|CHAPTER XXXI. -- LIBERIA--BUILDINGS--THE RAINY SEASON--SIERRA LEONE--ITS -- PEOPLE--SCHOOLS--WHITE MISSIONARIES--COMMON SENSE -- NEEDED--BROTHER JOHNSON'S EXPERIENCE--HOW WE GET ON IN AFRICA.|
Formerly they had good schools in Freetown. This is one thing I admire in the English government; she generally looks well after the education of her colonists. Of course there is room for much improvement, even in Sierra Leone and Lagos.
All up and down the coast, wherever you go where the English flag waves, and there has been any civilization at all, you will find scores and hundreds who have a liberal education, and are fitted for most all professions and callings.
The Wesleyan Girls' High School, at Freetown, was once a beautiful building, with well furnished dormitories, and a staff of first-class teachers; but it has seen its best days, without a great change takes place. For several years it has been sadly declining in power and influence, being almost entirely under the control of one or two parties. I was told that when it was first founded, it was under the management of white people; the lady principal and teachers were all white, and they did a grand work. And then the boys' high school, which I also visited, and had the privilege, through the invitation of the principal, Mr. M., of addressing, was not what it once was, or should be. The Episcopal school, both for girls and boys, is good. The boys have a fine, large, commodious building, and a good staff of teachers.
Several of the Liberian families, who have not been able to send their sons and daughters as far as England to be educated, sent them to Freetown. I had the pleasure of going all through this building, on the day of the dedication of the new dormitory and recitations rooms, which had been added to the main building, accommodating, I think, probably two hundred in all. His lordship, the Bishop, was in the chair, and gave a most excellent address, as did also Mr. N., who, I think, at that time had charge of the theological department, and who was a noble, Christian gentleman. His sister was the lady principal of the girls' high school, which I also visited, and had the pleasure of speaking a few words to the young ladies. Everything was in good order.
I was greatly delighted with this school, especially the housekeeping department, where, in connection with their studies, each girl took her turn in the sweeping, dusting, making bread, biscuit, pie, or cake, and in washing dishes and attending the dining room. This, it seemed to me, was the most essential of all; it would certainly
Then, there are private schools. I visited a Mr. Leapol's school, which was a very nice school for boys. I suppose he accommodated about forty. Mr. L. was a very high type of a Christian gentleman; I think, a West Indian by birth. This school was of the higher grade. Teachers and helpers, I believe, were all colored.
There was a good government school, which, according to my American ideas, should have continued to exist. But when the new Bishop came, he, being a very conservative English gentleman, and invested with power, thought it best, as I was told, to disband the government school, and build a large parish school. So that many of the poor children, who were not able to pay, were shut out. This opened a good harvest for the Roman Catholics, which they lost no time in securing.
I am often asked if I think that missionary work in Africa prospers and develops better when under the entire control of colored people, or do I think it is better under the control of white people.
To answer this as best I can I will give my experience and observation at the several places I have been.
The schools at Old Calabar under the Scotch Presbyterian Missionary Society, and the schools and missions at Lagos, and the Episcopal, Baptist and Wesleyan Schools in the Republic of Liberia, and then in Sierra Leone the United Free Methodists, the Episcopals, the Lady Huntington Society, the U.B. Mission, and the English Baptist Mission, all were established, supported and superintended by white missionaries; but just in proportion as they have died, or on account of poor health have had to retire from the work, the schools and mission property have declined.
Many of them in the work have developed good native teachers and preachers, who are loyal, and faithful, and true; and the white missionary feels that he, or she, could not do without these native helpers. But when the whole work is left to them the interest seems to flag, and the natives themselves seem to lose their interest, which the teacher feels, but cannot help.
I do not attempt to make any explanation of this; I simply