2.28 Heart of Africa Mission

September 2, 2012

On giving his diary to my grandfather, Hayes Perkins instructed that it not be published until everyone mentioned therein had died.  Perkins’ candor concerning the misdeeds of powerful men, as recorded in this segment, undoubtedly informed that instruction.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Buxton closed discussion of the tax medals with what seemed a repugnant bit of evangelical sophistry to Hayes:  “to do the lesser evil to gain the greater good.”

Hayes’ first mentions alcohol abuse at The Heart of Africa Mission on April 30, 1914, two months after his arrival there.  On that date Buxton informed Hayes that “I was unfit to leave a station alone with, so Studd could not go home at this time.  The reason is, I combat their liquor activities constantly, for if there be any sense of decency it should at least exclude drunkenness.”  Mombidi, who is Mangbettu chief of this region, demanded liquor from Hayes claiming he had already received liquor from Studd.  Even if Hayes suspected the veracity of Mombidi’s word, he knew from firsthand experience that Studd and Buxton, at the very least, tolerated drunkenness among the natives:  “Both these men sneered at me the first day I saw them for remarking at the sodden condition of the entire Mangbettu people.”  Hayes had arrived in the midst of the month-long orgy of dancing, singing, and drinking a sort of beer made from murru (a kind of millet) that ripens in the regional dry season.

In his history of the Heart of Africa Mission, Christ in Congo Forests,Norman Grubb, who married C. T. Studd’s daughter Pauline and came with her to the mission in 1919, writes that the station outside  Niangara was only intended as a staging ground for establishing missions deeper into the Ituri forest.  

Pauline (Studd) Grubb

Norman P. Grubb

Apparently the work of obtaining concessions in areas not already proselytized by Catholic priests pressed heavily enough on Studd and Buxton to overcome their fears of leaving the Niangara station alone in the hands of Hayes Perkins.  When the pair left on June 21, 1914, Mombidi immediately came round to Hayes demanding whiskey.  “He said he could see by the way they treated me I was of lower rank….  As he [Mombidi] was a chief and of equal rank with Studd and Buxton, then I was his inferior and must bring him gifts when they were absent.”   Hayes’ first responded incredulously, “It seemed so ridiculous I laughed, thinking he was jesting.”  But an hour later, Mombidi sent “six husky henchmen” with a demand for corn from Hayes’ garden.  He chased them off; they loosed a bull in his garden; the Azande gardeners chased the (bloody) bull back to Mombidi’s village; and Hayes “took the herdsman in hand, he being rather cheeky.”

By June 28, in an attempt to recover face with his tribesmen, Mombidi had forbidden any Mangbettu to bring any sort of food to the lone musungu (here meaning white man) at the mission.  For his part, Hayes ponders:  “I wonder if these two charlatans have been sweetening this old cannibal with booze to get a concession?  He [Mombidi] says so, as do his subjects.  When all Negroes agree on one thing, it is usually so.  I am inclined to believe it, but it is too unchristian for one to accept.”

Hayes writes that Studd and Buxton returned on August 1, 1914, “full of self praise of their achievements… in obtaining further concessions.”  They had taken the best native workers with them and now, “My men, whom they had with them on the trip, are cheeky and out of hand.  They too demand whiskey saying these two men who pose as missionaries freely gave them drink during the trip.”  These same men challenged Hayes later in the month as he tried to reassert control.  He quotes their reasoning: “You say that munsungu (whiskey) is bad for us.  These two men who are over you tell us it is good, and when we were at Wamba and Nala they gave us of it to drink freely.  We ourselves like it.  Whom shall we believe?”  This exchange prompted another of the assemblages by Studd at which the men were told to disregard anything Hayes said to them.

