THE Mission had been in East Africa far longer than the Germans. The stations at Magila (Msalabani), Mkuzi, Masasi and Newala date back to the episcopate of Bishop Steere. Bishop Smythies had protested strongly against the agreement which handed over the long coastline and its hinterland to the Germans. Mission work was thereby complicated. There were custom duties to be paid on the stores coming from Zanzibar; there were endless regulations to be observed; and there was the quite natural demand that, if Africans were taught a foreign language, that language should be German and not English.
The Germans, however, were not opposed to Missions. They were a practical people, and welcomed all who would aid directly or indirectly in the development of their colony. So, in 1920, Frank wrote in The Nineteenth Century:
It is always pleasant to remember the German Government letter, in the name of a society of planters, inviting me to send an English priest to live on each German plantation in the Ruvuma district. The reason given was that our Christians were far better agricultural labourers than either the Moslems or the Pagans. The Germans wanted us to do on the plantations what we had done in the native villages, that is, to give a simple religious education to the people without disturbing their relation to their old village life. They hoped to create Christian villages in the plantations. They rightly gauged the danger of separating Africans from home influence, from the corporate discipline of village life.
Neither were the Germans personally unfriendly. Frank had several friends among the higher officials, and was able at times to get justice for his Africans. But he abominated the system of government which was based on terrorism, the awful floggings, the ingenious and diabolical tortures, the cruelties practised on some plantations, and the horde of native officials who were encouraged in brutality and placed in authority over alien tribes.
After an early visit to the mainland in 1903, he wrote to me:
Lindi is a wonderful exhibition of German methods. Thus the repetition of the school is The Laws governing the Action of Native Magistrates. I heard small boys recite the laws dealing with the powers of the Majumbe, or village magistrates, and the master showed me the book itself. There were the powers of the Maakida, or district magistrates, and laws dealing with inheritance, slaves, etc., a most formidable volume which each boy must get by heart. Then^on Wednesdays and Saturdays the school attends the Government court, listens to all the cases, witnesses the floggings, and is liable to be asked questions touching the law at the Governor's pleasure. What do you think of that? Can your school children distinguish between magistrates and County Court judges? Can you, accurately? Truly, the Germans have put the fear of the white man in all those who live in the country! But for what good? It doesn't make things pay.
This was an early impression, and reveals little more than German efficiency and common sense. Frank was at Kiungani during the Maji Maji rebellion, and he only heard by report how, after it was quelled, a hundred thousand natives perished through punitive expeditions and famine. It was between 1908 and 1914 that he accumulated the information which he at last made public in the tract called The Black Slaves of Prussia.
At the outbreak of war, his attitude was quite correct. He wrote in Central Africa:
So long as we work in German East Africa, honour binds us, priests and laymen alike, to preserve a strict neutrality at whatever cost to our feelings, and to sacrifice the expression of our patriotism to the Saviour of our converts, or else to leave that part of the Mission.
He was to learn on arriving in Africa, that the Germans were running no chances, but had interned his whole staff, and for that we could not blame them, if they had treated them aright. Frank was, therefore, free to speak his mind and he had no doubt about the justice of the English cause, as he had no doubt that the War was the inevitable result of Europe's sins. So he wrote in Conquering and to Conquer:
German theology had got rid of Christ. German philosophy had parted with the God of Christ. German ethics had rejected His teaching in favour of might. German science saw the world as made for the man able to take and use it; it was no longer God's. German psychology justified lust, impurity, and shameful vice. German capital was cruel, as I can testify after years of eye-witness in this colony of hers: while German nationalism saw all her neighbours as slaves for her using.
In all this Germany was only representing Europe. In each nation you will find some or other of these sins; she has them all, and glories in them. She is the most complete and thorough expression of the sins of all Europe. And she is Europe's punishment, made by Europe's own hands.
Does all this read like an echo from a time very far off? So much has happened since the War, and the people who did not fight have done most of the talking. It is well, however, that we should at times re-read such words, that we may remember why our loved ones fought and died. For them at least the issues were quite clear.
It is true that you cannot draw up an indictment against a whole people, but there is no doubt that 'the glorious Potsdam spirit' did inspire the German masses. It was not only from the popular Press, but from professorial chairs that the people were taught--Might is right, and the Sovereign State is unaccountable to God or man.
