By W. T. Stead----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|Train ford across the Shashi River|
Last year, at St. Petersburg, when I was talking to Herr Rothstein, he suddenly surprised me by an observation on the secret forces which appear to dominate the actions of men. Herr Rothstein, although but little heard of outside Russia, is one of the dozen notable personalities who influence the policy of that great empire. He is a Jew, and a German Jew. But he is Monsieur Witte's Jew; and as the financial adviser of the Imperial Finance Minister, he is a man of mark as well as a man of wealth, a man of influence, and a man of power. But although knowing and respecting him as financier and as statesman, I was hardly prepared for the philosophical observation which fell from his lips on the subject of the great transcontinental line which Russia is building across northern Asia.
This railway," said Herr Rothstein, "like many others of the Caine nature, is being built under the compulsion of an impulse, or an instinct, which it is impossible to justify on financial, political, or military grounds. The sacrifices which the construction entails will never be repaid, at least to the men who make them. From a financial point of view, I could name a score of other methods of investing money within the empire that would pay handsomely, pay far better than this transcontinental railway can ever hope to do. But nations appear to be sometimes possessed by an uncontrollable passion to bring together the uttermost ends of a continent, quite irrespective of rational motives. It is a kind of demon which drives them; and I can only suppose that the impulsion is intended to promote the general good of mankind. Certainly, in our case, the sacrifices are much more obvious than the gain to Russia."
If this be the case with the Siberian railway, what can be said of the Cape to Cairo line but that it is a still more striking illustration of Herr Rothstein's doctrine? From a political point of view, the British Empire will profit even more than Russia by the building of the Asiatic through railway, over which in a few years will pass all the mails between England and her colonies and dependencies in the Pacific. From every point of view, the construction of the line across Siberia is more important to the English-speaking world than the Cape to Cairo railway. To shorten the time in which one can travel round the planet from sixty-five to thirty-three days is an achievement of supreme value to the only race that has planted its families all around the world. But the Cape to Cairo railway will not materially diminish the dimensions of the planet. After it is built, no express will traverse the Continent in less than eleven days. Add to this the four or five days between London and Cairo, and we have fifteen or sixteen days for the overland route, as against seventeen or eighteen days by sea.
|Typical Kaffir Krall near Bulawayo|
If the Cape to Cairo line is not urgently wanted in order to expedite communication between London and the extremities of Africa for imperial or military reasons, it is still less wanted from the point of view of a dividend-earning investment. There is at this moment no through traffic of any kind between the Cape and Cairo. The two ends of the African Continent have absolutely nothing in common, except that they are both African, and that both are at present under the shelter of the British flag. To build the line would cost fifty million dollars at least, possibly twice as much. It is extremely doubtful whether it would earn a dividend or could even be worked except at a loss. And yet, notwithstanding all these obvious and indisputable considerations, it is by no means impossible that the Cape to Cairo line may be in working order in 1909.
Why it should be so, why the keenly practical and stolidly unimaginative Briton should be bending his energies and lavishing his resources in order to construct a line from Cape to Cairo, it is difficult to explain, except on the theory of Herr Rothstein that the Providence that rules mankind has willed that the ends of the world should be linked together and that the continents should be bridged by the iron rail; and so, obedient to the Invisible Power behind the veil, mortal men hasten to carry out their appointed task. That may be, perhaps is, the occult, hidden source from which such activities spring; but the outer and visible reasons why the Cape to Cairo line is coming into being are simple and obvious enough. The first and dominating cause is the fact that the idea has fascinated the imagination of Mr. Rhodes; and the second and hardly less potent reason is the fact that the Cape and Cairo both begin with the letter C. Possibly this second reason ought to have precedence over the first, for who knows how much of the fascination which has caught Mr. Rhodes's fancy was due to "apt alliteration's artful aid?”
|Typical jungle scene on Mombasa-Uganda Railroad|
After these two leading motives, there must be mentioned as a potent third cause the jealousy of the nations, and especially the anxiety of many Englishmen for the security of their somewhat precarious position in Egypt and the Nile valley. It is true the railway, even when constructed, will not paint the African map British red from the Mediterranean to the Table Mountain. But it undoubtedly tinges the whole intervening region with the ruddy glow that heralds the dawn of Empire. Had the idea taken anything approaching its present shape in the days when the German claims to East Africa were being considered by the British Government, there would have been very stringent provisions made to secure a strip of territory down the side of Lake Tanganyika, along which the Cape to Cairo line would have had undisputed right of way.
