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William and Louisa Anderson
Part III - Old Calabar Period, 1849-1889, & Closing Years, 1889-1895
Chapter 18

Labours and Conflicts, 1866-1867

Mr. and Mrs. Anderson left Liverpool on June 24, and arrived at Duke Town, Aug. 1, 1866.

The Rev. S. H. Edgerley, who had been in charge at Duke Town during Mr. Anderson's furlough, removed to Old Town, and Mr. Lewis, who had been at Old Town, returned to Duke Town.

In a letter dated Nov. 24, 1866, Mr. Anderson wrote:—

Nearly four months have passed away since our return to this country; they have glided by very rapidly. It is almost too late to revert to our arrival and the welcome which we received from the people. They were right glad to see old friends among them again; and we, too, were glad to find ourselves once more where we feel more at home than, perhaps, we should be able to do elsewhere on the surface of the earth. . . .

I have never had better Sabbath congregations in Calabar than I have had since my return, with the exception of a Sabbath or two in October, when the attendance was but small. I had the pleasure of baptizing two of the native women at our meeting, preparatory to Communion last week. Both were originally slaves. ... I have resumed my old work in school. We have between fifty and sixty in daily attendance.

My health continues as it has been for years. Mrs. A. did not like the cold of your climate at all, but she is now reaping the benefit of having endured it for a year. She is more vigorous now than she has been for many years past. Besides discharging her duties to a household of twenty, and to a few patients who do us the honour of quartering themselves on us, she is able to hold four or five meetings with the native women in their own yards every Sabbath, and also do a little in the way of teaching during the week. . . .

A very barbarous murder was committed the other week by a man named Bassey Africa. One of his wives, the mother of the only two children he has, had somehow displeased him, and he caused her to be flogged to death. The elder of the children—a boy—was long with Mrs. Sutherland. He attends school. Were I to attempt to tell you all 1 felt for a day or two after the murder, when I saw the little fellow break down time after time when he attempted to read, you would be charging me with ///-temper. I frankly acknowledge that such deeds do make my blood boil and my brain burn, and I almost wish I were a man of the sword instead of a man of the word. . . .

In December Mr. Anderson paid a visit to Ikorofiong. On the 23rd he preached morning and evening in the brick church erected by Zerub Baillie, and at midday visited an Ibibio town. The following day he returned to Duke Town accompanied by Mr. Timson, who came to attend a meeting of Presbytery. Mr. Anderson expressed himself rejoiced to see the work begun by Mr. Baillie so well carried on by Mr. and Mrs. Timson.

The following extracts from Air. Anderson's Journal relate the efforts he made to save slaves condemned for an unconscious breach of Egbo law:—

Saturday, Jan. 5, 1867.—Went round town as usual in the P.M. Had a conversation with two prisoners, who, it seems, are doomed to die for some breach of Egbo at Ikpa market. The)' do not deny the breach of the law, but they plead ignorance of the law, and that what they did was in obedience to their owners.

Sabbath, 6. — Had another conversation with the prisoners. Brought their case before the English congregation P.M., and requested our countrymen to use their influence on their behalf, provided we ascertain that their representations are correct.

Monday, 7.—Ascertained that an Egbo proclamation had been made some weeks ago, forbidding the sale of salt at Ikpa market; that the proclamation had not been made at Ikpa, where the prisoners had been located, buying oil for their masters ; that their masters had sent them no intimation in regard to the proclamation; and that their slaves knew nothing about it till captured on the charge of breaking Egbo law. In such circumstances, the only course seemed to be to do everything possible for the release of the prisoners. Had an interview with King A. on the matter. He was much more reasonable than I expected to find him. Visited the prisoners too, but could not hold out much hope to them of escape from a bloody death. They are becoming more tranquil in view of the dismal ordeal, and profess to look to Him who hath abolished death.

Thursday, 10.—To-morrow being "killing day" here, felt it needful to make a strong last effort on behalf of the poor men. Went to King A. to plead their cause, accompanied by two river friends. We had little hope of success, seeing that the fatal Egbo sword had been drawn and brandished round the town. After brief reasoning- on the matter, King A., after the usual oration about the bigness of Egbo, the impossibility of keeping the town in order without strong law, etc. etc., asked us this plain question, "What you want me to do?" I replied, "We want you to release the two men, and make their masters pay you as many coppers as you like to demand, for their neglect in keeping their slaves in ignorance of the Egbo proclamation." To our joy he at once said, "I will for that;" and forthwith sent messengers with Egbo drums to release the prisoners, and to put their masters under ban till they pay redemption money for the "heads" of their slaves.

