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NOMAD DWARFS AND CIVILIZATION
chief's dictum, which nevertheless is executed with expedition. Especially is the signal to clear out from camp obeyed with incredible celerity and uncanny silence. Not a sign indicates their whereabouts, and more surprising still is the return, when they suddenly swarm in from every side.
Pygmies have generally been considered shy, and except in a few regions they have been unwilling to come in numbers into government stations. In many skirmishes and in actual warfare they often turned the tide of battle for the Bantus by their unfailing aim as snipers. In the palavers ensuing, the tall Negroes were only too glad to unload on the dwarfs the responsibility for loss of life and wrongdoing.
Years of trials and tribulations have finally resulted in better relations between
the Pygmies and the administrative officials. Far from being indolent and evasive, they have proved intelligent and willing to give up their nomadic life. As soon as they felt convinced that the Belgian government extended them freedom and equality with other natives, their villages and plantations looked in no wise different from those of the tall Negroes. They adopted the oblong type of hut, had their own blacksmiths, and the women had long ago learned to make pottery and wickerwork, and to perform other "household duties"-which include the clearing of roads leading to their settlements. From the small, irresponsible human devil that used to roam about aimlessly in the moisture-laden forests of Central Africa to this benevolent little gnome and responsive citizen of our day is a mighty stride.
Pygmies continually shift their camps in search of the best hunting grounds. The nomad's life is easy. There are few household goods to be moved. Some of the women carry the supplies of food with the cooking pot, and the sleeping mat; the boys and girls are intrusted with ax, horn, rattle, and drum; while the mother hoists the smallest child astride her waist where he is happy although the supporting strap may mercilessly indent his flesh.
Throughout heathen Africa motherhood is regarded as a special blessing. Among people so devoted to hunting as the Pygmies, sturdy manhood becomes all important; yet even so, girls are wel comed with greater joy than boys. Women, indeed, are the sole external expression of prosperity and wealth in these regions, and the relatively small number of wives the Pygmies own stamps them as paupers in the eyes of their agricultural neighbors
Photograph by H. C. Crampton
Mt. Roraima, the highest point of British Guiana, is a sandstone plateau eight miles long rising on perpendicular cliffs, down which tumble numerous cascades from the miniature lakes on its weathered top. British Guiana may be roughly divided into two low belts near the coast, and a mountainous interior for the most part heavily forested-except for certain grassy savannahs such as shown in the photograph. At the very foot of Roraima rain falls almost every day, accompanied by heavy winds. Here giant trees of the jungle give place to low gnarled forms with ferns and mosses in dripping festoons on every branch
Residential section of Georgetown with the governor's "palace" in the left background. Nearly every house is surrounded by trees and gardens giving the city a forested appearance from a distance. The flatness of the horizon of the coastal plain is noticeable in the skyline. In the foreground can be seen one of the open trenches of the city's sewerage system along the side of the street
A Real El Dorado
BRITISH GUIANA POSSESSES NATURAL RESOURCES OF VITAL
By WILLIAM J. LAVARRE
Illustrations from photographs by the Author
HE people of the United States are steadily awakening to the possibilities that are offered them for an increased commerce with South America. Reports come in, now and then, from various places; some of them say that Rio de Janeiro is to be the coming trade center of the continent, while others assert that Buenos Aires will rise more quickly in response to the commerce of the United States. If we draw a straight line from any part of the Atlantic coast of North America, say from New York, to South America, we find that it brings us to one of the three Guianas, either French, Dutch, or British. These are our nearest South American neighbors.
British Guiana is the most westward, and the largest of the three Guianas. It extends along the seacoast for 270 miles, reaches 500 miles into the interior, and is approximately 90,000 square miles in area. The topography of the country divides it into three natural regions: 1, the low coastal lands of marine alluvium rising gradually from the sea and extending from ten to forty miles inland; 2, sandy and clayey country of sedentary soil, with forests, swamps, and sand dunes, and traversed by a network of rivers and their numerous tributaries in which occur many rapids and falls; 3, the mountainous region, the eastern part of which is forested, and the southwest, an extensive area of flat
grass lands elevated three thousand feet above sea level.
Each of these natural regions has its own special resources. The coastal belt, swept by the northeast trade winds, is excellent for agricultural and pastoral pursuits. The second and third belts are covered by an exuberant primeval forest, and are rich in mineral resources. On the vast savannahs ex
cellent pasturage and sugar lands may be found.
Looking at the map of British Guiana, the striking thing about it is the network of rivers by which it is traversed. These at present furnish the only means of access to the interior. The western part of the country is occupied by a central mass of flattopped mountains forming a series of terraces and plateaus. Mt. Roraima,
the highest of these, about 8500 feet, has a nearly flat, grass-covered top of twelve square miles. The northwest portion is rich in gold deposits, and recently diamonds have been located in paying quantities along the upper Mazaruni River
The forest Indian is seldom used as a laborer because of his small stature, but makes an excellent river-man and carrier and an indispensable guide in the interior 1
Nearly the whole of the civilized population of the colony is located along the coast and on the lower banks of the larger rivers. Here, also, are located the present-day industries. The raising of rice and sugar cane, and the making of rum and molasses, are the chief occupations of the people. Coconuts thrive well on the coastal lands,
1 The forest Indian raises his benab or shed anywhere in the bush, makes a small clearing for his wife's cassava field, and then spends his days in pursuit of tropical game. It is estimated that 15,000 aborigines are scattered through the Guiana forest, a remnant of the Indians whom the Spanish vainly attempted to enslave. The famous cannibals of the coast, the Caribs who gave their name to the sea, are virtually extinct after years of warfare against the white man.
