I have said that for me the charm of the country vanished with the coming of the white man; but, of course, our missions could never have been established on the lines that they are now on in Mashonaland, considering the limited means at our disposal, without the place being occupied by white men with hospitals, stores, etc. They would probably have been established in a totally different way--as those in Matabeleland were before the war. There were there two centres, each with two missionaries and their families. Once a year waggons went down the country for supplies. They had their farm and fields and garden; the rest of their wants were supplied by the country. That it is quite possible to establish a mission in the country practically without the [81/82] aid of any system of colonization on the part of England is shown by the establishment of the American mission in the south-east of Mashonaland, not far from what is now called Melsetter. In 1891 the American missionaries told me that they proposed establishing a mission somewhere near Umzila's old kraal in Gazaland. I promised them then that if they did do so I would put no mission near them. In 1893 one of our missionaries, Mr. Burgin, had directions from me to establish a mission near Melsetter, to the east of Fort Victoria, where some white men were living. He travelled the hundred and fifty miles eastward from Fort Victoria, and began his work near Melsetter; and a very admirable work it was. He had not been there very long before the American missionaries, who had been preparing all this time to take up their ground, appeared on the scene from the east coast, without any help, so far as I could gather, from any organization existing in Mashonaland. There could be no doubt that the ground we had chosen was too near to their ground. I had given the promise that we would not go too near them, and there was only one thing to be done. We abandoned the mission; the mistake was [82/83] entirely mine. I had never been to Melsetter, though I had been near it, and there was no map to help me. I did not know that Melsetter and Umzila's old kraal were so near together. All of which proves two things: one, that an independent mission can be established from the east; the other, that that mission would have been in touch with Mashonaland; and therefore that a mission could have been established for Mashonaland without any further colonization than existed in the early days. But it would not have been on the present scale.
However, the white men came into Mashonaland; they had to be ministered to as well as the Mashona, and the whole mission took a totally different shape. My dream of a country in which the natives should hear only one form of Christianity to some extent vanished too. I say to some extent, for immediately that I found other missions intended to work among the natives in Mashonaland, I thought it possible to make such arrangements as would minimize the evil of different views being presented to them. The London Missionary-Society and ourselves had arranged so happily that they should stay in Matabeleland and that we should go to Mashonaland, that I had hopes [83/84] a similarly happy arrangement might be made with other societies when they came into the country. When the British South Africa Company went up to Mashonaland, two Church of England clergymen went with them. A third went up about the same time to the north of Bechuanaland--almost to the border of Mashonaland--to minister to the Bechuanaland Border Police. He died of dysentery--as a matter of fact, actually within the territory administered by the British South Africa Company. Of the two who went up with the Company, Canon Balfour stayed some time in the country, and here, as in every other place in which he has been, did excellent work. Not only did he build the first church that was ever built in Mashonaland, but he took up work among the natives; and when I brought up a few teachers in the early part of the next year he took two of them in hand, and visited chief after chief and made centres for work, and began the building of rough native churches--in all of which I had little or no share. It was all his and the catechists' work. He also took a journey to the Zambesi.
And here I may say that the money for the Mashonaland mission was at first mainly, with [84/85] the exception of some private gifts, provided by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. Mr. Selous in one book speaks of the mission as 'Bishop Knight-Bruce's mission'; but it was not my mission. It was their mission, so far as the important part--the paying for it--was concerned. We raised an association in England to provide more funds, but this was later on.