Sabbath, 24.—Was able to-day, through the kind liberality of the Sabbath scholars of the United Presbyterian congregation of Princes Park, Liverpool, to put into the hands of our readers here copies of a translation into Efik of an excellent tract by the Rev. A. B. Grosart, entitled (in English) "The Blind Beggar." I used the tract as the basis of my A.M. discourse. The young people began to read it with great avidity. I trust that some of them will be benefited by it.

Thursday, April 4.—Visited by our Consul [Livingstone]. Went with him to King A.'s. Had an agreeable conversation on matters in general. We tried to show King A. the folly of devil-making; but our arguments were met by the response, "It be we fashion."

Sabbath, 7.—Some of the young men came to the English service evidently with the design of espying the quality of the European attendance. I was glad that they saw our good friend Air. Consul Livingstone, and a number of the officers of H.M.S. Oberon, among the worshippers.

Wednesday, 10.—The twenty-first anniversary of the arrival of the Mission. Called special attention to this fact at our English prayer meeting in the evening.

Sabbath, 14.—Reminded my native auditors of this day 21 years, when Mr. Waddell held the first meeting in Eyamba's palace, presented him with a large Bible, and preached to him and others the word of God. Very few of the natives are alive who were at that day's meeting. Tried to show our native friends their high privileges and solemn responsibilities, choosing as my text Acts xxvi. 22-23. I redelivered the same discourse in English in the afternoon, and embraced the opportunity of giving a brief sketch of the past and the present in connection with our duties in the future.

Tuesday, 16.—A severe thunderstorm this evening. The hulk lying nearest the Mission Hill was struck by the lightning. Happily no material damage was done. The peal which accompanied that flash made the mission-house shake, and caused our windows to jingle.

Tuesday, May 28.—Heard of two slaves being tied to stakes, to be drowned by the rising tide. Went to King Archibong, but was too late to benefit them. They were already dead. From all that I could learn, they were a couple of incorrigible thieves. I spoke a little to King A. of the sacredness of human life; and he made me what he considers a very fair offer—viz., that the next time judgment is called for on two such rascals, he will send for me; allow me to take part in the trial ; and should all the gentlemen deem them worthy of death, he will dash them to me, that I may try to make good men of them. On my way home, while musing on the woeful cheapness of life in Calabar, it occurred to me that the only execution I ever saw at home was that of a man in Dalkeith, on the first day of March 1826 or 1827, for robbing a farmer of a £1 note and a Scotsman newspaper ; and the question occurred to me, "Were these men, who have been put to death here to-day, better than that William Thomson, who sang a portion of the 103rd Psalm, and seemed so penitent, and prayed so fervently, and with whom the sheriff and the jail chaplain, Mr. Porteous, shook-hands so kindly, before he took his place on the fatal drop!" Another thought occurred to me: Two hundred years have not yet elapsed since the waters of the Sohvay closed over the heads of Margaret M'Lauchlan and Margaret Wilson—and for what? The conclusion seems to be, that human nature is not worse in Calabar than anywhere else—in blacks than in whites. The Bible is the true and the only elevator of both. Let us apply it with double diligence.

Wednesday, June 5.—The steepness of the road from our beach to the hill church having been so often pleaded by our countrymen as an apology for their not coming to church, I have devoted a few hours daily, for some days past, in the laying-out and making of a much more level path than any we have hitherto had. I think I have succeeded ; and intimated at the meeting to-night, that even a delicate lady may walk hither on the new road without being much fatigued.

The annoyance felt by the worshippers in the town church has for months past been almost intolerable. The proprietor of the site on which it stands never fully concurred in its being consigned to the Mission ; and his people have taken advantage of this, and made "the void place" beside the building the receptacle of everything offensive. I felt impelled to make public intimation on Sabbath, that unless the town authorities do something to relieve us from our grievance, I would be constrained to abandon the place altogether.

Sabbath, 9.—There being no improvement in our "surroundings" to-day in the town church, I intimated that we should not meet there again. Some looked sad, but by far the greater part of the congregation seemed to breathe freely on being relieved from the ordeal of further attendance there.

