Skip to main content

Full text of "Beyond the bend in the river : African labor in eastern Zaire, 1865-1940"

See other formats


African Labor in Eastern 
Zaire, 1865-1940 

David Northrup 

Ohio University 

Monographs in International Studies 
Africa Series, No. 52 

Ohio University 


This series of publications on Africa, Latin America, and South- 
east Asia is designed to present significant research, translation, and 
opinion to area specialists and to a wide community of persons 
interested in world affairs. The series editors seek manuscripts of 
quality on any subject and can generally make a decision regarding 
publication within six weeks of receipt of the original work. Pro- 
duction methods generally permit a work to appear within six 
months of acceptance, and the editors work closely with authors to 
produce a high quality book. The series appears in a paperback 
format and is distributed world-wide. For more information, con- 
tact one of the area editors at the Center for International Studies, 
Burson House, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701. 

General Editor: James Li Cobban 

Africa Editor: Cosmo Pieterse 

Latin America Editor: Thomas Walker 

Southeast Asia Editor: James L. Cobban 

Production Manager: Helen Gawthrop 

XTover Artist: Peggy Sattler 

The Monographs in International Studies series is published for 
the Center for International Studies by the Ohio University Press. 
The views expressed in individual monographs are those of the 
authors and should not be considered to represent the policies or 
beliefs of the Center for International Studies, the Ohio University 
Press, or Ohio University. 


Map 1 . Equatorial Africa in the Late Nir\eteenth Cer\tury 



David Northrup 

Ohio University Center for International Studies 
Monographs in International Studies 

Africa Series Number 52 
Athens, Ohio 1988 

©Copyright 1988, by the 

Center for International Studies 

Ohio University 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Northrup, David. 

Beyond the bend in the river: African labor in Eastern Zaire, 
1865-1940/by David Northrup. 

p. cm. — (Monographs in international studies. Africa 
series; no. 52) 

Bibliography: p. 

Includes index. 

ISBN 0-89680-151-9 

1. Labor and laboring classes— Zaire— Kivu— History. 2. Labor and 
-History. 4. Forced labor-Zaire-History. I. Title. II. Series 
HD8811.Z8K586 1988 

ISBN 0-89680-151-9 

In memory of 

Rita Headrick, 


friend and historian. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium IVIember Libraries 


MAPS ix 




Chapter page 


2. SLAVES AND FREEDMEN, 1865-1895 13 

Land and People 13 

Zanzibar! Colonization 23 

Free State Colonization 29 


Administration and Policy 38 

Labor Exactions, 1895-1903 47 

The 1903 Reforms 55 

The 1906 Reforms 65 

Wage Labor 71 

Motivating Labor T7 

4. BELGIUM'S BAD BEGINNINGS, 1910-1919 81 

Administration and Policy 82 
From Labor Tax to Taxed Labor in the Government Sector 86 

Reform in the Concessions and Mines 93 

The War 106 

Health and Population 112 

Conclusions • 117 


Administration and Policy 123 

Government Labor Recuitment 126 

Industrial Labor 131 

Agricultural Labor 138 

Porterage and Roads 151 

Incentives and Disincentives 158 

Conclusion 175 

6. FORCED LABOR AND LABOR FORCE, 1930-1940 1 77 

Administration and Policy 179 

Industrial Labor 184 

Agricultural Labor 190 

Porterage and Roads 198 

Conclusions 201 

INDEX 255 


1. Equatorial Africa in the Late Nineteenth Century frontispiece 

2. Political Divisions of the Eastern Congo, 1894 12 

3. Political Divisions of the Eastern Congo, 1904 12 
4 Political Divisions of the Eastern Province, 1914 12 

5. Transportation Routes in the Eastern Congo, 1900-1918 92 

6. Political Divisions of the Eastern Province, 1924 120 

7. Political Divisions of the Eastern Province, 1930 120 

8. Political Divisions of the Eastern Congo, 1934 120 

9. Transportation Routes in the Eastern Congo, 1919-1939 155 

10. Major Mining and Agricultural Areas in the Late 1930s 189 


Table page 

3.1 Ivory Tax Collected, Eastern Congo, 1901-1910 51 

3.2 Rubber Tax Collected, Eastern Congo, 1901-1910 58 

3.3 Schedule of Prestations, Rubi Zone, Uele, 1907-191 1 68 

3.4 State Employees in Zones of the Uele District, 1907-1909 72 

4.1 Head Tax Paid, Eastern Province, 1914-1919 90 

4.2 African Labor at Kilo-Moto, 1908-1920 102 

4.3 Force Publique Recruitment, 1910-1921 107 

5.1 Indices of Growth, 1921-1930 122 

5.2 Compulsory Cultivation in the Eastern Province, 1929 141 

5.3 Sources of Provisions for the Kilo-Moto Mines, 1925-1930 145 

5.4 Agricultural Laborers, Eastern Province, 1919-1928 148 

5.5 Person/days of Porterage, 1925-1931 157 

5.6 Kilo-Moto's African Work Force, 1920-1930 173 

6.1 Indices of Growth, 1930-1940 178 

6.2 Selected African Food Crop Sales, 1933-1939 191 

6.3 Porterage in the Eastern Congo, 1932-1939 199 

6.4 Food Distributions for African Workers 208 


Figure page 

4.1 African Wage Earners, Eastern Province, 1919 119 

5.1 Cash Crop Production in the Eastern Province, 1920-1940 139 

7.1 Financial Interests in the Eastern Belgian Congo 

in the 1930s 219 


AA Archives Africaines, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brussels 

ABIR Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company 

AIM African Inland Mission Archives, Wheaton, Illinois 

AIMO Affaires Indigenes et Main d'Oeuvre 

APB Archives, Societe des Missionaires d Afrique (P^res Blancs), 


ARSC Academie Royale des Sciences Coloniales 
ARSOM Academie Royale des Sciences d'OutreMer 

B-Ag Archives, Division Regionale de TAgriculture, Bukavu 

BACB Bulletin Agricole du Congo Beige 

BOEIC Bulletin Officiel de I 'Etat Independent du Congo 

CD Commissaire de District/ District Commissioner 

CEC Centre Extracoutumier 

CFL Compagnie des Chemins de Per Superieur aux Grands Lacs 


CRA Compte Rendu Analytique 

EIC Etat Independent du Congo/Congo Free State 

FO Great Britain, Public Record Office, Foreign Office 

GG Gouverneur General /Governor General 

HCB Huileries du Congo Beige 

IRCB Institut Royal Colonial Beige 

ISP Institut Superieur Pedagogique 

K-Ag Archives, Division Regionale de I'Agriculture, Kisangani 

KAT Archives, Departement de 1' Administration du Territoire, 


KI District du Kibali-Ituri 

MGL Mini^re des Grands Lacs 

MKM Archives, Societe des Mines d'Or de Kilo-Moto, Brussels 

MRA Archives, Musee Royal de TArmee, Brussels 

MRAC Musee Royal de I'Afrique Centrale, Section Historique 

PC Province de Costermansville 

PO Province Orientale 

PP Parliamentary Papers, Great Britain 

PS Province de Stanleyville 

RA Rapport Aimuel • 

RACE Rapport Annuel sur I 'Administration du Congo Beige 

RAPB Rapport Annuel, Societe des Missionaires d'Afrique (P^res 


RAPO Rapport Annuel, Province Orientale 

RIM Regie Industrielle des Mines de Kilo-Moto 

Sokimo Societe des Mines d'Or de Kilo-Moto 

SBXJ Archives de la Sous Region du Sud-Kivu, Uvira, Zaire 

UMHK Union Mini^re du Haut-Katanga 

Unatra Union Nationale des Transporteurs Fleuviaux 


Many institutions and individuals have generously assisted in the 
completion of this project. 

At the top of the list of institutions is my employer, Boston 
College, which provided a sabbatical leave in 1980-81 during which 
most of the research was conducted, supplied supplementary funding 
from a grant from the Mellon Foundation, funded a summer research 
trip to Brussels and Rome, awarded me an additional semester's leave 
to complete the drafting of the manuscript, and provided unlimited 
computing resources. 

Funding for various stages of the project was also provided by the 
Fulbright-Hays Commission of the United States Department of Edu- 
cation, the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of 
Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 
For their generous support the author is most grateful. 

Special thanks must also go to the research libraries at the follow- 
ing institutions, which accorded me free and frequent access to their 
collections: Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, 
the Free University of Brussels, Harvard University, Institut Superieur 
Pedagogique (Bukavu). Extra-special remerciement is deserved by 
that unique facility, the Bibliot^que Africaine (Brussels). 

Individuals who generously made criticisms and suggested correc- 
tions of earlier versions of this study include Bruce Fetter, Bogumil 
Jewsiewicki, Suzanne Miers, and Tshimanga Tshibangu. In no case 
was any individual's role so large that he or she should be removed 
from consideration as a reviewer of this work. Nor should any of 
them be blamed for faults that remain in this study. 

Unless otherwise noted, all translations, computations, and maps 
are by the author. 

Chapter 1 

Eastern Zaire lies at the very center of Africa, astride the equator 
midway between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, equidistant from 
Cape Town and Cairo. The difficulties of traversing the great dis- 
tances that separate it from the African coasts delayed its encounters 
with the commercial and political forces of the outside world until the 
mid-nineteenth century. The difficulties of reconstructing the details 
of those encounters similarly have retarded the writing of its history. 
Beyond the Bend in the River is the first attempt to chronicle the history 
of eastern Zaire during the three-quarters of a century that followed 
the breaching of its isolation, a period dominated by a variety of 
efforts to capture the productive force of its people. ^ 

From the 1860s the region was gradually brought into the profit- 
able commercial empire of the Zanzibar trader, Tippu Tip. That 
domain was absorbed into the new Congo Free State of King Leopold 
n of Belgium in two stages: by legal annexation in 1887, when Tippu 
Tip consented to become the Free State's governor of the region, and 
by Belgian military conquest in 1892-94, which overthrew Zanzibari 
power and brought the region under the Free State's direct control. 
For the first third of the twentieth century the territory formed the 
populous and productive Eastern Province (Province Orientale) of 
Leopold's Congo and of its successor from 1908, the Belgian Congo. 
Today it encompasses the important Kivu and Upper Zaire provinces 
of the Republic of Zaire. Comprising nearly a third of the total area of 
Africa's second largest country, eastern Zaire can justify being studied 
as an entity on its size alone. Its more than 760,000 square kilometers 

^The only other monographic study of this area is of a more limited time period: P. 
Ceulemans, La question arabe et le Congo (1883-1892) (Brussels: ARSC, 1959). 

make it larger thaii most present-day African nations, including three 
out of the four it borders. It is also larger than most European nations: 
France and England would fit comfortably inside eastern Zaire with 
room to spare for Belgium. 

Furthermore, the population of eastern Zaire is comparable to 
those of most other African states, though far lower than Western 
European states in recent centuries. France alone has been more pop- 
ulous since the sixth century and England since the sixteenth. The 
region is not underpopulated, however, compared to heavily forested 
regions in other parts of the world, especially in light of the popula- 
tion explosion that has taken place in Western states in the past two 
centuries. Thus eastern Zaire's population of some 3.5 million in the 
late 1930s was similar to that of Scandanavia (excluding Finland), a 
region of comparable area, in 1750 or to that of the United States at the 
time of its independence in 1776. ^ 

Despite the democratic appeal of writing history based on units of 
comparable area and population, historians have almost universally 
sought to justify their choice of topics on other grounds. My own 
choice is no exception. The initial reason for choosing to study eastern 
Zaire was thematic: the historical compression of labor recruitment in 
the region seemed to make it an ideal place in which to examine the 
early stages of labor mobilization. The abrupt rupture of eastern 
Zairians' isolation and their successive submission to the brutal sla- 
very of the Zar\zibari period, the scandalous forced labor of the Congo 
Free State, and the paternalistic labor practices of the Belgian Congo 
make the early phases of labor mobilization clearer than in those areas 
of the world where these events were spread out over centuries or 

It should be understood that this is a study of labor in the sense of 
employment not in the sense of work. Work is as old as mankind, at 
least once it became necessary to earn a living by the sweat of one's 
brow. Eastern Zaire, for all its isolation and lush vegetation, was no 
Eden. Despite the popular images of Africa as a place of primitive 
indolence, hard work has been a necessary component of survival 
there from earliest times. But before the mid-nineteenth century all 
but a small part of such work in eastern Zaire took place in the context 

^Figures based on Colin McEvedy and Richard Jones, Atlas of World Population 
History (New York: Penguin Books, 1978), pp.41-60, 247-49, 286-90. 

of and on behalf of the family and the community of which one was a 
member, not for employers whose interests and status put them in a 
separate social category. This communal character of pre-colonial 
African labor must not be romanticized; there existed many oppor- 
tunities for ruling castes (where they existed) to exploit the services of 
their subjects and, most commonly, for men to exploit the labor of 
women.3 But for males at least traditional life in most of eastern 
Zaire involved far more work with others than work for others. In the 
space of the few decades covered by this study that proposition 
reversed itself. As the region passed from being one of the more iso- 
lated spots in the world to an arena in which several outside groups 
vied to control and profit from African labor. 

Slavery was eastern Zaire's first form of "employment"; the direct 
and brutal mobilization of a slave labor force by the Zanzibari began 
the region's labor history. Before long, this slave-labor system became 
the basis for the European colonial labor system. In starting a labor 
history with slavery, this study concurs with Anthony Hopkins' judg- 
ment of fifteen years ago that "the decline of internal slavery and the 
rise of a free (wage) labour force... is certain to become one of the 
central themes in the as yet unwritten labour history of Africa" and 
that this event "deserves a great deal more attention from historians 
than it has received so far."^ Eastern Zaire differs from Hopkins' 
West Africa in the degree of its pre-colonial economic development 
and in the absence of the rather easy transition from slavery to wage 

•'See Claire C. Robertson and Martin A. Klein, eds.. Women and Slavery in Africa 
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983) and Edna G. Bay, ed.. Women and 
Work in Africa (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982). 

^A.G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (New York: Columbia Univer- 
sity Press, 1973), p.225. Similarly, Herbert S. Klein and Stanley L. Engerman believe 
"one of the most fundamental changes in the world in the nineteenth century was 
the transition from slavery to free labor in the Americas"; 'The Transition from Slave 
to Free Labor: Notes on a Comparative Economic Model," in Manuel Moreno 
Fraginals, Frank Moya Pons, and Stanley L. Engerman, eds.. Between Slavery and 
Freedom: The Spanish-Speaking Caribbean in the Nineteenth Century, (Baltimore: Johns 
Hopkins Press, 1985), p.255. Other African studies are Frederick Cooper, From 
Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 
1890-1925 (New Haven; Yale University Press, 1980), Paul E. Lovejoy, Trans- 
formations in Slavery in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 
chapters 9-10, and the contributors to Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts, eds.. The 
End of Slavery in Africa, (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988). 

labor that Hopkins found in West Africa.^ 

The successor to slavery in eastern Zaire was in fact a series of 
forced-labor systems of expanding size and generally decreasing 
severity, but it is important to understand that forced labor was not a 
necessary intermediate stage between slavery and free market labor. 
Most residents of eastern Zaire had never been slaves and those who 
had been did not need to be coerced to unlearn that s^ tem. Forced 
labor was not an alternative to slavery, but a continua. i of that pro- 
cess of mobilizing laborers against their wills in a difit. ^nt form. In 
Michael Mason's vivid if contentious words: forced labor and wage 
labor were "the twin forms of labor exploitation wrenched from the 
dying body of slavery." ^ Like the post-emancipation "apprentice- 
ships" in the British Empire and in Portuguese Africa which were 
meant to ease the transition for the slave-owners not the slaves, forced 
labor in eastern Zaire existed for the convenience and the benefit of 
the employers. 

There is no theoretical reason why a system of wage labor regu- 
lated by supply and demand could not have followed slavery in 
eastern Zaire, as it followed the truncated "apprenticeship" program in 
parts of the British Caribbean. ^ That it did not was due to conditions 

Hopkins, Economic History, p.227. Not all agree with Hopkins that the transition 
in West Africa was so easy. Cf. Denise Bouche, Les villages de liberte en Afrique noire 
franqaise 1887-1910 (Paris: Mouton & Cie, 1968) and more recently Gerald M. 
McSheffrey, "Slavery, Indentured Servitude, Legitimate Trade and the Impact of 
Abolition in the Gold Coast, 1874-1901: A Reappraisal," Journal of African History, 24 
(1983): 349-68. Outside West Africa the difficulty rather than the ease of transition 
from slave to free-market labor has l)een most commonly emphasized. See Frangois 
Renault, Lavigerie, I' esclavage africain et I'Europe (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1971); idem. 
Liberation d'esclaves et nouvelle servitude: les rachats de captifs africains pour le compte 
des colonies franqaises apres V abolition de V esclavage (Abidjan: Nouvelles Editions 
Africaines, 1976); Cooper, From Slaves to Squatters. 

Michael Mason, "Working on the Railroad: Forced Labor in Northern Nigeria, 
1907-1912," in Peter C. W. Gutkind, Robin Cohen, and Jean Copans, eds., African 
Labor History (Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1978), p.56. 
''See William A. Green, British Slave Emancipation: the Sugar Colonies and the Great 
Experiment 1930-1865 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976). Of course, free market labor 
was highly unsatisfactory from the Caribbean employers' point of view since not 
enough of it was available at prices they were willing to pay and led to new labor 
recruitments from West Africa; see also Johnson U. J. Asiebgu, Slavery and the 
Politics of Liberation 1787-1861: a Study of Liberated African Emigration and British 
Anti-Slavery Policy (London: Longmans, 1969) and David Eltis, Economic Growth 

and attitudes on both the European and African side that are exam- 
ined in detail in this study. In brief. Free State and Belgian colonizers 
were driven by prejudices and economic constraints to offer wages too 
low to attract workers in adequate numbers. On the African side was 
a widespread reluctance to enter the labor market, not for reasons 
unique to African culture as has often been alleged, but as recent 
comparative research has argued, for reasons that were common to 
most of humanity in similar circumstances. Eastern Zairians, like 
emancipated slaves in the Caribbean and like preindus trial Wester- 
ners, in David Eltis's words, "regarded wage labor as slavery," saw 
freedom in "self-employment or at least the avoidance of wage labor," 
and therefore shunned "factories and plantations alike... unless the 
wage offered was very high."^ The fact that the Free State and 
Belgian Congo, like many other colonial powers in sub-Saharan 
Africa, chose to overcome this reluctance by the application of 
physical constraints added to the view that wage labor was a form of 
slavery. While eastern Zairians may not have used a variant of the 
word chibaro, that meant both recruited laborer and slave in most of 
Africa south of the region, they certainly viewed things in a similar 

The growth of a less directly coercive system of wage labor during 
the middle years of colonial rule resulted from changes in government 
labor policy, in the magnitude of labor demands in different sectors of 
the economy, and in the responses of Africans to new economic and 
social circumstances. To include these changes this study has adopted 
a broad approach to labor history. Thus it examines the development 
of the colonial state as the only serious employer of labor in the early 
years of the colony and the later growth of a large private sector labor 
force. It considers both the growing labor demands that took Africans 
out of their home areas to serve as soldiers, porters, and casual labor 
and the generally unsalaried labor required locally for collecting 
products of nature such as ivory, latex, and palm oil in the early 

and the Ending of the Transaltantic Slave Trade (New York: Oxford University Press, 


%ltis. Economic Growth, pp.19, 23; idem, "Free and Coerced Transatlantic 

Migrations: Some Comparisons," American Historical Review 88 (April 1983): 267. 

Charles Van Onselen, Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern Rhodesia, 1900-33 

(London: Pluto Press, 1976), p.99. 

colonial period and the analogous compulsory cultivation of cash 
crops in later decades. As this study shows, the mobilization of all of 
these forms of labor, in the mines and factories, in transportation and 
road building, in agriculture both peasant and commercial, whether 
for wages or not, whether public or private, interacted to shape both 
European and African attitudes toward employment, to affect the 
supply of labor and the demand for it. 

Despite the reversals of the First World War and the Great Depres- 
sion, progress in the direction of a free market in African labor occur- 
red by the time this study terminates in 1940. The Belgian Congo had 
repudiated (though not entirely abandoned) the direct use of force in 
the recruitment of wage labor, while continuing to subscribe to it in 
the compulsory cultivation of cash crops. Wages had risen. Some of 
the mining companies had made progress in policies of "labor stabil- 
ization" by improving living conditions in the mining camps and 
reducing reliance on short-term labor. Significant steps had also been 
taken toward granting some Africans residence rights in the emerging 
urban centers. By the beginning of the Second World War a Zairian 
working class was in formation, though the process had advanced 
further in Shaba and Kinshasa than in the eastern region. Many 
cultural, economic, and legal constraints remained. Under the heavy 
hand of Belgian rule, African unions were not permitted to operate 
until 1946 and strikes by African labor remained illegal until 1959.^^ 
The period following the war would see the rapid acceleration of 
these trends toward the creation of a working class. That new era 
deserves treatment in a separate study. 

This study's emphasis on the continuities of pre-indus trial slavery 
and colonial labor, its inclusion of so broad a range of labor types, and 
its termination at the point when economic motives were just begin- 
ning to replace force as the principal mobilizer of labor may seem 
strange, for to most researchers in Africa and elsewhere labor history 
is synonymous with industrial labor history and particularly with the 
formation of workingmen's associations and a working class con- 
sciousness. ^^ The reasons for their focus on industrial labor in iso- 

^°Edouard Bustin, "The Congo," in Five African States, ed. Gwendolen Carter 
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1963), p.80. 

^^Two recent examples are Gutkind, et al., African Labor History and Bill Freund, 
"Labor and Labor History in Africa: a Review of the Literature," African Studies 

lation from agricultural and on colonial labor in isolation from pre- 
colonial have much to commend them. For one thing not all forms of 
African slavery involved labor mobilization: some were forms of 
social differentiation, reproductive strategies, or conspicuous display 
that paid little heed to a slave's productive capacity. ^^ In addition 
slave and industrial labor systems only overlapped geographically in 
some parts of the continent: most of Africa's indigenous slavery 
occurred in West Africa; a large part of the continent's industrial labor 
history has focused on southern Africa. Finally, ideological reasons 
have kept studies of African slaves and African proletarians separate. 
Marxists and others have seen unions as a response to the intrusion of 
capitalism, as part of a new mode of production that demanded to be 
treated independently. 

Valid though these reasons are for dealing with industrial labor as 
a separate topic, my earlier studies of African slavery in West Africa 
have convinced me that there are also good reasons to look at labor 
development in a larger context. ^•^ Slavery often was a way of mobil- 
izing labor where no labor "market" existed, and, as this study shows, 
such coercive patterns of mobilization often had surprising persis- 
tence. E. P. Thompson described his classic labor history as "a bio- 
graphy of the English working class from its adolescence to its early 
manhood."!'* In humble comparison, this work might be described as 
a biography of the Zairian working class from its infancy to its 
adolescence. Thompson began his study with the 1790s, omitting the 
millennium or two of the history of the pre-adolescence of the Euro- 
pean working class; this labor history of eastern Zaire begins several 

Review, 27 (1984):l-58, both of which confine their attention to the colonial period, 

as did R. Sandbrook and R. Cohen, eds.. The Development of an AfricanWorking Class 

(London: Longman, 1975). 

^^Cf. I. Kopytoff and S. Miers, "African 'Slavery' as an Institution of Marginality," in 

S. Miers and I. Kopytoff, eds.. Slavery in Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin 

Press, 1977). 

^3"The Ideological Context of Slavery in Southeastern Nigeria in the 19th Century," 

pp. 101-22 in The Ideology of Slavery in Africa, ed. Paul Lovejoy (Beverly Hills: Sage 

Publications, 1981); "Nineteenth-Century Patterns of Slavery and Economic Growth 

in SoulheastemNigeria," International Journal of African Historical Studies, 12(1979):1- 


i-^. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Vintage 

Books, 1966), p.ll. 

decades after Thompson's ends in the 1830s. Where Thonnpson found 
Calvinism, the French Revolution, and industrialization as the engines 
of working-class formation, the ideology, technology and economy of 
imperialism were the external dynamo in eastern Zaire. Though the 
capitalist base of this process is clear, from the Zanzibari's forced entry 
using guns from Western factories through the formal empire of direct 
European control, it is also clear that the absence of sufficient injec- 
tions of capital into the economy of the region was also a major factor 
in its relations with the world economy. 

A second justification for this study that has grown as the study 
progressed is as an approach to the general history of Zaire. A persis- 
tent problem in trying to explore the labor history of eastern Zaire has 
been the dearth of detailed studies of most aspects of the country. 
Despite Zaire's enormous size-and because of it-the country has been 
the subject of relatively few major works. This is particularly true of 
books in English dealing with its colonial and pre-colonial history. 
The three brief surveys that appeared in the 1960s continue to be cited 
as the standard accounts, even though their preoccupation with the 
European side of events does not reflect current approaches to African 
history.15 At the same time there is a substantial lack of information 
on almost all aspects of colonial history. Some important regional 
studies of Zaire, particularly on colonial Katanga (modern Shaba) 
province have appeared, and that approach deserves to be applied 

Eastern Zaire is a prime candidate for a regional study both 

^5Ruth Slade, King Leopold's Congo (London: Oxford University Press, 1962); 
Bustin, 'The Congo"; Roger Anstey, King Leopold's Legaa/: the Congo Under Belgian 
Rule, 1908-1960 (London: Oxford University Press, 1966). A more recent study of 
the European side of events is L. H. Gann and Peter Duignan, The Rulers of Belgian 
Africa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979). 

^^Edouard Bustin, Lunda Under Belgian Rule: the Politics of Ethnicity (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1975). S. E. Katzenellenbogen, "Lat>or Recruitment in 
Central Africa: the Case of Katanga," in The Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic 
History of Africa and India, C. Dewey and A. G. Hopkins, eds., (London: Athione 
Press, 1978); Charles Perrings, Black Mineworkers in Central Africa (London: 
Heinemann, 1979); Bruce Fetter, The Creation of Elisabethville 1910-1940 (Stanford: 
Hoover Institution Press, 1976); J. L. Vellut, "Rural Poverty in Western Shaba, c. 
1890-1930," and B. Jewsiewicki, "Unequal Development: Capitalism in the Katanga 
Economy, 1919-40," in The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa, R. 
Palmer and N. Parsons, eds., (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977) . 


because of its long history as a distinct unit and because of the great 
importance it had in the economic development of colonial Zaire. One 
is not likely to discover the extraordinary range of eastern Zaire's 
importance from reading most existing studies of the colonial period. 
During the period under study 35 to 40 percent of the Congo's popu- 
lation dwelt in the eastern Congo and they constituted the colony's 
major labor pool. From 1927 down to the end of the 1930 two-fifths of 
the Congo's wage labor force was in the eastern Congo. ^^ Not 
surprisingly, the region was highly important to the colony's eco- 
nomy. By the later 1920s the eastern Congo was supplying a third of 
the colony's direct tax revenue, nearly all of its gold exports (worth 
over forty million francs a year), and three-quarters of its ivory 
exports. The agricultural production was equally important: 85 
percent of cotton and coffee, 75 percent of rice, 50 percent of sesame, a 
fifth of the palm produce, and nearly all of the cattle.^^ During the 
1930s, despite the continuing rise in importance of Katanga and Kasai 
as mineral producers, the eastern Congo retained its importance as a 
mining center, sharply increasing its gold production and adding 
significant new production in tin. 

The regional approach also enables one to shift the perspective on 
colonial Zaire away from the capital. Instead of approaching issues 
from the top down and from the center outward, the view here (with 
apologies to V. S. Naipaul and to those his novel offended) is, from 
beyond the great bend in the Zaire river where the most promising 
and most inaccessible eastern province lay.^^ 

Both as a study of labor history and as a regional study of Zaire 
this work has notable shortcomings. While the laboring masses of 
eastern Zaire were meant to be the focus of this study, there is often 
much more in what follows about labor policy than labor history. 
Despite the detailed new information it presents, this study is not 
expected to alter the terms of the study of African labor history sub- 
stantially. Even as a regional history it has notable lacunae: it is spotty 
in treating the labor practices of private companies and concessions, to 
cite one recurrent example; it is notably weaker on the 1930s than on 

iTraCB 1939/44, p.34. 

^^A. Moeller, "Le developpement de la Province Orientale et les voies de commun- 
ication," (Congo) 1930 1:63-64. 
^V. S. Naipaul, The Bend in the River (New York: Knopf, 1979). 


the 1920s, to cite another. For these faults the author's limitations of 
vision and diligence, despite ten years spent on the project, must bear 
primary responsibility. The study relies almost entirely on archives 
and secondary works. Though oral interviews would have helped to 
shift the focus in favor of the ordinary working person, the number of 
interviews that would have been necessary to deal with so large an 
area would have necessitated time and resources beyond the realm of 
possibility.20 It seemed better to accept the flaws that would inevita- 
bly result from a preliminary survey in order to provide an overview 
and guide to the region that might attract more researchers to the 

In mitigation of his failings the author also wishes to point out the 
special limitations posed by the state of the historical sources for the 
history of eastern Zaire. The Zanzibari left no records except for 
Tippu Tip's remarkable autobiography.^! King Leopold systematic- 
ally destroyed most of the Free State's records on the eve of the 
Belgian takeover, though a few records survived in Brussels and 
elsewhere.^2 jy^q early years of the Belgian Congo are little better 
preserved. The colony's central government records appear to have 
been brought to Brussels in 1960, where they remain unavailable to 
researchers. Provincial, district, and other local records for the period 
under study mostly were lost through neglect in the colonial period or 
during the political upheavals that followed independence, though 
some records survive in Kisangani. The biggest exceptions are the 
extensive records of the Uele district for the 1910s and 1920s brought 
to Belgium in 1948 and preserved at the Musee Royal de I'Afrique 

20Many oral interviews on this topic have been done, notably by the students of the 
Institut Superieur Pedagogique at Bukavu, and have proved useful to this survey. 
2^A loose German translation appeared shortly after Tippu's death was subse- 
quently rendered into English: Heinrich Erode, Tippoo Tib: the Story of His Career in 
Central Africa, Narrated from His Own Accounts, tr. H. Havelock (London: Edward 
Arnold, 1907). The original Swahili text with more accurate translations are 
available in W. H. Whitely, tr. and ed., Maisha ya Hamed bin Muhammed el Murjebi 
yaani Tippu Tip, supplement to East African Swahili Committee Journals, 28.2 (1958) 
and 29.1 (1959) also (Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1966) and Frangois 
Bontinck, tr. and ed., L'autobiographie de Hamed ben Mohammed el-Murjebi Tippo Tip 
(ca. 1840-1905) (Brussels: ARSOM, 1974). The latter has particularly useful notes, 
^ee M. Van Grieken-Taverniers, "Inventaire des archives des affaires etrang^res 
de I'Etat Independent du Congo et du Ministere des Colonies (1885-1914)," Memoire 
del'ARSC, Classe des sciences morales et politiques, n.s. 9(1955). 


Centrale and those of the South Kivu Sub-Region, going back to the 
Free State period. By default, the main archival sources are the 
records of the Ministry of Colonies, though these are remarkably 
deficient for the early decades of the Congo, as well as for the 1930s. 
The deficiencies perhaps due to the disruptions of the First and 
Second World Wars and to the fact that no formal archives were 
established during the first forty years of the colony's existence. Some 
gaps in information have been made up by using the detailed records 
of British consular observers in the Congo during the decade before 
the First World War. Missionary archives, personal papers in public 
collections, and reports and articles from newspapers and other 
periodicals have also helped to fill some of the gaps in knowledge. ^^ 

23See bibliography. 











































1— k 
































h- > 





^ i 

_%___^-'' „ 

^ ^ 






^^-.-i > \) c/ 

2 V 


? 7 





Chapter 2 
Slaves and Freedmen, 1865-1895 

In the three decades betweer\ 1865 ar\d 1895, the peoples of eastern 
Zaire lost their autonomy, first to Afro- Arab traders in the service of 
the Sultan of Zanzibar and then to the Congo Free State in the service 
of King Leopold IT of Belgium. These events were a turning point in 
the political history of the region for they eventually led to the form- 
ation of modern Zaire. What is less well understood is that these 
events were also a watershed in the region's social and economic his- 
tory. The agents of Zanzibar and of the Free State wrenched the 
region out of its isolation and forced it into contact with the world 
economy. The conquerors' success was due both to their possession of 
an overwhelming technological advantage in firearms and to their 
willingness to use force in mobilizating African labor on a large scale 
to further their economic goals. The far-reaching changes associated 
with the process of labor mobilization remained a dominant feature of 
the decades that followed. 

This chapter considers three topics: the social and economic con- 
ditions of the peoples of eastern Zaire on the eve of Zanzibari intru- 
sion, the establishment of Zanzibari hegemony in the region and its 
consequences, and the takeover of the region by the Congo Free State. 

Land and People 

The vegetation, topography, and human cultures of eastern Zaire 
are diverse. The center of the region is dominated by the eastern end 
of the vast equatorial African rain forest that extends for some 400 
kilometers on either side of the equator. For all its geographical prom- 
inence the forest has been home to only a relatively small percentage 


of the region's population. It is the mixed semi-deciduous forests and 
savannas north and south of the rain forest that have been more 
hospitable human environments, supporting dense populations, 
especially along the Uele-Bomokandi and Lualaba-Luama valleys. 
Finally, the hills and mountains that hug the eastern frontier, follow- 
ing the Western Rift Valley and its Great Lakes, provide the region's 
most arresting scenery and are home to its densest population. The 
higher elevations, healthy climate, rich volcanic soils, and difficulty of 
access to these fabled "Mountains of the Moon" have promoted the 
development of mixed farming societies whose densities approach 
those of Rwanda and Burundi to the east, from which in fact they have 
absorbed considerable overflow. ^ 

The diversity of eastern Zaire's peoples makes generalizations 
difficult, especially with regard to pre-colonial times for which little 
direct evidence exists.^ According to one recent work eighty-nine 
different ethnic groups inhabit eastern Zaire today. ^ These modern 
divisions, however, correspond very imperfectly to the social and 
political units of precolonial and early colonial organization since 
present-day ethnography reflects the process of ethnic amalgamation 
promoted by the colonial goverrunents in their efforts to create units 
of effective local government, concealing the fact that the actual units 
of governance a century ago were much smaller. When the Belgian 
Congo began reorgaiuzing its administration on the basis of actual 
African polities, it discovered that chiefdoms in Maniema district had 
an average of only 350 inhabitants."* In addition, the ethnic units in 

^Leon de Saint-Moulin, "Mouvements recents de population dans la zone de 
peuplement dense de Test du Kivu," Etudes d'histoire africaine, 7 (1975):113. 
^Credible reconstructions of the pre-colonial lives of some groups are David T. 
Lloyd, 'The Precolonial Economic History of the Avongara Azande, c. 1750-1916," 
Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA, 1978; David S. Newbury, "Kings and Clans: Ijwi Island, 
ca. 1780-ca. 1840," Ph.D. dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1979; 
Randall Packard, Chiefship and Cosmology: an Historical Study of Political Competition 
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983). 

Georges Laclav^re, ed.. Atlas de la Republique du Zaire (Paris: Editions Jeune 
Afrique, 1978), p.29. 

^mile Vandewoude, Documents pour servir a V etude des populations du Congo beige. 
Aperqu historique (1886-1933) de V etude des populations autochtones par les fonctionnaires 
et agents du Service territorial, suim de I'inventaire des etudes historique, ethnographique et 
linguistique conservees aux Archives du Congo beige Archives du Congo beige, N° 2 
(Leopoldville: Archives du Congo Beige, Section Documentation, 1958), p.29. Cf. A. 


existence on the eve of the colonial period were far from homogen- 
eous. Since the eighteenth century expanding Zande and Mangbetu 
kingdoms, for example, had been superimposing their languages and 
identies upon peoples of diverse linguistic and ethnic backrounds in 
the north, with varying degrees of success.^ In the southwest the 
Tetela, among whom Tippu Tip began his rise to power and whose 
"mutinies" against the Free State were so dramatic, encompassed 
peoples now classified as Kusu and Songye, as well as Tetela.^ The 
Lega, who have occupied a large part of the southern rain forest for 
some centuries, are surrounded by what one modern anthropologist 
calls "a rather bewildering diversity of ethnic units," which, because of 
their complex historical and cultural ties to the Lega, he suggests, 
should be considered as parts of a great "Lega cluster."'' Finally, the 
Zanzibari intrusion into eastern Zaire had severely disrupted many 
ethnic units and at the same time led to the creation of both new 
amalgams and a new identity, the arabises, who would play an 
important role in the subsequent history of the region. 

The adaptations of pre-colonial societies to eastern Zaire's physical 
diversity had also produced many different economies, each with its 
own accumulated knowledge and technologies. The savanna and 
eastern highlands peoples generally practiced mixed agriculture, 
involving a variety of crops and livestock. Cattle-keeping was a 
particularly important along the eastern frontier. The forest restricted 
agriculture and herding but encouraged hunting and gathering. The 
Pygmies of the Ituri forest practiced no agriculture at all, nor did the 
specialized fishing peoples of the rivers and lakes. Nearly all of these 
communities participated in some exchange, particularly at the local 

Moeller, "L'adaptation des societes indigenes de la Province Orientale k la situation 
creee par la colonisation," Bulletin des seances de I'IRCB, 2 (1931):52-54. 
^an Vansina, "The Peoples of the Forest," in History of Central Africa, .D. Birming- 
ham and P. M. Martin, eds. (London: Longman, 1983), 1:96-97; E. E. Evans-Pritchard, 
The Azande: History and Political Institutions (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), pp.27- 

^Thomas Turner, review of La Mutiniere militaire au Kasai en 1895: Introduction by 
Marcel Storme, Journal of African History, 12 (1972):522. 

t)aniel Biebuyck, Lega Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 
pp.17, 21. 


Contrary to the belief widespread among later colonial officials 
that Africans had satisfied their simple wants without much more 
exertion than plucking fruit from a tree, pre-colonial production was 
both complex and arduous, as the observations of early visitors attest. 
Henry M. Stanley noted that the inhabitants of the Ubwari peninsula 
on lake Tanganyika opposite Ujiji were cultivators of enormous 
quantities of cassava, as well as millet, which they traded with the 
Rundi for palm-oil and butter and with the people of Ujiji for cloth 
and beads.8 In the densely populated area near lake Kivu there were 
immense fields of sweet potatoes, sorghum, rice, cassava, peanuts, 
beans, and tobacco, as well as large banana groves, great herds of 
cattle and goats, fishing, honey, and palm oil.^ In Maniema David 
Livingstone judged the people of Kabambare and the Lega to be 
indifferent cultivators who concentrated on bananas and peanuts but 
resisted cassava, to their detriment in time of famine. In the late 1860s, 
before the destructions brought by Zanzibari conquests, Stanley was 
told that the valley of the Lualaba south of Nyangwe had been thickly 
settled with cultivated groves of banana trees, "flocks of goats and 
droves of black pigs round every village."^^ Pierre Salmon described 
the inhabitants of the northern Aruwimi and Rubi valleys in 1888 as 
energetic farmers, who before the Zanzibari invasion, cultivated 
bananas, cassava, corn, peanuts, and nrelons.^^ 

Nor were craft and other industries absent from the region. Iron 
mining and smithing were widespread. ^^ Wood carving of both 
utilitarian and artistic objects was a notable feature of the region.^^ 

^enry M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent (London: Sampson Low, Marston, 

Searle & Rivington, 1878), 2:58. 

lieutenant Lange. "Rapport concemant la reconnaissance faite dans la region de 

la Haut-Ruzizi [July 1894]," 3 August 1894; AA, AE(242)226. 

lOoavid Livingstone, The Last Journals... in Central Africa from 1865 to his Death, 

Horace Waller, ed. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875), pp.344-46; dispatch from 

Nyangwe, 28 October 1876, Stanley's Despatches to the New York Herald, 1871-1872, 

1874- 1877, N. R. Bennett, ed.(Boston: Boston University Press, 1970), p.323. 

^^Pierre Salmon, Le voyage de Van Kerckhoven aux Stanley Falls et au camp de Yambuya 

(1888) (Brussels: ARSOM, 1978), p. 40; Lieutenant Nahan, "Reconnaissance de 

Banalia vers Buta et retour par Bolulu," Belgique Coloniale,20 November 1898, 


^^ameron found iron smelteries through Maniema; see his Across Africa, new ed. 

(London: George Philip & Son, 1885), pp.245-53, 278. Nahan visited several forges 

and mines south of the Tele; "Reconnaissance," pp.557- 58. 

^^e the illustrations of leaf- bladed paddles, arrows and spears in Stanley, In 


Salt-making existed in Kivu, Maniema, and Aruwimi.^'* Making cloth 
from raffia, bark, and hides was also a common occupation.^5 j^ most 
parts of the region the dwellings were simple but adequate, and 
villages neat and clean. In places, traditional building techniques 
produced structures of some note, such as the vast reception hall of 
the Mangbetu king Munza, which, even allowing for Schweinfurth's 
romanticism, was exceptionally large and well designed. ^^ 

While markets were not a notable feature of the region in the mid- 
nineteenth century, except on the Zaire bend and perhaps at Uvira on 
lake Tanganyika, the exchange of goods was a normal part of life. 
Populations specializing in hunting or fishing traded with agricultu- 
ralists. The Wagenia around Stanley Falls, for example, exchanged 
their surplus smoked fish for bananas, manioc, and beautifully made 
canoes with the peoples of the Lindi, Aruwimi, and Lomami, and 
were also middlemen in a trade in hatchets and spears.^ ^ The 
exchanges in these and other wares may also have stimulated the 
development of the various currencies-iron, raffia-cloth, and shell- 
that were in use.^^ Nevertheless, before the intrusion of outsiders it 

Darkest Africa, pp.107. 111. 

^*rhivoz, chef de la mission geographique de la Ruzizi-Kivu, "Rapport... sur 

I'exploration de la zone neutre," no date (1905?), document N° 25 in Emile 

Vandewoude, ed.. Documents relatifs a I'ancien district du Kivu. Archives du Congo 

Beige N° 3 (Leopoldville: Section Documentation Bureau Archives, 1959), pp.l88- 

89; Tippu Tip, Maisha, p.l03; Salmon, Voyage de Van Kerckhoven, p.40. 

^^ange. Rapport.. .Haut-Ruzizi, mentions men wearing cowhide, goathide and 

barkcloth garments; Tippu Tip, Maisha, pp.83, says the Maniema people and their 

neighbors to the south made raffia cloths ixnramba), which served as a unit of 

exchange before the Zanzibari intrusion. At the populous river mart of Basoko the 

Free State agent Guillaume Van Kerckhoven found numerous craft industries: "Here 

they make enormous quantities of salt, magnificant pots, fishing devices (hooks, 

harpoons, etc.) of very great perfection, finally excessively well made spears and 

kr\ives." Salmon, Voyage de Van Kerckhoven, p.40. 

^^uoted in Robert O. Collins, ed., African History (New York: Random House, 


^tamille Coquilhat, Sur le Haut-Congo (Paris: J. Leb^gue, 1888), pp.420-23; 

Hermann von Wissmann, My Second Journey Through Equatorial Africa from the Congo 

in the Years 1886 and 1887, trans. Minna J. A. Bergmann (London: Chatto and 

Windus, 1891),p.223. 

^*rhe Lega, who were not great traders, used a currency of perforated fregments of 

achatina shells strung on raffia, called musanga, though this may have Ijeen a special 

purpose currency. See Biebuyck, Lega Culture, pp.27-32. 


seems that trade was more an incidental activity than a profession. 
Relatively little production was intended for the market; what ended 
up there was the surplus not needed for subsistence. 

The absence of production specialists and entrepreneurs meant 
that the division of labor that existed in eastern Zaire was based 
largely on gender and social status. The fundamental separation of 
tasks into men's and women's work was strictly adhered to, at least 
among free persons. A large share of the ordinary work of farming 
fell upon women as did a considerable share of the carrying tasks, 
from babies to bananas. Crafts, such as the making of cloth, pottery, 
and baskets, also generally came under the heading of women's work. 
Men hunted, fished, herded cattle, cleared land for farming, smelted 
and smithed, and went to war. "^ 

Social stratification varied much more than gender roles in the 
region. The conquest societies of the Uele savannas displayed very 
sharply demarcated social pyramids, in which the conquering Zande 
or Mangbetu occupied a higher status than the conquered older 
inhabitants and where royal lineages stood above other members of 
the conquering caste. Tribute to the royals was an important labor 
activity, either directly or through exactions of goods. Elsewhere in 
the region stratification was less pronounced, except for differences 
accorded to age. Personal achievement, institutionalized in secret 
societies among the Lega, also existed. In these areas forms of com- 
munal labor for public welfare and various kinds of service to the 
chiefs existed as well. 

Because of its later importance, stratification based on slavery 
merits detailed examination. The region's isolation, low population 
densities, and limited economic development inhibited the formation 
of a slave population in most areas. The greatest concentration of 
slaves occurred in the kingdoms of the northern savanna created by 
the Mangbetu, Babwa, and Zande conquests in the nineteenth century. 
Most were acquired as prisoners of war who, if not ransomed, became 

^^Among the Lega women's work included housecleaning, food preparation and 
anything else having to do with cooking such as collecting firewood, planting and 
harvesting, making pottery, catching small fish and crevettes, and carrying all sorts 
of loads. Men's work included clearing and otherwise preparing fields for planting, 
hunting, fishing, gathering honey, building houses, bridges, and rafts, weaving and 
rope making, iron smithing and smelting, making fermented beverages, and war. 
Charles Delhaise, Les Warega (Congo Beige) (Brussels: Albert de Wit, 1909). pp.41, 63. 


slaves for life. Among the Mangbetu at least, a majority of these 
slaves were women, who were acquired by commoner lineages to 
build up their numbers and by royal lineages to produce the food 
used in royal largesse. Rulers also distributed slave wives as a way of 
attracting followers, a practice particularly important among the 
Zande. The slave status was not hereditary, and, while the position of 
slaves was inferior to that of free persons, the growing subordination 
of free commoners in Zande and Mangbetu states in the late nine- 
teenth century to the royal clans led to a blurring of that distinction. 
Colonial officials often considered that the claims a Zande or Mang- 
betu ruler was able to make on the labor of his subjects made them his 
slaves in effect if not in law.^o 

More widespread was the purchase or capture of women as wives, 
although it is not clear how much their status differed from wives 
acquired from the payment of bridewealth. In 1869, while traveling 
through Maniema in the southeastern portion of the region, Living- 
stone had found interest in slaves confined to purchasing females 
intended as wives; male slaves were considered more troublesome 
than valuable, being generally criminals, troublemakers, and sorcerers 
sold by their own people.^^ Likewise in the conflicts between the 
petty states throughout most of Kivu region male prisoners of war 
were generally either killed or ransomed and the women were incor- 
porated as wives.^ Even allowing for the sparseness of the historical 
record, examples of economically motivated slavery were rare before 
the influence of the Afro-Arab intruders. One exception (probably 
influenced by this intrusion) was the encounter in 1874 between the 
explorer Cameron and a chief of the Wagenia, a fisherfolk on the 

2QG. De Bauw, "La zone Uere-Bomu," Belgique Coloniale, 17 February 1901, pp.73-74; 
C. R. Lagae, Les Azande ou Niam-Niam. L'organisation zande. Croyances religieuses et 
magiques. coutumes familiales (Brussels: Vromant & Co., 1926) pp.46-53; Lloyd, 
"Precolonial Economic History," pp.254-74; Curtis A. Keim, "Women in Slavery 
among the Mangbetu c. 1800-1910," in Robertson and Klein, V^omen and Slavery, 

^^Livingstone, Last Journals, pp.305,310. 

