Cristian
Feb. 16, 1866 Esteban Szola Aug. 1, 1884 Esteban Furtado
Rezonizki [sic] Aug. 1, 1884 Gaily Kenedy [sic]
Feb. 12, 1867 Miguel Real Aug. 9, 1884 Julian Licencio
May 7, 1868 Senan Prat Aug. 14, 1884 Cristiana Valcarcel
Apr. 13, 1868 Macoly
Nov. 27, 1868 Manuel Arcadio Sept. 26, 1884 Desiderio Simon6
Jan. 3, 1873 Bernardo Jose de Sept. 15, 1884 Mateo J. Martien
Barros Sept. 19, 1884 Ramon Ripoll and
Jan. 16, 1873 Andres Williams Jaime Giralt
Mar. 3, 1873 William Holland Sept. 23, 1884 Laureano Diaz da
Dec. 8, 1876 Theophilus Parr Cunha
July 8, [1877] Bernardo Jose de Sept. 26, 1884 Tomas Smith
Barros Oct. 6, 1884 Daniel Kinson
July 15, [1877] Laureano Diaz a
Dec. 1, 1877 John Holt
Oct. 6, 1884 Jaime Giralt and
Ramon Ripoll
Nov. 27, 1884 Estif Canbell [sic]
Sept. 1, 1884 Enrique Torp
Sept. 2, 1884 Nicomedes
Sept. 5, 1884 Daniel Kinson
Sept. 5, 1884
Sept. 11, 1884 William Wilford
Jan. 31, 1885 Guillermo A.
Apr. 21, 1885 Francisco R.
Apr. 24, 1885 Daniel Williams
Mar. 16, 1886 Guillermo A.
Mar. 20, 1886 Francisco Romera
Aug. 6, 1886 Juana Piple
Nov. 3, 1886 Cipriano Gainza
Feb. 3, 1887 J. E. Gibney
Feb. 5, 1887 Francisco Romera
Mar. 23, 1887 Richard W. Burnett
Mar. 24, 1887 Luis Lolin
Mar. 24, 1887 Francisco Zamora
Apr. 2, 1887 Cipriano Gainza
Apr. 20, 1887 Compafiia
June 7, 1887 Jeronimo
July 15, 1887 Francisco Roca
Sept. 12, 1887 Ramon Ripoll and
Jaime Giralt
Oct. 2, 1887 David Tailor
Nov. 30, 1887 J. E. Gibney
Dec. 10, 1887 Cipriano Gainza
Jan. 14, 1888 Laureano Diaz da
Jan. 19, 1888 Jorge Ston (George
Jan. 20, 1888 Mariana Brook
Davies and
Jan. 21, 1888 Tomas Smith
Feb. 14, 1888 Luis Izaquirre
Feb. 14, 1888 Jaime Barte y Riera
Feb. 14, 1888 Gregorio Garcia
Feb. 21, 1888 Felipe Norman
Mar. 19, 1888
Mar. 24, 1888
Mar. 24, 1888
Apr. 3, 1888
Apr. 11, 1888
Apr. 12, 1888
Apr. 28, 1888
May 5, 1888
Aug. 16, 1888
Oct. 18, 1888
Oct. 30, 1888
Nov. 12, 1888
Nov. 13, 1888
Dec. 4, 1888
Dec. 6, 1888
Jan. 17, 1889
Feb. 18, 1889
Feb. 25, 1889
Sept. 2, 1889
Nov. 11, 1889
Nov. 18, 1889
Nov. 18, 1889
Nov.21, 1889
Nov. 22, 1889
Nov.23, 1889
Dec. 7, 1889
Jan. 1, 1890
Feb. 8, 1890
Feb. 24, 1890
Feb. 24, 1890
Mar. 9, 1890
Mar. 9, 1890
Mar. 16, 1890
Mar. 17, 1890
Mar. 17, 1890
May 1, 1890
June 21, 1890
July 5, 1890
Nacimiento J.
Enrique V. Carillo
Francisco Romera
Francisco Zamora
y Gertrudiz Rizo
Samuel Prince
Mission Catolica
Simon P. Collina
Tomas Collins
John Bonasky
Tomas Williams
Juliana Barley
Manuel Furtado
Tomas A. Davies
Peter Stone
Guillermo Scott
Franklin Williams
F. R. L. MacFoy
Esteban Benson
Rugston MacFoy
Ely S. Hollist
Vereda B. and
M. Pascual
Francisco Zamora
Jeronimo Lopez
Tomas Lyon
Alice Nicol
Sabina Rhodes
William Johnson
Antonio Mendez
Jeremias A.
Sarah Bernet
Jose Rojas
Jack Freeman
July 14, 1890
Aug. 7, 1890
Sept. 30, 1890
Jorge J. Valcarcel
Yabes Smatt
Sept. 30, 1890 Juan Castillo
Sept. 30, 1890 Jonnes Viduel
Davies [sic]
Oct. 17, 1890 Jaime E. Gibney
SOURCE: Archivo General de Ia Administraci6n Civil del Estado, Alcala de Henares, Secci6n
Africa, Caja G-104, expedition 4. This list was compiled and recorded by Francisco Canaras
y Castillo, Secretary of the Colony, February 16, 1912.
1. Armin. Kobel, "La Republique de Guinee Equatoriale, ses resources
potentielles et virtuelles. Possibilites et development" (Thesis, Universite de
Neuchatel, 1976), p. 198; African Contemporary Record, 1968-69, ed. Colin Legum
and John Drysdale (New York, 1969-), p. 489; Spain in Equatorial Africa, Political
Documents, vol. 2 (Madrid, 1964), p. 51.
2. Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15-18th Century. Vol. 3.
The Perspective of the llbrld (New York, 1982), p. 142.
3. Fernando Po's neighbors have those characteristics generally associated
with European insular possessions. See J. C. Caldwell, G. E. Harrison, and P.
Ouiggan, "The Demography of Micro-States," llbrld Development, 8. 12 (1980), p.
4. Walter Rodney, A History of the Guyanese llbrking People, 1881-1905
(Baltimore, 1981), pp. 1-18.
5. Marvin Harris, Patterns of Race in the Americas (New York, 1964).
6. Philip Curtin, Death by Migration: Europe's Encounter with the Tropical
llbrld in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1989). See also Alfred Crosby,
Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (New York,
7. Sir Harry Johnston, George Grenfell and the Congo, vol. 2 (New York,
1910), p. 962.
8. Jose Maria Cordero Torres, Tratado elemental de derecho colonial espafiol
(Madrid, 1941), p. 259.
9. Richard Burton, A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome, vol. 1 (London,
1864), p. 15 (quoting T. Waitz).
10. The epidemiological costs of the movement of Arab laborers into tropical
Africa can be seen in attempts to use Algerians in Senegal in the nineteenth century
and Moroccans on Fernando Po in the twentieth. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste,
Geografla historica de la isla de Fernando Poo (Madrid, 1947), p. 201; Philip
Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex (New York, 1990), p. 39.
11. I. K. Sundiata, "Twentieth-Century Reflections on Death in Zanzibar," The
International Journal of African Historical Studies, 20. 1 (1987), pp. 45-60.
12. Frederick Cooper, "Islam and Cultural Hegemony: The Ideology of
Slaveowners on the East African Coast," in The Ideology of Slavery in Africa, ed.
Paul Lovejoy (Beverly Hills, 1981), pp. 279-307.
Notes to Pages 6-13 191
13. James MacQueen, A Geographical and Commercial View of Northern and
Central Africa Containing a Particular Account of the Course and Termination of the
Great River Niger in the Atlantic Ocean (Edinburgh, 1821), p. 184.
14. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Small Is Not Always Beautiful: The Story of
Equatorial Guinea, trans. John Wood (London, 1988), p. 29.
15. See Luis Ramos Izquierdo, Descripci6n geogr4fica, y gobierno,
administraci6n y colonizaci6n de las colonias espaiiolas del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid,
1912), censo 1912.
16. Manuel de Teran, Sfntesis geogr4fica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962),
p. 60.
17. Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (London, 1962), p. 360.
18. Richard Burton, A Mission, vol. 1, p. 15.
19. Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts, The End of Slavery in Africa (Madison,
1989), p. 3.
Chapter 1. The Island Background
1. Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political
Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990), p. 210.
2. The sides of the Pico de Basile are steep enough to produce abrupt climatic
changes. The tropical forest zone extends from 600 to 800 meters. This lower belt of
tropical vegetation has an average annual rainfall of 1,200-3,000 mm, and its
temperature varies between 17 and 35 degrees centigrade, except for the southern
coast. There, in a zone of monsoons, the rainfall is from 4,000 to 12,000 mm per
year. Six hundred meters is the lower limit for the growth of tree-ferns. The upper
limit of the tropical zone is bounded by a transitional zone extending from 600 to 800
meters above sea level, which has a slightly lower average temperature, ranging from
14 to 32 degrees, and is also more pluvial. Rain averages 2,500-4,000 mm per year.
The subtropical mountain forest belt runs between 800 meters and 1 ,500 meters;
rainfall is 3,000-4,000 mm per year, and the temperature ranges from 10 to 30
degrees. Because of mists, lichens thrive, along with mosses and epiphytic ferns,
including orchids. Between 1,500 and 2,500 meters, araliaceae are prevalent in a
zone of uniform woodland. The annual rainfall in the woodland belt varies between
2,000 and 3,000 mm; the temperature fluctuates between 30 and 10 degrees. Beyond
2,000 meters this type of vegetation is scarce due to the rugged terrain.
3. Jan Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (Madison, 1966), p. 53.
4. Edwin Ardener, "Documentary and Linguistic Evidence for the Rise of the
Trading Polities between Rio del Rey and Cameroons, 1500-1650," in History and
Social Anthropology, edited by I. M. Lewis (London, 1968), p. 88.
5. Personal communication, D. Headrick, July 19, 1987.
6. Edwin Ardener, "Trading Polities," p. 88, citing Pieter de Mareez,
Description et recit Historique du Riche Royaume d'Or de Guinea [sic] (Amsterdam,
1610), 93.
192 Notes to Pages 13-17
7. Thomas Boteler, Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia.
. (London, 1835). The English had great difficulty in leaving Fernando Po.
According to Boteler, "our efforts were combated by a current which always tended to
sweep us back into the Bight of Benin" (vol. 2, p. 472).
8. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests, p. 113.
9. The most prolific collector of Bubi oral tradition is Amador Martin del
Molino. See A. Martin del Molino, "Por caminos anchos y profundos," La Guinea
espanola, 60, 1567 (1963), p. 132.
10. Carlos Crespo Gil-Delgado, Notas para un estudio antropol6gico y
etnol6gico del Bubi de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1949), p. 170.
11. Willem Bosman, A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea
(London, 1705), p. 399.
12. L. Silveira, Descripci6n de Ia isla de Fernando P6o en vlsperas del Tratado
de San lldefonso (Madrid, 1959), p. 14.
13. Crespo Gil-Delgado, Notas, p. 85.
14. Vansina, "Western Bantu Expansion," Journal of African History, 25
(1985), p. 132. Vansina tentatively follows the evidence of B. Heine, H. Hoff, and R.
Vossen, "Neure Ergebnisse zur Territorialgeschicte der Bantu," Zur Sprachgeschicte
und Ethnohistorie in Afrika (Berlin, 1977) p. 61.
Palm nuts from "Middle Carbonera" have been radiocarbon dated to the late
seventh century A.D. SeeP. de Maret, "Fernando Poo," in The Archeology of Central
Africa, ed. F. Van Noten, (Graz, 1982), p. 60; Amador Martin del Molino, "Que
sabemos actualmente del pasado de Fernando P6o," La Guinea espanola, (March 15,
1962), p. 67.
15. Vansina, "Western Bantu Expansion," p. 132.
16. Crespo Gil-Delgado, Notas, p. 87.
17. Harry Johnston, George Grenfell and the Congo (New York, 1910), p. 955.
18. Malcolm Guthrie, The Bantu Languages of Western Equatorial Africa
(London, 1953), p. 24.
19. Gunter Tessmann, Die Bubi auf Fernando Poo: volkerkundlische
Einzelbeschreibung eines westajrikanischen Negerstammes (Darmstadt, 1923), p. 12.
20. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests, p. 142.
21. Ibid., p. 294.
22. For discussions of this question, see Gunter Tessmann, Die Bubi; Manuel de
Teran, Slntesis geogr4fica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962); Vansina, "Western Bantu
Expansion," pp. 129-145; Martin del Molino, Los Bubis, ritds y creencias (Malabo,
23. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests, p. 75.
24. Ibid., 140.
25. Philip Curtin, Steven Feierman, Leonard Thompson, and Jan Vansina,
African History (Boston, 1978), p. 245.
26. David Richardson, "Slave Exports from West and West-Central Africa,
1700-1810: New Estimates of volume and Distribution," Journal of African History,
Notes to Pages 17-23 193
30 (1989), p. 19. Also see Paul Lovejoy, "The volume of the Atlantic Slave Trade:
A Synthesis," Journal of African History, 22 (1982), 473-501; idem., Transformations
in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (New York, 1983).
27. Richardson, "Slave Exports," p. 17.
28. Ibid., p. 14.
29. Philip Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Madison, 1969), pp.
30. Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen: The Duala of
Cameroon," in Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, ed.
Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff (Madison, 1977), p. 316. Also see Ralph Austen
with K. Jacob, "Dutch Trading Voyages to Cameroon, 1721-1759: European
Documents and African History. Annals de Ia Faculte des Sciences humaines,
Universite de Yaounde, 6 (1974), pp. 1-27.
31. Tessmann, Die Bubi, p. 13.
32. Martin del Molino, "Datos etnognificos de los Bubis en siglo XVIII,"
Guinea espanola, 60, 1565 (1963), pp. 38.
33. Robert Gard, "Colonization and Decolonization of Equatorial Guinea,"
unpublished manuscript (1974), p. 12. Northwestern University Library, Evanston,
Illinois Martin del Molino, "Datos," p. 37. Also see Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste,
Geografla historlca de Ia isla de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1947), p. 101.
34. "Fernando Po, State of the Slave Trade," Quarterly Review, 26 (October-
January, 1822), p. 53.
35. J. Holman, Travels in Madeira, Sierra Leone, Tenerijfe ... (London,
1840), p. 426.
36. J. D. Page, "Slaves and Society in Western Africa, c. 1445- c. 1700,"
Journal of African History, 21 (1980), p. 310.
Chapter 2. Aborted Antislaving
1. David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave
Trade (New York, 1987), p. 172.
2. David Northrup, "The Compatibility of the Slave and Palm Oil Trades in the
Bight ofBiafra," Journal of African History, 17. 3 (1976), p. 359.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. David Eltis, "The Export of Slaves from Africa, 1821-1843," Journal of
Economic History, 37 (1977), p. 429 and fig. 3.
