Essay by musukwab2003 June 2005

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The June Newsletter about Sir Harry Johnston, precipitated a number of communications concerning my comments about Sir Harry's relations with Cecil Rhodes and, most particularly, the Rhodes agents land grab. Comments ranged from "The land acquisitions were fair and equitable" to "Rhodes and his agents and, in fact, all of the early Nyasaland and Central African settlers, were extremely fair in their land arrangements with the natives".

In a word, these comments are patently "absurd"! The "Treaties Negotiated Between the African Lakes Company, Limited, and the Nyasaland Chiefs", concluded the first stage of the settler land swindle, and clearly speak for themselves. These 23 separate "treaties" were "negotiated" between 21 April, 1885 and 24 August, 1885, by an African Lakes team, led by John W. Moir and his traveling witnesses, William Harkness and Alexander Carnegie Ross. Together, they journeyed from the Lower Shire Valley, beginning 21 April, and slowly northward to Karonga, arriving 16 July, carefully selecting and acquiring the finest, most fertile, mineral laden and commercially accessible land possible, before working their way south again to pick up holdings that they may have missed, such as Chiradzulu, Ndirande and Soche.

Along the way, they even traveled to Likoma and Chisamula Islands, arriving there on 30 July, 1885.

The so-called "treaties" were farcical. The following is the verbatim text of Treaty Number 1, "negotiated" on 21 April, 1885 with Chief Ramakukan of the Makololo. Judge for yourself!


JOHN W. MOIR - called here Mandala - Manager of the African Lakes Company, Limited, and Ramakukan, head chief of the Makololo. We have met together on the 21st day of the month of April, 1885, on board the steamer "Lady Nyassa," at Tsape, on the River Shire, that we may discuss those things of...