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Britain in 1885 and France in 1892 and 1907 the Liberian republic was

Confined to an area of about 43,000 sq. m.

The real struggle in West Africa was between France and Great Britain,

and France played the dominant part, the exhaustion of Portugal, the apathy

of the British government and the late appearance of Germany in the field

being all elements that favoured the success of French policy. Before

tracing the steps in the historic contest between France and Great Britain

it is necessary, however, to deal briefly with the part played by Germany.

She naturally could not be disposed of by the chief rivals as easily as

were Portugal and Liberia. It will be remembered that Dr Nachtigal, while

the proposals for the Berlin conference were under discussion, had planted

the German flag on the coast of Togo and in Cameroon in the month of July

1884. In Cameroon Germany found herself with Great Britain for a neighbour

to the north, and with France as her southern neighbour on the Gabun river.

The utmost activity was displayed in making treaties with native chiefs,

and in securing as wide a range of coast for German enterprise as was

possible. After various provisional agreements had been concluded between

Great Britain and Germany, a ``provisional line of demarcation'' was

adopted in the famous agreement of the 1st of July 1890, starting from the

head of the Rio del Rey creek and going to the point, about 9 deg. 8' E.,

marked ``rapids'' on the British Admiralty chart. By a further agreement of

the 14th of April 1893, the right bank of the Rio del Rey was made the

boundary between the Oil Rivers Protectorate (now Southern Nigeria) and

Cameroon. In the following November (1893) the boundary was continued from

the ``rapids'' before mentioned, on the Calabar or Cross river, in a

straight line towards the centre of the town of Yola, on the Benue river.

Yola itself, with a radius

Germany in West Central Africa.

of some 3 m., was left in the British sphere, and the German boundary

followed the circle eastwards from the point of intersection as it neared

Yola until it met the Benue river. From that point it crossed the river to

the intersection of the 13th degree of longitude with the 10th degree of

north latitude, and then made direct for a point on the southern shore of

Lake Chad ``situated 35 minutes east of the meridian of Kuka.'' By this

agreement the British government withdrew from a considerable section of

the upper waters of the Benue with which the Royal Niger Company had

entered into relations. The limit of Germany's possible extension eastwards

was fixed at the basin of the river Shari, and Darfur, Kordofan and the

Bahr-el-Ghazal were to be excluded from her sphere of influence. The object

of Great Britain in making the sacrifice she did was two-fold. By

satisfying Germany's desire for a part of Lake Chad a check was put on

French designs on the Benue region, while by recognizing the central Sudan

(Wadai, &c.) in the German sphere, a barrier was interposed to the advance

of France from the Congo to the Nile. This last object was not attained,

inasmuch as Germany in coming to terms with France as to the southern and

eastern limits of Cameroon abandoned her claims to the central Sudan. She

had already, on the 24th of December 1885, signed a protocol with France

fixing her southern frontier, where it was coterminous with the French

Congo colony. But to the east German explorers were crossing the track of

French explorers from the northern bank of the Ubangi, and the need for an

agreement was obvious. Accordingly, on the 4th of February 1894, a

protocol—which, some weeks later, was confirmed by a convention— was signed

at Berlin, by which France accepted the presence of Germany on Lake Chad as

a fait accompli and effected the best bargain she could by making the left

bank of the Shari river, from its outlet into Lake Chad to the 10th

parallel of north latitude, the eastern limit of German extension. From

this point the boundary line went due west some 230 m., then turned south,

and with various indentations joined the south-eastern frontier, which had

been slightly extended so as to give Germany access to the Sanga river— a

tributary of the Congo. Thus, early in 1894, the German Cameroon colony had

reached fairly definite limits. In 1908 another convention, modifying the

frontier, gave Germany a larger share of the Sanga, while France, among

other advantages, gained the left bank of the Shari to 10 deg. 40' N.

The German Togoland settlements occupy a narrow strip of the Guinea

coast, some 35 m. only in length, wedged in between the British Gold Coast

and French Dahomey. At first France was inclined to dispute Germany's

claims to Little Popo and Porto Seguro; but in December 1885 the French

government acknowledged the German protectorate over these

Exclusion of Germany from the Niger.

places, and the boundary between French and German territory, which runs

north from the coast to the 11th decree of latitude, was laid down by the

Franco-German convention of the 12th of July 1897. The fixing of the 11th

parallel as the northern boundary of German expansion towards the interior

was not accomplished without some sacrifice of German ambitions. Having

secured an opening on Lake Chad for her Cameroon colony, Germany was

anxious to obtain a footing on the middle Niger for Togoland. German

expeditions reached Gando, one of the tributary states of the Sokoto empire

on the middle Niger, and, notwithstanding the existence of prior treaties

with Great Britain, sought to conclude agreements with the sultan of that

country. But this German ambition conflicted both with the British and the

French designs in West Africa, and eventually Germany had to be content

with the 11th parallel as her northern frontier. On the west the Togoland

frontier on the coast was fixed in July 1886 by British and German

commissioners at 1 deg. 10' E. longitude, and its extension towards the

interior laid down for a short distance. A curious feature in the history

of its prolongation was the establishment in 1888 of a neutral zone wherein

neither power was to seek to acquire protectorates nor exclusive influence.