6. David Northrup, Trade without Rulers: Pre-Colonial Economic
Development in South Eastern Nigeria (Oxford, 1978), p. 100, citing P.O. 84/9 Sierra
Leone (General): Woods to Bandinel, July 5, 1821 and P.O. 84115, Sierra Leone
(General): Woods to Bandinel January 5, 1822 [1832]; Philip Curtin, The Atlantic
Slave Trade: A Census (Madison, 1969), table 71.
194 Notes to Pages 23-25
7. Patrick Manning, Slavery, Colonialism, and Economic Growth in Dalwmey,
1640-1960 (New York, 1982), pp. 34, 45.
8. Patrick Manning, Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental and
African Slave Trades (New York, 1990), p. 69.
9. See Parliamentary Papers, 1830 (661), vol. X, "Report of the Select
Committee on the Settlements of Sierra Leone and Fernando Po," pp. 345-347.
10. David Northrup, "African Mortality in the Suppression of the Slave Trade:
The Case of the Bight ofBiafra," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 9 (1978), p. 51.
11. Martin Lynn, "Jolm Beecroft and West Africa, 1829-54" (Ph.D.
dissertation, University of London, 1978), p. 23.
12. Philip Curtin, Death by Migration: Europe's Encounter with the Tropical
World in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1989), p. 18.
13. Philip Curtin, The Image of Africa (Madison, 1964), vol. 1, p. 179.
14. Parliamentary Papers, 1822 (223) vol. XXII, "Navy Communications to the
Admiralty, Extract of a Report from Commodore Sir George Collier on the Coast of
Africa," December 27, 1821, p. 27.
15. Richard and Jolm Lander, Journal of an Expedition to Explore the Course
and Termination of the Niger (London, 1832), 3, p. 304.
16. Parliamentary Papers, 1830 (661), vol. X, "Report of the Select Committee
on the Settlements of Sierra Leone and Fernando Po," p. 4.
17. A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (New York, 1973), p.
18. J. H. Latham, "Price Fluctuations in the Early Palm Oil Trade," Journal of
African History, 19. 2 (1978), p. 213.
19. Kenneth 0. Dike, Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830-1885
(Oxford, 1956), p. 50.
20. See G. A. Robertson, Notes on Africa (London, 1819); W. H. Hutton,
"Voyage to Africa," Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertiser, November 10, 1821.
About Fernando Po, Robertson was especially zealous. In 1819 he and a partner
asked for government protection of a projected settlement.
21. James MacQueen, A Geographical and Commercial View of Northern and
Central Africa: Containing a Particular Account of the Course and Termination of the
Great Niger in the Atlantic Ocean (Edinburg, 1821), p. 184; idem., "The Civilization
of Africa-Sierra Leone-Liberated Africans, an Open Letter to R. W. Hay,"
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 20 (December, 1826), pp. 872-92; 21 (March-
May, 1827), pp. 315-29, 596-619.
22. C.O. 82/1, Extract from Royal Gazette and Sierra Leone Advertizer
(Freetown, August 17, 1822). See also Robert Brown, "Fernando Po and the
Anti-Sierra Leonean Campaign: 1826-1834," International Journal of African
Historical Studies, 6. 2 (1973), p. 259.
23. Brown, "Fernando Po," p. 251.
Notes to Pages 25-34 195
24. Early in 1826 Owen was engaged in supporting troops in the war with
Asante. He was in England when, in June of 1827, he was called on to proceed to
Fernando Po.
25. See William F. Owen, Na"ative of Voyages to Explore the Shores of Africa,
Arabia and Madagascar, (London, 1833) vol. 1, chap. 21.
26. Robert Brown, "William Fitzwilliam Owen: Hydrographer of the African
Coast, 1774-1857" (Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1972), p. 196.
27. Owen, Na"ative of Voyages, vol. 1, p. 342.
28. C.O. 82/1, Owen to R. W. Hay, general observations on the British
establishments on the western coast of Africa, November, 1828.
29. C.O. 82/2, William Owen, Return of the Population of Clarence, March 10,
30. ADM 1/2273, Owen, n. 50, February 21, 1828, enclosure 1, Campbell to
31. For a description of the Colonel, see Sir Henry Huntley, Seven Years' Service
on the Slave Coast (London, 1860), vol. 1, p. 158.
32. For instance, see Eltis, Economic Growth (1987), p. 324n.
33. ADM 1/2274, Owen, n. 19, November, 1828.
34. Robert T. Brown, "William Fitzwilliam Owen: Hydrographer of the
African Coast, 1774-1857 (Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, 1972), p. 218 ..
35. Northrup, "Compatibility," p. 36; idem., Trade without Rulers, Appendix
36. Leslie Bethell and Jose Murillo de Carvalho, "Part One: Empire (1822-
1889)," in Leslie Bethell, ed., Brazil, Empire and Republic, 1822-1930(New York,
1989), p. 95.
37. Eltis, Economic Growth, p. 246.
38. Brown, "Owen," p. 218; Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal
Middlemen: The Duala of Cameroon," in Slavery in Africa: Historical and
Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff (Madison, 1977),
p. 318.
39. C.O. 82/4, Nicolls to Hay, March 31, 1831; C.O. 8217, Nicolls to Hay,
Apri12, 1834.
40. Eltis, Economic Growth, p. 92.
41. Ibid., p. 100.
42. C.O. 82/11, James Stephen to J. Strangeways, February 8, 1839.
43. Patrick Manning, "Slave Trade, 'Legitimate' Trade and Imperialism
Revisited: The Control of Wealth in the Bights of Benin and Biafra," in Africans in
Bondage, Studies in Slavery and the Slave Trade, Essays in Honor of Philip D. Curtin,
ed. Paul Lovejoy (Madison, 1986), p. 217.
44. Dike, Trade and Politics, p. 17.
45. ADM 1.2273, Owen, n. 91, July 14, 1828.
46. C.O. 82/6, Nicolls to Hay, December 10, 1833.
47. Holman, Narrative, p. 431.
", $.-
196 Notes to Pages 34-37
48. E. H. Burrows, Captain Owen of the African Survey (Rotterdam, 1978), p.
182, citing Alexander Bryson, Report on the Climate and Principal Diseases of the
African Station (London, 1847).
49. C.O. 325/37, John Hay memorandum, February 2, 1833.
50. Robert Garfield, "A History of Sao Tome Island, 1470-1655," (Ph.D.
dissertation, Northwestern University, 1971), p. 1.
51. C.O. 267/84, Cockburn to Bathurst, n. 194, January 5, 1827.
52. Curtin, Image, vol. 1, p. 20.
53. Alexander Bryson, A Report on the Climate and Principal Diseases of the
African Station (London, 1847), p. 58.
54. Ibid., p. 62.
55. Ibid., p. 64.
56. Ibid., p. 65.
57. Brown, "Owen," p. 257, citing ADM 1/2274, Captain Owen, n. 50, June
17, 1829.
58. Martin Lynn, "John Beecroft and West Africa, 1829-54," (Ph. D.
dissertation, University of London, 1978), p. 43.
59. Bryson, Report, p. 98.
60. Peter Leonard, Records of a Voyage to the Western Coast of Africa
(Edinburgh, 1833), p. 36.
61. Brown, "Owen," p. 287 citing C.O. 82/3, Backhouse to Hay, n .. 3386,
August 31, 1830.
62. Parliamentary Papers, 1842, VII (551) II, Report from the Select
Committee on the West Coast of Africa, Appendix 206.
63. C.O. 82/5, Nicolls to Hay, January 30, 1832.
64. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, p. 351. See T. F. Buxton, The African Slave
Trade and Its Remedy (London, 1840), pp. 236-37.
65. Curtin, Image, vol. 1, p. 299 citing M. Laird and R. A. K. Oldfield,
Na"ative of an Expedition into the Interior of Africa by the River Niger in 1832-34,
(London, 1837) vol. 1, p. 299; Parliamentary Papers, 1830, XI (551), M. Laird
memorandum for the West Africa Committee, pp. 350-351.
66. Bryson, Report, p. 64.
67. Lynn, "Beecroft," p. 218.
68. Bryson, Report, p. 58.
69. Lynn, "Beecroft," p. 218.
70. Baptist Missionary Society (London), 4/5, Joseph Jackson Fuller and George
Grenfell, "Cameroon and Fernando Po" (written notebook). Henceforth Baptist
Missionary Society cited as BMS.
71. Baptist Missionary Herald (London) (August, 1844), p. 331.
72. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, p. 343, citing the London Times, September 13,
1848, p. 4. .
Notes to Pages 38-44 197
Chapter 3. Spain in the Bight
1. Philip Curtin, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850
(Madison, 1964), vol. 2, p. 438.
2. Teresa Pereira Rodriguez, "Las relaciones marftimo-comerciales entre
Canarias y los territorios del Golfo de Guinea (1858-1930)," in Las Canaria y Africa
(Altibajos de una gravitacion), ed. Victor Morales Lezcano (Las Palmas, 1985), pp.
3. W. G. Clarence-Smith, "The Portuguese Contribution to the Cuban Slave
and Coolie Trades in the Nineteenth Century," Slavery and Abolition, 5. 1 (May,
1984), p. 25.
4. David Murray, Odious Commerce: Britain, Spain and the Abolition of the
Cuban Slave Trade (New York, 1980), p. 89; Jose de Moros y Morell6n and Juan
Miguel de los Rios, Memorias sobre las islas cifricana de Espaflll, Fernando Poo y
Annob6n (Madrid, 1844), pp. 30-31.
5. An Inquiry into the Right and Duty of Compelling Spain to Relinquish Her
Slave Trade in Northern Africa (London, 1816), p. 82.
6. Arthur Corwin, Spain and the Abolition of Slavery in Cuba, 1817-1888
(Austin, 1967), p. 87.
7. Ibid., p. 15.
8. Parliamentary Papers, 1823, vol. XIX, Explanatory and Additional Articles
to the Treaty of 1817 between Great Britain and Spain, 1823, p. 37.
9. Murray, Odious Commerce, p. 101. Also see David Eltis, "The Impact of:
Abolition on the Atlantic Slave Trade," in The Abolition of the Atlantic Slave Trade:
Origins and Effects in Europe, Africa, and the Americas, ed. David Eltis and James
Walvin (Madison, 1981), pp. 155-176.
10. Moros y Morell6n and de los Ri6s, Memorias, pp. 30-31.
11. Eltis, Economic Growth, p. 103.
12. C.O. 267/69, Canning to Bathurst, August, 1825.
13. Ibid.
14. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, p. 300, citing Sir Thomas Powell Buxton, The
Remedy, Being a Sequel to the African Slave Trade (London, 1840), p. 17.
15. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, p. 302; Sir Thomas Powell Buxton, Memoirs, ed.
Charles Buxton (London, 1848), p. 433.
16. C.O. 82/11, George Grey to Edward Nicolls, November 12, 1838.
17. C.O. 82/11, James Stephen to J. Strangways, February 8, 1839.
18. C.O. 82/9, Colonial Office minute (W. Labourchere, May 3, 1839) on
Henry Southern to Lord Palmerston, April20, 1839.
19. Rodolfo Sarracino, Los que volvieron a Africa (Havana, 1988), p. 124.
20. U. J. Asiegbu, Slavery and the Politics of Liberation, 1787-1861 (London,
1969), p. 50, citing Parlimentary Papers, 1843, vol. XXIX [sic], Spanish Foreign
Minister to the British Ambassador at Madrid, December 20, 1841, p. 617, and also
1845, vol. XXI. The correct citation should be Parliamentary Papers, 1843 (483),
198 Notes to Pages 44-50
vol. LVIII, Correspondence with Foreign Powers (Class B), Spanish Foreign Minister
to the British Ambassador at Madrid, December 20, 1841, p. 5.
21. Eltis, Ecorwmic Growth, p. 284.
22. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia historica de Ia isla de Fernando
Poo (Madrid, 1947), p. 147.
23. Julio Arija, La Guinea espanola y sus riquezas (Madrid, 1930), p. 19.
24. Ibid.
25. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, p. 303.
26. Ibid., p. 306, citing Parliamentary Papers, 1842, vol. XI, pp. iv-x.
27. Parliamentary Papers, Correspondence with Foreign Powers Relative to the
Slave Trade [Class] B-184, Slave Trade 22, 1842 [403], XLll, Commander Tucker to
the Chief or Head Man of Corisco, November 7, 1840.
28. C. Gonzalez Echegaray, Estudios guineos, vol. 2, Etnologfa (Madrid,
1964), p. 34.
29. Eltis, "Slave Departures from Africa, 1811-1867: An Annual Time
Series," African Economic History, 15 (1986), p. 151. .
30. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Islas del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1945), p.
31. Jeronimo M. Usera y Alarcon, Memoria de Ia isla de Fernando Poo
(Madrid, 1848), p. 29.
32. Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia, p. 386. Also see Penelope Campbell, "The
Beginnings of Christian Evangelism and African Responses: American Presbyterians
in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon," African Studies Association Annual Meeting,
November 3-6, 1976.
33. Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political
Tradition in Equatorial Africa, (Madison, 1990), p. 234.
34. Clarence-Smith, "Portuguese Contribution," p. 25.
35. Arija, Guinea espanola, p. 19.
36. Sarracino, Los que volvieron, p. 135, citing the "declaracion del tribunal de
comercio," en AHNM, secci6n de Ultramar, legajo 3547, esclavitud, IT, pp. 1-18.
37. Arija, Guinea espanola, p.19.
38. Cronica naval de Espana, tomo Xl-cuardemo 1 (June 1, 1860), p. 106.
39. Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, Ten Years' Wandering among the Ethiopians
(London, 1861; reprinted., London, 1967), p. 298.
40. Cronica naval de Espana, tomo Xl-cuardemo 1 (June 1, 1860), p. 106.
Also see Cronica naval de Espana (September, 1860), pp. 292-297.
41. Unzueta y Yuste, Islas, p. 72.
42. Idem., Geografia, p. 155.
. 43. Sir Richard Burton, A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome (London, 1864),
p. 34.
44. Philip Curtin, Death by Migration: Europe's Encounter with the Tropical
World in the Nineteenth Century (New York, 1989), p. 110, citing H. Poggio, "De Ia
Notes to Pages 50-54 199
aclimataci6n en Canarias de las tropas destinados a! Ultramar," Revista general de
ciencias mMicas y de sanidad militar, 4 (1867), pp. 257, 287, 353, 385, 429, 460,
517, 591.
45. Pedro Armengol y Comet, JA las islas Marianas o al Golfo de Guinea?
(Madrid, 1878), p. 10.
46. F.O. 28/1176, Lord Russell to Richard Burton, April20, 1862.
47. Jose Antonio Moreno Moreno, Resena historica de Ia presencia de Espana
en el Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1952), p. 57.
