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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Dinuzulu's Sentence. Dr. A. R. Wallace On Native Rights. (S676c: 1909)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A stirring letter to the Editor concerning the 1908 conviction of the Zulu leader Dinuzulu on treason charges, and native rule in the colonies. Printed on page six of The Daily News (London) issue of 31 March 1909. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S676C.htm

(To the Editor of "The Daily News.")

     Sir,--Allow me to give my strong support to Mrs. Russell's appeal in favour of Dinuzulu. I agree with every word she says. For any technical offence he may have committed he has been far more than sufficiently punished already, while for the actual "crime" of which he has been found guilty, it is one which any of us would be ashamed of not having committed.

     But beyond this particular case, a great principle is involved, which, I think, every humanitarian, every Liberal even, should insist on being adopted for our guidance in the future, and, so far as possible, to remedy what has been done in the past. It is that no native tribes or nations in British Africa shall be handed over to be governed by a company, a colony, or a federation of colonies. Such Governments are so much influenced by the greed of gold and the hunger for land, as well as by the supposed necessity for the whites to have any number they require of the blacks to work for them, that they are not to be trusted in such a matter.

     Our duty toward the natives of such territories as we have seized or conquered is to recognise their rights of possession of the soil as against all new comers, even white men. What equity requires us to do, if our professions of Christianity, of civilization, even of common justice, have any weight with us, is to protect the natives from aggression, to insist in return that inter-tribal war shall cease, and that their disputes shall be settled by the British Resident or Commissioner, assisted by a council of native chiefs; while we should endeavour to influence them in their customs and laws by example and precept rather than by any form of compulsion.

     Successful instances of such rule are to be seen in Basutoland and Bechuanaland, and outside Africa in the beneficent rule of Sir James Brooke and the present Rajah Sir Charles Johnson Brooke in Borneo. Such highly intelligent natives as the Zulus and their allies, are only too willing to learn and copy what is good in our civilization if they are protected from what is bad; and to hand them over either to Colonial Governments or to money-making companies--leading to such crimes as those of the Congo, and in a less degree of some parts of our own Empire--is the betrayal of a moral trust, and a crime against humanity.

     We are now, very properly, trying to protect from destruction a portion of the marvels and beauties of the vegetable and animal kingdoms in various parts of our dominions. Surely we have still more reason to protest against the destruction or degradation or the many native races of mankind with whom we come in contact.

     Not only in Africa, but in Australia, we ought to take steps to preserve cruelly treated races before it is too late; giving them the opportunity of developing a civilization of their own, guided by our precepts, warned by our example, but never subject to compulsion, or directly incited to indulge in our most degrading or cruel vices, as are so many of them at the present day.

     Will not some few of the more advanced and humane of our members of Parliament, irrespective of party, take upon themselves the task of seeing that these principles are not wholly overlooked in the future?--Yours, etc.,

Alfred R. Wallace.
Broadstone, Dorset, March 29.

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