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Report on Employment of Nigerian Labour in Fernando Poo.

Ever since 1931, when the supply of labour from Li.bPria was stoppe<l after
the Leao·ue of Nations Inquiry into the labour traffic, the plantation workers in
Fernan'do Poo have almo tall come from either t he mainland of Spanish Equatorial
Africa or from Kigeria. The mainland territory io being rapidly clevelope<l all(l
as the population is not large the ouppl:--· of labour from there will r apidly dPcrea,;e
"-ith the opening up of turther plantations and the expansion of t he timber export
inclu try in that area.
2. Prior to the outbreak of the l'i-'il war in Spai11, I believe that mo:st of
Lhe workers who " ·ent to Fernando Poo went there of their own free \\'ill with a
fairlY accurate knowlerlo·e of the l'onditions there. Even then unoffi <' rec>ruiten;
"·ere. operating, and being pai<l by the planters for I he r enuits they produce<l ,
as t he supply of workers going over on thei1· O\Yll wa,; insulli<"i ent. .But i.n
days the recruiters act ed more a;; public>it.Y agents and conducton; of t he reen ui.s
through the neb\ork spread b,,. t he poli ce in _ -igeria to prevent their emigration;
they did not t he conditionR i n thP 1'llan<1 more than to omit to meutio11
that the binding of a worker to one employer from whom l1e harl litile chance of
getting away for two was something Yery different from what the worker
\Yas usetl to. The worker went because he was attracted b.Y the pru,;pe('t of g·ood
wag-es and of ha>ing to sa Ye mouey owiug to the method of pa,\·ment employed,
and he was willing to risk conditions whit·lJ he kuew "·ere on the whole goo<l but
might be bad if he unluck,\· iu his PmployPI' .
3. In l!l37, the <'OIHlitious in Fernando l>ou bel'ame ('Onsiderabl \ \Vor,;e
owing to the effects of the civil war in :-::>pain. 'l'he " ·orker l'l could not obhtiu
sterling in exchange for the pe1'letas <lue to tl1em at llte expiration of t heir
aml food was not so plentiful as lwfore. Tl1e news of t he altered co1ulitions r·ouple<l
with the wave of pro::;perity that Xig-eria. wa-, enjoying r edurerl the amount of
labour going· to the I slanrl and then· wa""' ·d1orlage of l ahom' there. 'rhe slwrtuge
of l abour was not as great as it might ha>e been as mauy worke1·s, seeing that
t.he.Y could not take sterling ba(·k to Xige1·ia, <lel'iderl to re-engage in ihe hope
that at t he expiration of t heir further t·ontraet t he CUITt'nC,\' problem would be
solved . Other " ·orker-- went back to Xio·eria for a ;,hort holiday and t he11 returned.
to their frozen nd a t>econd 'l' hiH, 1 <·ont>ider , discount:; tu a
certain extent the art- taent that l1 as been raised i.hat the number of \Yorkers
returning for a second unaet shows that the labour mu;;t be contenterl.
4. BJ: I had be<:ome lllore ac·ute and a,;, despi te the end of
the boom penocl m::\ 1ge Ia . httle l abour \Ya:; going lu the I sland, the planter;; hacl
to more They inerea:ed tlte price t hat. they paid t o the
for earh worker they brought to the l sland with the idea t hat
thPy in turn would be l-lp to bribe \Yorken; to eome aCTOi'lS of their o\\·n free will
In this they SUl'Ceedetl ro a certain extent, hut it also made t he rec>ruitino·
so profitable that the found it \Yorth while to stick at not hing order
to get workers to the I lr.nd.
:1. Onh iu isola!Ptl haYt> rl'tTililt·t·,., lwPn abl<> lo lun' full.Y g:rown meu
into goino lo ·.Fernando Poo "·ithout their kuowiug that the_,. ''ere g01ng there.
but 1' am that the re<'''liter,; haYe in<1u<·ed a consit1erahle numbe1· of.
tn tl1Pil' lHHYH\I..L n·n , ..... ,: ___ :
" _ ..,.,._..,- .... ":...-....._ .. _ .::-......... • ._...._ . ....,
tit t'l;:l r·n;·t\·. . going I() I hP Cam t'l'OO!l :i). 'l'he 1:-, t
embark in the ntnoe:-; and llt'"-l lllOl'lliilg tlw.\· an· wdl out at .. 1l
,, .. +".l'.".-''·l-.·L.- ,._,..l...,.L.-.. ·::. ;.,.. ,.,,., 'jv.ut·uc-.\ · "" .. iii.ill'a1{i.• n unpoR::nble lor hnn
i;; turn ha<k ,,·lwn In• fluth out the truth .
7. HP fore lea Yillg 1geria [ ,,.,"' tloubtful w bel hPr it \Ya:l po,;sibl e tor
recruib to be laude<l in FernaiHlo l'oo without their ,,·islli11g to go there but, aHer
listening to complain\,; an<l making· i1H1uiries in the hlan<l, l am quite certain
that it is po"sibh• an<l i:-; done. ThP h-; are keen to gel work and are
enougl1 to believe the inll stories tol<l them; they are too frigldt-JlP<l of Lbe
sea whid1 man.\' oi them haYe ne ·er Slen before. to take <·oncertecl action ouee they
find the,\ are nE-aring J?ernaudo Poo <'\'PH Mttppo;-;ing thal there were ,;ut!icient of
them iu one nmoe to be ahie to <lo >-'0 or that they knew before tht-,\' btHled that
their <1esti.nalion was uol the -;ame a:-; the,\' hcul been promi:w<l.