It was not until November 1899 that, as part of the Samoa settlement, this

neutral zone was partitioned between the two powers and the frontier

extended to the 11th parallel.

The story of the struggle between France and Great Britain in West Africa

may roughly be divided into two sections, the

Anglo-French rivalry in West Africa.

first dealing with the Coast colonies, the second dealing with the struggle

for the middle Niger and Lake Chad. As regards the Coast colonies, France

was wholly successful in her design of isolating all Great Britain's

separate possessions in that region, and of securing for herself undisputed

possession of the upper Niger and of the countries lying within the great

bend of that river. When the British government awoke to the consciousness

of what was at stake France had obtained too great a start. French

governors of the Senegal had succeeded, before the Berlin Conference, in

establishing forts on the upper Niger, and the advantage thus gained was

steadily pursued. Every winter season French posts were pushed farther and

farther along the river, or in the vast regions watered by the southern

tributaries of the Senegal and Niger rivers. This ceaseless activity met

with its reward. Great Britain found herself compelled to acknowledge

accomplished facts and to conclude agreements with France, which left her

colonies mere coast patches, with a very limited extension towards the

interior. On the 10th of August 1889 an agreement was signed by which the

Gambia colony and protectorate was confined to a narrow strip of territory

on both banks of the river for about 200 m. from the sea. In June 1882 and

in August 1889 provisional agreements were made with France fixing the

western and northern limits of Sierra Leone, and commissioners were

appointed to trace the line of demarcation agreed upon by the two

governments. But the commissioners failed to agree, and on the 21st of

January 1895 a fresh agreement was made, the boundary being subsequently

traced by a mixed commission. Sierra Leone, as now definitely constituted,

has a coast-line of about 180 m. and a maximum extension towards the

interior of some 200 m.

At the date of the Berlin conference the present colonies of Southern

Nigeria and the Gold Coast constituted a single colony under the title of

the Gold Coast colony, but on the 13th of January 1886 the territory

comprised under that title was erected into two separate colonies—Lagos and

the Gold Coast (the name of the former being changed in February 1906 to

the colony of Southern Nigeria). The coast limits of the new Gold Coast

colony were declared to extend from 5 deg. W. to 2 deg. E., but these

limits were subsequently curtailed by agreements with France and Germany.

The arrangements that fixed the eastern frontier of the Gold Coast colony

and its hinterland have already been stated in connexion with German

Togoland. On the western frontier it marches with the French colony of the

Ivory Coast, and in July 1893, after an unsuccessful attempt to achieve the

same end by an agreement concluded in 1889, the frontier was defined from

the neighbourhood of the Tano lagoon and river of the same name, to the 9th

degree of north latitude. In August 1896, following the destruction of the

Ashanti power and the deportation of King Prempeh, as a result of the

second Ashanti campaign, a British protectorate was declared over the whole

of the Ashanti territories and a resident was installed at Kumasi. But no

northern limit had been fixed by the 1893 agreement beyond the 9th

parallel, and the countries to the north—Gurunsi (Grusi), Mossi and Gurma—-

were entered from all sides by rival British, French and German

expeditions. The conflicting claims established by these rival expeditions

may, however, best be considered in connexion with the struggle for

supremacy on the middle Niger and in the Chad region, to which it is now

necessary to turn.

A few days before the meeting of the Berlin conference Sir George Goldie

had succeeded in buying up all the French interests on the lower Niger. The

British company's influence had at that date been extended by treaties with

the native chiefs up the main Niger stream to its junction with the Benue,

and some distance along this latter river But the great Fula states of the

central Sudan were still outside European influence, and this fact did not

escape attention in Germany. German merchants had been settled for some

years on the coast, and one of them, E. R. Flegel, had displayed great

interest in, and activity on, the river. He recognized that in the densely

populated states of the middle Niger, Sokoto and Gando, and in Bornu to the

west of Lake Chad, there was a magnificent field for Germany's new-born

colonizing zeal. The German African Company14 and the German Colonial

Society listened eagerly to Flegel's proposals, and in April 1885 he left

Berlin on a mission to the Fula states of Sokoto and Gando. But it was

impossible to keep his intentions entirely secret, and the (British)

