AFRICA THROUGH WESTERN EYES
Part 2: Original Manuscripts from the Royal Commonwealth Society Library at Cambridge University Library.
The first two parts of Africa Through Western Eyes are based on the unique holdings of the Royal Commonwealth Society Library, now housed at Cambridge University Library. From its foundation in 1868, the organisation known successively as the Colonial Society, Royal Colonial Institute, Royal Empire Society and finally the Royal Commonwealth Society, amassed a vast library on the British Empire, the Commonwealth and member countries. The Library holds many valuable manuscripts and collections of papers.
Part 2 is especially strong for:
- South Africa
- West Africa/Ashanti/Ghana
It is dominated by the letters and papers of Sir John Hawley Glover (1829-1885), a naval officer and colonial administrator who saw service in Burma, Nigeria, Ghana and Newfoundland. He was severely wounded in Burma in 1853 when a musket ball
passed under his right eye and exited by the ear. From 1855 to 1857 he commanded the Otter, a small steamer, and joined William Balfour Baikie (1824-1864) in his exploration of the Niger. Baikie subsequently described these experiences in his Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Kwora and Binue (1856). Glover continued to serve with him until the vessel was wrecked by rapids. In April 1863 Glover returned to West Africa as Administrator and then Colonial Secretary of Lagos in Nigeria.
In 1873 he played a major part in the Ashanti war. His instructions were to raise a native force with which to act at his discretion under the leadership of Sir Garnet Joseph Wolseley. He succeeded in raising 16-20,000 tribesmen (mainly Hausa) and led them in raids against the Ashanti forces. Peace was declared on 14 February 1874 and Glover received the GCMG for his service.
His papers cover the period from 1863 though to 1874 and include his own official letterbook concerning the Ashanti War, the diary of an unknown combatant, letters and papers and records of Glover's 1873 expedition and of the Volta Expedition.
A small cache of material of great significance is a collection of 6 letters by David Livingstone (1813-1873) relating to his second trans-continental expedition from Southwest to Southeast Africa.
A cluster of sources relate to South Africa including a Boer War diary, 1899-1900 by T O Fraser; a memorandum book, 1838, by William Napier, son of the Governor of the Cape Colony; and - most importantly - an extremely rare and well-illustrated journal called News of the Camp which was published thrice weekly from December 1880 until April 1881 when the Transvaal achieved peace with self-government.
These sources illuminate the lives of soldiers, missionaries and colonial officials - and also the many Africans that they met. They touch upon issues of slavery, inter-tribal wars, trade and colonial government.