Unfortunately, the dream of Mr. Rhodes had not then even been dreamed. So it came to pass that a solid block of German territory intervenes between the northern and southern termini of the line, across which Mr. Rhodes must carry his railway as best he can, on terms the deciding factor in which, lies, not in London, but in Berlin. That, however, only increased the desire of the British Imperialist to provide against any further interruptions of the continuity of British red between Cape and Cairo.
When steeplejacks wish to ascend a lofty spire, they are accustomed to fly a kite so that its string falls across the pinnacle. To this string a stout cord is attached, by the aid of which a rope and ladder are soon securely fixed in position, giving the steeplejack easy access to the summit. When Mr. Rhodes began to plan the construction of his Cape to Cairo railway, he flew his kite over the continent. Some five or six years ago - time flies fast when men are building empires - he startled the world with the announcement that he intended to construct an overland telegraph line from the Cape to Cairo. At first men jeered. When he appealed for funds from the public with which to lay down his wires through Central Africa, the Stock Exchange for once was deaf to his appeal. The Mahdist rebellion was then in full possession of Khartum and the Egyptian Soudan. Ever since Gordon's death the vast belt of territory between the equatorial lakes and the Nile at Dongola had been hermetically sealed against European civilization. How could Rhodes hope to get his lines through Mahdidom?
|An Inn near Bulawayo|
"Oh, as to that," replied Rhodes with boyish confidence, "when the time comes, I shall know how to square the Mahdi."
People shrugged their shoulders, and said that the fanaticism of the Mahdi would be proof even against the wealth of Mr. Rhodes. Then other objectors asked how the telegraph poles were to be protected from the white ants, those scavengers of Central Africa, to whose tooth nothing is sacred that has not within it the principle of life.
"Make them of iron," replied Rhodes.
"But against the wandering herds of wild elephants what avail will be your iron poles? These huge pachyderms would use the telegraph poles as scratching-posts."
"We shall see," was Mr. Rhodes's reply. "And if you don't subscribe for the Cape to Cairo telegraph stock, I will find the money myself, and go ahead."
Nine-tenths of the money had to be found by Mr. Rhodes personally. But he is not a man to be balked in his purpose. He at once began the construction of the line, starting from the northern terminus of the Cape telegraphic service. He has pushed the line northward through Rhodesia to Umtali, in Mashonaland, which is 1,800 miles from the Cape, and is pushing it on through Nyassaland to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika, another 700 miles farther north. The total distance to be covered is 6,600 miles. At the same time, the Egyptian Government, under British auspices, was pushing its telegraph system southward from Wady Haifa. Its advance was intermittent, the erection of the telegraph poles being necessarily dependent upon the pushing back of the outposts of the Dervishes. Last autumn, however, the destruction of the power of the Khalifa at Omdurman enabled the Anglo-Egyptian authorities to reopen the long-closed telegraph office at Khartum. Khartum being 1,300 miles from Cairo, this reduces the distance to be spanned by the telegraph wire to 3,500 miles; or, if we reckon Abercorn on Lake Tanganyika as its northern terminus, only 2,800 miles. It is being rapidly eaten into at both ends, more rapidly in the south tan in the north. Still nearly one-half of the continent, and that the most difficult part remains to be crossed. How difficult it is may be inferred from the fact that, whereas the line was put up at a cost of $250 a mile in Rhodesia, it is estimated that it may cost from $400 to $500 per mile in the territory between Umtali and the extreme southern limit of the Egyptian Soudan.
