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The Dark Continent

The Dark Continent image
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It has been apparent for some years that África is to become for the Europe of to-day what Atrerica was to Europe of the flf teenth and sixteenth centuries. It must .become the field for adventurou3 activity, of exploration and colonization, and into tliis iield all tlie great povvers of Europe will enter as competitors in a race for the advantages that will come A'itli the opening of the country to civilization and trade. Eogland was ï'nong the iirst to perceive that África bad a future, and her navrow line of colonies In the south have grown wlthln the laat quarter of a century to tlie dimensions of an empire, and most vigorous ond persistent eiïorts have been made to extend British inlluence northward. In Egypt Biitish influence has encouraged explorations southward, and Fiante has used Algiers as a base of opcratiems soutliward aeróos the desert to Sondan. England and Spain dispute fot a foothold in Morroceo, and Flanee and Italy are on the verge of war over the possession of Tunis and Tripoli. early every nation 111 Europe has an exploring expedition in some part of África, nul even Portugal zealously guarda lier little settlements on the coast, which may, under the new order of things, becoraelarge colonies. Xearly every commercial power in Europe has sclieraes on foot for construction of railroadfcor improvement of rivers.and at no distant d;iy a strong fight will be made for the control of Afriean trade. in this great movement for thereclamatlon of the Dark Continent, the roissionaries are tl-e advance guards of civili.ation. In niany they have preceded the explorer, and in others have followed cloLe ontheheels of men like Stanley and Livingston. Before the continent can be opened to commcree or to colonists, the native inhabit.mts must experience a change of spirit. Persistent work on the part of a few men and romeo has, in certain distjdcts, accomplished something in th.u direction. J5ut of late years the missionary movement has been of wiiler scope and of a more practical character. There has been a better spirit of co-operation and mere thorough organization on the part of thos engaged in the wlk, and a line of mis aionary stations is being pushed interiorward like the parallels of a great bosieging anny. The movement is slow, but it is sure. All available agencies are usei to promoto a systein of free exchaiifi of sentiments and ideas, and every et Éort made to edúcate the natives in such a way as to have them in turn intluence tho wilder tribes beyoni them. It is thus sei'n why the nations oí Europe aremanifesting new interest in the settlemcnt of África. They inav be influenced by motives less werth; than thoso that carry the missiou ixics aniong tlie wild tribes of the in t#iw, but tiiey become, through tlu-i desire for possession of territory and control of trade, ellicient aids in th work oi' civili.alioii. The recent explorationa show that Ihe talilc lands of the interior are lioalthy. l'ertile, and rich in their reBourcea. They are capable of supportinga large popnlatioa, and can be put in communication with th; old centws of trade without niueh dilliculty. Even the gH;;i deeert, it is said, presents no more formidable obstacles to railroad building tUan did the so-called American desert and the Kocky Mountains. The main dilliculty is in the character Of the native population, and against such people either missionaries or urniies must move. In this case civilization protests against conquest, and orders i'orward the explorer and the missionary. The degree of progress will depend largely on the spirit with which the advance guard is sustained and supported.


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