Face to face with such teaching, acted on by others, England fought and overcame; though perhaps we were unaware how far we were infected by the same spirit. Frank, at least, was under no illusions. If he wrote The Black Slaves of Prussia, he wrote also The Serfs of Great Britain; if he denounced the sins of Berlin in the Great War, in the day of peace he came to the Anglo-Catholic Conference to denounce the sins of London. But in 1915 and 1916 he was more concerned with the lack of morals in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar has always been a very wicked place, but it became far worse when hundreds of slave women were thrown on the town, because the wise provisions made by Sir Arthur Hardinge for their gradual emancipation were overruled by sentimental theorists in England.
About this time, Frank wrote to me:
My long sojourn in Zanzibar, longer than ever before, has opened my eyes to many evils; and I am busy thinking out the best and most tactful way of dealing with my people's morals. I tried a conference the other day, but no one helped us at all.
Zanzibar Christians are a very small, isolated body. They are shut off from the town population by the Cross, from fellow Christians--European and Goanese --by colour, and from us by social customs and education, or the want of it. They are ex-slaves and have no shame, such as mainland heathen feel at certain things. They depended on masters and early missionaries; and they do not easily acquire the independence that our present methods and growth require of them. Many of them accepted Baptism because they lived with us and owed us their daily bread.
And Zanzibar is more and more immoral--Piccadilly, Sodom, and a public bar!
And our best people are more educated and less actively keen on moral standards than our best folk on the mainland. Even the African priests here are less keen on such things than young teachers up-country. In truth they are pessimistic, and follow lines of least resistance. It is no wonder!
I have been wallowing in local customs, etc., and one day met fourteen women of more or less unrestrained speech, with whom I discussed the most intimate affairs of their daughters, viewed as brides. They came to deceive me and get approval for their little games: I am thankful to say that they retired open-mouthed, having learned a few things which even they did not all know! So the wallowing was not all lost work. The men are more reasonable and will help me a bit. I don't know that they are more moral, probably not.
This extract from a long letter about things in general might have been written by any active and intelligent welfare worker, and by no means represents the prophetic fervour with which Frank denounced the vices of Zanzibar. He even went to the Sultan, with whom he was on friendly terms, and asked him to get the Mohammedan teachers to speak on behalf of cleaner living, if only for the preservation of the Arab race. Shortly afterwards he discovered the long-continued immorality of two African priests, and the fact that the natives believed that he had connived at their sins. To this we have already referred in a previous chapter. But for the fact that he was then raising the Carrier Corps, he would probably have broken down. Never afterwards did he revisit Zanzibar with pleasure. I quote the conclusion of a Swahili sermon, which a lady took down at the time and has translated for me.
All of you now know the news of our padres, and now I go my way to the mainland and my heart is heavy. And you, my Christians, have increased my heaviness of heart because you have hidden these things. For seven years you have known them; and you have maligned your Bishop, saying: 'The Bishop knows but he is favouring his friend.' Have you no intelligence? Why should I shorten my days by dwelling here, and then wink at sin? What profit would it be to me or others?
Then, I hear you laugh and say, 'The padre was exalted but now he has fallen!' But the Gospel for to-day says, Judge not and ye shall not be judged. We cannot measure the heart of man--certainly I cannot. I can only say, 'Because you have done such and such things, you are of no use for such and such work.' So far I have been forced to judge my own familiar friend, and the padre who was to me as a father. But of you, I ask, Who is able to throw stones at the padres? Who of you is thinking how all this affects Jesus, his Saviour; or is thinking of how the Church has been defiled?'
What remains to be done? Let us put away malice, hypocrisy and lying; let us lay again our foundations in repentance, purity and fair love. This war should serve to remind us of God's vengeance. Watch! ye know not what hour the Lord shall come! And now I go my way to the mainland. Fare ye well. Think of my words, my children! Our life is not a game!
Besides this moral crusade which ended so cruelly for him, Frank had been as usual very active. On arriving at Zanzibar he had found himself cut off from the greater part of his diocese, and nobody knew what had become of his mainland staff. He threw himself into Red Cross work, took a lively interest in the affairs of the European community, and undertook most of the work in the Cathedral. He sang most of the Masses, said most of the Offices, heard most of the Confessions and preached continually. He also wrote The Fulness of Christ and God with us, and revised the service books of the diocese. His active mind and terrible energy had to be continually employed. It was through work alone that he rose above the anxieties of the time.