H. It is Yen· <1iffindt to p,.;j inwlP 11H' proporl ion nf I ho,;e ,,·lw go \1·illi.J1gl,\'
and tbose who g-o a re:mlt of mi,.;represe11iation, e,;pcc;iall;y aR it i.s uaLural for
tho:;e who haYe p;one willingl,Y aud find the;\· do uot likt:' the eontlition:> tn make a,;
good a otory a,; post>i.hle iu tlwir effort,; to retum to .K i.gcria before completing
their eontrad:-;. After JU<tking al.l dne allowances I ·would PstimatP that not more
than li'J% of who have g-onP to Femaudo Poo fhuing the la,.;t ,Year au<l a l1alf
have been taken tl1ere w.ill,out \heir being willing· io go lh re. l1 is aLo Yery
tlifficult to obtain au accurate estimate of the number of natives of Xi.geria wh.o
have gone \o lhe Island in re<·eul hui ,.;o far as I eould a Tertuin it has
averaged out at about 2..100 a .H'ar for tht> lasi J·ear and a, half .
B. I haYe tlealt with thi-, <1uestiou of people being taken to Fenwnclo .Poo
agains_t their will at length beeausP it i:-; one of the mo::,t unportaut points
when 1t to exannmng the rea;;on:> for ::,urh diseonteut as there is amongst the
workers m the Island.
10. Those who go l_o the bhu\(1 willingl,Y go h.Y ,;hips, launehes an<l <'anoes.
Before they can board a slup or a launrh theY are t<) obta
th p }' · • • . • lOlll
. e o m 1gena a permit allowmg them to proceed to Fernando Poo. This
lS <_mly g1ven a man :'·ho ean, prove to the satisfaction of a European Police
Offirer .that he 1:-1 not g01ng to ll'l'll:llHlo Poo to c·ontrad as :c worker or \Yho ean
lp)rodure a " ., signe<1 lhe British Yiee-C'ou"ul j
ll. These pen i , i in note:-> given to Ha{iye-; of reRident
Ill F er uaudo P oo other hau ·, outracted worker,; who wi,.he<l to Xigeria
and avoid t he necessic of haYing to prow. \Yhcn they wi,;hed to return to the
h l :wd t hat theY were t •oino· back there to contract. Their u::;e has gradually
:.;rown 'and I certai- ,hat ;eople in Fei·nando Poo now obtain them in order
to send t o Nigeria and thu,; en able prosper{ ive worh'r" to g• t perm i from the
Police to go to the !,;land.
12. 'rhe l aro·e maJ·ority who have no " ", muHt find :some
. . '
way of p cr;;uadiug the European PolieP Ofli eer that th<) are genuine

t a uy rate are not goir !:! to eontrad, mH1 t obtaiu a permit to leave 1'1 Igena
tor Fernando Poo. I wa- tol<l hY natin·..; in the I land t ltat t ht>re is a fixed Pharge
in Calabar for tlu• lo u o goo<l- moue:- fort he hrit• lll'l'iocl :. c·ess<ll',\. to prove to
he European P olic·e Oftieer· ..; :;ati,.,factiou tha( the man j,; a irader. The other
altf>J·nat iveH are to go h.'· <'tUlot', to book to a pb!'e be.\on,l Fe11 uu<lu Poo and jump
ship !her e or to get on a ,;hip 'vithou( !Ja,·ing- obtmned a permit. This latter
altern ative i m·oh·es getting past the Police rank Ull(l fi],. "l o board ever.Y ship
uoiug to Fernanclo Poo with the objPl'! of making sure that g-oing to the
l ,;]a rlll all have to go there.
n. Owing to thP ]ll'PHHing ne<·d for hhour thl' Autlwritie;; in the
J Hlancl ttllow the canoe · raffic to <'on(inue uuhincl<'rvd iho11 ... :h tl.ey wonld he a,;
as ... ( ;oyenmrent is (o pni a stop to it providing: i hai an alter-
nati \'P of lahom j, llHHle axailable.
I .f . On arriva 1 iu the lslan<l t lw worl,ers are usua Uy lo lg ed in the
a RJWrieR o{ l odging--lH ·1-e uncler rhP coutrol of tht> fnnulor Colonial who is tlw
Labour Offi cer Hll]Wrvi-·nz everyt11ing· to do with ihP C'ontmctt•d workers. BP;;ideH
those who are waitin,.. o lw <·outral'tecl, workers wlm an· out-patients at the
hospital, aml those wL - <'Omplainb are being illH'st ig-ated or who ha-ve been
called iuto Santa I:=:ulw: r an:• re::1,on are at·t·omJrLOllatecl there. They are g-iven
f r eP foo(1 a nd lodging hu I wa, · in-fonned that the pbee a hacl repuhttion.
15. Before a pr
HPaclquarter s, wher e i
wher e he is examinerl.
s iPlmesR) ancl i s isR1H'd
16. He iR t heu
·where he is informed
aud, i f so. "·hether
appears f rom what I h
now, natives an·i.-ing
t hi nlnng p arti cular];\·
in a position to
as t hey ean (aml
over the fee t hat
'fhis fee varies with t1
l ' e:·wltu> whi eu , if the
· iw worker i::: <·ontradecl he ha first to viRit the Police
i _ ion ·ticular,_ tlre taken, and thP Health Office.
hi- blood te..:te<l ( iu pnrti(•ular for sigus of f'lPeping-
)It>d iea1
ht> f'uracluria (the offict' of the Cmaflor Colonial)
di ion-- of "llork antl askecl if he wishes to contract
prererel.l"P for parti<•ular employer. But it
Femaw1o Poo that whe11 labour is Rrarl'e, a:-; it is
I -land aJllt no( "·ishing to . iQ·n a eontrad-1 am
u·h- hrought ov<'r against tl.eir will-are hardly
ruiter- in the eontructing proc• t•<lure as mucl1
ch·al) in order that lben' --hall he no argument
eel to accept from l he pro,-pedi-ve emplo:yer.
ntne-, ot thP renu1t and may be as hig-h a,; 750
uuld be excktnge for at ille Gon'rnment
rate, would bP nearl:-· £1 :1. [n some cases the recruiter gets .£1 of hi fee m
sterling lo cover , at> 1 Tras informt>rl, " the hri.bery in Xig-eria " .
