How I Found Livingstone

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To a new-comer into Africa, the Muscat Arabs of Zanzibar are studies. There is a certain empressement about them which we must admire. They are mostly all travellers. There are but few of them who have not been in many dangerous positions, as they penetrated Central Africa in search of the precious ivory; and their various experiences have given their features a certain unmistakable air of-self-reliance, or of self-sufficiency; there is a calm, resolute, defiant, independent air about them, which wins unconsciously one's respect. The stories that some of these men could tell, I have often thought, would fill many a book of thrilling adventures.

For the half-castes I have great contempt. They are neither black nor white, neither good nor bad, neither to be admired nor hated. They are all things, at all times; they are always fawning on the great Arabs, and always cruel to those unfortunates brought under their yoke. If I saw a miserable, half-starved negro, I was always sure to be told he belonged to a half-caste. Cringing and hypocritical, cowardly and debased, treacherous and mean, I have always found him. He seems to be for ever ready to fall down and worship a rich Arab, but is relentless to a poor black slave. When he swears most, you may be sure he lies most, and yet this is the breed which is multiplied most at Zanzibar.

The Banyan is a born trader, the beau-ideal of a sharp money-making man. Money flows to his pockets as naturally as water down a steep. No pang of conscience will prevent him from cheating his fellow man. He excels a Jew, and his only rival in a market is a Parsee; an Arab is a babe to him. It is worth money to see him labor with all his energy, soul and body, to get advantage by the smallest fraction of a coin over a native. Possibly the native has a tusk, and it may weigh a couple of frasilahs, but, though the scales indicate the weight, and the native declares solemnly that it must be more than two frasilahs, yet our Banyan will asseverate and vow that the native knows nothing whatever about it, and that the scales are wrong; he musters up courage to lift it--it is a mere song, not much more than a frasilah. "Come," he will say, "close, man, take the money and go thy way. Art thou mad?" If the native hesitates, he will scream in a fury; he pushes him about, spurns the ivory with contemptuous indifference,--never was such ado about nothing; but though he tells the astounded native to be up and going, he never intends the ivory shall leave his shop.

The Banyans exercise, of all other classes, most influence on the trade of Central Africa. With the exception of a very few rich Arabs, almost all other traders are subject to the pains and penalties which usury imposes. A trader desirous to make a journey into the interior, whether for slaves or ivory, gum-copal, or orchilla weed, proposes to a Banyan to advance him $5,000, at 50, 60, or 70 per cent. interest. The Banyan is safe enough not to lose, whether the speculation the trader is engaged upon pays or not. An experienced trader seldom loses, or if he has been unfortunate, through no deed of his own, he does not lose credit; with the help of the Banyan, he is easily set on his feet again.

We will suppose, for the sake of illustrating how trade with the interior is managed, that the Arab conveys by his caravan $5,000's worth of goods into the interior. At Unyanyembe the goods are worth $10,000; at Ujiji, they are worth $15,000: they have trebled in price. Five doti, or $7.50, will purchase a slave in the markets of Ujiji that will fetch in Zanzibar $30. Ordinary menslaves may be purchased for $6 which would sell for $25 on the coast. We will say he purchases slaves to the full extent of his means--after deducting $1,500 expenses of carriage to Ujiji and back--viz. $3,500, the slaves--464 in number, at $7-50 per head-- would realize $13,920 at Zanzibar! Again, let us illustrate trade in ivory. A merchant takes $5,000 to Ujiji, and after deducting $1,500 for expenses to Ujiji, and back to Zanzibar, has still remaining $3,500 in cloth and beads, with which he purchases ivory. At Ujiji ivory is bought at $20 the frasilah, or 35 lbs., by which he is enabled with $3,500 to collect 175 frasilahs, which, if good ivory, is worth about $60 per frasilah at Zanzibar. The merchant thus finds that he has realized $10,500 net profit! Arab traders have often done better than this, but they almost always have come back with an enormous margin of profit.

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