When the Konigsberg destroyed the Pegasus in Zanzibar harbour, he made elaborate preparations for the withdrawal of his staff, and people to the other side of the Island should the Germans attempt to land. He meant himself to stay in the hospital with one or two nurses.
He took a great deal of interest in the survivors from the Pegasus, and in other naval crews which visited Zanzibar. Some Pegasus men were presented to him for Confirmation, and their chaplain found them the same afternoon in talk. One asked: 'Was that Bishop the man there was all the row about in the papers before the War?' 'Yes,' said the chaplain. 'Then,' said the bluejacket with immense emphasis, 'we think that he was right'! The lower deck had spoken, and were joyously eager to push in the face of anyone who questioned their decision.
To the men of the Pegasus and to the boys of the Challenger he gave an entertainment on Christmas Day. It concluded with a cinema and the film described life in England. The sailors were delighted, but when the same film was shown to Africans they were perplexed. Something, they protested, must be wrong, for in the pictures white men were working.
The following amusing incident I have received from a member of the Mission staff.
The Sultan of Zanzibar had declared war on Germany, and in due time we had our D.O.R.A. Among other things, we were forbidden to speak in a derogatory manner of the Government or of the naval and military forces. At the time we had an old deacon at Bububu. One morning he came to town by train (we have one railway in Zanzibar five miles long) and he happened to be the only passenger. So the guard, a Goanese, sat down by him and talked. He told him that when the British landed at Dar-es-Salaam they would all be blown up by land mines, that the British Navy were no good, and that the Germans would come and blow Zanzibar off the face of the sea. The old deacon, terribly frightened, hastened to tell the news to the Bishop.
That same evening the Bishop repeated the story in the Club. It reached the ears of Authority, and the Goanese was ordered to be tried. When the day came, and the Judges and Consuls had taken their seats, it was discovered that no one had remembered to summon the accused, and the Court had to wait until he could be found. The Acting Attorney-General prosecuted and the Portuguese Consul defended. There was no corroborative evidence, for the Bishop could only repeat what his deacon had told him. He was asked if he had heard similar talk elsewhere, and replied--'Frequently in the English Club, when the members are feeling a little feverish.' The Portuguese Consul made a great speech, comparing the deacon to Judas Iscariot, and the deacon was once again frightened, for he was not sure whether he or the Goanese was being tried. Finally the Court fined the Goanese fifty rupees, which the Bishop paid for him.
D.O.R.A. was not the only terror of the natives in Zanzibar. As conscription became necessary in England and tribunals did not give universal satisfaction, so conscription of a sort became necessary in Zanzibar in order to provide porters. Porters had suffered terribly at the unsuccessful landing at Tanga, and afterwards they had died like flies on the expeditions inland. Without conscription it was thought impossible to fill their places, and when it was resorted to, native police were none too particular how the men were obtained. They were seized anywhere, they were pulled from their beds at night, they were taken down to the ports and locked up until the transports were ready. Panic seized the people. Men hid all day and slept in the trees at night.
Frank protested, but he was told that porters had to be found. Then he and the Roman Bishop forwarded a joint protest to the High Commissioner at Mombasa, but the necessary papers were lost in transit. Finally, he was challenged to find men himself, and undertook to do so if he were commissioned to command them.
Directly it was known that the Bishop was raising a Carrier Corps, recruits flocked in. Christians, Moslems and heathen enlisted--the largest company of Moslems came and offered themselves at his own house. He drilled them himself every day on the recreation ground in Zanzibar. At first their marching was enlivened by the bugles of the Zanzibar Scouts, but after the first week he hired the Goanese Band, and the porters learnt to step out, proud of themselves and their order. It was a wonderful thing, wrote Frank, how quickly they learnt; how a word or a whistle became potent enough to make 560 men silent. He taught them not only the elements of drill but practised them in lifting loads and piling them together. He practised them also in lifting sick men and taught how they were to be carried on litters. For the first week he did everything himself, he then had two subalterns, and gradually appointed non-commissioned officers. It was a great day when, with the Goanese Band before them, the whole Corps paraded the town. Frank might, to all appearances, have been soldiering all his life, but his new role surprised Zanzibar. The women seeing him in a flannel shirt and khaki shorts--they had never seen him on the mainland--said: 'Our Bishop is a poor man now, he has no clothes'; but the men forgot the Bishop and swaggered about talking of Our Major.'