On October 6, 1914 Studd and Buxton left again in a great canoe with Bakango boatmen to take them to Bambili 160 miles down river.  To this point, Hayes could, with difficulty, dismiss the allegations of Mombidi and the other workmen as unfounded talk.  However on October 30 he writes of finding direct evidence “of this man’s utter perfidy and double dealing.”  In the absence of “the two apostles,” Hayes was entrusted with keys to every lock at the mission.  Ever since arriving he’d been short of tools and forbidden by Studd from opening several boxes prominently marked “Tools”.  So, in Studd’s absence, Hayes opened one of them – “not through inquisitiveness but to find perhaps a hammer or saw to aid in my work.  The first contained French cognac, the second Old Scoth Whiskey.  Now I see how Mombidi got his booze, how the boys acting as porters insisted liquor was given them.  There are seven of these cases, and at least two empty ones long ago noted.”

Hayes wrote a letter “resigning my commission,” counted his remaining 67 francs, and prepared to quit the mission rain or no.

His scant funding and the rains prevented Hayes from leaving for another two months.  In that time Buxton returned to Niangara traveling with the Reverend William Haas an American Baptist missionary with the Africa Inland Mission.  In a moment alone together, Haas asked Hayes why “I was discontented with this place and my companions.”  Hayes opened a case of scotch and poured a glass for Haas to smell – without drinking of course.  Haas then confessed that while traveling with Buxton at three meetings in the south “Buxton handed out liquor openly, saying there was nothing in the Bible against it, and that polygamy was not condemned in the Scriptures.”  Haas said he, “differed with them, and that is that.”  Haas’ inaction in the face of evident wrongdoing infuriated Hayes:  “Evidently Haas, like Buxton is willing to do the lesser evil that the greater good may come, so will compromise with these two advocates of a new faith which encompasses all the sins dear to the heart of man in this world and promises a haven of bliss on the other side of life in the skies.  They easily outdo Mohamed, who did at least adjure booze.”

Even after the 1914 contingent of new missionaries arrived on December 21, Hayes remained the sole voice raised against alcohol as a missionary technique practiced by Studd and Buxton at the Heart of Africa Mission.   Hayes denounced their practices to Richardson, one of the new arrivals and “the only real man among them.”  Richardson loudly confronted Buxton and applauded Hayes’ rejection of the 40 pounds Buxton offered “to carry me to the coast, which is of course hush money.”  Nevertheless, Grubb in Christ in Congo Forests records that Richardson and his wife stayed on at the mission until 1920.

So, the day before Christmas 1914, Hayes gathered up a group of porters and walked out of the Heart of Africa Mission a lone dissenter in both word and action.

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2.26 Heart of Africa Mission

August 19, 2012

Astonishing.  Hayes is not moving.  He’d like to be gone from the Heart of Africa Mission but daily torrential rains prevent travel.  In this and the next post I’ll lay out his case against C.T. Studd – the reason Hayes wanted to leave.  In following posts I’ll describe his relationship with the African people among whom he lived and worked – the reason he loved his time at Niangara.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Hayes lasted ten months at the Heart of Africa Mission – a long time in one place for him, but fourteen months short of his intended commitment.  For most of 1914 he, Studd, and Buxton were the only non-Africans living at the mission; for two extended periods, Hayes took sole charge of the fledgling compound while Studd and Buxton hunted or traveled in search of new mission sites. The others at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1914 as listed with Hayes in Grubb’s appendix to Christ in Congo Forests:  Miss Chapman, Miss Flangham, Mr. Coles, and the Richardsons, (Bowers died at Yei before reaching the mission), arrived on December 21, three days before Hayes departed.

