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when Bishop Tozer first arrived in Zanzibar. The Sultan had seized a dhow, and Colonel Playfair, the then Consul, and a good friend of our Mission, suggested to him that it would be a graceful act to give some of the boys into the charge of the Bishop, who had just been to pay him a complimentary visit. So he gave us five boys, and these were the beginning of our Zanzibar Schools."
“Now you can imagine yourself standing opposite to five little black boys, with no clothing, save the narrowest strip of cloth round the middle, with their hands clasped round their necks looking up into your face with an expression of utter apprehension that something much more dreadful than even they had experienced would surely come upon them, now that they had fallen into the hands of the dreaded white men.
And then how are you to speak and they to answer ? You have not one word in common, and yet these are the missionaries of the future.”
This, then, was the first beginning of the school. I will now tell you by an extract from one of Miss Tozer's letters how it was increased :1
“One evening, on May 14th, 1865, a rumour spread through Zanzibar that an Arab vessel, called a dhow, was going to sail with a large nụmber of slaves. The news was quickly taken to one of the British men-of-war, whose special duty it is to try and stop the slave trade. Two boats, the pinnace and first cutter, well armed and manned, at once started to keep a look out. Leaving the pinnace out in the open sea, the cutter made for the spot on the shore at which the dhow had bee anchor at sunset. They found that she had been gone some time, and proceeded along the coast. They were just hoisting the sail again when they saw a vessel rounding a point a little distance off. They soon perceived that it was a large dhow with her sail half set, apparently looking out for something ; she did not see the cutter until she was within two hundred yards, but directly she did she commenced firing, at the same time making the best of her way off. The cutter proved, however, the fastest sailer of the two, and after a mile’s chase had got so close, that they were preparing to run in and board her, when suddenly the pinnace appeared right in front of the dhow. The crews of both boats boarded almost at the same time, no easy task, for the Arabs from the Persian Gulf, who are the great slave dealers, are very fierce and bold, and are armed with spears and swords, daggers and knives, and sailors say they would rather board a man-ofwar than a dhow of these Northern Arabs. The sides of their vessels go up slanting and very high, so that a boat alongside is completely under them, and they can spear the men straight down without getting a blow in return, and then in boarding the attackers have to cling with hands only to the dhow to clamber in.
1 Blue Book, 1866.
“For about ten minutes a desperate hand-to-hand fight went on, but the Arabs were obliged to yield to the cutlasses of the English sailors. Most of the crew, who were fifty in number, jumped into the sea and succeeded in the darkness in cutting loose a boat from the stern of the dhow and escaping in her. The victory, however, was not gained without a sad loss. The coxswain of the pinnace, who was the first to jump on board, was killed, and three officers, and eight men were seriously wounded.”
Three hundred slaves were found on board packed almost like logs of wood, in a place only two feet high, and all they had to live on was uncooked rice.
When they arrived the Bishop went on board, and Miss Tozer thus describes the landing of the children,
“ Tenderly lifting the tiny baby things out with rough kindly words, the sailors set them down, and they squatted patiently on the ground. Some no more than three years old, but the most about six. Then came a poor little girl wounded in the battle, lifted so tenderly on a carpet by the sailors. Then I saw the Bishop lifting out a mother and baby, the great tearful eyes looking wildly round as she clutched her child. It was almost too dark to see their faces, but the sight of these fifty little creatures squatting around so patiently was quite touching, and I think you would have done as I did, sit down and cry. It was the first realisation of slavery, the first coming face to face with it."
From this beginning you can easily understand how the school grew, how the house at Kuingani was bought and added to until it has assumed grand proportions. The number of boys there at the present moment is over eighty, and we have sent many out as teachers and workers, and fitted to earn their own living.
I think the best way in which I can give you a description of the work at Kuingani is by describing the events of an ordinary day there.
In Central Africa the sun rises about six o'clock all the year round, and just as the pink dawn rises over the sea the large bell rings out its noisy summons, and we jump up hastily, draw on a pair of shoes and hurry down just as we are in our pyjamahs for a bath. In three minutes we are on the shore and plunge into the grey green water with the level beams of the sun tipping every wave with gold, amid a troop of yelling, laughing black boys all around us. There they are, some sixty of them, all splashing, dancing, playing tricks with one another in the rolling breakers, and swimming, both above and under water, far better than I ever saw English boys do. By this time it is broad daylight, and we all scamper back to the house where there is
just time to finish dressing and have a cup of coffee and a banana before morning chapel. Then I put on my cassock and surplice and go down to the corridors where the boys are all standing in a double line, with clean white tunics and waistcloths; the roll is then called, and we go into chapel. The little chapel is full to the very doors, and the service in Swahili, and thoroughly hearty and congregational; the singing too is more vigorous than tuneful, but we have most of the best Ancient and Modern Hymns translated into Swahili, and set to our dear old tunes, which they pick up quickly. One often hears them on a walk singing “Haya Asikari," "Onward, Christian soldiers."
Then in to breakfast at 7 a.m. Porridge all round, with molasses or marmalade, with meat and coffee in addition for the Europeans.