^^Birhakaheka Njiga, "La principaute de Nyangezi: essai d'histoire socio-econo- 
mique (1850-1960)," memoire de licence en histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1978, 1:142-43; 
Kabemba Assan, "Les rapports entre Arabes et Manyema dans I'histoire du XIX^ 
siecle," Cahiers du CERUKI, series C2 (Sciences Humaines), N° 1 (1979), p.45; Cyr. 
Van Overljergh, Preface to Delhaise, Warega, pp.xiv-xv. 


upper Congo, at Nyangwe. The chief was willing to sell Cameron 
canoes only in exchange for slaves, arguing as follows: 

the cowries would be lying idle and bringing him nothing till he 
managed to buy slaves with them, whereas if he received slaves in 
payment he could set them at work at once to paddle canoes 
between the markets, to catch fish, to make pottery, or to cultivate 
his fields; in fact, he did not want his capital to lie idle. 23 

In effect, this low incidence of slavery was linked to the relatively 
low level of econonuc and political development in the region, which 
in turn reflected its low population density and isolation. The small 
scale of political units limited the degree of social differentiation that 
might be present: the distance between a typical chief and his lowest 
subject was not great. Economically the low level of exchange meant 
that there existed neither a way of marketing war captives and other 
potential slaves far enough from their homelands to impede their 
return nor a demand for labor that might serve larger economic ends. 
All of this was about to change. 

It should be emphasized that the general sufficiency and occasional 
abundance that existed in eastern Zaire in the mid-nineteenth century 
occurred at fairly modest levels. While the region's material and non- 
material cultures had much in common with neighboring parts of 
equatorial Africa, its agricultural production, political development, 
architectural magnificence, commercial systems, and general prosper- 
ity often were inferior to those in the surroimding areas. The reasons 
have nothing to do with the personal talents of the eastern Congolese, 
but with their geography and historical experience. The dominant 
feature of this region in the mid-nineteenth century was isolation. The 
location of eastern Zaire far from the coasts and natural barriers 
blocked or limited the kinds of contacts and interactions that had 
affected neighboring parts of Africa. 

This isolation was not entirely a bad thing. It meant that, inter 
alia, the region was late in feeling the destructive effects that empire- 
building, slave trading, and the introduction of firearms were having 
elsewhere on the continent. But this isolation also meant that when 

^^Cameron, Across Africa, p.290. Cameron makes clear that most Wagenia had no 
interest in owning slaves, a p)oint that is also stressed by Sidney Langford Hinde, 
The Fall of the Congo Arabs (London: Thomas Whittaker, 1897), p.l57. 


outside forces did begin to penetrate the region with a vengence in the 
last third of the nineteenth century, there was far less experience for 
the inhabitants to draw upon to resist it and consequently far broader 
and deeper destruction at every level. While one must be careful not 
to exaggerate the extent of this initial collision-societies such as the 
Lega and much of Kivu were relatively unscathed by it, there can be 
no doubt that the establishment of a Zanzibar! hegemony and its 
violent overthrow by the Free State profoundly affected the political, 
social, and economic life of the region both as a direct result of con- 
quest and exploitation and indirectly through the spread of infectious 
diseases that would have long-term demographic consequences.^^ 

Beginning in the 1860s eastern Zaire's relatively peaceful isolation 
was disturbed, disrupted, and, in many cases destroyed by the intru- 
sion of armed traders and conquerors from the Nile, Zanzibar, and 
Europe. What distinguished these intruders from the earlier Mang- 
betu and Zande in the northern savanna of the region was not race: it 
would be some time before non- Africans would play any significant 
direct role in this process. Rather the newcomers had access to the 
world market, which provided them a motive for occupying the 
region and the means to achieve it. The initial motive for all these 
intrusions was the obtaining of ivory which eastern Zaire's elephant 
population produced and which its human population had long 
collected. Modern firearms provided the means by which this prize 
might be obtained at modest cost. 

The intruders arrived in eastern Zaire from several directions and 
with different effects. The earliest ivory traders, from the upper Nile, 
reached the Uele valley in 1865. On the basis of Georg Schweinfurth's 
observations, it was once thought that these traders had caused mas- 
sive disruptions in the Mangbetu kingdoms. Curtis Keim, however, 
has argued convincingly that, while significant, their contacts were 
limited and far from decisive. ^5 Traders from the Angolan networks 
also began moving into the southwestern frontiers of eastern Zaire in 
the 1860s and 1870s in search of ivory.26 These two groups of intru- 

2^or the effects of endemic diseases see below, chapter 5. 

25Curtis A. Keim, "Long-distance Trade and the Mangbetu," Journal of African 

History, 24 (1983):l-22. 

2^n mid-1872 David Livingstone heard of three "Portuguese" ivory traders in 

Katanga who had come from "Matiamvo" (Mwata Yamvo, the Lunda king or 


ders were halted by rival traders from the Swahili coast of East Africa 
sent by the sultan of the rapidly developing entrepot of Zanzibar 
backed by Indian capital and European weapons. Having formed 
mutually beneficial relations with the Nyamwezi traders east of lake 
Tanganyika, the Zanzibari pioneers established major trading colonies 
at or near Unyamyembe and at Ujiji on the east shore of lake Tangan- 
yika before 1850. Perhaps as early as 1856, the Zanzibari traders 
began crossing the lake and moving up into the savanna and forest 
fringes of what became known as Maniema.^'' A modest headquar- 
ters was established on the upper Congo or Lualaba river at Nyangwe, 
where a combination of trading, raiding, and intimidation began to 
accumulate large stocks of ivory. In the mid-1870s the most famous of 
these Zanzibari traders, Haraed bin Muhammed el Murjebi, better 
known as Tippu Tip, moved into the region for the first time and 
established his headquarters at Kasongo. This was Tippu Tip's third 
expedition from Zanzibar and the longest and best financed, being 
backed by 50,000 Maria Teresa dollars in Indian capital. Within a few 
years he was the dominant political and economic power in the 

Before long. Western explorers and missionaries were following 
the Zanzibari's caravans. First to arrive was the gentle Livingstone, 
who traversed Maniema in 1869-70 as far as Nyangwe before turning 
back. Next came Vernon L. Cameron, who met Tippu Tip at Nyangwe 
in August 1874. Henry Morton Stanley met Tippu Tip in October 1876 
and profited from Tippu's assistance in making his pioneering descent 
of the river. The first Westerners attempting to influence events in the 
region were the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, better known as 

capital); see Livingstone, Last Journals, pp.428, 431. The next year Cameron 
encountered a marauding Tortuguese" caravan v^hich had been in the Luba country 
for a year, led by Jose Antonio Alvey (alias Kendele), whom he described as "an old 
and ugly negro"; see his Across Africa, pp.319-28. Most significant was Tippu Tip's 
apparently decisive defeat of a "Portuguese" force attacking the Tetela, west of 
Nyangwe, in September 1876; see his Maisha, p.lll. 

27Alison Smith, "The Southern Section of the Interior 1840-84," History of East 
Africa, vol. 1, Roland Oliver and Gervase Mathew, eds. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 

2*Alison Smith, "Historical Introduction" to Maisha ya Hamed bin Muhammed el 
Murjebi yaani Tippu Tip, W.H. Whitely, trans, and ed., supplement to East Africa 
Swahili Commitee Journals , 28 (1958):9-15. Tippu Tip's grandfather, Juma bin Rijab, 
had been one of those who pioneered the alliances with the Nyamwezi. 


the White Fathers, who established their stations along the main 
Zanzibari routes and near Zanzibari settlements and gathered their 
first adherents by redeeming slaves.^^ Their first station in eastern 
Zaire was established in November 1879 at Masanze (Mulwewa) near 
Uvira on lake Tanganyika. 

Last to arrive were the European imperialists, officials of King 
Leopold's Congo Free State, which the Berlin Conference in 1885 had 
accorded sovereignty over the Congo basin. The claim to eastern 
Zaire was based on Stanley's initial explorations and his subsequent 
travels on behalf of the International Congo Association, but Free State 
control remained feeble until the 1890s. This was certainly clear to the 
White Fathers at Kibanga, who received their first communication 
from the Free State in the form of a letter from the Department of 
Finances, dated October 1, 1889, informing them that they did not 
have proper title to the lands the mission had occupied since April 
1883. The mission diarist commented scarcastically: 

Can it be believed that these administrators, who still have two thou- 
sand kilometers of port [Swahili for "wilderness"] to cross before 
reaching Tanganyika, who leave us to grapple with the Arabs, the 
only real masters by right of conquest and occupation of this land, 
have just said we are in their territory, subject to their prescriptions 
and decrees!'^ 

Zanzibari Colonization 

Of all of the intruders in this period, it was the Zanzibari, who, by 
dint of their ruthless activities, left the most lasting impression on the 
region's communications network, language, administration, and 
labor patterns. The Zanzibari were a diverse group of Omaiu Arabs, 
coastal Swahili, inland Africans, and others. Tippu Tip himself had 

^^oland Oliver, The Missionary Factor in East Africa (London: Longmans, 1952), 

30APB, Kibanga Diary, 19 April 1890, Chronique des Peres Blancs, N= 50 (April 1891), 
pp.415-16. Two years later, at a time when the mission considered every one and 
everything for forty leagues around a creature of Rumaliza, the arrival of a new 
letter from the State's agent at Kasongo-Nyangwe declaring his intention to organize 
the territory was greeted with the sardonic comment: "Good!! ...Soon we will be 
civilized." Kibanga Diary, 4 May 1892 and 15 May 1892, Chronique des Peres Blancs, 
N° 58 (April 1893), pp.400-1. 


Arab, Swahili, and Nyamwezi ancestors. The porters, guards, and 
other followers who accompanied these traders included Nyamwezi, 
Yao, and other Africans from outside the region. Tippu Tip called his 
partly-Islamicized, Swahili-speaking followers zvaungwana, literally 
"free men," to distinguish them from watumua, "slaves," and from the 
washenzi, literally "savages," the term used for local Africans. Many 
of the latter also became auxiliaries in the Zanzibari forces.^ 

The extension of the Zanzibari ivory trade west of lake Tanganyika 
appears to have been promoted by a rise in ivory prices in 1856-57 and 
facilitated by the shipment of unprecedented quantities of firearms 
inland from Zanzibar beginning in 1859-60.^2 As stout opposition 
from the kingdoms of Rwanda and Burundi blocked the most direct 
route, the traders apparently went by canoe from Ujiji.^^ The earliest 
Zar\zibari outposts were at or near Uvira on the northwest shore of 
lake Tanganyika, from where the traders advanced into Maniema as 
far as Kabambare, where their progress was halted by stout resistance 
until 1868. That year Mwini Kusu, the respected chief of Kabambare, 
entered into an alliance of friendship with the Zanzibari Mwini 
Mokaia (alias Katomba) that opened up the territory west of the 
Luama. Mokaia, who had been the head man at Ujiji, set up camp at 
Mamohela. Shortly afterwards, Mwini Dugumbi (alias Molembe- 
Lembe) made his way with guns blazing beyond Kabambare as far as 
Nyangwe on the Lualaba. Nyangwe became a new headquarters for 
the collection of ivory, of which Dugumbi was carrying some 18,000 
pounds in September 1869 when he met Livingstone on his way in.34 

Dugumbi's success and Mwini Kusu's death marked a disastrous 
turning point in the history of Maniema. Dugumbi's followers soon 
were abusing local Africans rather freely. They were joined in 
December 1869 by "a large horde of Ujijians" armed with 500 gims, 
drawn by the news of cheap ivory.^s For the weak, the arrival of this 

^^Tippu Tip, Maisha, p. 51; Melvin E. Page, "The Manyema Hordes of Tippu Tip: a 

Case Study in Social Stratification and the Slave Trade in Eastern Africa," Inter- 

national journal of African Historical Studies, 1 (January 1974):71-81. 

32Smith, "Southern Section," pp.275-76. 

Stanley, Darkest Africa, 1:455. Canoes up to forty-eight feet in length were 

purchased on the opposite shore at Goma in the 1870s; ihid., 1-2. 

^Livingstone, Last journals, pp.292,302-4; Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, 


^^Livingstone, Last Journals, pp.310-11, 327. Kabemb»e, "Rapports entre Arabes et 


horde meant the appropriation of their hon\es and supplies without 
compensation by the passing caravans (whose members might wan- 
tonly burn down a village as they departed), impressment as porters, 
enslavement, and death. Some learned to flee at the first hint of 
strangers. Others tested their spears and wooden shields against the 
intruders' "tobacco pipes," as they derisively called their smoking 
guns, though such resistance was of limited success. For the moder- 
ately powerful an alliance with the Zanzibari traders could be used to 
settle old scores with neighboring chiefs, at least until they too fell 

By mid-1874 Nyangwe had become a prospering entrepot divided 
into two rival Zanzibari camps. In the northern half, Mwini Dugumbi 
and his followers filled some 300 houses. Stanley described him as "an 
east coast trader of Sa'adani, a half-caste, a vulgar, coarse-minded old 
man of probably seventy years of age, with a negroid nose and a 
negroid mind."^'' The southern half of Nyangwe was occupied by the 
followers of Abed ben Salum el-Khaduri (alias Tanganyika), "a fine 
white-headed old Arab."* 

That same year Tippu Tip entered eastern Zaire for the first time, 
by a circuitous route through Katanga where he collected ivory and 
made an important alliance with the Tetele chief, Kasongo Rushie, 
before reaching the Lualaba from the southwest. Though he was 
warmly welcomed at Nyangwe, he chose to set up his own headquar- 
ters to the south at Kasongo, where some of his kinsmen were already 
located. Tippu immediately became its chief and set about ending the 
opposition of local Africans whose boycott had brought famine and 
decline to Kasongo.39 Tippu Tip made a far better impression on 
those who met him than had the other Zanzibari at Nyangwe; the 
European explorers were unanimous in praising his good looks. 

Manyema," pp.3 1-46) sees 1868 as a watershed between a period of mutual "observa- 
tion and tolerance" and one of bad relations, divergent interests, and violent 

^Livingstone, Last Journals, pp.327, 335, 369-72, 390-92, 395-96; Stanley, Darkest 
Afnca, 2:84-87. 

^'Stanley, Darkest Africa, 2:118; in less racist terms, Cameron, attributed Dugumbi's 
"decline into idiotcy" to overindulgence in sex, marijuana, and drink; Across Africa, 

Cameron, Across Africa, p.284. 
3^ippu, Maisha, pp.99-107. 


intelligence, and sophistication.^^ 

After taking the "immense quantity" of ivory he had collected 
south and east of the Lualaba to Zanzibar in 1881, Tippu Tip returned 
to eastern Zaire at the head of a large and well armed caravan. At his 
first post, Kasongo Rushie, he bestowed "as many as 10,000 guns" on 
his loyal and feared young slave, Ngongo Lutete, who had inherited 
that station, and then moved on to Kisangani, below the Stanley Falls, 
from where he dispatched twenty caravans into neighboring districts 
in search of ivory. The most important of these expeditions went up 
the Aruwimi, where no irutial success was met with. In 1887 Tippu 
Tip's men established bases at Yambuya (near the confluence of the 
Aruwimi and the Congo) and further upstream at Banalia. In 1888 
they made contact with Niangara, a chief on the Upper Uele and in 
1890 they concluded a brief alliance with the Zande chief Jabir.^i 

Thus by the mid-1880s the Zanzibar! under Tippu Tip were firmly 
established between lake Tanganyika and the Lomami river and down 
the Lomami to its confluence with the Lualaba. At that time Zanzibar! 
auxiliaries were also expanding rapidly into the Uele valley and 
northern Kivu.42 Yet it was a loose empire at best, designed more for 
short-term economic gain than orderly administration. It is probably 
true, as Wissmaim said explicitly and Stanley implied, that the brutal 
excesses committed in the process were due to Tippu's subordinates 
more than to the man himself, though like King Leopold who suc- 
ceeded him, he can hardly escape the blame for the excesses of the 
system he created and staffed.'*^ 

^QCameron, Across Africa, p.293; Stanley, Darkest Africa, 2:95-96. 
^^Tippu, Maisha, para. 123, 155-63; Renault, lavigerie, 1:339; Lieutenant Gustin, 
"Vers le Nil," Mouvement Geographique, 1 May 1898, col. 229. 

^enga Ongala, "Les arabises Kusu et la creation et revolution du poste de 
Walikale (1901-1954)," (travail de fin d'etude, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1978). 
^^issmann. Through Equatorial Africa, pp.183-85,198-203, on the upper Lomami 
early in 1887 described the excesses committed by Tippu Tip's governor. Said, 
including using prisoners for target practice, chopping off captive's hands, and large 
numbers of deaths, as due to the arbitrary powers such subordinates had, noting 
that Tippu would have stopped them had he b>een there in person. Stanley, Darkest 
Africa, pp.141-43, described the scorched earth policies in a large area of the Ituri 
valley later that same year of a newly arrived band independent of Tippu Tip led by 
Kilonga-Longa as much worse than anything Tippu Tip was responsible for. He 
noted that the worst excesses were by Maniema youths trained as auxiliaries by the 
Zanzibari leaders. 


There is ample evidence that their conquest of eastern Zaire, along 
with disruption, destruction, and death on a large scale, also produced 
an enormous change in labor mobilization, including a great increase 
in slavery, which needs to be considered in greater detail. Initially the 
slaves seem to have been more a by-product of conquest rather than 
its goal. Once acquired, they were a convient labor force in the 
absence of a free labor market. This does not mean that this new, high 
incidence of slavery would necessarily have continued once the 
conquest was over, but it hardly suggests that the institution would 
have disappeared either. 

Most of these new slaves were males, captived in raids on small 
villages. One Zanzibari ivory merchant encountered by Cameron in 
July 1874 at Kwakasongo employed 600 Nyamwezi, "all armed with 
guns," who received no pay but were "allowed to loot the country all 
round in search of subsistence and slaves," some of whom they 
bestowed on their employer in exchange for more powder to sustain 
their ravages. "^^ At first many of the captives were ransomed by their 
relatives in exchange for ivory, but, as local caches of ivory were 
depleted, the unredeemed were sold to distant strangers. '^^ Some 
female captives were incorporated into the harems of the Zanzibari 
who settled in the region. For example, by the mid-1870s Mwini 
Dugumbi at Nyangwe had 100 to 300 harem slaves. His chief hench- 
man, Mwini Mohara (alias Mtagamoyo), had sixty; his rival Abed ben 
Salum had a more modest thirty. Tippu Tip and his entourage had 
fifty slave women in 1876. Large numbers of female captives taken in 
razzias (raids) over the next decade became the property of other 
Zanzibari leaders and their followers.'*^ 

Many captives were also used to meet the labor demands of 
commerce, conquest, and cultivation, beginning a practice which 
continued under Free State and Belgian rule. The growing trade, 
especially in ivory, demanded more and more porters. While the 
Zanzibari appear to have had a preference for free porters (such as the 

•^^Cameron, Across Africa, p.280. 

*^chard Stanley and Alan Neame, eds.. The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley 
(London: William Kimber, 1961), 7 November 1876. 

Cameron Across Africa, p.285; Stanley and Neame, Exploration Diaries, 7 Novem- 
ber 1876; Stanley Through the Dark Continent, 2:117-20, 30; Coquilhat, Haut-Congo, 


Nyamwezi they employed east of lake Tanganyika and early in their 
intrusion into Maniema), captive slaves were the only source of man- 
power available in eastern Zaire to carry the tusks to the markets east 
of the lake. Cameron related that Tippu Tip and other traders 
"asserted that they would be glad to find other means of transport for 
their goods instead of trusting it to slaves; but... they availed them- 
selves of the means at their disposal. "47 A major drawback of slaves 
was their natural desire to escape. Cameron reported that half of 
those impressed into porterage escaped before a caravan reached lake 
Tanganyika. 48 But of those who completed the trek to Ujiji or Unyan- 
yembe, the explorer asserted, most then hired out as "free porters," an 
impressive example of how slavery could be a relatively brief, if brutal 
mechanism for generating a mobile labor force in an area unaccus- 
tomed both to travel and to wage labor. Once across the lake the 
impressed porters could have had little hope of returning directly 
home, so their willingness to sign on with a new caravan may have 
owed as much to their needing a means of livelihood as to their liking 
the work. In any case, European explorers noted, slave porters, 
though bound, gagged, and attached to slave forks, were not other- 
wise cruelly treated.^^ 

By the 1880s the Zanzibar! had established a more regular caravan 
service along the main route across the region. For some time, Tippu 
told a State agent in 1885, slaves had not been captured to carry ivory. 
Instead, what he termed "domestic slaves" conveyed the ivory from 
Kisangani to Nyangwe, where other porters took it as far as Ujiji, and 
so on to the coast, each team of porters returning to their home base.^^ 
By that time free Maniema porters were also relatively common and 
those Tippu Tip supplied to Stanley in 1887 deserted when they were 

If the capture of slaves to serve as porters was not as important as 

47Cameron Across Africa, p.305. 

^See C.S. Forester's moving tale of just such an escapee. The Sky and the Forest 

(Boston: Little, Brown, 1948). 

4^meron, Across Africa, p.256; Norman R. Bennett, ed., Stanley's Despatches to the 

New York Herald. 1871-1872, 1874-1877, (Boston: Boston University Press, 1970), 

Nyangwe, 28 October 1876, pp.324-25. 

^oquilhat, Haut-Congo, pp.415-16. 

^^Tippu Tip to Mahomed Masood and Seif bin Ahmed, Stanleyville, no date. 

Translation in FO 84/1975 N° 8, received 21 December 1888. 


has sometimes been asserted, there were certainly other uses to which 
the Zanzibari put the large numbers of captives they came to control. 
Many youths were turned into servants and soldiers. In 1876 Tippu 
Tip had about fifty youths whom he was training "as gun-bearers, 
house servants, scouts, cooks, carpenters, house-builders, blacksmiths, 
and leaders of trading parties. "^2 Many such captives (including 
some bought outside the region) became loyal soldiers in the Zanzi- 
bari forces, head men, and outpost commanders. Detached from their 
roots and cultural restraints, these followers were often guilty of the 
most brutal rapine and pillage of the countryside.^^ Thus, many 
people in Maniema passed rather rapidly from being "the chief victims 
of Arab ruthlessness" to "the worst marauders in Stanley's accounts of 
the Upper Congo" in the 1880s.^ 

Like those established earlier east of the lakes, the major perma- 
nent Zanzibari settlements in eastern Zaire, of which Kasongo became 
the finest, were distinguished by substantial dwellings and surroun- 
ded by well laid out, flourishing plantations featuring many crops 
new to the region, such as rice, citrus fruits, and sesame. These 
impressive estates required considerable labor, which was supplied 
through levies on local inhabitants-whose own farms suffered in 
consequence-and through the use of slaves captured in campaigns. 
There is no way to estimate the quantity of these plantation slaves, but 
regular replenishment of their numbers was necessary for, like those 
at Ujiji and other Zanzibari settlements, they were worked hard, fed 
little, and most died off within a year.55 

Free State Colonization 

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century Zanzibari dominion in 
eastern Zaire was challenged by the technological and economic 
resources of European powers. For some time it was unclear into 

52Stardey, Through the Dark Continent, 2:129-30. 

5%1RAC, R.G. 1078: L. N. Chaltin, Notes redigees sur la question arabe, carnet 1, 

p.20; AA, D(387)4, Dhanis to Five, 1893?; cf. Senga, "Les arabises Kusu", pp.32-34. 

^mith, "Historical Introduction," p.32. 

55aA, BMC(46)11, Isidore Tobback, Journal, p.18; Chaltin, Notes, pp.20,34; Le 

Clement de St.-Marcq, Mouvement Geographique, 25 May 1890, p.42; Senga, "Les 

arabises Kusu," p.34; Hinde, Fall of Congo Arabs, pp.1 83-85. 


whose hands the region would fall, as Britain, Germany, and France 
were vying with King Leopold's International Congo Association for 
its control. In 1885 Leopold's claim to the region had received general 
recognition from the other European powers at Berlin, but the new 
Free State could not establish effective control over the eastern Congo 
basin because of its severe shortages of personnel, ammunition, and 
supplies. An alliance with Tippu Tip was the only way open to them. 

Tippu responded honorably and realistically. Approached by 
Leopold's agent, Ernest Cambier, about an alliance in 1882, he had 
immediately reported the matter to Sultan Barghash in Zanzibar, who 
pledged Tippu his full support if he would return to the heart of 
Africa. ^6 Returning to Kisangani in 1884, Tippu repudiated an agree- 
ment made in his absence delimiting the territory of the Zanzibari and 
Leopold's International Congo Association at the seventh cataract.^ 
Yet in March 1887, when Tippu was once more back in Zanzibar, he 
accepted Stanley offer to become governor of the Stanley Falls district. 

Tippu Tip's alliance with the Free State was based on the Sultan of 
Zanzibar's growing weakness and his recognition of the Europeans' 
strength and ability to supply him with trade goods and weapons in 
return for ivory. The alliance was equally based on the Free State's 
recognition of Tippu Tip's preeminence and its weakness in eastern 
Zaire. The Free State was badly strapped for cash and personnel. This 
modus Vivendi allowed it time to concentrate on securing its northern 
and eastern frontiers against French and British challenges, and to 
improve its lines of communication into eastern Zaire, including the 
construction of a railroad around the cataracts of the lower Congo. 

Both sides in the alliance appear to have exaggerated the extent of 
the other's power. While Tippu was indisputably the most powerful 
of the Zanzibari traders in the region, the willingness of many of the 
others to submit to his authority was dependent on his ability to 
enforce his directives. Moreover, whatever authority he derived from 
being the Sultan's officially designated representative in the region 
obviously did not continue when he became the Free State's governor 
in August 1887.58 Finally, Tippu's rise to commercial and political 

^mith, "Southern Section/' pp.291-92. 

^teulemans. Question arabe, pp.64-65. 

^or example, Tippu wrote the acting British consul general (G. H. Portal) at 

Zanzibar, 19 March 1889: "And now all the Arabs are my enemies. They say I am the 


preeminence had generated many animosities. The center of these 
rivakies was in the oldest main Zanzibari colony, Nyangwe, which by 
1889 was under the sole control of Dugumbi's old henchman 
Mtagamoyo, of whom no one seems to have had anything but a low 
opinion.59 Nyangwe's traders were pushing actively through the 
Ituri forest and were rivaling Tippu as well along the Lualaba below 
the Stanley Falls.^o 

Given these rivalries, it is highly significant that the new governor 
received, and was seen to receive, scarely any support from the Free 
State during his time in office. For the first nine months after his 
appointment there was not even a Free State agent at the Stanley Falls 
station, and the other Zanzibari stations lacked agents for even longer 
times, complicating the exchange of ivory for trade goods and 
munitions. Moreover, as his supplies of arms and ammunition 
diminished and food began to run short at the Falls, the State made no 
move to resupply him,^^ When the Free State's principal agent, 
Stanley (acting in his private capacity), went so far as to sue Tippu 
over the disastrous expedition to rescue Emin Pasha from the 
Mahdists, it was clearly the last straw. Tippu states that it was the 
need to defend himself against Stanley's charges of failing to provide 
porters that made him decide to return to Zanzibar in 1890, but one 
must suspect that he desired to disengage himself from a disagreeable 
and increasingly dangerous situation. Stopping at his old head- 
quarters at Kasongo on his way to the coast, Tippu was begged by his 
followers to stay. He declined, arguing that while his forces had been 
sufficient to beat the weak and divided peoples of Maniema, they 
were insufficient to beat the Europeans who now had the advantage in 
arms and men.62 

man who gave up all the places of the mainland to the Belgian King." FO 403/119, 
N» 239 (translation), pp.121. 

5^n Tippu Tip's estimation, "He is a man whose heart is as big as the end of my 
finger. He has no feeling, he kills a native as though he were a serpent-it matters not 
of what sex." Quoted in Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, 2:119-120; cf. 
Livingstone's view in his Last Journals, p.385. 
^mith, "Historical Introduction," pp.27-28. 

^^In the letter to the British consul general at Zanzibar cited above, Tippu entreated, 
"I wish you to write a letter to the Belgian King informing him that I am under him, 
and that I am the agent for him; telling him also to provide me with some arms.... 
What I earnestly wish from the Belgian King is that he should not leave me alone." 
^ippu, Maisha, p. 161. Further along on his trip to the coast he told a London 


The bloody conflict that soon followed was rather clumsily, but 
perhaps not deliberately, provoked by the Belgian forces in the region. 
Belgian Antislavery Society agents, acting in a quasi-official capacity 
around lake Tanganyika, drove the local Zanzibari leader Rumaliza to 
the edge of war in 1890, an action postponed only by Tippu's direct 
prohibition and a shortage of arms. The Congo-Nile expedition 
through Uele under Van Kerckhoven in 1891-92, provoked numerous 
conflicts with the several Zanzibari bands operating in that area. The 
expedition seized several thousand tusks and profoundly alienated 
both pro- and anti-Tippu groups headquartered along the Lualaba. 
An ill-timed and disastrous Belgian commercial expedition on the 
Lualaba in May 1892 made relations worse. When the Free State agent 
Dhanis signed a treaty of protection with Tippu's once loyal slave, 
Ngongo Lutete, who had been carving out his own base of power in 
Kasai ever since Tippu left the region, even Tippu's followers could 
not retain much loyalty to the State. The ever-impetuous Dhanis 
advanced across the Lomami into Zanzibari country and over- 
whelmed a Kasongo force, leaving 3,000 dead. By early 1893 Mohara 
was defeated and Nyangwe and Kasongo were soon in Dhanis's 
hands. In September a combined Free State army overcame Ruma- 
liza's forces and that leader retreated into German East Africa. By the 
beginning of 1894 the remaining Zanzibari resistance had been over- 
come, though with considerable bloodshed. The methods of the Free 
State campaigns were no less bloody than those of the Zanzibari, and 
the African population suffered further devastation. 

Eastern Zaire's new master had already given clear evidence that, 
like the Zanzibari, its main goal was profit and African labor the main 
means to that end. From the Congo Free State's beginning one of 
Leopold's thorniest problems had been the shortage of labor. Even for 
a man given to grandiose schemes the extraordinarily far-flung efforts 
to recruit workers for his colony is striking. In 1888, for example, he 
proposed a Chinese colonization of the Congo and the next year his 
agent Gustave Becker was in Australia exploring the recruitment of 
Fiji islanders and East Indians. ^^ If little came of these and other 

Missionary Society member, "The White man is stronger than I am: they will eat my 
possessions as I ate those of the pagans."; Alison Smith, review of Ceulemans, 
Question arahe, Journal of African History 1 (1960):168. 
^ean Stengers, "Correspondance Leopold Il-de Cuvelier," Bulletin IRCB, 24 


schemes, they still illustrate the acuteness of the labor shortage in the 
Congo. Most of the Free State's porters, laborers for building the 
lower Congo railroad, and members of the Force Publique (the para- 
military colonial police) during this period were recruited from 
Zanzibar, West Africa, northeast Africa, Portuguese Africa, and the 

Of these, the recruitment from Zanzibar was the most important. 
At the end of 1888 the Free State entered into a ten-year contract for 
the recruitment of Zanzibari laborers on three-year contracts. These 
recruits (evidently intended for the construction of the Lower Congo 
railroad) were to be paid five piasters (25 fr) a month, with six-months 
salary paid in advance and the rest paid quarterly with two-thirds 
withheld until the end of the contract and paid upon their return at 
Zanzibar. The problem with these terms was the status of the recruits, 
most of whom were likely to be slaves. Since nearly three-quarters of 
the salary was paid in Zanzibar, their masters were in an excellent 
position to appropriate these wages. In mid-January 1890 the sultan 
had given orders for his own men to assist in the collection of a thou- 
sand men for the Congo, but the next month, under British pressure, 
he began to waver. The British, anxious to guard the treaty provisions 
suppressing all slave trade to Zanzibar from any kind of evasions, 
played on the sultan's concern about this loss of labor to his domin- 
ions. One gang of laborers sailed for the Congo at the end of April. 
1890, and another 149 departed early in July, but the British got the 
sultan to agree that these men would be the last. Belgian efforts to 
allow the recruitment of more laborers in 1891 and again in 1892 
appear to have failed.^ 

(1953):827-28; AA, AE(352)539 Becker to Janssen, Melborne, 24 April 1889. See also 
Barbara Emerson, Leopold II of the Belgians: King of Colonialism (New York: St. 
Martin's Press, 1979), ch.22. 

^FO 403/136: Contract between Sewa Hajee, a British Indian in Zanzibar, and L. De 
Cazenave, the consul general of Belgium in Zanzibar, dated 1 December 1888, in N° 
216; Euan-Smith to Salisbury, Zanzibar, 16 January 1890, N= 51; 25 February 1890, N° 
315. FO 403/137, N« 447, Euan-Smith to Salisbury, 2 June 1890; FO 403/138, N° 138, 
Euan-Smith to Salisbury, Zanzibar, 19 July 1890. FO403/159, N° 37, Martin Gosselin 
to Salisbury, Brussels, 19 July 1891; N= 39, Euan-Smith to Salisbury, Zanzibar, 20 July 
1891. F0881/6339, N= 130, Vivian to Salisbury, Brussels, 26 February 1892; N^ 145, 
idem, 3 March 1892; N° 149, Salisbury to Gosselin, FO, 10 March 1892. Evidently 
contracts for much less than three years were signed because 300 to 400 Zanzibari 
laborers were scheduled to return from the Congo in October-November 1891. Of 


In tandem with these efforts to recruit from Zanzibar and else- 
where were efforts to recruit African labor within the colony, partic- 
ularly from among the slaves of Zanzibari in the east. As early as 1886 
some slaves were redeemed for service around the government post at 
Stanley Falls. In 1890 an accord was made with the Zanzibari chief 
Djuma-Dina to supply 500 able-bodied young men from Maniema to 
serve nine-year contracts for a monthly wage of ten francs, a dhoti 
(four yards) of cloth and rations. Authorization was also given to 
recruit children at least four feet tall, who would be raised at the 
Colonie Scolaire at Nouvelles-Anvers. The Belgian consul at Zanzibar 
in the first half of 1890 had tried to recruit Maniema labor through 
Sefu, Tippu Tip's son, who refused to act without his father's 
authorization. In December 1891 Tippu Tip (then at Zanzibar) signed 
a contract to furnish 1,800 free men and 800 free women as laborers on 
the Lower Congo railroad and in March 1892 he signed another to 
provide 2,000 able-bodied men for the Force Publique. The first of 
these were to be delivered to the post of Bena-Kamba on the Lomami 
at the end of 1892. The commissions paid for this recruitment, £3.50, 
MT$70, and £4 respectively, were high enough to leave little doubt 
that the free laborers were to be obtained by redeeming slaves. Tippu 
Tip gave orders to Sefu to begin sending 800 Maniema a month, but 
the MT$50,000 worth of goods sent to finance the recruitment, in 
Tippu Tip's words, "fell into a hole," i.e. were intercepted by Rumaliza 
and others, on the verge of revolting against the Free State. The revolt 
of Ngongo Lutete also prevented the deal from being concluded.^ 

The Free State also offered commissions to its officers for recruiting 
men, women (for cleaning and farming), and adolescents for the Force 
Publique. At Stanley Falls the State's agents had begun redeeming 
slaves of the Zanzibari for money and goods in 1886. During his years 
there Captain Nicholas Tobback bought and freed some two thousand 
slaves, though he personally refused to profit from these trans- 

two contingents of recruits 46 percent returned to Zanzibar at the end of their 
contract, 24 percent signed new contracts in the Congo, and 30 percent died, 
^eulemans. Question arabe, pp.183, 224-30; Tippu Tip, Maisha, para. 180-81. By 
1892 Tippu Tip's personal fortune probably amounted to some MT$800,000, accor- 
ding to Bontinck, L'autobiographie , pp.291-92. 
^eulemans. Question arabe, p.225; AA, BMC(46)11/B, Tobback, Journal, p.20. 


Meanwhile, the Free State's military campaigns against the rebel- 
lious Zanzibari and their African allies were producing large numbers 
of captives, who were then declared liberated. In the three years of the 
campaigns more than 5,000 captives arrived at the military camp at 
Lusambo in Kasai, which served the eastern Congo: so many that 
some had to be parcelled out among local chiefs and even given to 
individual soldiers.^^ 

Through direct redemptions or through the freeing of captives 
taken in these campaigns many more slaves came into the service of 
the State and of missionaries on the shores of lake Tanganyika. The 
commander of Tanganyika district in December 1894 reported hang- 
ing six slave traders in recent months and expected to arrest four more 
shortly, while freeing considerable numbers of slaves in the process, 
mostly from Maniema. Two months later his reports mention having 
175 to 200 freedmen serving as soldiers, plus "two villages of former 
Arab slaves who belong to the State" working in agriculture, 
including, he recorded, "about 150 youths suitable to be soldiers in 
two to three years and that I have not given to the missions, because 
they form the reserve of the Force Publique in Tanganyika. "^^ Many 
other former slaves and dependants of the Zanzibari were settled 
along main roads to raise food and supply porters to the government. 

Catholic missionaries were actively involved in the redemption of 
bodies (as well as souls), which provided them with converts as well 
as a work force. In August 1886 the White Fathers' orphanage on lake 
Tanganyika redeemed its 250th slave, a year in which it acquired 
seventy-six boys, ten girls, and twenty-one young women. They 
recorded their 1,450th redemption in November of the turbulent year 
of 1891 when Rumaliza was establishing control over the northern 
part of the lake and churning up considerable numbers of captives. 
The 1,500th redemption came early in 1892, but with the establishment 
of Free State control mission redemptions fell sharply. The redeemed 
slaves worked (mostly as farmers) for the mission until they married, 
and beyond that if they remained on mission grounds. 69 Male slaves 

^teulemans. Question arabe, pp.233-34. 

^AA,AE(200)4, Capitain Descamps to GG, Mtoa, 12 December 1894 and 8 February 


69APB: Journal of the Kibanga Station, 24 August 1886, 31 December 1886, and 

November 1892, Chronique des Phres Blancs, N» 35 Quly 1887), p.463, N« 36 (October 


too young to be employed at the time of their emancipation were sent 
to the Colonies Scolaires where they were trained to become 
militiamen or laborers. In 1892 Governor General Wahis urged 
officials to make "unceasing efforts" to round up enough youth for 
these camps to ensure the State' s future supplies of employees 7^ 

During the last third of the nineteenth century the organization of 
labor in eastern Zaire achieved an important new orientation. The 
Zanzibari penetration began the process by reducing large numbers of 
people to slavery, to the status of commodities, whose labor and per- 
sons had a value determined by the market forces that impelled that 
intrusion. The Free State both extended and altered that process. 
Though officially eschewing slavery, it depended on marketing the 
fruits of African labor on an even larger scale than had the Zanzibari. 
The military conquests of the Zanzibari and the Free State also fur- 
thered the formation of a mobile labor force. Especially in Maniema 
and Uele , old social orders were shattered and refugees, whose ties to 
land and lineage were severed, sought the employ of new masters. 

The extent of this mobilization of labor by 1895 should not be exag- 
gerated. As the chapters that follow will show, the process had only 
begun. Subsequent decades would see its extension into areas of 
eastern Zaire relatively untouched in this period (notably the densely- 
populated eastern frontier) and the establishment of increasingly sys- 
tematic efforts at mobilizing labor by European colonial governments. 

1887), p.614; N*' 55 (July 1892), p.413. The orphanage was originally at Masanze, but 
moved to Kibanga in June 1883. In the early years many orphans were lost to small- 
f)ox. For the most part those redeemed at Kibanga seem to have stayed willingly, 
but elsewhere ex-slaves were driven to desert their mission masters. The White 
Fathers' boys' orphanage at Old Kasongo began suffering from large scale desertions 
by orphans "considering themselves slaves and wishing a more complete freedom," 
and had to be closed down in 1913. (APB: Rapport general, Vicariat Apostolique du 
Haut-Congo, 1912-13, p.578; idem, 1913-14, p.314.) 
TOaA, D(387)2, Wahis to CDs, 28 March 1892. 


Chapter 3 
Forced Labor and Attempted Reform, 1895-1910 

The Free State, having acquired at great cost the vast, remote, and 
potentially rich territory of the eastern Congo, found its exploitation 
no easy task. The colony's administrative staff were few. Necessity 
and King Leopold's injunctions required that they live frugally and 
turn a profit. To meet their day-to-day needs and provide goods for 
export Free State officials devoted most of their energies to harnessing 
African labor, the region's one accessible resource. 

The gross abuses that arose from this hastily installed and ill- 
supervised system soon provoked an international scandal. Well 
publicized investigations in 1903-4 by Roger Casement, the British 
Consul at Boma, and in 1905-6 by an international Commission of 
Inquiry appointed by King Leopold added fuel to the fire. Bursts of 
reform activity by the Free State in 1903 and in 1906 were too little and 
too late. When Belgian missionaries and liberals joined the foreign 
critics in protesting the abuses, Leopold was forced to give up his 
position as absolute BCing-Sovereign of the colony.^ 

In November 1908 the government of Belgium assumed official 
responsibility for the Congo. As constitutional monarch of Belgium, 
Leopold remained nominal head of the Congo, but real authority 
rested with the new Ministry of Colonies, subject to the approval and 
supervision of the Belgian Parliament and the scrutiny of the new 
Colonial Council, whose members were nominated by the houses of 
Parliament as well as by the king. Implementing the rights and 
reforms embodies in the new "Colonial Charter" took time, so that 

^Arthur Vermeersch, a Jesuit priest, rallied the Catholics with his La Question 
congolaise (Brussels: Charles Bulens, 1906) and Filicien Cattier's Etude sur la situation 
de I'Etat Independent du Congo (Brussels: 1906), did the same for the liberals. 


many cruel and abusive labor practices continued for the rest of the 

Administration and Policy 

The Free State administered the eastern Congo as three separate 
districts, each headed by a commissioner general answering to the 
governor general of the colony. The smallest district was that of 
Aruwimi, which followed the course of the Lomami river but which 
took its name from the Aruwimi river at whose mouth the district 
capital, Basoko, was located. Across the north stretched the Uele 
district, following the course of that river. In September 1903 Uele 
was divided into five zones: Uere-Bili and Gurba-Dungu north of the 
river, Rubi and Bomokandi south of the river, and the Lado enclave 
along the Nile. A remnant of the Egyptian empire in the Sudan, Lado 
had been placed under Free State administration in 1893 for the life- 
time of King Leopold. The largest of the three districts was the Pro- 
vince Orientale, which included all the remaining territory in the 
eastern Congo as well as the entire southeastern Congo until that was 
placed under the Comite Special du Katanga in 1900. It was divided 
into five zones within the eastern Congo: Stanley Falls, Ponthierville, 
and Maniema along the Lualaba, and Upper Ituri and Ruzizi-Kivu 
along the Great Lakes of the eastern frontier.^ The capital of the 
Province Orientale was Stanleyville, the river-port town that had 
grown out of Tippu Tip's Kisangaru and the old Stanley Falls station. 

Because recruiting adequate numbers of qualified personnel for 
the Congo was a very difficult problem, the Free State's multinational 
staff varied widely in qualifications. The lack of skill and moral char- 
acter of many of those charged with implementing the crudely formu- 
lated colonial policies contributed to the disastrous consequences. 
Leopold's Commission of Inquiry reported that "a good number of 
[European] agents thought only of obtaining the as much as possible 
in the minimum possible time."'' Others critics felt the state had 

^he Province Orientale was earlier called Stanley Falls district. Before 1903 Uele's 
territories had been known as Uere-Bomu, Makrakra, Rubi-Uele, and Makua; Lado 
had had a separate administration. An administration was not created for Ruzizi- 
Kivu until about 1900; in 1904 the territory along lake Edward was joined to Ruzizi- 
Kivu. BOEIC 1905, pp.5-6; Vandewoude, Documents.. .du Kivu, pp.10-12. 


created this mentality. "The failure to attract suitable candidates is not 
difficult to understand," wrote the British minister, "when it is real- 
ized that... promotion depends not on administrative ability, but on 
ability to collect taxes."'* As Joseph Conrad's Mr. Kurtz tellingly 
illustrates, even the best of men could easily find themselves stretched 
beyond their moral, psychological, and physical limits, when bur- 
dened with the vast responsibilities and subject to the constant 
demands that were characteristic of the early Free State period and 
when isolated from the restraining influences of their own society.^ 

Over time the burden of administration was eased by increases in 
the number of administrators, if not necessarily in their quality.^ In 
general, the quality of the chief administrators in the eastern Congo 
was good. The Belgian military furnished a large proportion of them, 
especially in the early days, and at least one African agent held a 
position of authority.^ The commissioners general of the Province 
Orientale in this period were Justin Malfeyt (1899-1903) and Adolphe 
de Meulemeester (1903-6), both of whom returned as vice-governors 

^dmond Janssens, Giacomo Nisco, and E. de Schumacher, "Rapport de la Com- 
mission d'Enquete k M. le Secretaire de I'Etat Independent du Congo, 30 octobre 
1905," B0.E7C 2905, p.l64. 