Frank was most careful about getting the names of his men properly enrolled, and seeing that maintenance was provided for their wives while away. He saw that each had his correct equipment, blankets, water-bottles and haversack. He even had postcards served out to those who could write, and they were used. Here is a letter written by one African to another. It was shown to a lady on the staff, who has kindly sent me a translation:
Truly is our Lord Bishop a great man! Did he not call us and gather us all together? Did he not drill us and go for marches with us every day?
Truly, he is a great man! For when after many days a ship came to take us to the mainland, he came down to the shore to take leave of us. Then we said to him, 'Bwana, we go not without you, for are you not our father?' And he said unto us, 'Good, I will go with you.'
Truly, he is a great man, for he came over the sea with us, and when we reached the mainland, he marched with us, he slept with us, he ate with us, and when we laid down at night, did he not pray with us? And when we arose in the morning, did he not pray with us again? At the end did he not take us into camp.
Truly, he is a great man.
It is unnecessary to say that Frank had from the first undertaken to go with the Corps. He was longing to be in what he regarded as his own country, and to bring help and hope to his own people.
Nearly 600 men went from Zanzibar to Tanga, but within a few days Frank was in command of twice that number. On the mainland he was generally able to find recruits.
The Corps arrived at Tanga, at night, two days after the evacuation of the town. No provision had been made, and the Germans had blown up the Custom House and sheds. So this new force landed on quays covered with sheets of corrugated iron twisted into every conceivable shape, and had to sleep as best they could amid the ruins of the buildings.
Their first few days were spent in tidying up Tanga, and then they were sent up to Handeni with food for the troops. Their journey lay through country Frank knew well. He halted at Muheza and Korogwe and saw many people who came forth to meet him with songs. But from Korogwe onwards it was not pleasant. Here is his own account of the Handeni road.
Never was a road like that Handeni road. I remember it as one of the show roads of the colony: broad, hard, and clean. We found about two feet of dust upon its surface: dust red as the reddest red bricks, dust that made of one colour all races of men, and gave us all one common cough 'to the pits of all our stomachs,' as Kipling hath it; dust which under the influence of motor or mule convoys created a splendid imitation of a London fog. And to the dust was added a stench which passes words: a stench now subtle and suggestive, now throttling and entirely disgusting; a stench that attracted one's gaze only that it might be repelled by visions of a satiated jackal's half-eaten meal. For horses, oxen, mules have died by thousands during this campaign. They die by the roadside, just a few yards from the road they are left, perhaps shot, perhaps fallen dead. It was not until we were about to move southwards that it was possible to organise men to burn the carcases. Even so, it was merely a choice of smells. Truly, war is hideous, even at its base.
The horror of the road was increased by the lack of water. Frank had indeed received an official list of watering places, but the man who had surveyed the route had done so during the rains. At the first halting place there was no water at all, and the weary men had to go on until night. On the second day, after a fifteen mile walk, the well was found, 'but an inquiring spirit was rewarded with a museum of dead frogs.' Another six miles had to be walked, and Frank writes:
The man who has not had to do extra miles beyond his promised halting place, under a tropical sun, has yet much to learn of what a broken spirit really means.
Notwithstanding the difficulties, Frank could write:
Our men did very well in this particular work. We made a record for the journey both in time and accuracy, that is, we got our loads there quicker than other porters and we got them all there. I gather this was not common.
After a few days rest they were suddenly ordered back to Tanga, and only two days were allowed them to get there. This involved two night marches, one of them being through pouring rain. Some of the men were night blind, and had to be carried across the bridges, composed of sleepers placed far apart. Frank was everywhere during the brief rests, helping men to put up some sort of shelter and encouraging others to persevere. On the second night, having gone forward to decide on the route, the column found him in the centre of the path--standing asleep, leaning on a staff--and halted behind him. It was only for some ten minutes, but it led to some confusion in the rear as the column extended over a mile and a half. None the less the column entered Tanga at 7 A.M. according to orders, and what is more, entered Tanga singing. The men with their loads had marched fifty-two miles in sixty-two hours, and through one black night of pouring rain. Not a straggler was left behind.
The transport to Bagamoyo, a very smelly collier, did not start before evening, and then there was no cabin for the Bishop, who spent most of the night on deck, hearing complaints and settling disputes among his porters.
At Bagamoyo, Frank received another 1000 men, few of whom were Christians, and few had previously known him, but he had still only three Europeans to help him in his command. How hard their work was may best be learnt from his own account in Central Africa.