48. Sarracino, Los que volvieron, p. 138, citing British and Foreign State
Papers, vol. XXIV, 1845, 1845-46 (1860), the Duque de Sotomoyor to the Earl of
Aberdeen, October 11, 1845, p. 618.
49. Murray, Odious Commerce, p. 288.
50. Franklin Knight, Slave Society in Cuba during the Nineteenth Century
(Madison, 1970), p. 81.
51. Sarracino, Los que volvieron, p. 142.
52. Ibid.
53. Francisco Balmaseda, Los confinados a Fernando Poo e impresiones de un
viaje a Guinea (New York, 1869), pp. 139-140. The deportees of May, 1869 were a
distinguished group of Cuban intelligentsia and bourgeoisie. They included Carlos de
Castillo, banker and director of the Cuban Savings Bank; Miguel Embril, rich property
owner; Jose Manuel Ponce de Leon, plantation owner; Jose Antonio Pefia y Perez,
patrician of the Remedios area; Patricio Freixas, doctor; Pedro Barrenqui, British
vice-consul in Cardenas; Miguel Bravo, former Cuban representative in Venezuela.
The group also included Francisco Javier Balmaseda, Cuban nationalist propagandist.
In August of 1869 the writer and naturalist Jose Rosell arrived.
In one of the ships which repatriated the Cubans, there also arrived an expedition of
Spanish colonists, which included women and children. Many colonists returned to
Spain in the same boat; the rest did so in the Ferrol in June of the following year.
Unzueta, Geografia, p. 229.
54. Corwin, Spain and the Abolition, p. 275.
55. Moreno-Moreno, Resena historica, p. 85; Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia,
p. 284.
56. Archivo General de Ia Admistraci6n Civil del Estado, Alcala de Henares,
Seccion Mrica, G, caja 1932, exp. 3, Deportados cubanos y fllipinos, 1897, enclosure
in Governor-General Ramon Baillo to Minister of State, April 10, 1897. Henceforth
cited as AGA (AF). Unzueta, Geografia, p. 247. See Emilio Valdes Infantes, Los
cubarws en Fernando Poo o los horrores de Ia dominacion espanola (Havana, 1898).
57. Stanley Payne, A History of Spain and Portugal (Madison, 1973), vol. 2,
pp. 481-82.
58. Billy Gene Hahs, "Spain and the Scramble for Africa, The 'Africanistas'
and the Gulf of Guinea" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1980), p .. 60,
citing Jose Muiioz y Gaviria (Vizconde de San Javier), "Cr6nica de las islas de
200 Notes to Pages 55-61
Fernando Poo y Annobon," Cr6nica general de Espana, 12, part 5 (Madrid, 1871), p.
59. Ibid., p. 65, citing Ignacio Garda Tudela, "Informe anual que el gobernador
de Fernando Poo dirige a! Excmo. Sr. Ministro de Ultramar demostrando y
encareciendo Ia conveniencia y Ia necesidad de abandonar las posesiones espafiolas del
Africa occidental," Ms. 15559, no. 17, Museo Naval, Madrid.
60. Unzueta y Yuste, Geograjia, p. 163.
61. Oskar Baumann, Eine afrikanische Tropen-Insel: Fernando Poo und die
Buhe (Vienna, 1888), p. 123.
Chapter 4. Trade and Politics
1. Kenneth 0. Dike, Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830-1885
(Oxford, 1956), p. 59.
2. C.O. 82/9, John Clarke, to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,
November 2, 1841.
3. Baptist Missionary Society (London), Journals of John Clarke, vol. 1 (2d
series), 217, p. 15. Henceforth cited as BMS. C.O. 82/9, Clarke to the British and
Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, November 2, 1841.
4. C.O. 82/9, Nicolls to Grey, November 13, 1838; Baptist Missionary Herald
(September, 1841), p. 133; Jeronimo M. Usera y Alarcon, Memoria de la isla de
Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1848), p. 29; Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, Impressions of
Western Africa (London, 1858), p. 180.
5. BMS, Journal of John Clarke, vol. 2 (1st series), p. 450.
6. Martin Lynn, "John Beecroft and West Africa, 1829-54" (Ph.D.
dissertation, University of London, 1978), p. 170.
7. Ibid., p. 171.
8. Ibid.
9. C.O. 82/9, Clarke to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,
November 2, 1841.
10. Dike, Trade and Politics, p. 128.
11. J. P. Johnson, Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery Convention (London,
1843), p. 505.
12. Joaquin J. Navarro, Apuntes sobre el estado de la costa occidental de Africa
. . . (Madrid, 1859), p. 73.
13. Jose Mufioz y Gaviria Fabraquer, Cr6nica general de Espana. Africa: Islas
de Fernando P6o, Corisco y Annob6n (Madrid, 1871), n.p.
14. Lynn, "John Beecroft," p. 174.
15. Philip Curtin, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850
(Madison, 1964), vol. 2, p. 435.
16. A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (New York, 1973), p.
Notes to Pages 61-70 201
17. George Norregard, Danish Settlements in West Africa, 1658-1850 (Boston,
1966), p. 168.
18. Robert Brown, "Fernando Po and the Anti-Sierra Leonean Campaing:
1826-1834," International Journal of African Historical Studies, 6. 2 (1973), p. 258,
citing ADM 1/2273, Owen, no. 91, July 14, 1828.
19. See 0. Nigel Bolland, Belize: A New Nation in Central America (Boulder,
20. Curtin, Image, vol. 2, pp. 426-27, citing Nicolls, memorandum of July 20,
1842, enclosed with F.O. 82/616, Nicholls to Canning, June 28, 1845.
21. Johnson, Proceedings, p. 254.
22. Lymi, "John Beecroft," p. 107.
23. F.O. 2/25, William Lynslager to Charles Wise, July 19, 1858.
24. C.O. 82/9, Anonymous to Nicolls, July 24, 1838; C.O. 82/9, John Clarke
to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, November 2, 1841; C.O. 82/9,
Liberated Africans to Nicolls, August 14, 1838.
25. C.O. 82/9, J. Backhouse to James Stephen, September 29, 1840.
26. African Agricultural Association, Prospectus, 1842 (n.d.).
27. Ralph A. Austen, African Economic History: Internal Development and
External Dependency (Portsmouth, N. H., 1987), p. 88. The term "creole" has been
most frequently used for the Westernized descendants of freed slaves in Sierra Leone.
In this work it will be applied in the same sense to the descendants of recaptives on
Fernando Po.
28. See Leo Spitzer, The Creoles of Sierra Leone: Responses to Colonialism,
1870-1915 (Madison, 1974), pp. 12-13. The term "Krio" is a more recent usage for
the creoles of Sierra Leone.
29. 31. C.O. 82/3, Edward Nicolls, Description of the Harbour and Defenses of
the Settlement of Clarence upon the Island of Fernando Po, October 24-30, 1830.
30. David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-
1823 (Ithaca, 1975), p. 242.
31. C.O. 82/3, Edward Nicolls, A Description of the Harbour., October 24-30,
32. Adolfo Guillemard de Aragon, Opilsculo sabre la colonizaci6n de Fernando
P6o ... (Madrid, 1852), p. 61.
33. F.O. 2/16, William Lynslager to Thomas Hutchinson, October 20, 1856;
Church Missionary Society Archives (London) CA2 106, Thomas Hutchinson to
Samuel A. Crowther, October 24, 1856. Henceforth cited as CMS .
34. Thomas Carlyle, "The Nigger Question" in Complete Works, vol. 16.
Miscellaneous Essays (Boston, n.d.), pp. 293-326, 424-26.
35. Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (London, 1962) pp. 113-114.
36. A. J. H. Latham, Old Calabar, 1600-1891: The Impact of the International
Economy upon a Traditional Society (London, 1973), p. 106. .
37. F.O. 2/9, Beecroft to John Russell, March 22, 1853; Foreign Office to
Beecroft, November 15, 1853.
202 Notes to Pages 70-77
38. P.O. 2/15, Residents of the Town of Clarence to Thomas Hutchinson,
January 23, 1856.
39. P.O. 2/19, Hutchinson to the Earl of Clarendon, March 23, 1857.
40. P.O. 2/19, Residents of Clarence to Lynslager, March 7, 1857.
41. Ibid.
42. P.O. 2/19, Hutchinson to Clarendon, March 23, 1857.
43. Fawn Brodie, The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton (New York,
1967), p. 203, citing Richard Burton, Wanderings in West Africa: From Liverpool to
Fernando Po (London, 1863), vol. 1., pp. 1, 3.
44. Sir Richard Burton, A Mission to Gelele, King of Dahome (London, 1864),
vol. 1, p. 11.
45. . Byron Farwell, Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton (New
York, 1963), p. 207.
46. Burton, A Mission, vol. 1, p. 183.
47. Ibid., p. 15.
48. P.O. 2/16, Lynslager to Hutchinson, November 26, 1856.
49. Latham, Old Calabar, p. 108, citing P.O. 84/1508, Hopkins to Foreign
Secretary, August 28, 1878.
50. Kannan Nair, Politics and Society in South Eastern Nigeria, 1841-1906
(Evanston, 1972), p. 142. For developments under colonialism, see Mac Dixon-Pyle,
"The Saro in the Political Life of Early Port Harcourt, 1913-49," Journal of African
History, 30 (1989), pp. 125-38.
51. P.O. 8411541, Hopkins to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, March
8, 1879.
Chapter 5. Islanders and Interlopers
1. Amador Martin del Molino, "Por caminos anchos y profundos," La Guinea
espanola, 60, 1567 (1963), p. 132.
2. John Clarke, Introduction to the Fernandian Tongue (Berwick-upon-Tweed,
1848), p. v.
3. Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests: Toward a History of Political
Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990), pp. 142-43.
4. Manuel de Teran, Sintesis geografica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962), p.
p. 485.
Vansina, Paths in the Rainforests, pp. 140-41.
Amardor Martin del Molino, Los Bubis, ritos y creencias (Malabo, 1989),
7. Ibid. We have a list of the buala at Riabba, the seat of the Bubi paramount
kings in the nineteenth century. A. Martin del Molino, giving each buala a lifespan of
forty years, has pushed the dates of the first back to the seventeenth century:
Babiaoma, pre-1640; Bao, 1600-1640; Balobedde, 1640-1680, Beole, 1689-1720;
Notes to Pages 77-83
Bamaotedde, 1720-1760, Balobicho, 1760-1800, Badya, 1800-1840. Barilaroote,
1840-1924; Bidya, 1924 to the 1960s.
8. Clarke, Introduction to the Fernandian Tongue, p. v.
9. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest, p. 144.
10. Martin del Molino, "La familia real," La Guinea espanola, 59, 1553
(February, 15, 1962), pp. 37-40.
11. Primitive Methodist Missionary Record (April, 1875), n.p.
12. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest, pp. 145-46.
13. Ibid., p. 80.
14. Martin del Molino, Los Bubis, p. 492.
15. Parliamentary Papers, 1830 (661) vol. X, Report of the Select Committee
on the Settlements of Sierra Leone and Fernando Po, p. 48.
16. William Allen and Thomas R. H. A. Thompson, A Narrative of the
Expedition Sent by Her Majesty's Government to the River Niger in 1841, under the
command of Capt. H. D. Trotter (London, 1848), vol. 2, p. 205.
17. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest, p. 142.
18. Jose de Moros y Morell6n and Juan Miguel de los Rfos, Memorias sabre las
islas tifricanas de Espana, Fernando P6o y Annob6n (Madrid, 1844), pp. 31-32.
19. John Clarke, Specimens of Dialects: Short Vocabulary of Languages and
Notes on Countries and Customs of Africa (Berwick-upon-Tweed, 1848), p. 75.
20. Henry Roe, West African Scenes, Being Descriptions of Fernando Po
(London, 1874), p. 57.
21. Parliamentary Papers, 1822 (223), vol. XXll, Communications to the
Admiralty, Report from Commodore Sir George R. Collier, December 27, 1821, p.
22. J. Holman, Travels in Madeira, Sierra Leone, Teneriffe, St. Jago, Cape
Coast, Fernando Po, Prince's Island, etc., etc . ... (London, 1840), vol. 1, pp. 307-
23. Luis Sorela and L. Guxardo Faxardo, Colonizaci6n en el Africa occidental
(Madrid, 1888), p. 24.
24. Oskar Baumann, Eine tifrikanische Tropen-Insel: Fernando Poo und die
Bube (Vienna, 1888), p. 106.
25. Antonio Aymemi, Los Bubis en Fernando P6o: Colecci6n de articulos
publicados en la revista colonial "La Guinea espanola" (Madrid, 1942), p. 66.
26. Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and
Religion (New York, 1922), p. 277.
27. Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest, p. 77.
28. Aymernf, Los Bubis, p. 66.
29. Adolfo Guillemard de Aragon, Opasculo sobre la colonizaci6n de Fernando
P6o . .. (Madrid, 1852), p. 27.
30. Martin Lynn, "John Beecroft and West Africa, 1829-54" (Ph.D.
dissertation, University of London, 1978), p. 309.
204 Notes to Pages 83-88
31. Parliamentary Papers, 1822 (223), vol. XXll, Navy Communications to the
Admiralty, Report from Sir George Collier, December 12, 1821, p. 27.
32. Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, Impressions of Western Africa (London, 1858),
pp. 187-88.
33. Ibid., pp. 186-87.
34. Wilhelm H. I. Bleek, "On the Languages of Western and Southern Africa,"
Transactions of the Philogical Society of London (1855), pp. 40-50.
35. Holman, Travels, pp. 298-99.
36. Martin del Molino, Los Bubis, p. 176.
37. Clarke, Fernandian Tongue, p. v.
38. Ibid.
39. Teran, Sfntesis, p. 47.
40. Roe, West African Scenes, p. 57.
41. Aymemf, Los Bubis, p. 53.
42. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia hist6rica de La isla de Fernando
P6o (Madrid, 1947), p. 215.
43. Lynn, "John Beecroft," p. 172.
44. C.O. 82/9, Clarke to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,
November 2, 1841.
45. Lynn, "John Beecroft," p. 183. Basualla on the east coast was also a major
center of trade.
46. C.O. 82/3, Nicolls to Beecroft, January, 1830.
47. Richard Lander and John Lander, Journal of an Expedition to Explore the
Course and Termination of the Niger, vol. 3, p. 302.
48. BMS, Journals of John Clarke, vol. 1 (1st series), p. 429.
49. Ibid., vol. 1 (2nd series), October 26, 1844.
50. BMS, A/11, Clarence Church Book, May 13, 1848.
51. Participating in this expedition were the Kru Felipe Guir and Santiago
Yegiie. These two men had been taken to Spain in 1843. They were baptized in the
chapel of the royal palace in Madrid on May 1, 1844. They returned to Fernando Po
in 1845 as sergeants in the newly created militia. Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia, p. 153.