I mentioned the band of teachers who came into the country with me. They were native Christians of different nationalities from Cape Town and Durban. They varied in power, characteristics, and moral qualities, but, as a whole, they were invaluable. Seshona, the language of the Mashona, was almost as new a tongue to them as to any of us--indeed, I had heard it long before they had--but a certain connection between all the languages in that part of Africa helped them, and they soon made great strides. They started with me from the east coast--from Beira--to which steamers then ran from Durban; and I must say something more about their first walk, they behaved so admirably. For a short way up the Pungwe River a steamer, tugging a lighter, carried us. When we arrived at Nevez Fereira [85/86] we heard of the retreat of the Portuguese after the fight with the Chartered Company at Massi-Kessi; and the Portuguese commandant refused to allow anyone except the English officer, with his travelling companion, who was acting as a kind of 'Queen's messenger' from the Governor of the Cape, to go up the road to Umtali, which was some hundred and sixty miles to the north-west, past Massi-Kessi. A Portuguese artillery officer was also going up, somewhat in the same capacity, on behalf of his own country. I was most anxious to be in Mashonaland as soon as possible, and claimed to be allowed to go up, acting under the Red Cross flag. The commandant said that was no protection, as the native levies did not know the meaning of it. I explained that that was their business, and after some difficulty, obtained permission to go. By this time the English representative had gone, and the Portuguese officer was to start the following morning at daybreak, so I asked the latter if I could go with him. He was most courteous, and said that he would have been very glad for me to have gone with him, but that he was going to be carried in a hammock, and would go so many miles a day that I could not keep up with [86/87] him. But I arranged that, at any rate, we should start together. It was now dark, and when I got back to the tent I found the five natives sleeping outside under a sail, for the miasma on the Pungwe River is very unhealthy. I explained that we could get no carriers--the two officials had very properly taken all that were available--and I asked them whether they would carry small loads for me. They said they would, and then they all went back under their sail. Through the night I packed the loads, putting in just enough for a few days, and early next morning we were ready for the start. The first two days were hardly successful, as the guide began by leading the Portuguese officer in almost the opposite direction to that which we ought to have followed, and at the end of the second day we found ourselves not very far from where we had started. My travelling companion there waited for carriers to carry him, and I, wishing to get on, took my five natives and passed on, and I never saw him again. He was a most courteous gentleman, and I was very sorry to lose his company.
I think a black man showed us the way over some bogs to the path, and then left us. We [87/88] found a village that night. For the rest of the hundred and sixty miles my men's behaviour was quite perfect. Once we walked till one of them fainted, and I had to carry his load for some little way. I then learned what a very unpleasant addition to a day's march a load is. They walked so well that on about the fourth day we overtook and passed the English officer, and soon afterwards we found some natives, who carried some of their loads for my men.
One of them played just such a prominent part as a native loves to play in a scene which I did not see, but which must have been most ludicrous. We had stopped at one of the small Portuguese forts in the morning, that being the second Portuguese station that we had come to after starting. As all my food was gone, the officer had given me breakfast, and more food for the road. We had watched a convoy of sick going down to the coast, and then gone on. For some time we had been passing through 'gardens' of Indian corn and Kaffir corn, and one could not see far ahead. One of my native teachers, Bernard, was walking ahead alone. Suddenly the gardens ended, and at the further side of an open space [88/89] he found an English officer and two troopers on horses, waiting for him.
'Who are you?' said the officer.
'I am Bernard.'
'Yes; but who is with you?' said the officer.
'The Bishop,' said Bernard.
Then I appeared, and the mystery was explained. After the fight at Massi-Kessi, a British South Africa Company's officer had been sent down with about seventeen men on service connected with the British South Africa Company. He was on a reconnoitring expedition, and had been inspecting the village from a distance, and hardly wished to meet a Portuguese. The natives had seen me coming, and told him a white Portuguese was coming; hence his wish to know who was with Bernard. I slept that night with this patrol, had prayers with them round their fires, and sent back a note to the Portuguese commandant at the fort, giving him my word that I had no idea any of the British South Africa Company's men were so near; otherwise, he might have thought that I knew they were there, and had purposely not told him before going to meet them. He had been so persistently polite to me, and under the most trying circumstances, [89/90] that I felt I owed him at least this explanation.
I told the British South Africa Company's officer that it was no business of mine, but I knew that peace had been agreed upon, and so he went no further. I was very glad that I arrived when I did; and my being there at all was owing to the admirable walking and carrying of my men.