17. I must emphasise that in the foregoing paragraph I am speaking of a
minority of workers; the majority sign willingly awl some of those who are
eoutracted in tlw eireum;;tance-; clescri.hecl hecome reconcil ed to the work after a
few months.
18. The entered in the \Yorkers contract book and in the records
w the Curaduria arc exhaw;tiYe. and prec·aution is taken to ensure that the
half of the ·workers wage:-; that has to he pairl in to the Curaduri a to await the
completion of the contrart iR artually pa'id in by the As each man is
contracterl his nanw anrl idPntii particulars are entererl in a register from which
he get:-; a number. This number with his name are cross-referenced to a separate
register book kept for Pach employer of labour. In this Recond regiRter book are
the details of all monthly pa_nnents made to each worker which are enter ed hmn
checked pa)· sheets which the emplo.Yer has to submit with the 00% deposit each
month. There is no alphabetical inrlex of names so that to trace a man quickly
one must giYe the name of the emplo_yer or the approximate date on which he was
<'ontraeted. I was very willt lhe collliJleteuess of the reconll'l. Some
years ago there were complaint. that \Yorkcr:s completing their contract found that
their half wages had not been paicl into t he Curaduria or had Yanishecl in some
way; I heard no complaints of this nature and . hould ha\e been urprised if I had .
Hl. Housing.-HouRi ng condiiiom; are generally good. The workers
quarters are usually cement built or made of corrugated iron . The single men
live in <lomitories and the married mPn iu separate rooms or cubicles. Most of
the quarters that I Raw were ,wJl whitewashecl anrl clean. T feel sure that
housing conditions would have been improved still further if it had not been for
the great scarcity of building materials owmg to the eivil war in Spain. Some
of the bigger farms have connete bathing pools for the workers and 1 know of one
vhntation at which a certain percentage of the profits each year is specially set
asille for improving the cundilio11s under which the workers live.
20. J/edical supn-riswn and t1·entment.-'rhe1·e are fully equipped
hosp1tals at Santa Isabel and ,'an Carlos, and if a "·orker enter one of them all
his hospital expenses are C!ebited to his emplo.'·er b.\" the Curaduria. I went over
the hospital at Santa IsabPl and it Reemed to me to be excellent.
. 21 . Some .years ago "leeping sie kness wa very preYalen t in the Island.
A v1p:orous cam.pa1gn was started and the number of ,;ufferers from the disease has
been reducetl lo a remarkable exteni. Everyone in the I sland European and
African, .has a Medical PaR;;port (commonly called a blood card)' and all natives
are exammed every Lhree moni.h;; and everyone before leavina· the Island for sio·ns
of sickne;-;s. 'l'hi:-; examination also provid:s an opportunity for
workers 1ntlt any other obYious d1seasc to receive medical treatment 'rh l t
f h · · f l · . < • e resu
o eac exammatwn or s eepmg Sickness and notes of any other cli eases are ent 1
Rome of big·ger plantations have well equipped
1un b:'l n::nncs 'Hth some medical expenence and a few even lltwe small llospital s.
Doctors make regular , I ·o .ll the higger plantation;;;. The law r equires that
a sick ''"orker recei>e e rly medical attention, that a worker on a plantation that
is not visitell bv a d J c r or a worker who i:; too ill to a"·ait the next visit o£
a doctor to bP taken to the neare,;t hospital.
22. I ...-isited plantations wherp I saw men 1rho ''ere lightly sick
rloing-light work well within their rapahilitit•s, but I also other farms where
I saw men who were ob>ioush more ill and who hacl not been atiendecl
by a doctor though their illnesses had (leveloJ;ecl as long a.- four '"eeks beforehand.
This supporterl one of tlw more general romplaints whirh was to the effect that
the law concernmg thl' mediral treatment of labour i not enforce<l suffirientlr .
I recei...-ed complaints that in tht' t i!.!"!.!"t" Yisited r egularly by
clodors, worker- reportin"' -irk are ne>erthele,, ' ent to work in the plantation thus
the rloctor, and that in the farm,:; men are uot taken into a nearest
hospital until their illne s has be('ome ;;erious. 1 appreriate that there must be
rases of malingering ancl that planteri' "!10 in c-asP ],a>e immffic·ieut 1nnlers
to run their plantations properly must be 011 tl1Pir g-uard against it, but I
-,ubmit that it is a dang-erous thing for auyonP but a rlodor to judg-e whether a man
i;; malingering or not. it muRt bP remembered in fayour of the planter
that when it actually eomes to the point it is often diffic·ult to get the
unerlueatecl nati...-e to go to a hospital. A fur·ther ('omplaint made to me was t hat
workers discharged from hospital are put to heayy \York too ,;;oon with the result
that become ill a"'ain. On my drawing the attention of the Curador Colonial
to these cases he a,;,:;ured me that they were not. rommon and would be dealt with.