Thursday, 20.—As usual in the middle of the year, gave school vacation from this day till July 8th. Mr. Lewis went to Old Town about three months ago, and I have had the burden of the school-work on my shoulders. The young man who assists me, William Cobham, is far from being strong, and has been eight weeks out of school during the half-year. I am beginning to find a little relaxation needful. Including classes, evening meetings, and instruction of domestics, I find I have about seven hours' teaching every day in the week, except Saturday, when I teach only three hours. This course, 'pursued week after week and month after month, without a single day's break, is, I find, somewhat exhausting in this climate. I expect some relief when Mrs. Sutherland returns. Any young man of energy, who has a passion for teaching, would find a fine field for the exercise of his powers here. I wish we had such a one.

Monday, 24.—Remembering that it is a year to-day since we last left Britain, how swiftly has it passed away ! How much reason have we for gratitude, on a retrospect of the mercies of the year! Oh that we may be enabled to manifest our gratitude, by increased diligence in the work of the best of Masters!

Monday, July 8, 1867.—Resumed school duties after a fortnight's relaxation. My vacation has been variously occupied—in looking after the re-roofing of our church, visiting natives, etc. One day was occupied in visiting Creek Town friends ; another at meeting of Presbytery at Old Town.

Saturday, 20.—Atmosphere in a delightful state at present. This has been one of the most splendid summer days I have ever seen anywhere ; so calm, so comfortably warm, and the air redolent of the odour of the orange blossom. Any stranger spending this one day here would conclude that our climate is one of the most delicious on the face of the earth.

Friday, August 30.—Had a somewhat unusual experience this afternoon. Off duty in the afternoon on account of sickness—a thing that has not occurred for many years. I neglected my rule on temperature, got wet coming over from school in the forenoon, did not change clothing, sat reading and writing for two hours afterwards. Was seized about two o'clock by an attack of what we call British cholera, which continued very severe for two hours. Mrs. A.'s application of simple remedies was successful in checking the disorder ; but the terrible retching left me a good deal exhausted.

Saturday, 31.—Able to be in school in the forenoon, but not to go to town in the afternoon. A good number all round attacked as I was yesterday; indeed, the distemper has been prevalent for a week. In the beginning of the week fifteen of our household were prostrated in one day; six strangers, squatting here for various reasons, have been all sick. With twenty-two patients in one week Mrs. A.'s hands have been kept pretty full.

Sabbath, Sept. 1.—Durst not venture to go to town; but able for the native services in church from seven till nine, and for the English service in the afternoon.

Monday, 2.—Had a long meeting with the candidates' class this evening. Feel grateful that I see my way pretty clear to the admission of four of them to Church fellowship. The more that one learns of the manners and customs of a heathen population, the more must he admire the power of the grace of God in snatching any of its members as brands from the burning. Instead of wondering that so many have fallen back, I think the true ground of wonder is that any remain steadfast. I trust that our converts are very specially remembered by the Church in the intercessions of the second Sabbath of the month, and also at other times.

Tuesday, 3.—Learned to-day that there has been some proclamation issued forbidding women to wear clothing, and that, on this account, several of the native females, who are in the habit of attending church, were prevented from doing so last Sabbath. Sent to King A. to make sure of the facts of the case. His reply was, that he and the other gentlemen had forbidden their own women to wear long gowns, as some of them had abused their privilege in the matter; but that the law had never been meant to apply to women going to God's house to hear God's word.

Tuesday, 17. — Considerable excitement to-day on account of what King A. and some of his friends wish to appear as a rebellion of a portion of his subjects. The facts are these: Some time ago there was a squabble among some of the people of the Guinea Company villages. A young man named Eno Ukpong interfered in the strife; Ekpenyong Mcsembe gave this youth several blows with his stick ; the young man died of his wounds a few days afterwards. His mother, Ekanem Ukpong, a chief woman of the village Ikoriso Ukpong, demanded the death of Ekpenyong Mesembe for killing her son. As the village belonged to Duke Town, the matter was brought to King A. for adjudication. King A. and his friends declare that two things were clearly brought out at the meeting held on the occasion: 1. The palaver did not belong to Eno, and he had no business whatever to interfere therein; and 2. The blows inflicted by Ekpenyong were not intended by him to kill anyone. He was laying about him with his stick on all who were fighting on the other side, and Eno should have kept out of his way. Such being the case, Ekanem's demand was disregarded. She was not satisfied with this, but engaged a man named Otongo Nkpe to go and shoot a brother of Ekpenyong's, in retaliation for the death of her son. Otongo fulfilled his mission, and shot the innocent man. When this was reported at Duke Town, King A. sent off to summon Ekanem to his presence. The summons was disregarded. Some say that the messengers were maltreated and threatened. On their return, information was sent to Creek Town, and, according to the account given here, both towns agreed to put the village to fire and sword. The village has been burned, a number of people have been killed, and a number of prisoners have been captured and brought to Duke Town and Creek Town, to be butchered in cold blood.