My orders were to produce in all 2500 porters within some thirty-six hours; to serve them out to various units, supply train, etc. The one drawback was that we had not got 2 500 men! We found over a hundred sick in our own lot, and seek as we would we were a good many short when the time to start arrived.
It remained to commandeer all the ox-carts, pushcarts, and pull-carts in the town. And a very odd column it was that finally left the place.
One regiment's kit was sent behind it in two-wheeled carts, with four or five men to a cart, and a dignified British officer in charge! What he really thought of me and my carts, he kindly never said. 'Supplies ' we despatched with bullock wagons and a few four-wheeled carts pulled by men. And at dark I myself got away last with seven four-wheeled carts, man propelled, filled with the kit of some British companies. It was somewhat of a circus, but the point was that we left the town within the time appointed. . . . We made a good start, with our small guard to keep us from Huns; and in spite of somewhat thick dust we made good progress for a couple of hours. It was then clear to me that I must do a night march to catch up the column before noon next day. So I halted at 9 P.M. to allow the men to cook and eat. At the village we selected as our kitchen, I managed to get thirty men to help us on our way, and at 11 P.M. we started refreshed and cheered. The dust got worse, but our new recruits helped us much. About i A.M. we found the dust much less, and were hoping for a fair road till dawn when suddenly we found ourselves held up by a camp, formed in the very middle of our path. I made my way through carts, tethered oxen, and sleeping porters, to the sleeping forms of 'supplies 'and his staff. A question or two elicited from a newly-wakened sergeant the information that the oxen were wind-broken, the porters back-broken, and the staff heart-broken. I have had experience as a catechist. It was clear that the moment for further questioning was not yet. So with the request that the whole camp would be on the move at 4 o'clock, I went back to my little convoy. At 1.30 we were sound asleep on the path: and at 3 A.M. I was up looking for tea.
Thus there opened to me the day of my life!
'Supplies' had to be taken through at all costs, or the column would be rationless.
From 4 A.M. till 4.30 P.M. we moved the supply column, and having taken it as near as we could to the column's camp, I gave my men two hours' rest and then back we went to deal with our own carts.
About midnight, after a rest, we unloaded all the carts, did the kit up into 75-lb. loads, and, tired out as the men were, we marched once more. We staggered into the place whence we had gone back.
It was 5.45 A.M. One hour's sleep made our total two and a half for the forty-eight hours. We then learned that 'Supplies' had gone on, helped by the troops, for two or three miles. There he came across Mr. Johnstone (Frank's second in command) and his group of porters. They carried him through another night, overtaking Mr. Baker (one of the U.M.C.A. staff) and the advance porters. Baker saw the rations to the front.
For myself, it was a vast relief to find that 'Supplies' had gone. But a little later I realised that he had left much behind him. Only one day's food had gone on, and I had to leave my own loads and turn all my men to the carrying of food. But we managed to get the job done, and were able to send the ox-carts home, as the food was all distributed to its destined end.
The carriers, however, were not to find peace, for the naval three-pounder was found too much for the men assigned to it. The roads were too bad for wheeled traffic, let alone for a gun mounted on an extra heavy, locally constructed carriage. And the next two days Johnstone and I devoted ourselves to the gun besides attending to our own loads. It was a very cheerful and grateful crowd that entered Dar-es-Salaam at the double with the gun rattling over the roads. The very rattle was welcome, telling of sand left behind and mud passed. We had dragged it up hills, lowered it down precipice-like bits of road, dug it out of sands, guided it over log-bridges, and the joy of that firm road was great.
On one occasion, an African tells me that Frank fell while hanging on to the gun down a slope, but 'the Bishop refused to let go.'
For some fortnight the Corps was kept in Dar-es-Salaam unloading stores which arrived by ship, and in the work of clearing up the surrendered town. Frank established his camp outside, so that there would be no temptation to loot. 'He knew,' writes an African, 'the many shameful things porters may do in camps where their souls are not looked after'; and again, the same African writes: 'The Lord Bishop loved the souls of his men and knew their weakness; and so he was ever unwilling to camp very close to a town.'
But besides his Corps, during that fortnight Frank was very busy, helping officers with native languages and difficulties, visiting the hospitals, learning about his Christians on the mainland, and taking services for natives and Europeans.