|Lord Evelyn Baring Cromer|
From Umtali, the telegraph line strikes northward to Tete, where it crosses the Zambesi, and joins the telegraphic system of Nyassaland at Blantyre. From thence, it skirts the lake on the western coast to Karonga, which was reached last December. From Karonga, the route lies through Rhodesia to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika. From Abercorn, it will enter German territory, and skirt Lake Tanganyika on the east. The Germans gave Mr. Rhodes leave to carry his line through German territory on condition that he would, in addition to his own through wire, lay down at his own cost a separate line between Rhodesia and British East Africa, the wire of which is to be used solely for the telegraph traffic of German East Africa, and to be the property of the German Government, which will keep up the line at Mr. Rhodes's expense. At the end of forty years, the German Government may take over the line without paying compensation of any kind. Beggars must not be choosers, and the German Government having Mr. Rhodes at its mercy, drove this bargain before giving him way leave through territory which it has neither colonized, civilized, nor occupied. After leaving German territory, the telegraph line will make its way to Mengo in Uganda; and then, avoiding the malarious valley of the Nile between Lake Albert and Khartum, it will traverse the edge of the plateau that skirts the frontier of Abyssinia, and make a junction with the Anglo-Egyptian system on the frontier of the Soudan. With the exception of the 700 miles of German territory, the whole distance from. Cape to Cairo is already colored British red on the African map. That distance may be reduced to 300 miles if the beginning of German territory is reckoned at the north end of Tanganyika instead of the south. England has a right of free navigation over the whole length of the lake - 400 miles - so that, in reality, of the 6,600 miles which stretch between Cape and Cairo the traveling Briton need only for 300 miles stray beyond the protecting shadow of the Union Jack.
|Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener|
The Transcontinental Telegraph Company, unlike the Cape to Cairo railway, can be justified as a financial speculation. The cost of telegraphing to South Africa at present is $1.20 per word. Communication goes by cables on the east and west coasts of the continent. The capital invested in the African cables is estimated at from fifteen to twenty million dollars. To keep the cables in repair six vessels are constantly employed three on each coast. To build the overland line costs from $250 to $500 per mile. Averaging it at $375, the total cost of putting up the telegraph wire across Africa would be less than $2,500,000. The cost of upkeep is also much less for the overland line than for the submarine cable. It may, indeed, be calculated that the cost of maintenance will be largely met by local messages, none of which are of course at the command of the cable companies. The net result is that, when the overland wire is in working order, Mr. Rhodes will be able to reduce the cost of telegraphy at once from $1.20 to 84 cents a word, and earn a good dividend besides.
|Macapa Bridge on the Mombasa-Uganda Railroad|
So much for the telegraph line, which it is expected will be in working order in five years' time. It is, however, the Cape to Cairo railway that has most attracted the attention of the world. It is not built yet; hardly half of it is contracted for. But it is following closely on the heels of the telegraph, and Mr. Rhodes recently invited me to be present at the laying of the last rail on January 20, 1909. In ten years' time the line, it is calculated, will be completed and ready to carry the mails from Cairo to the Cape. The cost of the whole line is estimated at $125,000,000. But as over 3,000 miles are at present constructed, the total required for the central section will not exceed $75,000,000. Mr. Rhodes, indeed, put it recently at only $50,000,000. His estimate was that 3,229 miles still needed to be built, and that they could be built at a cost of $15,000 per mile. This, however, is a somewhat sanguine estimate. Since it was framed, Mr. Rhodes has seen cause to vary the route, in order to avoid the swamps in the Nile valley - a commendable object, but one which will not diminish the mileage of iron way. The cost of constructing the Cape railway through Bechuanaland was $15,000 per mile; but in Rhodesia, owing to the greater cost of carriage and the increased cost of labor, the railway bill ciphered out at $19,000 per mile. It will be strange if the cost is less than this in the center of equatorial Africa.
|Wagon transportation before the|
Cape to Cairo Railway
The task of bridging the continent of Africa by a railway has been facilitated by the necessities of war. Hosea Biglow's familiar saying about "civilization getting a lift in the powder-cart " was seldom more appositely illustrated than by the recent war in the Soudan. When the Sirdar, General now Lord - Kitchener began to work out the carefully calculated plan of campaign which he had matured for striking down the Dervishes of the Desert, he found himself confronted by this almost insuperable difficulty. The heart of the enemy was situated just 1,200 miles south of Cairo. To reach that heart and deal it a deadly blow, 1,200 miles (chiefly desert) had to be traversed by an army every mouthful of whose food, to say nothing of its powder and shot, its forage, and all its other impedimenta, must be dispatched from a base 1,200 miles to the rear of the fighting front. In the previous invasion of the Soudan, Lord Wolseley had endeavored to overcome this immense difficulty of transport by utilizing the Nile and dispatching an army in rowboats, past the cataracts, to Dongola. The experience of that expedition hardly justified the repetition of the experiment. If, therefore, the great blow was to be struck at the heart of Mahdism, the desert between Wady Halfa and Berber must be bridged by a railway. There was comparatively little engineering to do. The desert is level. Its drawback is not difficult gradients, but the scantiness of water. Between the starting-point at Wady Halfa and the terminus at the Atbara there are only two wells - one place per 175 miles where you can quench your thirst under an African sun cannot be considered an ideal allowance. The line was constructed for the most part by the natives, the Egyptian soldiers lending a hand under English supervision. When the Dervishes were beaten in the earlier campaign, their disbanded soldiers eagerly sought employment in making the line along which, a few months later, a force of 23,000 men was to be hurled against the capital of the Khalifa.