Wednesday, 18. — In town about two hours to-day, pleading on behalf of the women and children who are in chains in different yards, and who are doomed to die. I can hardly say what will be the result of my intercession.

Thursday, 19.—Again in town on the same errand as yesterday. Heard that a Creek Town man, Hogan Bassy, had sent down two of his prisoners to be sacrificed here— the one to the manes of the Eyamba family, and the other to the manes of the Cobham family. Both victims were mere girls. In passing King Calabar's palaver-house, observed a young man's head, very recently cut off, placed at the entrance. Proceeding a little farther, I met a procession of Creek Town young men, one of them bearing the head of a young girl, which had just been cut off in the marketplace. I need not record the expressions of indignation with which I greeted the head man of the procession, a son of Hogan Bassy's, and, very lately, one of my own schoolboys. I may mention, however, that I expressed (ironically) my gratification that it can no longer be represented that Duke Town people are more bloodthirsty than the people of Creek Town. "Here I see with my own eyes that the barbarous fiends of Creek Town are equal to their barbarous brothers at Duke Town." The other poor girl was killed too; but I saw nothing of her or her butchers. Went hither and thither denouncing the murders and the murderers.

Friday, 20.—Ekanem Ukpong was executed—in her case I cannot say murdered—last night. I consider that she deserved her doom.

Saturday, 21.—Did my best this afternoon on behalf of the poor women and children who are being kept up as sheep for the slaughter; but King A. is inexorable. While I was pleading with him, one of his head men seemed anxious to speak. I paused to hear what he had to say. He gave me the following information: "Long time past, when Calabar have war with other country, we no kill the women. They divide them among all men for town. Then they keep in mind that Calabar kill their husbands. Then one morning all Calabar find that every man for town who sleep with these women all die ! These women cut all their throats one night! "

King A. himself defended the killing of the children, because, when they grow up, they will fall on some scheme to revenge the death of their fathers. Need hardly say that I felt depressed. How earnestly was the prayer presented—

"Oh, let the prisoner's sighs ascend before Thy face on high:
Preserve those in Thy mighty power that are designed to die!

Sabbath, 22.—Reading Mark's Gospel in order at the English service just now. The passage for this day— without the slightest scheming on my part — was the account of the murder of John the Baptist by Herod. 1 took the aid of Rev. Dr. Thomson This discourse in Christian Treasury—a discourse which I had the privilege of hearing when in Edinburgh) in depicting and improving the scene. I had something, however, to stir my spirit in discussing such a theme which Dr. T. had not. He had not seen the gory heads of slaughtered innocents in the streets of Edinburgh a day or two before he preached on the subject. He, happily, could not say what I sadly did say, "Such bloody scenes have been enacted daily and nightly for some time past, and are likely to be enacted daily and nightly for some time to come, unless we Europeans can do something to check the lavish outpouring of human blood." The river gentlemen responded cordially and nobly to my appeal. Eifteen of us—i.e., thirteen river gentlemen, Mr. Lewis, and myself—went in a body to the king, to implore him to abstain from killing any more of the prisoners, especially innocent women and children. His demeanour and language were outrageous. He denied that we had any right to interfere between him and his people. As for the prisoners, he declared it to be his settled purpose to kill them all. We expostulated, but in vain. lie became quite excited—told us that some of the villagers had run away to other countries, but that he should send for them, and make war upon those countries if they refused to give them up. "Then, when I catch them all, suppose it be man—I kill her; suppose it be woman—I kill him; suppose it be little child—I kill him." The blood of every European present was boiling with indignation during the delivery of this speech, and I began to fear there might be an explosion on the part of some. I am happy to say, however, that there was not a word uttered by any European present inconsistent with the sacredness of the hour or the solemnity and seriousness of the occasion.