After that Frank went on with porters by sea to Lindi and Mikindani, and then marched inland with supplies to Masasi, and rejoiced to find the Mission buildings uninjured and the great church of St. Bartholomew a hospital. He was next at Kilwa Kisiwani, and was engaged in taking porters to Rufiji when he was seized with a high fever. He had to be carried back in a stretcher and placed on board a boat leaving for Zanzibar. Having arrived there, he refused to land; for, as he explained, he had to think of the relatives of his porters, and of the rumours which would spread, directly it was known that he had returned to Zanzibar without his men. So he went back in the ship to Dar-es-Salaam and there collected his Zanzibar porters. My African informant writes to me, that those who were not of Zanzibar ' cried for the Lord Bishop, so that in the camp there was great lamentation.'
On reaching Zanzibar, Frank separated those who had homes in the town from those who had not, and sent the latter to camp at Kiungani until they were paid. He had not finished demobilising his force until 12.30 at night, but the next morning he was first at the Government offices to see that each man was paid.
My African informant concludes his narrative by saying:
On the whole expedition, all the men obeyed every word of the Lord Bishop without question, not because they were afraid or because they were forced, but because the Lord Bishop treated them as a father does his children. There were troubles, but they were few in number, and they were not as in the camps and expeditions of other officers.
For over two months Frank had been in command, and at times of over 2000 men. He had carried out all the requirements to time and without a hitch. He had found in Mr. Johnstone, his second in command, 'a tower of strength,' and was lavish in praise of Mr. Baker and Mr. Richardson, laymen who belonged to the Mission staff. His non-commissioned officers were, for the most part, drawn from his own teachers, who understood him and his ways. In some ways it was a strange military force. Imagine the surprise of a Colonel in the Regular Army who, seeing the long column approaching, shouted to the leading files, 'Who are you?' and was answered by one of them in all innocence, 'John Baptist,' which happened to be his name.
His second in command writes:
The discipline he exercised, during our time on the mainland, was the most rigid I have known. When once he had decided that a thing was possible and could be done, he spared no one, himself included. One day a theft was proved against one of the porters, and the.chastisement the man received was far greater than I should have imposed. I am sure, however, that he was right for such a thing never happened again.
His discipline was only equalled by his efficiency. So an officer serving with South Africans, after watching Frank strike camp and get his men into marching order, ran after him to say: 'I don't know who you are, Sir, but, if you want a job after the War, come to me; and we shan't quarrel about terms.' He was a mining magnate from the Rand.
Britishers willing to relieve overloaded porters of such medical comforts as whisky found how inelastic was the clerical conscience, and officers with their own ideas about the way 'niggers ' should be treated found that they were up against a very tough proposition when they attempted to interfere with the episcopal Major. At Korogwehe found transport officials who seemed to have no idea of the physical capacity of an African, and at Bagamoyo there was almost a row, for all the loads weighed more than it was possible a man could carry any distance.
Frank, of course, had the advantage of knowing the country and the climate. He knew what a man could carry and for how long. He knew also what was absolutely necessary in the way of rest and food. He generally walked in the rear of his column to see that tired men were not beaten. He was quick to adjust burdens and vigilant to see that nothing was left behind.
Mr. Johnstone writes:
The impression that was instilled into my mind then and always remained, was that whatever line of life he had entered, he would surely have come right to the top. He knew so exactly how far and how much a man could go and do. While on the mainland the Bishop was a soldier and seemed almost to have ceased to be in the Church. This was really due to the whole-heartedness he put into whatever he did. I knew he hated it all, but I am sure he felt that by doing this work, he was setting a guide to others who were to follow. This I am sure he did.
The Medical Officer who examined the Zanzibar porters on their return writes to me:
It was very pleasant to see in what good condition they were. This was due to the great care that the Bishop had taken of his men. He had seen that they were properly treated, and this, I regret to say, was not always the case.
A year afterwards, in a friendly letter, General Smuts wrote to Frank:
May I thank you for your great services at the head of your Carrier Corps in G.E.A. The Archbishop of Canterbury was much interested in my picture of you marching with an enormous crucifix 1 at the head of your black column. I told him that, from my point of view, it was better service than Kikuyu controversies.
Frank had refused to be paid for his services or to be gazetted as Major, so he only held local rank; and, though he was mentioned in despatches, he received a civilian's O.B.E., and it was only through the kind intervention of the Archbishop of Canterbury that he received his medals.
