Copyright [year?], University of California Press. All rights reserved.
LAGOS, W. AFRICA [post-28 June 1919]
Your letter dated 25th April 1919 and published in "The Negro World" addressed to all your Fellowmen of the Negro Race with reference to the proposed "BLACK STAR LINE" has arrested my attention.[2
It is the duty of every Negro, in part payment of the debt he owes to his Country and Race, to do all he can towards the consummation of so noble and laudable an object.
Whatever arrangements might be undertaken on your side for the carrying out of such a gigantic scheme, it is in my humble opinion absolutely necessary that, before launching the barque of your scheme into the Sea of Maritime Enterprise, where you certainly will encounter the banks and shoals of undisguised European competition and strenuous opposition founded upon commonplace Commercial jealousy[3
] intermixed occasionally with intolerable "racial prejudice," your Committee should have, at first hand, accurate information from various parts of the world to which it is proposed to run "The Black Star Line" for the guidance of the Directors[4
] of so gigantic and far-reaching an undertaking affecting, as it would, the most vital interests of the Black populations of the tropical portions of this globular Universe. "To be forewarned is to be forearmed."[5
As you have included in your programme the "African Ports," it is obvious that the West Coast of Africa, and particularly Nigeria with a Coast Line 500 miles long, will undoubtedly claim a prominent place in that programme.
Long long ago has it been proved over and again beyond the horizon of doubt or serious misconception that the Negro, given equal opportunities and similar advantages, is not in mental capabilities inferior at least to any other Race on the surface of the terrestrial globe; and only recently have the eyes of so great a Statesman as Lieut-General [Jan Christiaan] Smuts[6
] of South Africa been opened to the fact of the serious danger of the unquestionable superiority of the Africans, (the Negro), as a military material which threatens the future of the whole world—A glaring fact which has compelled the gallant general to express the forlorn hope that one of the results of the recent World-War should be that the military training of the Natives of Africa will be absolutely forbidden.[7
Only ten years ago, the Statesmen of Europe recognized the vast potentialities inherent in the future combination of Negroes and coloured people all over the World when, at a Dinner of the Royal African Society in London, Herr BERNHARD DERNBURG,[8
] then the German Imperial Minister for the Colonies[,] gave animated expression to the European compact and argued that "All Whites should stand together in order not to be swept under by [the] Black Masses; and that the Whites should help the Black people, but keep them within bounds."[9
This post-prandial ebullition was like a signal to the guests, who poured out their satisfaction in a mighty avalanche of applause, especially from former British Colonial Secretaries.[10
] Fortunately or unfortunately, instead of the Black Masses, the great German Nation and their Imperial Minister for the Colonies are today kept well "within bounds" on the Eastern Bank of THE RHINE.[11
] Man proposes, but an Almighty God disposeth.[12
With all these latent qualities in the Africans all over the world, the only thing which at present we apparently lack is the Association of ideas, that remarkable phenomenon of the human mind, which must be founded upon unity of sentiment as well as upon unity of object; and therefore what we really desire now to see quickly developed is the solidarity of the Race with sound national organizations.
You on that far side of the great Atlantic will always and for ever remember that European greed ruthlessly tore your ancestors and ours away from Africa, their hearth and home, their Country and their beloved Motherland, throughout four hundred years of Slavery and suffering into the Tobacco and other plantations of British and South America.
Thank God! You have made wonderful progress notwithstanding within the last fifty years, so that today the Negro is recognized as an integral part of the American government with over 500,000 of the Votes which rule that rich and formidable Union.[13
It is with unqualified gratification that one reads from the pen of HILTON M. RADLEY[14
] of Toronto, of the existence in America of 30,000 Negro carpenters, 36,000 miners, 55,000 Railway employes, 28,000 porters, 30,000 Clergymen forsooth, 30,000 teachers, 3,000 Physicians, Two million School children, 200,000 Mistresses of independent homes, and above all, one Million Farmers and 250,000 Farms with twenty million acres of Land worth One Hundred Million Pounds Sterling. £100,000,000, exclusive of Church property to the value of Fifteen Million and two hundred thousand Pounds Sterling, owned by negroes.[15
Thank God! The Negro can claim with pride today that "wherever the American Flag floats today, black hands have helped to plant it," and that "American religion, industry, Music, Art, and Literature are all as much the gift of the American Negro as of the American White man."