He added that the regular inspection of tlw planwtions for ''"hich he is makino·
provision will ensure that eonclitions are improved. I am prepared to believe that
lack of facilities for medical treatment i:-; by uo means "'eneral but there
s room
for improvement. · "'
, 23. Rations.--I believe th_at the sralc of ration laid down by tlw
(,-onrnment plus thl' foocl oJJ dH· perfectly adequate.
tnfort.unately the lack o to seP that t lw law i· ob"'en-ed (which I shall
greater later in thP report) c·onpled with the effects of the civil
war 111 Spam have gi...-en_ n. e to complaintti about the lark of food. Rice anrl salt
have _been 1mporterl for tl1e workers but rurrenry diffi culties have
a:ffe?ted in the last nm anrl_ t hPre have been frequent
er" who have been able to proncle adl'quate rations have
p::nd t_heu w?rkers so many m lieu thereof but t he money has sometimes
been msuffiCient to b · an amount of footl equiYalPnt to hat 1 1 · th
Gove t 1 y · ft . It l own 1n , e
. rnmen e. ·=
' e • helllg- made to impro>e the situation anrl
wh1lst I was m t.he I,. a \Yt're heirw macle t· bt · · · f
C l b l l . c "' •r o ::tluino· "'an ronl
a a ar ant as np wa-- over to Duala ,>cialh· to obtaiu "ft. t of"'· t b.
used p 1· . tl · l . · .. J ons o nee o e
mg le arn- a a lnpment that was on it,- Wa\ 1 . · 1
complamts about thl' -
1 1
. l <. • receiver no

24. There u-t-
measure and I belie
of obtaining cl efinit ..
have against g-raspi· _
the Curaduria. At :
hm. \Yorkers were sometimes receiving- short
. ' oine plantations tl.ough I had no means
m be. best proted_ion t hat the workers can
dm<>n Is In-.] ertion b:x· the taff of
r ro be lackmg.
:2-'i. 'l'urning to ilw other si<lt> of the picture I heanl of workers who sold
some of their rations. preferrinn; to saYC' the motw\· theY not from the ;;ale and
·upplt>ment the remainde: of the rations with free in the plantations.
In almost every P.lantahon tlwrP f!r·o> ln•ou<t pahn h<a·u"'l" "-'-H1
• -.-.....,:J:o..::;\_., V1: U.J.J. -\l.a\ ,..._ U.::.\... \,...U\\.:U. IJ\...\ Ll"\.1..,{""" trlC" \ t._"l..lC". Jjh,{:"tl
n11<lnot bec·ause there is noti1ing ebe to eat. .
26. I rereive<l nunwrou. <"Omplaint.· that the workers only nwal of the day
,,·as in the evenin g· on their retun1 from "·ork. Some farms C'ook-; but it
is more usual for the men to cook for them;;ehes or for a man';; wife to cook for
him and a group of single men. I coul<l rli.·eover no Yali<l rea,;on wh,· the worker;;
<·uultl uut eat a meal before they went to work proYi<le<l the rook were willing to
get up a liti.le earlier. I ,-isited plantations when· I watc·hed g<HHl nwals being
eooked and taken out to the m>rker" at mill-day but the usual practice i:-; to allow
the \Yorkers to eat plantain,., pi<'ke<l near where ihe.\· happen iu be working during
a re-;i rounrl about noon. In the plant:11iou with thL• \\·orst name of all (io be
reft•ned to again later) 1 worker-; preparing an eveu ng meal wl1ich consisted
almo;.;t entirely of plantain - and wa-.. 1·ertaml.' in,;uttirient for a man who harl <lone
a <lay's work. I reported l he <·irl'um..,[auee,., to 1 he Cura<lor Colonial \Yho Yisite<l
l11e plantation three time-; be<·ause o£ this an<l other complaint:-; l made and
improved matten; there. I IntHle a point of notin!..!, t1w v01i clition of all
the plantation workeri\ I Raw in the Llan<l a1ul impre,..,.,iml ,,·as tlHtt the cWerage
man looks well nom·ilihell.
27. M:-· Rummar:-· of thi" rather <"ontra<lirtory -mh-\wa<l is tl1at owing to tl1e
hek ot a<lministralivt' <'ontrol ag-gravale<1 in t hi;-; inslan<·e h.\· l·ireumt-itaHees outsic\e
the planters' control a number of the workers lmve uot been getting sufheient
rations though the shortage has been "vt oft to somP extent bv the amount of free
food that is available in the plantations. The po,;ition is not sati;,factorv hut the
average man look:s well nourished aud I am "ure that the Hpanish Autho'ritieH are
cloing' their best to get aclequate Rnpplie,; of foocl tor the labourers 1uto the I;;land.
It will then remain for the :;taft of the Uuracluria to :->Pe that all workers gel the
proper Government ratioll:-1.
28. \\.ages and JJul'lltion of ('onfNu·t.-The usual wage ot a worker
contra<·ting for the first time is five dollars (about ten shillings) a month. It i s
uever let>:s aml a strong man may be able to get a little mOTe. The first contract is
llhnost inYariably for two years but cauuot be for longer. lf a worker recuntracts
his wages rise to anytl1ing behveen even dollars (thirteen shillings and sixpence)
and ten dollars (£1) a month. This sharp rise is partly an inducement
io him to recontract (often supported by a cash bonus on signing ag·ain)
and partly a rec-ognition of the WOl'kers increasing the longer he sta:,-s
on a plantation. .Men are reeontraetec1 for one year, one and a half or two years
ancl t11e wage that he receiYe-; is u,.;ually 11tg:bPr the longer the tc>rm for which the
new contrari iR ma<le. Onre a worker ha;-; <'ompletecl a r·onhad he is at tullliberty
to r<>lurn to XigTri<t or to reeoHtra<'l \Yith th<> samp or a diiTPrPn( employer .
:!H. l w:.h m I b Jl<tlti,h that ,,f iltt• G. lOO :Xigt·rian
"·orkers on the planra - at the date I left tht I:<lall(1 appr are 011
their second contrac 1. Ill !ta>e eont more than hn l h:we mentioned
t•ar lier in the report t the workers frozen pesetas had a cousidera ble effect ou
the number recontrat• ing \Then uo sterling was aYailable f(W the payment of t l1e
half of the wages due to the \Yorker on the completion of 1.' t·ontrnd, hut if the
figures are coned, and I haYe no reason for doubting- ihem. •h<>y ,;till show tltat at
any rate iu the past \YOrkcr,.; must haYe bt•eu sufticit·nth <·outented with i heir
!'Ouditions to recoutral't wit hou t being inflncneecl by the E:'Xt l_ange diffi<·ull.\·.