After reaching Mashonaland, these men either walked with me from place to place, or settled in what we thought were the best centres for work. It was then that we visited the greatest number of chiefs, and made such arrangements as we could for future work there. It was a wearying time, but I thought it well worth the trouble taken over it. I cannot remember how I made up the items, but I think I must have walked about fifteen hundred miles in connection with work in Mashonaland at different times. Visiting the chiefs had a good deal of sameness about it, especially if it was for the first time. The mode of procedure was somewhat as follows: We arrived at the village. Almost immediately we were surrounded by natives, one of whom took a message to the chief that I wished to [90/91] see him. While he was gone we looked about for a place to sleep in. On one journey I had a sail that we used to throw over a bough; on another we carried a small tent that we never opened--we were usually much too tired; generally we carried nothing of the kind, and that was by far the best. Then the chief appeared, if it was not too late. If it was, he came the next morning. There is just as much difference between the characters of two native chiefs as between those of two Europeans. Some were most interesting, some were much the contrary. Some were courteous, others were not, though those who were not were very rare. I have already mentioned one who was not. First there came a long explanation as to who I was and what I wanted. The chief listened, and his people sat round and listened too. Then I asked him whether he would take care of a teacher if I sent one to him. Everything was done at considerable length, as is customary in dealing with African natives; and he was made as far as possible to understand what the object of the teacher's coming would be--not for gold or cattle or land, but to teach them about God. It was explained to the people that it was we who [91/92] were doing them the kindness in sending a teacher, not they in receiving him. Sometimes they pointed out tracts of land which we might have; sometimes they told me to go and choose where I should like our teacher's hut and ground. We then exchanged presents; and sometimes the chief went back to his village and I visited him there; sometimes he stayed on with us till we went away.
Generally we had to sleep one or two nights in getting from one village to another, seeing head-men and other people on the path, but not making a regular halt till we came to the chief whose authority was recognised, and whose were the land-rights in the country. As there is plenty of water in those parts of Mashonaland, there was usually no difficulty about making a camp within a few miles of where we wanted to do so. Of course there were exceptions. I have had to camp without water, or with only as much as could be carried in bottles; and then the carriers were very cross, not to say angry, and when I looked at them through the night they glared at me over the fire, and explained that it was all my fault.
The chiefs' views of my proposals to them [92/93] were very different. At one place, for instance, they would not tell me which of the small crowd was the chief, and everyone talked instead. I knew that there was no end to be gained in hurrying them, and waited. Presently the chief himself got up and said that 'he did not think it right to hide himself from the white man.' I remember these people especially by their collection of bows and arrows. The arrows were very well made and poisoned. The quivers in which they kept them were made of baboons' skins.
Down towards the south-east the wish of the natives to have a teacher was, I think, a good deal increased by the idea that in some way he would help to keep away the raids of the Gaza people. But it was among these people that I saw the most dignified and methodical action on the subject. We encamped one Saturday night at a village. For some reason the chief was away at another village, I think about seven miles distant. We waited till he was sent for and came--on Sunday morning. He arrived with a large number of men, who sat round him in a semicircle, three or four deep. The reason of our coming was explained. He and his people must take time to consider it, [93/94] he said. They would come back at a certain time in the afternoon. (They explain the time they mean by pointing to where the sun will be at that time.) I had service with my own natives, read and wrote, and then waited for them. Punctually to time they arrived. They had agreed that they would have a teacher. We had a good deal of friendly conversation, and they left. Then their women were sent as a kind of deputation. They came as close as they thought right, and asked to see me. I was under my sail and came out. They made the same kind of exclamation that one would make at seeing a strange animal at the Zoological Gardens for the first time. Then they gave their message: 'When the teacher comes, we will cook for him.' They could say no more. It was the receiving him as one of themselves. They had a tradition here that a white man had come through the village seventeen years before.
