Project Canterbury

Fifty Years in Western Africa
Being a Record of the Work of the West Indian Church on the Banks of the Rio Pongo

By A.H. Barrow, M.A.
Vicar of Billinghurst, Sussex

London: SPCK, 1900.

Chapter X.

The staff increased again--Testimony to the good work accomplished--Rio Nunez.

THE end of the year 1866 found Mr. Duport once more practically alone, in charge of the Mission. Mr. Maurice and Mr. Morgan, jun., had both retired during the year, on the ground of the unhealthiness of the country. Happily, however, the stiff was again materially strengthened by the arrival, on June 22nd, of Messrs. J. F. Turpin and P. H. Doughlin from Barbados. They were both students of Codrington College, and men of great promise. The former had been employed for some months as a reader and catechist in St. Vincent, amongst the Caribs, under the direction of the Rev. G. M. D. Frederick (a1ter Archdeacon of Barbados). Both suffered severely from African fever on their first arrival.

At this time the French Government took formal possession of the Rio Pongo, "for the protection of trade, and the advancement of civilization," and placed it under the commandant of Senegal.

At the close of 1867 the staff was as follows Rev. J. H. A. Duport, in charge; .Mr. Turpin, catechist at Domingia; Mr. Doughlin, catechist at Fallangia; Mr. W. S. Macaulay, catechist and schoolmaster at Fotobah; Mr. E. E. Bickersteth, schoolmaster at Fallangia; and two schoolmistresses, one at Domingia, and one at Fallangia.

In 1868 Mr. Turpin was ordained Deacon on the fourth Sunday in Advent (December 20th), and Mr. Doughlin was preparing himself for ordination. Both of them made good progress during the year in acquiring the Susu language. The Isles de Los station had begun to bear fruit, and very great hopes were entertained that it might, in the course of time, become not merely a sanatorium, but the Iona of the Mission. The number of baptisms during the year 1868 was 51, making the total number of persons baptized since the commencement of the Mission at Christmas, 1855, by the West Indian missionaries, 537. The number of communicants increased during the year from 40 to 53, and at its close there were 28 candidates for Holy Baptism and 80 for Confirmation.

In 1869 Mr. Duport and his family sailed on May 3rd for the Rio Nunez, the Governor of Senegal having given his permission for him to open a station there. The shores of this river near the mouth are occupied by a wild tribe called the Bagas, whom Mr. Duport described as the most degraded savages he had seen in Africa. The king and the population of the upper river are Nalloos, a more independent and a finer race, apparently, than even the Mulattos of the Rio Pongo. At a meeting of the king and chiefs at Kannsup, it was decided that three buildings should be erected in Kanfarandey, at a place called Gemmasansan (Gemme St. Jean) the foot of rocks, consisting of a church and school under one roof, a dwelling-house for the missionary, of the same size as that at Domingia, and a residence for children from a distance. The majority of the people speak or understand the Susu language, this being the trade language of the coast from Sierra Leone northwards, wherever regular trade is carried on; English, too, is understood a little by many of the chiefs who were trained under English masters in days gone by. Why English men left the river finally cannot be satisfactorily ascertained.

Project Canterbury