52. BMS, A/12, Clarence Church Book, April 30, 1845.
53. Baptist Missionary Herald (March, 1846), p. 228.
54. Hutchinson, Impressions, p. 192; The Early Years of an African Trader
(London, 1962), p. 157; Martin Lynn, "Change and Continuity in the British Palm Oil
trade with West Africa, 1830-1855," Journal of African History, 22 (1981), p. 340.
55. United States, National Archives, Miscellaneous Letters of the Department
of State, September 1-16, 1879, Microcopy M-179/Roll 545, William J. Thomson to
Commodore R. W. Shufeldt, May 14, 1879.
56. John Holt, The Diary of John Holt, ed. Cecil R. Holt (Liverpool, 1948), p.
Notes to Pages 88-92 205
57. John Holt Papers (Liverpool) (henceforth cited as JHP), Box 15, File 4, W.
J. Jones to John Holt, A u g u s t ~ . 1872.
58. JHP, Box 14, File 6, Thomas Holt to John Holt, November 20, 1874.
59. Baumann, Eine qfrikanische Tropen-Insel, p. 134.
60. Gustav Mann, "Account of the Ascent of Clarence Peak, Fernando Po,"
Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society, 6 (1862), p. 29.
61. Baumann, Eine qfrikanische Tropen-Insel, p. 101.
62. A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (New York, 1973) p.
Chapter 6. The Cocoa Economy
1. Gonzalo Sanz Casas, "Politica colonial y organizaci6n del trabajo en Ia isla
de Fernando P6o: 1880-1930" (Ph.D. dissertation, Universidad de Barcelona, 1983),
p. 119, citing Ferrandiz, "Notas de un viaje a Fernando P6o (Enero-Marzo, 1930),"
unpublished text.
2. Christopher Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (London, 1962), p. 353.
3. J. D. Hargreaves, "African Colonization in the Nineteenth Century: Liberia
and Sierra Leone," in Boston University Papers in African History (Boston, 1964),
Vol. 1, p. 66.
4. Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone, p. 360.
5. N. A. Cox-George, Finance and Development in West Africa: The Sierra
Leone Experience (London, 1961), p. 136.
6. J. J. Crooks, A History of the Colony of Sierra Leone, Western Africa
(London, 1903),p. 350.
7. William Allen and R. H. A. Thompson, A Narrative of the Expedition Sent
by Her Majesty's Government to the River Niger in 1841, under the Command of Capt.
H. D. Trotter (London, 1848), vol. 2, p. 226.
8. Cristobal Fernandez, Misiones y misioneros en La Guinea espanola (Madrid,
1962), p. 673.
9. Sierra Leone National Archives (SLNA), Minute Papers, 844 (1894), James
Richard MacFoy to Colonial Secretary, February 23, 1894.
10. Informe de La comisi6n nomhrada por el gobernador de Fernando P6o en
mayo de 1860, para La exploraci6n de La isla (Madrid, 1861), p. 32.
11. According to another source, it was introduced by William Pratt, a Sierra
Leonean of West Indian origin, who perceived a similarity of climates between
Fernando Po and the Caribbean. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Breve Histoire de La Guinee
Equatoriale (Paris, 1988), p. 33.
12. United States, National Archives, Miscellaneous Letters of the Department
of State, September 1-16, 1879, Microcopy M-179/Roll 545, William J. Thomson to
Commodore R. W. Schufeldt, May 14, 1879.
206 Notes to Pages 92-96
13. The account may be apocryphal. See Edward Reynolds, Trade and
Economic Change on the Gold Coast, 1808-1874 (London, 1974). Cocoa was
probably introduced to the Gold Coast a generation earlier by Protestant missionaries.
14. United States, National Archives, Miscellaneous Letters of the Department
of State, September 1-16, 1879, Microcopy M-179, Roll 545, William J. Thomson to
Commodore R. W. Schufeldt, May 14, 1879.
15. John Holt, The Diary of John Holt, ed. Cecil R. Holt (Liverpool, 1948), p.
178; JHP, Series 1, Box 15, File 4, W. J. Jones to J. Holt, October 9, 1872.
16. C. S. Smith, Glimpses of Africa (Nashville, 1895), p. 165.
17. Sanz Casas, "Politica," pp. 105-106. These finqueros were a diverse lot.
Da Cunha was Portuguese consul and had one of the best kept plantations. He had
traveled in Europe and owned a store in Santa Isabel, as well as a fleet of small
vessels. In contrast, the plantation of the Spanish governor was the one which seemed
to be doing least well. It was located at Basile under the management of Geronimo
L6pez. The altitude did not benefit the cocoa plants, and experiments with quinine
seemed to meet with an equal amount of ill luck. Rogozinski, reputedly an officer of
the Imperial Russian Navy, had a farm at Banapa. Romera owned a holding at
Bokoko. Antonio Borghes, an Afro-Portuguese, owned a shop in Santa Isabel and was
also involved in the burgeoning cocoa economy.
18. Ibid.
19. Ibid., p. 115.
20. For a discussion of the relationship between class formation and the
environment, see Howard Parsons, ed., Marx and Engels on Ecology (Westport,
1977), p. 180.
21. Nigerian National Archives (Ibadan), Calprof 9/1, Southern Nigeria Papers,
Correspondence-in-letters to High Commissioner, 1900-December 1901, vol. 1,
Foreign Office to Major Gallway, C.M.G., D.S.O., Old Calabar, March 31, 1900.
22. Methodist Missionary Society, Primitive Methodist Mission, Fernando Po,
(henceforth cited as MMS, PMM), Box 1, Bell to Wiles, 16 January 1904.
23. Archivo General de Ia Administraci6n Civil del Estado (henceforth cited as
AGACE), Secci6n Africa-G, caja 153, Isabel Blanca (Elizabeth White) to the
governor-general, January 27, 1911. A later case involved one Rebecca Williams,
who wrote from England requesting to sell the property of her late husband, Moses
Jones Williams. There were no records in the property registry; the governor-general
opined that she was due nothing, since the property had long since been sold to John
Holt's agent and to MacFoy. AGACE, Secci6n, Africa-G, caja 153, Angel Barrera to
Minister of State, November 1, 1919.
24. JHP, Series 1, Box 10, File 6, Suggestion re[garding] Fernando Po
Constitution, notes and comments on Reorganization of Fernando Po with its Powers
25. MMS, PMM, Box 1, Fairley, Special Report on the San Carlos Mission,
26. Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Registro de Ia Propriedad (Malabo) File
1915, certificate, Tomas Alberto G. MacCartey [sic], April23, 1915.
Notes to Pages 97-99 207
27. F.O. 2/946, Foreign Office Draft to Admiralty, November 8, 1905.
28. F.O. 367/15, Frank Wilson to Foreign Office, June 20, 1906.
29. F.O. 367/62, C. K. MacLean to Provincial Commissioner, Old Calabar,
November 1, 1908.
30. F.O. 367/62, Joseph Emmanuel Taylor to Consul A. Nightingale, October
19, 1907. Four years later Taylor wrote to Madrid, describing himself as a Spanish
subject who had been defrauded by Ambas Bay. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja
153, Instancia, Jose Jurado, re[garding] Jose Emmanuel Taylor, January 22, 1911.
31. MMS, PM, Box 1, Wiles to General Missionary Committee, February 29,
32. MMS, PMM, Box 5, H. M. Cook to General Missionary Committee,
September 1, 1909.
33. MMS, PMM, Box 4, Hanham to Guttery, December 3, 1909.
34. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 88.
35. F.O. 368/1632, Report on Trade, etc., in the Spanish Possessions in the
Gulf of Guinea for the Year 1915, enclosure in Consul Hall-Hall's dispatch (number
17), April17, 1916.
36. Jose de Almada, Portugal: Comparative Essay on Indentured Lahar at Sao
Tome and Prfncipe (Lisbon, 1913), p. 57. The numbers given by English and
Portuguese observers are often at variance.
37. For a Spanish view, see Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Islas del Golfo de
Guinea (Madrid, 1945).
38. Tony Hodges and Malyn Newitt, Sao Tome and Principe: From Plantation
Colony to Microstate (Boulder, 1988), p. 30.
39. Over 1,000 tons (1,057,130 kilograms) were exported in 1877. SeeM. E.
Lobo de Bulh6es, Les Colonies Portugaises (Lisbon, 1878).
40. Henry W. Nevinson, A Modern Slavery (London, 1906), p. 188. The chief
markets for Portuguese colonial cocoa were Britain, Germany, France, Holland,
Switzerland, and the United States. Total imports to the latter were $1.5 million in
1885, and $3.8 million in 1895. De Almada, Portugal, pp. 59-60.
41. Hodges and Newitt, Sao Tome and Principe, p. 30. See Robert Nartey,
"From Slave to Servic;al: Labor in the Plantation Economy of Sao Tome and Principe,
1876-1932 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1986), p. 911.
By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there were some six distinct groups on
Sao Tome. The filhos da terra, descendants of African slave women and Europeans,
included nearly everyone who was not a fazendeiro (plantation owner), government
official, slave, or angolar (inland maroon). During the period of the island's
seventeenth-century decline, many plantation owners had left for Brazil, and the filho
group became filled with ex-slaves, who through various means had won their
freedom. In the late nineteenth century, some filhos occupied positions of wealth and
power, although toward the end of the period they faced increased competition from
metropolitan planters and capital. A second social group, the angolares, were
descendants of some Angolan slaves who survived a shipwreck in 1540 and lived
208 Notes to Pages 99-101
freely in the forests of Sao Tome. A third group, calledforros or libertos, was made
up of the descendants of slaves freed when slavery was abolished in the nineteenth
century. Fourth were the servil;ais, so-called contract laborers who were imported
primarily from Angola to labor on plantations. The children of servir;ais born on the
islands (tongas) constituted a fifth social group, and they usually found themselves
impressed into plantation labor. Least significant in terms of numbers was the small
European group which was, until the influx of capital in the late nineteenth century,
almost exclusively engaged in colonial administration.
There were similarities and contrasts between Fernando Po and its neighbors.
Because of its long history of settlement, the social structure on Sao Tome already
differed considerably from the Bubi/creole situation. Whereas the settler community
on Fernando Po was oriented toward the West African mainland by consanguinity and
commerce, "creole" society on Sao Tome had affinities with Luanda in Angola and
Bahia in Brazil.
42. Hodges and Newitt, Siio Tome and Principe, p. 33.
43. See E. D. Morel, The Black Man's Burden (London, 1920), for a critique.
44. De Almada, Portugal, p. 57. Unlike the Portuguese islands, there was an
exiguous European presence on Fernando Po. At the beginning of the twentieth
century, the general census of the Sao Tome and Principe listed 42, 130 inhabitants.
There were 40,663 blacks, 1,187 whites, and 280 "mulatos." On Fernando Po the
number of Europeans was less than 600, even in the period of the First World War.
Only after the War did production achieve levels attained on the Portuguese islands at
the end of the nineteenth century.
45. William Gervase Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers
on Fernando P6o, 1880s to 1910s," Journal of African History, 35 (1994), p. 184.
46. Ibid., pp. 6-7.
47. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 104, exp. 3, Memorial from Hijos de
Guillermo J. Huelin, May 4, 1904.
48. Transport was to be in Spanish ships direct from the colony to the
metropole; in case a vessel made a stop in a foreign port, a certificate of origin,
overseen by the Spanish consul, was demanded.
Cocoa was sent in sacks which had to list the names of the proprietor and the
plantation, accompanied by a certificate from the proprietor giving the number of
sacks, brand, number, and total brute weight of the kilos embarked and attaching
samples of the grain in a sealed packet, stamped and signed by the proprietor. In
addition, the governor had to send a separate report to the Ministerio de Hacienda on
the areas that the owner devoted to each crop and the quantity of kilos harvested in the
previous year. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 186, citing royal decrees of December 28,
1899 and December 4, 1900.
49. Luis Ramos/Izquierdo, Descripci6n geogra.fica, y gobierno, administraci6n y
colonizaci6n de las colonias espaftolas del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1912), p. 29.
50. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 133, citing F. Sabater, Ensayo de Estudio sabre
una supuesta plantaci6n de cacao en la isla de Fernando P6o (Barcelona, 1907), p.
Notes to Pages 101-106 209
51. Billy Gene Hahs, "Spain and the Scramble for Africa, The 'Africanistas,'
and the Gulf of Guinea" (Ph.D dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1980), pp.
52. In 1881 the director of the Revista de Canarias, Elias Zerolo, emphasized
that "Spain possesses there [in the Bights], besides the island ... of Fernando Po ...
the immediate coast . . . . For certain, the governments ... since 1858 have looked
with the greatest indifference [on] the possession of that coast .... " Teresa Pereira
Rodriguez, "Las relaciones marftimo-comerciales entre Canarias y los territorios del
Golfo de Guinea (1858-1930)," in Las Canarias y Africa (Altibajos de una
gravitaci6n), ed. Victor Morales Lezcano (Las Palmas, 1985), p. 71.
53. See MMS, PMM, Box 2, Report on Fernando Po Missions (1903?).
54. William Gervase Clarence-Smith, "The Portuguese and Spanish Roles in the
Scramble for Africa," in Bismarck, Europe and Africa, ed. S. Forster et al. (London,
1988), p. 226.
55. Sanz Casas, "Polftica," p. 122.
56. Clarence-Smith, "Portuguese and Spanish Roles," p. 226.
57. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 71.
58. Clarence-Smith, "The Economic Dynamics of Spanish Imperialism, 1898-
1945," in Segunda aula Canarias y el noroestes de Africa, 1986, ed. Victor Morales
Lezcano (Las Palmas, 1986), p. 98.
59. Rafael M. de Labra, Cuestiones palpitantes de polftica, derecho y
adminstraci6n (Madrid, 1897), p. 426.
60. C.D.C. (Colonial Defense Council), enclosure in C.O. 520/11, March 27,
1901; C.O. 520/11, Foreign Office to Colonial Office, March 28, 1901; West Africa,
March 2, 1902; C.O. 520/11, British Ambassador, Berlin, to Foreign Office, July 5,
61. Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia, p. 247.
62. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 140, Bases para Ia formaci6n de una
Sociedad de Explotaci6n Agricola, Industrial y Minera ... 1903.
63. Sociedad Fundadora de Ia Compafiia Espanola de Colonizaci6n, Memoria
demostrativa de las ventajas y bene.ficios obtenibles de La colonizaci6n y explotaci6n de
los territorios espaftoles del Golfo de Guinea, (Madrid, 1907), p. 7.
64. Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia, p. 290. See Teresa Pereira Rodriquez, "Notas
sobre el colonialismo espafiol en el Golfo de Guinea (1880-1912), Estudios Africanos,
Revista de La Associaci6n Espanola de Africanistas, vol. 1, 2d semester, no. 1 (1985),
pp. 92-107.