^O 403/399 Beale to Grey, 6 Septeml)er 1907, in Emerson, Leopold II, p.238. 
^Heart of Darkness (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1902). Kurtz was modelled on 
the Frenchman, Georges-Antoine Klein, the Stanley Falls agent of the Societe 
Anonyme Beige, whom Conrad encountered in the eastern Congo in 1890. Earlier 
that year Conrad had written his cousin that 60 percent of new SAB employees 
returned to Europe within six months and only 7 per cent completed their three-year 
contracts. Conrad's own term of service as a steamb>oat captain for the SAB also 
ended after less than six months because of illness. See Gerard Jean-Aubry, Joseph 
Conrad in the Congo (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1926). The morbidity rate 
for Free State employees must have been similar. 

^n 1891 the Free State had only 289 European agents, in 1897 there were 684, and 
by 1900 the number had grown to 1,031. See Edmond Van Eetvelde, "Rapport au 
Roi," 25 January 1897, BOEIC 1897, p.56; "Rapport au Roi-Souverain, 5 July 1900, 
BOEIC 1900, p.l29. 

^One such case was an African named Badjoko, Malfeyt's former houseboy, fluent 
in French and English, who became the official chef de paste at Yanongi in the 
Stanley Falls zone. All observers agreed he was an outstandingly successful admin- 
istrator, but some criticized his harsh methods of obtaining the rubber tax. See 
Marcus Dorman, A Journal of a Tour in the Congo Free State (London: Kegan Paul, 
1905), p.l69; Michell to Cromie, Stanleyville, 6 May 1907, FO 403/388, p.3; Gerald 
Campbell, Report on a Tour in the Province Orientale, Aruwimi, and Equator 
Districts [1909-10], FO 403/417, p.35. 


general of the redrawn Province Orientale in the next decade. Albert 
Sillye, who was acting head of the province in 1906-7, was a veteran of 
the campaigns in Maniema and Uele and other pacification expedi- 
tions. He made a favorable impression on the British vice-consul 
because of his leniency toward the Africans and his strictness with 
European agents.^ Less is known about those heading the other two 
districts in the Eastern Congo. In 1904 Uele was headed by Baron de 
Rennette and Aruwimi by Captain Alexandre Pimpurniaux.^ 

Despite Leopold's frequent use of humanitarianism as a guise for 
the creation of his vast Central African empire, his primary motive in 
coming to Africa had been profit. But making this vast area profitable 
required considerable investment and time. During the decade and a 
half after the king had founded his first Congo organization in 1878, 
he expended tens of millions of his own and other investors' francs, 
persuaded Belgium to lend the Congo 25 million francs, and bor- 
rowed more millions elsewhere.^'' These funds went into the 
conquest and administration of the vast empire and provided it with 
the rudiments of a transportation network along the major rivers, but 
revenues did not begin to offset expenses until the boom in rubber 
began exports in the late 1890s. 

The development of these rubber exports illustrates Leopold's 
personal style. The king's options had been severely limited by the 
"free trade" provisions, prohibiting import duties, which had been 
imposed by the great powers at the Berlin Conference when they 
permitted Leopold to acquire control of the vast colony. Despite the 
opposition of much of his cabinet and the protest resignation of his 
governor general, Camillo Janssen, the king imposed a character- 
istically devious solution. Building upon an 1885 decree that had 
asserted the State's claim to all "vacant" lands in the Congo, new 
regulations announced in 1891, 1892, and 1893 defined as "vacant" all 
lands not actually settled or under cultivation, claimed as state prop- 
erty all wild plants and animals on these lands-notably elephants and 
wild rubber plants-and imposed a labor tax on Africans to be paid in 

^Biographic Coloniale Beige, (Brussels: IRCB/ARSC, 1948-77) 2:856-60 (Sillye) & 
111:588-92 (Malfeyt); Michell to Cromie, Stanleyville, 6 May 1907, FO403/388, p.3. 
Gorman, Journal, pp.156, 167. Pimpumiaux had been in the colonial service since 
1894; see Biographic Coloniale Beige, 1:756-57. 
^^Emerson, Leopold II, pp.87-90, 142-52. 


ivory and latex or in other labor services. In the face of opposition 
fron\ commercial firms and other signatories of the Berlin Act, 
Leopold modified the original land claims by dividing the vacant 
lands in the Congo into three zones: a Domaine Prive reserved to the 
State, a free zone open to commercial exploitation, and a third zone 
not then designated to either use.^^ In the eastern Congo relatively 
modest tracts west of the Lualaba and along the Lindi were in the free 
zone, while all of Uele and the northern part of Stanley Falls district 
belonged to the Domaine Prive. The rest of Stanley Falls was in the 
third, undesignated zone, where free trade likewise did not exist.i2 

Leopold's solution to the exploitation of the state domains was 
also highly original, though it rested on a very conventional base. As 
in other African colonies in this period, both the limits of supply lines 
and the shortage of funds dictated that administrators live as far as 
possible on local resources. A law of 6 October 1891 required that at 
the certification and investiture of each African chief a list would be 
made of the prestations in goods to be furnished and the labor ser- 
vices (corvees) and laborers to be furnished. ^^ The exactions of food, 
building materials, porters, and all sorts of casual labor from the local 
inhabitants were thus a normal feature of the earliest days of 
European rule and one that long remained deeply entrenched. How- 
ever, this rather modest system was broadened tremendously by an 
unpublished decree of 5 November 1892 that authorized the secretary 
of state "to take whatever measures he regards useful or necessary to 
ensure the exploitation of the Domaine Prive's resources" and by a 
special decree of 28 November 1893 that authorized the collection of 
taxes in the Province Orientale to cover the expenses of the "Arab 
wars." The last decree served as the basis for more extensive demands 
for porterage, ivory, and rubber. In all of these cases the labor was to 
be paid, but in the case of rubber, it is important to note that the 
remuneration covered only the labor involved in its collection, the 
rubber in the "vacant lands" of the Domaine Prive being considered 
state property already. 14 The obligations under this heading soon 

"Ibid., pp.153-55. 

^^See Vermeersch, Question congoJaise, pp.102-3. 

^^BOEIC 1891, pp.259-61. 

I'^AA, IRCB(507)84, Verbiest, "Perception de I'impot," pp.1-2; "Memorandum 

respecting Taxation and Currency in the Congo Free State," enclosure in N° 2, Grey 


came to exceed all others in their magnitude and onerousness. 

The second defining influence on the eastern Congo in this period 
was the legacy of institutions, personnel and policies left by the 
Zanzibari. About 1893 Governor General Theophile Wahis described 
the regime in the eastern Congo as follows: It is "in short just about 
what had been created by the Arabs. The division of territory is what 
they had established. The personnel, who occupy the regions here 
and there, are those whom they sent there.''^^ He might have added 
that the Free State's labor recruitment policies resembled those of the 
Zanzibari, except that slavery was no longer officially recognized. 

The Free State's campaigns had driven out the major Zanzibari 
traders, but, as the governor general noted, their many servants, 
employees, and slaves who had escaped death in these wars had 
became important agents and allies of the Free State. In the main 
settlements along the Lualaba from Stanleyville to Kasongo, the plan- 
tations established by the Zanzibari continued to provide the rice and 
citrus on which the Europeans depended. Along the trail eastward 
from Stanleyville, settlements of Islamicized Africans (arabises) pro- 
vided porters and provisions to the European officials, much as they 
had to their Zanzibari masters. In 1905 the chief of one such village of 
laborers-whose non- African name, Apache, suggests how thoroughly 
he was a creature of the administration-complained to the Commis- 
sion of Inquiry that a Catholic missionary was telling his men that 
they were free to leave, either to sign labor contracts with the State or 
to return to their homes. Apache said he had been given these men by 
Lieutenant Lothaire at the end of the "Arab" wars in 1894 and he used 
them and their descendants to work his coffee and rice plantations 
and to provide the porters requisitioned by the State.^^ This was not 
an isolated instance. According to British consular officials in the area 
chiefs all along the road leading east from Stanleyville were obliged to 
furnish porters to carry the loads of travellers. One vice-consul 
reported as follows: 

In some instances these porters are literally slaves, and are considered 
so both by their masters and themselves. They formerly belonged to 
Bangwana [Islamicized former slaves of the Zanzibari] raiders. When 

to Hardinge, FO, 27 March 1908, PP, Africa, N» 3 (1908), pp.10-12. 

^^n Ceulemans, Question arabe, pp.53-54. 

^^AA, AE(349-350)528, Commission d'Enquete, dispositions, N° 346. 


the slaves were emancipated they were supposed to leave their 
masters, though hardly any did so, and they immediately returned. 
The State then made the masters "Chiefs," and when porters are 
wanted these Chiefs are called upon to supply them. They naturally 
send these former slaves, who cannot refuse to go. "^ 

A similar instance was reported by another British vice-consul in 1909: 
he found former Zanzibari dependents still furnishing rice and 
porterage along the eastern part of the main road from Stanleyville to 
lake Albert. ^® 

The "personnel" of the Zanzibari dominion also were importcint in 
building up a military-police force necessary to establish control over 
the eastern Congo. As was shown in the previous chapter, the 
conquest of the region had provided the Free State with large 
numbers of prisoners both free and slave, who quickly became a 
significant component of the Free State's Force Publique. Many of 
these arabises also served as sentinels and /or auxiliaries in the service 
of the tiny state administration in the villages outside government 
outposts. Untrained, ill-supervised, loyal to neither the African 
villagers nor the Free State, yet in possession of enormous power, 
these individuals often abused their positions, as their counterparts 
had under the Zanzibari. Of course the responsibility for these 
abuses, and those of the European agents, ultimately lay v^th the Free 
State administration and King Leopold. In these early years such 
officials largely ignored the excesses, so long as the quotas in rubber, 
ivory, and other goods were met. 

An American, E. J. Glave, left a carefully record of the adminis- 
trative practices he observed in 1894-95 during a trip from lake 
Tanganyika to Basoko. Glave had worked for the Free State on the 
middle Congo in the 1880s and seems to have had no particular axe to 
grind. He generally accepted the need for harsh measures-"to beat 
the natives into submission," in his words, and to accustom them to 
the habit of steady work for the State-so long as they were paid for it, 
but he found that in all too many parts of the former heartland of 
Zanzibari operations remuneration was lacking: 

^'ivlitchell to Nightingale, Bafwesendi, 18 September 1907, PP, Africa, N" 1(1908), 

NP 23, p.48. 

^^Campbell, "Report on...the Province Orientale," p.60. 


The State conducts its pacification of the country after the fashion of 
the Arabs, so the natives are not gainers at all. The Arabs in the 
employ of the state are compelled to bring in ivory and rubber, and 
are permitted to employ any measures considered necessary to 
obtain this result. They employ the same means as in the days gone 
by, when Tippu Tib was one of the masters of the situation. They 
raid villages, take slaves, and give them back for ivory. The state has 
not suppressed slavery, but established a monopoly by driving out 
the Arabs and Wangwana competitors. 19 

A decade later. Commissioner General de Meulemeester told the 
Commission of Inquiry that such auxiliaries were no longer in use, 
though he lauded the importance of their services to the State in 
earlier times. 20 

The third influence on Free State operations was indigenous 
African political and economic institutions. Although African politi- 
cal institutions varied enormously from the large Zande and Mang- 
betu kingdoms of northern Uele to the tiny village-states of Maniema, 
the local African chief quickly became the mainstay of government 
rule and labor policy. Caught in that cruel vise so vividly described 
by Lloyd Fallers, African chiefs in eastern Zaire struggled to defend 
their people as much as possible, while meeting enough of the often 
excessive demands of colonial authorities to retain their positions.21 
Many, such as the great Zande rulers Mopoie, Sasa, and Semio, 
passively resisted the ever-growing government demands for rubber, 
porters, and food in an effort to retain the support of their subjects, 
but soon found themselves displaced or replaced by government 
appointees. 22 

It is clear that the relationship between the African chiefs and the 

^*'Cruelty in the Congo Free State. Concluding Extract from the Journals of the late 
E. J. Glave," Century 54 (September 1897):705-6. 

20aA, AE(350)528, N° 330, 21 January 1905; the commissioner had given the order, 
but compliance was not universal: in 1906 an agent named Moro in Upper Ituri was 
still stationing armed African sentinels in isolated posts, for which dereliction orders 
were given not to renew his contract. AA, IRCB(722)73/n, 29 September 1906. 
^^Bantu Bureaucracy, new ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1965), ch. 8. 
^^One of these appointees was Gouga, who was made head of the Zande at Bondo 
about 1905, and about whom "stories of every kind of brutality... were on the lips of 
every native in the surrounding country," according to the British Consul Jack P. 
Armstrong, "Report on the Condition of the Natives in the Uele District," 3 Septem- 
ber 1910, FO 403/425 in N'^ 16, pp.14-15, 22. 


Free State resembled the relationship the chiefs had had with the 
Zanzibar!. To supply the laborers and military recruits demanded by 
the State, the chiefs drew upon their domestic slaves, former slaves, 
and other defenseless persons among their subjects just as they had 
for the Zanzibari.23 European missions also inherited the benefits of 
these predatory levies In 1906 the head of the Catholic mission at 
Kasongo, Tippu Tip's old headquarters recorded this observation: 

In the past when an Arab set himself up in a region, one of his first 
moves was to demand some children from the local chief as a pledge 
of their alliance or of their submission: these children, having 
become the property of the Arab, were then installed either among 
the soldiers or the servants of this slave trade. From that moment on 
they could not dream of retiirning to their relatives or their homes. 
Now there is apprehension of a similar system on our part...: thus a 
certain near-by chief has been seen to collect some twenty boys in his 
village, mostly orphans and vagabonds, and to send them to us, 
saying: "Here are the children you want, take full charge of these 
who live with you; henceforth they are yours." 24 

While relations between chief and people in many African 
communities were thus distorted by the role chiefs had to play in the 
service of the Europeans, some African societies or chiefs were able to 
use the Free State's presence, as they had the Zanzibari's, to distort 
their positions vis-k-vis their neighbors or subjects. In the territory of 
Isangi just west of Kisangani, for example, the Yalusuna, already 
slave-holders before their conquest by the whites, reduced to slavery a 
not insignificant number of additional villages that were not yet sub- 
ject to white rule in order to meet their rubber quotas without doing 
the collection themselves. Eventually, these slaves sought colonial 
protection from these excesses. 25 Elsewhere, newly freed slaves were 

^^See the remarks of the Rev. A. De Qercq, former Provincial of the Scheut mission- 
aries in the Congo Free State and Captain R. Dubreucq, a Free State administrator 
(Conseil Colonial, CRA 1908/9, pp.165- 67). Their indications of the importance of 
slaves in providing a labor force apply specifically to the Kasai and Equator pro- 
vinces, but suggest the practice was more general. For the Aruwimi district of the 
eastern Congo see Mitchell to Nightingale, Stanleyville, 27 November 1907, PP, 
Africa (N° 1), N'' 29, p.59. 
24APB, RAPE 1907, p.403. 
^^AA, D(385), Rapport d'enquete, chefferie de Yamfira, territoire d'Isangi, district 


impressed into service. As was shown above, liberated Africans from 
the "pacification" of the eastern Congo who were not needed for the 
Force Publique had been put in the custody of some traditional and 
some newly created chiefs. What became of the "surplus" of freed 
persons around the military camp at Lusambo is unclear. 

The Mangbetu rulers in Uele also used their enhanced coercive 
powers in the early colonial period to exact more work and goods 
from their own subjects for themselves as well as for the state, and to 
assert their authority over neighboring peoples, such as the Mamvu. 
Increasingly it seemed to their subjects, as well as to outside obser- 
vers, that they had become slaves of their rulers. 26 

The Free State had come into existence waving a banner of reform: 
it promised to end slavery, extend liberal Western values, and uplift 
African lives. From the beginning the State had clothed its exploi- 
tation of labor in the robes of education. According to its secretary of 
state. Baron Edmond van Eetvelde: 

The State deems labor to be one of the best means to regenerate the 
native: it is in his agricultural activities that the native comes to 
initiate himself into it, learning to clear and cultivate the soil, to plant 
coffee and tobacco, to collect rubber and other vegetable products, at 
the same time as he finds an equitable remuneration. 27 

This process, Eetvelde suggested, was to be accomplished by persua- 
sion, but where that was not enough, Africans were to be driven to 
work by requisitions of goods and services for which they would be 

The reality of labor practices was quite different. Grossly imder- 
staffed, under-financed, and overextended, the administration's pri- 
mary function came to be ensuring its own survival and, beyond that, 
extracting a profit from its poor colony. The system of prestations 
supplied local agents with the food, shelter, and transport they 
needed and fed Leopold's insatiable appetite for wild rubber and 

d'Aruwimi, no date. 

2^eim, "Women in Slavery among the Mangbetu"; see also Armstrong, "Report on 

Uele," pp.18-19. 

2'Van Eetvelde, "Rapport au roi," 25 January 1897, BOEIC 1897, pp.47-49. 


Labor Exactions. 1895-1903 

The Commission of Inquiry assessed the operation of the system of 
prestations before 1903 overall in the Congo in the following terms: 

In general, it is true to say that everything concerning the native 
requisitions and exactions was in reality, until recent years, left to the 
agents' judgment. Without bothering himself too much about the 
legal basis, each station or concession head demanded from the 
natives the most varied exactions in labor and in kind, either to meet 
his own needs and those of the station or to exploit the wealth of the 

These commissioners, like other contemporary investigators, paid 
greatest attention to concessionary tracts of the middle Congo, where 
the worst abuses of the period seem to have taken place. It is difficult 
to document the activities of the state's agents elsewhere in the colony 
-not least because Leopold ordered the systematic destruction of its 
records on the eve of the Belgian takeover-but the documents that 
escaped that purge suggest that in the eastern Congo the resort to 
compulsion was much more often the practice than the use of 
effective inducements to free labor.29 This evidence also shows that 
the impositions to which Africans were subject varied considerably 
with the character of the administrator and the needs he had to meet. 
Africans near government posts, along porterage routes, and in rub- 
ber producing areas suffered the most from violence and overwork. 

Because the historical record is so meager, it is worth recounting in 
some detail Glave's observations concerning the newly conquered 
Maniema.30 Moving through the area from southeast to northwest in 
1894-95, he described the government stations and agents he encoun- 
tered and the system of prestations which, not surprisingly in the 
circumstances, he termed "tribute." At Kabambare, which Glave vis- 
ited in December 1894, the outlying villages, "all friendly and submis- 

^^anssens, "Rapport," p.l64. 

2^5ee Jean Stengers, "The Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo before 1914," in 

Colonialism in Africa, vol. 1: The History and Politics of Colonialism, 1870-1914, L. H. 

Gann and Peter Duignan, eds. (Cambridge : At the University Press, 1969), pp.267- 


3<>'Extracts from the Journals of the Late E. J. Glave," Century, 53 (April 1897):900- 

915 and 54(September 1897):699-715. 


sive," paid their tribute in labor, including porterage to Kasongo, and 
in goods, mostly ivory and rubber. At the New Kasongo station on 
the Lualaba, to which much of the large population of the destroyed 
Old Kasongo further inland had moved, he noted a great variety of 
tribute forms: "Some do paddling; others build; others, again, bring in 
wood for building purposes. The chiefs west of here supply mandiba 
mats as their tribute. Some bring in ivory and rubber." At Nyangwe, 
where 5,000 auxiliaries were kept busy enforcing government author- 
ity in the outlying areas, he reported that a good deal of ivory was 
brought in "as tribute" along with some rubber, which the station 
head, Emile Lemery, thought could be expanded to fifteen tons a 
month "when more tribes are brought under control. "^^ At 
Bayongwe, also under Lemery's command, some villages had also 
been forced to move closer to the river to provide food, canoes, and 
camping places, while others were compelled to bring in rubber to 
avoid military reprisals. 

At Riba-Riba (Lokandu) in the Ponthierville zone, under Lieu- 
tenant Rue, some villagers were "required to cut wood for station 
purposes; others to search for rubber; others for ivory; some to serve 
as soldiers for six or seven years." If they failed to fulfill their quotas, 
Glave reported, villages were subject to armed assaults and delin- 
quent individuals, including women, might receive severe beatings. 
At Basoko in Aruwimi district, which he reached in February 1895, 
Glave found Africans compelled to furnish canoe-porterage, general 
labor around the station (usually by women), and fish. For this no 
compensation was offered beyond an occasional "small piece of cloth" 
for the chief. He found similar methods used for obtaining ivory at 
Isangi on the Lomami. 

Another area for which information on early administration has 
survived is the Lado enclave, a part of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan that 
was administered by the Congo during King Leopold's lifetime. In 
1899 a British observer reported that the general mode of operation of 
the newly-established Free State administration consisted in sending 
troops under a white officer (the latter a refinement notably lacking in 
Maniema in 1894-95) to the villages for food with regular and frequent 
resorts to attacks, looting, and taking of prisoners. "The plain truth 

^^Lemery mentions Glave's visit in a letter to his mother from Nyangwe, 24 Janaury 
1895, AA, D(382)29.1. 


is," the observer noted, "that there is no civilized supervision by 
responsible men."32 in 1902-3 the Free State administration was 
described as still being "tyrannical.. .compulsion."^^ 

The final area of the eastern Congo whose early administrative 
history can be known, in this case from the Free State's own records, is 
the territory between lakes Kivu and Tanganyika. There was no great 
need for labor in this area until the outbreak of the First World War 
and the density of population was quite high, even though scattered 
among the hilly countryside in many isolated communities. The local 
reports show a pattern of peaceful visits by an administrator with a 
few soldiers. Generally the inhabitants immediately took flight and it 
took twelve to twenty-four hours to coax them back with assurances 
of the administrator's peaceful intentions. Then requests were made 
for supplies of bamboo and building sticks, for a market to be held 
(paid for in beads), and for laborers for roadbuilding and porterage. 
The demands appear to have been moderate, the responses uneven, 
and the administrators generally patient in trying to secure com- 
pliance. It must be borne in mind, however, that this area was also 
claimed by Germany and that the Free State's agents were under 
special instructions to avoid any actions that might disturb the local 

Detailed information on other areas of the eastern Congo has not 
survived, but it is still possible to reconstruct the larger patterns of 
work obligations that fell on Africans in this period from what is 
known of administrative practice and the volume of commerce. In 
addition to the prestations in food, supplies and local labor, which fell 
disproportionately on Africans nearest government stations, there 

^^"Report by Dr. Milne on the Administrative Methods of the Congo Free State in 
the Upper Nile Valley," FO 403/304 in N'' 97, pp.202-3. Milne recorded: "Lt. 
[Edmond] Bertrand told me that Inspector [Louis-Napoleon] Chaltin, the present 
Head of the Nile district, strongly depredated the taking of prisoners into the station 
[as food was in short supply there already], but that Commandant [Emile] Henry- 
than whom, in private life, I never met a more good-natured, absent-minded man- 
either wilfully or unknowingly, connived at the practice." 

^O 403/364: Reginald Wingate, "Note on the present Administration in the Lado 
Enclave," Khartoum, 23 November 1904, p.25. 

^KU: Rapports de reconnaissance, Luvungi, 1904-9, passim; Vandewoude, 
Documents... Kivu, N° 1 (Instructions concernant territoires litigieux, 1900; Instruc- 
tions, 1902), N° 48 (Rapports mensuels sur la situation generale, Uvira, 1903-5). 


were also very important exactions in ivory, porterage, and rubber. 
Few details of the first two are known before 1903. It would seem that 
ivory collection in the eastern Congo peaked around the turn of the 
century, as it did in the Congo generally, when the accumulated 
stocks of "dead" ivory were depleted and the specialized ivory 
hunters were brought under control,.^ 

Porterage seen\s to have been a more widespread and onerous 
labor burden in this period. The growing requisitions of food, buil- 
ding materials, and exactions in ivory and rubber necessarily involved 
a great deal of localized head porterage. There was also a growing 
imposition of head and canoe porterage for goods and supplies over 
the routes that led from the Lualaba and the Nile and from lake Tan- 
ganyika. Only scattered details are known for the years before 1903, 
though the more detailed accounts in the next section of this chapter 
suggest what the pattern of operations must have been. 

As with other kinds of exactions, force was regularly employed in 
securing this labor. Along the Uele east of Bima, for example, two 
armed attacks were employed in 1891 to convince the Bakango to 
furrush canoemen for the state. ^^ In 1896-97 small villages of Kibali 
were raided for porters, who were led off tied together, leaving be- 
hind "a good number" of killed and wounded. ^^ The only indication 
of volume is the estimate that the transport service westward from 
Rejaf on the Nile moved 4,000 two-man loads in six months in 1899 
"without too much resort to arms."^ 

Far greater amounts of labor went into collecting wild rubber. 
During this period quotas were increasing and an ever widening 
circle of African villages was subject to them. A number of things 
made the rubber tax the most generally hated aspect of Free State rule: 
the collecting itself, the quantities demanded, the increasingly long 

^%xports of ivory from the Free State's own territories averaged 233 metric tons a 
year in 1893-97, 244 tons in 1898-1902, and 189 tons in 1903-7. Over 90 percent of this 
came from the Upper Congo, i.e. the region above Stanley Pool, with about 40 
percent of the total coming from the eastern Congo. BOEIC 1894, p.50; 1895, p.lO; 
1596, p.44; 1897, p.ll6; 1898, p.60; 1899, p.80; 1900, p.45; 1901, p.ll3; 1902, 
p.64; 1903, p.71; 1904, p.65; 1905, p.25; 1906, p.83; 1907, p.432; 1908, p.l39. 
lieutenant Gustin, "Vers le Nil: de Leopoldville a Djabir," Mouvement Geogra- 
phique, 1 May 1898, col. 229; cf. G. De Bauw, "La Zone Uere-Bomu," Belgique 
Cobniale, 17 February 1901, p.74. 

3^. Bodart, "Journal Personnel," pp.27-28; AA, D(382)9/l. 
38MRAC, RG1078/7, Chaltin, Journal, 7 October 1899. 


Table 3.1 

Ivory Tax Collected, Eastern Congo, 1901-1910 

(in Metric Tons) 



1902 1903 

1904 1905 1906 

1907 1908 1909 1910 


















1 2 

Upper Ituri 







Lomami Company 
Stanley FaUs 












A. Eastern Congo 










B. Entire Congo 










A as percent of B 




Notes: Many totals are derived from incomplete monthly reports which have been 
averaged to give an annual total; those based on fewer than four monthly reports 
in a year are italicized. Most series are too incomplete to permit the calculation 
even of rough totals. 

Sources: BOEIC 1902, p.64; 2903, p.71; 1904, p.65; 1905, p.25; 2906, p.83; 2907, 
p.435; 1908, p.l39; AA, AE(342)512, remarks of the commissioner general of 

trips to find sources, and the dangers which resulted. The disagree- 
able nature of the collection process is brought out in this 1892 
description from the area of Basoko: 

The native makes a gash in the vine. In great haste, he collects the 
rubber escaping precipitously... from the cut. He spreads it on his 
chest, on his thighs and on his arms, lets it dry and soon become 
firm. Then he pulls it off and makes a baU of it. This work is rather 
tiring. The first few times it is not without pain that the man pulls it 
off the hairy parts of his body. The native doesn't like making 
rubber. He must be compelled to do it. ^ 

39MRAC RG 1078/4, Chaltin, Journal, 16 July 1892, p. 80. 


The quantity of rubber which could be collected was limited by the 
profusion of wild rubber vines in a region: the savanna lands of the 
north and south had relatively little, with the notable exception of the 
northern river valleys, nor did the mountainous country in the east. 
The quantity of rubber was also limited by the number of people 
under the actual control of the administration and the degree of effec- 
tive control that could be exercised-highly significant factors in the 
early years of Free State administration. Each administrative unit was 
assigned a quota, but administrators were encouraged to collect ever- 
increasing amounts, which was to their advantage financially and in 
terms of advancement, since they received a commission on the 
amount collected. 

Though it is not easy to find details of rubber collection for this 
period, its abusive character is clear from the number of rebellions it 
provoked. 40 Some of the largest uprisings took place just west of 
eastern Congo at the turn of the century and probably inspired those 
to the east. Among these were the Zappo Zap and Tetela uprisings in 
Kasai on the border of Maniema in 1899-1900, and the Buja rising in 
Bengala near Aruwimi district in 1898-1901. ^^ The earliest recorded 
uprising in the eastern Congo, after the Zanzibari resistance, was a 
natophe (rubber) revolt in Aruwimi in 1895. Although excessive 
rubber exactions were only one of the grievances, the imposition of 
fines in rubber as a punishment for the widespread uprisings must 
have added to the hatred of the rubber quotas.^^ That district also 
saw turmoil in 1903, particularly among the Ngandu, provoked by the 
heavy porterage demands.'^ 

The western zones of Uele district provide another example of the 
maimer in which excessive rubber exactions led to revolts. In 1898 
acting Governor General Felix Fuchs wrote to Antoine Verstraeten, 
the head of the Rubi zone, instructing him to show "fresh proof of 
your activity and devotion by making the district you command 

^^^See table 3.2 for 1901 ff. 

4^For a general account of these and other contemporary revolts see Jean Stengers 
and Jan Vansina, "Western Equatorial Africa: B. King Leopold's Congo, 1886-1908," 
in Cambridge History of Africa, vol. 6: c.l870-c.l905, Roland Oliver and G. N. 
Sanderson, eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp.332-33. 
42Glave, "Journal [19/20 February 1895]," 54:706; MRAC, RG1078/15, Chaltin, 
Journal, 10 September 1895. 
tribune Congolaise, 27 August 1903. 


produce the maximum of resources which can be drawn from it." 
Verstraeten in turn wrote to his agents, instructing them that, in 
addition to the already heavy burden of providing food and porterage 
along the Buta-Nile route (see below), from the beginning of 1899 the 
inhabitants were also to supply four metric tons of rubber a month- 
over ten times what the post of Libokwa had recently been supplying. 
Verstraeten reportedly gave his agents carte hlanche in how they went 
about collecting the rubber, advising them: "Employ gentleness at 
first," and, if that didn't work, "employ force of arms." 

The constantly rising rubber quotas, combined with the growing 
demands for porterage and for livestock and other provisions, drove a 
portion of the Babwa to rebel in mid-1899. The harsh suppression of 
this rebellion and the continuing exactions provoked a general revolt 
late in 1900 among the Babwa of western Uele, who captured the 
important station of Libokwa, including stores of cartridges and mer- 
chandise. Despite strenuous repression in September-October of 1901, 
the unrest simmered throughout 1902. Scapegoats were made of 
Commandant Verstraeten, whose appointment was not renewed, and 
his over-zealous subordinate. Captain Edouard Tilkens, who in 1902 
fled the colony to escape arrest for having imposed a "reign of terror" 
in his part of the zone. Although the Free State tried to portray the 
circumstances in Uele as exceptional, questions about the whole 
system of rubber collection were raised in the Belgian Parliament.'** 

Elsewhere in Uele, there were other uprisings against the Free 
State regime, the details of which are less well documented. Up to 
1903 a high level of rubber collection was being extracted by agent 
Servais from the Meje, who refused to continue this onerous burden 

**AA, IRCB(722)73/I, summaries of the mail presented to King Leopold, especially 
22 November 1901, May 1902, 2 July 1902; Belgium, Annates Parlementaires, Chambre 
des Representants, seance 1 July 1903, pp.1718-21. Vandewalde's account of the 
events to the Belgian House in summarized in E. D. Morel's Red Rubber : The Story of 
the Rubber Slave Trade Flourishing on the Congo in the Year of Grace 1906 (London: T. 
Fisher Unwin, 1906), p.37, 62, whose translations are quoted here. Other details are 
in H. R. Fox-Bourne, Civilisation in Congoland: a Story of International Wrong-Doing 
(London: p.S. King & Son, 1903), pp.263-64, quoting the Times of 8 January, 27 
April, 17 September, and 15 October 1901. Compare Verstraeten's entry in the 
Biographie Coloniale Beige, 1:932-34, which makes no mention of the scandalous side 
of these events, and Tilkens', ibid., 3:845-47, which contains much detail of the 
debate they provoked. 


for his successor, W. E. Thornton, an American, whom the Meje 
murdered and reportedly ate.'*^ xhe revolt of the neighboring Zande 
chief Fune early in 1902 seems to have been connected partly to 
rubber collection, since after his defeat he had to furnish some two 
tons of it.'^ The details of what followed are not known, but when 
Governor General Theophile Wahis visited Uele at the end of 1905, he 
was able to remark on the "tranquility and contentment of the great 
majority of the people" there and predict that "as the obligations 
weighing on them become less heavy.-.their submission [will become] 
more complete."^ 

If the reports of such revolts stirred criticism in Belgium, they 
raised an absolute storm of protest in Britain. In the latter half of 1903, 
Roger Casement, the British consul in the Free State since 1901, 
traveled up the Congo to investigate the stories of atrocities that had 
been filtering out of the Upper Congo. Casement, who had once 
worked for the Free State and who, as British consul, had been 
sending back reports critical of labor practices in the Lower Congo, 
never reached the eastern Congo. Satisfied that he had authenticated 
enough instances of forced labor, beatings, mutilations, and other 
abuses of Africans along the middle stretches of the river, he returned 
to Boma to write his scathing report that was delivered to the Foreign 
Office in mid-December and published in an expurgated version in 
mid-February 1904. Meanwhile, with Casement's encouragement, the 
young editor of the West African Mail, E. D. Morel, had formed the 
Congo Reform Association, which led an active campaign against the 
rubber tax system for the next several years.48 

^^rihune Congolaise, 2 July 1903 and 21 January 1904; Michel! to Cromie, Stanley- 
ville, 12 August 1907, FO 403/388 in N° 47. Thornton had been in charge of Banalia 
when the missionary George Grenfell passed through in 1899; see George Hawker, 
The Life of George Grenfell, Congo Missionary and Explorer, (London: Religious Tract 
Society, 1909), p.440. See Thornton's entry in the Biographie Colonial Beige, 5:806-7. 
'*^. D. Morel, History of the Congo Reform Movement, Wm. Roger Louis and Jean 
Stengers, eds. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p.97, citing news items in the 
Tribune Congolaise. 

"^^aron Wahis to King Leopold, Buta, 12 November 1905, cited in Jean Stengers, 
"Morel and Belgium," in Morel, History, p.241. Ironically Stengers quotes this to 
show how Wahis could be lulled into forgetting the abuses at Abir when in a "calm" 
area. Wahis could hardly have forgotten the long unrest in this part of Uele so soon. 
4%ee Morel, History; S. J. S. Cookey, Britain and the Congo Question 1885-1913 (New 
York: Humaruties Press, 1968); Emerson, Leopold U, pp.241-48. 


The 1903 Reforms 

Evidently as a result of the growing unrest in the Congo and the 
rising storm of protest in Europe, the Free State undertook the first 
major reform of its labor tax. By a decree of 18 November 1903 the 
prestations were limited to a maximum of forty hours a month per 
adult male. The tax of Africans who were not employed directly by 
the State had to be converted into some quantity of goods, e.g. rubber, 
whose production represented forty hours of labor. However, the 
subordination of reform to production remained, as is clearly illustra- 
ted by this confidential directive from Vice-Governor General Coster- 
mans to all district and zone heads early in 1904: 

You should note well that the application of the law on prestations 
should result, not only in maintaining the results of previous years, 
but also in recording a constant increase in the resources of the Trea- 
sury. The receipts of one year, for a district must not be less than 
those of the previous year; on the contrary, an increase must be 
aimed at. ^ 

Ideally, the increases were to be achieved by a continuous increase in 
administrative control and in the efficiency with which the collection 
was done. The directive stressed (in boldface) the need to keep the 
level of remuneration to Africans fixed at a low level because of 
budgetary constraints. While this directive was not incompatible with 
genuine reform, it certainly could not have lessened the impression 
among administrators that the State still cared more about production 
than about reform. Not surprisingly, the "tables of equivalences" 
drawn up by administrators tended to exaggerate the productivity of 
their subjects and idealize their efficiency.^ 

Although Leopold denied that the Free State was guilty of any 
systematic abuses, pressures by the British government and reform- 
minded Belgians finally forced him to appoint an international Com- 
mission of Inquiry consisting of three jurists, one Belgian, one Italian, 

^^ostermans k MM les Commissaires de district et Chefs de zone, Boma, 29 
February 1904, N*' 1283/g, enclosed testimony of H.A. Delhaye, 20 October 1904, 
Commission d'Enquete, proems verbal N° 15, AA, AE(349)528. 
^or example, the annex to proces verbal N° 330, De Meulemeester, commissaire 
general, PO, Stanleyville 21 January 1905, Commission d'Enquete, AA, AE(350)528. 


and one Swiss. The Commission conducted hearings in the Congo 
from October 1904 to February 1905, covering much of the same route 
as Casement, but advancing further up river. At Stanleyville they 
gathered considerable information on conditions in the eastern Congo 
from officials and from African workers. Finally published in the Free 
State's Bulletin Officiel in November 1905, the Commission's report 
was deliberately low-keyed-especially compared to Casement' s-but 
the criticisms in it were all the more stinging for their restrained tone 
and their conjunction with praise of the Free State's accomplish- 
ments.5^ Like Casement, the commissioners devoted some of their 
strongest criticisms for the territories of the ABIR (Anglo-Belgian 
India Rubber Company) concession, in which the Free State was the 
principal investor, but they also documented a larger pattern of 
abuses which included the eastern Congo. The Free State's exploita- 
tion of labor, especially for rubber collection and porterage, came in 
for particular criticism. 

Overall, the commissioners did not consider the reform law of 
November 1903 to have produced significant improvements. The 
emphasis on sustaining and increasing production still led to exac- 
tions in goods that almost everywhere exceeded the forty hour limit 
and thus further lowered the remuneration Africans received since 
that was measured in hours.^^ They found demands for food and 
building materials and labor corvees for maintaining roads and tele- 
graph routes were frequent, widespread, and very much disliked by 
Africans, especially those close enough to government outposts to be 
called upon constantly or at short notice.^ 

However, it was in rubber collection and porterage that the 

^^Emerson, King Leopold, pp.248-52. 
^^anssens, "Rapport d'enquete," p.l69. 

^anssens, "Rapport d'enquete," pp.184-85. This does not mean that the law had 
not led to improvement anywhere. In Lado, for instance, a British observer late in 
1904 concluded that the labor system had become more systematic and less despotic: 
"Forced labour is not now, as it used to be, generally employed, and the following 
appears to be the system of obtaining it for Government purposes. A requisition for 
the amount of labor required is forwarded to a Chief, who then provided the men, to 
whom a soldier's ration is given while employed. Each relief works, as a rule, for 
seven days, at the expiration of the period each man is paid a piece of cloth as the 
price of hire, whilst the Chief himself receives a muzzle-loading gun for each gang of 
100 men he provides." Reginald Wingate, "Note on the present Administration in 
the Lado Enclave," Khartoum, 23 November 1904, FO 403/364 in N° 18, pp.25-26. 


Commission signaled the worst abuses. Evidence of how rubber was 
collected in the eastern Congo during 1903-6 can be uncovered from 
the Commission and other sources. How much rubber was collected 
is shown in table 3.2. Unlike the colony as a whole, which registered a 
sharp drop in rubber collection following the 1903 reforms, the 
eastern Congo's collections fell only slightly in 1904 and 1905 and then 
continued to expand, reaching a peak of nearly 1,900 metric tons in 
1906 at a time when overall rubber production in the colony was stag- 
nant. The increase came largely from the Uele district and the Ituri 
zone in the northern part of the region, whose production more than 
offset declines in Aruwimi and Ponthierville, which had been under 
State control much longer. As in the colony as a whole, the declines in 
the latter areas were due to the destruction of wild rubber plants as a 
result of the collectors incising them too deeply or from simply sever- 
ing vines completely so as to obtain all the latex at once. How much 
of this destruction was the result of incessant and excessive demands 
for immediate results by administrators (as critics of the State main- 
tained), of Congolese fecklessness and indolence (as most State 
officials claimed), or of deliberate sabotage by African resisters (as 
modern Africanists might argue) cannot be determined from the 
evidence. But the decline itself was noted on the Lindi river north of 
Stanleyville, on the Lomami, and on the Lualaba by touring British 
diplomats. 5'* Begimiing in 1899 the loss of wild rubber plants had 
ledto programs to require the planting of new rubber trees or vines to 
replace those being destroyed and to provide for more concentrated 
sources. 55 in 1904 the governor general reported that the State had 
planted the number required by law (about 3 million) and that private 
organizations had planted an additional 1.5 million.56 Reports from 
1906 suggest that the planting was being seriously followed in the 
eastern Congo, with Ponthierville zone reporting 50,000 seeds planted 
in a single quarter, Gurba-Dungu zone reporting "great progress," and 

54Michell to Nightingale, Stanleyville, 5 July 1906, PP, Africa N'' 1 (1907) in N= 9, 
p.25; Beak to Nightingale, Kasongo, 8 May 1907, PP, Africa N«^ 1 (1908) in N= 4, p.l3; 
Campbell, Report on. . .the Province Orientale,", pp.45-46. 

^%ee decree of 5 January 1899, requiring the planting of 150 shoots for every ton of 
rubber harvested in Crown forests (BOEIC 1899, p.l6) and the decree of 7 June 1902 
raising the figure to 500 shoots per ton effective in 1903 (BOEIC 1902, pp.136-37). 
5^'Rapport du GG au Secretaire d'Etat 1904," BOEIC 1904, p.l55. 


Table 3.2 

Rubber Tax Collected, Eastern Congo, 1901-1910 

(in Metric Tons) 


1901 1902 1903 

1904 1905 1906 


1908 1909 1910 


1 21 





3 42 










102 106 





Upper Ituri 

77 clOO cl50 







149 90 250 




Lomami Company 

136 155 166 






Stanley Falls 

564 444 400 






309 402 c350 






116 clOO cl50 






A. Eastern Congo 

1355 1354 1766 

1463 1528 1859 




B. Entire Colony 

6023 5350 5918 


4849 4862 

4657 4560 3751 

A as percent of B 

22 25 30 





Note: Many totals are derived from scattered monthly reports which have been 
averaged to give an annual total; those based on fewer than four monthly reports 
in a year are italicized. In order to permit calculation of regional annual totals, 
estimates that scale the gap between known years have been assigned to some 
zones; they are marked by "c". Other round numbers are contemporary estimates. 

Sources: Monthly reports by zone in MRAC 50.30.44, 47, 511; AA, AI(1371-72); AA, 
IRCB(772)73/I; RAPO 1905 (precis), AA, 1RCB(772)73/11; Rapport economique, first 
half 1912, Uere-Bili, MRAC 50.30.516. Rapports du conseil d'administration, Com- 
pagnie de Lomami, 1901-6, in Mouvement Geographique , 1901, col.647; 1902, col.641; 
27 December 1903; 7 February 1904; 5 February 1905; 11 February 1906; 10 February 

1907. "La Production du Caoutchouc au Congo," Mouvement Geographique, 28 
October 1906. AA, AE(342)512, remarks of commissioner general of Aruwimi. 
BOEIC 1902, p.63; 1903, p.69; 1904, p.63; 1905, p.23; 1906, p.81; 1907, p. 433; 

1908, p.l37; RACE 1909, p.34. 

Uere-Bili reporting 13,682 seeds planted.57 

The level of production is not to be explained by such replanting 
efforts, but, as the 1904-5 Commission of Inquiry argued, by the fact 

^'^onthly reports, Ponthierville (June 1906), Gurba-Dungu (May 1906), Uere-Bili 
(March 1906), AA, IRCB(722)73/II. 


that an African was forced to spend "the greater part of his time in the 
collection of rubber" in flagrant violation of the 1903 law limiting such 
labor to forty hours per month. Enforcement of rubber quotas with 
accompanying hostage- taking, flogging, and other violent acts, was 
worst in the ABIR concession, but the Commission also found notable 
violations also notable in the Uele and Aruwimi districts of the 
eastern Congo.^^ The revolts and unrest chronic in Uele in the prior 
years appear to have been checked by a more systematic application 
of military force. For example, in December 1903 rubber production 
in Uere-Bili zone was 2,800 kg, but jumped to 6,200 kg a year later 
after a military occupation of Likafi and Zia territories and reached an 
average of 8,600 kg a month during the spring of 1905.^^ 

The operation of the reform in Aruwimi is known in more detail. 
The assistant administrator of that zone reported at the beginning of 
1905 as follows: 

The prestations of rubber are coming in very badly. We only require 
1.5 kilograms of fresh rubber per month per adult male... When there 
is a shortfall we generally apply pressure on the chief, who is taken 
prisoner to the station, or against those whom he designates as 
having shown ill will. This pressvire must be applied rather often.... 
The blacks in this region have an invariable repugnance against 
work of any sort, and especially against rubber work. 60 

Special attention must be paid to labor for porterage, which the 
Commission of Inquiry considered was, "without doubt, of all the 
corvees, that which weighs most heavily on the native, "^i Reform in 
the use of porterage could not come through labor legislation alone, 
no matter how sincerely and effectively enforced; first there would 
have to be a thorough and expensive restructuring of the system of 
transport in use in the Congo, such as had been done through the 
construction of the Lower Congo railroad in 1898. Thus, the establish- 

^anssens, "Rapport d'enquete," pp.192-96. 

59lRCB(772)73: Extracts from monthly reports of Uere-Bili. It is unclear if these in- 
creases resulted from bringing greater numbers of Africans into compliance, 
^laf Andreas Lund, Basoko, 17 January 1905, testimony to the Commission 
d'Enquete, procfes verbal N° 327, A A, AE(350)528. 

^^Janssens, "Rapport d'Enquete," pp.135-285. This judgment is supported by Major 
P. H. G. Powell-Cotton, who was in Ituri in 1905: "Un officier anglais au Congo," la 
Belgique maritime et coloniale, 19 May 1907, p.697. 


ment of the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Congo Superieur aux 
Grands Lacs Africains (CFL) at the beginning of 1902 to build a series 
of railroads in the eastern Congo, skirting the Stanley Falls rapids and 
connecting the Lualaba with lakes Albert and Tanganyika on the 
colony's eastern frontier was also a reform measure of great impor- 
tance as was the introduction of more steamboats on the region's 



To see the labor demands for head and canoe porterage in context 
it is necessary to review the transportation networks and bottlenecks 
of the eastern Congo. Goods approached the eastern Congo from 
three directions: from the Atlantic up the Congo and some of its 
northern tributaries, from the Mediterranean up the Nile, and from 
the Indian Ocean over the railroads of East Africa. Within the region 
goods moved north and south on the Lualaba, east and west by river 
and overland in Uele, and east and west overland between lake Kivu 
and the river. The Commission of Inquiry report singled out the 
riverain and overland routes connecting Stanleyville and lake Kivu 
for special criticism, noting that the volume of goods to be transported 
was enormous, the local population sparse, and the burden falling 
again and again on the same accessible portion of the population, who 
were being worked literally to death. 