Hayes loved this part of Africa with all its adventures, but hated both Buxton and Studd.  The disgust for Buxton derived mostly from Buxton’s lockstep worship of Studd who styled himself “Bwana” of the mission.  (“Studd has proclaimed his native name shall be “Bwana”, Swahili for Master.  The term is unknown in Bangala.”)   Buxton wasn’t alone in admiring C. T. Studd.  Even today one finds no shortage of adulation directed toward Studd on the internet and in various biographies written by his admirers – though even the most ardent admit that Studd could be a difficult colleague.  Writing about Bowers, the would-be missionary who died en route to Niangara, Hayes says, “If he had lived and stayed on here, he would have become disillusioned and disgusted even as I am now, or else have succumbed to the general hero worship of this charlatan Studd.”  These seem to be the two polarized responses others had to C. T. Studd.    Granting Hayes was constitutionally averse to hero worship, neither was he given to unwarranted hatreds.  Hayes’ diary of his time at The Heart of Africa Mission lays out three general critiques of Studd’s missionary style that disqualify Studd from Hayes’ respect.

The first eight of the fifteen missionaries arriving at The Heart of Africa in 1916.
C. T.Studd’s daughter Edith, Alfred Buxtons future wife, appears top center.

First, Hayes, very much grounded in practical concerns of this world, followed his own rough-and-ready, golden-rule style of Christianity, so had little regard for Studd’s evangelical soul-saving fervor.  After one month at the mission Hayes wrote of Studd: “He is as arbitrary a man as I have ever seen.  There is no viewpoint but his own….”  Where other biographers of Studd have seen zeal for the Lord, Hayes perceives self-aggrandizement:  “These two men [Buxton and Studd] spend most of their time writing to London telling of their exploits, misrepresenting the country and in every way publicizing themselves to gain further fame.”

Studd permitted no boss at the mission other than Studd.  “Strangely, they [Buxton and Studd] realize I know my work.  I hear them talking after I have retired, and then Studd praises me, but he wants me to know he is boss, and wants every native in the country to know he is the big shot of the Heart of Africa Mission.”  So, for example, halfway through Hayes’ supervision of a house building project in April, Studd “calls the [Azande] men before him and harangues them, saying he is master, and that if he says build a house, I must build it, and if he says not, that goes too.  To not listen to what I have to say, but to always appeal to him.”  What other result could follow?  Hayes temporarily lost control of all discipline among the working men.

In addition to building, Hayes supervised care of the grounds and gardens he and the working men planted at the mission.  In June, Studd, furthering the soul-saving work of the mission, imposed another serious restriction on the practical work Hayes did housing and feeding them all:  “If the nightly two or three-hour discourses Buxton hands the workmen were not enough, now morning lectures of a theological nature have been instituted.  These last until ten A. M., the men’s eyes wandering in utter bewilderment.”  Buxton delivered the sermons in Bangala in which he and Hayes were fluent;  Studd had not learned the language.  “He [Buxton] endeavors to translate the Bible to them, old genealogies of Christ and other Bible characters, dry and dull to one conversant in English, let alone one who knows nothing of books or languages other than their own tribal dialects short on expressions and words for such theological discussions as Buxton puts forth.” In June, Hayes joked with the working men, whose jobs depended on attendance at the twice-daily sermons, that he might lose his job as well by interceding for them, “an answer that brings peals of laughter, for every man knows the strain between these two men and me.”  By September “I got up and walked out of the services when Studd tried to say a few words as to his being the big boss, I was only a small boy.”

Though shaking with fury, Studd dismissed the men and “calling Buxton, he began to pray God to cast out the silent devil troubling me.”  According to Hayes, their plan had been to domesticate Hayes by marriage to a “helpmate.”  He writes that this was to have been the role of the 28-year-old Miss Flangham, one of the missionaries arriving December 21,1914.  On meeting her just before his departure Hayes wrote, “I try to be courteous to her, but it is with an effort.  She is not to blame for it.”  (Miss Flangham married Mr. A. W. Davies, pictured top right above, who arrived at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1916.  The two remained at the mission until 1931.)

So, Hayes’ first indictment of Studd:  an autocratic leadership style,  an otherworldly fanaticism about soul saving, and a patronizing supercilious attitude.  Hayes encountered these characteristics in bosses all over the world.  They always caused him to move on, as he will when the Congo rainy season allows travel, but these alone cannot account for the bitter invective Hayes heaps on Studd, the famous cricketeer turned missionary.   The next chapter describes Hayes critique of C. T. Studd’s attitude to Belgian tax graft.