One chief that is always associated in my mind with Mr. Selous was, I think, the nicest of them all--Sipiro, as we used to call him. I had been near his town before when I was first in the country, but I had not seen him, as the Gaza people were taking their tribute of cattle, [94/95] and he, having to entertain the 'envoys,' sent his son to hide us. On this my second visit I encamped near his village, and sent to ask him to come and see me. He sent back a message to say he had a bad leg, and couldn't come. I knew this was only an excuse to save his dignity, and sent back to say that I was not coming up into his village. Not long afterwards he appeared at a clump of bushes near, and I went over to him. When he understood who I was, he was delighted; he swayed his body about; he laughed; he shook the nearest hand he could find; he told his people all about it, though they all probably knew quite well, and then he said: 'You and Selous are the only two people who are known in this country. I have given Selous one of my sons, and I will give you the other.' (He probably said 'Serous,' as the pronunciation of the plain l is often a difficulty to them.)
But when I told him that I was afraid one of our teachers could never live there, as it was too unhealthy, it was pathetic to hear him asserting that it was not so unhealthy, that he could find a high place for him to live in, and he would be so glad if I could send one.
I saw a delightful piece of native character [95/96] at this place on my first visit, while the Mashona kept us hidden away from the Gaza people. I had taken one man who seemed to be a leading spirit among the villagers, and began telling him about God. As I knew he would remember everything that I said, and probably repeat it word for word to his friends, I thought that speaking to him alone was, in their excited state, better than having a large audience. First we had some conversation; then he listened quite attentively for some time; then he suddenly asked: 'Would I give him a shirt?' I think I gave him one; at any rate, we started again, and went on a good deal longer on my subject. When I had finished, I told him to go and tell his people all that I had said. 'Yes,' he said; 'he would. But would I give him some beads to make him strong to speak?'
I have said somewhere else that this chief Sipiro was one of the Barotse people: and we see here a curious instance of how languages die out. His people originally, of course, spoke the language of the Barotse; but, from having the Mashona so near them, they gradually adopted their language, and the old chief was the only living member of the tribe, we were [96/97] told, who could speak the original language of his people. The rest of their tribe who were driven over the Zambesi by the Matabele have profited by keeping their own language, for it is very like the language of the Basuto; and Mr. Coillard, the French missionary in Basutoland, when he was looking for a new field of work, chose the Barotse country as one where his knowledge of Sesuto would stand him in good stead.
The characteristics of chiefs on the Zambesi and their way of receiving me were very different to what they were in Mashonaland; but, as I never even suggested founding a mission there, because they were too far away from any centre of ours, and entirely under Portuguese influence, they have nothing to do with our present subject of mission-work.
When the question to whom the land in Mashonaland belonged was unsettled, I thought it well, before choosing any piece of ground for a future mission-farm, to have the consent of the native chief of the place to our eventually settling there--that is, if any chief was sufficiently near. Besides this, the British South Africa Company gave their consent to the Church of England having a piece of ground [97/98] of about three thousand acres wherever we established a mission. I think in all about twenty-five of the tracts were selected. Canon Balfour, Mr. Douglas Pelly, and the late Dr. Rundle were my chief assistants in selecting sites for missions and choosing land.
The whole question of land is a difficult one. I consider that the land which the natives of this country actually inhabit belongs to them. This was my bone of contention with Lobengula. How they came into possession we do not know; we found them in possession. We have no more right to take any land which they actually inhabit, and own by unknown length of tenure, than we should have to dispossess white men holding property in England on the same tenure. But the Mashona only occupy a very small part of the country, and land which they have never occupied may with justice be said not to belong to them. Though each chief would claim territory to some boundary, even when consecutive miles of it are not inhabited, yet I think that he would usually see no objection to other people settling there, so long as his own ground was not interfered with.