Until the completion of a 125 kilometer railroad around Stanley 
Falls in 1906, a heavy burden of porterage had been necessary in that 
area, although few details are knov/n. On the navigable stretch of the 
Lualaba from Ponthierville to Kindu a small steamer, the Baron 
Dhanis, had been in service since 1894, but its capacity was far 
inferior to the growing volume of commerce, necessitating extensive 
use of canoe portage. The canoe trip upstream from Ponthierville to 
Kindu took eleven days of five to nine hours each with the transport 
being provided in turn by the villages along the river.^^ information 

^^hese were also measures to "nationalize" the transportation system by reducing 
dependence on routes to the eastern Congo from the Nile and the Indian ocean. See 
Michel Cobut, "Historique des transports au Congo, periode 1918-1928," (Memoire 
de licence, Institut catholique des hautes etudes commerciales, 1966), pp.101-2; Jean- 
Philippe Peemans, "Congo- Belgique, 1900-1960" in Diffusion du progres et conver- 
gence des prix. Etudes intemationales, (Louvain and Paris: Nauwelaerts, 1970), 2:75- 

^ommissaire General de la PO, annfexe k la letter du GG du 24 August 1908, NP 
1926, pp.36-37. 


about the routes from the Lualaba to the eastern frontier is provided 
by an unpublished report from late 1904: 

The recruitment of porters at Kasongo requires 1,200 to 1,400 men a 
month (travelers included). Most of the loads must be lifted by two 
porters. The porters, recruited from within a maximum of three days 
walk, carry as far as Kabambare, i.e. for nine days. In reality the loads 
destined for lake Kivu overwhelm Maniema because the recruitment 
is too narrowly concentrated and Maniema insufficiently subdued 
and known to recruit from within a more extended radius .^ 

In mid-1904 missionaries found the people around Kalembelembe 
and Kabambare decimated by famine and sleeping sickness and 
observed that "those whom the State recruits for porterage are no 
longer able to to do that work: they are old men with wrinkled skin 
and children worn out by hunger or covered with sores," several of 
whom collapsed during the first few hours on the trail. ^^ Another 
unpublished report, prepared early in 1906, made it clear that little 
had changed: 

There remain at Kabambare, on 31 December 1905, 2,869 loads in 
transit; 966 were evacuated during the month. The chef de poste 
writes: the natives are fatigued from porterage which decimates 
them and discontents them because the new [payment] schedule 
suppresses their food allowance for the return trip. ^ 

Goods intended for the northwestern part of the region followed 
several tributaries of the Congo to the limits of their navigability. 
During the pacification wars all transport had gone up the Ubangi 
and Uele to Jabir (modem Bondo), but from about 1896 a shorter route 
up the Itimbiri to Buta (on the Rubi) and overland to Bima on the Uele 
began to take an increasing part of the traffic.^'' One of the earliest 
major projects involving Buta was the transport of the disassembled 

^^RAC 54.95.165, Zone de Manyema. Rapport sur la ligne des transports de 

Stanleyville k Kalembe Lembe, Kasongo, 4 November 1904, pp.1 1-12. 

65APB: Diaire, Bruges St. Donat (July-August 1904), Chronique, N" 122 (December 

1905), pp.571-72. 

^AA, IRCB(722)73/II, Rapport politique, Maniema, December 1905 (summary). 

^'V. Monnom, ed., Etat Independant du Congo: documents sur le pays et ses habitants 

(Brussels: Monnom, 1904), pp.30-31. 


steamer the Van der Kerkhove overland from there to the Nile. A 
Belgian officer in the area privately confessed his anxiety over the 
misery and deaths this would lead to among the 1,500 porters 
required, a "colossal number" for those days, who were paid only fifty 
cowries for the eastward trek and two yards of americani doth for the 
return. To get the number he had to put the chiefs into chains, take 
women and children as hostages, and use military force.^^ A third 
route ran from Basoko up the Aruwimi to Banalia, described in 1899 
as an important administrative center and transit link of some 1,500 
inhabitants. From there porterage routes ran northeast to the Nile and 
eastward to lake Albert, as well as south to Stanleyville.^9 

The greatest potential lay with Buta, which by 1903-4 was a flour- 
ishing transit center, linked by newly-completed porterage trails via 
Bima to Bomokandi on the Uele and to the French-Congo border, with 
a new trail under construction to Zobia. Goods destined for Buta and 
beyond were brought by small steamer to Ibembo, from where canoes 
carried them around the shallow section (including a porterage 
around some rapids) to Djamba. The new small steamer, MHz, 
brought them on to Buta, making the trip twice a week (except in the 
dry season) and carrying some 3,000 head loads each time. The great 
volume of porterage required to move these goods beyond Buta soon 
exceeded the capacities of the available porters, so that by November 
1904 "an immense quantity of stores" had backed up in Buta awaiting 

Goods destined for the eastern half of the region could more con- 
veniently be brought in from the Nile or across East Africa. The Nile 
had long provided a link to the northeast Congo, especially to the 
Lado enclave which adjoined it. In 1904 a new motor road through 
the enclave from Rejaf to Aba was completed, providing improved 
transit to Upper Ituri. However, heavy wood-burning vehicles were 
too much for the road and its light bridges. Donkeys and ox-carts 
proved more successful. The road had been built as a temporary 

lieutenant Tilkens to Major Lenssens, 20 July 1898, quoted by Vandewalde, 

Belgium, Annales Parlementaires, Chambre des Representants, seance 1 July 1903, 


^^etter of George Grenfell to Mr. Baynes, 25 September 1899, in Hawker, Life of 

George Grenfell, pp.440-41. 

''°Dorman, journal of a Tour , pp.156-59; La Tribune Congolaise,\2 May 1904 and 17 

September 1904. 


expedient intended to be replaced by a railroad across Uele linking 
the navigable part of the Itimbiri to the Nile. King Leopold had 
announced this scheme in 1898 and a road bed (except for bridges) 
was eventually completed from Bambili to Rejaf, but the cession of the 
enclave to the Sudan and lack of finances doomed the project, ^i 

In fact it was the railroads of East Africa that provided the eastern 
Congo's best links to the outside world. Completed to Kisumu on 
lake Victoria in 1902, the Uganda railroad provided service from 
Mombasa which was important for the development of the Kilo-Moto 
mines as well as for missionaries stationed in the eastern Congo. The 
addition of the British steamer Samuel Baker on lake Albert from 
September 1909 made the liaison even more attractive, even though 
the cormection from the lake up the steep escarpment and on to Kilo 
was still by oxcarts and porters.^ 

Despite the growth of rail and water transit, human transport 
remained important in most of the region. The rude trail from 
Stanleyville to the eastern frontier grew in importance, even though 
its bridges were little more than "rickety bundles of sticks tied to- 
gether with creepers." ^3 Because overland transit was slow and labor 
intensive, the canoe porterage was less costly, even on rivers with 
many rapids to ford. To send a thirty-five kilogram load east from 
Stanleyville to Avakubi, for example, cost 3.79 fr via the Lindi river 
but over six times as much (24.75 fr) by land. The return voyage was 
even cheaper via the Lindi (2.39 fr), since it was downstream.74 

"^Mouvement Geographique 20 February 1898; Tribune Congolaise 27 August 1903 
and 19 May 1905; "Rapport au Roi," BOEIC 1907, pp.156- 57; Robert O. Collins, 
King Leopold, England, and the Upper Nile (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), 
pp.272-310. This was part of a grander scheme of a Cape-to-Cairo railroad. 
'Gerard Malherbe, "La mission au Lac Albert (Ituri-Zaire) 1911-1934: Elements et 
indications pour une etude," (Thesis, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Faculte de 
Theologie, Louvain-la-Neuve, 1976), pp.152-53; Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," pp.129-31. 
The inauspicious inauguration of the oxcart road in 1908 was noted by a British 
observer who observed that the news of the first oxcart's arrival in Kilo did not 
include the pertinent "fact that the cart was followed by porters carrying the load." 
Gerald Campbell, "Report on a Tour in the Aruwimi and Haut Ituri Districts of the 
Congo State [1909]," FO 403/410 in N« 43, p.73. 

'Ziehen to Nightingale, Bafwasendi, River Lindi, 18 September 1906, PP, Africa 
N= 1 (1907), p.48. 

74aA, AE(350)528, proc^s-verbal N= 330, De Meulemeester, 21 January 1905, annex 


Until 1906 canoe and head porterage were part of the forty hours 
of prestations to which Africans were subject in return for fixed 
wages. These wages varied from zone to zone depending on local 
prices. At the begirming of 1905 carriers were receiving 0.625 fr a day 
in Stanley Falls, 0.375 fr in Ponthierville and Maniema, and 0.18 fr in 
Upper Ituri. Since they were not paid in cash but in lengths of cloth 
called dhotis, whose value also varied by location, the rate of pay was 
even more erratic: it took a carrier four days to earn a dhoti in Stanley 
Falls, eight days in Ponthierville and Maniema, and nearly seventeen 
days in Upper Ituri.^s Road porters normally worked eight five-hour 
days per month and canoemen worked five eight-hour days, but it 
was the volume of demand, not the limits of labor owed, that deter- 
mined who was impressed and how often. 

Most accounts of the reforms in the Free State in the first five years 
of the twentieth century have tended to see them as part of Leopold's 
extensive public relations effort to counter the British-led campaign to 
expose the State's atrocities and excesses. This view has much to 
recommend it. Certainly there does not appear to have been any gen- 
eral easing of the labor burden on Africans in this period as a result of 
the limits announced in 1903. Yet there is another way to view the 
situation. Sincerity is not an absolute. One need not consider the 
reforms a sham to say they were ineffective. As the transport reforms 
illustrate more clearly, the Free State was not so much opposing 
reform as trying to achieve it painlessly. The government's primary 
function was to sustain the pace of economic growth. To do that it 
had to mechanize its transport system, which had become unequal to 
the volumes of goods it had to handle. Mechanization would then 
ease the burden of porterage. Similarly in rubber, excessive exactions 
led to rebellions and the destruction of vines. Limiting the burdens to 
a reasonable level and distributing the work among as large a group 
as possible made good economic sense. The decisive issue became 
whether rubber exactions could be held to reasonable levels without 
slowing or stopping economic growth. With much of the population 
not effectively under control and the mechanization of transport still 
rudimentary, the answer was no. This was the conclusion of the 
Commission of Inquiry and its report gradually generated support 
among a growing number of persons in Belgium, Britain, and else- 



where for policies that imposed absolute limits on labor exactions, 
regardless of the economic consequences 

The 1906 Reforms 

In the midst of the uproar caused by his Commission of Inquiry's 
report Leopold issued a series of new reforms in 1906 that made the 
continuation of excesses harder though not impossible. A circular 
letter of 9 March transformed the various exactions in labor and goods 
into a personal tax. The reform decree of 3 June fixed the level of tax- 
ation in the Congo at between six and twenty-four francs per person, 
but since the promised introduction of coinage was still five years 
away for most of the eastern Congo, the amount owed continued to 
be in goods and services. As Vice-Governor General Lantonnois put 
it: "This remuneration will be calculated in the same manner as under 
the previous regime and in taking into consideration the same level of 
salaries, but it should from now on be expressed in numerical values 
on the tables of equivalences."''^ The decree also promised the intro- 
duction of currency at some future date, but left the remuneration of 
workers for the time in goods. 

There is no reason to doubt the Free State government's sincerity 
in this second reform effort. 77 Official directives insisted that labor 
equivalences were to be recalculated with greater care and realism. 
The reform decrees were also adequately promulgated, one state 
inspector spending seven and a half months on tour explaining them 
to local administrators in the north and east of the region. Neverthe- 
less, no amount of sincerity could remove the fundamental contradic- 
tions at the base of the Free State's existence. Vice-Consul Michell 
doubted that any state post could survive on requisitions limited to 
forty hours labor per month from those African men it could reach. In 
his travels in 1906 he discovered villagers who had to spend three 
times that amount of time to meet their rubber quotas even after the 

76BOE/C 1906, p.373. 

Though this peliminary inquiry from Baerts to GG (AA, IRCB (772)73/11, telegram 
of 30 March 1906) casts doubt on Leopold's intentions: "Roi-Souverain veut decreter 
que I'impot sera en argent mais avec faculte pour n^gre de payer en nature par 
produits de 40 heures de travail par mois. Quel devrais etre le montant de I'impot 
en argent f)our dormer k I'Etat plus que I'impot en nature?" 


decree, and who were so ill-paid that he could report that he had 
"never seen such a miserably poor lot" of Africans in his nineteen 
years on the continent. He further reported that the communities of 
former Zanzibari followers had been settled along the main roads. In 
addition to maintaining the roads, they were required to provide food 
and porterage for the local administrators and for European travelers. 
These compulsory obligations were a dreadful burden for which the 
modest remuneration was no adequate compensation.'^ 

A decree of 1906 also expressed the tax assessment in money, but 
this simply led to another table of equivalence. To the British vice- 
consul this decree did not modify "in any way.. .the 'corvee' system 
hitherto in force."''^ The general result of these reform decrees was to 
reduce the quantities of rubber demanded but imbalances between 
the amounts of rubber still required on the one hand and the over- 
estimates of productivity and declining resources on the other meant 
that many abuses continued. For example, in July 1908 the commis- 
sioner general of Uele felt compelled to write the heads of his district 
warning that nearly everywhere the amounts of rubber being deman- 
ded took in excess of the forty hours of labor required by law and 
insisting that the maximum labor tax of 480 hours a year per man not 
be exceeded. At the same time, he noted that there was also the 
"inescapable necessity" to avoid any precipitous fall in production. 
He suggested that the rubber tax be collected less often so as to reduce 
the time spent traveling to and from the vines (often deep in the for- 
est), a tactic that was being tried with some success in other places at 
that time.^ It is noteworthy that, apparently as a result of the contin- 
uation of these reforms begim at the end of the Free State period, rub- 
ber collection declined, not only in Uele but in the western zones as 
well. Both declining resources and reform required that the amounts 
of rubber exacted also be reduced. In Stanley Falls zone quotas fell 
from 48 kg per man in 1907 to 24 in 1908 and to 18 in 1909. Upper 
Ituri's went from 72 kg in 1907 to 24 in 1908 and Rubi dropped from 

^^ichell to Nightingale, Bafwasendi, River Lindi, 18 September 1906, PP, Africa 

NP 1 (1907) ir\ N» 23, pp.46-50. 

'^lichell to Nightingale, 23 March 1907, PP, Africa N= 1(1908) in N= 2. 

S^rombeur au Chefs de zone de I'Uele, 17 July 1908, AA, AI(1371)68, also in MRAC 

50.30.542. Evidence of overwork survives at the local level as well (e.g., Goebel, RA, 

Uere-Bili, 1907-8, 29 September 1908, AA, AI[1371]68). 


17.2 kg in 1908 to 13.2 in 1909. In Aruwimi, however, the low rate of 
18 kg per year of 1904 rose to 26 for 1908 before being reduced to 20 
for 1909. Generally the amounts collected fell short of these quotas.^ 

Despite these reforms, exactions of goods and labor remained at 
unpopular levels. Resort to force was not unknown in ensuring the 
compliance of reluctant communities. For example, early one morn- 
ing in late September 1906, administrator Janguart called on Kabodjo's 
village in south Kivu, demanding fifty laborers by 1 P M. When only 
seventeen were forthcoming by 2 P M, Janguart simply had his 
soldiers seize all the men in sight. Not surprisingly, these unwilling 
recruits drifted away at their first chance and repeated appeals had to 
be made to the chiefs. 82 In December 1907 soldiers sent to villages 
that had not met their rubber quotas around Panga in Stanleyville 
district acted with extreme harshness. Several men, women, and 
children were killed; others fled into the surrounding forest. ^•^ While 
this may have been an extreme case, tours of "unsubmissive" areas by 
officials and armed soldiers-operations termed reconnaissances 
pacifiques-were a persistent feature of Belgian rule and generally 
resulted in Africans fleeing their homes until the troops had passed. 
A missionary who witnessed one such operation in southern Kivu at 
the beginning of 1908 explained sardonically that "the Blacks have not 
yet come to associate the idea of peace with soldiers."^ More specific 
reasons for flight are evident from this instruction to another expedi- 
tion that year in the same area: "no seizure of livestock should take 
place," "everything, absolutely everything" was to be bought and paid 
for, troops were to hold their fire unless aggressively attacked.^ 

It is difficult to document how onerous it was to comply with 

^^ampbell, "Report on... Aruwimi and Haut Ituri," pp.61-62; Chef de Zone, Rubi, 

au GG, Buta, 2 July 1909, MRAC 50.30.542. 

^%KU: Janguart, Rapport sur une reconnaissance effectuee [du 23 septembre au 14 

octobre 1906]. 

Bryant P. Shaw, "Force Publique, Force Unique: the Military in the Belgian Congo, 

1914-1939," (Ph.D. dissertation, history. University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1984), 

p.27, citing AA, FP(800)162, Panga, Operation Militaire Mandefu, annex to governor 

general's letter N° 1618, 16 July 1908. 

84APB, Journal, Thielt Saint-Pierre, 30 January 1908, Chronique, N° 156 (December 

1908), pp.953-54. 

^%KU, Rapports Reconnaissance, Luvungi: Derche (commandant superieur des 

territoires de la Ruzizi-Kivu), "Instructions concernant I'occupation des deux 

chefferies de Moganga et Gwese," Uvira, 4 August 1908. Emphasis in original. 














H. -> 























Table 3.3 
Schedule of Prestations, Rubi Zone, Uele, 1907-1911 

REQUISITION 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 

Rubber (metric tons) 220 

Bananas (thousands of bunches) 

Manioc (metric tons) 

Chikwange loaves (thousands) 

Com (metric tons) 

Rice, unhulled (metric tons) 

Fish (thousands) 

Palm oil (thousands of liters) 

Labor: (thousands of hours) 

for road maintenance 

for transport 

for other purposes 
Total hours of labor (thousands) NA 

Source: MRAC 50.30.542: Zone du Rubi, Role general des prestations dues 
par les indigenes jjendant I'annee, 1909, 1910, 1911. 

these simple demands for supplies and routine labor. In areas like 
Kivu in the early years of the century it may not have been too bur- 
densome, although the records show that the burdens fell especially 
heavily on those communities most accessible to the government 
stations. In other areas a much smaller population might find itself 
having to supply much larger demands. For example, provisioning 
the 2,000-man military camp at Lisala on the middle Congo, which 
served the eastern Congo, imposed a severe burden on the thinly- 
populated surrounding area.^ 

In the vast northern territories of Uele requisitions of food were 
supposed to be used only to feed African employees; the white 
employees were instructed to buy their food at local markets. In fact, 
such markets were generally coerced. ^^ Because of the traditional 

Michel] to Nightingale, 26 December 1906, in PP, Africa N» 1 (1907), p.65; Shaw, 
"Force Publique," p.295, citing AA, H(836): Camp de Lisala, Rapport trimestriel de la 
Commission d'Hygiene, fourth quarter 1907. 

87Cf. Rapport mensuel. Zone de la Gurba-Dungu, August 1908, AA, AI(1371)65; 
Rapports mensuels sur le recrutement des prestations. Zone de Rubi, 1909, MRAC 


gender division of labor the work of supplying such markets fell 
primarily or even exclusively on females.^^ For example, women 
from villages near the Yambuya station on the lower Aruwimi were 
each required to bring sixty rolls of kwanga (manioc bread) every 
Saturday, a task that kept them very busy and for which they were 
not paid, although the local chief received four pieces of cloth.89 

When it came to transport, the reforms of 1906 had a number of 
effects. One of the most significant was the impetus they gave to 
improving the eastern Congo's meager system of roads. By the last 
years of the Free State's rule it was accepted that the economic devel- 
opment of the eastern half of the colony depended on the creation of 
an adequate transportation system, that the limited trade and taxation 
in kind already existing were already imposing too great a burden on 
human carriers, and that vast sums would have to be spent to build 
motor roads and railroads. ^^ But the changes were slow in coming. 

To alleviate one transportation bottleneck the colony decided to 
build a motor road from Buta to Bambili above the rapids on the Uele 
river 216 km away. Labor was raised by conscription from the 
surrounding zones under a decree of "public utility." During 1906 
desertions ran so high that there were fears "the great majority" might 
abandon the site, a situation dealt with by raising still more workers 
in the same fashion.^^ Some sixty-two kilometers were complete in 
early 1909 and another twenty-five by the end of 1910, but the entire 
road was not finished until the start of the war. The completed por- 
tions were less useful than expected because of shortages of fuel and 
an unstable surface during the rainy season. In 1910 the government 
announced plans for a narrow-gauge railroad instead-a project that 
would not see completion for another quarter century.^ 

50.30.256; Olav Svihus, Rapport d'une reconnaissance (1909), Asa, 2 January 1910, 
MRAC 50.30 545; Armstrong, "Report on Uele," p.26. 

^or example, in the Zone de Rubi in 1910 men were required to provide porterage 
and roadwork, women bananas and manioc: Chef de Poste, Bima, au Chef de Zone, 
21 April 1909, MRAC 50.30.542. However, elsewhere in Uele even the roadwork was 
done "almost exclusively" by women. See Armstrong, "Report on Uele," p.25. 
8*'Report by Consul Mackie-1911," FO 403/425 in N« 85, p.l42. 
^'Rapport au Roi," BO.EIC 1906, p.l96; "Rapport au Roi," BOEIC 1907, pp.156-57. 
^^Tribune Congolaise, 6 September 1906; summaries of letters from the vice-gover- 
nor general of the PO, 29 September and 1 October 1906, AA, IRCB (722)73/11. 
^RACB 1910, p.92. See below chapters 5 and 6. 


In the southern part of the region the burden of porterage re- 
mained high. A British acting vice-consul who toured Maniema in the 
summer of 1907 reported that practically every male in the villages 
just south of Kasongo had to spend fourteen days a month in 
porterage. His account of their complaints suggests what these long- 
suffering individuals never bothered to complain about: 

The general complaint of the natives of this group is, firstly, that their 
pay is insufficient, and secondly, that it is irregular. Moreover, they 
state that the wages due to carriers who die en route are not given to 
their relatives. These natives think that they ought to get 2 dotis [a 
month] instead of 1.5 dotis. 93 

For a time starting in late 1906, when the steamer Dhanis was out of 
service on the Lualaba, efforts were made to supply Kivu via East 
Africa, 94 but the relief, if any, seems to have been slight and was in 
any event interrupted by the First World War. 

The requisitioning of porters was suppressed late in 1906 with 
paid full-time laborers being used instead, although road and tele- 
graph maintenance was to be done by part-time "volunteers." On a 
long tour of Upper Ituri zone early in 1909 the British consul found 
numerous abuses still operating: carriers and canoemen were under- 
paid or not paid at all by officials, canoes were requisitioned as tax 
and paid for at rates well below their values.^^ 

Although the new Belgian administration in 1908 promised re- 
forms, the task was immense and the financial restrictions difficult to 
overcome. Meanwhile, reports accumulated about porterage from 
local agents, detailing high volume, poor conditions, and low wages. 
After a tour of his vast territory after the Belgian takeover in 1908, an 
administrator fresh from a tour of his territory reported that every- 
where there was "a real fatigue among the natives in regard to porter- 
age," a problem that only grew worse during the next fifteen years.* 

^PP, Africa, N° 1 (1908), "Report by Acting Vice-Consul Beak on his recent Tour of 
the Katanga portion of the Congo Free State," p.l7. A dhoti was worth about 6 fr. 
94aA, AE(342)521(2), Commissioner of the PO to GG, 24 August 1908, pp.16-17; 
RACE 1909, p.255. 

95Michell to Nightingale, Stanleyville, 27 September 1906, PP, Africa N= 1 (1907) in 
N« 29; "Rapport au Roi, 1906," BOEIC 1906, pp.1 87-88; Campbell, "Report on... 
Aruwimi and Haut Ituri," 1909, FO 403/410 in N^ 43, p.66. 
^%IRAC 50.30.44, Rapport general, zone du Rubi, December 1908. 


Wage Labor 

Despite the greater significance of labor exactions, conscription, 
and other forms of forced labor, the number of Africans working for 
wages in the eastern Congo was increasing during this period. Under 
the law of 8 November 1888 labor contracts had to be written, cover a 
period of no more than seven years, and carry the seal (visa) of a 
competent official certifying that the African understood the terms 
and consented to them. An important motive for signing labor con- 
tracts during this period was to escape from the prestations and other 
labor demands that fell on those living in traditional communities. 
Thus, the reason for the large number of wage-earners from Uele 
found throughout the Congo, was related to the porterage demands 
which grew increasingly heavy from 1897 and the subsequent con- 
scription of laborers by the hundreds for the Buta-Bambili motor 
road. 97 In other places men joined the Force Publique or signed labor 
contracts to escape from rubber exactions.^^ In so doing, some at 
least found themselves going from the frying pan into the fire. Yaya, 
a whitewasher in Stanleyville, for example, agreed to a six-year 
contract at the beginning of 1900, but he told the Commission of 
Inquiry that he had received a written contract only in mid-1904 and 
that the contract had been officially certified only in January 1905 (on 
the eve of the Commission's arrival). On that latter occasion he had 
decided not to raise the issue of the insufficiency of his wages after 
seeing those just ahead of him whipped after making demands for 
higher pay. In explaining the whippings the official responsible, Leon 
van der Broek, testified that he regarded such protests as having "the 
character of a revolt."* 

One very notable consequence of the limitation on impressed labor 
imposed by the reforms of 1906 was the large increase in the number 
of paid state employees. Statistics for the region have not survived, 
but table 3.4 gives a good idea of the size and distribution of the state 
work force in one important district at the end of this period (not 

^^pport sur le recrutement de la main-d'oeuvre indigene, Bas Uele,N° 3554, Buta, 

18 October 1918, MRAC 50.30.555. 

^%ee Olaf Andreas Lund, testimony to the Commission of Inquiry, procfes verbal NP 

327, Basoko, 17 January 1905, AA, AE(350)528. 

99aA, AE(350)528, proems verbaux N= 340 and 344, 24 January 1905; see related 

testimony in proems verbaux N° 341 and 352. 


Table 3.4 
State Employees in Zones of the Uele District, 1907-1909 

Uere-Bili Rubi Gurba-Dungu Bomokandi 

EMPLOYMENT Nov. 1907 Dec. 1910 Jan. 1909 Jan. 1909 Total 

Agriculture Service 




Doinaine National 



General Service 








couriers, escorts 




guards, servants, etc. 




Total African staff 




European staff 




















Sources: Rapports mensuels, AA, AI(1371)25, (1372)86, 91; MRAC 50.30.543. 

including those at work on roads or in other special categories such as 
the Force Publique and the Kilo n\ines). 

An important category of wage labor was the soldier-police of the 
Force Publique, which depended heavily on recruits from the eastern 
Congo. From the end of the Zanzibari wars to the beginning of the 
First World War, this region regularly supplied between 40 and 50 
percent of the new recruits in most years, a contribution that enabled 
the Force Publique to end its dependence on foreign recruits by 1900. 
Overall from 1892 to 1914 the eastern Congo furnished 27,802 recruits, 
42 percent of the domestic recruits in the Congo.^^ Within the eastern 
Congo recruitment was not proportional to the distribution of the 
population. Densely populated Kivu, which was not under effective 
control until the First World War, appears to have furnished no 
recruits at all until 1908. Most of the region's recruits came from 
Upper Uele, Aruwimi, and Maniema.^^^ 

In the early years of the Free State many of these were prisoners 
and ex-slaves taken in the wars against the Zanzibari. 102 Beginning in 

'^^. Flament, ed. la Force Publique de sa naissance a 1914: participation des militaires a 

I'histoire des premieres annees du Congo (Brussels: IRCB, 1952), p.509. 

^OkZonseil Colonial, CRA 1913/14, pp.758-59; Cattier, Droit et administration, p.261; 

AA,D(387)2, Wahis aux CDs, Boma, 1 September 1892. 

^^^ot surprisingly there were reports of rebelliousness among these arabises; 

"Rapport au Roi-Souverain," 15 August 1900, BOEIC 1900, p.132-34. 


July 1891, the government began conscription of Congolese militia- 
men, aimed at reducing the dependence on foreign Africans. In 
theory the recruits were chosen by lot by their African chiefs, but in 
practice the chiefs filled their quotas from among the weak and 
friendless under their control, including substantial numbers of 
domestic slaves and prisoners of war. Thus, to the numbers of freed- 
men serving a sort of apprenticeship in the military were added 
substantial numbers of other ex-slaves. The line between them was 
further blurred in September 1892 when the term "freedman" {liber e) 
was officially suppressed, "militiaman" being used for both the freed- 
men and the new recruits. Recruits from the eastern Congo were 
especially valued, notably those from Upper Uele, Aruwimi, and 
Maniema. Many were conscripts handed over by the African chiefs as 
part of their duties to the state and in return for a recruitment bonus. 

Despite a reputation for harsh and arbitrary discipline, including 
whipping, the Force Publique did attract many true volunteers, who 
in theory could choose to serve for as little as two years, though such 
short terms were discouraged. In the Rubi zone of Uele, for example, 
service in the Force Publique had become so attractive by the end of 
this period that contracts guaranteeing subsequent enlistment in the 
Force Publique were an effective way of recruiting labor for local and 
distant projects.^^^ After five years of active duty recruits who had 
not re-enlisted became part of the reserve and were settled around 
government posts to raise crops and do other work. In Uele, where 
these reserve forces were particularly numerous, they were routinely 
listed in the monthly reports along with European and African 
employees. At the end of the Free State period there were over 700 
ex-soldiers around the posts of Uere-Bili zone, 562 in Bomokandi 
zone, and 103 in Gurba-Dungu zone.^^^ There were probably equally 
large numbers in Rubi zone, but the records have not survived. 

^o^MRAC 50.30.58: Landeghem to GG, Buta, 6 February 1911 and 27 September 1911; 
MRAC 50.30.67: vice-governor general to head of Rubi zone, Boma, 20 February 
1911, promising four-year terms in the Force Pubhque to 100 workers recruited for 
labor in Boma; for complaints of whipping see AA, AE(350)528, proces-verbaux N° 
335-37, Stanleyville, 22 January 1905. 

^O^AA, AI(1371)25, Rapport mensuel, November 1907, Uere-Bili; AI( 1372)86, rapport 
mensuel, January 1909, Bomokandi; AI(1372)77, rapport mensuel, October 1908, 
Gurba-Dungu. In the Uvira zone of Kivu fifty-nine former soldiers were living 
around the administrative posts; SKU, Rapport mensuel, Uvira, January 1909. 


As has been seen, the Force Publique served a vital role in forcing 
the payment of prestations; another important role was in providing a 
work force. The process began unofficially with conscripts for the 
Force Publique being directed to other tasks, at times with the pro- 
mise of becoming regular soldiers later. These "soldier-workers" were 
joined by others conscripted through the chiefs to work on projects 
such as the Lower Congo railroad from 1890 and the Stanley ville- 
Ponthierville section of the CFL from 1902. Several victims of these 
practices were interviewed by the Commission of Inquiry of 1904-5,^^5 
which concluded that few of the 3,000 workers on the Stanleyville- 
Ponthierville railroad had been informed of the terms of their 
employment or were in possession of the contracts required by the 
law of 1888. The Commissioners noted, "It is rare that a free man 
signs up with the State of his own initiative.... Very often then, to 
obtain laborers, there has been recourse to compulsion and the chiefs 
are obliged to furnish laborers as they furnish soldiers."^^^ 

Another reform decree of 3 June 1906 legalized the continued con- 
scription for five-year terms of labor for works of public utility as had 
been done since 1891 in the case of "soldier-workers" in the Force 
Publique. 107 This provision was found particularly useful in the 
Province Orientale which furnished 3,900 of the 9,025 recruited for 
this purpose in the Colony from 1906 to 1909. Some of these were put 
to use building the motor roads across Uele, an activity which 
employed 850 soldier-workers in 1908, while a larger number were 
recruited to work on the railbeds of the CFL's second section (Kindu- 
Kongolo), for which the State had agreed to provide the labor. The 
workers were paid quite modest wages, beginning at one dhoti a 
month in their first year and rising to three per month as they gained 
experience. They were well fed despite the strain that so large a 
contingent put on local supplies. When the initial five-year contracts 
of the conscripts expired, many of them renewed their contracts 
voluntarily.108 gy 1908 the CFL employed 5,560 workers, of whom 

^°5aa, AE(349-350)528, Commission d'Enquete, Dispositions, NP 338 and 345. 

I'^^anssens, "Rapport," pp.257-59. 

^^BOEIC 1891, pp.230-32, decree of 30 July 1891 . 

^O^BOEIC 1908, annex, pp.91-99; Michell to Nightingale, 25 May 1906 and 27 

November 1906, PP, Africa N= 1 (1907), pp.28, 60; Beak to Nightingale, 8 May 1907 

and Michell to Cromie, 23 September 1907, PP, Africa N° 1 (1908), pp.11-13, 45-46. 

Food had to Ije brought in from lake Kivu for the railroad workers at prices the Kivu 


3,665 were conscripts and 1,895 were volunteers, and the Uele roads 
employed 850, most of whom were conscripts. The first extension of 
this recruitment for public utility after the Belgian takeover gave rise 
to a vigorous debate in the Colonial Council, led by H. Speyer, a 
professor at the University of Brussels, who argued that such recruit- 
ment was a violation of the second article of the Colonial Charter 
which forbade anyone being forced to work for private companies or 
individuals. Speyers' position was a distinct minority on the Colonial 
Council in January 1909, but in April the Belgian Chamber of Repre- 
sentatives unanimously passed a resolution asking that free labor be 
substituted for these conscripts on the CFL as soon as possible and in 
January 1910, after a tour of the railroad construction sites, the min- 
ister of colonies was able to announce that no more labor would be 
recruited for public utility for the CFL.^^ 

The situation in the Lomami valley was more complex. There the 
Lomami Company, created by the Katanga Company in 1898 to buy 
products in the Lomami valley, controlled a vast concession so com- 
pletely that the State did not even collect taxes. In 1904, to halt the 
flight of Africans from the neighboring ABIR concession, the State 
directed the Lomami Company to collect taxes for it in their conces- 
sion as well. Conditions in the Lomami concession at that time were 
far from ideal. One coloiual official. Commandant Verhaege, charged 
that Africans in the concession were forced to work so much for the 
Company that they had no time to tend their own fields, so that there 
were frequent revolts and bloody counter measures. ^^^ A few months 
later an assistant attorney general, MaiUio Scarpari, told the Commis- 
sion of Inquiry of a lengthy on-site investigation he had made of the 
company. He found some parts of the concession in good order, but 

authorities complained were destroying their efforts to fix wages and prices. AA, 

IRCB(722)73/II, Rapport politique, Ruzzi-Kivu, first quarter 1905. Problems of food 

supply continued to be acute; see: Michell to Nightingale, 23 March 1907 and Michell 

to Cromie. 23 September 1907, in PP, Africa N» 1 (1908). See Free State replies in 

AA, AE(342)521bis. 

lO^onseil Colonial, CRA 1908-9, pp.52-68, 211; 1909, p.251; 1910, 1:9. When the 

conscription was abrogated in 1910 and salaries b>egan to be paid in cash, the 

number of volunteers increased sharply, reaching 84 percent in 1910 and 100 percent 

in 1911; RACE 1910, p.84; 1911, p.77. 

"OAA, IRCB(722)73/I, lettre NP 313, 27 February 1904 (precis). The GG added that if 

the company didn't made radical changes there would be a really serious revolt. 


others, including the important site of Opala, had serious infractions. 
At Isanga wages were "excessively low," the employees underage, and 
without valid contracts. He charged his report had only got him in 
trouble with the head of Aruwimi.m Another revolt did occur in the 
second quarter of 1905. ^^^ However, a tour of the concession by the 
British consul early in 1907, escorted by the new reform-minded 
director of the company, Paul le Marinel, produced a very favorable 
impression. Since his arrival in July 1906 the new director had insis- 
ted on absolutely volimtary labor in return for payment in a brass rod 
currency he had introduced himself in the absence of any Free State 
coinage this far upriver. The vice-consul called it "free trade," but a 
senior official commented it was nothing of the sort, being work not 
trade and not all that voluntary in any case.^^^ As events in the next 
decade would demonstrate, this attempt at reform, while sincere, did 
not fundamentally change the company's tradition of labor abuse. 

Another center of wage labor that would in time be the region's 
largest was developing in the northeastern corner of the Congo near 
lake Albert. In 1905 the government had begun gold mining opera- 
tions at a site known as Kilo. The area was very mountainous, un- 
served by transportation routes until 1908 when an ox cart road was 
opened, and proved unhealthy for Africans from other areas. To alle- 
viate the very difficult recruitment of labor, the governor general late 
in 1905 authorized conscription under the "public utility" provisions 
of the law. The rising controversy over the colony's labor policies led 
Brussels to disallow this recruitment and to assign a senior magistrate 
to the Upper Ituri zone to ensure that mine labor contracts were freely 
entered in. The governor general asked that these reforms be delayed 
to avoid disrupting the mining and pleaded with his superiors in 
Brussels to restore the right to recruit labor by force, since, he argued, 
"There can be no illusion over the difficulty that there will be to enlist 
for these works without having recourse to compulsion, "^i"* The out- 
come of this appeal is unknown, but it appears that, when the mining 
area was transferred from the direct administration of the colony to 

"^AA, AE(349)528, proc&s-verbal N^ 18, 22 October 1904. 

"2aA, IRCB(722)73/I, letter of 29 August 1906. 

"^Michell to Cromie, 1 March 1907, PP, Africa N= 1 (1908), pp.2-3; AA, AE(342)521, 

remarks of CD, Uele, annexed to letter of the GG, 3 August 1908. 

"4aa, IRCB(722)73/n, 29 September 1906. 


Leopold's Domaine de la Couronne, labor was again recruited under 
the "public utility" provisions until April 1907.^^5 

According to the British vice-consul the labor force at Kilo during 
these early years consisted of "criminals, cannibals, 'revokes' and 
'recrutes'..., including sonie riffraff who had been made to work on 
the Ponthierville railway, but had proved too unruly." ^^^ Conditions 
were harsh, food in very short supply and corporal punishment the 
rule. However, the vice-consul found that matters had improved 
dramatically under Belgian rule with good wages, abundant food, 
and the abolition of corporal punishment (whipping) making volun- 
tary recruitment easy. By May 1909 the number of mine workers had 
risen to 1,400 from 800 a year earlier.^^^ These reforms also did not 

Motivating Labor 

During the years of its administration, the Free State brought 
Africans forcibly into a market economy, yet it did little to create a 
free market in labor. In place of the Zanzibari's slavery and tribute, 
the Free State created a system of forced labor and forced requisitions 
in goods. The negative effects of these prestations on labor recruit- 
ment were felt in three main areas: (1) the depression of real earnings 
because labor was often paid in arbitrary assortments of overvalued 
goods, (2) the depression of wage rates generally, but especially for 
government employees, and (3) shortages (especially of food) resul- 
ting from disincentives to local markets because of these low wages. 

The payment of wages in kind, instead of in currency, was bound 
up with the State's dominance of the economy generally. With the 
State as the principal market for goods and labor and the principal 
source of payment, it made sense (at least to the bookkeepers) not to 

i^^ngh (Chef de zone du Haut Ituri) au Commissaire General de la PO, 20 May 
1909, AA, AE(344)522, p.5. 

"Campbell, "Report on...Aruwimi and Haut Ituri," FO 403/410 in N° 43, pp.59-91. 
See E.D. Morel, Congo Reform Association, to Sir Edward Grey, Liverpool, 14 July 
1908, FO 403/400, N= 13, p.l7, drawing attention to "the deplorable accounts which 
are to had from Belgian sources as to the systematic slave raids that are being 
conducted by the Congo Government in the Oriental Province..., to procure labour 
for the Kilo gold workings." 
'^'^'^RACB 1909, p.253. 


intrude a money economy into the simpler system of direct exchange. 
Payment in kind tended to reinforce the state's control of the economy 
by depriving Africans of any loose change they might be tempted to 
spend on the baubles of itinerant peddlers. However, the system did 
not work smoothly. Surviving records from the Uele zones illustrate 
that the situation of that Africans often receiving inadequate remimer- 
ation, "sometimes... in goods of little local value," reported by the 
1904-5 Commission of Inquiry, did not soon disappear.i^^ por one 
thing, it was not uncommon for there to be shortages of goods. In 
April 1906, for example, a state inspector reported that at Rungu 
station there had been no goods in stock for seven months; another at 
Zobia station spoke of the "continuous lack of goods," in both cases 
making the regular payment of porters and canoemen impossible.^^^ 
In other cases there were sufficient stocks but only of unwanted 
goods, as was the case in a station in Upper Ituri zone in January 1906 
where 60 percent of the stock consisted of beads of no value or inter- 
est to the local inhabitants.^^o Even where there was an abundance 
and variety of goods, the individual worker, as a practical matter, had 
no hope of exercising the free choice of goods he was promised by 
law. As a British vice-consul noted: "It is impossible for a busy chef 
de poste to escort from 50 to 100 natives around the store, and they 
have to take what he gives them."i2i Finally, the values assigned to 
the goods was often artificially high, in practice making the already 
low wage rates even lower. ^22 

The new Belgian Congo was pledged to alter this system, though 
little real change occurred until the next decade. Yet just as the Free 
State had long followed Zanzibari practices, this new administration 
cdso inherited patterns of behavior and attitudes from the Free State 

^^^anssens, "Rapport d'enquete," p.l66. 

^^^apport d'Inspection, Poste de Rungu, Zone de Bomokandi, April 1906, AA, 
IRCB(722)73/n; Rapport sur I'inspection du Poste de Zobia, transports, 10 February 
1911, MRAC 50.30.1. 

^2(kapport par M. Lund d'un inspection, 2 May 1906, AA, IRCB(722)73/II. 
^2TCanr\pbell, "Report on...Aruwimi and Haut Ituri,", p.67. See the records of pay- 
ments in kind to individual workers in the Buta station, Rubi zone, in Octot>er and 
November 1911, which exhibit very standardized assortments of Americani cloth, 
belts, spools of thread, needles, pieces of coteline, glasses, and indigo cloth; MRAC 
^23Cf. Armstrong, "Report on Uele," pp.22-23. 


that would not change easily. One of the n\ain legacies was the 
tendency to ignore the problems caused by a lack of incentive and 
freedom in the labor system and to blame the Africans instead for the 
failings of the system. Throughout this period, when called upon to 
justify the extension of this quasi-feudal economy (with its emphasis 
on direct obligations in labor and goods and its resistance to a money 
economy), the colonial authorities had a ready answer: the African 
must be brought out of his native indolence and taught the value of 
work. They argued that a concise, non-monetary political economy 
was a necessary first step in this process of transformation. 

How long the process need last was a difficult question-some 
would still be talking publicly in those same terms in the 1950s! 
Clearly, coercion and restriction of economic choice suited purposes 
far beyond and far less idealistic than this civilizing mission. Thus, 
reform came slowly and reluctantly, more in response to external 
political pressures than to the dynamics of the internal process of 
"education" underway in the colony. Indeed, pressures from below 
for moving on to the next stage, seemed to trouble administrators not 
please them. For example, in March 1909, an official circular replied 
to inquiries from puzzled local administrators as to how they were to 
deal with Africans who wanted to produce more rubber than their tax 
quotas. The vice-governor general explained that the government 
was in favor of voluntary labor "in principle," but his description of 
the free market was identical to tax collection: voluntary labor should 
be paid at the same low rate as remuneration for the rubber tax and 
chiefs should likewise receive the standard indemnity of 5 percent of 
the value. Why this peculiar model of a "free market" economy? The 
vice-governor's explanation showed his preference for labor that was 
more cheap than free: "Thus, in rewarding voluntary labor at a rate 
above that of the tax, we would risk artificially raising the local salary 
rate and giving an unjustified increment to the products of native 
industry." 123 -phg British vice-consul was of the opposite opinion; he 
declared, "Give the native the opportunity of freely earning money 
and he will be only too glad to get the quit of his obligation to the 
State by the payment of 2 fr per month."i24 xhat cry too would be 

l23Vice-governor general, circular N° 2074, Boma, 17 March 1909, MRAC 50.30.66; 

emphasis added. 

^^-^ichell to Nightingale, 23 March 1907, PP, Africa N° 1 (1908) in N« 2. 


heard in reports for the next five years.^^ 

^2^f. "Memorandum respecting Taxation and Currency in the Congo Free State, 
Foreign Office, 27 March 1908, PP, Africa N° 3 (1908) 


Chapter 4 
Belgium's Bad Beginnings, 1910-1919 

When it reluctantly agreed to take over responsibility for the 
Congo in September 1908, the Belgian Parliament laid down two 
ground rules. The first was a pledge of major reforms embodied in the 
Colonial Charter; the second was a refusal to subsidize the costs of 
reform and administration from the national treasury. Uniquely 
among African colonies of this era, the Belgian Congo was to be self- 
supporting. Thus the reforms and the economic development that had 
to accompany them had to depend on the funds that the government 
could raise from taxation and secure from private investors, with all 
the limitations inherent in these sources. Another constraint on the 
new Congo government was the fact that it did not begin with a clean 
slate. Belgium had no national tradition or theory of colonialism, but 
it did inherit most of the Free State's personnel and paternalistic atti- 
tudes toward Africans along with the colony's enormous problems.^ 
So it is not surprising that the implementation of reform in the early 
years of Belgian rule was severely limited by the constraints of 
personnel, finance, and ideology that were built into the new govern- 
ment. In the eastern Congo the legal restructuring of King Leopold's 
colony began to take effect only in 1910. The First World War caused 
a serious interruption of these preliminary reform efforts. The 
German occupation of Belgium in August 1914 forced its government 
to operate from exile in London. The colony remained secure, despite 
some audacious German incursions into Kivu at the beginning of the 
war. In 1916 Belgium launched an invasion of German East Africa. 
As the colonial army grew to 25,000 men, rice production in the 
eastern Congo had to be increased dramatically to feed them. Simul- 

^Anstey, King Leopold 's Legaq/, pp.40-43. 


taneously the province's gold production was increased as part of an 
effort to fund the war effort.^ However, all this was accomplished at 
a terrible cost in human exertion. The number of Africans in military- 
service, porterage, mining, and cash crop production increased dra- 
matically, as did the use of force in their recruitment. The compen- 
sation these Africans received remained low. Thus the decade saw the 
return of some of the worst features of the Free State era. 