Then the boys do what they like for an hour, and I noticed that they used often to sit in groups and chat, rubbing their front teeth with a bit of bamboo. No wonder they have such beautiful teeth; they seldom eat meat and they spend hours cleaning them, where we consider a couple of minutes morning and evening quite sufficient.
Then comes morning school, which lasts from about nine to twelve. The boys are taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, in Swahili, and in the upper classes some geography and history. Of course, the whole school is instructed in Divinity, and the elder boys and teachers have special classes and lectures by Mr. Madan and the Chaplain, who is at present the Rev. Owen Phillips.
In the meantime the boys in the industrial school are hard at work learning carpentering under Mr. Ellis, who reigns supreme at the back of the house, where is a circular saw and several carpenters' benches, where most of the house furniture is made and orders from outside are executed. We are also going to set up a blacksmith's forge.
The printing office also employs a number of boys under Mr. Hayman, and is always full of work; most of our Swahili literature is printed there. The amount earned by the schools at Kuingani in 1880 showed £33 of clear profit.
Besides this there is a tailoring department which works well, and a laundry at which all the washing of the Mission is done.
Thus the work goes on till twelve, when the bell rings for dinner. The boys' food generally consists of curry and rice, or some grain with a piece of pork or dried shark which they esteem a great dainty, plenty of oranges or bananas, and occasionally a large hunch of sugar-cane.
After dinner comes about an hour and a half of amusement for the
boys, and the same period of hard work in doctoring for us. The infirmary turns out to be looked over, and as most of the patients are suffering from skin diseases or scrofulous ulcers, we have to spend considerable time on them. I suppose that these sad complaints are generally the result of bad living and bad treatment before the boys come into our hands. One consolation is that our boys are better in health than the heathens around us. When we thought a case was beginning to look serious we always had advice from the consular surgeon at Zanzibar, Dr. Robb, whose kindness and gratuitous advice have laid us under a great debt to him. It was very sad to hear some of the boys say at times, “ Our blood is not like yours, you never have these sores. We have been cursed by God, that is a difference between us.” I am afraid the curse they spoke of was the inheritance of sin and famine, which seems to be the general curse of Africa.
At two p.m. school began again, and at 3.30 the boys went out for half-an-hour, and we indulged in afternoon tea, a luxury which becomes almost a necessity in Central Africa.
At half-past four, school was over for the day, and the boys dispersed all over the place, either gardening, or fishing and sailing boats on the marsh.
We were all in again for dinner. Tea at six p.m., and as soon as that was over the boys generally indulged in a dance in the corridors. I used often to stop and watch them. It seemed as though many of their savage instincts were only slumbering, and on an occasion of this kind roused up again. They would form a ring, keeping time with hand and foot, and singing choruses, the words of which I could never translate, and which I began to doubt at last to have any meaning; then two boys from opposite sides would dart into the circle and begin a wild frenzy of a dance, describing a combat or some such occasion; arms and legs flew wildly about, the chorus was enlivened by weird screeches at irregular intervals, and as each couple was tired, another took their places. In the meantime the little boys would collect on some landing at the top of the stairs and tell stories. We used often to hear how they were stolen away, and what they suffered on their voyage in the slave dhow at these times. It was terribly alike, continually, a little boy would tell how he was playing outside his mother's cottage, and while she had gone into the village, a rough man came by and seized him and tied his hands, swearing he would kill him if he cried
out, and took him away; or the father nad gone away from home and left him in charge of a friend who had sold him for two or three yards of calico; sometimes they tell too what happened on the journey down. How the parents were taken too, and how the father was ill and could not keep up with the gang, so he was killed then and there. Another would tell how a little brother was thrown into the sea because they did not think him worth carrying further.
Then they talk of numbers of little children and babies who were killed and thrown into the grass by the side of the road, until your heart grows hot within you, and you forget that vengeance is the LORD's, and He will repay them. But when one sees them playing about well and happy, and cared for, or kneeling by the wall in the long dormitory, saying their prayers, one does feel very thankful for being allowed a share in the work of mercy.
Then follows chapel, Evensong in English, and almost immediately afterwards the Chaplain in charge has to go up and put the little boys to bed.
I think I used to like this best of all my work. The dormitory is a long room with about seven windows looking out over the sea, and contains about forty boys. At each end is a curtain, railing off a cubicle where a monitor sleeps. Each boy is provided with a mat about six feet long by three feet broad, and this is the whole extent of his bedding. The room is just lighted by one lamp, and every boy was supposed to be on his mat when I came in to call over the roll. When all had answered, each boy kneels upright against the wall at the head of his mat, and I used to say a short prayer aloud; after that, perfect silence for about five minutes, each boy saying his own prayers, and when he has finished, curling himself up silently in his place; one by one they drop off, and when the last has finished his devotions, I rise from my knees and bid them all good night. “Què Heri, Bwana,” comes back in a hearty chorus of boys' voices, and I leave them.
It is a picture that will live in my memory, I think all my life, even if it should please God not to let me go back to them, the solemn moonlight stealing through the open windows and lighting on the little kneeling figures bent at last in adoration of the true God, and then the sad thought of all their brothers who still knew Him not, and of all those who had not been rescued from hopeless slavery. I think that some of the most fervent prayers I ever offered in my life were offered among those boys in that upper chamber beside the window