2.18 London to Port Sudan

June 24, 2012

For my formerly British readers, a bit more about London of 1913: the aristocratic missionary families and the slums of Whitehall.

November 19,1913 – December 31, 1913

In the hagiography C. T. Studd  Athlete and Pioneer, Studd’s son-in-law Norman Grubb describes Studd’s renunciation of his family inheritance as part of Studd’s missionary belief in radical reliance on divine providence.  Gauging by Hayes’ experience with Studd’s extended family in London, the renounced fortune must have been sizable:  Hayes marveled at the servility of British servants while at tea with Studd’s mother – “quite a lovely and gracious old lady” – at Hyde Park Gardens;  served as  “exhibit A” for  “a congregation of the froth and bubble of this great city” at Ashley Gardens in Westminster, and  stayed three days with Martin J. Sutton, 63 year-old husband to C.T. Studd’s 26 year-old daughter Grace at Wargrave Manor overlooking Henley-on-Thames.  Sutton graciously picked up Hayes’ hotel tab at the Wilton as well; in return, Hayes allowed Sutton to introduce him as the hyphenated Hayes-Perkins to the reverend Webb-Peploe – “but I think I’ll drop mine when I leave London.”

Hanmer William Webb-Peploe

When swimming in the cream of British Aristocracy threatened to overwhelm Hayes’ egalitarian sensibilities, first he tried chatting with the liveried staff.  Rebuffed by the butler, he went walking on the streets of London.  On his first walk he met a pair of “bunco men.”  A “presentable young man” introduced himself to Hayes as, Patrick Murphy, an Australian Sheep farmer.  Shortly, a “heavily walking man of great stature” dropped a package on passing by.  As the large man ignored their shouts, Hayes had to run him down to return the packet which turned out to contain 3,000 pounds in 5 pound notes.  From here Hayes’ account continues like the internet fraud popular a few years ago:  the large man’s brother, Dinny, “had emigrated to Ameriky and struck oil, died and left him $3,000,000 with the proviso that 50,000 pounds be given to charity, the recipient to say mass for the Brother Dinny’s soul.  Protestant prayers would be all right too, but the recipient had to put up 500 pounds to show sincerity.  If Hayes didn’t know from the start he was being scammed, a glance at Patrick Murphy’s hands made it clear to him:  “They were as smooth and soft as a woman’s, one who never soils her lovely palms” – decidedly not the hands of a sheep farmer.  Eventually Hayes offered to put up 10 pounds if he could go along to an audience with the pope.  The two film-flam men gave him up as “a dead one” and a few days later Hayes read in the morning papers that the pair had been arrested.

On his next walk, Hayes donned his “second best suit, not fit for the Wilton or elsewhere on the West End,” and slipped out for a tour of the London slums around Whitechapel.

Westworth Street. Whitechapel of London
From a Photograph by F. Frith and Co.

“The streets are narrow and twisted, covered with grime of centuries and filled with playing children of the slums.  It is as different as day from night, the contrast of Grace Sutton serving at one end of the table and her aged Nestor at the other, waited on by stiff backed servants in livery.  Here are 3,000,000 people never a week from want.  There are children with stunted, misshapen bodies and with faces like those of a hunted animal.”  Hayes continues for a couple of pages:  fallen women, ragged clothing, bloated barmaids, food of poorest quality, and always some wherewithal for “the cup that cheers and lies.”  Perhaps Hayes unintentionally critiques the mission work of his aristocratic hosts who travel halfway round the world to Africa with Whitehall within walking distance; he doesn’t write that critique directly, but on returning to the Wilton, then to some evangelistic services in the Wimbledon suburb, he does go this far:   “There, amid the enthusiasm of the better fed and better clothed sisters and brothers of the submerged where I had been, we listened to their peans (sic) of praise and songs of joy, forgetting the dingy East end and all its pathos.”