Administration and Policy 

Between 1910 and 1913 the eastern Congo took on the political 
shape it maintained for the next two decades. Part of the change in- 
volved finalizing the Congo's external frontiers. In May and June of 
1910, some months after the death of King Leopold, the frontiers with 
the British and German colonies to the east were settled. As had been 
agreed previously, the Lado enclave was surrendered to the Anglo- 
Egyptian Sudan; the eastern border was redrawn to correspond to 
natural frontiers, running through the middle of lakes Albert, Edward, 
and Kivu. This added territory west of lake Albert but deleted much 
more east of lake Kivu.^ At the same time internal changes were 
coming about as the consequence of reform efforts intended at restruc- 
turing the Congo into smaller, more responsive units of administra- 
tion. Late in 1910 the giant old Eastern Province was divided along 
the fifth parallel south, the northern half becoming Stanleyville 
District, which in September 1911 was subdivided into five zones. In 
March 1912 these five zones were redesignated as the districts of Ituri, 
Kivu, Lowa, Maniema, and Stanleyville, and by a decree in November 
the next year they were combined with the old districts of Aruwimi 
and Uele (the latter divided into Upper and Lower divisions) to form a 
new Eastern Province, headed by a vice-governor general.^ 

Jacques Crokaert, "Le developpement economique du Congo Beige pendant la 

guerre," Revue Economique Internationale, (April 1921), pp.1-16. Overall colonial 

experts tripled between 1914 and 1917. 

Jacques Willequet, Le Congo Beige et la Weltpolitik 1894-1914 (Brussels: Presses 

Universitaires de Bruxelles, 1962), pp.227-76. 

Vandewoude, Documents .. Ju Kivu, pp. U-13; RACE 1912, p.67; RACE 1915, p.5; 

G. W. Prothero, ed., British Possessions, 11; the Congo. Great Britain, Foreign Office, 

Historical Section, Peace Handbooks, vol. 16, N°96-99 (London: H.M. Stationery 

Office, 1920), 98:33, 99:51. 


Another thorny issue of administration concerned the quality of 
colonial agents, especially at the lower ranks. To many observers 
changes in this area seemed fundamental to a general program of 
reform. Thus the British foreign secretary found it "extraordinary that 
the Belgian government should fail to comprehend the elementary 
importance of showing the world by the choice of new men that their 
new measures [were] a reality."^ Some individuals were disciplined 
or removed, but in general the personnel of the Free State stayed on.^ 
The top administration of the Eastern Province remained entirely in 
the hands of former Free State agents, notably Justin Malfeyt, who 
served as vice-governor general from March 1909 to July 1916, and 
Adolphe de Meulemeester, who held that post from August 1917 until 
the middle of the next decade.^ During the critical year in between, 
the province was in the able hands of Alexis Bertrand, another old 
hand who had been in the colonial service since 1897.^ In time even 

^O 403/418: Grey to Granville, FO, 6 July 1910. An example of Belgian opinion 
occurred in this exchange during a January 9, 1912, meeting of the Colonial Council 
{CRA 1911-12, pp.171-72): Minister of Colonies (J. Renkin): "I don't doubt that the 
quality of the chefs de paste can be improved, I am giving that question every 
attention...." Mr. Diderrich: "We all know that the chefs de paste occupy the lowest 
level of the administrative hierarchy. The character of many of them is totally 
inferior and that results especially from the conditions under which they are recrui- 
ted." M. Vauthier: "It seems to me that information received from many sources in- 
dicates that many chefs de paste are unequal to their duties..." Minister of Colonies 
(breaking in): "Excuse me... We cannot forget that in short the chefs de paste made 
the Congo. There are efforts today, I don't know why, to give them an odious repu- 
tation." The minister did not seem to have appreciated the irony of his last remarks, 
^or example, a minor official in Uele was strongly taken to task for neglecting his 
duties, abusing his authority, and devoting all his efforts to ensuring his own com- 
fort; Andre Jacques Landeghem (chef de Zone du Rubi) to Vandergoten (chef de 
poste, Titule), Bima, 28 March 1911. Landeghem (1876-1943), who had headed Buta 
zone in 1906-9 before taking over charge of Rubi, was commissioner general of Uele 
from 1912 to 1922. 

iFrom 1895 to 1903 Malfeyt (1862-1903) had variously served as head of Stanley 
Falls, conunissioner general of the Eastern Province, and head of Kivu; see his entry 
(by A. Engels) in BCB, 111:588-92. De Meulemeester had served as commissioner 
general in 1903-6. 

%ertrand (1870-1946) had served as an officer in Lado and as head of the Ubangi 
and Equator districts in the northwest. Deeply troubled by the turmoil over the Free 
State, Bertrand had spent some months prowling his district preoccupied with 
finding a prop)er African policy. The new minister of colonies reportedly considered 
him "a dedicated 'humanitarian,' and strongly-perhaps too strongly-'pro-native'"; 
FO 403-425, N°59: Sir Arthur Hardinge to Sir Edward Grey, Brussels, 8 March 1911. 


the British consular officials in the Congo became convinced that 
replacing local officials was less significant than removing the un- 
reasonable pressures they had been under in putting a stop to the old 

The major thrust of the reform effort was to correct the scandalous 
impressment of labor and goods. However, devising a tax system 
which was be free from the abuses of the Leopoldian regime was no 
easy matter. Before one could tax in coin, currency had to be intro- 
duced, something that had never been done in the eastern Congo. 
Then it was necessary to provide mechanisms for putting cash into 
Africans hands so that some part of it could be reclaimed as tax. For 
some Africans wage employment for the government, missions, and 
private firms could provide this income, but for most the money for 
tax would have to come from the sale of crops, animal products, and 
forest products. In order to make the sale of wild products (particu- 
larly rubber) possible in turn, it was necessary to dismantle the 
Domaine Prive. Legislation in 1909 had divided the Domaine into 
three zones where the government's claim to wild products was to be 
relinquished successively in mid 1910, 1911, and 1912. The eastern 
Congo, except for the Gurba-Dungu zone of Uele, was within the 
latter two zones, i^ As their zones were freed, Africans were able to 
harvest and sell wild products as well as those from their own fields 
and herds. 

Another reform after the Belgian takeover was the raising of 
nominal wages. Beginning in the second half of 1910 the minimum 
monthly wage for government employees (except for those in agri- 

In 1909 he was made head of the vast Uele district and in 1913 had become second in 
command in the province as the commissioner general; Musee Royal de l.Armee, 
Brussels, dossier personnel N'^11816, Alexis-Felicien Bertrand; "Le commandant 
d'artillerie Bertrand," Belgique Militaire, 2(1910):548-49; H. V., "Nos Grands 
coloniaux: le Colonel Bertrand," La Neptune (Antwerp), 25 May 1924. 
%:onsul H. G. Mackie to Sir Edward Grey, Boma, 30 May 1911, FO 403/425 N°85, 
pp.119-20; Consul W. J. Lamont, "Report on a Tour of Upper Congo: Section II. 
Report on the Third Zone Opened to Free Trade, July 1, 1912, Aruwimi and Uele 
Districts," in Lamont to Grey, Boma, 20 November 1912, FO 403/443 N=l, p.l7. 
^°RACB 1910, pp.231-32. The British consul was of the opinion that the early relin- 
quishing of claims in Gurba-Dungu was based on the Congo administration's plan to 
open up "to free-trade areas which it knew to were quite worthless while reserving 
for itself every inch of territory of any value"; Armstrong, "Report on Uele," p. 25. 
This judgment seems unduely harsh, although the choice is puzzling. 


culture, public works, and the Force Publique) became 4.50 fr (plus 
rations), an increase of about 50 percent in Uele and Kivu.^^ Even 
after the reforms, wage rates remained low, especially with regard to 
food allowances, which stayed at ten centimes a day (3 fr a month). 

In addition to the gradual abolition of the government's trading 
monopoly and the introduction of taxes and wages in currency, the 
decade beginning in 1910 also saw other important changes in the 
legal underpinnings of the labor situation. Basic was the comprehen- 
sive decree of 17 August 1910 concerning labor contracts, which 
replaced older, vaguer legislation that had been enforced laxly if at all. 
The 1910 law limited the duration of any labor contract to three years 
(instead of seven) and enumerated the circumstances under which 
either contracting party could legally break a contract, as well as the 
penalties for an illegal violation of the terms of a contract. Where 
currency had been introduced, wages were to be paid in cash. Con- 
tracts of more then three months had to be written and the consent of 
the worker certified with an official visa by a proper official. The new 
law had authorized only fines and detention as punishment for 
violation of contracts by Africans, but special ordinances permitted the 
Kilo-Moto mines to impose physical punishments on their employees 
so long as this was specified in their labor contracts. ^ 

To find ways of resolving the growing shortage of labor in the 
public and private sectors the government created provincial and 
district recruitment commissions. The Eastern Province's commission 
met for the first time in December 1918, though none of the district 
commissioners was able to attend, because of the press of duties and 
restrictions on travel due to the influenza epidemic. ^^ 

"Vice-Gouvemor Fuchs, Circulaire N^SOZS, Boma, 22 April 1910, MRAC 50.30.67. 
12aA, MOI(3605)176, ordinances of 14 March 1911 (Kilo) and 2 April 1911 (Moto). 
The absence of such legislation for the Katanga mines was no obstacle to the same 
punishments being inflicted there, since the officials looked the other way, at least 
until 1917 when high officials began to argue that such punishments could not be 
imposed without a change in the law. Curiously, when it came to a vote in 1918, the 
measure was overwhelmingly defeated, the majority expressing a preference for 
using the head tax as the principal goad to recruitment. AA, MOI(3605)176, Rutten 
(Procureur General) to Vice-Governor General (Katanga), Elisabethville, 24 May 
1917; Chef de Cabinet, pour Ministre, au GG, 22 September 1917; AA, MOI(3605)175, 
Conseil du Gouvernement, 6^ reunion, 7e seance, Kinshasa, 23 September 1918, 
question 26. 
^30rdinance of 22 April 1918 in BACB 1918, pp.293-95; AA, MOI(3598)132, 


The difficulty the Belgian Congo had in collecting taxes during this 
decade clearly illustrates how ineffectively it controlled Africans in the 
eastern Congo. The colony had to draw up tax rolls before the 
essentially communal taxes in goods and labor could be replaced by a 
head tax on adult males. Yet by the end of 1919 the colony officially 
estimated that it had failed even to identify over a fifth of its popula- 
tion, much less collect taxes from them.i^ The Eastern Province con- 
tained about half of this unenumerated population, most notably in 
Maniema, where in 1921 a third of the population was estimated to 
have been missed, and in Kivu, where two-thirds was not on the tax 
roles. ^^ A semi-offidal history of the territory around the district 
capital Costermansville (Bukavu) in 1911 eloquently captured the 
precarious state of affairs in Kivu : 

The political situation becomes worse and worse as the whole sector 
falls back into insubmission. In January Catholic missionaries are 
attacked by Katana's people; in February Kabare and Ngweshe ravage 
the subdued regions. The invested chief Moliri is assassinated by the 
rebels in March; in April the chief Ngweshe provokes disruptions, 
killing and wounding numerous natives; in May Scrutton's pro- 
specting mission, which is operating at the edge of Mogange's and 
Ngweshe's chiefdoms, is attacked in turn.... During all the rest of the 
year there is complete anarchy in all the groups, even those which 
have been subdued for a long time. 16 

The war did not end insubmission in Kivu but it did bring more force 
to bear. 17 

From Labor Tax to Taxed Labor in the Government Sector 

Implementation of the reform measures was slow and difficult. 
Until the new taxes were in place, the old prestations in goods and 
services remained in effect, and given the administration's need to 
sustain essential services without increasing expenses, the abuses also 

Compte-rendu, Commission de Recrutement, PO, Stanleyville, 14 December 1918. 

The provincial commission did not meet again until 1927. 

^"^RACB 1920, p.ll. 

^^RACB 1921, p.81; see RACE 1922, pp.29, 64. 

i^'Histoire du Territoire de Costermansville," ca. 1921, document N-68 in Vande- 

woude. Documents.. .Kivu, p.448. 

i^See RACE 1918; RACE 1919, p.l3. 


remained. Thus, in 1911 English Baptist missionaries reported that 
Africans in the triangle between the lower Aruwimi and the Lualaba 
rivers were forced to gather rubber for two to three months at a time 
and were then sent out again after a month or less in their villages. 
The substance of these reports was confirmed in detail during an 
inspection by a British consults From mid-1912 when the rubber tax 
was officially ended everywhere in the eastern Congo, production fell 
sharply as most Africans refused to participate further in this dread 
enterprise and generally resisted the inducements offered by 
traders.^' However, African labor could still be coerced by other 
direct measures and the indirect pressures of taxation in money. The 
government continued to intervene routinely to obtain laborers and 
food supplies for its posts and on behalf of other employers. 

The transition from labor tax to paid labor can be followed in 
unusucd detail through the extensive records surviving for Rubi zone 
of Lower Uele. There the labor tax, collected largely in the form of 
porterage along the heavily traveled trails and rivers in that district, 
remained extensive throughout 1911. The number of carriers re- 
cruited each month at the post of Titule "weighed very heavily" since 
it equalled half the adult male population; porters on the Buta-Bambili 
route were "exhibiting much ill will as a result of extreme fatigue"; and 
at the end of the year troops had to be called out to collect porters (750 
from a population of 1,541 adult men) in the fourteen villages of 

^*'Report by Consul Mackie," 30 May 1911, FO 403/425 in NP85, pp.140-43. 
^^See R. J. Purdon, "Ref)ort on a Tour of Stanleyville, Lowa, Maniema and a Portion 
of Aruwimi," FO 403/443 enclosed in N%, Lamont to Grey, 16 December 1912, p.40, 
which notes the decline in Lowa; MRAC 50.30.60, acting chef de zone, Uere-Bili, to 
GG, Bondo, 10 May 1913, which records the failure of conferencess and of commis- 
sions offered to African chiefs to revive interest at Bambili and Bondo; and MRAC 
50.30.17, Heinzmann, Rapport general du mois d'avril 1915, Territoire de Buta, 
which says rubber (and ivory) would not appear in the Buta market without 
pressure being placed on the chiefs and suggests forcing tax delinquents to collect 
rubber as a remedy. 

20MRAC 50.30.1, Rapport sur I'inspection du poste de Titule, 31 March 1911; MRAC 
50.30.50, Chef de Zone du Rubi au GG, Ibembe, 2 June 1911; MRAC 50.30.427, Por- 
teurs recrutes pendant le mois, 1911, zone de Rubi: in January 1911 Tutule recruited 
2,209 porters out of a male population of 4^00; the next month 2,374 were recruited. 
Recruitment for Titule had averaged 1,798 a month in 1909 and 1,838 a month in 
1910; MRAC 50.30.470, Porteurs recrutes pendant le mois, 1909, 1910, Zone de Rubi. 
MRAC 50.30.308, "Rapport sur le recrutement de porteurs effectue chez les Bagb>e," 


Such massive recruitment not only exhausted the carriers involved, 
but also depressed the wages of the smaller number of African carriers 
who worked for the government on regular contracts. They received 
less than two-thirds the wage paid by private firms in the area and 
their food allowances were well below what was needed to provide an 
adequate diet.^^ Concerned about being able to attract sufficient 
numbers of porters and canoemen when the compulsory labor of 480 
hours a year was replaced by a money tax, the head of Rubi zone 
proposed raising wages and rations to the level paid by the private 
merchants. His proposal was rejected as likely to produce too big a 
drain on the treasury, but he was allowed to raise the ration to ten 
centimes a day. 22 When Uele passed into the free trade zone in 1912, 
salaries of ordinary laborers were fixed at 4.50 fr a month for the first 
two-year contract, 5.50 fr for the second, with the food allowance still 
at ten centimes a day.23 T^ig same wage scale remained in effect in 
Lower Uele for government employees at least until 1918.24 

In effect the government chose to sustain its labor force through 
the push of taxation and direct compulsion where necessary, rather 
than by the pull of adequately attractive wages. In Uele, one official 
reported, the result of abolishing the labor tax and instituting a money 
tax that began at six francs was to reduce take-home pay. Lowered 
incomes also did widespread economic harm by making it nearly 

Buta, 3 December 1911. 

2IMRAC 50.30.58, Chef de zone du Rubi au GG, Djamba, 12 October 1911. As the 
head of Rubi zone explained in 1911: "As far as the payment of porterage is con- 
cerned, it has not yet seemed necessary for us to raise the estabHshed wage up till 
now. Indeed, so long as we can...have recourse to the labor tax, nothing forces us to 
raise our rate of pay." Chef de zone du Rubi au GG, Buta, 18 July 1911, N°180/A, 
MRAC 50.30.58. 

22MRAC 50.30.58, Chef de Zone du Rubi au GG, Djamba, 12 October 1911, N= 268a; 
MRAC 50.30.67, 1'lnspecteur d'Etat, A. Gerard, au Chef de Zone du Rubi, no date, 
N^10421. In Rubi zone 3 fr a month for food was clearly inadequate since the admin- 
istrator calculated it would cost about 3.50 fr a month to provide a diet consisting 
entirely of bananas, palm oil, and rice with no meat or fish. Chef de Zone du Rubi 
au GG, Buta, 9 September 1912, MRAC 50.30.52. See also the calculation that it cost 
abtout thirty centimes a day to feed a sick person in Buta (presumably including ani- 
mal protein), whereas the government alloted only six centimes a day. "The future of 
the race is without doubt strongly compromised...," warned the zone's physician 
(Vandersloten au Chef de Zone du Rubi, Buta, 8 October 1911, MRAC 50.30.58). 
23MRAC 50.30.68/95 Circulaire N«1338, Boma, 9 February 1912. 
2^RAC 50.30.557. 


impossible to set up the effective system of produce markets he had 
been trying to do for some time, since rural Africans found it unprofit- 
able to sell food at prices wage earners could afford. Even the impor- 
tant transit center of Titule had no food market. Instead, the govern- 
ment compelled women and children to bring foodstuffs from villages 
as far as 35 km away for remuneration that the administrator could 
only describe as "derisory."^^ These coerced food markets with their 
attendant burdens of porterage continued to exist for the next two 
decades. 26 

Elsewhere the initial tax rates were also very high compared to 
incomes and grew higher as the decade progressed. One Kivu chief, 
having been led to believe that the tax rate would be two francs per 
man, was stunned when a rate of five francs was announced. ^^ By 
1915 the general rate in the Eastern Province had risen to twelve 
francs, though this had to be cut in half in parts of Ituri and most of 
Upper Uele in the course of the year.^s in Ituri and elsewhere, where 
the tax rates even in 1917 were judged to be higher than most indivi- 
dual men could pay, the tax remained largely what it had been under 
the Free State: a collective tax on the community, met by pooling the 
resources from rubber collection and porterage to purchase tokens 
which were distributed, "more or less equitably," by the chiefs. ^9 in 
areas where the tax was paid individually, those who were able to pay 
rented out their tokens to others whose travel or other activities made 
them likely to be stopped by officials.^o 

The consequences of not paying the tax were strengthened by the 
decree of 17 July 1914, which provided for sure and certain punish- 
ment. While some officials argued that taxation was not intended to 
be a direct compulsion to work, this was not in fact how it was 
perceived and used by many others.^^ In Lower Uele, for example. 

25MRAC 50.30.1, Landeghem, Rapport sur I'inspection du poste de Titule, 31 March 


^^See chapter 6 

27APB, Diaire de Nya Ngezi, pp.52-59 (5 February to 9 April 1911). 

28RACB 2935, pp.21-23. 

^^AA, D(778)A.II.3, Bertrand, "Observations-Rapport Trimestriel Ituri, second 

quarter 1917," 25 August 1917. 

•^ashizi Tchib-a-lonza Zaluba, "De la colonisation agricole: etude de quelques 

plantations k Walungu (1927-1960)," travail de fin d'etudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 

1980, p.81. 


Table 4.1 

Head Tax Paid, Eastern Province, 1914-1919 

(thousands of francs) 














Lower Uele 






Upper Uele 











































Sources: RACE 1915, p.24, 1916, p.32, 3917, p.46, 1919, p.l95. 

village chiefs were responsible for rounding up tax delinquents, who 
were then put to work. Many individuals in 1916 and 1917 were 
reported to be fleeing to other administrative areas to escape these tax 
measures.''^ These tax delinquents then had to serve a term in labor 
gangs usually working at various local public works and health- 
related projects. However, officials faced with the labor shortages of 
the war years were quick to suggest that they might also be put to use 
at larger tasks, such as provisioning the Kilo-Moto mines and assuring 
a supply of porters to private parties, in other words, a return to a 
version of the abandoned labor tax.^ 

It was their use as porters that showed the greatest increase in the 
latter war years and which occasioned much official correspondence 
because of the delicacy of the issues it raised.^^ The number of days 

^^RACB 1915, p. 21; Conseil Colonial, CRA 1932, seance 6 May 1932, Mr. 

Wauters, p.589. See also note 12 above. 

^^MRAC 50.30.300, Responses of the administrators of Bambili, Zobia, Gwane, and 

other territories to the circular N-1213 R292 of 17 May 1917. The head of Bondo said 

he did not make use of the chiefs in this way. Mentions of persons fleeing to as far 

away as German East Africa are in MRAC 50.30.326 and 328. 

•^he extensive correspondence provoked by Governor General Henry's suggestion 

to the vice-governor general of the PO (3 May 1917) that contraints be used for the 

mines has been preserved in AA, D(778); in the end legal problems prevented such 



of convict labor increased sharply during the last years of the war with 
porterage consuming a growing share of them. Statistics are available 
only for an eighteen-month period from October 1916 to March 1918, 
but these show that this labor doubled in size, with porterage going 
from less than 4 percent of the total in the last quarter of 1916 to nearly 
18 percent in the first quarter of 1918.^5 A similar use of prison labor, 
instituted in 1914 by Vice-Governor General Malfeyt, by which per- 
sons convicted of offenses such as vagrancy could be paroled under 
labor contract to private employers found few takers. ^^ 

The passive resistance of Africans to paying taxes was in some 
places accompanied by active rebellion against the imposition of effec- 
tive colonial rule. The annual reports for this decade list the numer- 
ous police operations necessary to back up official presence, as well as 
the much more serious and often prolonged military operations to 
suppress more significant resistance. The number of military opera- 
tions in the Eastern Province is indicative of the absence of effective 
control in that region of the colony. How closely these operations 
were related to active resistance to the impositions in tax and labor of 
the colony is hard to say. Some appear to have concerned disputes 
between African neighbors or within African societies, and all have 
been laundered through several layers of administration before being 
published in the brief, sanitized versions of the annual reports. Other 
sources are lacking in most cases. However, the frequency of such un- 
rest in the vicinity of the Kilo-Moto mines suggests that there was a 
particular focus and cause. The events there in 1916 (discussed below) 
surely were related to the mines' demands for labor and supplies. 

^^''See particularly, Bertrand to DC, Bas Uele, 6 January 1917 with enclosure, 
Bertrand to GG, January 1916, MRAC 50.30.456. Because this porterage was serving 
private parties and because, to ensure regular service, the number of contraints had 
to be maintained at a fixed level, it seemed to resemble all too closely the forced 
labor of the Free State which the Colonial Council had approved two laws against in 

^^Rapport sur administration generale, Bas Uele, fourth quarter 1916, AA, H(850); 
Rapports trimestriels sur I'administration generale, Bas Uele 1917, MRAC 50.30.24; 
Rapports mensuelles sur I'administration generale, Bas Uele, August and November 

1917, MRAC 50.30.19; Rapport sur I'administration generale, Bas Uele, first quarter 

1918, MRAC 50.30.26. 

^AA, Ed. Schweisthal, "Legislation sur le vagabondage et la mendicite: maisons et 
ateliers de travail," annex to Procfes verbal, Comite Regional, PO, first session, 1927. 


200 km 


Map 5. Transportation Routes in the Eastern Congo, 1900-1918 


Reform in the Concessions and Mines 

Another task in establishing a reformed and effective administra- 
tion was to impose greater control over the private concessions (the 
Lomami Company and the Huileries du Congo Beige) as well as the 
mining companies both public (Kilo-Moto) and private (Formini^re) 
which are examined later. This was one of the most intractable issues 
over the next two decades. Failure to solve these issues seriously 
tarnished the Congo administration's record of reform in other areas. 

While committed to reforming the concessionary system of the 
Free State, the new Belgian administration did not intend to abolish 
that system. Indeed, to find exports to replace the diminishing 
quantities of wild rubber and ivory, it created new concessions and 
renewed old ones. In 1911, for example, the government entered into 
an agreement with the British soap company. Lever Brothers, to 
develop palm oil exports. A new subsidiary, the Huileries du Congo 
Beige (HCB), was granted extensive rights to exploit wild palm trees 
and establish new palm plantations in various parts of the colony, 
including a large section of Aruwimi district around Elisabetha. The 
HCB was required to pay a minimum wage of only twenty-five 
centimes a day, maintain schools and medical facilities, in addition to 
the usual requirements concerning feeding, housing and sanitation.^^ 
By the end of 1915 the HCB operations at Elisabetha employed 4,000 
persons, making it the second largest commercial employer in the 
province. As in other large operations the interests of the company 
tended to supercede the application of normal administrative 
supervision and in the course of that year "gave rise to nun\erous 
complaints regarding the regime which the company was imposing on 
its workers and on the natives inhabiting the concession. "38 
Apparently the company was also finding it difficult to attract and to 
hold laborers, since the number of their employees fell to below 2,500 
in 1916 and 1917. An appeal to the authorities of Lower Uele district 
failed to produce any new recruits. ^9 By the end of 1918 the 

37Buell, NaHve Problem, 2:511-14, 528-31. 

^AA, D(778)A.II.3, Note d'ensemble concemant les rapports generaux des districts 
du Vice-Gouvernement general de la PO en 1915, 27 April 1916; Rapport sur 
I'administration generale du Vice-Gouvernement de la PO, first half 1916, p. 11. 
^^RACB 1916, p.74; 1917, p.71; MRAC 50.30.533, CD, Bas Uele, au Directeur du 


Elisabetha contingent had fallen to under 1,400, a much greater decline 
than the work forces of other firms and other operations of the HCB 
experienced as a result of the influenza epidemic that year.^o The 
specific problems at Elisabetha during this period are not well docu- 
mented, but the head of Aruwimi district attributed the declining 
work force in 1920 to the inadequacy of the food allowance the 
company was paying, which along with low wages and high taxes 
was probably at the root of the problems in earlier years as well.^i 

Conditions in the neighboring concessions of the old Lomami 
Company remained scandalous during the decade with government 
efforts at reform coming only late. The British Vice-Consul Purdon, 
who toured the area in the latter half of 1912, reported extraordinary 
abuses: Africans were deliberately paid less than the legal wage, given 
short-weight on the rubber they were forced to collect, and subjected 
to excessive requisitions and taxes. He found the Africans in the 
vicinity of Obenge Benge "poor, squalid, and dirty" and "practically 
slaves" of the company. "If the State officials responsible for their 
welfare have not reported the conditions which prevail," he charged, 
"then they are either wilfully blind and unfit for their positions, or 
they realize the futility of reporting these facts to the Government. "^2 
In fact, at least one local official, the head of Opala, was reporting 
problems with the way regular workers were being paid in his post 
and the "famine salaries" of fifty centimes a week (often paid with a 
salt block worth only thirty-five centimes) paid to half-day laborers.^^ 
Further investigations revealed that forced labor, underpayment, and 
ill-treatment were general throughout the Company's concession. The 
subsequent arrest and trial of a number of Lomami Company agents 
caused a virtual shutdown of the company's operations for a time in 
1915.^ Here too reforms were slow in being fully implemented. 

District d'Elisabetha, de la HCB, 14 April 1917. The CD replied that the few Lower 

Uele peoples who were familiar with oil palm harvesting were doing fine at home, 

that the movement of people would rise spreading sleeping sickness, that his people 

had no wish to go to a distant and unknown place, and that he had no intention of 

using force to make them. 

40r>1CB 1918, pp.99-100. 

^^Ministre des Colonies aux HCB, 30 Septeml>er 1921, AA, MOI(3602)156. 

"Purdon, "Report on a Tour... of Stanleyville," pp.35-36. 

43AA, MOI(3606)178, Cinti, Chef de Poste, Opala, to CD, 12 October 1912. 

44FO403/443, Purdon to Castens, Stanleyville, 1 April 1913, in N=52, p.l41; FO403/ 


If the government may have avoid direct recruitment for the 
Lomami Company, that was not true in the case of the mining com- 
panies, despite the provision in the Colonial Charter against recruiting 
for private persons or companies. In practice powerful private firms 
were frequently supplied with porters and other labor on the same 
terms as the government. An instance noted by a British consul occur- 
red at the Kanua mining camps of the Societe Foresti^re et Mini^re du 
Congo (Formini^re), where villagers from as far as sixty-eight miles 
away were required to supply about 400 loads of foodstuffs a week. 
The work was not done willingly, but at least the pay was in cash and 
at rates much higher than those paid by the government posts in the 
area, which were also supplied by compulsion.^s The consul's report 
did not bring about any improvement. A little more than a year later 
the new commissioner general of the province, Alexis Bertrand, cited 
the existence of "caravans... composed of women, sometimes carrying 
children, who travel distances of over 50 km" in order to bring provi- 
sions to the same camp. He also noted that at least half of their pay 
was in salt or trade goods of trifling value and at rates one-third below 
the going rate. Although Bertrand could find no hard evidence to 
back it up, he believed that these Africans felt they were obligated to 
provide these supplies at these rates and instructed the district com- 
missioner to inform Africans of their right to payment in cash and at 
mutually agreeable prices.^ However, officials continued to provide 
the mine with recruits (Zobia territory furnishing 150 laborers in 
August 1914) and with foodstuffs for the Kanua market. How will- 
ingly Africans participated is doubtful, since 240 of the 600 miners at 
Kanua had deserted by early in 1915, perhaps in part because of the 
continued problems in obtaining adequate food supplies."^ 

The activities at the Kanua mines during the war years are 
undocumented, but conditions may have resembled those at the 

444, "Report by Vice-Consul Purdon on the Political and Commercial Situation of 

Stanleyville,", 1 June 1913, p.3; AA, D(778)A.II.3, Note d'emsemble concemant les 

rapports g6neraux des districts du Vice-Gouvernement general de la PO en 1915, 27 

April 1916. 

'^^FO 403/443 in N°l, W. J. Lamont, "Report on a Tour in the Upper Congo (August 

to October 1912)," p.lO. 

4^RAC 50.30.70, Bertrand to CD, Bas Uele, Buta, 12 January 1914. 

47MRAC 50.30.12, Rapport general, Territoire de Zobia, August 1914; RACE 1915, 



Babeyru nunes near the Stanleyville-Ituri district border, which the 
Formini^re also operated, where a "veritable mutiny" took place 
among its 300-500 African miners in 1917, during the course of which 
the company's stores were looted. Since the company preferred to 
keep this episode quiet, it may be inferred that conditions were not 

Nor were conditions better at the government-owned gold mines 
in the northeastern corner of the province. The first impression of the 
White Fathers who opened a mission station at Kilo in 1911 was that 
this gold-mining region would be an Eldorado for Africans as well, 
where the Lendu and Nyali people could satisfy their simple needs 
easily from their fertile fields while gaining a small margin of comfort 
by selling their agricultural surplus and labor to the mines. However, 
on longer familiarity, it became clear to the missionaries that the 
demands made by the state for taxes and porters and by the mines for 
labor and food "weighed heavily on the Kilo populations. ""^^ Partic- 
ularly onerous were the incessant requirements to produce extra food 
and carry it to the mining camps, a service for which they were poorly 

In 1910 mining operations were beginning at a new complex of 
sites around Moto some 360 kilometers further north, that by mid- 
decade surpassed Kilo in labor use. The establishment of this new 
center was pushed forward vigorously without adequate advance 
preparations being made for the housing, medical care, and provi- 
sioning of the employees or the construction of the road network 
necessary to link the mining camps. The result was an enormous 
strain on the meager resources of the region. Not only did the gold 
have to be mined, but networks of roads linking the various camps 
had to be built through the difficult terrain, food had to be grown for 
the mining and road crews, and the food had to be carried over long 
distances to their camps. The situation was made worse by the hostile 
relations that developed between the Kilo-Moto officials and the 
territorial administration. Finally, the increased activity in this area 
coincided with and aggravated the expansion of sleeping sickness in 

^RACB 1915, Y>-77, 1916, p.74, 3917, p.71; AA, D(778)A.II.3, Bertrand, Observa- 
tions-Rapport trimestriel, Ituri, second half 1917. 
^^alherbe, "La mission au Lac Albert," pp.287-300. 


the northeast. 

By May 1912 desertions among the 600 African miners at Moto had 
become common and with good reason. In addition to other "grave 
abuses," official investigations found that many miners had been 
recruited against their wills. In some cases "recruits" were sent off, 
yoked together around the neck like slaves, by chiefs who were paid a 
bonus (prime) for each man they delivered. ^^ By the latter part of 
1913 the recruitment of permanent workers for the mines had 
improved (though force had not disappeared), but the recruitment of 
short-term (fifteen working days) workers was described as "less satis- 
factory." The chiefs, themselves faced with violence from the mine 
employers if they failed to furnish enough men, often used force in 
their recruiting. Such force was needed to get men to accept the fairly 
miserable living conditions, a pitiful ten centime a day wage, and 
often skimpy rations that included no meat or salt. Late in 1913 the 
wage rate for these temporary workers was doubled, but that was still 
less than half what regular employees of the mines were paid.^^ 

The provisioning of the expanding mining camps affected a much 
larger number of Africans, who were even less well paid. In 1912 25 to 
30-kg loads of rations were being carried from 25 or even 40 km away 
for absurdly small remuneration. The next year the volume increased 
as did the distances, but the average load of provisions earned its pro- 
ducer and carrier less than the going rate for the porterage alone. ^ 
Naturally at those rates the efforts were not spontaneous; in the 
opinion of the commissioner general of the province "a veritable tax of 
foodstuffs" drained toward Moto, involving thousands of persons 
(including women and children) who were compelled to appear 
weekly with their produce at the mines. ^-^ Instead of free labor, the 
investigator found that: 

^Alexis Bertrand, Rapport sur les Mines de la Moto, in Bertrand to GG, 26 Septem- 
ber 1913, AA, D(778)A.III. Bertrand, the Commissioner general of the province, cites 
reports of investigations earlier that year by the head of the Gurba-Dungu zone, by 
Mr. Rossi, the magistrate (Procureur du Roi) in Uele, by Mr. Ernst, the Belgian 
consul in Uganda, and others, the originals of which are not in the archives. The 
essential facts in Bertrand's report are confirmed by Rossi au procureur general, 
Boma, 2 April 1914, AA, D(778)A.III. A shortened version of Ernst's report on 
sanitation at Kilo-Moto is in AA, H(839), Ernst to GG, 6 July 1913. 
^^Bertrand, Rapport... Mo to, pp.5-9. 
^^Bertrand au GG, 7 May 1912; Bertrand, Rapport. . .Moto. 
5%ertrand, Rapport... Moto, p. 4. 


[in] a vast region of Uele district, poor and poorly populated, the 
corvee imposed on the population, a truly excessive corvee, is infin- 
itely higher and less well paid than anywhere else. We act on the 
chiefs through commissions in money and more considerable ones in 
kind, for provisioning, porterage, and recruitment. The system 
involves abuses which are proportional to the results obtained.... And 
under the pretext that these unfortxmate natives (and it is difficult to 
describe them in other terms) have gotten legal coinage, we will soon 
be sending them tax collectors. 54 

The root of the problem, Bertrand felt, was that nearly everyone regar- 
ded the mines as the colony's "golden halo" to which everything might 
be sacrificed, including, it seemed, the reform program. "The recruit- 
ment of laborers and the bringing of foodstuffs were pushed; forced 
labor, prestations in kind in effect were reestablished in proportions 
rarely attained before in Uele district." How did the authorities react? 
"The most prudent closed their eyes, let or made the chiefs act without 
involving themselves; they steered dear of villages and chiefdoms 
where excesses of zeal could not pass unnoticed."^^ 

These abuses and attitudes at Kilo-Moto in 1913 show clearly that 
the similar and more widespread problems of 1914-18 were not simply 
the result of wartime emotions and pressures. Indeed, it is easier to 
relate the wartime abuses to a mind-set ready to sacrifice African wel- 
fare to any sufficiently important goal whether economic or national- 
ist. In any event, the continuing problems at the mines during the war 
were also the result of the decision made in 1916 to expand the mines' 
production as a way of dealing with the costs of the war.^^ 

The mines were the subject of a series of investigations and reports 
during the war years: in 1914-1915 the sub-director of economic affairs 
of the Ministry of Colonies, Mr. le Kithule de Ryhove, toured the 

S^Bertrand to GG 6 June 1913, AA, D(778)A.ra. 
5^'Bertrand, Rapport. . .Moto, p. 9. 

^According to Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," pp.112, 116, 127, 166, when the Ministry's 
director of public works, Charles Maertens, arrived to promote this policy in 1916, 
the then director general of the mines, Emile Braive, resigned in disagreement and 
was temjx)rarily replaced by Maertens, who later in the year went to South Africa to 
secure the machinery necessary to begin the move from alluvial to reef mining. In 
fact, although the mines' gold sales would be important to the colony's wartime 
budget, their output increased only modestly during the latter years of the war, and 
reef mining played no significant part in their operations until after the war. 


region; during 1916 Edmond Leplae, the Ministry's director of agricul- 
ture investigated Kilo; in November 1916 came another magistrate's 
report on the mines; in 1917 Charles Maertens, the acting director of 
the mines, conducted his own investigations. The procureur-g^n^ral 
of Katanga and later governor general, Martin-Jean Rutten, also repor- 
ted on a tour of the Kilo region. 57 All made it clear, as did those be- 
fore the start of the war, that recruitment for the mines involved ex- 
tensive use of compulsion and that this illegal recruitment existed be- 
cause the production of gold was put above every other consideration. 

A composite picture of recruitment drawn from these reports went 
something like this: a recruiter from the mines went around to each 
village chief accompanied by soldiers or the mines' own policemen, 
presented him with presents, and assigned him a quota of men 
(usually double the number needed since half normally deserted as 
soon as they could). The chief then rounded up those he liked the 
least or feared or who were least able to resist and sent them to the 
administrative post tied together by the neck. From there they were 
sent on to the district headquarters in chains, which were removed 
just outside the town to escape the notice of the magistrate. Chiefs 
were paid ten francs for each recruit as well as presents for meeting 
their quotas. Chiefs failing to cooperate fully risked losing their posi- 
tions or other punishments. According to the head of Ituri district 
three-quarters of the Kilo mine labor was made up of such recruits, an 
eighth of volunteers, and an eighth of captured deserters.^ 

To Maertens the differences between this and the slave trade of the 
pre-colonial Africa were slight: recruiting for the mines was less direct 
than slaving, since the men were rounded up by the chiefs the colony 
had invested, and more hypocriticcd, since it was wrapped up in a 

^^Yhe originals of all of these, except Maertens', are missing from the Ministry of 
Colonies archives. Leplae's is summarized in Bertrand, 17 November 1916, Minute: 
M. Ingenieur-Directeur de Kilo, D(778)A.III; Rutten's tour is mentioned in Louis 
Franck, "Activite de la Colonie pendant la Guerre," Belgium, Documents Parle- 
mentaires, Chambre des Representants, session 1918-19, annexe au N° 34, pp.24-25; the 
rest are summarized in Maertens, Du recrutement, 1917, AA, MOI(3548)33. 
^ited in Maertens, Du recrutement, p.17-18. Maertens was of the opinion that 
captured deserters made up a larger percentage and that most of the volunteers 
were former houseboys abandoned by their while employers, strayed porters, and 
individuals wanting to escape the authorities of their village; he did not hold them in 
high esteem. 


high-sounding legal form. For the African removed from his village, 
the difference must also have been hard to see. Maertens also found 
living conditions at the mines deplorable: for the African miner, he 
reported, nourishment was "barely sufficient," shelter was a "miser- 
ably built hut," and the callous white foreman was ever ready to use 
his whip and "bestially covetous" of the miner's wife.^ 

All of these investigators agreed that the blatant physical abuse of 
Africans should stop, but they differed in their solutions to the illegal 
forced recruitment. Recognizing that Africans were unlikely to volun- 
teer in sufficient numbers and that the mines were too important to 
the colony not to be exploited (though perhaps at a slower pace), the 
general consensus was that the colony should legalize the situation by 
declaring the mines to be in the public interest {d'utilite publique), 
thereby making compulsory labor legal.^^ Many of these observers 
also believed that compulsion was necessary, at least initially, because 
Africans were too home-loving and too innately lazy to be attracted to 
work at the mines by any reasonable incentives. ^^ This view drew 
support from the fact that, while desertion was often extremely high 
among newly recruited workers, many miners renewed their contracts 
after completing a full term, apparently having gotten a taste for the 
work. Thus the head of the province could report that in 1919 the 
Moto mines still employed a quarter of those engaged in 1910 and half 
of those who began work in 1914 and 1915, and that two-fifths of those 
whose contracts expired in 1919 had renewed them.^ 

The vice-governor disagreed with those who never ceased claiming 
that one had to force Africans to work, arguing that the Kilo mines' 
difficulties in recruiting labor on their own were due to the mine's bad 
reputation. The minister of colonies also came out at this time on the 
side of largely positive incentives in recruitment: 


^^aertens, Du recrutement, pp. 1-2; Boyton (acting head of Ituri) to the Vice- 
Governor General, 10 August 1917, AA, MOI(3602)166; Bertrand (acting Vice- 
Governor General) to GG, 6 November 1917, A A, D(778)A.III. 

^^E.g., Ch. Scheyvaerts, Rapport d'Inspection de la Main-d'oeuvre de Uele, 3 June 
1919, pp.29-30, AA, MOI(3603)167. 

62De Meulemeester to GG, 10 November 1919, AA, MOI(3603)167. He also reported 
that desertions among regular employees at Moto w^ere down to 5 percent in the 
second half of 1918, though auxiliary laborers still deserted at the rate of 30 to 35 
percent; desertions at Kilo were higher, especially among the Alur, running 22 
percent in 1918. 


Nothing would be more vexing and more contrary, both to common 
sense and to the wishes of the Government, than a mining policy that, 
instead of attracting its work force by the benefits to be found in mine 
work, drives it away by the manner in which the laborer is treated, 
housed, and fed. 63 

Despite these views at the highest levels of the administration the road 
to reform at Kilo-Moto was a long and tortuous one. 

Recruitment of miners was made more difficult by having two 
distinct categories of miners. The practice of employing short-term 
"auxiliary" workers (on terms of fifteen working days initially but by 
1918 generally for two or three months), in addition to regular mine 
workers (on three-year contracts), had begun as a way of meeting 
temporary labor needs. However, as it became harder to recruit 
enough regular African miners, in part because government officials 
resisted assisting in recruitment for long-term contracts, the number of 
auxiliaries grew rapidly despite their much lower productivity. As 
table 4.2 shows, the number of auxiliary workers at the Moto mines 
went from 1,202 at the end of 1917 (a quarter of the work force) to 
1,898 a year later (a third of the work force) to 2,982 in 1920 (two-fifths 
of the work force). The motives of the auxiliaries were quite clear: 
they either had to pay their head tax or go to work on a road gang. 
The posts of Arebi and Gombari in Upper Uele were furnishing 975 to 
1,100 auxiliaries a month to the Moto mines, a clear indication of the 
large-scale recruiting that such-short term labor necessitated. 
Nevertheless, the reforms of 1918-19 mandated that the contracts of 
first time employees were to be limited to three months duration, then 
six months, then twelve months. The protests from the mines were 
clear: those signing on for only three months would never be inspired 
to renew their contracts.^'^ 

The misery caused to Africans in the northeast was not confined to 
the miners. On a far greater scale were the impositions that affected 
nearly all Africans in the region who were forced to supply food to the 

^ouis Franck, "Activite de la Colonie pendant la Guerre," Belgique, Documents 
Parlementaire, Chambre des Representants, session 1918-1919, annexe au N°34, p. 25. 
^De Meulemeester to DCs, 24 April 1919; Delmotte (ingenieur. Kilo) to GG, 25 June 
1919; Lacomblez (Principal Engineer, acting Director, Mines de I'lturi), 10 August 
1919, AA, MOI(3603)167. 


Table 4.2 

African Labor at Kilo-Moto, 1908-1920 












1909 (May) 



1910 (mid) 


1911 (April) 




1912 (May) 


1913 (Sept) 







































Sources: RACE 1909, p.253; Malherbe, "Mission au Lac Albert," p.l54, 
quoting estimate of Father Beauchamp, who visited Kilo in July-August 
1910; APB, Diaire de Vieux-Kilo, 24 April 1911, p.2; Bertrand to GG, 7 May 
1912, AA, D(778)A.III; Bertrand to GG, 26 September 1913, AA, D(778)A.III; 
RACE 1915, p.77; 1916, p.53; I9I7, p.71; 1918, pp.74, 101; "Mines de Kilo- 
Moto," Congo, 1924, 1:98. 

mines. Formal contracts were signed in 1912, initiated by the commis- 
sioner general of the province and approved at the highest level in 
Boma, by which African chiefs in the region of the Kilo mines agreed 
to supply food in return for fixed payments of which the chiefs kept 
the lion's share.^^ The growing size of the mining camps increased 
the pressures on African farmers to supply food. The Africans, in turn, 
increased their resistance to what one high official called a reinstate- 
ment of "a regime of the long-since condemned taxes in kind and in 
labor."^^ During 1915-16 there were a series of separate rebellions 
among the Lendu, Lugbara, and Lese against the forced furnishing of 
foodstuffs, the Lendu even burning some mining camps. The latter 

65Bertrand to GG, 6 February 1917, AA, D(778)A.III. Bertrand dtes a file then in the 

hands of the Procureur du Roi Detry. 

^^rtrand, 17 November 1916, Minute: Ingenieur-Directeur, Kilo, AA,D(778)A.III. 


revolt was suppressed with the aid of the new chief of Kilo, N'Goli 
(Goli), in a particularly bloody fashion that left a strong impression on 
the colonial administrators, and, one must imagine, on the Lendu.^7 
The food shortages in turn led to serious privations among the miners, 
many of whom deserted. There was also an increase in the use of 
corporal punishment in the mining camps about this time. 