This is what the Negro has achieved in America in response to continued manifestations of the vilest forms of racial prejudice, oppression, humiliation, and supreme insult from the White Masses, some of whom are possessed of that epiphenomenal Pride which prompts an individual to vaunt and overvalue what he actually is, and consequently inclines him to disvalue that which he himself possesses, as well as the superior possession of others round and about him.
Nigeria, the Colony and Protectorate, covering approximately an area of 335,650 Square Miles[,] is about three times the size of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and is the largest of the British West African Possessions.
From sunrise to sunset, year in and year out, at the head of a Steel mast planted on the spacious grounds of a magnificent Government House on the Island of Lagos[,] the metropolis of Nigeria, there floats the "Union Jack," a combination of the banners of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick, which forms an unblemished emblem of Justice and Fairplay, of Truth, Equity, and Unity, the unmistakable ensign of British National philanthropy.
The population over which the British Banner daily unfolds itself numbers about 17 millions of Black people comprising a good number of tribes which possess dissimilar characteristics and speak different languages, but the English language in one form or another is not unfamiliar everywhere throughout Nigeria.
Under this Flag you will have a hearty welcome from 17 million of your Countrymen of unmixed negro blood who form an important portion of the vast British Empire over which the glorious Sun never sets. The Imperial and Colonial policy which hitherto this Flag represents has been "to throw British Crown Colonies and Protectorates open to the trade of all the world without seeking to secure for British Subjects any commercial advantages over their rivals of other nationalities"; so that you, not being of other nationality but simply under a different Flag involuntarily, can reasonably reckon upon a similar welcome from the Colonial Government of Nigeria which is administered by a European Governor and Commander-in-Chief, two European Lieutenant Governors, one European administrator assisted by an Executive Council composed ex[cl]usively of Europeans, and a Legislative Council of Eight Europeans and two negroes[16
] resident within the town and Island of Lagos the official Headquarters where for sometime now there has existed a singular form of Municipality which imposes Taxation without Representation.[17
You will nevertheless expect to encounter keen commercial competition and perhaps well directed opposition from existing Shipping Companies and European Trading Associations and Combinations who, up to the present[,] have for many years enjoyed the sweet monopoly of the whole of the Ocean carrying trade of the West Coast of Africa, and the phenomenal profits and unlimited benefits of the West African Trade.
You will find it difficult, very difficult perhaps, to obtain all along the Coast any supply of Coal.
The Colonial Government have discovered and taken charge of a valuable Coal Mine at ENUGU[18
] in the UDI district[19
] of the Niger, 151 miles by railway from Port Harcourt,[20
] the daily output of which is about 400 tons; a limited amount of which is being offered for sale by the Government as no portion of the coal field is at present open to private enterprise.
I must not yet record the eternal and financial blessings which have accrued to the negro owners of the Land in which this mineral wealth has been discovered and is being developed.[21
As Peace has been signed and War is now practically over, it is highly probable that the wireless installation of your Steamers may be allowed to remain in tact while at Sea; and I can see no reason why any Black passenger you may repatriate or carry should now be taxed at Twentyfive Pounds Sterling per head[22
] before landing on the shores of any of the West African Coast Towns, knowing as we now do what White and Black America have done for Europe and the World at the urgent call of the Prime Minister of England. [ . . . ][23
What the Negro has done for America and in America I am absolutely po[s]itive that the Negro can accomplish for Africa in Africa.
Let the Negroes all the World over, for Five consecutive years[,] constitutionally preach the simple Gospel of Coalition in all its phases, and at the same time put to practice /with invincible determination,/ the combination of their industrial and economic /racial/ interests and energies;[24
] patiently abiding God's good time for the inevitable epiphenomenal interconnection of the disincorporated masses of Black people /inhabiting/ all the zones;—there is not in my own mind the faintest shadow of a doubt, for I am emphatically convinced, that at the end of this period,—"Racial Prejudice," that European cankerworm which preys with vast delight at liberty upon the manhood of the Negro Race and /of all/ coloured people[,] shall be staggered into sporadic hysterical paroxysm and /will be compelled to/ linger in such a morbid condition until the end of time.