Monday, 23.—S. E. informed me privately, near sunset, that orders had been given to kill several women and children during the night. He also named one young man in whose yard some of the prisoners were chained, and informed me that the young man (A. C.) would be very glad to allow them to escape if he dared. At that moment two river gentlemen made their appearance. I gave them the hint, and they went forthwith to the house indicated—saw one woman strongly chained, and a little girl, the woman's daughter, sitting beside her. They at once broke the chain and took woman and daughter on board one of the ships. We heard of other three persons who were also to be killed. About eight o'clock we commenced to hunt for them, but could not find them. I left the party about ten o'clock. There were seven or eight river friends present then. Shortly after I left them they were joined by the rest of the river gentlemen, and the chase was renewed. Dwelling-houses, cask-houses, and hovels of all sorts were ransacked. One suspicious-looking door in the house of J. B. was broken open, and a woman, advanced in years, was found heavily chained. The only way of capturing her was to cut through the large post to which she was chained. This was done, and she was at once marched to a boat—chain and all—and put on board one of the ships. Three persons were thus saved from a bloody death. The blood of our river friends being fairly up, they resolved on going to King Archibong's to have another talk with him. They roused him up at midnight, and, I am informed, gave him such a lecture as he had never heard all his life before. There was no Sabbath restraint on his unwelcome and untimely visitors now. They "broke fairly out on him," whatever that may mean. They did not, and would not, leave him till he promised that there should be no more killing of women and children.

Thursday, 26.— From 7 till 11 P.M. at a meeting of Europeans on board the Lagos to consult as to the disposal of our refugees, it was agreed to send them to Fernando Po in the steamer, Captain Croft kindly agreeing to take them free of charge. A message was received from King A., to the effect that when he made his promise on Monday night, or Tuesday morning, he did not know that the supercargoes had by strong hand taken possession of some of the prisoners; that if those rescued were sent to him, pro forma, he would at once return them to the white men, and would also give up the other three of whom we were in search on Monday evening; but that, if those already on board were not returned to him, he would kill the other three, and more. It was agreed that it would be better to save six lives than three, and intimation was sent to the king that his stipulation should be complied with.

Friday, 27.—The three refugees were presented to the king this morning, and he kept his promise, by returning them at once to the deputation which waited on him, and by producing and handing over the other three prisoners. All the six were despatched to Fernando Po, to care of Mr. Consul Livingstone. We also sent a letter to the Consul, requesting the favour of an early visit, and entreating him to use his endeavours to put a stop to the barbarities of King Archibong and his friends.

Saturday, 28.—Sounded a considerable number of the freemen to-day, both old and young, in reference to King A.'s dealing with the captured villagers. The answers were wary, but in general satisfactory. Were the question put to all the freemen of the town, "Is it right to kill these prisoners?" an overwhelming majority would emphatically answer, "No!"

Monday evening, Oct. 7.—Hear that nine prisoners have been butchered to-day, and that fifteen are to be killed to-night.

Tuesday, 8.—Have certain information to-day of the killing of only two prisoners last night, and one of these was Otongo Nkpe, the person who shot the brother of Ekpenyong Mesembe. No European objects to his execution.

Wednesday, 9.—More killing during the night; but I cannot ascertain the exact number. A splendid summer day this.

Saturday, 12.—Have been busy during the week in writing and rewriting the Shorter Catechism in Efik for a new edition. Have been engaged in teaching this Catechism daily for twenty-eight years; and the longer I teach it and learn it, the more do I value it.

Tuesday, Nov. 5.—River gentlemen and myself called by King A. to his house at S A.M. When we assembled, we found nearly all the freemen of the town in attendance. The king wished to hear all that white men had to say against him ; and then they were to hear all that he had to say against them. The whites at once retired for a few minutes, and agreed to say that we had requested the Consul to come over to settle all palavers, and that, in the meantime, we declined entering into any discussion with him on any matter whatever. This being intimated to him, we at once left the company of the natives to their own meditations and discussions.

Tuesday, Dec. 3.—Mr. Consul Livingstone arrived yesterday in H.M.S. Oberon. He summoned a meeting on board to-day—of both whites and blacks—to hear what complaints they had to prefer against each other. The slaughter of prisoners in cold blood by the native authorities was clearly established, and was declared by the Consul to be a breach of treaty with the English Government. He imposed a fine of twenty puncheons of palm oil as the penalty. This is the best lesson—at least the most effective—that King A. has ever got, and, as a precedent, is invaluable.


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