The Gun is the Sultan of Africa

by zunguzungu

From E.J. Glave’s In Savage Africa (1893), almost certainly a source for Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:

“All the ivory pillaged by the raiders is brought to Stanley Falls; thence it is carried on the shoulders of slaves a distance of three thousand miles to the east coast of Africa, and the Arabs themselves calculate that only one-third of the carriers dispatched reach their destination. The enormous death-roll caused by this scourge to Africa can be imagined—the number of those killed in the raids, those who die of sickness, privation, and hunger at the camps, and the loss of life on the caravan road to the east. All this cruelty exists—homes are destroyed and pillaged, husbands cruelly shot while defending their wives and children, and slaves captured, sold to be eaten, or sacrificed for tribal ceremony. All these atrocities are committed by man on man, to enrich the white-robed Arab of Stanley Falls. It is for this perfectly arrayed being that this injustice exists.

The man of civilization condemns with indignation the barbarism of the Arab slaver, but let the white man pause and think for but one moment and he will realize how deeply he himself is implicated. By whom are the guns and ammunition supplied with which this persecution is carried on, and who is the purchaser of the costly elephant tusk?

The power of the Arab and his Manyema follower lies in his superior weapon, the fire-arm; Arabs are not able to make guns or powder. These articles are supplied by the white trader, and this is a traffic which the great powers should at once control as far as possible. It is the possession of the gun by the Arab which gives him his present tyrannical position over the multitudes of inoffensive and poorly-armed natives. There is a common saying amongst the slavers ” Bunduki Sultani ya Bara Bara,” meaning “The gun is the Sultan of Africa.”