Wilhelmstal

Name ID 1353

See also

Boyes, John (ed. Mike Resnick) Company of Adventurers
Page Number: 113-114
Extract Date: 1903

Wilhelmstal Justice

Although I could speak some German, our porters knew that we were not Germans and they were inclined to presume upon this fact. They imposed upon us at every opportunity, objecting to do as they were told and were very difficult to manage. Had we been in British East Africa I should have punished them at once and probably had no further trouble, but being a stranger in a new country I went along quietly, hoping things would improve. At last I got tired of the continued bother, and hearing there was a Government station at Wilhelmstal, up in the Usambara Mountains, about fifteen miles off the caravan road, I decided to report the matter to the officials. I took all the boys with me and started for the boma. It was a good mountain track, through a beautiful wooded country, reminding me of the Kikuyu country round Kenya, and splendidly adapted for colonization. Situated at a lower elevation, it was not so cold as the Kikuyu country.

After a friendly greeting by the officials in charge, I was at once offered a whisky and soda. I explained the trouble I was having with my men and named the one I believed to be the ring-leader. As I wanted to get back the same day, an official was at once told to inquire into my case. We were then taken into another office and all my men drawn up in line. Here I called out the ringleader, who turned round just at that moment and pointing to me said, "White man a bad man," He had no time to say more before he was pulled up with a sharp cuff from the official, who told him to remember there were no bad white men. There was no arguing with them.

Asked if I wished these boys to go right through with me, I said "Yes," as I did not wish to be delayed getting more boys, though I did not care what became of the ring-leader. The Natives were immediately put down and given twenty-five lashes each by a powerful Nubian, who laid it on hard. The ringleader got twenty-five lashes there and then and was sentenced to three months, imprisonment with twenty-five more lashes in prospect when he finished his term. That was the difference between German and British treatment of the Natives. After receiving their punishment the boys were told to go about their business. They returned to camp with me and I had no further trouble.

Had this happened in British East Africa we should probably have had a Court case lasting a week, and in the end the boys might have got off scot free. The difference between the two countries was very marked in many ways, and particularly in the demeanor of the Natives towards Europeans in German East Africa. Every Native got off the footpath to let one pass, at the same time standing to attention,

Extract ID: 3586
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