|Opening of the bridge across the Zi River|
Further progress was stopped by the difficulty of bridging the Atbara. It was decided to throw a bridge across the river before the July floods. The time was short. Tenders were invited from British bridge-builders on a specification which was so elaborate that, when the tenders arrived, it was discovered that the building would take two years to erect, as it was not capable of being launched. Fresh tenders had to be invited in hot haste, and to the infinite dismay of the British public it was discovered that the Americans beat their rivals hollow both as to time and as to price. The order was not a very large one. The total cost of the bridge was only $32,500. But no incident in recent years has brought home to the British public the extent to which the British manufacturer has been beaten by his American rival more forcibly than this matter of the Atbara Bridge. No English firm could undertake to deliver the bridge either at the cost or in the time which it was supplied by the Americans. Within thirty-seven days of the receipt of the order, the seven spans of the Atbara Bridge left New York Harbor for their destination in Egypt.
The line south of the Atbara on to Khartum is already in course of construction. Thousands of the Dervishes who escaped unhurt from the slaughter of Omdurman are shoveling dirt at a beggarly pittance per day, and glad to get it. Openings for unskilled labor are not too numerous in the Soudan.
|Traction engine leaving Macequece|
The ultimate route of the Khartum railway is uncertain. Originally the idea was entertained of carrying it along the Nile valley through Fashoda to Sobat, where the trunk line from the south was to have affected a junction. More careful examination of the proposed route has compelled a modification of this scheme. It is more likely that the railway will be deflected eastward, and, like the telegraph, will skirt the western frontiers of Abyssinia. There is also some talk of building the much discussed Suakim-Khartum branch; but at present the notion is not to cross the desert to Berber, but to trend southward by Kassala. Suakim is undoubtedly the sea-gate of the Egyptian Soudan, and a line of a few hundred miles in length has always an enormous pull over its rival whose haulage exceeds a thousand miles.
|Map showing entire line of the|
Cape to Cairo Railway
A railway without a seaport is like a plant without a root, and even this transcontinental line will depend for its prosperity chiefly upon the number and facility of its points of access to the sea. Its northern terminus is Alexandria, once one of the greatest of all seaports, and still the most thriving harbor in the African continent. The southern terminus is at the base of Table Mountain, that silent sentinel which looks from the extreme limit of Africa over the waste of water which stretches southward to the Antarctic ice. Between these two extreme ports, separated by 6,000 miles, there is at present only one port from which the Cape to Cairo line has access to the ocean. This is where the little two-foot gauge Beira-Salisbury railway crosses the malarial region of Portuguese South Africa, 200 miles south of the delta of the Zambesi. Beira is the natural seaport of Rhodesia. When Portugal sells her colonies, Beira with Delagoa Bay will pass into the hands of the English. But at present satisfactory working arrangements enable the Rhodesians to receive and dispatch merchandise across Portuguese territory to the Indian Ocean.
When we turn from the railways from the seacoast which actually exist to those which are already projected, or are partly constructed, we find that the Cape to Cairo railway may count upon having access to the sea by means of independent lines running westward into the interior on the East Coast at five different points. To the West Coast there is at present talk of two railways: one crossing German territory to the British post of Walfisch Bay, the other stretching across the Congo Free State, which would unite the Atlantic with Lake Tanganyika. The latter is something more than a project, for the Belgians have partially surveyed the route, and the telegraph and telephone, the pioneers of the railway, have already linked the great inland lake with the Congo waterway. The distance, however, between the Cape to Cairo line and the Western Coast is so much greater than that which divides it from the Indian Ocean that we need not discuss the West African lines as material factors in the success of Mr. Rhodes's project.
The railways from the East Coast which will feed the great trunk line are as follows:
(1)The Natal railway, which starts from Durban, and at present terminates in the Transvaal.
(2)The Delagoa Bay Railway, starting from the port of that name, in Portuguese territory, and terminating, like the Natal railways, in the Transvaal.