At first sight it seemed as though the Church [98/99] of England had obtained a very great amount of land; but the obtaining of land for the Church of England was a very secondary consideration--if, indeed, in the vast majority of the cases it was any consideration at all. With the exception of one or two cases, it was not intended that these tracts of land should be appropriated as farms for our mission. There was no other way under the land system of the British South Africa Company by which any rights could be obtained than by formally applying for rights to map out so many 'farms'; but we intended them practically as native reserves, so that if the natives were ever crowded out of their lands they might have some place near at hand where they could grow their crops and keep their few cattle. So nearly every one of our 'mission-farms' is touching, or almost touching, the chief's village, except when there was an especial reason why it should be some distance away.
To take the case of three of the largest chiefs in the country--if we except Motoko, probably the three largest. At Maguendi's mission the chief lives on a rock jutting out from a long and rather high hill. At the opposite end of the hill our catechist lives; in [99/100] the valley along the stream at the bottom, surrounded partly by a semicircle of hills, is the mission-land.
At Maconi's, again, the chief lives some four miles from our mission, because originally he would not let us be any nearer to him (though now he wants another teacher for himself in his own town), but another tract of land has since been given close to the chief's own town. It is worth while inserting a part of a letter that appeared in the Mashonaland Quarterly Paper by one of the most valued of our clergy about this mission:
'I was very glad to see the station, with its nice huts done in the Zulu style by our catechist there. In a compound, surrounded by reeds, were the huts, with the church just outside, and in it two of the big pictures you sent me--"The Good Shepherd" and "Christ walking upon the Water." One or two picaninnies running about--one who cooks, one who herds the cattle and goats, and another sort of odd-job boy. It is a most picturesque situation, fine rocks, hills, and valleys all round. An interesting-looking kraal we passed, and visited next day. As we passed there was a funeral party going on, guns firing, and loud [100/101] exclamations of sorrow. The lower part of the hut walls are built of stone, the upper part of mud. Some huts stood on an eminence, others clustered round like a swarm of bees, the river Resarpe rushing below. In the evening some of the women came in to stare at the new white man. We saw the catechist's garden--a capital lot of vegetables, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, etc.
'One day we went to the chief's kraal, a very large one; he is one of the biggest and most powerful chiefs in the country--Maconi. It was about six miles off, placed on the side of a hill, and you go through a series of gates in big fences of some prickly-looking shrub. First we went to a big hut, with a veranda round, where his wives live--he has fifty wives. Meanwhile, a messenger had gone on to announce our arrival, and after awhile returned to say the chief would see us. Crowds of little boys preceded us, and a few older men followed in our wake. The chief sat at the top of a hill, and our little boys went up, clapping all the way--this they do by way of salute. When anyone gets up near the chief, and moves his place, they all clap. Maconi's appearance was not improved by a [101/102] waistcoat and hat which he wore. We shook hands and sat down, his councillors sitting near. Of course he asked about Lobengula and the war, of which we told him as much as we knew. Then he wanted to know how long the white men were going to stay in Mashonaland, and I said "they were come to stay." How could the Queen spare them from England? We gave him some idea of the size of London by pointing to the country round, all to be covered with houses. He then wanted to know where the white man had his gardens, i.e., grew his food. We told him the world was our garden, food coming in from all countries.
'I then said how glad I was he was going to send two of his boys to the mission to be taught. He said, "If they learn, wouldn't they laugh at their elders?" I told him Christians taught children to honour their parents. Then he said, turning to his councillors: "We mustn't be beaten by children, we must all learn." Of course they assented. "Was he in earnest?" we asked. "We are," he replied. So it was settled that one of the mission teachers should come over and teach him. I am glad to say he likes Frank, our catechist, [102/103] very much. Altogether, it was a most interesting visit.'
At Umtasa's, the third large native town, after some little difficulty, the chief suggested a place where our mission should be. He did not want it too near. I think he was afraid that it might be a meeting-place for white men, who would annoy him; so it was put down by Mr. Pelly and Dr. Rundle some little distance from the town.