In addition to purchasing food from African farmers in the area, 
the mines also tried other approaches to meeting food needs. One of 
these was to grow their own crops on land near the mines. This policy 
had begun in the Kilo mines in 1909 and the employment of miners' 
wives to grow crops had succeeded in supplying these mines with a 
large part of their food needs up to 1916. After that date Kilo paid a 
food allowance to its workers and allowed them to purchase their own 
food. The farming wives were replaced by men hired to grow crops 
for the company .6^ The company farms developed more slowly at 
Moto than did the mining camps themselves; by mid-1912 there were 
only forty hectares under cultivation. While mostly males were 
employed at this task at first (perhaps to clear the land), such farms 
soon came to employ only females, nearly all the wives of miners.^^ 

Another approach was to encourage white farmers to settle in 
these temperate and fertile regions. The first to arrive were Afri- 
kaners, who at first transported goods to the mines in oxcarts and then 
began to raise food crops for the mines. Government efforts to 
encourage Belgian settlement near Kilo-Moto (as in Katanga) met with 
limited success. ^0 The colonists were generally unhappy at the rate of 
remuneration offered by the notoriously stingy mines. A third 
approach, resisted by the company, was contracting with a private 
firm to supply food. An operation known as the Congo Oriental 
Company offered to supply palm oil early in 1917, but the mines did 
not sign an agreement until after the head of the province made it 
clear that the administration would no longer use illegal force to 
extract foodstuffs from local Africans.^ 

67jFL4CB 1916, pp. 4-5; Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," pp.112-13. 

^%akonzi,"Gold Mines," pp.134-8. 

^^There were twenty women and 299 men employed at cultivation in September 

1911; two years later the number was 409 women and no men. Bertrand to GG, 7 

May 1912 and 26 September 1913, AA, D(778)A.III. 

'^alherbe, "U mission au Lac Albert," pp.274-75; RACE 1915, p.llO, RACE 1916, 



The responsibility for the perennial abuse of labor by the Kilo- 
Moto mines can be assigned to several different groups and circum- 
stances. Many abuses were ascribable to lowest level of European 
employees, the ones most likely to have contact with Africans, to take 
advantage of their positions of authority, and to give vent to their 
emotions. As the war went on, the the number of Europeans in non- 
military service in the colony dropped, so that many lesser posts at the 
mines were filled with whoever was available, often persons of 
dubious qualification and character. If inadequately supervised, such 
overseers were likely to take advantage of their positions. 

Others were of the opinion that greater responsibility was to be 
laid at the feet of the mines' local directors. In particular, Mr. Man- 
froy, the principal engineer of Kilo-Moto, came in for considerable 
blame for failing to correct abuses. According to one investigator, 
Manfroy was able to nullify the effect of the reports of Bertrand, Ernst, 
Rossi and others by insisting to Brussels that "everything was the best 
in the best of all possible worlds."'^ Manfroy was not the only culprit. 
In an unusually blunt letter the governor general protested the reap- 
pointment of Mr. Mathelin as a director of the mines at a salary of 
40,000 francs because of his "brutality and lack of humanity" as indic- 
ated in several reports. The governor general indicated that he would 
advise both Manfroy and Mathelin that should any new instances of 
inhumanity under their administrations come to his attention, he 
would see to it that their colonial careers came to an end.''^ 

Most observers put greatest weight on the structure of authority 
and responsibility in the northeast as a third and more complex factor 
in explaining Kilo-Moto mess. From the time of the Belgian takeover 
the mines had been administered as part of the colony with its officials 
part of the colonial service. In theory these officials were responsible 
to the colony's governor general, but in practice the mines were often 
able to operate independently of the governor general, answering only 
to those in the Ministry of Colonies. It was, however, their relation- 
ship with the officials of the local territorial administrations that was 
most irksome. Possessing their own police force, dealing directly with 

TiDe Meulemeester to GG, 10 December 1919, AA, MOI(3603)167. See Bakonzi, 

"Gold Mines," pp.154-55. 

^^aertens, Du Recrutement, p.2. 

^G to Minister, 6 December 1918, AA, AI(1416). 


chiefs in the recruitment of labor and provisions, and with the ear of 
the powers in Brussels, the mines were soon recognized both by the 
African population and by the territorial agents as the superior of the 
two colonial administrations in the northeast. When the policies of the 
two clashed, it was the mines' interests which won out and African 
welfare (the responsibility of the Territorial Administration) that lost 
out. Territorial officials learned to close their eyes to the situation, so 
that when abuses became known the responsibility inevitably fell on 
the African chiefs and headmen or other subalterns. ^4 a potential 
check on this ruthless system was the Congo's strong judicial system, 
whose independence was unique among African colonies.''^ As has 
been seen, it was this judiciary which conducted many of the exposes 
of Kilo-Moto's abuses, but when these failed to produce much effect its 
members also learned to avert their eyes from the mines' misdeeds.''^ 

The African uprisings of 1916 and the subsequent new round of 
investigations finally led to reform of this "absolutist and arbitrary" 
regime. Two assistant magistrates and the principal inspector of 
industry and commerce recommended to the Ituri labor commission 
that, if reform were to be forthcoming, it could only be by the mines 
imdertaking their own recruitment without recourse to any interven- 
tion of the Territorial Service. The inspector further recommended 
that this be done through a complete separation of the technical and 
personnel functions of the mine officials.77 But the decision of the 
government went in quite a different direction: Kilo-Moto was separ- 
ated from the colonial administration in 1919 and made an autono- 
mous public corporation, while the recruitment of its labor force was 
placed entirely in the hands of the Territorial Service, who were 
enjoined from using any direct pressures in the process.''^ How well 
that reform worked will be considered in the next chapter. 

74Bertrand, Rapport... Moto, pp.9-11, and Bertrand to GG, 6 February 1917, AA, 


75Buell, Native Problem, 2:468ff. 

76Bertrand to GG, 7 March 1917; AA, D(778)A.III. 

'^es Substituts Ferronte, Devaux, Inspecteur principal de I'industrie et commerce, 

Charles Scheyvaerts, "Note pour M. le President de la Sous-Commission de Recrute- 

ment du District de I'lturi," Irumu, 11 February 1919; Scheyvaerts, "Rapport d'ln- 

spection de I'Uele," pp. 34-35, 3 June 1919, AA, MOI(3603)167. 

78De Meulemeester to DCs, 24 April 1919, AA, MOI(3603)167. 


The War 

The efforts at reform and economic development were affected 
dramatically by the Belgian Congo's decision to launch an invasion of 
German East Africa from the Eastern Province in April 1916. Besides 
contributing indirectly to the labor abuses at Kilo-Moto already noted, 
the war effort would be a direct cause of the overwork and death of 
many Africans in the eastern Congo. At first the colony had refrained 
from direct action against the neighboring German territories, but in 

1915 it began a mobilization which put some ten to twelve thousand 
troops on the Congo's eastern frontier by year's end. Most of these 
came from the Force Publique, to whose numbers were added some 
3,000 from the Territorial Police. To permit a sustained attack on 
German East Africa the government abruptly announced in February 

1916 that it was suspending all mustering out in the Force Publique 
and calling up 5,000 new recruits (over twice the number of the 
previous years), whom it wanted by the end of April. Toward this 
number the Eastern Province supplied 2,970 men, of whom 2,557 were 
found fit for induction.79 

Even before serious conflict began, the transport of munitions and 
supplies to the frontier with German East Africa had begun imposing 
a heavy burden on the thinly populated forest districts of Lowa and 
Maniema, which lay between the Lualaba and the eastern frontier. At 
first both officials and missionaries described Africans as responding 
loyally to the huge new requisitions in food, porters and soldiers.* 
However, when the demands continued throughout 1915, African 
fatigue and ill-will developed as men, women, and even children were 
caught up in the debilitating war effort. Throughout Kivu, mission- 
aries reported, the populations were "overwhelmed by corv^es and 
daily requisitions of food and men." In the vicinity of the military 
headquarters at Kibati northwest of lake Kivu food requisitions 

^'^RACB 1916, p.98-99; Governor General Henry to vice-governors general, Boma, 1 
February 1916, MRAC 50.30.353. 

^AA, D(778)A.II.3, Note d'ensemble concemant les rapports generaux des districts 
du Vice Gouvemement de la PO en 1914, 21 April 1915; APB, Haut-Congo, 1914-15, 
p. 273: [For war effort] "Des populations des environs ont foumi plusieurs centaines 
de tonnes de vivres et contribue aussi d'une fagon tr&s efficace au ravitaillement des 
troupes du Congo. Le resultat a ete extrement satisfaisant, car les depredations dont 
sont coutumi&res des troupes de passage ont ete ainsi eviter; les cultures ont pu etre 
entretenues, et la confiance entre soldat et indigene s'est affermee." 


Table 4.3 


Publique Recruitment, 1910-1921 


Belgian Congo Eastern Congo 
Complement Reenlistees/Recruits Recruits 













































Sources: Flament, La Force Publique, p. 509; RACE 1916, p.250; 1917, p.90; 
1918, p.ll3; Conseil Colonial, CRA 1913/14, p.l26; 2919, pp.468, 487; 
1920, pp.564-65. 

brought on a famine in a drought-stricken area. In the villages of 
Bobandana and Makelili, where the corves were unusually severe, 
the situation was "truly sad" according to Belgian missionaries: "The 
father of the family is at the front, the mother is grinding flour for the 
soldiers, and the children are carrying the foodstuffs!"^ 

These miseries were further increased by the offensive into German 
East Africa in April 1916 aimed at increasing Belgium's already enor- 
mous colonial territories.^^ The acting head of the province stated the 
situation bluntly in 1916: "We can't choose to ignore that it is hardly 
likely we will be able to continue: human strengths have their limits, 
as do the food reserves of relatively lightly-populated African states 
lacking proper means of transport."®'' Pressure had to be applied on 

SlAPB, RAPE 1915-16, pp.103, 119-23, 127-29; cf. Rene-Jules Comet, Bwana 

Muganga (Hommes en blanc en Afrique noire) (Brussels: ARSOM, 1971), p.238. 

82william Roger Louis, Ruanda-Urundi 1884-1919 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 


^AA, D(778)A.II.3, Note d'ensemble concernant des rapports generaux des districts 

du Vice-Gouvernement general de la PO en 1915, 27 April 1916. 


subordinate officials to obtain the large number of recruits for the 
Force Publique. In 1915 the head of Lower Uele had boasted that the 
loyalty of the Africans had enabled him to fill his quota entirely with 
volunteers. In March 1916, however, he had to instruct his subordin- 
ates to resort to conscription if necessary. Although offering to exceed 
his quota in April, by May he was receiving reports from his staff that 
they had been able to meet their quotas of recruits only by resorting to 
a good deal of arm twisting.** 

The central problem was that executing the 1916 offensive required, 
not only soldiers and supplies, but a massive increase in the volume of 
porterage as well. To spread the burden among more people new 
porterage routes to the eastern frontier were opened up. Along the 
most direct route-still forty days march, running from Kirundu on the 
upper Congo through the forests of Lowa to the mountains of 
Rutshuru north of lake Kivu on the Rwandan border-porters carried 
36,689 loads in 1915, half of those in the last quarter of the year, and an 
additional 24,736 loads in the first five months of 1916. To relieve the 
burden on the Africans along this route a very much longer and more 
northerly route was organized in 1916 from Stanleyville to Irumu and 
then south to lake Kivu. This northern route carried nearly 5,000 loads 
in the first five months of 1916. On the two more southerly routes, 
starting from Kindu and Kasongo on the river to territory between 
lakes Kivu and Tanganyika, 27,000 loads were carried in 1915 and 
37,033 in the first five months of 1916. ^^ These routes, collectively 
stretching over hundreds of kilometers, were little more than narrow 
footpaths and the carrying was especially exhausting through the 
mountains at the eastern end. The route from Kindu ran through 
Misisi, deep in the equatorial forest, where the steep ravines made 
porterage exhausting, especially since the clay soil was "like a sort of 
hard butter where you slip even on level ground."^ 

Head porterage was supposed to be abandoned as soon as the 

**Landeghem, RA, Bas Uele, 1915, MRAC 50.30.16; Landeghem to Agents Territori- 
aux, 24 March 1916, MRAC 50.30.353; Agent Territorial Sorrel, Likati, to Landeghem, 
22 May 1916, acting Agent Territorial Mendrich, Zobia, to Landeghem, 28 May 1916, 
and Vice-Govemor General Malfeyt to DC, Bas Uele, Stanleyville, 8 May 1916, 
MRAC 50.30.343. 

^^RACB 1916, pp.87-88; Belgium, Ministry of National Defence, Les campagnes 
coloniales beiges, (Brussels: Imprimerie de I'ICM, 1927), 1:29-30. 
^APB, RAPB 1923-24, Vieux-Kasongo, p.53a 


railroad across northern Katanga to lake Tanganyika was completed 
in July 1916. In fact it continued on a large scale until November. The 
population of Lowa, numbering only 83,518 adult men, was exhausted 
by over three million days of porterage during the year. Some 1,359 
had died of overwork and disease. To the south in Maniema the 
corvee des transports de guerre toward Kivu came to an end in late 
September, with results only somewhat less fatiguing than in Lowa. ^ 

The effects in Kivu were also severe. The troops passing by the 
southern end of lake Kivu during the first half of 1916 made incessant 
demands for food and porters. North of the lake conditions were even 
worse. Famine increased as the war demands left people with too 
little time to farm. Fevers and dysentery began to claim the weakened 
population. Some family heads were driven to sell off family mem- 
bers to buy food. Large numbers of those compelled into porterage 
died along the road of cold, fatigue, hunger, dysentery, and fever.® 
A Dutch White Father named Smulders, who spoke out against the 
abuses suffered by Africans and had the temerity to send a letter to a 
Dutch newspaper on the subject, soon found himself removed at the 
order of the Belgian general Tombeur, who accused Smulders of 
German sympathies and demanded his replacement by a Belgian.89 

One reason why this porterage was so severely debilitating was 
that loads legally restricted to no more than 25 kg in fact generally 
weighed (at least during 1915) 30 kg or more.^o xhe burden of porter- 
age did not end at the eastern frontier for additional porters were 
recruited to accompany the troops invading German East Africa from 
May through September 1916. A law of 5 August 1915, had put such 

^"^RACB 1916, pp.4, 8, 87-88; AA, D(778)A.II.3, Rapport sur Tadministration 
generale du Vice-Gouvemement general de la PO, first and second halves, 1916. 
^APB, RAPE 1916-17, pp.86-88, 116-120, 124. A Catholic mission between Goma 
and Rutshuru recorded the following at the end of 1916: "La famine devient plus en 
plus forte. Des families entieres sont emportees; elles s'enferment dans la maison et 
s'y laissent mourir. Et la rarete absolue de vivres nous empeche de secourir ces 
malheureux." APB, Diaire de Rygari, 17 Decemt>er 1916, p.6. 

89aPB,133.364, Roelens k Livinhac, Thielt St Pierre, Kivu, 18 March 1916; 122/1, Van 
Hoef k Mgr. et Venere Pfere, Tongr^s Ste Marie, Lulenga, 2 April 1916; Ruboneka 
Kaboy, "Implantation misionnaire au Kivu (Zaire): Une etude historique des 
etablissements des Peres Blancs: 1880-1945," (th^se de doctoral, Faculte d'Histoire 
Ecclesiastique, Universite Pontificale Gregorienne, Rome, 1980), pp.568-69. 
90MRAC, 62.40.1088, Vice-Govemor General Malfeyt to GG Henry, Stanleyville, 1 
February 1916 (confidential). 


porters under military discipline. The recruitment of military porters 
was suspended in mid-1916, but resumed with a vengeance in 1917 
when Belgium was persuaded to resume activities in Tanganyika, in 
response to a German counteroffensive.^i In March the Eastern 
Province was called upon to furnish 1,000 more military porters 
immediately and in July the quota was raised to 5,000 (out of a colony- 
wide total of 13,000). ^2 The porters were paid twenty-one centimes a 
day. An additional 1.25 fr a month was paid to those who survived at 
the end of their engagement. Most of these military porters were 
released in 1918.^^ 

Since few were willing to volunteer for such service, authorities 
had been authorized to use force in recruiting under an ordinance-law 
of 19 July 1917, with the inevitable consequences. For example, late in 
1917 fear, uru"est, and discontent over this recruitment were reported 
throughout Lower Uele district. ^^ One administrator there com- 
plained to his superiors against the new quotas: "Already there is 
unrest over this recruitment.... The region is losing a considerable part 
of its population.... The youth eire gone as conscripts for the Force 
Publique, conscripted porters, workers for the mines and commercial 
firms."^^ In Lowa district African resistance to post-war impositions 
in 1919 was attributed to their exhaustion by war time porterage. 
Among many affected populations, such as the Hunde of Kivu, the 
suffering of war time porterage was still remembered decades later.* 

Another integral part of the war effort was the forced production 
of foodstuffs, especially rice, for the troops, their porters, and for ex- 
port to Europe. Legislation in effect from 1 August 1917 to 1 July 1918 
required Africans to sell their entire harvest to goveriunent agents at 
fixed prices. The same areas of the Eastern Province that were fur- 

91MRAC 50.30.73, Bertrand (acting Governor, PO) to CDs, Bas Uele and Stanley- 
ville, 22 August 1916, N°1319AI. John Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika 
(Cambridge University Press, 1979), p.246. 

^^RACB 1917, p.85; MRAC 50.30.345, Acting Governor Bertrand to CDs, Stanley- 
ville, 31 March 1917 and 10 July 1917. 

93MRAC 50.30.353, Commandant Superieur, Udjidji, au CDs, 2 June 1918; RACE 
1918, p.ll3. Cf. G.W.T. Hodges, "African Manpower Statistics for the British Forces 
in East Africa, 1914-1918," Journal of African History, 19 (1978):101-16. 
^MRAC 50.30.24, Rapport sur Tadministration general, Bas Uele, 4th quarter 1917. 
^^MRAC 50.30.345, Agent Territorial, Zobia, au CD, Bas Uele, 18 November 1917. 
^RACB 1919, p.l2; Bahati Mutimatona, "Les Bahundu et la colonisation beige 
(1902-1960)," (Travail de fin d'etudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1977), pp.77-80. 


nishing porters to the front also furnished about three-fourths of this 
rice production. Sales from Lowa district, for example, went from 800 
metric tons in 1915 to 1,024 in 1916, 1,350 in 1917, and 5,975 in 1918, 
and Stanleyville, Maniema, and Lower Uele districts were similarly 
affected. 97 The transport of this rice, often over considerable 
distances, to the designated purchasing centers fell on the African 
producers at no additional remuneration. For example, to get his crop 
to the increasingly important market at Shuka in Stanleyville district a 
cultivator of one hectare of rice had to engage in 120 days of unpaid 
head porterage at 25 kg a load, if his women had already done the 
arduous task of hulling the rice by hand, or 168 days, if they had 
not.98 In the more remote parts of Lower Uele the costs of canoe or 
head porterage from the buying centers to Buta left very little or 
nothing to pay the producers and led to complaints that the forced 
labor of the Free State era had returned. ^^ Much of the porterage of 
rice was accomplished through wartime legislation authorizing sixty 
days per year of coerced labor per adult male, imposing, in the 
judgment of the Permanent Commission for the Protection of the 
Natives, an intolerable burden on the province.^^ 

Thus, the decision to invade German East Africa-a campaign which 
had no effect on the outcome of the war except to ensure Belgium's 
share in the colonial spoils-was a further example of how readily 
African interests were subordinated to European gains. The people of 
the eastern Congo paid dearly for this campaign through heavy 
recruitment of soldiers, massive and debilitating porterage, and the 
forced production of foodstuffs, which entailed further porterage. 
Few parts of the province escaped these burdens, which came on top 
of those already existing. Records do not permit measuring the loss of 
lives entailed in these efforts, but they were certainly great. 

^RACB 1915, p.69; 1926, p.65; Edmond Leplae, "Histoire et developpement des 

cultures obligatoires de coton et de riz au Congo beige de 1917 a 1933," Congo 1933, 


98aA, D(778)A.I, Bertrand to GG, Stanleyville, 30 August 1917. 

^*^RAC 50.30.421, Acting Vice-Governor General Bertrand to CDs, Bas Uele and 

Stanleyville, 13 February 1917; CD, Bas Uele to Agent Territorial, Zobia, 23 October 

1917; Note semestrielle sur I'agriculture et elevage, Territoire de Zobia, 6 July 1918; 

Agent Territorial, Ibembo, to CD, Bas Uele, 13 December 1917. 

^^eon Guebels, ed.. Relation complete des travaux de la Commission Permanente pour 

la protection des indigenes au Congo beige, (Brussels: Centre d'Etude de Probl^mes 

Sociaux Indig&nes, 1953), pp.218-19. 


Health and Population 

In the view of many contemporary observers the combined effect 
of greater administrative control, commerce, and wartime activities 
during the first dozen years of direct Belgian rule had been to produce 
a serious demographic crisis in the Congo. Thus, it is suitable to con- 
clude this chapter with a review of the health situation in the Eastern 
Province. There is no doubt that Africans' health was affected by the 
spread of disease along the roads and trails of the province, the 
recruitment of many individuals away from their homes, and the often 
debilitating effects of excessive labor demands. Some of the health 
problems at places like Kilo-Moto have already been mentioned. It 
remains to consider the effects of the spread of sleeping sickness and 
the post-war epidemics of influenza and other diseases. 

In 1910 the Eastern Province was threatened on all sides by the 
spread of sleeping sickness. The situation was at its worst in Maniema 
and Kivu district south of Uvira, but the disease was also threatening 
other parts of the province as it spread eastward from Bangala 
province, south from French Equatorial Africa, and east from Uganda 
and German East Africa. At Goma and Nya-Lukemba (north and 
south of lake Kivu) and at Beni (between lakes Edward and Albert) all 
persons coming from the east were subject to medical exams and for a 
time the Ugandan frontier was closed. In June 1911 Great Britain 
closed their side of the Ugandan frontier to stop the spread; in June 
1914 the Germans closed their frontier for the same reason. To the 
north the contamination had spread down the Uele valley from 
Faradje eastward 150 km to Dungu by early in 1913; by mid-1914 it 
had spread another 200 km from Dungu past Niangara to Suronga. 
By mid-1913 the disease had also advanced up the Rubi between 
Ibembo and Go.i^^ 

The Colony's medical service had been preparing for this threat for 
a decade, but the onslaught still took some time to meet effectively. 
The new Belgian Congo government established a more autonomous 
Health Service and in 1910 more than doubled the number of isolation 
camps known as lazaret-villages and promulgated new legislation 
making sleeping sickness efforts the responsibility of the entire colo- 
nial staff. 102 Generous commitments to new medical teams and ser- 

^OiAA, H(850) and (855). 


vices were made, but the recruitment of the necessary doctors pro- 
gressed slowly. By the second quarter of 1913, when Uele district was 
being threatened from three directions, the responsible officials still 
lacked an adequate understanding of the magnitude of the contamina- 
tion and were without plans to meet it. In April, after fighting for four 
years to get the government to take effective action against the disease 
which he felt was threatening the survival of the people in his charge, 
the district commissioner of Uele (Bertrand), on his own authority, 
issued a sweeping prohibition of a major part of commercial travel in 
Uele. This was almost immediately annulled by the governor general, 
but it seems to have goaded the government into greater action. Soon 
after, an effective medical inspector. Doctor Rodhain, arrived to de- 
limit the affected areas, allowing the restrictive provisions of the law 
of January 1913 to be applied in Uele: a medical passport required of 
all Africans travelling more than 30 km from home, restrictions on 
caravan routes, and compulsory treatment for all affected persons. 
Nevertheless, on the eve of the war the situation in Uele was grave 
and doctors were in short supply. ^^3 

The war brought the sleeping sickness campaign nearly to a halt: 
"doctors were called elsewhere, not replaced or replaced by persons 
without special training; funds declined.''^^'* The details are poorly 
documented, but reports show that even large operations such as 
Kilo-Moto took inadequate measures against sleeping sickness during 
the war years, in part because the mines were frequently without 
doctors.^^^ Not only did the war effort blunt efforts at controlling the 
disease, but increased travel across the province and into German East 
Africa provided greater mechanisms for its spread. Yet for some 
reason sleeping sickness does not appear to have spread in the pro- 
vince. Although sleeping sickness remained a serious problem after 
the war, it does not seem to have become a worse one. 

lO^aryinez Lyons, "From 'Death Camps' to Cordon Sanitaire: the Development of 

Sleeping Sickness Policy in the Uele District of the Belgian Congo, 1903-1914," 

Journal of African History, 26 (1985):84-86. 

103AA, H(855)MS-U/44, Bertrand to GG, 11 April 1913, and passim; RACE 1925, p. 

16; AA, H(850), "Nouveau Dossier." 

^'^^edicin-Inspecteur s'Heeren, Rapport sur la Mission de la Maladie du Sommeil 

de I'Uele, July 1921, AA, H(855)MS/U63, p.l. 

^0%ertrand to GG, 6 February 1917, AA, D(778)A.III; and Scheyvaerts, "Rapport 

d'Inspection de I'Uele," pp.3, 8. 


Instead, the menace to public health at the war's end came from a 
new source: the global influenza epidemic. Because the severity of the 
influenza epidemic was linked to the general state of health of the 
population, it is important to review the effects of the war effort on 
public health. Only scattered evidence exists, but the White Fathers' 
mission diaries in Kivu give a revealing glimpse of an important and 
war-battered area. The accounts begin in 1915 with the arrival of 
relapsing fever along the porterage route north of lake Kivu, which 
carried off many adults and children, lo^ As was seen above, the 
unrelenting requisitions of men and food for the invasion of 1916 had 
brought on a dreadful famine, especially severe in northern Kivu, 
which lasted throughout 1917, relieved only temporarily by the June 
harvest. While it is not possible to quantify the extent of the misery 
and death brought on by this war effort, the missionaries in northern 
Kivu, who, at one station alone, gave relief to a hundred new victims a 
day while their supplies lasted, were convinced of its severity. One 
mission station saw 250 of its own flock weaken and die of hunger; 
famished children and adults set off on long migrations in search of 
food, half of these "walking cadavers" dying along the way; malnutri- 
tion brought on dysentery, claiming "a goodly number" of additional 
victims. Missionaries in Kivu and Ituri reported that the misery 
become so acute that people (especially young women) were being 
sold into slavery by their families to provide food for the rest.^^^ 
Nineteen eighteen brought smallpox and cerebro-spinal meningitis to 
Kivu and the northeast. After the missionaries' meager supplies of 
smallpox vaccine (which in any case had turned out to be ineffective) 
was exhausted, some Kivu Africans began administering their own 
inoculations of live virus. By the time the epidemic stopped in the dry 
season it had claimed a thousand victims northwest of lake Kivu and 
some two thousand among the Alur north of lake Albert. The losses 
to meningitis are unknown in Uvira, although a single mission school 

lO^lAPB 1915-16, Haut-Congo, Tongr&s-Sainte-Marie, pp.130-31. 
107APB, Diaire de Rugari, 1:5 (30 November 1916), 8 (January 1917), 11 (17 May 
1917), 2:1 (28 June 1917), 21 (10 October 1917), 23, (12 November 1917), 24 (3 
December 1917). RAPE 1916-17, Haut Congo, pp.86-88. In May 1917 the head of the 
Katana Mission on Lake Kivu had a list of a hundred whom he would redeem from 
slavery as soon as he found the funds: RAPE 1917-18, Haut Congo, p.412. H. Eugene 
Eowe, "Slaves," Inland Africa, October 1921, p.l2, tells of a young Alur woman being 
exchanged during the famine of 1918-19 for a small patch of sweet potatoes. 


to the north lost an astonishing 3,000 persons. In the northeast, where 
a meningitis epidemic broke out at the Kilo mines, officials put the 
deaths at 1,500 in Ituri and 1,000 in Upper Uele.^os Bishop Huys 
summed up the dreadful state of his mission area in his report for 
1918-19 as follows: 

Our poor peoples of the Upper Congo have been cruelly put to the 
test in 1918-1919. The military operations for the conquest of 
German East Africa have demanded thousands of porters. 
Unhappily these necessary helpers were not only submitted to a 
goodly number of privations and to changes in climate that were 
fatal to their health, but as well they were decimated by various 
contagious diseases which raged cruelly. We mention only cerebro- 
spinal meningitis, dysentery and typhoid fever. When the 
demobilization comes, hundreds of porters from the Upper Congo 
will be absent.109 

Meningitis returned in the 1920s, but in 1919 it temporarily gave 
precedence as the worst of the epidemics to Spanish influenza (which 
had reached Kasai and Katanga in 1918), moved in from East Africa. 
The grippe reached the weakened population of Kivu in January and 
rapidly claimed its victims. Northwest of lake Kivu: "children were 
falling along the road, adults in their fields, canoemen -with the paddle 
in their hands."^^^ That mission area lost a thousand persons, a tenth 
of its population. The Fathers at Liege-Saint-Lambert at the south end 
of the lake reported counting over 2,500 dead. The mission at 
Tongr^s-Sainte-Marie, north of the lake reported only fifty-eight 
deaths because of flu in their area, but had to add another 223 deaths 
due to meningitis and dysentery. Before the epidemic was over 
Bishop Huys had put the number of flu deaths in Kivu and northern 
Katanga at 10,000.^^^ That estimate appears moderate, since a year 
later the Colony officially estimated that it had lost 4 to 5 percent of its 
population to influenza, which, if evenly distributed, would have been 
between 130,000 and 164,000 for the Eastern Province, including some 

lO^APB, RAPE 1917-18, p.414; Diane de Rugari, 2:29-34 (May-September 1918), 

RAPE 1918-19, pp.146, 174-75; Malherbe, "Mission au Lac Albert," p.304; RACB 

1918, p.l30. 

^O^APE, RAPE 1918-1919, Rapport general, Haut-Congo, p.l45. 

"^APB, RAPE 1919-20, Pelichy (Saint-Joseph), pp.184-85. 

"^APE, RAPE 1919-20, pp.183, 185, 189; RAPE 1918-19, p.l48. 


25,000 to 35,000 in Kivu."^ 

These spectacular losses brought the population question to the 
boil again. In December 1919 the members of the Permanent Commis- 
sion for the Protection of the Natives charged that the depopulation of 
the Congo was continuing at a rapid and alarming rate, due largely to 
diseases introduced or spread by Europeans-principally smallpox, but 
also tuberculosis, meningitis, typhoid fevers, influenza, and syphilis- 
as well as to excessive corvees, overemphasis on cash crops, and 
excessive labor recruitment.^^^ The authorities were quick to deny 
that the Congo's population was declining and asserted that it 
probably was stable. ^^'^ Others were joined the debate. The leading 
Protestant journal charged that the "progressive depopulation of 
Congo [was] an indisputable fact," while a Jesuit argued that depopu- 
lation surely was occurring, since life spans were short, mortality was 
high, and birth rates were low. In support of the latter he offered 
statistics for 1917 suggesting there were only 1.2 children per adult 
woman in the colony. ^^^ Similarly a report to the National Colonial 
Congress stated that, while no figures could be certain, the probable 
direction of population change was downward, essentially for the 
reasons offered by the Permanent Commission and deriving largely 
from the consequences of the colonial occupation. ^^^ 

More recent, scientific studies, notably by Anatole Romaniuk, have 
not resolved these disputes, though they have put them in a larger 

"^RyiCB 1919, p.l84; RACE 1920, p.ll for population estimates. 

^^■feuebels. Relation.. .de la Commission Permanente, pp.184-91. 

^^Vice-Governor General Martin Rutten, "Notes Demographiques Congolaises," 

Congo 1920, 2:260-75; "Discours de M. Franck, Ministre des Colonies, k la Chambre 

des Representants, 24 November 1920," Congo (1920) 2:358-69. It is interesting to 

note that Rutten, who became governor general at the beginning of 1923, argued that 

the colony's statistics were so inaccurate that they couldn't be used to prove that the 

population was declining, increasing, or anything else. In fact, neither authority 

offered any solid evidence to support his claims. 

^^^pening sentence of "Notes and Comments," Congo Mission News, 48 (July 

1924):1; L. Le Grand, S.J., "La depopulation du Congo Beige et les recensements de 

1917," Congo (1921) 1:202-10. Le Grand's statistics showed that in the Eastern 

Province, Stanleyville district had only 1.2 children per woman, Aruwimi had 1.1, 

while Kivu had 1.6. 

^^^. Louwers and Andre Hoomaert, La question sociale au Congo. Rapport au comite 

du congres colonial national. Compte-rendu de la seance pleniere du 24 novembre 1924 

(Brussels: Goemaere, 1924). 


context. It is now clear that the low population and low fertility char- 
acteristic of much of equatorial Africa are only partly a product of the 
European colonialism. It is also clear that the great variations in 
fertility rates within the eastern Congo are largely correlated to the 
incidence of female sterility. For example, one study has shown that 
the incidence of sterility among women from the Eastern Province 
born before 1900 varied from 4 to 6 percent in Kivu to 25 to 28 percent 
in the Uele districts and 34 percent in Maniema, the worst case in the 
Congo. These differences apparently began before the arrival of the 
Europeans, at least as early as the arrival of the Swahili-Arab traders 
from East Africa (Maniema, Stanleyville district and part of Uele being 
occupied by the Zanzibari, while most of Kivu was not), that venereal 
disease is the root problem, and that denatality grew worse up until 
the time of the first world war.^^^ 


The establishment of effective Belgian administration, coupled 
with the end of taxation in kind and the introduction of coinage, had a 
notable effect on African labor in the Eastern Province. If the end of 
the red rubber system and of payment in kind were important mile- 
stones, it is hard to argue that the decade saw any easing of the overall 
burdens falling on Africans. Some excesses disappeared, but new 
ones arose, and larger numbers of people felt the weight of the colo- 
nial yoke. For most residents of the province, labor still took place in 
the context of agriculture. The pressures to pay new and ever increa- 
sing taxes led many to grow and market food crops. ^^^ Direct govern- 

i^tatherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, "Population et demographie en Afrique Equato- 
riale Franqaise dans le premier tiers du XX^ sifecle," in African Historical Demography 
(Edinburgh: Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, 1977), pp.331-51; 
Ralph A. Austen and Rita Headrick, "Equatorial Africa under Colonial Rule," in 
Birmingham and Martin, eds.. History of Central Africa, 2:63-70; Anatole Romaniuk, 
La fecondite des populations congolaises (Paris: Mouton, 1967), pp. 135, 323-24; idem, 
"Ir\fertility in Tropical Africa," in John C. Caldwell and Chukuka Okonjo, eds., 77k 
Population of Tropical Africa (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), pp.215, 

^^^alculations by Peemans, "Congo-Belgique," p.361), suggest that tax receipts in 
Stanleyville district represented 90 percent of a monthly wage in 1912 but only 50 
percent in 1920; for Maniema the proportions were 70 in 1912 and 59 in 1920; excep- 
tionally in the Ueles the ratios were about the same: 62 and 64. Peemans does not 


merit compulsion remained a major part of this process particularly in 
compelling the provisioning of government stations, towns, and 
mining camps. The institution of compulsory cultivation of rice for 
military use during the war was the beginning of what would become 
a major and perennial feature of Belgian rule. Other Africans met 
their tax obligations by engaging in short-term labor, particularly as 
porters and laborers for large concessions and mines. Here, too, the 
government was not reluctant to intervene in the process, whether 
through the creation of labor gangs of tax delinquents, the forced 
recruitment of labor for Kilo-Moto, or the massive conscription of 
porters during the war. 

The permanent wage-labor force remained of modest size during 
the decade, but it also was the beginning of a much larger system. 
Figures for the size of that force are difficult to come by for the early 
part of the decade, but some indications are possible. The 1912 budget 
(July 1912 to June 1913) provided for the employment of 3,100 
Africans in the General Services and Public Works administrations. 
Of these 1,575 were for the eastern Congo, with 900 for what was then 
Stanleyville district, 450 for Uele, and 225 for Aruwimi.^^^ These num- 
bers clearly do not include some 5,000 Africans then working for the 
mines at Kilo-Moto; nor do they include numerous Africans employed 
by the state in agriculture, public health, and transport. The number 
of employees in the private sector is unknown for 1912, but in 1915 
there were 7,500 working for the major employers (CFL, HCB, and 
Formini^re).^^^ By 1919 the labor situation is clearer. Over 26,000 
Africans were employed in the province, half of them for the state 
including some 9,000 at Kilo-Moto. Private firms and missions em- 
ployed the other half, of which 8,200 were in commerce and industry, 
2,900 in agriculture, and 2,000 in domestic service. The work force was 
very unevenly distributed within the province: the three southern 
districts (Kivu, Maniema, and Lowa) accounted for only 4,000 work- 
ers, while the three northern districts (Ituri and Upper and Lower 
Uele) accounted for 18,000 workers. The other 5,000 were in Stanley- 

provide sufficiently detailed information on his sources and method of calculation to 

permit replication of these calculations, which are the reverse of what I would expect 

for Stanleyville and Maniema. 

"9MRAC 50.30.68/95 Circulaire N»1338, Boma, 9 February 1912. 

^2(k^PO 1919 (extract), AA, MOI(3545)15. See figure 4.1. 


LJ Slate laborers 

m Agricultural laborers 

General laborers 


Skilled employees 

1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 

Figure 4.1 African Wage Earners, Eastern Province, 1919 
Source: AA, MOI(3545)15, RAPO 1919. 

ville and Aruwimi districts, the latter the only district where the great- 
est number of workers were agricultural laborers (a large proportion 
in HCB's employ, despite that firm's temporary decline at that time).^^^ 
These pioneers in permanent wage-labor have left few records of their 
reasons for this choice. No doubt many factors affected individual 
decisions, but it does not seem that the conditions and wages offered 
by most employers could have been a major factor. 

Because it was launched and supplied from this province, the 
military campaign in German East Africa had a particularly devasta- 
ting effect. By generating massive new labor demands it exhausted 
and weakened much of the population opening the way for serious 
losses in the post-war epidemics. The war also interrupted the process 
of reform that had made only limited progress by 1914 and reinforced 
the tradition of authoritarian intervention in labor mobilization just 
when that tradition was being weakened by internal and external 
criticism. Thus, the next decade began with a weakened tradition of 
reform and increased demands for African labor. 




cn o 

rf ^■ 

'-' CT. 

3 n 

N) O 



tn * 

55. o 

< 2 

n en 

Co "^ 

W o 

O M-, 


w o 

(/I !4- 

re n" 

n o 


O O 

OJ o 


Chapter 5 
Economic Transformations of the 'Twenties 

The war effort had delayed industrialization, road building, and 
administrative reform in the Eastern Province, while intensifying 
porterage, food production, and forced labor. Not surprisingly the 
post-war years saw massive and often chaotic activity on these fronts, 
necessitating a large increase in the use of African labor. The clearest 
measure of the rapidity of change was the growing number of Afri- 
cans who were full-time employees: 26,176 in 1919, 104,365 in 1925, 
and 182,727 at the end of 1929. This increase was far faster than in the 
Congo generally. The Eastern Province, with about two-fifths of the 
colony's population, went from supplying 22.5 percent of its salaried 
labor force in 1920 to supplying almost 44 percent in 1929.^ This 
growth was accompanied by a shift away from the colony as the prin- 
cipal employer to private firms and individuals. In 1919 half the 
salaried labor force was in the public sector; by the end of 1925 three- 
fourths of the much larger labor force in the eastern Congo was pri- 
vately employed. 2 

Enormous growth also took place in African commercial agricul- 
ture. The province's rice production, for example, increased from 
10,000 metric tons in 1920 to 25,000 tons in 1927. Palm oil sales went 
from under 2,000 metric tons in 1920 to 11,500 tons in 1929 and raw 
cotton from under 1,000 tons in 1920 to over 17,500 tons in 1929.3 

^AA, MOI(3545)15: RAPO 1919; RACE 1920, p.41; RACE 1925, p.l78; Alexis 

Bertrand, Le probleme de la main-d 'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapport de la commission de la 

main-d'oeuvre indigene 1930-1931. Province Orientale (Brussels: Imprimerie A. 

Lesigne, 1931), pp.6-7. 

2AA, M0I(3545)15: RAPO 1919; RACE 1925, p.l78. 

^RACB 1921, pp.173-75; 1927, p.l03; 1929, p.l24. 


Table 5.1 

Indices of Growth, 1921-1930 

(1920 = 100) 

1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 

Population 107 110 113 115 118 118 122 127 121 124 

Head tax 99 105 87 88 92 74 80 106 117 145 

Wage laborers 106 158 191 217 537 553 626 633 648 637 

Cotton harvest 120 308 250 4811062 1738 1872 2156 2205 3092 

Rice harvest 100 123 169 174 244 323 252 325 316 417 

Days of porterage 17 90 100 103 92 79 73 59 50 55 

Highways (km) 104 207 326 546 582 840 1089 1350 1541 1672 

Nofes: Population figures are based on counts (not estimates). Though the 
census results are too low, they correlate more realistically with the population 
subject to the head tax. Head tax receipts have been adjusted for inflation 
using indexes from Edmond Leplae, "Histoire et developpement des cultures 
obligatoires de coton et de riz au Congo beige de 1917 a 1933," Congo (1933) 
1:622, and Jean Stengers, Combien le Congo a-t-il coute a la Belgique? (Brussels: 
ARSC, 1957), p.318. Cotton is unginned and rice unhulled by weight. 

Source: Appendices 1-5; table 5.5; RACE 1930, p.l25. 

The grovvrth of a settler community in Kivu greatly increased the 
number of African wage laborers in agriculture. Finally, there was 
continued high use of head porterage to supply all the labor camps 
and transport the industrial, mining, and agricultural production. 

The colony took major new actions to manage these rising demands 
for African labor during the decade. The first of what would be a 
series of labor commissions was appointed in 1924. Its findings led to 
limits being imposed on the numbers of Africans who might be 
recruited from any area. In 1928 the colony officially ended direct 
government intervention in the recruitment of labor for private enter- 
prises. A massive road and railroad construction program aimed at 
reducing the burden of porterage temporarily imposed vast new 
demands for construction gangs and for porters to bring them food. 
The arrival of the Great Depression at the end of the decade did more 
than any of these measures to reduce the labor burden on Africans. 


Administration and Policy 

Two major administrative reorganizations of internal boundaries 
took place during the 1920s. In 1922 Lowa district was suppressed 
with its territory being divided among Stanleyville, Kivu, and 
Maniema districts. In 1928 the boundary between Upper Uele and 
Ituri districts was altered to put all of the gold mines in the latter. At 
that time Upper Uele was renamed Uele-Nepoko and Ituri became 
Kibali-Ituri. Lower Uele district became Uele-Itimbiri. In 1926 Alfred 
Moeller succeeded Adolphe de Meulemeester as governor of the 
Eastern Province. 

The terms and conditions of work became more clearly demarcated 
by law during this decade. As in other African colonies in this era, the 
legislation favored the employers' interests. Nevertheless, African 
workers derived some benefits from the legal changes, which man- 
dated improved working conditions as a way to facilitate recruitment 
and reduce discontent in the workplace. Two laws were of particular 
importance.'* Implementing a decree of 15 June 1921 that made pro- 
vincial authorities responsible for regulating African labor, the Eastern 
Province's ordonnance of 4 February 1922 provided for smallpox 
vaccination, specified the nature of the diet to be provided and obliged 
the employer to provide medical care (and part salary) to ill or injured 
workers and housing for those more than three kilometers from home. 
The second law, the decree of 16 March 1922 on labor contracts and 
recruitment with subsequent revisions, provided that labor contracts 
be freely entered into, that they have a definite and limited duration, 
and that the contracting parties observe their terms. The law also 
licensed and regulated labor recruitment. All contracts over six 
months duration required the visa of a competent authority certifying 
its terms and the African's free consent to them. The enforcement of 
such provisions proved difficult. 

The rising demand for labor after the war renewed concern about 
the demographic health of the colony. In December 1924 the minister 
of colonies established a commission which he charged to discover 
"the measures which may be taken to provide all enterprises with the 
men which they need, without hindering the development of the 

'^or what follows I depend heavily on Theodore Heyse, Le regime du travail au 
Congo Beige, 2nd ed. (Brussels: Goemaere, 1924). 


population and at the same time promoting its physical, moral, and 
intellectual advancement. "^ Of particular concern were the long and 
short term demographic effects of the rough and random recruiting 
that had been practiced. After reviewing the situation the commission 
recommended placing a cap on the recruitment at 5 percent of the 
able-bodied men in a community. However, the commission also 
recommended that an additional 5 percent might be recruited for 
European enterprises within a two-day radius of the workers' homes, 
on the assumption that their ability to return home occasionally would 
permit normal family life and reproduction to continue. Finally, the 
Commission stated that "15 percent more of the male population could 
be employed in the vicinity of their homes in the production of food- 
stuffs, or in porterage for short distances."^ In July 1925 these limits 
were officially adopted and, with certain modifications, remained the 
basis for labor recruitment policy until the late 1930s. In so doing the 
Belgian Congo became the only colonial power in Africa officially 
endorsing such a policy of labor restraint.'^ 

The three years following the 1925 labor commission report saw 
continued growth in industry and agriculture. A special labor com- 
mittee asked to review conditions in the colony in 1928, reported that 
while in certain areas (none in the Eastern Province) development had 
reached the point where a free and mobile labor pool already existed, 
the demographic limits on labor recruitment established in 1925 
should be continued with only minor adjustments. ^ The committee 
also unanimously reaffirmed that recruitment of labor should be 
completely free and that the administration should actively intervene 
and propagandize to encourage Africans to play their role in colonial 
development, without the administration actually becoming recruiters 
of the first instance. With almost comical understatement, the com- 
mittee admitted that "these two aspects of the problem [were] some- 

^ongo, (May-June 1925), p.2. 

Raymond Leslie Buell, The Native Problem in Africa, 2 vols. (New York: 

Macmillan, 1928), 2:547. 

^uell. Native Problem, 2:550. 

Ostensibly because of improvements in the transport network the definition of 

two-days travel for a short-distance recruit was increased from 60 km to a 100 km. 