The late Colonel Roosevelt in 1915 visited the Tropical Research Station of the New York Zoological Society at Kalacoon and was greatly im pressed by the possibilities of Guiana, particularly its forest resources. The cultivation of rubber is gaining in importance each year. The establishment of experiment plantations proves that Para rubber will grow vigorously in almost any situation outside the flat coastal lands
The Botanical Garden in Georgetown contains an experiment station where scientists may come from any part of the world for study of the tropical flora in its natural habitat. The Garden serves also as the main park of Georgetown where the populace promenades on Sundays and holidays. The photograph shows two picturesque travelers' palms in the Garden
especially where the soil is sandy, and a considerable expansion of this cultivation is taking place. There are large areas of lowlying lands on which coffee grows splendidly, but the cultivation of this plant has been gradually abandoned through lack of sufficient labor. The establishment of experi
mental stations has demonstrated that Para rubber grows vigorously in almost every situation in which it has been tried outside the flat coastal region. It is estimated that there are 9,000,000 acres of accessible land, the larger part of which is eminently suitable for the cultivation of Para rubber. Lime-growing is still in the experimental stage; this fruit is at present growing excellently on the coast of the Essequibo River. There are also large areas of coastal lands that are well adapted to pastoral pursuits, but lack of proper drainage causes them to be inundated during the rainy seasons, January, February, and May, June, July.
Georgetown, the capital and only large city, is situated on the coast at the mouth of the Demerara River in the form of a rectangle two miles long and one mile deep, and is geometrically laid out in wide streets, running at right angles to each other.
When entering the harbor on my last trip to the colony, I was welcomed by the braying of an ass. The memory of that greeting voice still lingers with me, and, together with a recollection of open sewers flowing through the streets, it is one of the quaintly uncommonplace experiences that a visitor to the colony may have ere he departs.
Being at sea level, the city is protected by a wide sea wall, constructed by Dutch engineers during the last few years. Here, in the late afternoon, is the city's only rendezvous, and it becomes a promenade where the natives gather and listen to a rather egotistic bandmaster conduct his Negro-Hindu band through seldom recognizable variations of well-known compositions.
The city boasts of only a few luxuries,an up-to-date ice plant, necessitated, most probably, by the inhabitants' ever present desire for strong and cooling drinks, a single track electric street railway, which has to wage a continual battle with a multitude of small and heavily laden donkey carts for the right of way, and a large and beautiful Botanical Garden and Experiment Station, where the tropical flora grows in lavish variety and abundance and is closely studied by scientists from many lands; it is here that men have learned many of the new things related to tropical vegetation. In 1917 a commodious moving-picture theater was built where one might go three nights a week and look upon heart-rending, blood
A REAL EL DORADO
curdling, or dully humorous scenes that had long since ceased to be appreciated in the United States.
The sewerage system of the city, as I have hinted, is one of great simplicity. In canals that flow through the streets, the waste of the city is carried to the sea, where at low tide it is emptied. When the tide begins to rise, the canal gates are closed, often causing the canals to overflow into the streets. These canals, varying from small trenches to deep streams, are crossed by arched bridges over each of which there are signboards prohibiting fishing, but either the natives cannot read or they are too hungry to obey an unenforced law, for coolies, with feet dangling a few inches above the dirty water, may often be seen, sitting on the edge awaiting a bite at their lines.
The 60,000 inhabitants of the city make a very cosmopolitan population indeed. Negroes from the West Indies compose most of it, with a scattering of native Africans and their descendants, relics of slavery times. Coolies, indentured from India to work on the rice and sugar plantations, are conspicuous everywhere, dressed most often in their native attire, making the tourist feel quite as though he were not in South America but in India. Under this system of indenture these coolies sign themselves into a sort of conventionalized slavery for a period of five years, for which they are paid, sometimes, seven shillings a week. When this term of labor has expired, they must reside five years longer in the colony in order to be transported back to India at one half fare. By the time they have remained this period, though, all their money has been spent, and they usually either become paupers or do odd work here and there until they die, many of them from homesickness and disease. Portuguese and Chinese keep the small shops; Chinese keep general stores, but the Portuguese specialize in gin and other liquors. When a Portuguese owns a gin shop he is considered well off by his admirers! Europeans carry on the development of the colony.
Along the coast on either side of Georgetown are scattered many small settlements among which New Amsterdam, Berbice, and Bartica are the more important. From New Amsterdam and Berbice stretch numerous rice and sugar plantations. Bartica, a village with but one street and twenty inhabi