65. El boletin o.ficial de los territorios espaftoles del Golfo de Guinea (January
15, 1924), p. 10.
66. Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia, p. 249.
67. Manuel Gongora Echenique, Angel Barrera y las posesiones espaftolas del
Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1923), p.49f., citing Angel Barrera, Las posesiones
espaftolas del Golfo de Guinea (Barcelona[?], 1921), pp. 10-11.
210 Notes to Pages 106-114
68. Rene Pelissier, "Fernando P6o: un archipel hispano-guineen," Revue
fram;aise d'etudes politiques africaines, 33 (September, 1968), p. 98.
69. Clarence-Smith, "Economic Dynamics," p. 22.
70. Sanz Casas, '"Politica," p. 102.
71. Juan Bravo Carbonell, Territorios espaiioles del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid,
1929), p. 206.
72. Clarence-Smith, "Economic Dynamics," p. 24.
73. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 143, citing Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros.
Inspecci6n General de Colonias; Resumenes Estadisticos de Importaci6n y Exportaci6n
en los Territories Espaftoles del Golfo de Guinea. Afto 1932 (Madrid), 1934.
74. Clarence-Smith, "Economic Dynamics," p. 20.
75. Manuel Gongora Echenique, Angel Barrera, p. 127.
76. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 102.
77. Ibid., pp. 198-199.
78. Clarence-Smith, "Economic Dynamics," p. 24.
79. Guillermo Gortazar, Alfonso XIII, Hombre de negocios: persistencia del
antiguo regimen, modernizaci6n economica y crisis politica, 1902-1931 (Madrid,
1986), p. 167.
80. Ibid. Also see Luis Valdes Cavanilles, Memoria redacta referente al viaje
realizado a las posesiones espafioles del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1928).
81. W. H. Collins, "Fernando Po Today," Primitive Methodist Herald, 14
(March, 1920), pp. 22-28.
82. George Bell, Our Fernandian Field (London, 1926), p. 13.
83. Gongora, Angel Barrera, pp. 46-47.
84. Sanz Casas, "Polftica," p. 118.
85. Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers," p. 196.
86. Ibid., p. 190.
87. Interviews with Abigail Mehile, Malabo, Mar. 2, 1970; Edward Barleycorn,
Malabo, March 2, 1970; Fernanda Fergusson Broderick, Freetown, October 7, 10,
88. La voz de Fernando P6o, (October 15, 1915), pp. 10-11; Boletfn oftcial, 24
(December 15, 1920), pp. 172-74; Boletin oficial, 4 (February 15, 1921), p. 28.
89. Sanz Casas, "Politica," pp., 116-19, citing Archivo-biblioteca de la Casa de
!a Guinea Ecuatorial (Barcelona), Dossier 532. "Relacion de declaraciones juradas
(Cierre 31 enero 1929)."
90. Gonzalo Sanz Casas, "Economic Strategies and Management of Labour in
the Cocoa Plantations of Fernando Poo (Equatorial Guinea), 1880-1930," paper
presented at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Conference on Cocoa
Production and Economic Development in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,
September 15-17, 1993, p. 5, quoting Ruiaz, "Noticias de !a Colonia de Santa Isabel,
Cosecha," La Guinea Espanola, 647 (1927), p. 14.
91. Boletfn oftcial, 24 (December 15, 1920), pp. 172-74; Boletfn oficial, 24
(February 15, 1921), p. 28.
Notes to Pages 114-118 211
92. J. Mildbraed, "Fernando Po," in From the Congo to the Niger and the Nile,
2 vols., ed. Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (London, 1913), vol. 2,
p. 251. Camara Agricola, Malabo, Junta Prorrateadora, Maximiliano Jones to
President of the Junta, January, 1928.
93. Camara Agricola, Malabo, Junta Prorrateadora, Manuel Balboa to President
of the Junta, January 18, 1928.
94. Camara Agricola, Malabo, Junta Prorrateadora, Walter Dougan to President
of the Junta, January, 1928.
95. Ralph A. Austen, African Economic History: Internal Development and
External Dependency (Portsmouth, N.H., 1987), p. 131.
96. Hodges and Newitt, Siio Tome and Principe, pp. 30, 34.
97. Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen: The Duala of
Cameroon," in Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, ed.
Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff (Madison, 1977), p. 325.
98. D. E. Gardinier, Political Behavior in the Community of Doula, Cameroon:
Reactions of the Duala People to the Loss of Hegemony, 1944--1955 (Athens, 1966),
p. 2.
99. Patrick Manning, "L'Affaire Adjovi: la bourgeoisie fonciere naissante
au Dahomey, face a !'administration," in Entreprises et Entrepreneurs en Afrique, 2
vols., ed. Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch (Paris, 1983), vol. 3, pp. 241-67.
100. Olufemi Omosini, "Alfred Moloney and His Strategies for Economic
Development in Lagos Colony and Hinterland, 1886-1891," Journal of the Historical
Society of Nigeria, 3, 4 (June, 1975), p. 657.
101. John Iliffe, The Emergence of African Capitalism (Minneapolis, 1983), p.
102. A. G. Hopkins, "Richard Beale Blaize, 1845-1904, Merchant Prince of
West Africa," Tarikh, 1, 2 (1966), pp. 77-78.
103. Kristin Mann, Marrying Well: Marriage, Status and Social Change among
the Educated Elite in Colonial Lagos (New York, 1985), p. 22.
104. See Reynolds, Trade and Economic Change, p. 118.
105. Merran Fraenkel, Tribe and Class in Monrovia (London, 1964), pp. 117-
106. Iliffe, Emergence of African Capitalism, p. 18, citing Colin Bundy, The
Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (London, 1979), p. 94;
107. lliffe, Emergence of African Capitalism, p. 18, citing Bundy, The Rise and
Fall of the South African Peasantry (London, 1979), p. 94.
108. Norman Etherington, Preachers, Peasants and Politics in Southeast Africa,
1835-1880 (London, 1978), p. 128.
109. Ibid., p. 179.
110. Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen," p. 326.
212 Notes to Pages 119-124
Chapter 7. The Search for Labor
1. Sir Richard Burton, A Mission to Galele, King of Dahome (London, 1864),
vol. 1, p. 15. .
2. David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave
Trade (New York, 1987), p. 28. .
3. Frederick Cooper, From Slaves to Squatters: Plantatwn Labor and
Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 1890-1925 (New Haven, 1980!, p. 63n.
4. Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts, The End of Slavery (Madison, 1989),
p. 51.
Eric J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital, 1848-1875 (New York, 1975), p.
A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (New York, 1973), p.
7. Jean Suret-Canale, French Colonialism in Tropical Africa, 1900-1945 (New
York, 1971), p. 18.
8. Paul Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa
(New York, 1983), p. 279.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. lbid.,p.10.
12. Kathleen Simon, Slavery (London, 1929), p. 191. .
13. Francisco Scarano, Sugar and Slavery in Puerto Rico: The Plantatwn
Economy of Ponce, 1800-1850 (Madison, 1984), p. 164. . . .
14. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 1932, exp. 1, Captam J. Aile, C?Ief
of the Transatl<intica Company to Governor General of the Spanish PossessiOns m the
Gulf of Guinea, May 1, 1897.
15. Manuel de Teran, Sintesis geogr4fica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962), p.
16. Gonzalo Sanz Casas, "Politica colonial y organizaci6n del trabajo en Ia isla
de Fernando P6o: 1880-1930" (Ph.D. dissertation, Universidad de Barcelona, 1983),
p. 234. . . ' . ..
17. Ibid., p. 237, citing F. Madnd, La Gumea Incogmta (Verguenza Y
escandalo colonial) (Madrid, 1933), pp. 92-93.
18. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 1931, exp. 1, "Memoria refrente a las
Posesiones espafiolas del Golfo de Guinea, formulada por el Teniente Coronel de Ia
Guardia Civil ... Joaquin Fernandez Trujillo," 1926. . .
19. Teresa Pereira Rodriguez, "Aspectos maritimo-comerciales del colomahsi?o
espafiol en el Golfo de Guinea," in Segunda aula Canarias y el noroeste de Africa
(1986), ed. Victor Morales Lezcano (Las Palmas, 1988), p. . . .
20. Georges Balandier, The Sociology of Black Afrl_ca: Dynam1cs m
Central Africa (London, 1970), p. 142; Jan Vansina, Paths m the Ramforest: Toward
a History of Political Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990) pp. 134-37, 206,
Notes to Pages 124-127 213
234; Christopher Chamberlain, "The Migration of the Fang into Central Gabon during
the Nineteenth Century: A New Interpretation," International Journal of African
Historical Studies, 11. 3 (1978), pp. 429-56. For a discussion of Fang religion, see
James Fernandez, Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa
(Princeton, 1982).
21. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 239, citing AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 133,
"Nota sobre el Problema de braceros en Fernando P6o. Entregado por el Pte. de Ia
Camara Agricola en 14-5-30."
22. C.O. 82/9, John Clarke to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society,
November 2, 1841.
23. Mark Delancey, "Changes in Social Attitudes and Political Knowledge
among Migrants to Plantations in West Cameroon," (Ph.D. dissertation, University of
Indiana, 1973), p. 91. Also see Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen:
The Duala of Cameroon" in Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological
Perspectives, ed. Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff (Madison, 1977), p. 318, citing
Transcript S190/106, Archives nationales, Fonds allemands, Yaounde Douala district.
24. Joseph Takougang, "Victoria: An African Township under British
Administration, 1916-1961" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois at Chicago,
1985), p. 177.
25. Ibid., p. 180.
26. Gerald Kleis, "Network and Ethnicity in an Igbo Migrant Community"
(Ph.D. dissertation, Michigan State University, 1975), p. 40.
27. Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen," p. 318, citing
A.N.F.A., Douala District Court Transcripts, S1910/106.
28. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia hist6rica de la isla de Fernando
P6o (Madrid, 1947), p. 200.
29. Akinjide Osuntokun, "Anglo-Spanish Relations in West Africa during the
First World War," Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, 7. 2 (June 1974), p.
30. Byron Farwell, The Great War in Africa (New York, 1986), p. 70.
31. Oskar Baumann, Eine afrikanische Tropen-1nsel: Fernando Poo und die
Bube (Vienna, 1888), p. 138.
32. F.O. 2/371, Extract from a Report of a Debate in the Spanish Congress,
March 5, 1900, enclosure 11 in Adams, number 18 of March 6, 1900.
33. Baptist Missionary Herald (September, 1841), p. 133.
34. Thomas Joseph Hutchinson, Impressions of Western Africa (London, 1858),
p. 180.
35. Joaquin J. Navarro, Apuntes sobre el estado de la costa occidental de Africa
... (Madrid, 1859), apendice G.
36. George Brooks, The Kru Mariner in the Nineteenth Century (Newark, Del.,
1972), pp. 78, 109.
37. Burton, A Mission, p. 15.
i I
214 Notes to Pages 127-133
38. J. Gutterrez Sobral, "The Outlook at Fernando Po," West Africa (March 2,
1901), p. 35.
39. Brooks, Kru Mariner, p. 57.
40. John Clarke in J. P. Johnson, Proceedings of the General Anti-Slavery
Convention (London, 1841), p. 260.
41. Henry W. Nevinson, A Modern Slavery (London, 1906), p. 16.
42. Claude Meillassoux, "Essai d'interpretation du phenomene economique dans
les societes traditionelles d'autosubsistance," Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines, 1 (1961),
pp. 38-67.
43. Pierre-Philippe Rey, "L 'esclavage linager chez les tsangui, les punu et les
kuni du Congo-Brazzaville; sa place dans le systeme d'ensemble ses rapports de
production," in L 'Eslavage en Afrique precoloniale, ed. Claude Meillassoux (Paris,
44. R. W. Davis, Ethnohistorical Studies on the Kru Coast (Newark, Del.,
1976), p. 57, citing Thomas Ludlam, "An Account of the Kroomen on the Coast of
Africa," African Repository, 1 (1825-1826), p. 49.
45. Monica Schuler, "Kru Migration to British and French Guiana, 1841-1857,"
in Africans in Bondage: Studies in Slavery and the Slave Trade, Essays in Honor of
Philip D. Curtin, ed. Paul Lovejoy (Madison, 1986), p. 183.
46. F.O. 47/36, British Consul Errol MacDonell to Principal Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs, November 27, 1903.
47. Svend Holsoe, "Slavery and Economic Response among the Vai," in Slavery
in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, ed. Suzanne Meirs and Igor
Kopytoff (Madison, 1977), p. 288.
48. Cooper, Slaves to Squatters, p. 63.
49. F.O. 367/286, Admiralty to Foreign Office, September 24, 1912, enclosure
in: Report by Lt. Strong on the Exportation of Native Labour from Liberia to
Fernando Po, August 5, 1912.
50. F.O. 367/286 Strong to Admiralty, September 9, 1912; F.O. 367/353,
Angel Barrera to Vice-Consul Robert Smallbones, June 3, 1913.
51. Sierra Leone National Archives (Freetown) (henceforth cited as SLNA),
Colonial Secretary's Office Minute Paper, 3154/1895, Subject: "75labourers engaged
by A. T. Porter to be employed in [the] plantation of Don Francisco Romero [sic],
Fernando Po."
52. Baumann, Eine afrikanische Tropen-lnsel, p. 29.
53. SLNA, Colonial Secretary, Minute Papers 1888, 1888/2268, Memorandum
on complaint from Charles Cole, June 16, 1888.
54. SLNA, Colonial Secretary, Minute Papers 1892, 1892/1913, Consulate
General to Governor of Sierra Leone, April30, 1892.
55. F.O. 2/231, J. E. Gibney to Sir Ralph Moor, July 21, 1899.
56. Nigerian National Archives (lbadan), Calprof 9/1, Southern Nigeria Papers,
Correspondence-in-letters to High Commissioner, 1900-December 1901, vol. 1,
Foreign Office to Major Gallway ... Old Calabar, March 31, 1900.
Notes to Pages 133-140
57. F.O. 2/371, Extract from a Report of a Debate in the Spanish Congress,
March 5, 1899, enclosure 11 in Adams, number 18 of March 6, 1900; AGACE,
Secci6n Africa-G, caja 219, exp. 3, File: "Motin de trabajadores en Fernando P6o,
58. John Grace, Domestic Slavery in West Africa, with Particular Reference to
the Sierra Leone Protectorate 1896-1927 (New York, 1975), p. 188, citing C.O.
267/472/14840. King-Harman to C.O., April 8, 1904, forwarding report on Sherbro
District by Acting D.C.
59. F.O. 458/39, Report upon the General Situation in Liberia as at the end of
1913, enclosure in Mr. Maugham's dispatch No. 74 of April1, 1914.