Frank's soldiering was not without religious results, for his Moslem followers were convinced that he was indeed a Holy Man. Here is the strange story of Swedi, told me by Archdeacon Swainson, and I hope he will pardon me for somewhat compressing his narrative.
Swedi was a Swahili Moslem who lived in Zanzibar. In 1916 he enlisted in the Bishop's Carrier Corps, and with the money he had earned as a porter bought a small plantation outside the town. He had become one of the Bishop's most devoted admirers, but he professed no interest in his religion, and never came near any missionaries.
It was not until early in 1922 that he came to see me, the Bishop being far away on the mainland. This was his story. He had been very ill, and his relatives had tried all the medicines of which they knew. In despair they decided to call in a medicine man, but Swedi begged them to wait until next day. Then, for the first time for some days, he fell asleep and dreamed. He saw someone coming towards him dressed in white. At first he thought it was Satan, but then he recognised the Bishop. After the customary salutations, the Bishop said: Swedi, you are very ill, do you want to get better? Swedi answered: I am very ill and I want to get better. The Bishop said, Will you promise to do what I want you to do? Swedi said Yes. Then, said the Bishop, You will recover, and the vision faded away. In the morning Swedi awoke quite well, and came to me with his story, adding--The Bishop wants me to be a Christian, make me one. His instruction began forthwith, and after eighteen months of preparation he was baptised in the Cathedral.
He then had to suffer persecution. His brothers beat him. His Mohammedan wife left him. He was unable to get work, but he persevered. Then the Bishop took him away to the mainland, and his mother followed him and was also in time converted. Swedi is now a prosperous overseer on a plantation.
Soon after Frank returned to Zanzibar, the forty-two members of his staff who had been interned were set free. They had been for the most part--both men and women--very badly treated, and no respect had been shown for the conventions of Geneva. Missionaries had been set to do coolie work in order that they might be humiliated in the sight of natives, and every sort of insult had been heaped upon them. Two of them died in consequence of their sufferings, and one was invalided out of the Mission. But if missionaries had suffered much, their converts had suffered much more. Even Germans recognised that a day of reckoning might come for the way in which they treated Europeans, but they were under no such apprehensions in their conduct towards Africans. So the Christians of the English Mission were treated as enemies, they were forced to work without pay, were flogged, chained together and tortured. Fourteen teachers died of the chain-gang, and an African Canon, when set free, was deaf from the brutal manner in which he had been knocked about. All this happened before Smuts began to advance, and before any Africans of German East Africa enlisted as porters with the British forces. When asked to do so, they--heathen and Christian alike--joined readily. They were prepared to risk anything to be rid of their former masters.
The Peace party at home, however, with the altruism of those who sit safe and risk nothing, were agitating for a policy by which Germany should have her colonies restored to her after the war. This made Frank furious, and for the third time in his life he sat down and wrote an Open Letter--this time to General Smuts. He called it The Black Slaves of Prussia.
He piled up details about German tyranny, and emphasised the fact that England had employed the Africans to defeat Germany, and could not after that betray them into her hands. England had talked at large about a war for freedom, and could not, having secured her own safety, hand back the people who had trusted her to servitude.
His pamphlet had a very wide circulation, and its real purpose was fulfilled when Tanganyika Territory was constituted under British Rule.
But another danger soon appeared. Some thought that Indian susceptibilities might be conciliated if Tanganyika were given to them as a colony, for it would never become a white man's country. To this also Frank was bitterly opposed. He was at the time very angry at the way in which some Indians had profiteered, and at the extortions of some Indian money-lenders. So he wrote in the East African Standard:
The Africans have in their times of famine paid them almost their last pice, and pledged to them their hard-won crops for the right to live. Must they now hand over their country and freedom as a thankoffering to India? . . . There are many Indians who, if they would, could learn much from Africans about sanitation and cleanliness; while there are not very many who could be relied upon to teach Africans the virtue of truthfulness, or to rescue them from the vices of false-witness, bribery, and nepotism.