30. I wa t 1i • rktt :!::!.000 ha,; been ret·e·n·l .:ultrly eal'lt moni.b ciun·
SoYelllbE:'r la,-t year or I aymeut or "H!!'e' witluhawn • · .. I t'ura<huia h,.\· \\'llllPrt>
who haw fi11i:>l1ed a I tm t awl to r·ptum to Xi":eria. So far at> l l'ould
ascertai11 most of rhe r er, were being- paicl t hl' "·hole of their <l<'posit in ,· terliug
but I came aero:,; iu- - onl.'- a portion of the wa_l'" ,,·ith the
Curaduria had bee1. n owing- to the "tE:'rliug- haYing run out. '!.'he
Uoverumeut llO\Y ' __ • I hnlf of tl1e 1lepo. iretl plus half of an_,.
:savings the workn m the mouE:',\- giYen lo him whilst working iu
follo"·iug :>eparate i
(I) Gleari1 _
:Maint e:
<11111 ((>)
'rile \York of keepir _
follo"- o11e a11other i ..
in these processes et
of work are e:s.C'e-<ili-
law a, plantation w t
more than six hour-
for ten hours. \Yo.
p.m. when the full
hour, but I receive-
I was able w co11fir ..
to a farm with a L
when I left the £
overseer had not r·
who mfl.icted fines f
32. Iu t
the uature of thP ,n _
?ecause they can dt
1 t decreases the amc
the amount of work
were all .rout hs UIH
t>e and l'lH·ou pbutat ion,; of the
tm· au<1 keepiug- it dear,
nt uur'"l'it>.., a.rul uan:-phwt iHg·,
h -ulphatt•,
" 11 Y<'l' t•rll]iJrc, hut !bC' ol hl'r
·e • : ·,!,. " <'\de. X m,e of the wmk iilYoh·e<1
ll · hard and ir can onl.'· be<·omt• so if the hours
r - not au ahle-botliecl man. l' JJ<1Pr Spnuish
'. uot lw rt'(Fl ire(l to \rorli: tor
-I-t eu for eight and abo1·e t ha( :we
. u i a.m. ancl t herdore end by -1-.Jo
IlL.!'_ "orket1 au<l there j, a break of UJl
I that workt'l':' ha':e to do longer hours.
I- "hen a b.te and unexprrtet1 ,-i,.it
o : ad gone out nt <:bout 6 a.m. but
· halt thP worke1 .• 1 ll · l'
l . . . alH Jeu 1,uropean
• 11 tlns to he ( 'ura<lor Colonial
e_u on t1Jt> planrab<•Il.
orker;; are giYen a defiJJite k ,
Ill!!' don(• 1'1 · . · . TU1:> to clo " ·heu
. . lls Is '>pula• nth th l
t Illf'. and popular ,,. th I . • l e wor \en;
e<triru<1 l . • t le p aniPrs be<' at!.·p
' ' · n•t·PtT •cl -o 1 ·
"'rtat but I ·

me <·om1' a mts about
- llOl l<'C( fJt aj j h • J · ·
hPre this eomplaint . . ·t 'fi eomp Ullllng
h Jlh J ed, and [ do not
l \\as iu fonned by ll tt• ,\ntlwril it•:-; {!tal ol lltt' G,IOO •
workers on the plaui.aiion:; a( th e date I lefl { • approximat el.\· are oJt
their contract and 1 ,OIJO have cou(rueted more lhau twit·e . I.<> mentiou<>tl
earlier in the report that the workers frozen pesetas hacl a t'Onsiderahle eff ect on
the nmnl.Jer recontraeting wh en no was aYailable fo r the payment of the
half of the wages due to the \HJrker on t he complelion of his contract, hut. if tl1e
figure:; are conect, and I h ave uo r eason for doubii ng I hem, the·)· :-;till sl to\\· that at
any rate in the mau)· workcrH must ha Ye been :mf:tic·ien tl.v <'Oil tentl:' d '"'·itlt their
uouuitions to reeontr:.wt wit hout being intluent·etl by Ute exl'lt allg'l
00. I \\·as told that £2,000 ha:; bet• n ret·Pin·<l rPg-1tlarl.\ l':l. l'h nwnt\1 s iw· t•
Novembn laHl. year for pay111ett l of wagl:'H wllhclr:.tll n hom llll· Uunttlnria 1 ,\' \\'or kel'H
who have fiui::;hed a l'onlrad allll "·i,.lt to rl:'turu to Nigeria,. So far as 1 t'Olll <l
ascertain most of the worker ;; were bei11 g- paitl till' 11·ltole of t heir llepoHi t in
but I eame across im;iant•es where onl.\· a portioJt of the 11·agl:' H tll:'posii.l'cl \nth il1e
Curaduria h all been paid in st Prling owi Jtg' to the sit•rling hewing nut out. 'l' l te
JJUW 1rishes to pa,1 only halt of t. he depo,;ilt>tl \Yage:-; , plus half
the worker may have made from t he mmtt'\' oivcu to him whilst worklll g Ill
:;lerliury · ·

;)1. ll'orl.·.-'l'lte work oJt l'oltce and t'ot·oa planl uliotlR <·oH:-;i:·d.H of !Ill•
follo11·ing separate prol'esst'H: -·
(! ) Cl earing virgiu groutlll for pl anting·, au<l kePping- it dear,
(:!) l\Iaint enallt'c of iltl' plant llUr:-.t·rit•:-i aHtl nan,;plaHling-,
(;J) Spraying l he t r ees 11·ith :mlplmll• ,
(-J.) l>icking llte <TO)J,
(5) Cl eaning and drying,
ancl (G) Cl a::;t>ifying a ntl baggiug.