The completely spontaneous departure of persons seeking work was not to be 

restricted. In areas of high labor intensity and other special situations higher quotas 

were to be allowed. 


times difficult to reconcile. "^ 

A special sub-committee on the Eastern Province, headed by the 
province's Governor Moeller, proposed stronger measures for protec- 
ting African communities from overrecruitment and assuring ade- 
quate numbers of workers to established industries. Finding that 
labor utilization had reached or exceeded African limits in nearly all of 
the province's nine economic zones, the sub-committee advocated a 
moratorium on all new European investment, except for limited 
development of palm-oil and food production, and that serious con- 
sideration be given to rolling back development plans in some areas. 
Because of the already intensive use of labor, the sub-committee 
opposed additional recruitment for work outside the individual zones, 
except in south-central Uele, parts of Kivu, and the Urega territory of Indeed, the governor had already prohibited recruitment 
in parts of the mining region of Ituri district until the end of 1928 and 
in the Kasongo territory of Maniema district until the end of 1929.^ ^ 
In line with the 1928 report Moeller directed that every request for a 
new concession should be evaluated in terms of the availability of 
labor before any search for suitable land was made. Between Decem- 
ber 1928 to April 1930 more than a hundred such evaluations were 
made. 12 Yet such moves to enforce the guidelines were accompanied 
by other directives aimed at stretching the recruitment quotas. For 
example, a directive from Brussels in mid-1928 stated: "When a deci- 
sion authorizing the employ of available labor will have been taken by 
the governor [of a province] for a certain grouping, the recruitment for 
labor at two-days' distance cannot have the effect of diverting from 
this community more than 20 percent of the total number of able- 
bodied men." 13 This, of course, was twice the figure recommended 
by the labor commissions. 

^'Rapport du Comite Consultatif de la main-d'oeuvre (1928)," Le Probleme de la 
main-d'oeuvreau Congo beige (Brussels: Goemaere, 1928), pp .36-55. 
i^Alfred Moeller, "Sous-Comite de la Province Orientale. Rapport au Comite con- 
sultatif de la main-d'oeuvre, 25 September 1928," Le Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre au 
Congo beige. Supplement (Brussels; Goemaere, 1928), pp.5-11. 
"RACE 1927, p.lO. 

i^KAT, D353/1 Terrains: Moeller to all CDs, Stanleyville, 19 April 1929, and replies. 
l^KAT, R Mechanisation/R1104, Instructions provinciales recrutement 1936: 
Depeche ministerielle 147 du 30 April 1928 transmise par depeche 3851-X4 au GG en 
date du 30 May 1928 transmise au districts par 5444 du 9 July 1928. 


Government Labor Recruitment 

During this decade the proportion of labor in the public sector 
declined sharply from about half of the labor force in 1920 to about a 
quarter in 1929. In large part this was due to the tremendous expan- 
sion of private investment in mining, commerce, agriculture, and 
other industries. The figures also reflect the decrease in certain gov- 
ernment operations or their transfer to the private sector. The latter 
include the contracting of some railroad and road construction to 
private firms and the transformation of the province's largest single 
employer, the Kilo-Moto mines, into a private corporation in 1926. 
However, the importance of the government as a recruiter of labor for 
its own and for private needs did not decline as rapidly. Having come 
to rely upon the government to furnish their labor, the industries, 
missions, and colonists struggled vigorously to retain that assistance. 
Only in 1928 did the government officially end its direct involvement 
as a labor recruiter for private enterprises, including Kilo-Moto, 
though it continued to play an active role in recruitment in many 

As in other colonies military recruitment remained a special cate- 
gory. The Force Publique was only slightly reduced from its wartime 
size, staying at an official complement between about 16,000 and 
17,000 men during the decade, including some 650 from territories 
annexed from former German East Africa. About half the annual 
replenishments were met through reenlistments, but the rest had to be 
made up from volunteers and conscripts, with the districts of the 
Eastern Province being assigned an average annual quota of about 
1,150.14 Meeting these quotas was no easy task since the greater 
freedom and higher wages of the expanding private sector were more 
attractive to most young men wishing to leave their rural homes than 
the long commitment and harsh discipline of military service. Thus 
recruiting operations in most places were little more than "manhunts" 
that caused mass flight and sometimes provoked confrontations, as in 
Avakubi territory in 1922.^^ Returning from a tour of the Eastern 

^'*In 1924 the province's recruitment quota was 1,409, in 1925 900, in 1926 1,350, in 
1927 750, in 1928 994, and in 1929 1,495. The figure dropped to 348 for 1930 when 
the size of the Force was reduced. AA, RAPO AIMO 1927, p.28; RACE 1929, p.l08. 
^^Bryant P. Shaw, "Force Pubhque, Force Unique: the Military in the Belgian 


Province late in the decade, an experienced member of the Colonial 
Council, Colonel Bertrand, charged that military recruitment in the 
Eastern Province had become a form of enslavement for the recruit 
and a "nightmare" for administrators. He reported that some chiefs 
were reduced "to holding lotteries in the market place to obtain the 
few men they had to furnish" and that chiefs in Kivu found it 
expeditious to give one of their own cows in compensation to the 
family of the supposed volunteer in order to maintain calm. Every- 
where Bertrand went he had found the jails full of deserters, a likely 
sign of unwilling recruitment.^^ Similarly, missionaries in Kivu at 
that time reported that young men were seized at night and carried off 
to become soldiers. ^^ 

Another form of labor impressment fell on African men remaining 
in their rural communities, who were obliged to furnish certain labor 
for local needs. Under the decree of 2 May 1910, unpaid corv^es could 
be used to keep the village clean, build a temporary jail, and take 
measures necessary to promote public health, including establishing a 
cemetery, erecting a temporary dispensary, and clearing disease- 
harboring brush. Paid corv4es were to be used in erecting a rest 
house, a school at the district capital, building and maintaining roads 
and bridges, as well as (under the "civil requisitions" authorized under 
the decree of 26 December 1922) furnishing guides, porters, and 
canoemen to touring officials. These impressments were limited to 
sixty days a year (including a maximum of twenty-five days in the 
case of civil requisitions) and normally to no more than five days in 
any month (no more than two weeks at a time in the case of civil 

Much of this labor was used in building new roads, including the 
recruitment of many thousands of women and children as well as 
men. In 1927 the colony employed some 25,000 Africans in Uele- 
Nepoko district and 6,785 in Kivu, mostly on road building, plus 3,680 
on roads alone in Stanleyville district. In Kibali-Ituri district over 

Congo, 1914-1939" (Ph.D. dissertation, history. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 

l^C, CRA 1929, pp.837-839. 

^^APB, Diaire de Rugari, 22 June 1929, 2:100. The quota to be recruited was partic- 
ularly high in 1929; see above note 14. 
^^BueU, Native Problem, 2:499-502. 


8,600 full-time and over 8,000 part-time laborers were employed by 
the administration or by the MGL in road building in 1930. According 
to official figures, in 1927 this labor equalled 73,340 man/years in the 
Eastern Province, about 60 percent of the theoretical maximum if 
every man had worked the full sixty days. However, such labor was 
not evenly recruited and violations of the law were not unknown. For 
example, the weight of these corvees in the Doruma territory of Uele- 
Nepoko was so great in 1928 that it caused a sharp drop in the size of 
the cotton harvest and a mass exodus of people, who were 
apprehended and forced to return. The next year a colonial medical 
officer. Dr. TroUi, found excessive numbers of impressments in four 
territories of the Kibali-Ituri district and the illegal impressment of 
women and children for road work in another territory of that 
district.i^ The 1930-31 Labor Commission found that corvees under 
this heading in Bafwasende averaged ninety hours a month, over 
twice the amount allowed, and that in Banalia and elsewhere laborers 
were paid too little to buy enough food. The Commission also noted 
that markets to provision state posts and even private interests were 
still held under forced conditions with prices fixed well below normal. 
Indeed, the post at Niangara was cited as being "one of the rare 
secondary posts in the province which is not provisioned by methods 
of requisition. "20 

The only other official recruitment of general consequence was by 
the Office du Travail (Offitra), the colony's official recruiter for the 
labor needed for the massive reconstruction of the Lower Congo rail- 
road. Most of this went to the Belgian Societe Africaine de Construc- 
tion (Safricas). Meeting the labor needs of this important project was 
difficult and the subject of bitter disputes throughout the 1920s. The 
governor general initially authorizing forced recruitment in an 
ordonnance of 1 October 1919, but this was struck down in court and 
repudiated by the Ministry and the Colonial Council. 2^ However, it 

^^omite Consultative de la main-d'oeuvre. Rapport de la Sous-Commission charge 
de depouiller le Questionnaire des Employeurs de Main-d 'CEuvre indigene au Congo Beige 
(Bruxelles: Etablisements Generaux d'Imprimerie, 1932), pp. 20-24. AA, 
MOI(3608)204: Jasper, Minister of Colonies, to GG, 10 September 1928; RA/CB 
(157)5: RA.KI 1930, p.38; AI(1422): Rapport sur I'administration generale, Ucle- 
Nepoko, first half 1928, p.26. 

20Bertrand, Probleme de h main-d'ceuvre, pp.84, 101, 103, 135, 158, 164; quote on 


turned out to be impossible to obtain sufficient labor without forced 
recruitment, so that coercion returned in other forms. During 1924 the 
Eastern Province was expected to supply the project with a hundred 
recruits a month, but by November had delivered only 381. This 
failing, which it shared with the Equator province, set off a flurry of 
correspondence through the levels of the administration. Most local 
agents took the position that they could not meet their quotas without 
resorting to force and petitioned the government to legalize that 
course of action despite the inevitable consequences. Upper Uele's 
official Labor Commission justified its support for legalizing the 
impressment of labor by pointing out the fallacy of relying on 

Recruitment based on the free consent of the natives places the 
administrators in difficult and delicate situations; they must operate 
through the chiefs in order to limit their own responsibility and close 
their eyes to the abuses of the latter, of which the least is that the 
same natives always bear this burden. 22 

Early in 1926 the revelation by a Belgian newspaper of particularly 
gross recruitment abuses in the Poko territory of Lower Uele led to an 
official investigation. Evidence collected from African chiefs and local 
officials revealed that laborers had been recruited for Offitra against 
their will. Sonie had been deceived into thinking they were only 
going as far as the district capital of Buta to work on coffee planta- 
tions. Others, who knew they were going to the Lower Congo, had 
been sent off in slave yokes under armed guard. Some aspects of this 
incident may have been extreme, but the general pattern was not. 
Governor General Rutten was convinced that the recruits from the 
Eastern and Equator provinces "could not have been obtained without 
frequent transgressions of the principle of free hiring" so that many of 
the workers had been obtained through compulsion or the fear of 
compulsion. 23 

2iConseil Colonial, CRA 1920, pp.5-10, 114, 199; "Les 'levees des travailleurs'," 
Congo (1920), pp.368-70. 

22Compte rendu. Commission de la Main-d'oeuvre, Haut-Uele, seance du 7 October 
1925, AA, MOI(3598)132/PO, p.6. 

^^Stocker (Commissaire, Haut Uele) to Governor, PO, 14 April 1926, and enclo- 
sures; Rutten to Minister of Colonies, 16 February 1926, AA, MOI(3559bis). 


The colony found itself in an economic and moral dilemma. There 
seemed no way to uphold the principle of free labor and at the same 
time complete the railroad. Yet the new railroad was essential to 
relieve the transportation bottleneck in the Lower Congo and reduce 
the heavy burden of human porterage there. In May 1926, after care- 
fully considering these alternatives, the Colonial Council reluctantly 
approved the Ministry's plan to authorize forced recruitment as the 
lesser of two evils. Over the vehement protests of Governor General 
Rutten, who felt the potential benefits of completing the railroad 
quickly were being defeated by "hard-core adversaries of forced labor 
and short-sighted humanitarians," the measure was rejected by the 
Belgian Parliament, whose members feared a further outcry from a 
public already aroused by the news of illegal forced recruitment and 
by scandalous working conditions at Safricas (see below).^'* 

Yet in choosing not to recruit legally by force, was the Ministry not 
choosing to do so illegally? The historical record on this point (as on 
so many others) is largely mute. It is known that Offitra succeeded in 
obtaining some 1,800 recruits from the Eastern Province in 1925, 2,521 
in 1926, and 2,030 in 1927. It is also known that the work force for the 
first quarter of 1927, planned for 13,800, never rose above 6,660. By 
1928 the province's annual report described recruitment for Offitra as 
"increasingly difficult" and "unpopular"; only about 1,500 recruits 
were obtained in the Eastern Province that year. However, in 1930 the 
number recruited was 2,700, suggesting that there may have been a 
return to the practices of coercion typical of the mid-1920s.25 It is also 
possible that Depression unemployment increased the number of true 

Although the government studied, modified, and agonized over its 
African labor policies during this decade, its use of force in obtaining 
labor for the Force Publique and for public works projects continued a 
long tradition and set an example that was readily imitated by state 
corporations and private employers. 

2^onseil Colonial, CRA 1926, pp.392-403; "Les 'levees des travailleurs'," p. 368-70; 
Rutten to Minister of Colonies, N= 339, Boma 3 August 1926, AA, MOI (3600)141. 
25RACB 1925, p.l79; AA, RA/CB(137)1, RAPO, Avant Propos. 1926. p.9; (137)2, 
RAPO, Avant Propos, 1927, p.2; MOI(3600)141, Safricas to Minister of Colonies, 5 
December 1927,; (138)2, RAPO.AIMO 1928, pp.32-33; Bertrand, Probleme de la main- 
d'oeuvre, p.l9. 


Industrial Labor 

The number of wage-earners in commerce and industry, including 
the state corporations, rose rapidly during this decade. The total 
salaried African work force in the Eastern Province had been just over 
26,000 in 1919; a decade later the number in non-agricultural labor 
alone exceeded 83,000. Much of this labor force was distributed 
among small and middle-sized firms throughout the province, but a 
few large mining and concessionary companies employed over a third 
of this total. 

The giant among these was the government-owned gold mining 
operation of Kilo-Moto, which in 1919 became an autonomous state 
corporation known as the Regie Indus trielle des Mines de Kilo-Moto 
(RIM). The frenzied production efforts of the war years continued 
well into 1920 and exhausted the known gold deposits as well as 
exhausting and alienating the miners. Gold production fell in the 
early 1920s as the company was forced to explore for new gold fields, 
install new equipment, construct roads and buildings, and develop 
more reliable food and medical services for its employees. Only in 
1922 did the labor force and gold production begin to climb again. In 
each of the next three years the RIM mined and refined some three 
metric tons of gold, worth over forty million francs each year to the 
colony. 26 Despite the importance of this revenue, in 1926 the Congo 
sold 45 percent of its interest to private shareholders in order to raise 
money for road, railroad, and other construction projects. The new 
joint-stock company, whose dividends were guaranteed by the state, 
was called the Societe des Mines d'or de Kilo-Moto (Sokimo). The 
gold mines' total labor force (9,000 at the end of 1920) grew to an 
average of 20,000 during the second half of the decade, while the 
number of short-term workers fell sharply.27 

2^or this decade see R. Anthoine, "Les Mines de Kilo-Moto. Leur evolution-leur 
avenir," Revue Universelle des Mines, 13 (May 1922):165-79; G. Moulaert, Vingt 
annees a Kilo-Moto (1920-1940) (Brussels: Charles Dessart, 1950); "Rapport de la 
Commission des Colonies chargee d' examiner le Projet de Loi contenant le Budget 
ordinaire du Congo Beige.. .pour exercise 1934," Belgique, Documents Parkmentaires, 
Senat, session 1933-34, N° 85, annexe III, pp.68-69; Bakonzi Agayo, "The Gold Mines 
of Kilo-Moto in Northeastern Zaire: 1905-1960," (Ph.D. thesis. University of 
Wisconsin-Madison, 1982). 
27See Table 5.3. 


The second largest employer in the province was the Huileries du 
Congo Beige (HCB), a subsidiary of Lever Brothers, which in 1911 had 
received enormous concessions for palm fruit collection, planting, and 
processing in several parts of the Congo. In the Eastern Province the 
work force at its 200,000-hectare Elisabetha concession along the 
Lomami valley of the Aruwimi district grew from come 2,000 in 1921 
to 7,200 at the end of 1928. About a third of this force w -e engaged in 
the cutting and transport of palm fruit, the rest in the ■ raction of the 
oil and other activities. ^8 

Next in importance was the CFL, whose rail lines around rapids 
and connecting river shipping on the Lualaba employed 2,500 men in 
the province in 1929. In return for building the railroads, the company 
had received enormous mineral-exploration and mining rights in the 
province, which during the latter half of the 1920s were developed by 
a subsidiary corporation, the Mini^re des Grands Lacs (MGL), whose 
exploration rights in Kivu and Kibali-Ituri extended over an area twice 
the size of Belgium. At the end of 1929 the MGL employed 2,533 
Africans full time and 1,240 part time. 29 

The fourth largest employer in the province during this decade 
was another mining company, the Formini^re, a Belgian-American 
operation. In 1928 Formini^re's northern camps employed 2,400 
Africans full time and 475 part time plus a few hundred elsewhere in 
the province.'^^ Other major private employers included the Lomami 
Company with 2,431 employees at the end of 1928 and two railroad 
construction projects, the Chemin de Fer Vicinaux du Congo (Vici- 
congo) in Uele, which employed 1,150 in 1927 and the Chemin de Fer 
Tanganyika-Kivu (Cefaki), whose construction gangs included 1,471 
Africans in 1929.3^ 

How were these increasing numbers of laborers obtained? Despite 

28Buell, NaHve Problem, 2:511-14; AA, MOI(3545)15: RAPO, AIMO, 1925, pp.198-99; 
AA, RA/CB(140)4: RAPO, Affaires Economiques, 1928. 

29aA, RA/CB(137)4: RAPO Avant Propos, 1929, p.28. Michel Cobut, "Historique 
des transports au Congo, periode 1918-1928," (memoire de licence, Institut 
Catholique des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, 1966), pp.101-2. 

^AA, AI(1422): Rapport sur I'administration generale, Uele-Nepoko, first half 1928, 
pp.15-18. Buell, Native Problem, 2:442^5. 

31 AA, MOI(3608)204: G. Trolli, Rapport d'inspection medicale et d'hygiene du dis- 
trict du Bas Uele, 14/20 December 1927; RA/CB(140)4: RAPO, Affaires Economique, 
1928 and 1929, part 2, pp.204-21. 


the theoretical ban on recruitment for private employers, government 
involvement in the recruitment process was common. The justifi- 
cation for this official recruitment was the need to overcome African 
indolence. As the colony's annual report for 1921 unctuously put it: 

Our officials continue to lend the assistance of their authority and 
their influence over the natives, without which the European enter- 
prises would be imperiled, to the recruitment of labor, a difficult task 
in which they are sustained by the sense of performing the duty 
incumbent on the collaborators in the colonial work.32 

To counter the reluctance of Africans to sell their labor Governor 
General Lippens directed the colonial administration in 1922 to be 
"apostles of labor,. ..not of a haphazard labor which is content with 
paying taxes, but a persevering labor, which is the basis of all prosper- 
ity, development and civilization." ^3 That such labor was also in the 
interests of private companies and their investors was not without 
significance and this factor influenced both high officials and local 

The Lever Brothers' HCB operation may have been an extreme 
example of this dependence on government-supplied labor, but it was 
hardly an isolated one. Because of its importance to the Aruwimi 
district, the HCB succeeded in inveigling the colonial administration 
to recruit its several thousand workers, no easy task in view of the low 
wages and deficiencies in housing and food which were the subject of 
constant complaints. In September 1925 the administrator of Yanonge 
territory wrote his superior wondering how the unceasing instructions 
he received to recruit more and more labor for the HCB could be con- 
strued as carrying out the colonial mission of improving the welfare of 
Africans. He expressed the belief that agents like himself were "daily 
becoming more and more veritable merchants of men" like the Arab 
slavers of earlier decades, at whose approach villages emptied of their 
inhabitants. Recruitment, he argued, resembled slave trading not only 
in the use of force but as well in sending recruits so far from their 
homes. Indeed, Africans' unwillingness to leave home was the main 
reason force had to be used in the first place. "What would the 
peasants of Belgium... say," he asked rhetorically, "if they were obliged 

^^RACB 1921, p.l57. 

33Quoted in Buell, Native Problem, 2: 539. 


to go to work in the factories of Bohemia?"34 

This Territorial Administrator was not the only person to be 
troubled by such circumstances. Raymond Buell, touring the Eastern 
Province a few months later in the course of researching his monu- 
mental survey of colonial labor, stated that the Belgian Congo was the 
only place in Africa where he had found the government recruiting 
labor by force for private employers, except for Portuguese Mozam- 
bique. He based this conclusion upon the "unanimous testimony of 
administrators, traders, and missionaries, both Catholic and Protes- 
tant," and "upon documents which different Belgian officials have let 
me read" (including the letter just quoted from Yanonge), as well as 
upon his own observations of forced recruitment, which included the 
following incident: 

My first visual evidence... came at Kirundu, a post on the Lualaba 
[just south of Ponthierville], where I saw about fifteen or twenty old 
men, some of whom were accompanied by naked wives and babies 
lined up with ropes tying them together aroimd their necks, waiting 
for the boat. The administrator... told me he was sending them down 
to Stanleyville to work for the Belgika-a commercial society, opera- 
ting a rice mill. He said these men were complaining against their 
chiefs and were running away into the forests, so he thought he 
would send them down to work. 35 

The situation at the government mines of Kilo-Moto also reflected 
the continuing need for the government to intervene. In 1924 the dis- 
trict commissioner of Ituri wrote the governor of the province that 
none of the most recent recruits for the mines was a volunteer and that 
"all were taken by force." He further predicted that the mining indus- 
try would be imperiled quickly if the chiefs were not compelled to 
furnish "recruits."^^ 

By mid-decade opposition to recruitment for private firms was also 

^ited in Buell, Native Problem, 2:542. The French text and the identity of the 
territory in question are in Buell to Grimshaw, Bolenge, 29 January 1926, Joint Inter- 
national Missionary Council/Conference of British Missionary Societies Archives, 
Africa and India 1910-1945, Box 287. Reluctance to be so far from home was also 
cited by RAPO, AIMO, p.l98, as the reason "a large part of the labor force must be 
recruited par voie d 'autorite." 
35Buell to Grimshaw, 29 January 1926. 
3^ackars to de Meulemeester, 25 July and 18 September 1924, AA, MOI(3602) 166. 


building at the upper end of the colonial administration, led by Gover- 
nor General Rutten, who had come to office in January 1923. In 1924 
he admonished Governor Moeller for forced recruitment for Kilo- 
Moto, while still urging that all possible "moral persuasion" short of 
actual physical violence be used.^'' A few months later, in an unusu- 
ally frank letter, he challenged the minister of colonies' view that 
African chiefs would have to be weaned slowly from forced recruiting 
of labor. Rutten argued that such abuses were "contrary to their real 
interests" and existed only because of government pressures: 

They knew we closed our eyes to the means used so long as the 
results were attained, while we would hold them strictly accountable 
for any shortfall. Thus, as soon as the administration shows itself 
more preoccupied with making the laws observed than in raising 
numerous workers,.. .it will be obeyed everywhere promptly, even 
joyfully. 38 

The next year he took issue with Governor Moeller's view that while 
forced recruitment was "regrettable" and removed incentives for 
employers to improve working conditions, it still needed to be done, 
though perhaps more discreetly through an official labor bureau, such 
as already existed in Kasai and Katanga provinces. "For too long," 
Rutten rejoined, "we have faced our administrators with this dilemma: 
either displease the employers or break the law."^ 

Under the pressure of Rutten and other critics, in December 1925, 
the minister of colonies had "issued instructions ordering the admini- 
strative officials to stop the 'direct recruitment of labor for private 
employers'." During a two-year period of transition, local authorities 
might continue "more or less direct intervention" where needed, but 
all direct intervention was to end by the beginning of 1928.'^^ This 
transitional period was a critical one for the many employers who had 
come to rely heavily on the administration's intervention on their 
behalf, and the most powerful of them used every means at their dis- 
posal to delay the change as long as possible. The CFL tried to plead 

37GG to Governor, PO, 17 April 1925, quoted in Buell, Native Problem, 2:543. 
3^G to Minister of Colonies, 13 July 1925, p.l, AA, MOI(3545)8. 
39Moeller to GG, Report, 9 August 1926, p.l8, AA, MOI(3602)166; Rutten to 
Moeller, 19 October 1926 and Ruttento Minister, 30 March 1927, AA, MOI(3601)148. 
-"tited in Buell Native Problem, 2: 550-51. 


that their public utility as a transport company entitled them to con- 
tinued special treatment, but the Ministry of Colonies rejected this 
appeal, suggesting that the company raise its wages and improve 
working conditions.^ 

Other examples of how difficult government disengagement from 
recruitment could be are not hard to find. One is provided by the case 
of the Societe Coloniale de Construction (Socol), which was building 
the new Vicicongo railroad from Aketi to Buta. After receiving reports 
of labor abuse and other problems the general administrator of the 
Ministry of Colonies wrote to the governor general indicating that the 
local administration should no longer be recruiting for a private firm. 
In this case Rutten did not exhibit any enthusiasm for the reform, 
perhaps because of the pressures he was under to improve transport 
in this region. He replied that, while the instructions of 7 December 
1925, did provide for an eventual end to direct intervention, they also 
quite explicitly stated that "more or less direct intervention" was 
permitted where still necessary and in the public interest. The 
minister responded since "transition" meant moving from one point to 
another, Socol should begin doing its own recruiting. However, later 
correspondence makes dear that direct and active official recruitment 
remained the rule in Lower Uele for Socol, for the railroad company, 
and for the Union Nationale des Transporteurs Fleuviaux (Unatra), 
the state transportation company responsible for the river link to 
Aketi. In 1928 the province's commissioner general reported that 
these firms still made no effort to recruit on their own; as a practical 
matter, he explained, "The non-direct intervention of the administra- 
tion in matters of recruitment for enterprises assuring public services 
is an impossible thing. "42 

The directors of the now private Societe des Mines d'Or de Kilo- 
Moto, the province's largest employer, were also convinced-along 
with some local officials-that they could never recruit adequate 
numbers on their ov^m and were not eager to try. Despite government 
urging that they use the transition period to establish their own labor 
bureau, the mines delayed doing so until the very end of 1927.^ 

4iAA, MOI(3601)142: Administrator General to CFL, Brussels, 31 July 1926. 
"^^AA, MOI(3601)148, Administrator General, Ministry of Colonies, to GG, 12 
August 1926; GG to Minister of Colonies, 9 September 1926; Gilson, Commissioner 
General, for the Governor, PO, to GG, 8 March 1928 and 21 August 1928. 


They were equally slow in moving to conserve labor by n:\echanizing 
their labor-intensive mining methods, which one official charged had 
"changed little since the time of the Egyptian Pharoahs," and by elimi- 
nating their reliance on short-term laborers (auxiliaires), who had to 
be recruited in large numbers.'*'* The initial results were poor. In 
Kibali-Ituri district Kilo-Moto recruiters failed to get their quota of 
men, even though the Watsa, the Grands Lacs, and the Sengule mining 
companies in that district had no such problems. In the Medje and 
Wamba territories of Uele-Nepoko district Kilo-Moto recruiters got 
such poor results and stirred up such unrest that the district 
commissioner ordered his officials to resume the actual recruitment, 
yet these were territories where even Offitra was obtaining volunteers 
without difficulty.'*^ During 1929 Kilo-Moto found recruitment 
considerably easier in Kibali-Ituri, though not so easy as the Mini^re 
des Grands Lacs, which was turning job-seekers away.'*^ The admini- 
stration continued to provide both companies with thousands of 
laborers for the construction of roads in their areas. 

For other employers the end of administrative recruiting produced 
mixed results. Laborers turned out more readily in Uele-Itimbiri and 
Kibali-Ituri, responding to higher wages and better treatment. The 
higher wages could be paid because new investment in tools increased 
productivity. However, in Maniema (particularly in Lowa territory) 
recruitment remained difficult, still requiring "the frequent interven- 
tion" of the administration to provide private enterprises the person- 
nel they required.'*^ Similar intervention was used in 1928 on behalf 
of European colonists in Kivu district, where even after direct inter- 
vention ended its effects lived on. A 1932 report noted that "the great 
part of the laborers still had the impression that they remained 
attached to a specific plantation. "^^ A judicial official who examined 

43First Minister, Ministry of Colonies to RIM, 3 July 1928, AA, MOI(3602)166. 

"^^KAT, R13 (Commission MOI de Bruxelles. Outillage Indigene): Raduiges, CD, 

Uele-Nepoko, to Governor, PO, Niangara, 3 September 1928. 

^^pportde I'administration generale, Uele-Nepoko, first half 1928, pp.13-14, AA, 

AI(1422); RAPO, AIMO, 1928, pp.18-19, 29-30, AA, RA/CB(138)2. 

^RACB 1929, p.lOS. 

47RAPO, AIMO, 1928, pp.29-31, AA, RA/CB(138)2. 

^%lusimwa Bisharhwa, "Histoire coloniale de Kaziba: Essai d'etudes des aspects 

religieux et economiques (1908-1960)," (Travail de fin d'etude, history, ISP, Bukavu, 


the records of 450 African workers charged with violations of their 
labor contracts in Stanleyville town during 1927 and the first half of 
1928 had reported that forced labor was the principal cause of "indi- 
sciplirie."^^ In Stanleyville and Ponthierville districts the fine line 
between encouraging recruitment through the chiefs and furnishing it 
was difficult to observe because of the constant demands made on 
administrators by their superiors and private enterprises. The 1930-31 
Labor Commission found that in Stanleyville especially the admin- 
istrators still "intervened" among chiefs to assure an adequate number 
of recruits for private persons.^^ Thus, although the official suppres- 
sion of direct intervention for private employers was a major reform, it 
was a hard reform to enforce. 

The administration's insistence that African conservatism was to 
blame is not borne out by the facts. Employers who improved 
working conditions saw a better response from Africans. However, 
conservatism among many European employers was a problem. As 
the next chapter will show it was hard for administrators, chiefs, and 
employers to break away from the long tradition of forced or coerced 
recruitment. Once the demand for labor began to grow again after the 
depression, instances of direct intervention recurred. 

Agricultural Labor 

A perennial subject of dispute in the Belgian colonial system was 
the relative emphasis to be placed on the development of African agri- 
culture and on the development of European-run enterprises. At the 
end of 1914 Governor General Henry had pointed out the gap between 
stated policy and practice: "For many years numerous letters and 
circulars have drawn the attention of our officials to the opportunity 
to develop native agriculture, and yet up to now one cannot report a 
serious effort toward achieving practical results." The next year he 
announced a bold iniative to close that gap: "The government intends 
to favor above all the development of native agriculture." In the 
governor general's view the impressive production of rice in the 

a Mr. Buzzi in 1928; RA, Banya-Rongo (Kivu), AIMO, 1932, p.26. 

*^apport du Substitut Procureur du Roi, Rezette, annex to the letter of the GG, 10 

January 1929, AA, AI(1415). 

^^rtrand, Problbnede la main-d'aeuvre, pp.80, 90. 


1920 1922 1924 1926 1928 1930 1932 1934 1936 1938 1940 
Figure 5.1 Cash crop production in the Eastern Province, 1920-1940 
Source: Appendices 4 and 5. 

Eastern Province and Kasai during these war years provided the 
model for this expansion of African cash crops.^^ 

The plans for African agriculture were influenced by wartime suc- 
cesses in cotton growing. During a tour of eastern Africa in 1915-16 
the colony's agricultural service, Edmond Leplae, had been impressed 
by the successful development of cotton growing in Uganda, especi- 
ally by the fact that it had been done without the expense of technical 
studies, hiring agronomists, or an extensive publicity effort. Instead 
the British had simply distributed the seeds and ordered the great 
chiefs of Buganda to have them planted. To Leplae it was clear that 
the way to success was to compel the cultivation of needed crops, an 
idea reinforced by his visit to Portuguese Mozambique.52 The culti- 

^^Eugfene Henry, "Circulaire du Gouvemeur G6n6ral relative k retablissement de 
culture de produits d'exportation par les indig&nes," BACB 4 (December 1914): 549- 
52; RACE 1915, p.l04. 

^^. Leplae, "Histoire et developpement des cultures obligatoires de coton et de riz 
au Congo beige de 1917 k 1933," Congo (1933) l:.645-753. Cf. "Material Develop- 
ment in Congo Beige," Congo Mission News, 76 (October 1931):22-23, and E. F. 
ToUens, "An Economic Anaylsis of Cotton Production, Marketing and Processing in 
Northeastern Zaire," (Ph.D. dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975). 
Although forced cotton growing had been imposed in the concession of the Mozam- 


vation of cotton had been introduced in Maniema and Sankuru (west 
of Maniema in Kasai province) in 1915-16 where it had met with im- 
mediate success, the early crops being purchased by the State for 
munitions uses. In imitation of the successful Ugandan scheme and 
in continuation of the wartime crop impositions a new law of 1917 
required Africans "to grow annually in the chiefdom, for the exclusive 
benefit of its members, food crops or plantations of export pro- 
ducts. "^^ In 1918 cotton cultivation for military needs was extended 
into Uele, where the Zande had been growing cotton introduced by 
Egyptians since early in the century.^^ Uele soon became the major 
cotton growing region of the Belgian Congo. 

As the subsequent decades painfully illustrated, these successes 
came at a high price. The program for developing African commercial 
farming incorporated many of the worst features of its wartime pre- 
decessor: the incentive to grow the crops was from compulsion; the 
profits were reaped largely by the colony and its European buying 
agents not by the producers; the rush to achieve production goals led 
to exhausting porterage and food shortages for many Africans. At the 
base of the progran\ was the requirement for Africans to plant fields of 
a specified size to cotton. At first each farmer was required to plant a 
hectare (2.5 acres), which meant clearing and cultivating fields in 
addition to those used for subsistence food crops. By the end of the 
1920s the requirement had been expanded to as much as five hectares 
in parts of Uele (table 5.2). 

The purchasing of cotton was equally tightly controlled. A private 
Belgian firm, the Compagnie Cotonni^re Congolaise (Cotonco), was 
given exclusive rights to purchase raw cotton for ginning in specified 
zones and forbidden to engage in any other kind of trade. On recom- 
mendation of the British Cotton Growers' Association, the government 

bique Company early in the century, it was not made an official colorual policy until 
1926 in imitation of the Belgian Congo system. This law was not enforced until ten 
years later. Mozambique extended compulsory cultivation to rice in 1941. See 
Leroy Vail and Landeg White, "Tawani, Machambero!': Forced Cotton and Rice 
Growing on the Zambezi," Journal of African History 19 (1978):239-63. 
530rdinance-law of 20 February 1917 (addition to the decree of 2 May 1910). 
^Ugo Graziani, "Reconnaissance effectuee des territoires Nord Uele du 29 avril au 
3 juin 1908," 21 June 1908, AA:A1(1371)46. The cotton program was under the direc- 
tion of an American agronomist from Tennessee, Edward Fisher, who had previ- 
ously worked in the Gold Coast and in the Lower Congo. 


Table 5.2 
Compulsory Cultivation in the Eastern Province, 1929 



Food Crops 

Palm Trees Other Trees 
(numbers) (numbers) 






















Notes: In Maniema cotton alone was imposed in the five southern territo- 
ries, while foodstuffs alone were imposed in the northern two (rice alone in 
Lowa). The ten hectare figure for Maniema is anomalous; three hectares 
was the maximum area imposed in 1930-31. In most of Uele-Nepoko only 
cotton was imposed; the food crops for Kilo-Moto were imposed in parts of 
Dungu, Wamba, and Medje territories. 

Sources: RAPO, Agriculture, 1929, p. 13; RA, Uele-Nepoko, Agriculture, 
1929, p.7, AA, RA/CB(156)3; RA, Maniema, Agriculture, 1929-31, p.7, AA, 

also set minimum purchase prices to protect the African producers 
from market fluctuations, but in practice these were nearly always the 
maximum prices paid as well. In 1920 compensation was fixed at fifty 
centimes a kilogram, but was cut in half the next year. Though the 
prices gradually rose to sixty centimes a kilo in 1925 and 120 in 1930, 
the gains were more than offset by the decade's terrible inflation. Like 
rice-growers, those raising cotton made less per unit at the end of the 
decade than at the beginning. 55 Because the number of buying sta- 
tions was limited at first and motor roads were equally scarce, the 
rapid development of cotton growing witnessed an equally rapid 
increase in porterage (see below). This continued until late in the 
decade when the new roads in Uele permitted locating buying stations 
closer to the producers. 

By 1922 the two Uele districts accounted for over half of the 

^^RACB 1921, p.l99; 1922, p.71; 1931, p.79; AA, RA/CB(141)10: RAPO, Agri- 
culture, 1926, p.4 . 


province's cotton production; by 1928 they were producing 80 percent. 
The long-time head of Lower Uele district attributed the success of 
cotton growing in the northern savanna to two factors. The first was 
the absence of any other cash crop, in contrast with Maniema where 
cotton competed with food cash crops, notably rice and palm oil. The 
second factor was Uele's large and powerful political systems, which 
(as in Uganda) made it easier for the government to enforce 
compulsory cultivation of a hectare of cotton per man. "Nothing 
would demonstrate better than the results of cotton growing," he 
concluded, "the excellence of the principle that we are in the Congo to 
develop the native in spite of himself if necessary."^^ 

Whether the inhabitants of Uele were profiting from cotton grow- 
ing became a contentious question as the decade advanced, though no 
one doubted that the colony was much better off. Leplae claimed that 
cotton-growers in Uele cleared 100 to 200 francs a year after taxes, 
even though he felt those taxes were probably excessive.^^ Some 
missionaries and other officials were less sure of the program's 
benefits. An American evangelical returning to Yakuluku in the 
Zande area at the beginning of 1926 after a three-year absence was 
amazed by the rapid growth of commerce, roads, and African cash 
crops, but he noted, "With raising cotton, coffee, working in the mines 
and on the roads, [people] do not get much time 'to sit' in their 
villages. Most of the villages I have seen are going to wrack and ruin, 
and the Azande people always have had such lovely places."^^ A 
British missionary asserted that rigorously enforced cotton growing 
left Uele residents with too little time to grow the food they needed.^^ 
A former agent in Uele-Itimbiri wrote to Brussels in 1925 charging that 
because of forced cotton growing hunger was becoming common in 
this rich agricultural area capable of producing two crops a year. He 

^Andre Jacques Landeghem, "De I'influence des cultures de coton par les indi- 
genes sur le developpement economique des regions cotonni^res," Congo (1927) 

^'iLeplae, "Histoire des cultures obligatoires," pp.725-27. 
58W.O. Kemptner in Inland Africa, 9(June 1925):5. 

5^. Torday to Harms Vischer, Boltons, 30 May 1929, Joint International Missionary 
Council/Conference of British Missionary Societies Archives, Box 287: "When a man 
brings his cotton to the Station and has not the full amount imposed-well ask one of 
your Sudan friends what happens if M. Delhay for example is the cotton collector. 
He is just one of many, but as he is near the border they might know." 


further reported witnessing "hundreds of women carrying loads of 
cotton balls weighing 30 kilos from Lebe to Monga, i. e. seven long 
days walk," for which they received no pay and were forced to forage 
along the road for their food. The men, he charged, worked all year 
on their fifteen ares of cotton in return for only 25 fr, with inflation 
cancelling out gains in production. In his view the effect of the cotton 
program was to reduce over a hundred thousand souls "to slavery, to 

Criticism of the cotton program also came from senior officials. In 
1927 the governor of the province reported that producers regularly 
got short weight from buying agents, who sometimes pocketed the 
difference.^^ A year later the head of Uele-Nepoko district noted that 
many Africans were, in his words, "discouraged," "discontent," and 
"agitated" by the requirement to grow cotton and no longer had for 
cotton that "fine enthusiasm of the early days."^^ Finally a member of 
the Colonial Council who had spent a quarter century in the area 
wrote frankly to the governor about cotton as follows: 

Among the natives the malaise is incontestable: we have not suc- 
ceeded in making this crop popular as in Uganda. The remunerations 
are insignificant and the blacks continue only under the pressure of 
the administration. Choose the correct answer: either it is impossible 
to increase the remunerations presently agreed upon and the growing 
of cotton in the P[rovince] 0[rientale] is an artificial enterprise which 
on its own has no chance to succeed or the remuneration can be 
increased and it is unpardonable that the cotton companies, with the 
cooperation of the Administration, should make such profits, all of 
whose weight falls on the natives. The current experiment has lasted 
long enough to expect results.... We are faced with forced labor of an 
abusive character and we cannot deceive ourselves that this only 
concerns those dealing with this in Geneva and elsewhere.® 

^. Duchemin to M. Arnold, Secretary General, Ministry of Colonies, Ostende, 4 
February 1925, AA, MOI(3547)25. This file also contains letters solicited from Congo 
authorities which cast aspersions on Duchemin's character but do not attempt to 
refute the substance of his charges. 

6^AA, Proc&s verbal, Comite Regional, PO, first session 1927, 2 May 1927. 
62aA, AI(1422), Rapport de I'administration generate, Uele-Nepoko, first half 1928. 
^A. Bertrand to Governor Moeller, 27 February 1929, A A, D(778)B.I. The reference 
to Geneva was to the international conference there at work on a forced labor con- 
vention. The convention was issued in 1930, but Belgium ratified it only in 1944, 


Much less is known of Maniema cotton- growers during this 
decade, but the following reminiscences of an old chief in the Kasongo 
area strongly resemble those of the critics in Uele: 

Thus the peasant agreed to plant cotton not because he could sell it at 
a profit but because the colonial authorities required it of him. The 
refractory were led off to prison or were subjected to the torture of the 
whips or else they had to pay heavy fines. It was not rare to see 
peasants who, wishing to escape cultivating cotton, first cooked the 
seeds before planting them in order to convince the colonialists that 
their soil was not suited to that crop.64 

In many ways the success of the cotton experiment set the model 
followed with regard to other African cash crops. During the 1920s 
compulsory cultivation was seen as the solution to growing food shor- 
tages that resulted from the growing number of Africans recruited 
into the non-agricultural labor force and from the emphasis on non- 
food crops such as cotton. In this case too, compulsion was not simply 
a way of getting Africans to grow crops for the market, but of forcing 
them to do so for very inadequate compensation. Food prices were 
kept low so that European employers could contain their labor costs. 

The transformation of food production in the Eastern Province 
during the 1920s was as dramatic as the transformation of cotton pro- 
duction. At the beginning of the decade province was already expor- 
ting foodstuffs to other parts of the colony. The Middle and Lower 
Congo bought an estimated 10,000 metric tons of rice in 1920, along 
with quantities of palm oil, fish, smoked meat, and manioc flour. In 
1922 Maniema alone sold 1,134 tons of rice, 591 tons of palm oil, 480 
tons of peanuts, 179 tons of cassava flour, and 32 tons of corn to the 
mining camps of Katanga.^^ In 1928 the province's food exports 
included 17,814 tons of palm nuts, 9,242 tons of palm oil, and 472 tons 

even then with reservations concerning the use of "compulsory and educational 

Recorded in 1972 by Ramazani Mwanatingu, "La culture du coton dans la zone 
de Kabambare," (Travail de fin d'etudes, Geographie-Histoire, ISP, Bukavu), p.32. 
^RACB 1920, p.37; RACE 1922, p.72. In 1926 Kivu was also "contributing 
greatly to the provisioning of Katanga" and Maniema was descrit>ed as the "granary 
of Katanga," but the next year Maniema, while continuing to ship peanuts and com 
south, had ceased to supply Katanga with manioc flour and rice, the latter because 
of the high prices compared to those from Rhodesia. AA, RAPO, Economique, 1926, 
p.89, RAPO, Economique, 1927 (extrait), pp.12-13. 


Table 5.3 

Sources of Provisions for the Kilo-Moto Mines, 1925-1930 

(in metric tons) 





1928 1930 

African producers 




African markets 




5,511 14,485 

Company farms 










Employee Farms 



Merchants (meat) 


Sources: AA, RAPO, Economique, 1926, p.88; 1927, p.ll; Bertrand, Probleme 
de la tnain-d'oeuvre, pp.194-95. 

of sesame seeds, as well as some 25,000 tons of rice.^^ 

Within the province the trade in foodstuffs vv^as concentrated in the 
mining regions, in the major tov\ms (especially Stanleyville), and along 
the main transportation routes, including the large work camps that 
came into existence as the roads and railroads were greatly expanded. 
Despite the enormous growth in food production during the decade 
supplying a number of places in the province remained difficult, in 
part due to the low producer prices. In the case of the HCB camps, for 
example, a 1927 report admitted that supplying provisions "would be 
impossible without the direct assistance of the administration."^^ 

Another area where compulsory cultivation of food crops was 
vigorously imposed was around the mining camps of Kilo-Moto. 
Early in the decade food shortages were notorious in these camps and 
what food came in was obtained only by administrative pressure. One 
approach to the problem was the introduction of European colonists. 
The first were Afrikaners from South Africa. By 1927 there were thirty 
colonists in Ituri, who supplied nearly 1,500 tons of food to the mines 
(table 5.3). Even though the colonists were paid two to three times the 

^RACB 1928, p.47. 

^^AA, RAPO, Economique, 1926, pp.88-89; RAPO, Economique, 1927 (extrait), 
pp.11-13. The latter reported difficulties in supplying food to the HCB (Aruwimi), 
the Mines de la Tele at Sengule, the Mini&re des Grands Lacs (Ituri), and the towns 
of Niangara and Stanleyville. 


rate accorded African producers, they were still unhappy with the 
prices they received. In 1925 most of the Afrikaners switched to grow- 
ing coffee which was experiencing a boom at that time. The mines 
also established their own farms, which by 1927 were supplying over 
twice as much food as the colonists. These company farms were 
expanded to furnish both crops and cattle. However, an amount more 
than double these two was being supplied by African producers 
directly and through the mine company's purchases in African mar- 
kets. By 1929 these African sources were providing 80 percent of the 
16,000 tons of fresh and dried foodstuffs for the Kilo-Moto mines. ^ 

African labor grew all of this food, whether on the plantations of 
the colonists and the company or on their own lands.^^ This tremen- 
dous labor effort was not entirely spontaneous. As was seen earlier, 
the administration was reluctant to allow free markets to determine 
prices and to draw producers into market production. Instead, it 
made extensive use of price manipulation and compulsory cultivation 
regulations. The annual report for the Kibali-Ituri district in 1929 
makes dear the effects of this policy: 

All agricultural activity of the peoples of the district is required for 
provisioning the mining centers of Kilo-Moto and the Grands Lacs 
where there are over 35,000 men, women, and children to feed. The 
natives grow only food crops whose yields they sell at the buying 
centers from where they are trucked to the Mines.... 

The agricultviral labor imposed consists principally of food crops at 
the rate of 10 ares [one hectare] per man per season (20 ares a year). 
These crops are divided among the chiefdoms according to the needs 
of the mining work force and the European centers in such a way that 
employers can find locally the products that must make up the 
statutory diet of the workers. In general the natives regularly carry 
out the labor imposed. . . . Only the natives of the territories of Mahagi 
and Geti need to be stimulated constantly to plant their farms; the 
reason is that most of the natives of these territories are pastoralists. "^ 

68Malherbe, "La mission au Lac Albert," pp.535-37; RACE 1920, p.l09; RACE 1921, 

p.204; Moulaert, Vingt annees a Kilo-Moto, pp. 129-30; Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," 

pp.211ff, 355ff. 

