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Address to a Conference of Barotse Teachers
given by Gervas Clay,
I am very glad to have the opportunity of addressing this Conference because it gives me the chance of meeting you and to put before you some of my thoughts concerning this Protectorate.
When I was wondering the other night what I should talk to you about I found in a book the words that the late Chief Yeta said in 1916 on the occasion of his succession. These words will have been well known to your fathers and your predecessors as school teachers, and I want to remind you of them again today. Chief Yeta said - "Schools are a blessing to the country - send all your children to them. Education and the preaching of the Gospel - therein lies the salvation of the country. Our strength and are salvation are in God." I think that the people in Barotseland must have listened well to those wise words. I myself can look back on what Barotseland was like 25 years ago when I first came up here at the end of 1933. At that time it took 17 days to come up the river from Livingstone by barge and after a rest in Mongu I had to walk for 5 days to reach Mankoya. Today, as you all know aeroplanes constantly fly in from Livingstone or Lusaka in a few hours and it is now possible to travel from Lusaka to Mongu by road during much of the year. I am particularly interested in this road because it was during my time at Mankoya that all of it was made and I am hoping that within the next two years it will be a hard, fast, gravel road and that as a result we shall have many more visitors and much more trade with the line of rail. In 1934-1935 when you will remember some of the copper mines had to close down and there was very little work or money in the country, the people in the Mankoya district were wearing bark cloth for clothes and using bark cloth for blankets. I doubt if the people today would be able to make blankets outof bark cloth. At that time, in the early 30s, there were even then many highly; educated and intelligent Malozi who had been educated in the mission schools and the Barotse National School. That is still the case today and in the six years I spent in the Southern Province in Livingstone not only did I find that most of my best Boma Clerks were Malozi but wherever I went I found Malozi as Medical Orderlies, as Drivers, in the Agricultural, Veterinary and Game Departments, holding responsible positions. This is due to the hard work of you people and your predecessors. The future prosperity of this country is going to depend more than anything else on the wisdom, civilization and intelligence of the people in it, and that in turn depends on the way you teachers teach the younger generation in your schools. You have still got quite a long way to go, but I wonder if all of you appreciate how much progress the African in Northern Rhodesia has made? When I first came to Northern Rhodesia all the lorries in the territory were invariably driven by Europeans, now it is comparatively rare ever to see a European driving a lorry. That is just one small sign of the progress that has been made.
Recently a survey has been done of the African Mineworker working on the Copperbelt, and it has been found that fewer Africans leave their work than Europeans and that the turn-over of African labour is one of the lowest anywhere in the world for heavy industry. The average length of service of an African at the mine is 7 years and 600 men have received awards for completing 20 years’ service at either Luanshya or Mufulira. The average African doing a skilled job on these mines receives more than £40 a month which compares with the average skilled worker in Britain, who receives £56 a month. You will be interested to learn that there are more than three million men in Britain who earn less than the average advanced African mineworker - £480 a year. The survey has also found out that 4 out of 5 mineworkers say they intend to retire to their villages and that 9 out of 10 show concern about the proper education of their children and most are willing to pay cash to help their education. One out of every four has a car or a motor cycle, and the average advanced African has five complete outfits of clothing. Two-thirds of them go to Church. The survey contrasts the physically poor specimens of thirty years ago with their bark loin -cloths, who earned 15/- for thirty shifts, with the physically fit African Mineworker of today who earns at least £10.12.6. for thirty shifts.
Now I want to say a special word or two about conditions in Barotseland. You have always had the great benefit in Barotseland, ever since Europeans first came to it, of wise Paramount Chiefs and of wise Councillors. The wisdom of your Paramount Chief Lewanika has become proverbial, and I myself who have worked with your Paramount Chiefs Yeta, Imwiko and Sir Mwanawina can testify to their wisdom and to the way in which they have always considered the welfare of their people. We are living in difficult times and you hear many exaggerations and lies told. Some of these concern the early Treaties that were made between your Government and that of the Queen of England through the British South Africa Company. While it is true that there were Europeans asking for prospecting rights in Barotseland, it is also true, and you must remember it, that it was your Paramount Chief Lewanika and his Council who first asked for a Treaty with the Queen's Government in England. This Treaty was asked for because the people in Barotseland were suffering from a constant series of internal wars. They had constantly to be on their guard against raids by the very strong Matabele tribe in the south, and they were becoming more and more perturbed by the encroachment of the Portuguese in the north and west, I believe myself that if any of you read all the papers concerning the Treaties and the Records of the Treaties, many of which are published in books, you would find that those Treaties had been scrupulously kept by the British South Africa Company and by the British Government and that you had benefitted enormously by them. These Concessions were in some degree contracts and both sides gained something by giving something else. The British South Africa Company gained mineral right and the disposal of certain lands to European farmers outside the present boundaries of Barotseland.. On the other hand, Barotseland gained the protection of the Crown and there have been no internal troubles in Barotseland in the last sixty years, nor have there been any further troubles with the Matabele nor, since the King of Italy's award, over-encroachment by the Portuguese.
It is difficult perhaps for you people here today to realise what immense benefit that has been to your country, but you will, I know, appreciate that within the bounds of the present Barotseland Protectorate there is no land which has been alienated to Europeans and you have repeatedly and very recently had your Treaty Rights confirmed by the Secretary of State. In these political times everyone is always anxious about the future, every where in the world, but I think you have less cause for anxiety than most people, and so long as you continue to have a wise Paramount Chief and wise Councillors I am certain that you can look forward to the future with the greatest confidence. It is very essential that you yourselves should know more than I think you do know about the Concessions and Treaties, and that the children in the upper classes of your schools should know about them too. It is also essential that all the children in Barotseland should be brought up to pay the old-fashioned Barotse respect to their elders and betters but particularly to the Barotse Native Government. They must appreciate that that Government is working extremely hard all the time with many and increasingly difficult problems and that they need and deserve the fullest possible support of all the peoples in this Protectorate.
Lastly, I want you to understand the position of the European Civil Servant in Barotseland. I myself as Resident Commissioner regard myself as the adviser to the Paramount Chief and his Government, and you will, no doubt, know that I visit the Paramount Chief at either Limulunga or at Lealui at least once a week for discussions. The Technical Officers in the Protectorate are here solely to do everything they can to help the people and they do this by working with the Kuta Induna. who is responsible for their particular subject. That is, the Provincial Agricultural Officer works hand in hand with the Protectorate Agricultural Induna, and so on with all departments. The sole aim and object of the Technical Advisers in the Protectorate is to bring you the best technical advice on the subject. We all of us know that if we try ourselves to put across to the ordinary villager the best way of managing his crops or his cattle the villager will take very little notice unless that advice is supported by the Paramount Chief and his Government. In the same way the Kuta Induna is able to put across the views of the Barotse Government to the people but he has not got the technical knowledge to be able to give the best advice.
We can only therefore get progress if we all work together, that is if the Protectorate Induna and the Provincial Officer work constantly together with the same object in view and with complete confidence in each other. I am glad to say that relations between the Barotse Native Government and the European Technical Officers are most cordial, and I hope that this may long continue. Please see that your pupils understand this position and are brought up with the determination to acquire higher scales of civilisation and to be proud of the Protectorate in which they live and determined to do all that they can for its future happiness and prosperity.
Finally, I would remind you again of the late Paramount Chief Yeta’s words:- " Education and the preaching of the Gospel - therein lies the salvation of the country."