'l'lt f:' " ·ork of keeping clo\\·11 the Yf'g'Pt at. itHl is Ill' ·t•r <'tilling hul oil ll'l' pnH'l:'S"I'<l
follow on t• a no tht•r in rotation anclmakt• a year';; c·\Th'. Xonl:' ol' lh<' work involvt·d
in th ese proee::;::;es l'an be called reaJh awl ii <'all ouh becomt· Ho if t ht• lwun;
of work are ex<·eHsive or the 11·orke1·· iH no! an ahlc-hot1it•(l man. { 'ntl er
law a. plaut.atio11 worker under th e agl:' of fif(p,•n lliU:-il nol lw re,Juin•ll lo wor k for
more than six hours a 1lay . t hoHl' aged 1-lixtePn for Pight houn; and uho,·e that :tg'L'
for t.Pn hours. \Vork usually ;;tarts uboui (i a.m. an<l i ht>rl'fore Pll<l b,Y -J..;l()
IJ.llt. w]J en t he full t.PJl . ho1.;l'K are beiug worked ancl lhNl' j:-; <1 !Jn·ak ol' half <Ill
hour, huL I r el'eived a numbPr ol' l'omplaintH 1 hat workPrK ha\'l' (o do l oJt gL'l' hmu,;.
· I ' vac; a l.Jle Lo <'oniirm Oll<' instanl'e of ihir> whL' JJ I mucle a lall' allcl unL•xpel'iecl Yit::il
to a farm with a bud na.nte. "\11 lilt• \YorkPr" ltat1 gonL' oui at ubout 6 a.m. hul
when I l eft the f arm ai about (j p .nt . half t hP workers and llt l:'ir EuropPaJt
overseer had not r etui'Ilell from work. 1 r eported this 1o t he ( ' ur:ulor Uoltlllial
who 1nflieted fin es for thiH a ll rl other irregularii il's on thP pl.ndalu•n .
32. ln pla11tati onH th e \\·orkt•rs arP giYPn a dl'finit<· 1ask io do 11· iwn
thl' nature of lhc \\·ork allows oft being doll<'. Thi:< is P'> Jmlur ·' tt h t hl:' workPrs
becauHc they ean do i{ in their own tinlP, and popular \nlh ihL• plnn (prs h<·c ·auH<'
it the amount of supervi;;ion I'l'lJUin·c1. l rt'('PiVL•d :-;ollH' c·olnplai nl:-: :dJOu l
the aniOunt of work a1lotted being too great but I twii<·t•d that tllo,;e t·ompl:lining
were a ll yout hs and 1 think that wh <•rp titi H t•otnplaint is j ustifi ed, and I do not
think Lliat. it oflpn iH , tl1e fault lit•ti in 110 allowallt'l' liaYing lH•c n 1ll atlt• fort I111M'
who are noL abiP-botlietl men. in tml planlatiow; t.hal I vitiiletl all the wo1·kt'l'i'\
hacl fini shed tlwir day'H lasb by l:2.;HJ p.n1. a nd \\' l'l'l' haek in their quarlpr;; \1 l1i lnt
in oLhers thaL I viHiLed IH're bal'k by ]l.lll. <111tl others were Htill workin g·.
33. 'rhe present positJOn iti that the labour availablP iH immffit·it•til 1111d
SOltH' of Lhc farming prOt'Pi'\til'H have lo lw Hkimpl'tl. 'l'his lt·ad s lo the i lll'l' i t nldt •
reHult lhal some employPrH t•n<lravmH· to gd more mll of tlrl' 1\'orkt•rs llil'.\ l1 111••
than they would i l l he.\· t·ould gl'l all llH• I a hour the.\· rt·quire for llrt• propt·r wo1·k 111g
of their plantatiom;. I beli PI'C that il' lht·rP ll'l'l'l' an adPquate Hllpply of ahiP-h(ldit•d
labour in the Island there would he 110 t'otllpbints of the work !wing loo 11r
Lhe hours too long.
34. ll8 to treat ill I'll f. All the labour is tlivitled into
under heaclme11 and the owners of t lie bigger plantatioJIH employ Enropt•an
overseers. :M:any of these over:-,cPrs an· in !' hargt• of sub-farn1:-; whil'h arP aln1md
separate plantations and are often at a t·ottHitlPrablP tlistance front Lhe •
o£ the plantation where the owner or his nuwager lives. 'fherc nre liO •
(mainly Spani;;h but indud i ng a lllllllber of all(] a few German H) and
280 Africans employing workers on thP plautatious. Amongst lllel'le .f50 O\l' llt•rs
o£ plantations and their many EurOJl<'<tu ovPrseers an cl African headme11 it is
inevitable that there should be some men of a brutal tlispoHiLion just al'l it is
inevitable that amongst the G,OOO otld :KigPrian ll'orkers there must be some ll'lro
would give trouble "·hatever the t•ontlitiuns of work were like. It one acldl'l tire
facts that some of the workers m·p not phyHically fit enough to tlu woTk that t
bave been forced inio, that tlte emplo.yers are some\vhat naturally anx iuw; to gl'l
the most they can out of labour the.\· have hacl to pay a higb prit·e for before •
start to pay wages, and i.hat administrative of the treatmeJJt
of the workers in the plant ations iH inatlequate one has a state of aftairH i hat iH
bound to produl'e compl ain le;. Ae(·ortling· io Spanish law tl1e employer i::; forhitldrlt
to administer anything but the form of punishment to hi;; work en; a11d
decluctionH from the half of the labourcn; wagel'l that i8 paid clirect (except fm i ht•
yearly tax o£ 3! pesetas) have to be reported in the montl1ly return of wagt>s sell t
to the Curaduria. Breaches of di scipline or of the la"·::; which warr::.ud corporal
punishment or impritl omneJJt must go to the Curador Colonial who eit her a ward s
the punishment himself or in nton· eases haucls the matter o\·er to tilt'
superior Courts an cl seetl that thl' worl<er has free legal l!'ro111 t ht·
complaints that I received I am quite t•ouvineed that. there are more l'<tl'il'H ol'
beatings and assaults on the plantations than is within the knowledge of t he Uunulor
Colonial and that it is usually the hearlmen and overseers who are responsible. ln
some cases the punishment is no doubt fully earned though thaL no l'or its
being administered in direct defiant·e of the laws. 'rhe worker has Lhe rigltL tu
complain to the Curador Colonial huL iu this again i t is there
might be better facilities.
