Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/370

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
354
SOKOTRA

states being, however, tributary to Dan Fodio. This sheik established himself at Sokoto, and with other titles assumed that of Sarikin Muslimin (king of the Mahommedans). As such he became the recognized spiritual head of all the Mahommedans of west central Sudan, a headship which his successors retained unimpaired, even after the loss of their temporal position to the British in 1903. On the death of Fodio (c. 1819) the empire was divided between a son and a brother, the son, famous under the name of Sultan Bello, ruling at Sokoto, the brother at Gando. All the other Fula emirs were dependent on these two sultanates. The Fula power proved, before many years had gone by, in many respects harmful to the country. This was especially the case in those districts where there was a large pagan population. Slave-raiding was practised on a scale which devastated and almost depopulated vast regions and greatly hampered the commercial activity of the large cities, of which Zaria and Kano were the most important. The purity of the ancient administration was abandoned. The courts of justice became corrupt, administrative power was abused and degenerated into a despotism controlled only by personal considerations, oppressive taxes destroyed industry and gradually desolated the country. Soon after the Fula had established themselves Europeans began to visit the country. Hugh Clapperton, an Englishman, was at Sokoto in 1823 and again in 1827, dying there on the 13th of April of that year. Heinrich Barth made a prolonged stay in various Hausa cities at dates between 1851 and 1855. To Barth is due a great deal of our knowledge of the country. In Barth’s time American merchants were established on the Niger, bartering goods in exchange for slaves. This traffic was carried on through Niipe “to the great damage,” says Barth, “of the commerce and the most unqualified scandal of the Arabs, who think that the English, if they would, could easily prevent it.” The over-seas traffic in slaves did not continue long after the date (1851) to which Barth referred, but slave-raiding by the Fula went on unchecked up to the moment of the British occupation of the country. At Sokoto the sultan ship continued in the hands of Fodio’s descendants, and the reigning sultan concluded in 1885 a treaty with the Royal Niger Company (then called the National African Company) which gave to the company certain rights of sovereignty throughout his dominions.

In 1900 the rights of the company were transferred to the Crown. In the course of the years 1900, 1901, 1902, British authority was established in the states bordering on the Niger and the Benue and in Bornu. The northern states declined Submission to British Rule. to fulfil the conditions of the treaties negotiated with the Niger Company or to submit to the abolition of the slave trade, and in 1902 Sokoto and Kano openly defied the, British power. A campaign was undertaken against them in the opening months of 1903 in which the British troops were entirely successful. Kano was taken in February 1903, and Sokoto after some resistance made formal submission on the 22nd of March following. From that day British authority was substituted for Fula authority throughout the protectorate. The emir of Sokoto took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and Sokoto became a British province, to which at a later period Gando was added as a sub province—thus making of Sokoto one of the double provinces of the protectorate.

The double province thus constituted has an area of about 35,000 sq. m., with an estimated population of something over 500,000. It includes the ancient kingdoms of Zamfara on the east and Argunga or Kebbi on the west. The dominions of the emir of Sokoto have suffered some diminutions by reason of British agreements with France relating to the common frontier of the two European powers in the western Sudan. The emir felt deeply the loss of territory ceded to France in 1904 but accepted the settlement with much loyalty. Like the emir of Kano the new emir of Sokoto worked most loyally with the British administration. The province has been organized on the same principle as the other provinces of Northern Nigeria. A British resident of the first class has been placed at Sokoto and assistant residents at other centres. British courts of justice have been established and British governors are quartered in the province. Detachments of civil police are also placed at the principal stations. The country has been assessed under the new system for taxes and is being opened as rapidly as possible for trade. After the establishment of British rule farmers and herdsmen reoccupied districts and the inhabitants of cities flocked back to the land, rebuilding villages which had been deserted for fifty years. Horse breeding and cattle raising form the chief source of wealth in the province. There is some ostrich farming. Except in the sandy areas there is extensive agriculture, including rice and cotton. Special crops are grown in the valleys by irrigation. Weaving, dyeing and tanning are the principal native industries. Fair roads are in process of construction through the province. Trade is increasing and a cash currency has been introduced.

The emir of Gando, treated on the same terms as the emirs of Kano and Sokoto, proved less loyal to his oath of allegiance and had to be deposed. Another emir was installed in his place and in the whole double province of Sokoto-Gando prosperity has been general. In 1906 a rising attributed to religious fanaticism occurred near Sokoto in which unfortunately three white officers lost their lives. The emir heartily repudiated the leader of the rising, who claimed to be a Mahdi inspired to drive the white man out of the country. A British force marched against the rebels, who were overthrown with great loss in March 1906. The leader was condemned to death in the emir’s court and executed in the market place of Sokoto, and the incident was chiefly interesting for the display of loyalty to the British administration which it evoked on all sides from the native rulers. (See also Nigeria; Fula; and Hausa.)

See the Travels of Dr Barth (London 1857); Lady Lugard, A Tropical Dependency (London, 1905); P. L. Msonteil, De Saint Louis à Tripoli par le lac Tchad (Paris, 1895); C. H. Robinson, Hausaland (London, 1896); The Annual Reports on Northern Nigeria, issued since 1900 by the Colonial Office, London; Sir F. D. Lugard, “Northern Nigeria,” in Geo. Journ. vol. xxiii., and Major J. A. Burdon, “The Fulani Emirates,” ibid. vol. xxiv. (both London, 1904). Except the last-named paper most of these authorities deal with many other subjects besides the Fula.  (F. L. L.) 


SOKOTRA (also spelt Socotra and formerly Socotora), an island in the Indian Ocean belonging to Great Britain. It is cut by 12° 30′ N., 54° E., lies about 130 m. E.N.E. of Cape Guardafui and about 190 m. S.E. of the nearest part of the coast of Arabia and is on the direct route to India by the Suez Canal. It is 72 m. long by 22 m. broad and has an area estimated at from 2000 to 3000 sq. m. It is the largest and most easterly member of a group of islands rising from adjacent coral banks, the others being Abd el Kuri, The Brothers (Semha and Darzi), and Kal Farun.

Physical Features.—From the sea Sokotra has an imposing appearance. The centre culminates in a series of rugged pinnacles—the Haghier mountains, which rise to nearly 5000 ft. above a high (1500 ft.) abutting and undulating limestone plateau, deeply channelled by valleys. At many parts of the north coast the edges of this plateau reach the shore in precipitous cliffs, but in others low plains, dotted with bushes and date-palms, front the heights behind. The southern shore is bordered nearly its entire length b a belt of drifted sand, forming the Nuget plain. On this side of, the island there are but one or two possible anchoring grounds, and these only during the north-east monsoon. On the north coast there are no harbours; but fairly safe anchorages, even in the north-east winds, are available off Hadibu or under Haulaf, a few miles distant, and at Kallansayia, at the north-west end of the island.

Geology.—The fundamental rocks of the island are gneisses, through which cut the feldspathic granites which form the Haghier massif. Through these, again, pierce other granites in dikes or lava flows, and overlying the whole are limestones of Cretaceous and Tertiary age, themselves cut through by later volcanic eruptions. “In the Hagier hills,” to quote Professor Bonney, “we have probably a fragment of a continental area of great antiquity, and of a land surface which may have been an ‘ark of refuge’ to a terrestrial fauna and flora from one of the very earliest periods of this world’s history.”

Climate.—From October to May the weather is almost rainless except in the mountains, where there are nightly showers and heavy mists. During this season the rivers, which are roaring torrents throughout the monsoon, are almost all lost in the dry, absorbent