At present, and so long as President Kruger is supreme in the Boer Republic, there will be no junction between the Cape to Cairo Line and the railways serving the Transvaal. But President Kruger's day is hastening to its close. Nothing is more certain in the future than that the Federation of all South African States will be accomplished under British auspices. When that day comes, perhaps even before that day comes, the Transvaal railways will be joined to the great trunk line which runs northward just outside the frontier of the Republic.
(3)The Beira railway, of which I have already spoken, crossing Portuguese territory, enters Rhodesia at Umtali, from which point it is in communication with Salisbury on the north and Bulawayo in the southwest. It is to be widened to three feet six inches, experience having shown that a two-foot gauge line cannot be worked at a profit. As the result of the change in gauge, the freight will be reduced from $55 to $40 per ton.
|Unloading ammunition on the Soudan Military Railway|
(4)The German East African Railway, which is still a subject for discussion at Berlin. This line, the preliminary survey of which has been undertaken, will start from the sea-coast, and after crossing the German Protectorate to Tabora, will throw out two branches, one terminating at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, the other at some post on the Victoria Nyanza. The first section of this line - only one-sixth of the whole - will connect the coast with Mrogoro in Ukami; and although only 110 miles in length, it is estimated that to build it will cost $3,000,000, an average of $30,000 per mile. The cost of building the railway to the Lakes cannot, therefore, be less than $20,000,000.
(5)The British East African Railway from Mombasa to the Victoria Nyanza. This line is now in course of construction. Three hundred miles, or nearly one-half of the entire line, have been built across the lowlands nearest the sea, at a cost of $8,750,000, which makes the average cost about the same as the German estimate. The remaining half, which is more difficult from an engineering point of view, will bring the total expenditure up to a sum far exceeding the original estimate of $15,000,000. The lake terminus of the Mombasa railway will be close to the German frontier, on the eastern shore of the Victoria Nyanza. The Cape to Cairo line will pass on the western coast of the lake. Owing to the extraordinary perversity of the British Foreign Office, the gauge of the Mombasa line differs from that of all other African railways. The gauge of the Egyptian railways is four feet eight inches. The gauge of the South African lines is three feet six inches. But the gauge of the Mombasa line is three .feet three inches.
(6)Between Mombasa and Suakim, on the Red Sea, there is a stretch of 1,800 miles as the crow flies, a belt through which there will be no access to the sea. Not until we reach Suakim can the Cape to Cairo line extend a branch to the sea. Whether via Berber or via Kassala, there is no doubt but that it will reach the sea at Suakim.
In constructing the Cape to Cairo line, it is to be expected that at first, at all events, its builders will avail themselves of the remarkable series of waterways which line their route. Even to this day, although the railway runs 350 miles south of Wady Halfa, the Egyptian Government is content to rely upon the Nile for the 200 miles which lie between Assuan and Wady Halfa. If Mr. Rhodes were to utilize all the lakes on his way, he would be able to get a lift of 400 miles on Lake Nyassa, 400 more along Tanganyika, and nearly 300 on the Victoria Nyanza, so that at least one-third of the gap yet to be bridged could be crossed by steamer. If, in addition to the lakes, he decided to utilize the Nile below Khartum, it is possible to travel, when the Nile is high, 450 miles from Khartum to Fashoda; and if the sudd or floating vegetation could be cut through by steamer and the waterway kept clear, he might go by boat to the Albert Nyanza, which is 750 miles farther south. By thus utilizing both river and lakes, the distance to be covered by rail would be reduced to little more than 1,000 miles. Mr. Rhodes's idea is, however, to carry the railway the whole distance, so as to avoid transhipment, and to escape the malarious marshes between Khartum and the Albert Nyanza.
Mr. Rhodes began his end of the line by building 600 miles of railway from Vryburg in Bechuanaland to Bulawayo in Rhodesia. The construction was hurried because the cattle-plague, by destroying the oxen of South Africa, rendered transport impossible. The railway was not built by the Chartered Company - the East India Company of South Africa, which came into existence to enable Mr. Rhodes to execute his great designs - but the company formed for its construction received a twenty years' subsidy from the Chartered Company of $50,000 per annum, and the company besides guaranteed five percent interest on the first mortgage debentures and debenture stock. The cost of building the line was about $10,000,000, toward which the Imperial Government, through Sir William Harcourt (then Chancellor of the Exchequer), contributed $1,000,000. The line has been very successful, and its success has naturally led to a demand for a further extension.