India was clamouring for home rule, and maintained from her housetops that India should be for the Indians; but if this is right, Africa should be for Africans. 'Home rule,' he remarked, 'was not the private perquisite of nations spelt with an I.' And why was complete home rule delayed in India? Was it not because 'we cannot yet trust one tribe of Indians to rule another tribe of Indians?' How much less could they be trusted in a foreign land to rule an altogether alien race. Among Europeans, differences of religion may be ignored, but in the East they are always fundamental. So he wrote:
The real truth is that no Eastern, who is sincerely religious, can be impartial towards all religions. His own religion is so wrapped up with his social and domestic life that he cannot for a moment escape from its peremptory claims. Impartiality in religion demands a social life common to all religions, apart from religious customs and sanctions. And this the East has not yet attained.
Personally, I advise her to keep her religion well mixed with her social life; and to leave empire to us poor Westerns, who are hard put to it to keep religion in touch with life at all. Western Christians, sincere followers of our Lord, have proved themselves impartial. Without such impartiality no empire can do God's Will for the various races which go to make it. But in twenty years I have met no African or Indian, keen of faith, whom I would trust to govern men of a religion he did not himself profess. As I have said, I do not regret that I haven't met one. There are plenty of Westerns to do the actual job of ruling and judging. Let the Easterns fulfil as faithfully their own vocations, as useful, as honourable, and as meritorious.
With such views he made his claim that Africans in Tanganyika had the first claim to consideration. He wrote in The Nineteenth Century in 1920:
Whoever has a just claim to the conquered territory, surely the Africans themselves have! Not only have they a natural claim--they have an additional claim, the claim of war service rendered to Britain and her Allies. It is not too much to say that, without the Africans, we should never have driven the Germans from the colony. If only the British public knew the full tale of death and suffering bravely endured by Africans, it might perhaps be moved to sympathy with them. And the figures have not been published. They are terrible. And the least Great Britain can do is to protect these peoples during the many generations which must pass before they can rule themselves.
He was under no illusions and describes his Africans as 'very small children of the human race.' 'To me, personally,' he adds, 'they are very dear; but to pretend that they are within measurable distance of self-government is the highest folly.' He knew only too well that 'to an average African, an official position means only an occasion of acquiring money and wives, and for the scoring-off of his enemies.' He hoped for British administrators in Tanganyika who should 'foster tribal life, keep out foreign Africans from office in each tribe, and refuse to have Africans hurried.' He could imagine them growing up and developing a civilisation of their own, and he feared most of all educational and other cranks, who would try to mould Africans according to a Western pattern. Before he died he bore witness to the much good work which British officials had done.
It must be obvious from what has been written that Frank had no doubt about the righteousness of England's cause, or the duty of Englishmen to fight. He was, moreover, quite ready to justify the faith that was in him. In 1917 the S.P.C.K. asked him to write a small book on the Religious Attitude to War, and he sat down at once to compose a reasoned defence for the Christian soldier. He sent the first chapter to a lady on his staff for her criticism, but she replied that the argument seemed very difficult, and asked him to write something that would comfort sad hearts and could be grasped by weary brains. He at once consigned his chapter to the waste-paper basket, and in a few days produced Conquering and to Conquer the simplest and most popular of his works.
Here, once again, he set forth his conception of Eternal Love. He repudiated Calvin's God, sitting afar off and punishing His disobedient people by famine, pestilence, and the sword. He repudiated also the easygoing Divinity who should make everybody comfortable. The War showed that the God, so many were prepared to worship, did not exist. He recalled men to the God revealed in the Christ on Calvary. It was there they were to find the God of Love.
To ask why God permitted the War seemed to him as irrelevant as to ask why God created men with freedom of will and did not resume His gift. The War was the result of man's self-will, and God, as on Calvary, was man's victim. And yet Eternal Love, as on the Cross, was bringing good out of evil. Love was being triumphant through its capacity for sacrifice.
Such being the case, he could not understand how any could stand aside. In the War, he did not see the Will of God, but the inevitable consequences of man's sin. That sin had yet to be overcome and the world had still to be redeemed by blood and tears. Christ had not refused to enter into a sinful world and to endure the consequences of so doing, and those who were His could only follow Him. Freedom could only be retained, and redemption could only be won, if men were ready to fight on behalf on others and offer themselves in their defence.
Such was the background of Conquering and to Conquer, but most of the book was concerned with simple instructions on the Christian life, the need of penitence and the reality of consolation. Each section ended with prayers, which anyone could understand and use. We may regret the reasoned argument, but we should be grateful that, in the hours of stress, our Lord Christ was so evidently set forth as the Divine Lover, Who was suffering with His children, English and German, and yearning over His enemies, English and German, that they also might be won to His truth.