In 1843 an explorer named Sir William Harris wrote that all classes of Africans were most pertinacious beggars. How true was this and how true is it of Black people today?
Sir William Harris’s statement was well corroborated in the 19th century. Reporting on his time in north-east Africa, a German missionary described Africans as wanting everything for nothing. He was approached by fifteen or twenty Africans every day, “all begging, and often after a very cunning fashion”. In 1850 a Scotsman familiar with southern Africa wrote that Africans would ask for something claiming it was for a sick wife or daughter and, if given it, would ask for more: your hat, your neckcloth and then your coat. The traveller Sir Richard Burton wrote that an African’s first question on meeting a White man was: “What will you give me?”
Sir William Harris went on to say that whatever Africans saw, they demanded, be it guns, knives, beads or dollars. “The love of acquiring property stifles every sense of shame; and no compunction is felt in asking for the cloak from off the back.” According to the naturalist Samuel Baker, it was not beneath an African king to beg. One once demanded his highland costume, then his watch, his compass and his rifle. Baker refused to hand them over, but to pacify the annoyed monarch, gave him a pound of gunpowder and some bullets. When the king asked what use these would be without a gun, Baker reminded him that he had already given him a gun.
Not all primitive people resembled Africans. Christopher Columbus described the Arawaks of the West Indies as noble and kind, which he would not have done had they been pertinacious beggars. Nor perhaps are all Africans like the Bantus, who account for most of those we call Black today. Perhaps the Pygmies and Kalahari Bushmen do not beg.
But Bantus still beg habitually today, as they sometimes admit. In 2022 the president of Ghana urged his peers to stop begging from the West. In 2023 the Rwandan president asked a Rwandan audience: “Can somebody tell me why we have become beggars?” In 2014 an African wrote an article entitled “Africa, the Begging Continent”, which quoted an eminent African describing Africa as composed of beggar nations. That was in 1967, when Obafemi Awolowo said that the only way for Africa to become self-reliant was to shake off the begging habit and find some initiative, courage and drive. Paradoxically, though, he added that the continent must not cease to use every feasible tactic and manoeuvre to extract ever more alms from its benefactors.
Africa begs on the basis that it is needy, which gains it countless billions of dollars, which disappear and so it begs again. It is an accepted cycle. Nor does it beg alone. The United Nations begs on its behalf through schemes such as Agenda 2030, which requires Western (“developed”) countries to pass a portion of their wealth to “developing” countries on a regular basis — less to relieve suffering, these days, than to reduce international inequality. Yet almost as soon as a wealth transfer has taken place, the UN finds that it was insufficient. In 2019, just three years after Agenda 2030 came into effect, the UN Secretary General wrote that in some areas a “much deeper, faster and more ambitious response” was needed. Another UN official also acted like a beggar-turned-tyrant, stating that in some places more rapid progress was required. Poverty continued to be concentrated in the world’s poorest countries, he stated tautologically, suggesting that their problem was that richer countries were not more generous. Nor have the vast amounts of “development aid” received by Africa over the decades resulted in much development. According to the UN’s list of the world’s least developed countries, 35 of the 48 are in Africa.
The African masses beg. Set foot on the continent and open palms will be stretched towards you, I am told. In East and West Africa alike, parents send their children out to beg. And so it seems that begging is as much a way of life in Africa today as it always was.
Black people beg in the West as well, where they have found their perfect counterparts in White donors. A few years ago it was hard to know who was working harder, the leaders of Black Lives Matter to ask for money or White people to give it to them. The “reparations for slavery” movement is another begging operation, so successful that California is already intent on giving a great deal of money to each qualifying Black person in the state.
Racial politics is largely a matter of begging. This is what is going on when Black people complain that not enough of them are admitted to Oxford or Cambridge universities or when they seek higher-paying jobs or exemption from being stopped by the police. The method is always the same: call your intended benefactors racists, or threaten to do so or imply that they are, until they give you what you want. The rationale is equally simple: “I am Black”. Nothing more is needed.
But often Black people have no need to beg. Whites are already there, seeing to their every wish before it is expressed. True, it was a Black woman who in 2021 described the efforts of Black children as “kind of wasted” if they did not get into the top one per cent of universities, but this was thirty years after Whites first lamented the small numbers of Black students at Oxford and Cambridge. The universities duly lowered the bar for Black applicants, only to find that the favoured students could not keep up and were therefore prone to drop out or get poor degrees. This gave anti-racists another disparity to come down on: the universities were “failing their Black students”. Pro-Black discrimination was now needed not just to get Black students in but also to retain them during their courses and improve their results at the end. In 2018 a headline stated: “Universities must give more top degrees to Black students, under new proposals by regulator”.