35 . Although there lta::; been no regular iuspet·tiou of the plantation8 by
the Curador Colomal or his for :'lome time, arrangements are uow bei11g
made to give the staff of the Curaduria more time for this work. As the Cumdor
has not been able to go to the workers they have to go to ltim, but as tbe only
free days that the labourer has during the year are f:luudaytl and five Hank Holidays,
on 11011e of which is i he Cun11luria opeu, the wmkers \';ho eau make a
eomplaint without absenting tllem:>elves from work are those whose plantations
are near enough to tl1e Curacl uria at Santa Is a bel or San Ca rlos to allow o£ their
getting there after they have finished their day's work and before the offices close.
Even after getting to Lhe Curauur.ia it is not certain that the complainant will get
a hearing as he has to pass the police outside the building who, I am prett.)· certain
from the complaints I received, do their best to 11iscourage eomplai11ants. In most
cases, nevertheless, tl1e complaint is inv.estigated and if found to be justifie<l the
guilty party is punitihed and the worker compensated if but a m::tn
whose complaint fails stan cls a good chance of being punishe<l for complaining, and
for absenting himself from work in order to do so, if he is unlucky enough 'to have
to return, Lo one of the minorit.v of plantations where treatment is not good.
36. l dis<·ussed all this wii·h the Curador Colonial \\·ho pointed out that in
<Lll,\' <·ountry in the \Yodel you are bound to get a few bla('k sheep amongst the
of labour an<1 that !l1e posit.ion will be improved when the
Tegubr inspection of plantation;; starts again soon. He denied i.hat there " ·as
<lll,dhing to stop a complainant making his eomplai nt once he g-ot to the Curacluria,
but as l1is office is on the top floor and his assistants work below he is probably
unaware of the cases t hat do occur of a complainant preYentecl from la;yiug
his eomplaint.
:rf. Before I went to F ernando l'oo I was iufonned that there were reports
of a curfe·w system being in force there. I could fincl no traces of thl"re ever having
been such a t bing but the reports may have originated from i.lw habit of i.he Island
police of a1·costing natives at night i.o find out whai. their work iR and of raiding
houses in which it is suspected that workless men an livmg. This is because of
the Spanish Governm<"nt's insisteuee on everyone without fmfficient meau::; to live
at le1:mre having a proper job of work to do au IRland when' i.he labour available
is insuHi.cient.
;)8. Smrunary.---l!Iost o{ this report is filled with critici:nn of conditions
in Fernando :Poo and I am afraid tlwt there if-l a clanger thal it will ercate a more
unfavourable impression than it is intcndcfl to. ln a report of this kind the good
needs o much less describing than the bad. In this case too all the criticisms that
I have made, except tl1e criticism that there is a lack of administrative . upervision,
concern exceptions to general standards of good treatment.
Every criticism that I have made is also a complaint tl1ai the Spanish
laws, which seemed to me to be good laws, are being broken. I saw tl1e reorgani-
:;ation going on in the Uuraduria whieh is designed to band ii s finan cial work over
to the Treasury and so give more time for inspection, but at the present moment it
is the ineflieiency of t h e ,.;teps taken to ensure that the laws are observed that causes
more breaehes of those la,,,-, than it iH reasonable to expect .
...J.O. "he majority of plaJJtcrH <lo not break the law and t.he majori.ty oC
worhn; have no real ·omplainis. If the f.lpanish Aull1orities would take more
actiYc ;;teps to (letect breaehes of tl1e law and be more vigorous in tlw punislmwnt
of thos' found g-uilty of olfeneeH ag-ainst the labour laws I believe that iJJ
Ft>rnaJHlo Poo would be liLLle di.flerent from those in any other place where co ntn11 t
labou r iK pmpl oyed. To ilhu;lrat e Ll1 is point 1 will t nh the east' of onp planta.Lion
lo whi ch 1 have referred in t.he n •port as having- a bacl name. ('ons11lm
reports of 19:36 refer to plantation as !wing one· of the worst ancl whl'll I \ \lb
in the lHland the Curador Colonial tmicl that it g-an him mon• houbh• than :1n,
other. Y d afte r over three .\ l'U.l'H unenviahlt• reputation l cli H<·ov<'recl on n1.\ ollt '
Yisit to 1 he place what l <'onsiden•<l to he serious bretH·hes of thP hnL ' l' hr l'l'pot 1
I made was certainly prompt] ,,· invrHtig-atecl ancl fint>K WL're impmi<'Cl but 1 do nnl
l'onsider that fine;; totalling juHt over IPn JHHlllllK wpn• adeqmdl• <'OilHiclPring· t ''" '
t he Curudor Colonial had ahea<l.\ fin eel the O\\ nerK nncl ov<'rHePn; Kcvcral t i "'<
41. AgainHI tl1iK lllUKt lw put th l• fac·t thni from th(• ma.iority or tlw
phntatiom; both big and little whi<·h wen· within ea;;y distan<·<• of SanL.t l KalH·I.