60. F.O. 367/17, W. S. Brock, Consul at Loanda, to the Principal Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs, December, 1905.
61. F.O. 367/61, Consul Nightingale (Boma) to the Principal Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs, December 17, 1905.
62. F.O. 367/254, Lt. F. E. K. Strong to Admiralty, November 20, 1911.
63. F.O. 367/285, Consul Bedwell to the Colonial Secretary, April 6, 1912,
enclosing minute by C. Morse, Assistant Commissioner of Police, March 21, 1912.
64. F.O. 367/33, Governor-General Barrera to Vice-Consul Robert Smallbones,
June 7, 1913.
65. F.O. 367/286, Colonial Office to Foreign Office, September 2, 1912.
66. F.O. 367/286, Governor-General Barrera to the British Consul at Calabar
June 7, 1912; F.O. 367/285, Garcia Prieto to Sir M. de Bunsen, July 8, 1912. '
67. F.O. 367/286, Commander Strong to Admiralty, September, 1912.
68. F.O. 367/286, Admiralty to Foreign Office, September 24, 1912, enclosure
1: Report by Lt. Strong on the Exportation of Native Labour from Liberia to
Fernando Po, August 5, 1912.
69. F.O. 367/353, Angel Barrera to Vice-Consul Robert Smallbones June 3
1913. , ,
70. Ibid.; AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 1696, exp. 1, Fernandino
Agriculturalists to Minister of State, July 17, 1913.
71. Archivos Nacionales de la Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial (Malabo), file
1036, Manuel Balboa, Ministerio de Estado, Seccion Colonial, Memorandum, 1909.
72. F.O. 367/353, Vice-Consul Smallbones to the Curador, June 10, 1913.
73. F.O. 37111970, Vice-Consul Lewis Bernays to Consul-General Hall-Hall,
February 26, 1914.
74. F.O. 367/353, Decree published in the Boletin oficial of the Spanish
Possessions in the Gulf of Guinea on August 15, 1913, in Smallbones to Grey,
August, 1913.
75. Ibid.
76. F.O. 367/353, Foreign Office Minute, October 23, 1913, Bernays to Grey,
September 20, 1913.
77. F.O. 367/353, Vice-Consul Lewis Bernays to Foreign Office, October 3,
1913, enclosure number 3: copy of a letter addressed by a wealthy native planter to the
head office in England of a local firm, September 8, 1913.
216 Notes to Pages 141-145
78. Akin Mabogunje, Regional Mobility and Resource Development in West
Africa (Montreal, 1972), pp. 1-2.
79. F.O. 458/39, Dispatch no. 38/14, Acting Consul General H. Parks to F.O.,
May 16, 1914.
80. MMS, PMM, Box 3, File: Fernandino Cocoa Report, H. Markham Cook
to General Missionary Committee, June 10, 1915.
81. League of Nations, Secretariat, Report of the Liberian Commission of
Enquiry (C.658.M272), June, 1930, p. 36 (henceforth cited as League of Nations,
82. Raymond Buell, The Native Problem in Africa (New York, 1928), vol. 2, p.
83. League of Nations, Report, p. 44.
84. Juan Bravo Carbonell, Territorios espafwles del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid,
1929), p. 103.
85. F.O. 371/12759, Vice-Consul C. H. Chew, Santa Isabel, to Consul-General,
Monrovia, November 9, 1928.
86. League of Nations, Report, p. 41.
87. Ibid., p. 36.
88. F.O. 37117211, Manuel Gonzalez Hontoria to Sir Esme Howard, Madrid,
January 6, 1922.
89. League of Nations, Report; p. 41.
90. George Schuyler, "Wide 'Slavery' Persisting in Liberia, Post Reveals,"
Evening Post (New York), June 29, 1931, p. 1.
91. Nnamdi Azikiwe, "In Defense of Liberia," Journal of Negro History, 17. 1
(January, 1932), p. 44.
92. Ibid.
93. "Home of the Free," New Statesman, 36, 925 (January 17, 1931), p. 429.
94. Claude Barnett Papers. Chicago Historical Society, Associated Negro Press
News Release, January 28, 1931.
95. Otto Rothfield, "Liberia and the League of Nations," The Crisis, (April
1931), p 121.
96. Sanz Casas, "Politica," p. 247, citing AGACE, carpeta 136, "Informacion
instruida para depurar hechos denunciados en la Direccion general de Marruecos y
Colonias sobre la reculta de braceros ... " (1931).
97. Ibid., p. 246. See AGACE, Seccion Africa-G, caja 132, "Carpeta 22 sobre
esclavitud en Liberia, Presidencia del Consejo de Ministros, Direccion General de
Marreucos y Colonias, Seccion de Colonias, Madrid, 25 julio 1932, Antonio Canovas
al Ministro de Estado.
98. F.O. 458/126, British-Consul, Santa Isabel to Foreign Office, April 30,
1936. Also see F.O. 4581127, Yapp, Report on Employment of British Coloured
Labour in Fernando Po as the result of a visit made August 29- September 1, 1936,
enclosure no. 1 to Mr. Yapp's despatch no. 72 from Monrovia, dated September 15,
Notes to Pages 145-149 217
In 1936 the West African Review attacked "Slavery in Spanish Guinea" and wrote:
"We have seen Abyssinia and Liberia under reprimand for this offence, yet little or
nothing has been said about the trade still carried on by Spain in her territories in the
Gulf of Guinea. . . . All too little publicity has been given to the unlawful activities of
people employed by Spain to recruit. ... " West African Review, 104 (May, 1936), p.
14. In February of 1936 the Foreign Office received, via the consulate in Monrovia, a
letter from six African British subjects on Fernando Po, who complained of bad
treatment and bad land dealings.
99. See Harry Greenwalt and Roland Wild, Unknown Liberia (London, 1936).
Chapter 8. Creole Culture and Change
1. Rene Pelissier, "Fernando Poo: un archipel hispano-guineen," Rew
franfaise d'etudes politiques africaines, 33 (September, 1968), p. 95.
2. See John Holm, Pidgins and Creoles (New York, 1989), vol. 2, pp. 418-21
3. See Arthur Porter, Creoledom: A Study of the Development of Freetowi.
Society (London, 1963), P. C. Lloyd, Africa in Social Change (Baltimore, 1967);
Akintola Wyse, The Krio of Sierra Leone: An Interpretive History (London, 1989);
Leo Spitzer, Lives in Between: Assimilation and Marginality in Austria, Brazil, West
Africa, 1780-1945 (New York, 1989).
4. P. C. Lloyd, Africa in Social Change, p. 128.
5. Kristin Mann, Marrying Well: Marriage, Status and Social Change among
the Educated Elite in Colonial Lagos (New York, 1985), p. 33.
6. Colin Bundy, The Rise and Fall of the South African Peasantry (London,
1979), p. 92.
7. Mann, Marrying Well, p. 4.
8. In 1869 a member of the Cameroonian Baptist mission reported that all he
"could do was to speak to a few in private, who came to see me, or whom I went to
see at their own houses; but the generality of the people and other strangers there had
not the benefit of my visit. ... " Baptist Missionary Herald (January 1, 1870), n.p.
9. Cristobal Fernandez, Misiones y misioneros en la Guinea espanola (Madrid,
1962), p. 82.
10. "Manunies" Campbell, Attee, Nicol, Kennedy, Hollist, Collins, Kinson,
Knox, Brown, Jones, Barleycorn, Coker, and Orgill were all involved with the
Primitive Methodist Mission. Perhaps the mission's most ardent supporter was
Elizabeth ("Mama") Job. She was an lgbo woman who landed in the time of Owen;
before her death in 1896 she had raised more than a hundred orphans. The matron had
been the guiding light in the maintenance of Protestant worship and education in the
period from 1858 to 1869 and had been among the first to welcome the Primitive
Methodists in 1870." Primitive Methodist Missionary Record (January, 1870), p: 11;
Nathaniel Boocock, Our Fernandian Missions (London, n.d.), p. 20.
218 Notes to Pages 149-155
11. See John Peterson, "The Sierra Leone Creoles: A Reappraisal," in
Freetown: A Symposium, ed. Christopher Fyfe and Eldred Jones (Freetown, 1968),
pp. 100-17.
12. Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structures (Glencoe, Til.,
1957), p. 58, paraphrasing Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (New
York, 1928), chps. 2-4.
13. K. E. DeGraft-Johnson, "The Evolution of Elites in Ghana," in The New
Elites of Tropical Africa, ed. P. C. Lloyd (London, 1966), p. 109.
14. Mann, Marrying Well, p. 50.
15. MMS, PMM, Fernando Po, Box 5, Boocock file, MacFoy to the General
Missionary Secretary, February 6, 1895.
16. Ibid.
17. MMS, PM, Fernando Po, Box 4, Hanham to Pickett, October 16, 1907;
Guttery, March, 1909.
18. MMS, PM, Fernando Po, Box 4, Barleycorn to Travis, August 28, 1890.
19. Julio Arija, La Guinea espafwla y sus riquezas (Madrid, 1930), p. 136.
20. Philip Curtin, The Image of Africa: British Ideas and Action, 1780-1850
(Madison, 1964), vol. 1, p. 252.
21. MMS, PM, Box 5, J. Bell to Pickett, May 31, 1905.
22. MMS, PM, Box 4, Hanham to Pickett, October 16, 1907.
23. Nigerian National Archives (Ibadan), Calprof 9/1, Southern Nigeria, Papers,
Correspondence-in-Letters to High Commissioners, 1900-December 1901, vol. 1,
F.O. to Major Gallway ... Old Calabar, March 31, 1900.
24. Cristobal Fernandez, Misiones, p. 614.
25. Armengol Coli, Segunda memoria de las misiones de Fernando P6o y sus
dependencias (Madrid, 1911), p. 75.
26. MMS, PM Fernando Po, Box 2, Report on Fernando Po Missions (1903?).
27. Juan Bravo Carbonell, Fernando P6o y el Muni: sus misterios, sus riquezas,
su colonizaci6n (Madrid, 1917), p. 160.
28. "Censo de Santa Isabel 28 de febrero de 1920," La Guinea espanola, 7
(April 25, 1920), p. 80. According to the source, there were only 202 Fernandina
adults, out of an African population of 3,250. The adult creole population was
outnumbered by the 280 Europeans (the number given is actually 286).
29. Gonzalo Sanz Casas, "Politica, colonial y organizaci6n del trabajo en la isla
de Fernando P6o: 1880-1930" (Ph.D. dissertation, Universidad de Barcelona, 1983),
p. 287, citing Census, December 31, 1923, Boletin Oficial, January 15, 1924.
30. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, Geografia hist6rica de la isla de Fernando
P6o (Madrid, 1947), p. 299.
31. Abelardo de Unzueta y Yuste, "Ethnografia de Guinea: algunos grupos
inmigrantes de Fernando P6o," Africa, 77-78 (May-June, 1948), pp. 28-31.
32. MMS, PMM, Box 5, Boocock file, James MacFoy to General Missionary
Society, February 6, 1895.
Notes to Pages 155-160 219
33. Church Missionary Society Archives (London), G 3 A3/0, 1904, no. 110,
James Johnson, A Report of a Missionary Journey within and beyond the Southern
Nigeria British Protectorate from November, 1903 to July, 1904.
34. MMS, PMM, Box 5, Jabez Bell, Fernando Poo Missions, 1903.
35. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, caja 71, expidiente 28, Daniel Dore and Gil de
Ory (?) to the President of the Council of State, September 26, 1911.
36. MMS, PMM, Box 2, Quarterly Meeting, December 9 and 10, 1919.
37. MMS, PM, Box 2, Quarterly Meeting, Santa Isabel, November 19, 1924.
38. George Bell, "Our Position and Prospects in Fernando Poo," Primitive
Methodist Herald, 16 (March, 1922), pp. 28-29.
39. George Bell, "Something Attempted at Santa Isabel," Primitive Methodist
Advance (February, 1931), p. 22.
40. Examples abound. Abigail Hannah Barleycorn MacFoy, the daughter of
James MacFoy, was educated at the Wesleyan Girls High School in Sierra Leone.
Later she spent two years in school in Barcelona. She acquired further education in
England and returned to the island in 1903. In 1922 she moved to Abba, Nigeria, with
her grandchildren and returned to Fernando Po only at the end of the 1960s. Interview
with Abigail Hannah Barleycorn MacFoy Mehile, Santa Isabel, March, 1970.
41. Testament of Maximiliano C. Jones, May 23, 1944. The will is now in the
possession of Sr. Samuel Ebuka, former Equatorial Guinean ambassador to Ethiopia.
42. Archivo Nacional de la Republica de Guinea Equatorial, Malabo (henceforth
cited as ANRGE), Correspondencia, Jones, File 65, Maximiliano Jones to
Governor-General, August 8, 1913.
43. ANRGE, Correspondencia, citing memorandum, Francisco Canarias y
Castillo to Governor-General, September 11, 1913.
44. Testament ofMaximiliano C. Jones, May 23, 1944.
45. Ibid.
46. MMS, Mss. NIT 23, Rev. F. W. Dood, "Fernando Po, Sierra Leone and
the Gambia, February-June, 1939.
47. AGACE, Secci6n Africa-G, G.l859, Memoria sobre el problema de la
mano de obra en la isla de Fernando P6o por Don Alfred Jones Niger, Perito Agricola
del Agronomico de los Territorios espaiioles del Golfo de Guinea, Santa Isabel,
December, 1938.
Chapter 9. The Bubi: Acculturation and Resistance
1. Manuel de Teran, Sfntesis geogr4fica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962), p.
2. Carlos Crespo Gil-Delgado, Notas para un Estudio antropol6gico y
etn6logico del Bubi de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1949), p. 192.
3. Rene Pelissier, "Uncertainties in Spanish Guinea," Africa Report, 13
(March, 1968), p. 19.
'' I
220 Notes to Pages 161-168
4. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Breve Histoire de La Guinee Equatoriale (Paris,
1988), pp. 71-72.
5. See A. de Veciana Viladach, La secta del Bwiti en La Guinea espanola
(Madrid, 1958); James Fernandez, Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious
Imagination in Africa (Princeton, 1982).
6. Crespo Gil-Delgado, Notas, p. 191.
7. Ibid.
8. R. Howe, "Spanish Equatorial Island," Africa Report, 11 (June, 1966), p.
9. Amador Martin del Molino, Los Bubis, ritos y creencias (Malabo, 1989), p.
374, citing Jose Mufioz y Gaviria, Tres anos en Fernando P6o: Viaje a Africa por el
vizconde de San Javier (Madrid, 1871).
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid., p. 378.