Whites are there first when it comes to employment too. It is not Black people who say that an employer has too few Black staff these days but the employer, who announces an intention to take on specifically Black people in the name of “diversity”. In 2021 Lloyds Bank gave itself four years to increase Black representation in senior roles to at least three per cent, using the word “diversity” as its justification. The following year His Majesty’s Treasury stated that it aimed to boost the number of its Black staff to six per cent of the total, almost twice the percentage of Black people in the population. Little did Lloyds or H. M. Treasury care about the non-Blacks who would be passed over in favour of less competent Blacks. Little did they care about the damage these under-qualified people would do to their operations. As anti-racist organisations, what they cared about was anticipating the hopes of the favoured race so as to save it the trouble of begging.
It is the same with crime. Young Black men do not bemoan the fact that the police stop and search them out of all proportion to their numbers as they used to; the police do it, obsessed as they are with reducing the amount of contact they have with Black criminals. One of the main points the police aim to get across to the public is that they, the police, are racist. In 2020, the National Police Chiefs’ Council intended to “address racial inequalities in policing”, meaning to reduce inequalities of outcome by increasing inequalities of treatment. In 2023 a chief constable proposed to do something about the “disproportionality” whereby Black people appear in court at a higher rate than others, presenting the fact as evidence of the police’s “institutional racism”. Presumably the necessary corrective action was to stop arresting Blacks. Do the police care about the effect their anti-racist initiatives will have on the crime figures? Of course not! Already in 2000 one of London’s most senior police officers was boasting that he had reduced the number of young Black men stopped and searched by almost forty per cent in the previous year, during which the number of muggings rose by at least two thirds.
If these institutions expect gratitude from those they favour, they will be disappointed, as the old explorers could have told them. In 1891 Herbert Ward noted the ingratitude of the natives of the Congo, as when the mother of a baby whose life he had saved called him a witch for doing it, although she did creep up to his tent in the night and leave an egg there, which unfortunately turned out to be bad. Samuel Baker found Africans “utterly obtuse to all feelings of gratitude”, noting especially their failure to express any trace of the sentiment when freed upon the abolition of slavery. Sir Richard Burton explained that the African sees a benefit as “the weakness of his benefactor and his own strength; consequently he will not recognize even the hand that feeds him”.
We see this today in the view taken by many Black people of the state benefits they receive. Instead of expressing gratitude, they complain that the benefits are too small. A commenter on a YouTube video wrote of his astonishment at seeing an African single mother on television, “living on welfare in a lovely spacious council-provided home with her five children”, moaning about her money worries. Other commenters had found that whatever Africans wanted, they seemed to feel entitled to, nor did they show any gratitude when they received it. In 2022 the historian Simon Webb posted a video entitled “The ingratitude of Africa for all that Britain did for them in the 19th and 20th centuries”. We gave our colonies roads, railways, schools and hospitals, judicial systems and written language, he pointed out, and now they were demanding “reparations”. At least, some in Nigeria were. This ingratitude is seen in non-African Blacks as well. Back in the 1970s a British-born Black activist, outlining his plan for Black people to take charge of Britain’s race policy, which would be one of universal pro-Black discrimination, specifically warned the White people who would assist in the project to expect no gratitude.
If the old explorers found that Black people showed no gratitude when they received a gift, they found that they would not make one, either, unless they expected to do well out of it. The Scottish adventurer Hugh Murray reported that when Africans made a gift, they considered it “a deadly offence not to receive at least double the value in return”. A Portuguese explorer named Francisco Valdez wrote that Africans never gave anything without expecting back something worth three times as much. When an African gave a chicken to Anna Scott, an American missionary, she found that she “had to make him a return present of four or five times the value of his fowl”. The Black reluctance to make a free gift continues. Black people rarely do voluntary work or donate blood.
Robbery and theft are like begging without the request. One doesn’t ask; one just takes. Robbery is notoriously popular with Black people, who according to various statements made in the last forty years comprise eighty per cent of London’s muggers, which means that a Black person is around fifty times as likely to carry out a mugging as anyone else. An early case was recorded by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park more than 200 years ago. He was accosted by a group of Africans, one of whom had a knife while another had a gun. The first cut a button off his waistcoat and put it in his pocket; the second threatened to shoot him if he touched his compass, which was lying on the ground. Others went away with his horse. But it seems that Africans were rarely so bold. What they specialised in was theft.
