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|The Zanzibar slave trade|
|► The Zanzibar slave trade|
Dr. Kirk to Earl Granville. - (Received July 1.)
Zanzibar, May 31, 1873
I THINK it my duty to bring before your Lordship's notice, in a separate letter, the very efficient course adopted by the naval authorities on the station for the suppression of the Slave Trade.
So thoroughly indeed have the steps taken achieved the object aimed at, that whereas in former years over 4,000 slaves have usually been imported here by the end of May, this season only two small cargoes have been entered at the Custom-house - one with nineteen and the other with two slaves on board, both from Bagamoyo, a coast village almost within sight of the harbour. From Kilwa not a single slave has yet escaped, and the Arab owners, driven to desperation, are selling off the strongest ones at very reduced prices to speculators, who propose attempting their transport by land.
Again, during the past thirty-one days, instead of the wholesale exportation of past years, I have only one cargo of thirty-seven slaves to report as escaped from the island, and that only destined for Pangani - a neighbouring town on the mainland. The Sultan's Custom-house has in fact only realized in slave duties during the month, 116 dollars, against a sum of 8,290 dollars drawn from the same source as duties for 4,145 slaves imported during the same month of 1872.
Such striking results as these have not, however, been attained without considerable strain on both Her Majesty's Navy and this Agency. The Senior Naval Officer, Captain Malcolm, of the "Briton" - at first alone on the station until rejoined by Her Majesty's ship "Daphne," Commander Bateman, on her return from escorting Her Majesty's Special Envoy to Ras Hafun - has by a well-planned disposition of every available boat, and the skilful management of the slender means at his disposal, paralysed the Arabs, who fear at every town the sudden appearance either of the ships or one of their boats - to such an extent, indeed, that the weakness of the fleet is matter of public disbelief.
I should, however, fail in my duty when speaking of the means concerted to bring about so startling a result, did I not also bring before your Lordship's notice, the energy, endurance, and high moral courage displayed by the junior officers and men of Her Majesty's Navy - upon whom the toil of carrying out these measures has devolved - short-handed and throughout a rainy season all have patiently done their duty in open boats without even the excitement of active resistance or the incentive of prize captures, whilst Her Majesty's ships have at no previous time, and with such reduced crew, without even boats in case of accident, ventured into such intricate channels and dangerous waters upon this difficult and imperfectly surveyed coast.
Whilst placing on record my firm conviction that the efforts of the officers and men of Her Majesty's two ships on the station - the "Briton" and "Daphne," are well deserving of special recognition, the more so indeed as they have by their display of zeal and energy destroyed their chances of prize-money, I must not at the same time neglect to award to the Agency and Consular staff under my orders their justly earned share of credit for the active, intelligent, and cheerful manner in which they have at all times assisted in the performance of the special duties entailed by the measures lately adopted, and which, added to a daily increasing press of Court cases, both European and native, bankruptcy work, work in connection with Her Majesty's Navy, slave prosecutions and the customary office routine, has rendered it imperative of late for us to devote our whole energy and time to the Government service.
I trust, however, your Lordship will not draw as a conclusion from the above Report, that the present strain on the limited resources of Her Majesty's Navy on the station and on this Agency can be long continued without additional naval strength. Good sailing and thorough sea-going boats of larger dimensions than the ships are now provided with are a more urgent need than additional vessels, although in order to keep up the blockade of Kilwa, Zanzibar, and Lamoo, as at present one vessel at the very least will become a necessity; and it must be borne in mind that the entire coast to the south, Mozambique and Madagascar, has been left totally unwatched, and, as a consequence, although to march large gangs of raw slaves by land to opposite Zanzibar might be a difficult matter, and one of which, sooner or later, this Agency would gain intelligence, yet were the same slaves shipped from the coast a few miles south of Kilwa at the present moment, it is probable they would escape to sea without meeting any of our cruizers or boats until again nearing the land.
And in conclusion, I must also urge upon your Lordship, that with the many duties pressing on this Office in connection with the steps now being taken, it is impossible to visit the coast towns or make that Consular inspection of the Indian community, which is at the present moment so urgently needed, both to protect our subjects at such a crisis from Arab oppression, and at the same time to thoroughly up-root any slave holding prevalent amongst them, unless a vessel is appointed, for the due performance of such a duty, which is one incompatible with effective cruizing for the suppression of the Slave Trade,
I have, &c.,
(Signed) JOHN KIRK