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c. s. smith  : batanga canoes, west africa, 1895 

C. S. Smith  :  Batanga Canoes, West Africa, 1895.

 Extracts from
Smith, C. S.:
Glimpses of Africa, West and Southwest Coast
A. M. E. Church Sunday School Union, Nashville, 1895.

Internet Archive

Smith, Charles Spencer, bp., 1852-
A brief description of the canoes and techique of the Batanga on the west coat of Africa.
In particular note the use of one foot to enhance balance or, occassionally, used to propel the craft.

For other reports from West Africa, see:

1812 Henry Meredith : Canoe Surf Riding on Gold Coast, Africa.
1835 James Edward Alexander : West Africa.
1861 Thomas J. Hutchinson : Surfboard Riding in Gabon, Africa.
1876 Hugh Dyer : Surf Boats in West Africa.
1887 Alfred Burton Ellis : Surf Dieties of West Africa.
1891 The Graphic : Surf Boats, Ghana.
1949 Jean Rouch : Surf Riding at Dakar, Senegal.

Page 189

The Batanga people, though not always living on the seaboard, have become noted canoemen.
They have two kinds of canoes.
One is made of cork wood and very light, and intended only for one person.
The other is made of hard wood, and is smooth and tapering at both ends, but is large enough to carry thirty or forty people.
The smaller canoe does not weigh more than twenty or thirty pounds, and is too narrow for an ordinarily sized person to be seated in.
A saddle, or bridge, which is used as a sieat, is laid across the middle not more

Page 190

than two inches wide, and somewhat higher than the sides of the canoe.
They use very light paddles, and scud over the roughest sea without danger and with almost incredible velocity.
They propel chiefly with the left hand, use one foot as a balance, which they continually keep in the water, and when necessary use the right hand to bail out water; and when they would rest their arms, one leg is thrown out on either side of the canoe, and it is propelled almost as fast with their feet as with the paddle.
When tired of running around the ship a man will climb up her side with one hand, and haul up his canoe with the other.
When they approach a ship from the beach they look somewhat like a flock of blackbirds.
I weigh one of their canoes, and it weighs twenty-seven pounds.

Smith, C. S.:
Glimpses of Africa, West and Southwest Coast
A. M. E. Church Sunday School Union, Nashville, 1895.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2013) : C. S. Smith : Batanga Canoes, West Africa, 1895.