The German explorer Johann Barth, writing in 1857, found the thievish propensities of the people of Logon “very remarkable”. In 1670 the Scottish cartographer John Ogilby wrote that the urge of Africans to steal whatever they could lay their hands on, especially from foreigners, was innate, noting that if they pulled off a particularly ingenious theft they would boast about it. John Duncan, although he found, as he put it, an extraordinary amount of depravity of every kind in Africa, was convinced that the African’s predominant passion was theft.
In 1864 William Reade put it bluntly: “The Africans are all of them thieves. They have no sense of honor in that respect.” Thomas Hutchinson wrote in 1858: “Show me a Black man, and I will show you a thief”. Mungo Park wrote in 1815 that the most prominent defect in the character of Africans was their insurmountable propensity to steal anything he possessed. “We found the people thieves to a man.” According to Charles Andersson, a Swedish explorer, theft was a prevailing vice with the Bechuanas. From what he had seen of them, he was certain that from the king to the slave, none would hesitate to steal the shirt off his back if he thought he could get away with it.
Black thieves are not unknown in modern times. In the 1960s an anti-apartheid priest urged White South Africans to love their servants as children of God even if they stole from them, seeming to take it for granted that they would. Every riot sees Black people looting with abandon. My own first contact with the idea that not every Black person was necessarily well behaved came in the 1980s when I left a shop in an English city having propped my bicycle up outside to see it being ridden down the hill by a young Black man. It had only been there about thirty seconds.
None of this is intended to spread ill feeling about Black people, who have many virtues. For example, they tend to be cheerful. It is merely intended to throw light on what they are like with regard to begging and related topics, which a surprisingly large number of White people seem to be unaware of.
 This note and others below refer to Hinton Rowan Helper (“HH”), compiler of The Negroes in Negroland, 1868, New York: G W Carleton. Helper’s notes give abbreviated references such as, here, to “Harris’s Adventures in Africa, page 299”. Where possible these have been expanded to give the author’s full name and the title and date of the book presumably referred to. In this case, on p. 84 HH quotes Sir William Cornwallis Harris, Major Harris’s Sports and Adventures in Africa, 1843, p. 299.
 On p.87 HH quotes “Krapf’s Africa”, p. 175. This could be John Ludwig Krapf: the Explorer-Missionary of Northeastern Africa by Paul E Kretzmann, 1909.
 On p. 84 HH quotes Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming, 1850, Five Years of a Hunter’s Life in the Far Interior of South Africa Vol. I, p. 128.
 On pp. 82-83 HH quotes “Burton’s Africa”, p. 496, which could be any of Sir Richard Burton’s books about Africa, most of which were published in the 1860s.
 On p. 34 HH quotes Samuel Baker, 1870, Great Basin of the Nile, p. 386: “True to his natural instincts, the king commenced begging, and being much struck with my Highland costume, he demanded it as a proof of friendship, saying, that if I refused I could not be his friend. My watch, compass, and double Fletcher rifle were asked for in their turn; all of which I refused to give him.”.
 See B:M2022, Feb. 12th 2021, “Taíno: Indigenous Caribbeans”, https://www.Blackhistorymonth.org.uk/article/section/pre-colonial-history/taino-indigenous-caribbeans/.
 The Pygmies and Bushmen (the few who remain after almost being wiped out by Bantus) are together known as the Khoi-San today.
 africanews, Dec. 14th 2022, “Ghana’s president Akufo Addo urges Africa to stop ‘begging’”, https://www.africanews.com/2022/12/14/ghanas-president-akufo-addo-urges-africa-to-stop-begging/.
 Premium Times, Feb. 6th 2014, “Africa, the Begging Continent, By Olúfémi Táíwò”, https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/154708-africa-begging-continent-olufemi-taiwo.html?tztc=1.
 Olúfémi Táíwò in Premium Times, ibid., quotes Obafemi Awolowo, 1981, Voice of Courage: Selected Speeches of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, vol. 1, Akure: Fagbamigbe, pp. 29-30.
 United Nations, 2015, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development , https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N15/291/89/pdf/N1529189.pdf. Goal 10 of 17 is to “reduce inequality within and among countries”.
 United Nations, 2019, António Guterres’s Foreword to “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019”, https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/#sdg-goals.
 United Nations, 2019, Liu Zhenmin’s Introduction to “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2019”, https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2019/#sdg-goals.