National African Company had no desire to see the French rivals, whom they

had with so much difficulty dislodged from the river, replaced by the even

more troublesome German. Accordingly Joseph Thomson, the young Scottish

explorer, was sent out to the Niger, and had the satisfaction of concluding

on the 1st of June 1885 a treaty with ``Umoru, King of the Mussulmans of

the Sudan and Sultan of Sokoto,'' which practically secured the whole of

the trading rights and the control of the sultan's foreign relations to the

British company. Thomson concluded a similar treaty with the sultan of

Gando, so as to provide against the possibility of its being alleged that

Gando was an independent state and not subject to the suzerainty of the

sultan of Sokoto. As Thomson descended the river with his treaties, he met

Flegel going up the river, with bundles of German flags and presents for

the chiefs. The German government continued its efforts to secure a footing

on the lower Niger until the fall of Prince Bismarck from power in March

1890, when opposition ceased, and on the failure of the half-hearted

attempt made later to establish relations with Gando from Togoland, Germany

dropped out of the competition for the

The Niger Company granted a charter.

western Sudan and left the field to France and Great Britain. After its

first great success the National African Company renewed its efforts to

obtain a charter from the British government, and on the 10th of July 1886

the charter was granted, and the company became ``The Royal Niger Company,

chartered and limited.'' In June of the previous year a British

protectorate had been proclaimed Over the whole of the coast from the Rio

del Rey to the Lagos frontier, and as already stated, on the 13th of

January 1886 the Lagos settlements had been separated from the Gold Coast

and erected into a separate colony. It may be convenient to state here that

the western boundary of Lagos with French territory (Dahomey) was

determined in the Anglo-French agreement of the 10th of August 1889, ``as

far as the 9th degree of north latitude, where it shall stop.'' Thus both

in the Gold Coast hinterland and in the Lagos hinterland a door was left

wide open to the north of the 9th parallel.

Notwithstanding her strenuous efforts, France, in her advance down the

Niger from Senegal, did not succeed in reaching Sego on the upper Niger, a

considerable distance above Timbuktu, until the winter of 1890-1891, and

the rapid advance of British influence up the river raised serious fears

lest the Royal Niger Company should reach Timbuktu before France could

forestall her. It was, no doubt, this consideration that induced the French

government to consent to the insertion in the agreement of the 5th of

August 1890, by which Great Britain recognized France's protectorate over

Madagascar, of the following article:

The Government of Her Britannic Majesty recognizes the sphere of

influence of France to the south of her Mediterranean possessions up to a

line from Say on the Niger to Barrua on Lake Chad, drawn m such a manner as

to comprise in the sphere of action of the Niger Company all that fairly

belongs to the kingdom of Sokoto; the line to be determined by the

commissioners to be appointed.

The commissioners never were in fact appointed, and the proper meaning to

be attached to this article subsequently became a subject of bitter

controversy between the two countries. An examination of the map of West

Africa will show what possibilities of trouble were left open at the end of

1890 by the various agreements concluded up to that date. From Say on the

Niger to where the Lagos frontier came to an abrupt stop in 9 deg. N. there

was no boundary line between the French and British spheres of influence.

To the north of the Gold Coast and of the French Ivory Coast colony the way

was equally open to Great Britain and to France, while the vagueness of the

Say-Barrua line left an opening of which France was quick to avail herself.

Captain P. L. Monteil, who was despatched by the French government to West

Africa in 1890, immediately after the conclusion of the August agreement,

did not hesitate to pass well to the south of the Say-Barrua line, and to

attempt to conclude treaties with chiefs who were, beyond all question,

within the British sphere. Still farther south, on the Benue river, the two

expeditions of Lieutenant Mizon—in 1890 and 1892—failed to do any real harm

to British interests. In 1892 an event happened which had an important

bearing on the future course of the dispute.

French advance Timbuktu.

After a troublesome war with Behanzin king of to the native state of

Dahomey, France annexed some portion of Dahomeyan territory on the coast,

and declared a protectorate over the rest of the kingdom. Thus was removed

the barrier which had up to that time prevented France from pushing her way

Nigerwards from her possessions on the Slave Coast, as well as from the

upper Niger and the Ivory Coast. Henceforth her progress from all these

directions was rapid, and in particular Timbuktu was occupied in the last

days of 1893.

In 1894 it appears to have been suddenly realized in France that, for the

development of the vast regions which she was placing under her protection

in West Africa, it was extremely desirable that she should obtain free

access to the navigable portions of the Niger, if not on the left bank,

from which she was excluded by the Say-Barrua agreement, then on the right

bank, where the frontier had still to be fixed by international agreement.

In the neighbourhood of Bussa there is a long stretch of the river so

impeded by rapids that navigation is practically impossible, except in

small boats and at considerable risk. Below these rapids France had no

foothold on the river, both banks from Bussa to the sea being within the

British sphere. In 1890 the Royal Niger Company had concluded a treaty with

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