So Closely Connected With The Difficulties Of My Expedition
Is That Accursed Slave-Trade, That The So-Called Ivory Trade Of The
White Nile Requires An Explanation.
Throughout the Soudan money is exceedingly scarce and the rate of
interest exorbitant, varying, according to the securities, from
thirty-six to eighty per cent.
This fact proves general poverty and
dishonesty, and acts as a preventive to all improvement. So high and
fatal a rate deters all honest enterprise, and the country must lie in
ruin under such a system. The wild speculator borrows upon such terms,
to rise suddenly like a rocket, or to fall like its exhausted stick.
Thus, honest enterprise being impossible, dishonesty takes the lead, and
a successful expedition to the White Nile is supposed to overcome all
charges. There are two classes of White Nile traders, the one possessing
capital, the other being penniless adventurers. The same system of
operations is pursued by both, but that of the former will be evident
from the description of the latter.
A man without means forms an expedition, and borrows money for this
purpose at 100 per cent. after this fashion: he agrees to repay the
lender in ivory at one-half its market value. Having obtained the
required sum, he hires several vessels and engages from 100 to 300 men,
composed of Arabs and runaway villains from distant countries, who have
found an asylum from justice in the obscurity of Khartoum. He purchases
guns and large quantities of ammunition for his men, together with a few
hundred pounds of glass beads.
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