 United Nations, 2014, “Country classification”, https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wesp/wesp_current/2014wesp_country_classification.pdf.
 tearfund, June 16th 2023, “Prayers for International Day of the African Child”, https://www.tearfund.org/stories/2023/06/prayers-for-international-day-of-the-african-child.
 Los Angeles Times, June 29th 2023, “California’s slavery reparations plan: Eligibility, payments and other details”, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-06-29/la-me-california-slavery-reparations-plan.
 Telegraph, Oct. 30th 2018, “Oxbridge failing disadvantaged students, critics claim”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/04/05/oxbridge-failing-disadvantaged-students-critics-claim/.
 Telegraph, Sept. 7th 2018, “Universities must give more top degrees to Black students, under new proposals by regulator”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/09/06 /universities-must-give-top-degrees-Black-students-new-proposals/.
 Lloyds Banking Group, no date given (June 2021), “Ethnicity”, https://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/who-we-are/responsible-business/inclusion-and-diversity/ethnicity.html.
 Telegraph, Nov. 15th 2022, “Treasury aims to have six per cent of staff from Black backgrounds in race target”, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/11/15/treasury-aims-have-six-per-cent-staff-Black-backgrounds-race/.
 A fuller treatment of this subject would point out that it is our elites and those with power that lead the way in conferring special benefits on Blacks. The main donors to Black Lives Matter were corporations rather than individuals. It is California’s politicians rather than its population who are intent on paying “reparations”. It is big employers, including government departments, that pioneer the extension of racial preferences. A fuller treatment might also ask why these parties became possessed by anti-racism, where the ideology came from and what its end-game is. But these questions are outside the scope of the present article.
 Avon and Somerset Police, June 16th 2023, “Chief Constable Sarah Crew on Institutional Racism”, https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/news/2023/06/chief-constable-sarah-crew-on-institutional-racism/.
 This was John Grieve, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. See Metropolitan Police, Feb. 22nd 2000, “Press Conference Held Re the Anniversary of the Lawrence Inquiry Report”, http://tap.ccta.gov.uk/[…]/b3cb2697adf8d9e1802…OpenDocument.
 Muggings in London went up by more than 75 per cent in the fifteen months to May 2000 according to calculations based on figures in the Telegraph, April 24th 1999, “Muggings soar as police tread softly”, and the Sunday Times, June 25th 2000, “Straw on rack as muggings soar”.
 Herbert Ward, 2019 (1891), Five Years with the Congo Cannibals, Ostara, p. 31.
 On p. 134 HH quotes Baker 1870, op cit, p. 53.
 On p. 82 HH quotes Burton’s Africa, op cit, p. 496.
 Whites should be prepared to do “any job however menial … without expecting gratitude”. Chris Mullard, 1973, Black Britain, London: George Allen and Unwin, p. 169.
 On p. 86 HH quotes Hugh Murray, 1853, The African Continent: A Narrative of Discovery and Adventure, p. 69.
 On p. 84 HH quotes Francisco Valdez, 1861, Six Years of a Traveller’s Life in Western Africa, Vol 2, p. 208.
 On p. 87 HH quotes Anna Scott, 1858, Day Dawn in Africa, p. 108.
 In 1975 a march was held under the slogan “Stop The Muggers. 80% of muggers are Black. 85% of victims are White” (Paul Gilroy, 1987, There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack, London: Routledge, p. 120). Twenty years later, Paul Condon as Metropolitan Police Commissioner stated in a letter to Black leaders that eighty per cent of London’s muggers were Black (Independent, Aug. 4th 1995, “Mugging: criminal or political offence?”, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/mugging-criminal-or-political-offence-1594666.html).
 On p. 88 HH quotes Mungo Park, 1799, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, p. 113.
 On p. 95 HH quotes Johann Heinrich Barth, 1857, Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, Vol. II, p. 444.
 On p. 96 HH quotes John Ogilby, 1670, A Description of the Whole World, Vol I, p. 452.
 On p. 96, HH quotes John Duncan, 1847, Travels in Western Africa, p. 141.
 On p. 95 HH quotes William Winwood Reade, 1864, Savage Africa, p. 447.
 On p. 94 HH quotes Thomas Hutchinson, 1858, Impressions of Western Africa, p. 280.
 On pp. 94-95, HH quotes Mungo Park, 1815, The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805, p. 193.
 On p. 95 HH quotes “Andersson’s Africa”, p. 372.