After outfitting at the Army & Navy stores in Victoria street, a flurry of dinners, that photography course, and a final meeting with Martin Sutton who, “is much at sea concerning his father-in-law’s [Grace’s father, C. T. Studd, ten years younger than Sutton] doings in Africa, and asks me to write him, telling what is actually happening there,”  Hayes finally got away from London on December 11 by taxi to Frenchurch St. Station, then by train to Tilbury, and onto there British India liner Golconda.

SS Golconda

Of course Hayes travels second class.  The Golconda carries only eight other passengers: “All men, so it looks like a good trip.”  The Lascar crew of 155 gather on the afterdeck wearing white jibbehs bowing, kneeling and standing in prayer every afternoon.  The crew looks foolish to the passengers, the passengers look destined for hell to the crew.  “What is one man’s meat is another man’s poison, all over the world.”

On a smooth sea through the Strait of Gibralter, Hayes “tried to get a snapshot of Tarifa as we passed, but it was too far away.”  A howling gale sweeping a raw drizzle down off the Alps welcomed the Golconda to Marseilles where news came of the sudden death of Martin J. Sutton.  Hayes had had a “certain premonition of ill tidings coming into port,” that he retrospectively attributes to the death of Sutton who had shown kindness to him in London.

Chateau d’if

Hayes’ tour of Marseilles included the Rue Cannibiere (sic) “dating from the time of Rome and Greece in their greatness… a show street if there ever was one,” and the Chateau D’if “where the prisoner of Chillon-no, some old-time captive was put on cold storage, and it was the right place for him; for how cold this place is, with the mistral sweeping down off the Alpes Maritimes!”

Leaving Marseilles, past Corsica, and Sardinia, Hayes falls in with fellow American passenger, Charley Fanton, who says he’s fifty but looks seventy, sailing toward Aden, “where he will set up an electric plant for the city.”  Fanton spent twenty years in Russia “acquiring nihilist ideals,” and has just come from oil company wars in Mexico where he fought for Standard Oil.  Before that he worked on the Madiera-Marmore Railway construction in Brazil where kidnapped Germans marooned there died like flies in the winter.  Of course, to Hayes, Fanton, a kindred spirit, “is a likable chap, a good buddy for a trip like this one.”  At Naples, Hayes and Fanton bypassed the dockside sirens and the glass houses with naked dancing girls in search of “real knowledge of Italian city life.”  Mostly they learned inhabitants of Naples ignore the ash regularly settling on the town from the volcano at Vesuvius “going their several ways as people do all over the world.”

Arriving in Port Said on Christmas Eve 1913, “All the crowd are jolly tonight.  With usual regard for the birth of Christ everybody is celebrating with wine and song.”  Earlier in the day, Hayes had delivered gifts to some friends from Los Angeles working at a girl’s school, “training them in European culture and learning,” in Port Said.  Because they knew Hayes was “a Nasrani infidel,” the girls dined unveiled, their “dark eyes shaded by extra long eyelashes” watching his every bite.  If eating unveiled before ‘an infidel’ seems confused, the following explanation of the girl’s future reads as hopelessly ill-informed, nevertheless Hayes writes:  “The Americans told me they would soon enter harems, for all these girls are daughters of sheiks and emirs, or prominent business men of the Egyptian cities who have parental feeling for their children and wish to give them some instruction in the ways of the dominant Unbelievers who rule Port Said.”

Dining with 200 young women on Christmas Eve beat “the usual booze comedy” pulled aboard the Golconda steaming down the Suez Canal the next day hands down.

Port Sudan

On the last day of 1913, Hayes debouched from the Golconda once again stepping onto African soil at Port Sudan among “ragged pilgrims… swarthy Greek merchants… inky black Sudanese and suntanned Indian traders.”  After the typical shakedown at customs, in another week he’ll be steaming south up the Nile!