12. Ibid., citing A. Aymemf, La Guinea espanola 644 (1927), p. 6.
13. Ibid., citing Jose Valero, "La Guinea espanola. La Isla de Fernando Poo,"
Boletfn de La Sociedad Geogr4fica Colonial y Mercantil, 32 (1892), p. 167.
14. Billy Gene Hahs, "Spain and the Scramble for Africa: The 'Africanistas'
' and the Gulf of Guinea" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1980), p.
182. The founder of the Claretians was Father Claret, the "Apostle of Spain." The
cleric was the enemy of secularizing tendencies in mid-nineteenth-century Spain. In
the 1840s he had undertaken evangelizing tours in Spain and urged his countrymen to
return to the Faith. His catechism sold over four million copies, and in 1857 he
became confessor to Isabel IT. In his view, religion and good works by the aristocracy
would stave off the threat of social revolution. He argued that the government should
abandon liberal principles in an effort to preserve Spain from what he perceived as
"atheism." Raymond Carr, Spain, 1808-1939 (Oxford, 1966), p. 286.
15. Oskar Baumann, Eine afrikanische Tropen-Insel: Fernando Poo und die
Bube (Vienna, 1888), p. 123.
16. Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (London, 1897), pp. 57-58.
17. Cristobal Fernandez, Misiones y misioneros en La Guinea espanola (Madrid,
1962), p. 270.
18. Ibid., p. 224.
19. Sanz Casas, "Polftica colonial y organizacion del trabajo en Ia isla de
Fernando Poo: 1880-1930" (Ph.D. dissertation, Universidad de Barcelona, 1983), p.
20. Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political
Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990), p. 113.
21. John Clarke, Introduction to the Fernandian Tongue (Berwick-on-Tweed,
1848), p. v. .
22. See Teran, Sfntesis, pp. 58-59; Spain in Equatorial Guinea (Madrid, 1964),
p. 23; Luis Ramos Izquierdo, Descripci6n geogr4fica y gobierno, administraci6n y
colonizaci6n de las colonias espanolas del Golfo de Guinea (Madrid, 1912), p. 20.
Notes to Pages 168-175 221
23. See Gunter Tessmann, Die Bubi auf Fernando Poo: volkerkundliche
Einzelbeschreibung eines westafrikanischen Negerstammes (Darmstadt, 1923), p. 24.
24. William Gervase Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers
on Fernando Poo, 1880s to 1910s," Journal of African History, 35 (1995), p. 186,
citing Methodist Missionary Society Archives (School of Oriental and African Studies,
University of London), 1153, mf 183, W. Barleycorn to Mr. Burnett, September 21,
1900; AGACE, C-148, E-6, GG to Ministry, November 28, 1910.
25. Ibid., p. 187, citing Tessmann, Die Bubi, pp. 216-17, 236-37.
26. Ibid., citing AGACE, C-974, E-25, L. Navarra, "Consideraciones,"
January 1, 1888.
27. Ibid., p. 15, citing AGACE, C-148, E-6, Governor-General to Ministry,
September 15, 1906, October 1, 1906, and December 13, 1906.
28. Juan Bravo Carbonell, Fernando P6o y el Muni: sus misterios, sus riquezas,
su colonizaci6n (Madrid, 1917), p. 197.
29. Ramos-Izquierdo, Descripcion geogr4fica, p. 345.
30. La voz de Fernando P6o, 39 (January 15, 1912), p. 8.
31. Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers," p. 187, citing
AGACE, C-2, E-5, "Bando sobre el trabajo de los Bubis," July 26, 1912.
32. Ibid., citing Rhodes House, Oxford, Mss. Afr. s 1525, 13/7, Holt to Huelfn,
February 13, 1913.
33. See Nathaniel Boocock, Our Fernandian Missions (London, n.d.), p. 90.
34. Ibid., p. 90.
35. Fernandez, Misiones, p. 529.
36. Ibid., p. 521.
37. Clarence-Smith, "African and European Cocoa Producers," p. 181, citing
Ferrer Piera, Fernando P6o y sus dependecias (descripci6n, producciones y estado
sanitaria (Barcelona, 1900), p. 115. This avenue for Bubi acquisition of guns was cut
off by the government in 1906, when the Spanish forbade such trade. AGACE,
C-148, E-6, GG to Min., October 30, 1906.
38. Ibid., citing AGACE, C-148, E-6, Governor-General to Ministry,
November 28, 1910; Liverpool City Library, 380 JHP-1, 9/1, Fernando Po letter,
December 21, 1910; G. Tessman, Die Bubi, p. 216.
39. One concession of over eighteen hectares was registered. Clarence-Smith,
"African and European Cocoa Producers," p. 187, citing Archivo de Ia Casa de
Guinea, Barcelona, "Relacion de los terrenos concedidos," 1909-1916.
40. Ibid., p. 194, citing AGACE, C-148, Governor-General to Ministry,
October 15, 1910.
41. Lo que es y lo que podra ser La Guinea espanola (Barcelona, 1931), n.p.
42. Clarence-Smith, "African and European Producers," pp. 197-98, citing
Sanz Casas, "Politica colonial," p. 117; J. L. Barcelo, Perspectivas econ6micas del
Africa Ecuatorial Espanola (Madrid, 1947), p. 34; "Viaje a las posesiones Espaiiolas
del Golfo de Guinea, Abril-Septiembre de 1941," pp. 80-81, 88-92 and map.
222 Notes to Pages 175-181
43. Interview with Abigail Mehile, Malabo, March 2, 21, 1970.
44. Liniger-Goumaz, Breve Histoire, pp. 14-15.
45. Randall Fegley, Equatorial Guinea: An African Tragedy (New York, 1989),
p. 26.
46. Crespo Gii-Delgado, Notas, p. 191.
47. Howe, "Spanish Equatorial Island," p. 48.
48. Rene Pelissier, "Spain's Discreet Decolonisation," Foreign Affairs, 43. 3
(April27, 1965), p. 525.
49. Pedro Nsue Ela, letter to the editor, Africa 2000, 213 (1987), p. 48.
1. Jan Vansina, Paths in the Rainforest: Toward a History of Political
Tradition in Equatorial Africa (Madison, 1990), p. 210.
2. Ralph Austen, "Slavery among Coastal Middlemen: The Duala of
Cameroon," in Slavery in Africa: Historical and Anthropological Perspectives, ed.
Suzanne Miers and Igor Kopytoff (Madison, 1977), pp. 326-27.
,, 3. John Iliffe, The Emergence of African Capitalism (Minneapolis, 1983), p.
4. Walter Rodney, A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905, p.
5. Akinjide Osuntokun, "Nigeria-Fernando Po Relations from the Nineteenth
Century to the Present," paper delivered at the Canadian African Studies convention,
Universite de Sherbrooke, April 26-May 3, 1977, p. 44, citing P.O. 371/49690,
Research Department, February 1, 1945.
6. William Gervase Clarence-Smith, "The Impact of the Spanish Civil War and
the Second World War on Portuguese and Spanish Africa," Journal of African
History, 26 (1985), p. 324.
7. Ibid.
8. Robert Gard, "Colonization and Decolonization of Equatorial Guinea"
(unpublished manuscript, Northwestern University, 1974), p. 92; citing Anuario de
Estadistica y Cadastro de la Direccion de Agricultura (Madrid, 1944).
9. R. J. Church, et al., Africa and the Islands (New York, 1964), p. 278.
10. Armin Kobel, "La Republique de Guinee Equatoriale, ses resources
potentielles et virtuelles. Possibilites de developement" (Ph.D. dissertation, Universite
de Neuchatel, 1976), p. 206, citing estimates of the Servicio Agronomico, Malabo,
11. S. 0. Osoba, "The Phenomenon of Labour Migration in the Era of British
Colonial Rule: A Neglected Aspect of Nigeria's Social History," Journal of the
Historical Society of Nigeria, 4. 4 (1969), p. 520, citing Nigeria, Annual Report of the
DepartmentofLahour, 1954/55, Lagos, p. 13.
Notes to Pages 182-184 223
1 2 ~ Osuntokun, "Nigeria," p. 33.
13. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Small Is Not Always Beautiful: The Story of
Equatorial Guinea (London, 1988), p. 32.
14. Gard, "Colonization," p. 871.
15. Liniger-Goumaz, Small Is Not Always Beautiful, p. 32.
16. Manuel de Teran, Sfntesis geognijica de Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1962), p.
17. C. LOpez Moms, "Aspectos de Ia lucha sanitaria en Guinea," Archivos de
Instituto de Estudios Africanos, 9 (August, 1949), p. 10.
18. A. Arbelo Curbelo and R. Villarino Ulloa, Contribuci6n al estudio de la
depoblacfon indfgena en los territorios espafwles del Golfo de Guinea, con
particularidad en Fernando P6o (Madrid, 1942), p. 100.
19. Robert af Klinteberg, Equatorial Guinea-Macfas Country (Geneva, 1977),
p. 5.
20. Spain in Equatorial Africa, Political Documents, 2 (Madrid, 1964), p. 50.
21. "Equatorial Guinea," African Contemporary Record, vol. 1, 1968-1969, ed.
Colin Legum (London, 1970), p. 483; Kobel, "La Republique," p. 198.
22. Gard, "Colonization," p. 406.
23. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Connaftre la Guinee Equatoriale (Geneva, 1986), p.
24. "Update," Africa Report (January, 1969), p. 26.
25. Gard, "Colonization," p. 871.
Primary Sources
Archivo General de Ia Administraci6n Civil del Estado (AGACE), Alcala de Henares.
Consult Africa: Guinea-Inventario Topogrdfico. Secci6n Africa-G Torno I, cajas
G. 2, 15, 71, 104, 153, 155, 219; also cajas G. 1696, 1753, 1859, 1876, 1931,
Archivos Nacionales de Ia Republica de Ia Guinea Ecuatorial (ANRGE), Malabo.
(Consult Constantino Ocha'a Mve Bengobesama, Fuentes Archivfsticas y
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investigador y del estudiante], Madrid: Anzos, S. A., 1985.
Archival Files: 1036/Balboa, 65/Jones, 170/Dougan, 10911Dekage. Registro de Ia
Propriedad: File 1915.
Camara Agricola: Record Books, 1927, 1928 Correspondencia, Secci6n de
Prorrateo, 1928-30.
Baptist Missionary Society Archives, London (BMS), Cameroons and Fernando Po
Correspondence of John Merrick, Joseph Diboll, and various other missionaries.
Miscellaneous documents and deeds.
Joseph Jackson Fuller, "The West African Mission of the B.M.S. from Its
Beginning to 1887."
The Clarence Church Book, October 2, 1842-February 18, 1849.
Chicago Historical Society. Claude Barnett Papers.
Church Missionary Society Archives, London (CMS). G3 A3/0 1904, Number 110:
James Johnson. "A Report of a Missionary Journey within and beyond the
Southern Nigeria British Protectorate from November 1903 to July 1904."
CA3 04/326: "Chairman and Members of the Committee appointed at a Public
Meeting to take steps for introducing a Protestant Church in Fernando Po to Bishop
Samuel A. Crowther, October 6, 1869."
CA2 016: Thomas Hutchinson to Samuel A. Crowther, October 24, 1856.