|View from the coal stage at Bulawayo|
No practical proposal, it need hardly be said, has ever been made as yet to construct the Cape to Cairo line. All that is at present in negotiation is the construction of the northward extension of the Bechuanaland railway to the gold and coal regions of Rhodesia, which it is necessary to tap in the interest of the colonists themselves. Even if there were no Cape to Cairo Grand Trunk line in the air, the building of the railway to the gold region of Gwelo and the valuable coal field of the Mafungabusi district would be indispensable. The Bechuanaland Railway Company needs coal. At present it has to carry its fuel as well as its freight from the Cape to Rhodesia. Hence its cars return empty. When the Mafungabusi area is tapped where seventy miles of coal-beds lie waiting the pick of the miner, not only will the railway find fuel, but it will also find mineral to fill the cars at present returned empty. The hundred miles from Bulawayo to Gwelo are all surveyed and pegged out ready for the constructor. From Gwelo to Mafungabusi, a distance of 150 miles, another section is surveyed and will be taken in hand at once. Beyond Mafungabusi there are only 150 miles to cross before the line will reach the Zambesi. This river it is proposed to bridge just outside the Portuguese frontier, about 500 miles east of the Victoria Falls, where a short bridge of a quarter of a mile will carry the line across the one great river it will meet on its northward way. Mr. Rhodes hopes to cross the Zambesi in five years' time.
Up to this point, the Cape to Cairo line may be said to have materialized or to be in a fair way to materialize. North of the Zambesi, the line exists only on paper and in the imagination of Mr. Rhodes. No regular survey has been made, and it is quite possible that the line of route at present contemplated may be abandoned. The telegraph route, for instance, differs widely from that which the railway will follow. It is easy to sling a telegraph wire across ravines without regard to gradients which would baffle the engineer of a railway. The telegraph line crosses Portuguese territory at Tete, and makes its way to Blantyre, and then skirts Lake Nyassa to Karonga. The original design of the railway is to run it west of Zumbo, midway between Nyassa and Bangweolo, along a healthy open plateau which skirts the Loango valley to Lake Cherorna, 220 miles north of the Zambesi. From thence it will strike 280 miles across country to the southern end of Lake Tanganyika. The cost of constructing the line from Bulawayo to Tanganyika is estimated at about $15,000,000 - 900 miles at about $16,000 per mile. Land costs nothing, labor is cheap. In the diamond mines, Mr. Rhodes pays his stalwart, native as much as three hundred dollars a year. But on the Zambesi labor is plentiful at eighteen dollars per annum. The men employed in pegging out the telegraph line between Nyassa and Tanganyika are paid in a currency of calico estimated at less than a dollar a month. The engineering difficulties are not great, being chiefly confined to the crossing of the valley of the Zambesi and the rapid descent from the plateau to the shores of the Tanganyika.
Nothing has yet been arranged with the German Government for the railway right of way across German East Africa. Mr. Rhodes is not worrying himself about what must be done five years hence. He is content to arrange for the immediate necessities of the colony which bears his name. Not until 1904 will he be able to cross the Zambesi, and it is a far cry from the Zambesi to the southern frontier of German East Africa. What will happen then it is premature to discuss today. Mr. Rhodes, no doubt, believes that he will be able to arrange terms whereby, to the mutual advantage of Great Britain and Germany, he will be permitted to carry his line through to Uganda. But while preparing for all eventualities, Mr. Rhodes, being a practical man, prefers to concentrate his energies on the next step, which is the northward extension of the Bechuanaland railway to the Mafungabusi coal field.
Such, in brief, is a sketch of the Cape to Cairo line. It is the first great trunk railway ever designed to span a continent from north to south. It is the first railway projected to cross the equator at right angles, and the only railway in the world which has ever been designed to cross territory across which no road, trade route, or human track-way has yet existed. No government is at the back of it. No financial syndicate hopes to make money out of it. That it should exist even in the realm of imagination is due solely to the creative genius of one man, and that the man who only three years ago was stripped of all his official positions and solemnly censured by a Parliamentary committee. But the greatness of Cecil Rhodes is not dependent upon official positions. His official positions, indeed, were only the certificates of an influence which existed before they were granted and which their withdrawal was powerless to affect. The Cape to Cairo railway is only the shadow of the African Colossus falling athwart the continent which is dominated by his personality.
McClure’s Magazine. 1899.