The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers

Adeline Adeotan Agbebi to John E. Bruce

My dear Mr. Bruce

Your letter of May 8 has reached me and I hasten to thank you for it. I am greatly delighted to learn that you were so much pleased with Akinbami's report and that Mr. Garvey also was pleased. This has helped to prove what I said in my last letter that the boy has been trying to fit himself for the great job you have put him on.
The determination to so discharge his duties as to give you and his principals satisfaction, no less than the /consciousness of the/ distinct honour the success of the Black Star Line where ever established will confer upon the race, has doubtless been the stimulus enabling him to work so hard since he returned home. I have been doing my best to encourage him and will continue to do so.
I am glad to learn that you over there are moving heaven and earth to make the B.S.L. a fixture in the commercial life of the Negro. You cannot imagine what those words of yours will mean to our people here and what fountain of hope they will create in them if they were published and distributed broadcast.
It is true we are at home in Africa and still enjoy some of the good things which are ours by heritage but it is also painfully true that we are in nowise free; and what we enjoy of the fruit of our land is meagre compared with what goes to feed and make comfortable our protectors. Is it any wonder then if we think that Africa the home of our fathers will be freed and developed by you our relations in America? The Negro of America is no doubt suffering from many disadvantages but /those/ disadvantages seem nothing when compared with our condition here.
You will see then that there is a great deal for you to do yet to bring hope and joy to Africa. There is a great future for the Black Star Line in Nigeria and to my mind the sooner attention is focused on it just now the better it will be and the easier future expansion will become. The whole problem is a problem of money. The whiteman is using this to get everything to himself. He has put enormous capital in trade and he is succeeding by leaps and bounds while the African landowner is peeping at him helplessly from the corner at which he has been pushed. We are all anxiously waiting to see the B.S.L. and kindred societies enter the field to capture, however little at first, our oil, kernels or cocoa and other products which go exclusively now to enrich our protectors. Shall we wait in vain?
With regard to Akinbami's work I wish to tell you that his principals do not seem to have grasped the state of things here sufficiently enough to enable them to tackle the work as it should be tackled. The boy has been very much handicapped by lack of money in the first place and again by his not being in possession of certain papers which the Government require before the Corporation can be registered. He has repeatedly told Mr. Garvey of this by telegrams as well as by letters, and despite the fact that he was told some two months ago that the papers were coming by post up till this moment he has not received them.
We do not know what has been the cause of this delay but we know that it has retarded the progress this branch of the Line is making. Akinbami has not been able to sell a single share although he is being worried here and there by prospective shareholders. The local laws forbid the selling of shares except in a registered office so you can see why he cannot proceed with the simple work of selling shares which is the first thing he /should/ undertake.
Besides being out of pocket himself he has to pay regularly every month for an office he has hired and this together with other expenses he has to make on behalf of the Corporation consume plenty money. I hope you will see to it that proper attention is paid to this country. The possibilities are great, our people are desperately expectant and it is wise to strike the iron when it is hot.
The next boat leaving here will bring to you the cloth for the African suit you have dreamed of. I believe in dreams and when this comes true you will remember I said it will. But one thing, if you cannot use the suit this summer keep it for the next which will surely meet you hale and stronger.
Remember me warmly to Mrs. [Florence] Bruce. I hope she is well. I hope to hear soon from you while I remain, Yours sincerely
Adeotan Agbebi
NN-Sc, JEB, MS A7. ALS, recipient's copy.