from which worker;; eoul d havl' come lo complai n to me on a Sunda,· if lhP\ di d
not wish to risk absenti ng 1 hemsclver; from work, L receiYcd no comj1J ai nl R ;tl :tl l
al Hl I can only conchHl e t hat they were perfectly r;at itlfied wilh their <'On<lit
AnothPr factor tl1at I h ad to keep coH:-;tanll y in min(l \.Yas that th e workers knP\\
that I had come io inYe:;i igate and were more thau like]_,. to paint '"
gloomy a picture a:-; possible of auyt hing that th e.Y came to compl ain about . 'l'o
make proper allowance for thiH was all the more difficult becam;e of t li<'
complainb; (e.,r;. compbintH of asl'iault , unjust fines an d r; hort r ations of food ) wJ,idt
I referred to the Curador Uolonial were pronounced to be unjustified a nd I <·oulcl
find no wa.' · of getting to Lhe bottom of them myself. 1 must confess to a fet•l ing·
that many of them ·were genuine but 1 believe that the Curaclor Colonial was aho
unable to get to the real truth owing to the distrust of the workers in the effieienn
of the administration of justice by his Department caused by tl1e l ack of supervi Hio;l
in enforcing the l abour l aws.
42. If the observance or non-observance of the l aws is left as much aK ii j ,
at present to those whom the lawH are designed to control (i.e. the planters) t.l1 r
majority, realising that contented labour is the best labour, will observe tbe lawK,
but there " ·ill always be a minority '"ho will take ach·antag-e o{ their knowl edgt•
that a breach of the law;; will bring less chance of punislnnent lhan it (lo :
that is the posit ion as I see it in F ernanclo Poo to-cla)·. It is only fair to add th at
the Curador Colonial who was there wh en I was in tbe bland but has since n•t urnl' d
to Spain r ealised the situation and completed plan · for improving it.
43. Tlt e Future.-I have tri ed to deal as fairl)· as [ ean ,,·it b all the bad
points in t he treatment of labour in l!' ernando Poo an<l to emphasi:-.e that (· a. u:-.L''
f or complaint, though not rare, are the exception rather than t he 1·ule . '\Vhill-' 1
do not consider that t her e i:> an)· justification for the stoppage of labour going lu
the I sland, I do eonsider that there should be further safeguards and that.
recruiting must be put on a proper basis. It is hoped to r each an agreement with
the Spanish Authorities on these matters. 'rhe safeguards required are to ens1nP
that the l aws are properly enforced and that the workers are able to bring to notice
their grievances freely; a proper system of recruiting is also necessary to ensure
that those contracted are persons able and willing to do the work and that the.v
understand the nature of their contract.
44. I believe that the appointment of a Consul de carnm·e, who woult
nave the special facilities for looking after the interests of the workers which tht
Spanish Authoritie are willing to gTant him anrl >Yhose official position would givt
him advantages which a:nyoue acting as Vice-Consul cannot enjoy, wo11ld providt
the necessary t>afeg·uards. A proper t>ystem of recruiting, besides ensuring tha·
those who contracted were only able bodied men willing to do the work and witl
a knowledge of the of work stipulated in their contracts, would als<
stop illegal recruiting in Nigeria b.,- offering- the worker who goes willingly a1
present a safer method of contracting than he has now, and by ensuring· that tl11
Spanish Authorities refuse to allow any natiTe of Kigeria to work on a plantatim
if he has not been properly eontraetecl in Xig-Pria for that purpo!-le, thus making il
useless for illeg-al recruiter:> to lme people oYer to the Island misrepresentation.
There is no fear that. the SpaniHh Colonial Governn1ent "·ill not eo-operate aH it
very much to the intere t of the I sland to put a stop to illegal recruiting a;; soon
as an alternative source of lahom is available.
45. In repl,,- to the possible inference that. if there has to be so much
protection for the worker that a Vice-Consul is inadequate, it would be better to
stop Nigerian workers from going to ]<'ernando Poo altog·ether , I would answer
that it would not, because the of the worker:> going there are contented
and it would be unfair to deprive them of a chance of earning good money wl1en
they are able and willing to do so. The Government of the Spanish Territories
of the Gulf of Guinea has expressed its willingness to receive a Consul de ca1'1·iere
and to g-ive him very wide powers to enable him to protect the workers, an'd if the
British Government will ag-ree to such an appointment I feel that the safeguards
would be entirely adequate.
46. As regards put tiug recTniting- on a leg-al basiR, I gathered that the
mere fact that i.u Fernando Poo knows that workers going there do so
again t the wishes of the Nigerian GoYernment has had some effeel on conditions.
owing to the assumption that the Xigerian Government will take les;; interest in
those who leaYe Nigeria against itH wishes than in thoRe ,...-ho leave witl1 its
blessing. But a proper ;;y,; tem of renuiting would baYe far greater advantagPH
than that. It WOllld Pnsure that those who contracted were only ahle-bodiecl men
willing to do t he work and with a knowl!:'rlge of the eonditioos ;1f " ·ork stipuhte<l
in their contracts. H would also stop illegal recruiting in Kigeria offering the
worker who goes williugly at present a .-;afer method of eontraeting than he lms
now, and b,,- ensuring· that tlw Spani,;h Authorities refuse to allo'v nativp of
Nigeria to work on a plantation if he has not been eontr•actecl in Kigeria
for that purpose, thllR making i.t u ·eles:; for illegal recruiters to lure people over to
.the Island by misrepresentation.
If lhere were a proper system of recruiting in Nigeria and a Consul de
cn·rrie1·e in Fernanclo Poo with Rp cial facilities for looking after the work rs
int reRts and with the neces;;ar.v authority to urg·e more vigorous enforcement of the
local laws, as far aR the plantations are eoncen1ecl, there would oon he nothing 1o
complain of in an oceupalion from whieh a larg·e number of NigerianR derive a.
great deal of benefit.

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