When the towns are large, and thickly inhabited, and there are many people always moving about, it was natural that our land should be further from the town than in the case of the small chiefs in the small places. To get the most valuable land purely as a possession was not our object. We took little trouble about land either at Fort Salisbury or Fort Victoria--so little that somehow, I believe, we had arrived at having no mission farm in those districts at all, though lately one of our most energetic missionaries has been teaching natives round Fort Victoria, and, I believe, getting a block of land.
I quite allow that we have probably some of the most beautiful 'farms' in the country; but then we have got them with the 'sweat of [103/104] our brow.' I once travelled nearly six hundred miles, mainly to arrange about one piece of land. In the majority of cases we were founding our missions when no one else seemed to be touching the parts at which we were working.
The following letter from Mr. H. R. Burgin shows some of the difficulties in the work even as late as 1893:
'November 10th, 1893.
'I arrived here a little more than five months ago. The journey from Fort Victoria was most interesting. There are hundreds of natives living up in the mountains. Each time I camped a great many came down to see me. I was able to preach the Gospel to them. One old chief brought me a goat to kill for myself and boys, and returned quite late in the evening, with about sixty of his men, to hear the Gospel. I had a large fire made, and preached to them for about two hours. When I had finished, the chief said he would come again in the morning to hear more. He came at daylight with about a hundred of his people. They were intensely interested in [104/105] hearing the Word of God. When I was leaving the chief asked why I must go. They wanted a teacher to teach them.
'Since reaching here, most of my time has been spent in visiting the different chiefs, and going from village to village. Every chief has received me most kindly. Of course it is very rough travelling in a country like this. Three or four boys carry my blankets and food, and at night I unroll my blankets and get into them. There are a great many wild beasts, and we have to make up large fires to keep them away. Sometimes I have had to sit up half the night, with rifle in hand, expecting every minute to have a lion on us, they have been so near. [Not very far from here a native was taken away by a lion from under the very noses of some white men.]
'I was away for twenty-three days on my last walk, and travelled about two hundred miles, visiting three of the largest chiefs in the district and a great number of kraals.
'I am delighted to say I have found a suitable place for the mission station; it is about m the centre of four of the largest chiefs whom I have visited, and we are getting poles and grass cut for our huts. There are three [105/106] European families in the district, and a few men are here who want to peg out farms.'
Then, about four months afterwards he writes again, though his journeys must not be looked on as instances of journeys taken by everyone, as he is a man of exceptional daring:
'Umtali Church Mission House,
'Two years ago the Bishop arranged with the American mission to leave Gungunyan's people to them. At that time no one knew exactly how far these people went, and I began our station at Melsetter in ignorance of having gone so far south-east that I was among them. However, the American mission arrived about five months ago with a large staff of workers, so that it was thought best that I should leave that part of the country after eight months' work among the natives, which will, I believe, help the Americans considerably in their start.
'It was a walk of one hundred and ten miles from there here, and took me six days, with rain every day. All the rivers were up (in flood), and three or four were very difficult to cross; in one my matches were carried down, and that [106/107] certainly made the rest of the journey unpleasant. The last day I started at 5 a.m., reached a native village at 11 a.m., got some food for breakfast by bartering my last yard of limbo (calico), and started on for Umtali, as the natives told me it could be reached by sundown. Having been wet through for five days, I was afraid of fever, and felt anxious to avoid another night out, so I left the boys to follow and went on alone. At sunset there was no Umtali to be seen; the rain began to come down in torrents; it got dark almost immediately, and I lost the footpath. There was nothing for it but to spend the night without blanket, gun, boys, matches, or food. Knowing that lions were all round, I tried to find a tree to climb, but gave it up for fear of going to sleep after my twenty-seven miles' walk, and of tumbling off. I shall never forget those hours. If ever I felt the need and power of prayer it was then, and the presence of God seemed very real and near. About 3 a.m. I fell asleep, and woke just as the day was breaking, full of praise and gratitude to God for His care and protection. Soon afterwards I found the footpath again, and reached Umtali about 7 a.m.