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Beecroft, John; Spanish Governor, 46, 48;
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nationality question, 70; Trading
activities on F. P., 58, 62-64; Trading
in Bubi, 83, 85, 87; Trips for African
Association, 59, 63
Beecroft, Maria, 60
Belize, 62
Benga, 15, 45-47, 122
Bengoa Arriola, Pedro, 103, 105
bese, 75, 86, 169
Bimbia, 33, 51, 58, 60-61, 63, 126
Bioko, 169, 172, 174
Blanco, Pedro, 43-44, 52, 130
Bleek, Wilhelm, 83
Blunt, J. , 63
Bokoko, 15-16, 80, 92
Bonelli, Emilio, 102, 105, 114
Bonkoro I, 46-47
Bosman, Willem, 14
botuku, 77, 82, 165. See batuku
Braude!, Femand, 3
Bravo Carbonell, Juan, 105
Brew, Samuel Richard, 93
Buadjamita, 76
Bubi, 8, 11; 19th C. change, 74-75;
Agricultural cooperatives, 184;
Argelejos Exp., 29-30; Arms, 221n37;
buala, 75-76, 203n7; Burton's
perception of, 73; Catholic Church &
Literacy, 161, 163; Catholic ed., 176-
77; Centralization, 7 6-78; Claretian
villages, 175-76; Cocoa, 170, 174, 177;
Conflict with Clarence, 85;
Development in 1960s, 184; Family life,
82; Labor, 169-73; Name, 22; Origins,
22-25, 28; Origins, theories, 82;
Population decline, 169; Population
increase, 183; Primitive Methodists and,
173-74; Rulers, 76; Slaving, 31-32;
Traditional religion, 163-65
Burton, Richard, 7, 71-72, 119, 127
Buxton, Thomas Fowell; Advocacy of
F. P. 1820s, 6, 25; Origin of the Niger
Expedition, 36, 42, 45, 61
' .. Cacheu Company, 12
Cadbury, William, 131
Calabar, 22, 57, 63, 88-89, 97, 132
134-37, 157
Camara Agricola, 100, 103, 105, 109,
111, 124, 139-40, 143, 159, 170-71,
Cameroon, 3, 9-10, 15, 18, 20, 23, 31,
33, 47, 57, 59-61, 63, 66, 68, 88-89,
92, 102, 104, 116, 118, 122, 137, 148-
49, 152, 161, 178, 180
Campbell, Benjamin, 70
Canaries, 44, 50, 55, 83, 104, 108, 179
Carlyle, Thomas, 68
Castro y Casaleiz, Antonio, 104
CEGUI, 180
Chacon, Carlos, 49, 68
Church Missionary Society, 59, 67-68
Clarence, 3, 26, 27, 29, 31-33, 35-36, 46,
57-58, 59, 61, 64, 65, 68, 78, 82, 84,
86-87, 103, 148. See also Santa Isabel
Clarence-Smith, Gervaise, 47, 103,
112-13, 181
Claretians, (Hijos del Inmaculado
Corazon de Maria), 153-54, 156, 164-
67, 173-75, 219n40
Clarke, John, 37, 66-67, 76, 78, 84,
125, 127
Cocoa; Amelonado-growing of, 92, 95;
"Cacao Hybrido," 95; Early production,
6, 95, 99, 103; Early concessions, 92-
94; F. P. beginnings, 90; Production to
1930, 106, 109; Shipment, 208n48;
Spanish tariff policy, 99-101; Tariffs,
Cocoyams, 16
Coello, Francisco, 101
Coffee, 3, 6, 8, 63, 91, 99-100, 105,
109, 117, 123, 144, 172, 179-80, 183
Cole, Charles, 132
Coli, Armengol, 156
Compaiiia Colonial de Fernando Poo, 102
Compaiiia Espanola de Colonizacion, 104
Compaiiia Espanola del Golfo de Guinea,
Compaiiia Nacional de Colonizacion
Africana (ALENA), 110
Concepcion, 16, 53, 103, 114, 156, 165
166, 169
Concepcion Bay, 78, 85, 86
Conceptionists (Las Religiosas
Misioneras de Ia Inmaculada
Concepcion), (Sisters of the Immaculate
Conception), 153, 156, 175
Congreso de Geografia Colonial y
Mercantile, 101
Consejo de Vecinos, 111, 154
Cooke, Nathaniel, 73, 149
Cooper, Frederick 5, 131
Corisco, 45-47, 50
Costa, Joaquin, 101, 164
Creoles, 68-71, 89, 115; Agriculture
Fernando Po, 90, 177; Agriculture
Sierra Leone, 91, 177; Culture, 96,
146-159; Defmition, 65; Life-Style,
147, 149-152; Sierra Leoneans vs
competition 1850s, 56, 73, 105
Crowther, Samuel (Bishop), 68
Cuba, 45, 49; Cubans in Africa, 50-54;
On Biafran Coast, 88, 92, 165; Slave
Trade to, 39, 48, 102, 121; Sugar
production to 1840, 44; Deportees to
Fernando Po, 6, 52-53, 146, 199n53
Cunha Lisboa, Laureano da, 126, 132,
136, 206n17
Curadoria, 113, 135, 139
Daban, Luis, 170
Dahomey, 22, 58, 116
Davis, David Brion, 65
Del Cerro, Juan, 152
Delegaciones de Asuntos Indigenes
(Office of Native Affairs), 182
Dike, Keuneth 0., 56, 58
Direccion General de Marruecos y
Colonias, 110, 145, 154
Disease, 4-6, 34-37, 50, 53, 61, 168,
171; Gonorrhea, 47, 144, 182;
Syphillis, 47, 144, 182. See also
Dougan, Joseph Walter, 93, 114, 115, 135
Duala, 18, 31, 92, 116, 118, 124, 125,
Duke Ephraim and Clarence, 33
Dulce, Domingo, 53
E f ~ , 33, 57, 69, 72, 92, 182
Eltis, David, 21-22, 29, 31, 40, 119
Elobey, 47, 123, 124, 136
Emancipado (status), 53, 157
Ernancipados (Cuban), 51-54
eria, 75, 171
Espaiia, Adolfo, 166
Esquivel, Luis Ramos de, 12
Eyo II, 69
Fang, 47, 122-24, 143, 161, 168, 176,
183, 184
Fernandinos, 7, 54, 90, 96, 101,
111-115, 140, 160, 177, 183-84;
Agricultural problems of, 96, 99, 110;
Culture, 146-48, 158; Labor ordinance
1913, 138; Religious Beliefs, 151-52;
Social structure, 155-56, 175
Forced Labor Convention 1930, 145
Franco, Francisco, 5, 110, 146, 159, 161,
176, 179
Frazer, Sir James, 81
Freetown. See Sierra Leone
Fyfe, Christopher, 7, 90, 91
Gabon, 10, 40, 45, 46,47, 60,122,124,
145, 161
GAESA, 180
Gandara, Jose de Ia, 164
Gardner, Henry Hugh, 96, 152
Geography (Fernando Po), 10-11, 180-81,
Gold Coast, 12, 24, 33, 59, 61, 85, 92,
117, 118, 131, 133, 135, 137
Gomes Ferreira, Vicente, 18
Gomes de Silva, Manuel, 19
GonzaJez, Antonio, 46
Gori Molubuela, Enrique, 183
Grebo, 126, 127, 129
Guillernard De Aragon, Adolfo, 47, 50,
52, 67, 164
Hargreaves, J. D., 91
Harris, Marvin, 4
Hay, John, 34
Hobsbawm, Eric, 119
Holt, John (Company), 93, 105, 108, 130,
Holt, John, 60, 88, 92
Hopkins, A. G., 61, 120
Horsfall and Company, J., 49, 88
Hoto of Monohlu, Chief; Liberia, 144
Huelin, Casa (Cocoa Brokers), 102, 110
Humplmeyr, August, 130
Hutchinson, Thomas; F. P. nationality
question, 70; on Bubi, 83
Igbo, 7, 23, 57, 69, 123, 148, 182
lradier y Bulfy, Manuel, 51, 101-102, 122
Jamaica, 37, 46, 66-67
Jamieson, Robert, 64, 85
Jesuits, 153, 164
Johns, George; Liberian consul, 143
Johnson, Gabriel, 117, 142
Johnson, James, 155
Johnston, Sir Harry, 4, 15
Jones, Alfred, 159, 183
Jones, Edward, 6, 68, 69
Jones, Joan (Juana), 159
Jones, Mabel, 159
Jones, Maximiliano, 105, 171;
Accumulation, 114; Beginning, 93;
Family life, 158-59
Jones Niger, Wilwardo, 183
Jones, Salome, 183
Jones, W. J., 88
Jones, Wilwardo, 114
jonnu, 129-30
Juanola, Padre Joaquin, 165, 166, 169
Junta de Patrones, 172
King Akwa (Acqua), 20, 125
King Bell, 125
King, Charles D. B., 142-43
King Duke, 69
King Eyo, 69
King William, 51, 125
Kingsley, Mary, 165
Kinson, Daniel, 169
Kinson, Samuel, 93, 138
Knox, J. W., 93
Kpelle, 129-30
Kru, 57, 58, 73, 93; Labor recruitment,
126-30, 165; Origins, 7, 111; Wars
with Bubi, 86-87;
Labor Abuse, 130-40; Agreements, 140-
45; Recruitment, 122-30
Lagos, 58, 70, 72, 82, 117, 134, 147, 150,
152, 157, 159
Lardner, H. H., 92
League of Nations, 130, 144-45, 171, 180
Lerena, Juan Jose de, 46-47
Liberia, 26, 56, 64, 91, 111, 117, 126,
129, 134, 136-37, 140-45
Livingstone, C. (Consul 1869), 72
lohUa, 80, 166
Lopez de Ia Torre Ayllon, P., 50
Lopez y Bru, Claudio (2nd Marques de
Comillas), 102, 156
Lopez y Lopez, Antonio (1st Marques de
Comillas), 102
/ova, 75
Lovejoy, Paul, 17, 120
Luba, 16, 20, 170
Lynslager, Wm., 48, 59, 72; Baptists, 67;
Biography, 58, 60, 70
MacFoy, Abigail. See Mehile, Abigail
MacFoy, James, 91, 150, 155;
widow, 96, 138
Macias Nguema, Francisco, 184
MacQueen, James; On suitability of
F. P., 6, 24; Proposal for company
1840s, 65
Malabo, 76, 77, 167, 169, 170, 172, 175
Malaria; Antislaving base
considerations, 19, 24, 36;
Importance on F. P., 4-5; Influence on
Clarence [passim], 36; Mid-century
Spanish mortality, 182
Mallo Brothers, 115
Mann, Kristin, 147
Manterola, Nicolas de, 47, 50
Maria Cristina (Mission), 174
Maris Carneiro, Antonio de, 14
Martin del Molino, Amador, 74, 76, 77
Martinez, Miguel, 152-53
Matthews, Wm. Henry, 67, 59
Mehile, Abigail, 2!9n40
Mehile family, 175
Meillassoux, Claude, 128
Mende, 7, 132
Miers, Suzanne and Roberts, Richard,
7, 119
Mixed Commission Court (Freetown),
21, 23, 25, 27, 39, 41-43, 46
Moka (town). See Riabba
Moka (King), 77, 78, 80, 82, 165-67,
Montes de Oca, Jose, 93, 102
morim6 (mmo), 83, 163
Moritz, E. H., 105
Moros y Morellon, Jose de, 39
Mpongwe, 122
Munga, 47
Munoz y Gaviria, Jose (Vizconde de San
Javier), 54
Mustrich, Domingo, 48
National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, 145
Ndowe, 176, 183
Nevinson, Henry, 127
Nicholls, Peter, 69, 70, 85
Nicol, William Fergusson, 93
Nicolls, Col. Edward, 27, 28, 31, 35, 79;
and Breaking up of settlement, 33;
Baptists, 67; Consulted on Niger Exp.,
43; Development schemes, 65; Need for
a base in Bimbia, 32-33; On
Africanintellect, 62; Settlement of F. P.,
64, 86; View of efficacy of Clarence,
31; West Africa Co., 62-63
Niger, Daniel, 113
Niger Expedition, 6, 24, 36, 42, 45, 59,
Nigeria, 3, 10, 20, 29, 60, 97, 103-104
122, 125, 131, 135, 137, 155, 179-180
O'Donell, Leopoldo, 49
Old Calabar, 19, 22-24, 32-33, 40, 64,
69, 72, 88, 92
Opubu, 32
Oriche, 77, 175-76
Ossorio, Amado 102, 122
Owen, William F., 28, 31, 35-36, 59;
Development schemes, 32, 34, 41, 61-
62; E. Africa, 33; Settlement of F. P.,
25-27; View of African rulers, 32-33
Palm oil, 6-7, 31, 35, 69, 75, 84, 90-92,
117, 124, 173, 179; 1850 prod. Biafra,
59, 60, 63-64, 68, 72-73, 74, 177, 182;
Cultivation, 16, 148, 169; Description,
14, 40, 83; Early 19th C. production
and prices, 24-25
Patronato de Indigenas, 157, 171-72, 182
Pelissier, Rene, 146
Pelion y Rodriguez, Julian, 50
Pepple, King, 58
Perez y Mora (Company), 105
Porter, A. T., 132
Potugi, 18
Primitive Methodist Mission, 93, 153, 157,
172; Beginning on Fernando Po, 78;
Early 20th C., 141, 148-49; Women in
mission, 156, 218nJO
Primo de Rivera, Joaquin, 19, 110, 146
Prince, G. K., 66
Principe, 5, 7, 10-13, 14, 18-19, 45, 51,
57, 95, 98-99, 121, 131, 148, 168
Puerto Rico, 38, 42, 50, 121
Recaptives, 7, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 33,
56-57, 58, 62-63, 65, 69, 148;
Provenance, 23
Reglamento del Trabaja Indigenas, 134
Rey, Pierre-Philippe, 128
Riabba, 18, 77, 78, 80, 88, 105, 162,
163, 165, 166-67' 182
Richard Dillon and Company, 62, 63, 85
Rio Gallinas, 43-44
Rio Muni, 15, 45-47, 74, 101-105, 110,
122-24, 125, 141, 143, 158, 161, 168,
179, 183-84
Rodney, Walter, 4, 178
Romera, Francisco, 92, 114, 132
Ross, Samuel, 143-44
Saker, Alfred Rev., 66
San Carlos, 55, 92, 93, 97, 98, 114, 132,
136, 146, 149, 167-68, 172
San Carlos Bay, 16, 20, 64, 84, 86, 133
Sanchez Toea, J., 105
Santa Isabel (Clarence), 3, 26-36, 46,
55, 57-63, 68, 70, 84, 87-9, 110, 111,
126, 146-49, 150, 152, 154, 156, 165,
169, 170, 171, 172, 183; Impact on
slave trade, 27-36; Population early
1900s, 98, 103, 105, 123; Population-
20th C., 123, 153, 154-55
Sanz Casas, Gonzalo, et al., 167
Sao Tome, 45, 52, 121, 115, 120, 148,
183, 207n4J; Cadbury Scandal, 131,
135; Comparison F. P. (navigation), 10,
13; Comparison F. P. cocoa 1880s, 95,
98-100; Comparison F. P., 13, 18, 19,
98; Disease factor, 34, 168; Plantation
Economy, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12; Slave Trade,
12, 51
Sas Ebuera, 77, 167, 169, 172
Scarano, Francisco, 121
Schuler, Monica, 129
Schuyler, George, 144
Scott, John, 59, 60,67
Scott, Jonathan, 59
Sierra Leone, 7, 21, 23-25, 29, 33-36, 43,
46-51, 56, 59, 63, 65, 67-73, 98, 90,
92, 97, 126, 129, 132, 133, 134, 137,
157, 159
Sierra Leoneans. See Creoles
Sindicato Agricola de los Territories;
Espanola del Guinea, 109, 143
Slaving, 6, 7, 8, 18, 19, 21, 32, 33, 43,
45-52, 61, 125, 129-30; 18th C.
numbers, 12, 17-18; Early 19th C.
' ,c numbers, 20; Decline in 1830s, 22, 25-
27, 31
Smallbones, Robert, 135, 138
Sociedad de Explotacion Agricola Industrial
y Minera, 104
Sociedad Economica de Barcelona, 49
Sociedad Economica Matritense, 49
Sociedad General; Hispano-Africana, 104
Sociedad Geografica de Madrid, 101
South Africa, 117, 141, 147
South Atlantic System, 21, 38, 45
Spain, 3; 1778 Expedition, 6; Anti-
slaving diplomacy, 32, 39-45; Colonial
retrenchment, 83-85, 164; Colonization
1870s, 91; Economy 1890s, 110; In the
Bight (overview), 11, 21; Internal
politics, 38; Labor agreement 1914,
140-45; Negotiation on cession, 40-41,
94; Nineteenth C. imperialism, 72, 101;
Slaving, 38; Spanish Guinea, 103, 104,
106, 107, 108, 161, 175, 179, 183-84
Stanley, Henry M., 101, 102
Suret-Canale, Jean, 120
Taylor, Joseph Emmanuel, 97-98
Tovalou Quenum, Joseph, 116
Trasatlantica (Transatlantica), Compaiiia,
102, 105, 114, 156
Transmediterranea Company, 145, 179
Trypanosomiasis, 4, 182
Union Bubi, 176, 183
Union de Agricultores de Guinea
Espanola, 109, 180
Union Democratica Fernandina, 183
Universal Negro Improvement Association,
117, 142
Ureka, 15, 77, 78, 80, 162
Usera, Jeronimo, 152
Vai, 129-30
Valdes, Jose Salome, 51
Valdes Cavanilles, Luis, 110
Vansina, Jan, 9, 14, 15, 16, 76, 78, 82
Varela y Ulloa, Jose de, 19
Vigatana de Fernando P6o, 102, 107, 108,
135, 136
Vivour, Amelia, 93, 113, 114, 132, 133,
Vivour, William Allen, 92-93, 113, 114,
115, 126, 132, 136
West African Company, 63-64, 67, 72, 85,
Weyler Valeriano, 104
Wiechers and Helm, 130
Williams, Thomas, 70
Wilson, Francis, 105
Woermann Line, 55, 60, 108
Wrisberg, Johan, 61
Yams, 16, 18, 26, 75, 81, 86, 132, 166
Yancy, Allen, 143-44
Zanzibar, 3, 5, 6, 7, 104, 120
Zulueta, Pedro de, 52

Univ. Bayreuth

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