Simon Jonas

The first place of any importance that they came to was Aboh the capital of the Iboe country, on the western bank; and a deputation was sent to the King, Obi, explaining to him the objects of the expedition, and inviting him to come on board the steamer the following day.
Simon Jonas was the Iboe interpreter, and when he explained to him that one of the articles of the treaty would "be the suppression of the slave-trade, Obi hesitated, saying, " That is a hard thing to do." With great readiness, Jonas acknowledged that it was a hard thing to give it up, but asserted that it was harder still to continue it.
He drew a vivid picture of the misery it was even then causing in the Iboe country itself the desolating wars, the separation of parents and children, the ruined villages, the uncultivated fields, the want of confidence between man and man ; then referring to his own experience, he described the sufferings of himself and two hundred other boys on their way from the interior to the coast ; told of many that had died from hunger and fatigue, of others that had been offered up as sacrifices by the king of Bonny, and of some among these poor lads who had committed suicide.
He spoke of the slave-ship in which he had been embarked, of the bad provisions, the want of water, the crowded hold, the deaths of many, and the throwing overboard of some still alive, who were considered past recovery ; and wound up his frightful narrative with the thrilling question, " Is it not harder to continue it than to give it up?"
During all this time Obi listened with the deepest attention, and when the interpreter went on to speak cf his liberation, of Sierra Leone, of the English, aid of the love of Christians towards the Africans, he appeared much moved ; he rose up and shook hands with all the Europeans present, as if to tell them how much he felt their kindness to his people.
He readily agreed to go on board the Albert on the following morning, when the Commissioners entered fully into the objects of the expedition, and the terms of the proposed treaty.
* photo from British Empire in Africa II - Manners & Customs of its Native Races by Northcote W. Thomas
Abbeokuta : or, Sunrise within the tropics by Tucker, Sarah
Published 1855

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