 'The Bishop was very ill in bed with fever, and soon afterwards he was carried into the hospital. Eight days later an attack of haematuria set in, which is the most dangerous form this fever can take. We were all terribly anxious, and the doctor sent for the Arch-deacon, thinking he ought to be near. Thank God, by the great care of the Sisters (who are simply splendid, and valued intensely by all here), he pulled through after a long attack of twenty-one days. [The Church of England Hospital Nurses.] Then the doctor insisted on his leaving at once, so as to avoid a relapse, etc.'
I know that the whole system of founding our Mashonaland Mission can have grave objections brought against it. Such energies and forces as we had we spread all over the country, instead of concentrating them in one place. I know perfectly well the advantages of such concentration. It is much the cheapest way of working a mission; it is much the pleasantest way; it is the safest way. The danger of loss among our workers, of sickness, of depression, of hunger, of moral failures, is incalculably reduced. The responsibility resting on the head of the mission is reduced also. [108/109] Whether the language, where there are no books, would be as quickly learnt, since English would be usually spoken in these centres, is a question. But after all this has been done, and the well-trained band start to evangelize, what would they be in danger of finding? First, supposing the missionaries and other white men to have had an equally good start in the country, as we must allow for some bad white men, however good the rest may be, should we not find that the natives, with that strange perverseness that characterizes them, had picked up nearly every European vice, in addition to their own, with no counteracting influence side by side with the bad to help them? I presume there was some reason for a Mashona, who had been travelling with me for some time, turning to one of our catechists and saying, 'Why is not the Bishop vicious like other white men?' And though it was no compliment to me, it was an unpleasant reflection on other white men that he had met.
A white man who was in the country some time ago writes of a Mashona boy: 'He is such a jolly boy . . . the son of a chief's wife. He has worked for white men ever since they came into the country, and had learnt a great deal [109/110] of evil. He had learnt to swear horribly in English, and had been drunk more than once on whisky.' And though he could have got drunk on his native beer, and probably would have done so, it is well that the natives should not associate this with the white men who wish to teach them and raise them.
If the Gospel is to compete with the world among native races, let them at least start equally. I should say, let the Gospel make every effort to be ahead of the world. Better have a witness for God brought before every native village in the country, though with stammering lips, rather than none at all. Go and tell them before 'the drink' comes, in that you are a witness for God against their getting drunk, that God wishes all His children to be fairly treated; that the whole English race, being Christians, do not want to harm them. I believe that first impressions with them are most lasting; and that, if it is possible to associate in their minds a white man with his telling them of a God, and his not wanting anything from them, and his treating the people well, a very great point is gained, and they can look on bad white men as exceptions. It is a less worthy argument to bring forward [110/111] that in all probability in an open country there will be more than one Christian mission, and that if one mission does not in some way associate itself with the different chiefs, another one will. But still, though we may thank God that any form of Christianity is taught to the heathen, yet we naturally believe our own to be the best; and, if we intend to evangelize a people at all, there is not much good in turning out a highly-skilled collection of teachers to find that other missions have occupied all, or nearly all, the ground.
I had seen this position very strongly exemplified in Basutoland. For some fifty years the French Protestant missionaries had worked there. They were in many parts of the country. Then some few years ago the Church of England sent her missionaries. I believe that every reasonable care was taken that the missions should not clash; but, try as much as they each would, in their single-hearted zeal for the promotion of Christianity, it was necessary that somewhat different views should be put before the natives by the two missions; and it is well that this should, if possible, be avoided. So I contend that there are cases where, if a mission is going into a country at all, its field of [111/112] operations had better be as wide as possible; and on the principle that one builds a framework of a house first as large as one wants it, and fills in the details afterwards, it seems well to occupy the land, if that land is presumably not too large, and fashion the details in every mission station as time goes on. Obviously this is open to many objections, and many faults can be found in the work as it goes on. Our workers are often isolated; we are not able to take up work at different chiefs' towns as soon as we had hoped, and disappointments and misunderstandings may arise; the great distances to be crossed court greater catastrophes; but the real question is whether in fifty years' time the mission is not on a better basis by pursuing this line of action. There are other countries where the system of concentration would be the best, if not the only system to be adopted.
