We were joined at Durban by another passenger for Madagascar, the Rev.
, of the London Missionary Society,
who has lived in Madagascar for thirty years, and most probably understands
the language and the people better than any other white man on the island.
The system of fananpoana
, or forced labour, puts it in the power
of every provincial governor, and indeed of every petty official,
to enrich himself at the expense of the wretched cultivators of the soil.
For example, should the Prime Minister order a Governor to send a
hundred labourers to the capital for some purpose,
the Governor would despatch his dekas
(a corruption of aide-de-camp) to impress four hundred men,
the superfluous three hundred of whom he would release on payment of
their part of blackmail.
This proved to be Mr. Nielsen
, a Norwegian missionary,
whose residence is at Fort Dauphin, who had come from some other station
of his mission further north.
This left us eight men each to carry our filanjana
These trained palanquin-bearers in Madagascar have marvellous agility
and endurance. It is usual to take eight men: while four carry the palanquin,
the other four trot on in front ready to take their place.
They relieve each other at frequent intervals, and there is no check in the pace
when this is done, the men one by one slipping nimbly aside while their
fellows, running alongside, in their turn place their shoulders under the long poles.
In this way they can easily carry a man thirty miles a day and more
if the conditions are favourable;