Your proposal to run a Steamship Service entirely under the control and management of Negroes and men of African descent to be designated, "The Black Star Line," is as gigantic an undertaking as it is opportune, far-reaching, and profitable.
I know that the imminent difficulties in your pathway are not insurmountable nor will the indispensable energy and necessary courage and perseverance in you be found wanting.
Throughout the length and breadth of Africa, from Cape Verde to Cape Guardafui,[25
] and from the Cape of Good Hope to the mouths of the River Nile, indeed from Negroes everywhere, pray listen and you hear the National call,—Come over and meet your Kith and Kin;—Come over and let us create, once for all, a coalescence of indissoluble Racial Interests, "where Afric's Sunny Fountains roll down their Golden Sand."[26
With the most heartfelt prayer for the success of "The Black Star Line," and in the fervent hope that the undertaking will be conducted upon lines based on strict moral rectitude, fair and healthy competition qualified by the most scrupulous and resolute Self-determination, I remain Your Fellowman of the Negro Race,[27
IU, HM. ALS, carbon copy.
] Herbert Samuel Heelas Macaulay (1864–1946), often called "the father of Nigerian nationalism," was born in Lagos. His grandfather, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, was the first black Anglican bishop in West Africa. His father, the Rev. Thomas Babington Macaulay, was a leading educator and protonationalist and the first principal of the Church Missionary Society grammar school in Lagos, where Macaulay himself was educated. Macaulay worked as a clerical assistant and indexer of Crown lands in the Lagos public works department until being selected to study surveying in England on a government scholarship in 1890. Returning home in 1893, he worked as a government surveyor until resigning in 1898. He continued to practice privately as a surveyor and began writing the "Janus" opinion column in the Lagos Standard.
His newspaper articles and pamphlets attacking the government led to a political career as a leader of the popular faction in the water-rate agitation that divided Lagos in the years from 1912 to 1917. In 1913 Macaulay was imprisoned for misappropriating trust funds (the Mary Franklin case), a misstep which not only temporarily removed him from organizing the antigovernment populist faction but later debarred him, as a convicted felon, from holding elective office. Nevertheless, Macaulay played a leading role in forming the Nigerian National Democratic party (NNDP) in 1923.
Until the mid-1930s the NNDP dominated Lagos politics, winning every contested seat on the Lagos Municipal Council and the Nigerian Legislative Council. Macaulay's championing of traditional rulers and land chieftaincies of Lagos—the eleko and oluwa issues—earned him enormous popularity among the Lagos masses. In 1925 he established his own newspaper, the Lagos Daily News, which ran until the mid-1930s. Another clash with the authorities led to a second, six-month jail sentence in 1928—for publishing a rumor likely to incite a riot. In his writings and his political activities, Macaulay combined an obsessive concern with local politics with a strongly developed sense of racial nationalism; even so, he also displayed an equally pronounced affection for the British imperial connection.
Though Macaulay admired Garvey's stance, the seemingly seditious intentions of the UNIA toward colonial Africa were unacceptable to him, and he is reported to have advised his followers to shun it. Macaulay, never in the forefront of regional pan-Africanism, maintained a distance from the local branch of the National Congress of British West Africa, as well as from the Lagos UNIA.
From the mid-1930s until 1944, Macaulay's political fortunes waned in the face of competition from the rival Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM). However, in the fragmentation of the NYM and the founding of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1944 by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Macaulay found a new political arena. As NCNC president he devoted the remaining months of his life to campaigning on its behalf (IU, HM; confidential report by the deputy inspector general of police, Lagos, 28 March 1921, in "UNIA Activities in Nigeria," 27 February 1922, PRO, CO 583/109; A. A. Lipede, "The Political Activities of Herbert Macaulay between the Wars" [M.Phil. thesis, University of London, 1981]; Isaac B. Thomas, Life History of Herbert Macaulay, 3d ed. [Lagos, 1947]).
The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers,
ed. Robert A. Hill
(Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2000).
Electronic version based on
The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers,
ed. Robert A. Hill,
(Berkeley: University of California Press, [year?]). On the Web at http://mep.blackmesatech.com/mep/ [Accessed 4 January 2018]