I think the ideal position as regards the relation of one mission to another was taken up by the London Missionary Society when we proposed to go into Mashonaland. We agreed that we should go to Mashonaland, and that they should stay in Matabeleland. They considered Mashonaland as our country; we considered Matabeleland as theirs. I think we each [112/113] knew that there was no danger of the one going into the other's country. When, however, other missions began to come into Mashonaland in the trade of the British South Africa Company, our duty was to try, as far as possible, to modify the difficulties that would arise. As I was travelling- southward to see almost the last of the chiefs with whom I have made arrangements at different times to send teachers, I met the Wesleyan mission coming into the country for the first time. Mr. Schimmins, the minister (who afterwards stayed in Mashonaland), and ourselves then began the friendly relations as regarded the missions that lasted till I left, and, I presume, are lasting still. His courtesy was invariable, and in no case did he infringe on that form of agreement among the missions which I was endeavouring to establish. He gave up a farm near Umtasa's because our mission was there. On the other hand, we made no objections to his putting a mission at Gambisa's, though we had an agreement with this chief that we should come there. But we had no teacher to spare who could go there; and as Mr. Schimmins had visited Gambisa, not knowing of our agreement, it seemed only right that he should [113/114] not be hindered. He put another mission at Lo Magondi's, where we had no intention of going, though the chiefs that our mission visited were in a cluster to the east.
We had most pleasing relations, also, with another society--the Dutch Reformed Church. I think I remember the facts correctly. They had had three representatives at or near Gutu's town in the south. Two of the three had died; and when I was in Fort Victoria, hearing they were intending to abandon the place, I asked them if this was so, as one of our best missionaries had suggested our taking it up. They said they had no intention of abandoning it, and were going north to look for other openings. I do not think they found any.
A representative of the Salvation Army was in Fort Salisbury. I saw him when we were putting our Church of England school and schoolmaster at Fort Salisbury, and I wished to know what children we were likely to have. I remember that our interview was very satisfactory. I do not know what native work they had taken up.
The Roman Catholics started, I believe, an industrial mission-farm to the east of Fort Salisbury, and I heard that they worked in [114/115] the district, and intended founding a mission near Fort Victoria. One of their missionaries had been in Motoko's country on the east, and, I believe, had made arrangements to send a mission there. I once walked about a hundred miles with one of their priests, and I thought him a most courageous, self-denying man. He had been somewhere in the north-east near the Zambesi before, and I suppose he had arrived nearest to speaking the Mashona language of any of the European missionaries in Mashonaland. He wrote a grammar that I mean to say something about farther on.
Of our happy relations with the American missionaries in the extreme south-east I have already spoken.
These notes on other missions are in no way intended to be an exhaustive account of their mission-work, but roughly to show the relations of the missions to each other as far as I remember them. But when we consider that the whole original intention in founding a Mashonaland mission was to have a mission for the natives, that this was being planned more than nine years ago, and how many have been working in the cause in England as well as in Mashonaland, it is not very wonderful that [115/116] some little progress, with all its mistakes and failures, has been made by the English Church. And though I could not quite endorse the remark made to me by one of the missionaries of another Church, after he had been for a long journey in Mashonaland--'All the great chiefs in the country are in your hands'--because it was not correct, yet I presume we have a footing among the natives in Mashonaland for which we ought to be very thankful. We know perfectly well that to have a footing among these people does not mean that they intend to become Christians immediately: but it is a step in the right direction. Once, in another part of Africa, the chief of a very large tribe, after putting on his fighting head-dress, danced a war-dance before me, and then, taking off the head-dress, gave it to me (I have it still), and promised that he would never raid upon his people again. Now, I am practically sure that he did not keep his promise: but it was a step forward for him to feel that it was right to give up raiding, and to recognise that I was the representative of the moral power to which he ought to submit his will.