Images de page
PDF
ePub

1875 £20,000 was voted for the immigration of Coolies, of which a portion was reimbursed during that year, and further portions from year to year. The Coolie on his arrival is allotted to a planter, or to any other fitting applicant, and the employer for 5 years pays £4 per annum to the Government for the man's services. He also pays the man 12s. a month, and clothes him. He feeds the Coolie also, at an additional average cost of 12s. a month, and with some other small expenses for medical attendance and lodging pays about £20 per annum for the man's services. As I shall state more at length in the next volume, there are twelve thousand Kafirs at the Diamond Fields earning 10s. a week and their diet ;-and as I have already stated there are in British Kafraria many Kafirs earning very much higher wages than that! But in Natal a Zulu, who generally in respect to strength and intelligence is superior to the ordinary Kafir, is found not to be worth £20 a year.

The Coolie after his five years of compulsory service may seek a master where he pleases, or may live without a master if he has the means. His term of enforced apprenticeship is over and he is supposed to have earned back on behalf of the Colony the money which the Colony spent on bringing him thither. Of course he is worth increased wages, having learned his business, and if he pleases to remain at the work he makes his own bargain. Not unfrequently he sets up for himself as a small farmer or marketgardener, and will pay as much as 30s. an acre rent for land on which he will live comfortably. I passed through a village of Coolies where the men had their wives and

children and were living each under his own fig tree. Not unfrequently they hire Kafirs to do for them the heavy work, assuming quite as much mastery over the Kafir as the white man does. Many of them will go into service,and are greatly prized as domestic servants. They are indeed a most popular portion of the community, and much respected,-whereas the white man does I fear in his heart generally despise and dislike the Native.

I have said that the ordinary Kafir is found by the sugar grower not to be worth £20 a year. The sugar grower will put the matter in a different way and will declare that the Kafir will not work for £20 a year, will not work as as a man should work for any consideration that can be offered to him. I have no doubt that sugar can for the present be best made by Coolie labour,—and that of course is all in all with the manufacturer of sugar. It cannot be otherwise. But it is impossible not to see that under it all there is an aversion to the Kafir,—or Zulu as I had perhaps better call him now, because he cannot be controlled, because his labour cannot be made compulsory. The Zulu is not an idle man,-not so idle I think as were the negroes in the West Indies who after the emancipation were able to squat on the deserted grounds and live on yams. But he loves to be independent. I heard of one man who on being offered work at certain wages, answered the European by offering him work at higher wages. This he would do,-if the story be true, with perfect good humour and a thorough appreciation of the joke. But the European in Natal, and, indeed, the European throughout South Africa, cannot rid

himself of the feeling that the man having thews and sinews, and being a Savage in want of training, should be made to work, say nine hours a day for six days a week,—should be made to do as much as a poor Englishman who can barely feed himself and his wife and children. But the Zulu is a gentleman and will only work as it suits him.

This angers the European. The Coolie has been brought into the land under a contract and must work. The Coolie is himself conscious of this and does not strive to rebel. He is as closely bound as is the English labourer himself who would have to encounter at once all the awful horrors of the Board of Guardians, if it were to enter into his poor head to say that he intended to be idle for a week. The Zulu has his hut and his stack of Kafir corn, and can kill an animal out in the veld, and does not care a straw for any Board of Guardians. He is under no contract by which he can be brought before a magistrate. hates him and loves the Coolie.

Therefore the sugar planter

I was once interrogating a young and intelligent superintendent of machinery in the Colony as to the labour he employed and asked him at last whether he had any Kafirs about the place. He almost flew at me in his wrath,—not against me but against the Kafirs. He would not, he said, admit one under the same roof with him. All work was impossible if a Kafir were allowed even to come near it. They were in his opinion a set of human wretches whom it was a clear mistake to have upon the earth. His work was all done by Coolies, and if he could not get Coolies the work would not be worth doing at all by him.

[blocks in formation]

His was not a

sugar mill, but he was in the sugar country, and he was simply expressing unguardedly, with too little reserve,the feelings of those around him.

I have no doubt that before long the Zulus will make sugar, and will make it on terms cheaper to the Colony at large than those paid for the Coolies. But the Indian Coolie has been for a long time in the world's workshop, whereas the Zulu has been introduced to it only quite of late.

The drive from the railway station at Ungeni, about four miles from Durban, through the sugar district to Verulum is very pretty. Some of the rapid pitches into little valleys, and steep rapid rises put me in mind of Devonshire. And, as in Devonshire, the hills fall here and there in a small chaos of broken twisted ridges which is to me always agreeable and picturesque. After a few turns the traveller, ignorant of the locality, hardly knows which way he his going, and when he is shewn some object which he is to approach cannot tell how he will get there. And then the growth of the sugar cane is always in some degree green, even in the driest weather. I had hardly seen anything that was not brown in the Cape Colony, so long and severe had been the drought. In Natal there was still no rain, but there was a green growth around which was grateful to the eyes. Altogether I was much pleased with what I saw of the sugar district of Natal, although I should have been better satisfied could I have seen Natives at work instead of imported Coolies.

Immediately west of the town as you make the first ascent up from the sea level towards the interior there is the hill

called the Berea on and about which the more wealthy inhabitants of Durban have built their villas. Some few of them are certainly among the best houses in South Africa, and command views down upon the town and sea which would be very precious to many an opulent suburb in England. Durban is proud of its Berea and the visitor is taken to see it as the first among the sights of the place. And as he goes he is called upon to notice the road on which he is riding. It is no doubt a very good road,-as good as an ordinary road leading out of an ordinary town in England, and therefore does not at first attract the attention of the ordinary English traveller. But roads in young countries are a difficulty and sometimes a subject of soreness; and the roads close to the towns and even in the towns are often so imperfect that it is felt to be almost rude to allude to them specially. In a new town very much has to be done before the roads can be macadamized. I was driven along one road into Durban in company with the Mayor which was certainly not all that a road ought to be. But this road which we were on now was, when I came to observe it, a very good road indeed. "And so it ought," said my companion. "It cost the Colony what he said it cost. £30,000, I think, for three or four miles. There had been some blundering, probably some peculation, and thus the money of the young community had been squandered. Then, at the other side of Durban, £100,000 had been thrown into the sea in a vain attempt to keep out the sand. These are the heartrending struggles which new countries have to make. It is not only that they

[ocr errors]

"I forget

« PrécédentContinuer »