Looking Ahead, the Citreon Expedition
of my experimental areas, on the lake shore, a plot of a new strain of maize disappeared.
Half an acre, about ready for harvesting. It was eaten by an elephant. The following day a
planter caught the jumbo in a pit. It was shot, dragged out of the pit and cut up. The
stomach revealed nearly 1,000 pounds of maize! My supervisor asked for a gun. I did not
believe in guns. I told him maggots, caterpillars, locusts and weevils destroy more crops
than all the animals put together. No one mentioned guns again.
1924 the Livingstonia Mission Council met when missionaries from all outward stations held
a conference. It was a happy time for everyone concerned. My wife and I arranged all
transport from the lake and we had two guests for a week. One of the leading discussions
centred around Dr Laws and the Jubilee of the Mission and his own in October 1925. My
commission was to arrange an exhibition of African arts and crafts, agricultural products
and build access roads to all my small holdings, afforestation areas and market gardens.
An extra piece of work was to cut and trim a hundred trees as supports for a new
conference hall, six hundred stout bamboo poles as rafters and thatching for the whole
building. As sixty European guests were expected from many Missionary Societies in Africa,
I would be responsible for all transport of all visitors from two special steamers and
their return after the conference was over.
the 1924 Mission Council, I gave each colleague from distant stations 1,000 mixed fir
trees and a selection of twelve fruit and shrub bushes. In 1924, from my nursery beds, I
gave to missionaries, European planters and Africans, 350,000 two-year-old trees - most
were coniferous - and in the seedbeds one million baby trees were growing. I wanted the
Jubilee year (1925) to be a record planting season in Central Africa. At a place called
Karamteta, 15 miles inland from Livingstonia, I had a squad working under efficient
students. Some 250 acres of bush were cut down and burned, trees uprooted; the only
implements used were the African jemmy and a long-handled hoe. I had a new two roomed
wattle and daub thatched rest house built on the site and planted 100,000 trees to act as
water inducers, over a dry stream bed. Most of the land would be for tea and coffee
plantation, pineapple sections and an orchard with twelve varieties of fruit. My wife and
I paid a visit to the leper colony, increased to sixteen patients. A friend in Scotland,
reading my story of the courage of Lot Harawa, sent me £10, sufficient to feed the
sixteen patients for one year. We both had a soft spot for lepers.
returned from our short working holiday refreshed. On my office desk was a letter from Dr
Laws marked 'urgent'. It was written that day at eleven a.m.: I was reading it at eleven
thirty a.m. It was to say a French expedition travelling from Lake Chad to Mozambique
would pass through Livingstonia Mission area in ten days time. I was requested to make
sure that the seventy-five mile stretch of mission roads with bridges and culverts was
strong enough to take caterpillar cars, each about half a ton. The specially designed cars
were from the French Citreon works.
afternoon, two hours after arriving home, I had swift-footed messengers sent out
requesting supervisors in six districts to report for urgent work with ten men each at
various points between Livingstonia and Deep Bay. I also explained that each man was to be
in possession of a good hoe and an axe.
the following day I set out on my motorcycle to examine bridges and culverts and to give
first-hand instructions and to meet the workers. I found all men busy and eager to do a
good job. So far only ox wagons, motorcycles and two 'Ford' cars had passed along the bush
all overhanging branches were cut down and all bridges and culverts had to be remade, all
narrow roads had to be widened and all bends enlarged. Four twenty-feet river spans were
handed over to the carpentry department. One hundred people worked from dawn to darkness.
It was an enormous undertaking. Praise must be given to the Africans, uncomplainingly they
toiled to satisfy me.
seventh day from receiving orders, I was in Dr Laws' office reporting all work completed
on the seventy-five miles. As I was talking to Dr Laws, a phone message came from the
leader of the expedition at the lake shore, to say he had made rapid progress and would
arrive that evening. The leader, M. Haardt, requested accommodation for his team of seven.
The accommodation was soon found, so I was about to set out to meet the motorcade when my
chief clerk told me the 'funny' crawling cars without wheels were two miles away. To quote
the leader, 'the lake and mountain road was so good, we moved fast!' The Frenchmen were
pleasant men - three drivers, an artist, two mechanics and the leader. One driver was a
journalist and his log book was crammed full of notes. We had two men as our guests.
team stayed three days, repairing machines, sightseeing and selecting ebony and ivory work
from the carpentry department. On the second afternoon, Dr Laws held a reception in the
Stone House, the ladies on the station providing the meal. Our guests were reluctant to
leave, we were sorry to see them depart. They had no difficulty in travelling over the
remaining thirty-five miles over roads, bridges, corners and culverts. A very large bridge
was made over a swift flowing river by our mission engineer.
Dr Laws had a letter from M. Haardt, saying the seventy-five miles of mission road was the
finest in their travels through Central Africa and the cost for all work the cheapest,
working out at SIX SHILLINGS per mile, including one cwt of salt as a gift to the African
workers. Mission time was not added to the cost and material used was free. I was very
happy with the crash programme, for it solved one of my anxieties, the reinforcement of
the whole road system, especially with the mission jubilee less than one year ahead. To
this end I appointed three men to patrol the whole road - seventy-five miles - each man
had twenty-five miles to clear culverts, lop branches and to report to me at once any
major fault. It proved a successful experiment; the road was kept open all the year round,
something quite new. The same operation applied to plantations and nurseries; trusty men
were established in each place to encourage irrigation in dry weather; to clear fire
breaks and in the wet season, to prevent flooding and soil erosion.
afternoon Dr Laws came into my office, note book in his hand. Casually he remarked, 'Mr
Caseby, how many separate jobs are there in your Department?'
out my ledger and the Doctor wrote down, 'Agriculture Department' - '10 team-trained oxen;
200 cattle, 100 sheep; 8 goats; 12 pits; 10 students; 180 workers at the moment; 100
arable acres of cotton, maize, wheat, cassava, sweet potatoes, potatoes and ground nuts; 2
to 6 animals slaughtered each week for Europeans and boarding school; 600 small-holdings.'
'Forestry Department' - 'one million seedling trees, in nurseries; areas of tea, coffee,
cocoa and palms; 12 plantations; 40 workers; 1,000 tons of wood fuel for Europeans,
steamers and boarding school.' 'Horticulture' - '16 gardeners; 6 orchards; 8 kinds of
fruit; 4 market gardens.' 'Sundries' -'Working flour mill; building grain bins; buying
foodstuffs; delivering food, meal, vegetables, fruit to Europeans; 76 miles of road; 200
bridges and culverts; supplying carriers for missionaries travelling; carriers for
steamer; oversight of cemetery; 10 lectures to students weekly; arranging work for two
squads of blind people making string, rope, baskets and mats; also motor cycling 200 miles
each week, supervising work and every day preaching to some group for 10 minutes.'
Laws closed his book. 'A lot of useful work.' A slight pause, 'I need twenty men with food
at four o'clock tomorrow morning. I'll be away ten days.' After another long pause, 'I
need 500,000 bricks urgently - within a fortnight - get started on this order - tomorrow.
bricks were made by one hundred workers in a fortnight.