Sir Harry Johnston & the Scramble for Africa

By Roland Oliver | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
A FRIGHTFUL MENAGERIE

WHEN Johnston left Mozambique at the end of April 1890, he travelled first to Port Elizabeth and thence overland to Kimberley, in order to pay a brief visit to Rhodes. His own mission apart, much had happened since their previous meeting in London almost exactly a year before to turn the bold projects they had then discussed into accomplished facts. First and foremost the British South Africa Company had been formally incorporated under a Royal Charter signed by the Queen in Council on October 29th, 1889. Its field of operations had been rather loosely defined as all South Africa north of the Crown Colony of Bechuanaland, and the Transvaal, and west of the Portuguese possessions in East Africa. Northwards the Company's sphere was limited temporarily by the Zambezi, but it was tacitly understood that even to the north of that river the Charter would be extended in so far as effective occupation was achieved through the Company's agency. Rhodes, therefore, at the time of Johnston's visit was busily engaged in staking out the widest possible claims for the frontiers of his new dominion. Jameson was already at Bulawayo with Lobengula, the paramount chief of the Matabele, preparing him with gifts and soft words for the forthcoming entry of Rhodes's pioneers into nearby Mashonaland to the south and east. Colquhoun, the Administrator-Designate of Mashonaland, was Johnston's fellow-guest in Rhodes's house. North of the Zambezi Rhodes had been negotiating for nearly a year for an amalgamation with the African Lakes Company which would give him the undisputed claim to Nyasaland. The Scotsmen had proved hard to woo, but they had accepted £20,000 against shares in their Company and an annual subsidy of £9,000 which had enabled them to keep open their communications with Lake Tanganyika.1 John Moir, their African manager, who was just then returning from Nyasaland to be the Company's

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1
It cannot be a coincidence that this was the exact sum offered by Rhodes to Lugard for the putting down of the slave trade in Nyasaland at an interview which took place in July 1889. This verbal offer was subsequently dishonoured by Rhodes--see M. Perham: Lugard: The Years of Adventure, pp. 150-2.

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