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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 XVIII.

Bishop Ingham's inspection--Death of Rev. Canon Burrows--Appointment of the Earl of Stamford as chairman of English Committee--Supervision of Mission undertaken by Bishop of Sierra Leone--The heathenish secret society.

IN 1891 the Bishop made a thorough f inspection of all the stations. There were services, confirmations, school examinations, and a conference of workers. A serious blow was now aimed at the Mission by the French authorities, who ordered all schools to be closed where French was not taught; and although every effort was made by the missionaries to secure teachers, the difficulties proved to be insurmountable, and the schools were accordingly closed. Meanwhile the new school in British territory was rapidly being completed, and Mr. Farquhar had already gathered a goodly number of pupils around him.

On the English Committee, too, an unexpected blow fell by the death of the Rev. Canon Burrows, who had been its chairman since Mr. Rigaud's death in 1888. Lord Stamford now accepted the vacant chairman ship, an appointment received with general satisfaction, not only on account of his great interest in foreign missions generally, but also because of his experience and ability, his knowledge of the West Indies, and his special interest in the Pongas Mission.

Several new departures were now taken, and it may be said that from this time, the management of the Mission entered on a new phase entirely. The funds of the Mission were perceptibly dwindling, and the strictest economy had to be enforced. It had now become evident, too, that there was no longer any reasonable hope of securing the appointment of a bishop for the Rio Pongo, and the idea was finally abandoned. The venerable Bishop of Antigua proposed accordingly that the Bishop of Sierra Leone be invited to assume the charge of the Mission for so long a time as the arrangement should continue to be satisfactory both to himself and the committee. The proposals and rules submitted by the Bishop of Antigua were cordially agreed to, and the S.P.G., which partly supports the Mission, warmly approved of the scheme, as bringing the Mission more into apostolic order. More frequent committee meetings were now held and, the committee was fortunate enough to secure the active services of Dr. R. N. Cust, as one of its members. The missionaries, at this time, wrote repeatedly of the increase of Mohammadanism in the Rio Pongo, the baneful influence of polygamy, and the lapse of several converts, who were led astray on the re-appearance of "Simoi," the old heathenish secret society, abolished long ago in the Fallangia district by the late Richard Wilkinson.

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