^^The Europeans supplied a certain amount of administrative skill but introduced 

little in the way of more efficient farming methods; in 1928 only 630 hectares of Ituri 

district were exposed to animal or tractor-drawn plows. RAPO, Agriculture, 1928, 



Those parts of Upper Uele which supplied food as well as labor to the 
mines became part of the new Kibali-Ituri district in 1928, but some 
parts of the new Uele-Nepoko continued to be required to grow food 
for the mines instead of cotton. 

If prices paid to the colonists were too low to hold their interest in 
producing food for the mines, what motivation was there for African 
producers receiving half or even a third as much? Even though 
Africans were accustomed to a much lower standard of living, it 
seems clear that administrative force, not the possibility of profit, was 
the main incentive to production. A 1930 report concerning the Ukwa 
chiefdom of Dungu territory, where the administration had just per- 
suaded the mines to increase what it paid for local bananas, sweet 
potatoes, and manioc, noted that even at the new prices: 

only the people living in the immediate vicinity of the buying centers 
for foodstuffs can get reasonable returns. The others are subjected to 
the corvees of porterage which are not remunerated, only the price of 
the foodstuffs being paid. In view of the modest sum received for 
each delivery, the native sees himself obliged to multiply his supply- 
ing if he wants to fulfill his tax obligations or satisfy some modest 
wants. The women and children suffer particularly from this 
situation, because it is upon them that the porterage of foodstuffs 
customarily falls. ^ 

Despite all these problems the author of the compulsory cultiva- 
tion program proudly proclaimed it a success. In an article published 
in 1933 Leplae claimed that during its first fifteen years compulsory 
cultivation had transformed impoverished and indolent Africans into 
prosperous producers. So accustomed were they becoming to cash 
cropping, he argued, that compulsion would no longer be necessary, 
though even in his estimate that date was still twenty or thirty years 
off. 72 In fact the compulsory cultivation continued to the end of the 

70RAKI, Agriculture, 1929, p.7, AA, RA/CB(157)6. 

^For 1930 bananas were to fetch fifteen centimes a kilo, sweet potatoes ten, and 
manioc ten (instead of the five centimes paid previously); AA, AI(1422): RA, Uele- 
Nepoko, 1930, pp.42-43. In 1926-27 the prices paid to Africans for food at Kilo 
camps were thirty centimes a kilo for com, fifty for unshelled peanuts, five for green 
bai\anas, twenty-five for niangi, and fifty for beans; A A, RAPO, Economique, 1926, 
p.88, 1927 (extrait), p.ll. 
'leplae, "Histoire des cultures obligatoires," pp. 646-52. 


Table 5.4 
Agricultural Laborers, Eastern Province, 1919-1928 











Lo wer-Uele /Uele-Itimbiri 




















Maniema (and Lowa, 1919) 















Note: 1928 figures include temporary laborers (men, women, children) as 

full time equivalents (250 person/days = 1 FTE) 
Sources: RAPO 1919 (extrait), AA, M01(3545)15; RACE 1922, p.75; RACE 

1925, p.l78; RAPO, Agriculture, 1928, AA, RA/CB(141)11. 

colonial period, not because Africans proved to be slow learners, but 
because they remained convinced that such cultivation was not and 
was not meant to be in their interest. 

While the emphasis during this decade was on developing African 
agriculture, the agricultural enterprises of non-Africans were not 
neglected. The development of settler colonization, particularly in 
Kivu district, shows vividly how the interests of even a modest num- 
ber of Europeans could distract the colony's interest from African- 
based schemes. 

The war had revealed to many the potential for European coloni- 
zation in the hitherto neglected district of Kivu, whose volcanic soils, 
salubrious climate, abundant African labor, and physical beauty 
favored European agriculture, especially coffee plantations and cattle 
raising (both pioneered well before the war at the White Fathers' mis- 
sions). The first real colonists had begun arriving at Bukavu in 1919- 
20, but substantial numbers of settlers appeared only in the mid-1920s, 
when the colony's road building program made the region more 
accessible. By 1925 local missionaries were recording an "invasion of 
white colonists great and small, especially great. "''^ The number of 

^APB, RAPE 1925-26, Katana, p.21. 


employees in the territory around the new district capital at Coster- 
mansville (Bukavu) jumped from 1^00 to 4,500 during 1926 and was 
expected to increase by as many in 1927. By the end of 1928 over 8,000 
hectares of land had been ceded to seventy-two colonists and one 
commercial firm and the area around Bukavu had been saturated with 
settlers. 74 

It was a heady and not particularly well-organized period for colo- 
nial administrators, who were making concessions of land faster than 
they could ascertain if it was truly vacant and faster than they could 
keep records. The head of Kivu district spoke of creating a second 
Kenya and of gradually relocating the dense African population away 
from the lake to make more room for colonists, even though he also 
noted that labor recruitment was generally (in some places exclu- 
sively) by compulsion. An official report in 1928 urged bringing back 
corporal punishment to deal with desertions by laborers recruited by 
compulsion. "^ 

As the settlement advanced the consequences for the African 
inhabitants were reflected in the changing assessments of Kivu 
missionaries. At the beginning of the decade a Catholic missionary, 
perhaps influenced by the mission's long isolation in the region, hailed 
the early colonists as harbingers of European civilization, but also 
foresaw the beginning of a new era for African labor: 

Many must abandon their pastoral life to be enrolled in the groups of 
workers. Another class of people, accustomed to doing nothing, at 
least to continually escaping the corvees, must find life a little harder 
than living from day to day. Yet there are others, continuously 
employed at porterage and all sorts of works, who will not see much 
change in their new life. 

He foresaw, too, that fear of the consequences of refusing would be 
more important than any other motive in overcoming African resis- 
tance to joining this process of change, estimating somewhat sardon- 
ically: "initium sapientiae timor."'^^ By 1928 the abuses of land law 

'^'^Bashizi Cirhagarhula, "Processus de domination socio-economique et marche du 
travail au Bushi (1920-45)," Enquetes et Documents d'histoire africaine, 3(1978):5; SKU: 
Rapport politique, Territoire de I'Unya-Bongo (Kivu), July-December 1926; AA, 
RA/CB(160)12, RA, Kivu, Agric, 1928, pp.19-24. 

75aA, Compte rendu, Comite regional, PO, 1927, pp.6-7; SKU: Rapport Politique, 
Unya-Bongo (Kivu), July-December 1928, pp.1 -2. 


and labor policy had become serious enough for the normally tolerant 
Catholic bishop of the Upper Congo, Monsignor Roelens, to complain 
to the minister of colonies, temporarily stirring up a storm of protest 
from colonists and local administrators. The minister promised an 
inquiry by the provincial governor, which the bishop expected "like all 
official inquiries in general, will very probably conclude that all is as 
in the best of all possible worlds." When the governor came round 
local missionaries told him they had seen Africans' farms and banana 
groves on the supposedly vacant lands of several large concessions 
and that they knew of one chief who signed a form certifying land to 
be vacant without knowing what it said. However, the commission 
concluded only that there was no room for additional concessions near 
Bukavu and that the colonists already installed could keep their 
lands. '^ 

In 1928 by the standards of other colonies the European population 
of Kivu was modest; Kenya, with three times as many Africans as 
Kivu, had almost 100 times as many European males f arming. ^ 8 
Nevertheless, a widespread feeling was developing among officials 
and non-officials that the situation was getting out of hand. Some felt 
as did those quoted above, that sterner measures were needed to pro- 
vide land and labor for still more colonists. Others, such as Governor 
Moeller, wondered aloud whether Kivu would be best served by the 
encouragement of European colonization, African production, or 
mines and industry. 79 Many on the Colonial Council favored slow- 
ing, not intensifying, Kivu's development. 

In the end the resolution of these conflicting views was placed in 
the hands of a new planning body, modelled on the Katanga Special 
Committee that had been created in 1900. Composed of colonial 
officials, representatives of the CGL, and other interested private 
parties, the Kivu National Committee, which took over in 1928, was 
empowered "to study and manage the region designated Kivu with 
regard to lines of transport and communication, the development of 
agriculture, agricultural colonization both European and native, and 

76APB, RAPE 1921-22, Thielt (St. Pierre), p.l31. 

77APB 216.108: Roelens to Voillard, Baudoinville, 18 September 1928; 216.110: 

Roelens to la Maison Carree, 25 May 1929; Diaire de Mugari, 7 January 1929. p.29. 

''^orty-six in Kivu vs. 1,805 in Kenya; Buell, 'Na^ve Problem, 2:288. 

^AA, Compte rendu, Cotnite Regional 1927, p.9. 


agricultural and other industries, as well as to develop the lands of the 
Domaine Prive and the mines not yet conceded/'^o While supporting 
European agricultural development above all, one of the Committee's 
first acts was to halt the granting of new concessions while it sorted 
out the mess created by the land rush especially near the lake. At the 
same time it set aside a zone of 600,000 hectares of very fertile land 
north of the lake for new European colonization.^i 

At the end of the decade Kivu's fate appeared to have been sealed. 
Colonel Bertrand felt that in illegally seizing African lands for the 
profit of European settlers, "the most determined enemy of the native," 
the administration was pursuing a "policy of proletarianization." He 
also charged that the government was more concerned with adding to 
the colony's export figures than with the more substantial economic 
development of African-based production such as had occurred in the 
Gold Coast and Uganda.^^ Though there was much substance to 
these charges, the extent of actual European settlement at the end of 
the decade was still modest and the 1930s brought a more complex 
unfolding of economic events. 

Porterage and Roads 

Every form of growth in administration, commerce, industry, and 
agriculture had a major secondary impact on transportation. The 
rapid expansion of mining camps required bring in supplies for 
explorations, materiel for mining, and food for the work force. The 
expansion of rice, cotton, and palm oil production likewise imposed 
new transport burdens. At the beginning of the decade the burden of 
porterage was already enormous. In Ituri district alone in 1920 the 
administration employed 35,577 porters, while the Kilo mines and 
other employers were using another 36,000. In 1922 there were more 
than twice as many porters in Ituri: 80,000 employed by the admini- 
stration and 71,000 by others. Elsewhere the story was much the 

^'Rapport du Conseil Colonial 1928," p.3, in Comite National du Kivu, Rapports 

du Conseil de Gerance et du College des Commissaires (Brussels: Imprimerie Industrielle 

et Financiere, 1929). 

^^Rapport du Conseil Colonial 1927, p.4. Rapports de Gerance, pp.13-14, in Comite 

National du Kivu, Rapports. 

82aA, D(778)B.I: Bertrand to Governor Moeller, 27 November 1929. 


same. In 1920 the Moto mines in Upper Uele employed 400 to 500 
porters a month just for bringing in materiel; Stanleyville district used 
some 6,300 porters; Maniema had 10,000 in use because of the short- 
age of a river steamer. The developing interest in Kivu rang up 35,000 
days of porterage in 1920; 100,000 in 1922. Getting Lower Uele's 
cotton to market was also a terrible new burden, requiring the head 
porterage in 1920 of 3,000 metric tons over an eleven-day route and 
canoe porterage of 4,000 tons over a 150 km route. In 1922 Lower Uele 
officially counted 370,000 days of porterage, but this did not include 
the several days of unpaid porterage by each farmer to get his cotton 
to buying centers along the main roads. According to the district's 
head this porterage had reduced the Babwa of Bambili to virtual 
nomads; their societies were exhausted and resentful, and the colonial 
effort was threatened. In 1923, Colonel Bertrand reported, 8,000 
porters in Bambili territory alone were constantly at work moving the 
cotton harvest; many of them were women and children, as elsewhere 
in Lower Uele.^^ In 1923 the head of Maniema warned that the "cor- 
vee of porterage still weighed heavily on his people." After a tour of 
the Lese people along the Irumu-Stanleyville road in 1924 the Catholic 
bishop of the area insisted on governmental measures to alter the 
conditions of porterage which were decimating this population.^ In 
short, having eased temporarily after the war, the burden of porterage 
had expanded to new heights in the early 1920s. 

At first the administration seemed unsure how to meet the devel- 
oping crisis. The report on the colony in 1920 was almost schizo- 
phrenic, in one breath denouncing forced labor and calling for more 
recruitment, citing savings of 10 million man /days a year of porterage 
that might be had through mechanization of transport and some agri- 
cultural tasks while recoiling from the costs of this mechanization 

^RACB 1920, p.43. AA, MOI(3606)180: RAPO Economique 1920, p.l43. Rapport 
politique, PO, April-June 1921. MOI(3602)165: Commission Metropolitaine de la 
MOI, December 1924, "Notes concemants la situation des travailleurs aux mines de 
Kilo-Moto," "Rapport economique Province Orientale 1922," Congo (1924) 
2:108. Louwersand Hoomaert, Question sociale, session 24 November 1924, pp.234- 

84aA, MOI(3606)180, Rapport politique, PO, third quarter 1921; MOI(3545)13, F. 
Losange to Governor, PO, 24 March 1923. p.Van Roy, "Notice necrologique de S. Ex. 
Mgr. Matthysen, Eveque de Bunia," p.34, manuscript quoted by Malherbe, "Mission 
au Lac Albert," pp.557-558. 


-ending and beginning with banalities about the educational and 
civilizing value of hard work.^ 

The only possible answer was a road building program on a 
massive scale-a tremendous undertaking since after three decades of 
European rule, mechanical transportation in the Eastern Province 
(larger than Belgium, France, and England combined) in 1920 existed 
only on the Lualaba and its navigable tributaries, on the two short 
railroads around the Lualaba's rapids, and along some 350 km of 
highway. From the terminals of these routes caravans of porters set 
out for the large parts of the province which were unserved by roads, 
rails, or rivers. Compared to British East Africa (on whose far more 
advanced transport systems the eastern Congo depended heavily) the 
Congo's need for major improvements was manifest. In August 1921, 
at the Ministry of Colonies' behest, the Belgian Parliament voted a 
special credit of 300 million francs to finance improved internal trans- 
port, including a drastic rebuilding of the Leopoldville-Matadi rail- 
road in the Lower Congo and new railroads in Katanga province and 
Uele district, as well as extensive road building, especially in the two 
eastern provinces.^ By the end of the decade some 60 million francs 
had been spent on the new road network in the Eastern Province, with 
another 38 million envisioned to complete the system. ^^ The plan 
was not simply to expand the reach of mechanical transportation, but 
also to create a national transport system by redirecting the external 
trade of the eastern half of the colony toward the Atlantic.^^ The 
greatest road building efforts were concentrated in the three northern 
districts with their important mines and their rapidly increasing pro- 
duction of cotton; by 1928 they had three-fourths of the road kilome- 
terage in the province (map 9). Despite the construction of new roads 
in the rest of the province these northern districts still has two-thirds 
of the roads in 1931. 

There were three especially notable road projects: 1) the rebuilding 

85iMCB 1920, pp.42^3. 

^^obut, "Historique des transports au Congo," pp.11-16; RACE 1921, pp.3-5. 

S'kAPO, Avant-Propos, 1929, p.32, AA, RA/CB(137)4; Governor Moeller's address 

to the Ille Congrfes Colonial National, 1930, Comptes rendus (Brussels: A. Lesigne, 

1931), p.94. 

*^As late as 1928 the idea of a Congo-Nile railroad was still being revived. See 

RAPO Avant-Propos, 1928, p.l8, AA, RA/CB(137)3. 


of the "Royal Congo-Nile Route" from Aketi on the Itimbiri west to 
Aba on the Sudan frontier via Buta, Bambili, Niangara, Dungu, and 
Faradje; 2) the construction of a more southerly route west from 
Stanleyville to Irumu (630 km); 3) a 900 km north-south route from 
Uvira on lake Tanganyika through the gold mining regions to Aba in 
the northeast. The sections of the third route completed this decade 
ran from Uvira to Costermansville (Bukavu) (120 km) on lake Kivu 
and from Goma at the northern end of lake Kivu to Irumu. These 
distances may seem unimpressive to a modern reader, but a contem- 
porary missionary identified the challenge involved when he noted 
that the shortest of these routes (Stanleyville-Irumu) was being built 
through continuous forest over a distance equal to the length of 
England. ^^ The even longer north-south route along the eastern 
frontier had to be cut through rugged mountainous country. 

Included in the transportation program was the construction of two 
new narrow-gauge railroads in the Eastern Province. The Vicicongo 
line in the north, from Bondo on the Uele to Aketi on the Itimbiri, 
went into service in 1927, permitting the evacuation of cotton from 
Uele. Construction was also begun on a line connecting lake 
Tanganyika with lake Kivu, the Chemin de Per Tanganyika-Kivu, 
which was never completed.* 

As new roads were completed, the government made efforts to 
introduce vehicular transport and to outlaw the use of porters. In 
November 1924 in the northern districts a public trucking service was 
established, the Messageries Automobiles de la Province Orientale 
(MAPO), replacing the government-run porterage service. The same 
year another transport service was established in the extreme north- 
east, the Messageries de I'lturi Occidentale (MIO), which included 
head porterage. Both of these were absorbed into the Societe des Mes- 
sageries Automobile du Congo (MACO) in 1927 and 1928. However, 
getting commercial firms to abandon porterage was often difficult 
because on the main roads low wages made human transport cheaper 
than truck transport. Small traders trying to cut corners might have 
had an arguable reason to do this, but the worst offenders seem to 
have been large, profitable concerns, such as Interfina, which even 

S^.F.B. Morris, Inland Africa, ll(Mar. 1927):4. The section of the Stanleyville- 
Irumu between Bafwaboli and Mombasa was not completed until the next decade, 
^obut, "Historique des transports au Congo," p.111-15. 


Map 9. Transportation Routes in the Eastern Congo, 1919-1939 


chose to transport rails to Ituri over a thirty-five day porterage route 
rather than using the East African railroads. ^^ Early in 1918 the ad- 
ministrator of Titule territory (Lower Uele) had proposed prohibiting 
all porterage along the 150 km Bambili-Buta route because of such 
abuses and their "fatal" effects on the Africans, but the district admin- 
istrator rejected this suggestion as "Draconian," although he and the 
governor general concurred in need to correct abuses and eliminate 
unnecessary porterage. ^2 Beginning in February 1924 ordinances in 
the Eastern Province forbad porterage along specified motor roads or 
by women or other recruits from designated overworked territories or 
over distances above 250 km. Success was only partial; further viola- 
tions by Interfina and others, with the connivance of local administra- 
tors, were reported.^^ 

Another cause of avoidable porterage was the failure of private 
mining companies to devote sufficient effort to completing access 
roads before extending their operations. For example, routes to the 
profitable gold mines of Kilo-Moto were not completed until 1928 and 
those to newer mining operations took even longer.^'^ Further south 
in the mountainous territory of Lubero west of lake Edward the 
number of porters furnished to the MGL rose from near zero in 1924 to 
9,585 in 1925, to 25,600 in 1926, and to over 32,000 in 1927, mostly 
because the company was carrying out extensive mineral prospecting 
before its exploration rights came to an end.® 

It was the volume of porterage that attracted the most criticism, 
but arguably this was not its worst feature. Like any other form of 

9^AA, MOI(3606)180, De Meulemeester to Minister of Colonies, 15 December 1924. 

92MRAC 50.30.26, Rapport general, first quarter 1918; Landeghem, CD, Bas Uele, k 

I'administrateur de Titule, 6 June 1918; MRAC 50.30.462a, CD, Bas Uele aux admini- 

strateurs de Titule, Bambili, et Zobia (confidentiel), 16 March 1918. 

^AA, MOI(3606)180, Portage. Correspondance [1920-26], passim; AI(1416), Jules 

Compill a M. le CD et M. le Procureur du Roi, 7 August 1925 (enclosure in GG to 

Minister of Colonies. In another case in 1927 six caravans of porters were recruited 

by force to carry for forty-six days among the motor road from Panga to Stanleyville 

for a private trader; KAT, T005 1927: Commissioner General for Governor, PO, to 

CD, Stanleyville, 11 December 1927. 

^'kZf. Bertrand, Probleme de la main-d'ceuvre, p. 101, concerning the Societe Belgika at 


'^AA, MOI(3589)114, F. Absil, Administrateur de la Lubero, "Portage," 20 August 

1928. Porterage around Lubero fell during 1928 when the new road to Beni and 

Irumu was opened. See RAPO, AIMO, 1928, pp.24-25, AA, RA/CB(138)2. 


Table 5.5 

Person/days of Porterage, 1925-1931 









Aruwimi 170 







Lower Uele/Uele Itimbiri 156 







Upper Uele/Uele Nepoko 672 







Ituri/Kibali Ituri 365 







Kivu 861 







Maniema 222 







StarUeyville 393 







TOTALS 2,840 

2.452 2,268 





Sources: AA, RA/CB(138)2 and 4, RAPO, AIMO, 1928 and 1931. 

physical labor, porterage need not have been debilitating had it been 
conducted under adequate conditions. There is ample evidence, how- 
ever, that both the weight of the individual loads and the wages paid 
were inconsistent with good health. In official calculations and reports 
a porter's average load is assumed to be 25 kg (55 lbs), a heavy burden 
even for a well nourished, healthy, athletic backpacker or soldier, but, 
as was indicated above for the war years, much heavier loads were 
common. In fact, the government normally objected only to loads 
over 30 kg (66 lbs), a weight which was clearly excessive. Moreover, 
weights above 30 kg were not rare. The administrator of Titule 
(Lower Uele) encountered a caravan along the Bambili-Buta route in 
1918 for the Societe Belgika whose loads averaged 35.5 kg (78 lbs). 
Another observer reported seeing hundreds of women carrying 30-kg 
loads of cotton seed in Lower Uele in the early 1920s and doing so for 
seven days without food or payment! In 1927 the Eastern Province's 
Labor Committee unanimously approved setting a maximum load at 
26 kg (57 lbs), but allowed district commissioners discretion to tolerate 
loads up to 31 kg (68 Ibs).^^ 

From the middle of the decade, as the new road and vehicles began 

HARAC 50.30.462a, Administrator, Titule, to CD, Bas Uele, 19 March 1918. AA, 
MOI(3547)25, L. Duchemin to M. Arnold, Secretary General, Ministry of Colonies, 
Ostende, 4 February 1925; AA, Compte rendu, Comite Regional de la PO, first 
session 1927, 27 April 1927, p.4. 


to have an effect, the volume of porterage declined. Not coinciden- 
tally, official tallies of the number of days of porterage then began to 
appear for the first time in official publications, so that the govern- 
ment might reap the credit for the decline. Because of the propaganda 
intent, these figures should be used with caution. For one thing there 
are some notable omissions, of which canoe porterage is significant, 
since it would add another third to the official figures.^'' Neverthe- 
less, it is evident from table 5.5 that by 1928 the Vicicongo and new 
motor roads had reduced porterage sharply in Uele and the roads 
completed by Kilo-Moto to its camps had done likewise in Kibali- 
Ituri.9^ Even so, the official claim that eight and a quarter million 
person-days of porterage were saved that year and of savings six 
times that in 1930 must be viewed with skepticism.^^ 

Incentives and Disincentives 

The extraordinary expansion of the province's economy during the 
1920s had been remarkably broadly based, affecting mining, com- 
merce, both European and African agriculture, and the construction of 
new roads and railroads. The growing diversity of the economy 
offered new opportunities to some Africans, but a very large part of 
African labor remained under considerable coercion. Most contempo- 
raries felt this coercion was necessary in order to teach African 
workers steady work habits. Such justifications were both simplistic 
and self-serving. A more accurate understanding of the situation 
requires an examination of the conditions that drew or failed to draw 
Africans into the labor market. Three aspects merit special attention: 
wages, working conditions, and the threats which migrant labor posed 
to physical and mental health. 

Although wages paid in the Eastern Province rose considerably 
during the decade following the war, it is doubtful that these increases 

^An unpublished report of 1926 puts the total of head and canoe porterage at 
3,340,000 person days, compared to 2,452,000 in the official report for head 
porterage. AA, RAPO, Economique, 1926, p.98. 
^^RACB 1928, p.l20. 

^AA, RA/CB(1938)2, RAPO, AIMO, 1928, pp.21-23. See the sharp questioning of 
the validity of such hypothetical calculations by Alexis Bertrand (now one of the 
Chambre des Representants' nominees to the Conseil Colonial): Conseil Colonial, 
CRA 1932 (Brussels: A. Lesigne, 1933), seance 22 April 1932, pp.542-43. 


drew more Africans to seek wage employment for the simple reason 
that prices rose even faster. At the end of the World War Belgium had 
been forced to go off the gold standard, which led to considerable 
inflation at home and in the Congo. Governor Moeller suggested that 
by early 1927 the franc retained only a seventh of its 1918 value and 
that along the main roads the prices of food and other products had 
gone up by much more.^^o Moeller was well aware that wages had not 
kept pace. Indeed, a provincial governor's salary had only doubled 
between 1914 and 1926 and those of his district and territorial admini- 
strators had done only slightly better.^^i African wages had risen at 
about the same rate; indeed, if one includes their rising food allow- 
ances, which reflected local food prices, they had done somewhat 
better. One study suggests that wages in the southern districts of the 
province had doubled between 1919 and 1928, while those in the 
northern districts had about tripled. ^^^ Nevertheless, as the governor 
was aware, African wages had not kept up with inflation. For that 
matter (and this was Moeller's main concern) taxes had not kept pace 
with the inflation rate either, the amounts collected in the province 
having risen only 275 percent from 1918 to 1927. Nor was the 
awareness of the declining purchasing power of African workers 
confined to high officials. The assistant attorney-general near the end 
of 1928 attributed labor unrest in Stanleyville to the effects of inflation: 
"The black realizes that he was receiving much more several years ago 
because with a lower salary he was able to obtain more.''^^^ 

The failure of wages to rise at anything like the rate of inflation, 
while not a uniquely colonial phenomenon, is a cleeir indication of 
how unfree the labor market remained. One major factor limiting its 
freedom was the government's role as the recruiter of last resort (and, 
all too often, of first resort). This relationship and its consequences 
were perceptively noted in an unpublished official report from Ituri 
district in 1924: 

In Ituri the industrialists, merchants, and colonists, following the 
example of the Regie Industriel des Mines, have come to rely exclu- 
sively on the administration to obtain labor and porters at fixed prices 

109A.A, Compte-rendu, Comite Regional, PO, 21 April 1927, p.l. 

^OiCongo Belge,Annmire officiel, 1914 and 1926. 

^^'^eemans, "Congo-Belgique," pp.446-47. 

103AA, AI(1415): A. Rezette, no date, annex to letter of GG, 10 January 1929. 


that no longer correspond to the necessities of life for the black. By 
using moral constraint, which enlists the native to leave his chiefdom 
temporarily while preventing him from freely disputing his salary, we 
are falsifying all the economic forces in the sense that we are favoring 
the development of businesses which which could not survive if the 
working conditions were freely disputed between the parties and 
adapted to the qualifications of the region's labor force.104 

With the government's exit from recruiting in 1928 and the stabil- 
ization of the franc, wages began to move ahead of inflation. Begin- 
ning wages (not including food rations) for permanent employees in 
Stanleyville district, for example, rose from 25 fr a month in 1927 to 42 
fr two years later.^^^ The wages of agricultural laborers in Aruwimi 
(again not including food allowances) rose from 17.50 fr a month in 
1926 to 30 fr in 1930.106 

Yet, by themselves, higher wages were not sufficient to attract 
adequate numbers of African laborers. There is considerable evidence 
that Africans paid as much attention to working conditions as they did 
to wage rates. An employer's reputation for harshness, the risks to life 
and health, the availability of adequate and familiar food and housing, 
the distance from home, all strongly influenced workers' decisions. In 
the 1920s the housing, food, discipline, and other working conditions 
were often far from attractive. 

Information on working conditions in this period is derived almost 
exclusively from the larger employers, since they were more likely to 
be subject to the official investigations that have left a trail in the 
archives. It is unlikely that such employers were the worst, since they 
were better able than small employers to afford the food, housing, and 
medical supplies required by law, but their failings affected very large 
numbers of individuals. In general conditions were very defective 
during the first half of the decade, but the combination of government 
enforcement of labor laws, increased competition for labor, and the 

^^apport sur I'administration generale de la PO, second half 1924 (extrait), AA, 


^o^'Rapport sur le commerce, Stanleyville, deuxi&me semestre 1927," Congo (1928) 

2:149-53; "Rapport sur le Commerce, Territoire de Stanleyville, deuxi^me semestre 

1929, Congo (1930) 2:106-12. The salaries of temporary workers rose from twenty to 

forty-five francs, but they did not receive a food allowance. 

lO^'Rapport economique, Aruwimi, 1926," Congo (1927) 2:312; AA, RA/CB(160)4: 

RA, Aruwimi, Agriculture, 1930, p.l9. 


ending of government recruitment for private firms tended to produce 
improvements toward the end of the decade. 

In 1920 working conditions at the newly-created Regie Industriel 
des Mines de Kilo-Moto, for example, were bad and getting worse. At 
the northern Moto camps in Upper Uele the unscrupulous director 
Mathelin pushed production ruthlessly. His European agents respon- 
ded eagerly and brutally to a system of bonuses, whose rates were 
increased substantially in the first half of 1920, by driving their African 
workers to ever greater exertions. Whippings appear to have become 
the principal means of motivation. The number of lashes admini- 
stered (limited by law to twelve per occasion, rose from an already 
high 10,461 in the second half of 1919 to 26,579 during the first half of 
1920, equivalent to eight strokes per full-time African employee. 
Desertions also followed the upward trend in bonuses, blows, and 
production.107 j]^q ^ilo miners in Ituri district were not victims of 
such direct physical abuse, but were suffering greatly at this time from 
shortages of food and rudimentary living conditions due to the overly 
rapid expansion of those mines. ^^^ In 1920 Vice-Governor General 
Moulaert was put in charge of this state enterprise with a mandate for 
reform. He ordered an end to the whippings and instituted other 
reform measures. What followed was a subject of controversy at the 
time and has remained so in recent times. 

To their credit the Kilo-Moto mines undertook an extensive road 
building program to relieve porterage, installed the Congo's first 
hydroelectric generator to power equipment (relieving the growing 
porterage of firewood), raised wages and food allowances, organized 
a vast operation for the production and distribution of food, construc- 
ted adequate housing for miners in their numerous camps, built up an 
extensive medical service for employees and their families (as well as 
a general vaccination program for the inhabitants of the mining 
region), and established schools for the children of its employees. All 
this was done while still expanding the work force to 22,000 by the 
end of 1927, and increasing the annual gold production to four metric 
tons in 1930 and preparing the way for further extensive expansion in 

^O^AA, MOI(3602)166: Van Reeth, Commissioner of Upper Uele, to the Vice- 
Governor General, 15 August 1920; Vice-Governor General Rutten, for the GG, to 
the Minister of Colonies, Boma, 6 November 1920. 
^^%Ioulaert, Vingt annees, pp.38, 44. 


the decades that followed.^^ 

Despite these reforms a series of investigations by provincial and 
local officials during the 'twenties reported that ill-treatment, ill- 
nourishment, and a prison-like environment continued to characterize 
the Kilo-Moto camps. Moulaert and other Kilo-Moto officials dispu- 
ted these charges and complained of unrealistic regulations, hostile 
investigators, and exaggerated reports of abuses. It is probably fair to 
say that company officials, taking over at a time when conditions had 
long been dismal, justifiably felt that the government officials were 
giving too little credit for the considerable reforms that were being 
implemented, while government officials, with equal justice, found 
intolerable the widespread shortcomings in the treatment workers of 
this large and prosperous goverim\ent-owned enterprise. The African 
employees of the mines obviously were aware of both progress and 
shortcomings, but it is significant that the image of the company that 
persisted in much of the region until the end of the decade agreed 
with the colonial administration in stressing the negative side. 

In the view of the responsible colonial official in Brussels the prob- 
lem was one that will be familiar to students of the previous decades 
of the Congo administration: the RIM directors in Brussels were 
largely concerned with the greatest production at the lowest cost 
compatible with equitable treatment of African labor (a "policy of 
parsimony" in the later words of the governor of the province).^^^ Not 
yet responsible for recruiting or provisioning their labor force, the 
local RIM authorities concentrated on increasing production through 
bonuses paid to foremen who in turn abused, overworked, underpaid, 
and underfed the African labor.m In 1926 the direction of the RIM in 
Brussels was again prodded by the Ministry of Colonies into issuing 

^'^oulaert, Vingt annees, pp.43-78; Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," ch. 4 and 6. 
^^^he phrase appears in a letter by Governor Moeller to the GG, 11 December 1926, 
AA, MOI(3602)166, and is repeated by R. M. Reisdorff (Director General, Ministry of 
Colorues) in notes on the GG's letter N* 26 of 25 May 1928 (containing a new report 
by Moeller of 20 March 1928). 

^^^Albrecht Gohr (Director General, first direction, second section) to Minister of 
Colonies, 12 December 1925, AA, AI(1416); Moeller to GG, 11 December 1926, AA, 
MOI(3602)166. AA, MOI(1416): James Campill to CD and to Procureur du Roi, 7 
August 1925, cites other violations of regulations concerning housing, medical care, 
safety, and ill-treatment of African workers. Three RIM employees were fined and 
emprisoned for beating workers in 1924. See Role R.M.P. N" 4447, 4506, 4708, and 
4710, Parquet d'Irumu, 8 June 1925, AA, AI(1416). 


explicit orders to their Congo agents to end the overwork and other 
abuses of African labor and into undertaking significant expenditures 
to bring their salaries, feeding, health and lodging into line with 
government regulations. ^12 xhis time too improvements followed, but 
the Ministry was not persuaded that the mines, even after their 
reorganization as a joint-stock company (Sokimo) in 1926, had moved 
far from their traditional tight-fisted policies. After a personal inspec- 
tion in 1928 Governor Moeller charged Sokimo with paying below 
average salaries, distributing rations irregularly, and providing defec- 
tive and insufficient lodging for its African employees. ^^^ 

As improbable as it may seem, one of the most widespread prob- 
lems in the early 1920s was inadequate food. The problem stemmed 
from the location of some operations in thinly inhabited areas and the 
concentration on expansion of the work force without adequate pro- 
vision for growing or importing enough food to feed it. Such short- 
ages were chronic in Aruwimi early in the decade among the 2-3,000 
laborers of the HCB's Elisabetha station. In 1920 the company was 
paying a food allowance of only a franc a week while the government 
was spending 3.50 fr a week to feed soldiers in the district and 1.50 fr 
per prisoner for food. Under government pressure the company 
raised the food allowance to 1.75 fr including distributions of 2 kilos of 
rice and half a kilo of fish per week, but this was only a partial correc- 
tive of the local shortages of food. Company officials were incensed 
when the government required their compliance with a new 
ordonnance (14 December 1922) requiring employers to provide all 
food in areas where local supplies were deemed to be inadequate. It 
appears that they complied by getting the local administrative officials 
to force Africans to supply the food just as they had to supply the 
labor .i^"* It is unclear how much improvement came in the latter part 
of the decade. 

^^^Administrateur Delegue pour le Council, RIM, to Minister of Colonies, 19 April 

1926, AA, MOI(3605)175/129; Braive, pour le Council, RIM, to Minister, 19 April 

1926 and Braive to Administrator General (Ministry of Colonies), 23 April 1926, AA, 


"3AA, MOI(3602)166: Moeller to GG, 20 March 1928. 

"4aa, MOI(3602)156: RAPO 1920 (extract); Administrator, HCB, to Minister of 

Colonies, 14 October 1921; Secretary General, Ministry of Colonies, to Director, 

HCB, Brussels, 28 December 1923; MOI(3605)175/108: Director, HCB (Stubbe) to 

Director General, Ministry of Colonies, 1 March 1923; RACE 1921, p.l84. 


The parallel food shortages at Kilo-Moto in the early 1920s, which 
also stemmed from overly rapid expansion, were not solved quickly 
either since the work force continued to increased at a rapid rate. In 
July 1925 acting Governor General de Meulemeester reported he had 
evidence that food was in such short supply at the mines that many 
African employees had become seriously malnourished or had fled 
from Kilo-Moto because of food shortages and that many others had 
deserted because of the brutal and systematic use of whipping. In 
August 1925 one official investigator called the food situation at the 
mines "alarming" and a "disaster," citing one group of 1,384 workers, 
of whom six had died and 190 had to be sent away, 112 for malnutri- 
tion and predisposition to tuberculosis. Not surprisingly of the 2,000 
Africans recruited by the administration for the mines that month, 500 
deserted in September and another 300 were soon dismissed as 
unfit. ^^5 Not until the last years of the decade did the mines solve the 
food problem (see below). 

Problems of food supply also existed in other industries. Com- 
plaints from workers from the Eastern Province employed by Safricas 
on the Lower Congo railroad led to an investigation in 1926 which 
revealed that workers received their food allowances late or had them 
withheld as punishment for work infractions and that this had led to 
numerous workers selling their equipment and forcing their wives 
into prostitution in order to obtain enough to eat. Conditions did not 
improve as the work expanded the next year, leading the Ministry to 
file legal charges against Safricas. The charges against the corporation 
were not proven, but several Safricas employees were convicted of 
beating Africans, failing to maintain proper work camps, and other 
infractions. ^16 The next year an investigator found 250 recruits sup- 
plied by the colony for building the Vicicongo railroad in Uele had 
been paid only 12 fr a week, which was little more than enough to 
cover their food.^^^ At about the same time the Buta court was also 

^^^AA, AI(1416): De Meulemeester to Minister, 24 July 1925; James Campill to M. le 

CD et M. le Procureur du Roi, 7 August 1925; De Meulemeester to Minister of 

Colonies, 23 November 1925. 

"^AA, MOI(3600)138, GG to Director General, Safricas, 31 October 1926, and other 


^^''The Vicinaux's head engineer at Aketi, F. Bernard, was convicted and given a fine 

of 2,500 fr for paying substandard wages and other infractions during the laborers' 


condemning Unatra for its "truly ill-will" shown toward complying 
with the province's ordonnance of 27 February 1924, and its heedless 
disregard to the court's previous order.^^^ xhe HCB was under con- 
stant attack by the colonial authorities for its parsimonious policies. In 
November 1921 it was taken to task for paying an inadequate food 
allowance. In 1923 its housing, sanitation, medical service were 
criticized at the highest levels. ^^^ 

The inadequate food, housing, and medical care affected the gen- 
eral health of workers, as did other, less tractable factors. While not so 
extreme an issue as in other parts of the Congo, the health risks to 
which African laborers were exposed were still a significant factor in 
the Eastern Province. One of these risks was the spread of infectious 
diseases that everywhere in colonial Africa became a serious problem 
as increased communication provided avenues for diseases to spread. 
The spread of sleeping sickness was a more serious problem elsewhere 
in the Congo, especially in Congo-Kasai which had 85 percent of the 
cases treated in the colony in 1925, but parts of the Eastern Province 
were seriously affected, notably the Ueles, which had 73 percent of the 
5,905 cases treated in the province in 1925, and Maniema.^20 j^e 
disease's expansion was described as grave and alarming in parts of 
the Ueles in 1928. There were 2,757 new cases in the province in 1929 
and 5,773 new cases in 1930. Areas were closed to trade to slow the 
disease's spread, but evidence exists that mining prospectors contin- 
ued to travel in the closed territories of Gwane, Bill, and Dakwa of 
Uele-Itimbiri in 1928.121 Nevertheless, government efforts to inhibit 

second three month term; such wages for the first term, it is worth noting, were 

perfectly legal. AA, MOI(30601)148: Vindevoghel, Procureur du Roi, to Procureur 

General-Leopoldville, Buta, 16 February 1928, and Judgment of 23 February 1928, 

District of Buta. 

"8aa, MOI(3601)148: Gilson, Commissioner General, PO, to GG, 8 December 1928. 

^'^^RACB 1921, p.l84; AA, MOI(3602) 156, passim. 

^2%elgian Congo, Rapport sur I'hygiene publique pendant I'annee 1925 (Brussels: F. 

van Gumpel, 1927), p.ll and table 19. 

^^iSleeping sickness was spreading rapidly in Niangara territory and its control in 

Doruma territory was difficult, despite considerable efforts, because of infiltration 

from French Equatorial Africa where treatment was non-existent, according to the 

Rapport de 1' Administration generale, Uele-Nepoko, first half 1928, pp.20-27, and 

the Rapport politique, Uele-Nepoko, first half 1929, p.23, AA, AI(1422). The GG, 

following the advice of the Governor of the PO, asked Brussels to cease giving new 

prospecting rights and to suspend the current ones in the affected areas of Uele- 


the spread of sleeping sickness were becoming effective. 

Other health problems were more directly connected with the 
recruitment and employment of labor. A fimdamental one was the 
high mortality that workers often suffered when moved from their 
home territories to areas with quite different climates, foods, and 
diseases. The specific causes of such illnesses were not clearly under- 
stood at the time, though malaria was known to be a factor affecting 
those going from uninfected highland areas to affected lowland areas. 
The government responded with restrictions on recruitment away 
from home areas and with more specific requirements for acclimati- 
zation camps and periods. 

In some areas recruitment was deliberately restricted to areas of 
similar climate and conditions. For example, the gold mines of the 
northeast were divided into two groups, with those of Kilo recruiting 
from the highlands and Moto from lower lying areas.i22 Further south 
in the Lubero territory recruitment had been brought almost to an end 
by 1928. In the words of its administrator: 

it would be a crime to tap the montagnards for enterprises outside 
the territory's econoinic zone: the natives have no resistance outside 
their home area and the tests done for the F[orce P[ublique] and for 
the porters crossing the Ruindi and Rutshuru plains have led to the 
suppression of government recruitment in the mountain region of 
soldiers and workers for the district. 123 

The recruitment efforts of the giant Union Mini^re du Haut 
Katanga (UMHK) in the Eastern Province are a revealing example of 
how health issues could upset the best organized recruiting efforts. In 
March 1919 the head of the province had closed Maniema to all out- 
side recruitment to permit it to recover from the ravages of sleeping 
sickness, excessive wartime porterage, and the losses during the 
epidemics that came at the war's end. Despite the vigorous protests of 
the growing mining interests in Katanga at the time and in the years 
that followed, Maniema remained closed, though its work force was 

Nepoko; AA, H(855)MS-U/74, Tilkins to Minister, telegram, 11 April 1928. 
^2^ean-Luc Vellut, "Mining in the Belgian Congo," History of Central Africa, David 
Birmingham and Phyllis M. Martin, eds., 2 vols (New York: Longman, 1983), 2:144. 
^2^. Absil, Rapport sur la question de la Main d'oeuvre, district du Kibali-Ituri, 
territoire de la Lubero, 20 August 1928, AA, MOI(3589)114. 


encouraged to grow cotton for export and food crops (especially rice) 
for shipment to Katanga.i24 Finally, in April 1926 Union Mini^re 
received authorization to recruit 4,000 men from Maniema and south- 
em Kivu. The company conducted its operations with exemplary care 
and the wages, clothing allotments, and other inducements offered 
were generous enough to raise protests of unfair competition from the 
district's other employers. At considerable expense it built acclima- 
tization camps, where recruits would be held doing little or light work 
for between one and three months before being transported to 
Katanga, accompanied if they wished by their wives and children. 
The company opened two public dispensaries to promote good will, 
paid commissions to chiefs for each recruit, and hired experienced 
European agents at high salaries. In 1928 alone the recruitment mis- 
sion in the province cost UMHK 1,865,000 francs.^25 

Yet the scheme was a great failure, a fiasco in the words of one 
official report. Of the 767 men recruited in 1927 most refused to 
reenlist when their first year contracts expired and only 479 new 
recruits were obtained in 1928 before the company shut down its 
recruitment effort in Kivu and Maniema. Of these 1,440 recruits only 
fourteen remained at work for UMHK at the end of 1929, only one a 
year later. Part of the reason for this colossal failure stemmed from 
men's aversion to labor recruitment, based on their bitter experiences 
of wartime porterage and the continuing forced recruitment for the 
Force Publique. In parts of Lowa men simply stayed away from the 
local markets until well after the recruitment effort was abandoned. 
Another part of the problem was the reluctance of these forest- 
dwellers to travel to so distant and different an environment, a 
reluctance immediately enforced by the health problems that 
developed in the camps. In 1927, of 961 men recruited, twenty-two 
died (plus twenty-seven of their women and children) and 172 were 
returned home as unfit. In 1928 fifty-nine died and eighty-two were 
sent home. 126 

12*rhe original ordonnance of 17 March 1919 was defective and was replaced by one 
dated 1 September 1919; AA, MOI(3547)24/12, 17, 18; (3554)49/18 and 30b; (3545)13. 
125AA, MOI(3545)15: Compte rendu, Comite Regional, PO, 28 April 1927; RAPO 
AIMO 1927, p.36; Yogolelo Tambwe ya Kasimba, "Recrutement des travailleurs de 
rUnion Mini^re du Haut-Katanga au Kivu-Maniema de 1926 k 1928," Problemes 
sociauxzairois, 114/115 (1976):127-40. 
l26^ogolelo, "Recrutement," pp.137-39; AA, AI(1421): Rapport administrative, 


More direct still were the health conditions produced by industrial 
conditions and the lack of adequate medical treatment in industrial 
enterprises. In cotton mills the dust and fibers in the air were bad 
enough to have caused the deaths of several African workers in 
Maniema and to have produced throat and lung ailments in many 
others, including one European.127 j^ 1923 the mortality rate was 
about seven per thousand among employees of the state and CFL, but 
was 12.7 at the Kilo mines and 10.3 at the Mo to mines, rates that con- 
tinued for the rest of the decade. Mortality at HCB Elisabetha was 13.3 
per thousand during the first ten months of 1924.^28 Establishing an 
effective industrial medical service took some time. Despite a law of 
1922 governing the health and safety of workers in the province, no 
inspection service existed in 1925. Kilo-Moto was ahead of many 
others in having organized a medical service, but in 1927 no company 
in Lower Uele had a medical service and the largest, the Vicicongo 
and Cotonco, had no doctors, the MGL was just beginning to organize 
its medical service, Forminidre's Mini^re de la Tele had several camps 
without the infirmarians required by the ordonnance of 20 October 

A final group of health problems among migrant laborers appear 
to have been psychosomatic. The pastoral Lugbara (Lugwaret), for 
example, died in such numbers when away from home that in 1923 
the court at Niangara was compelled to free and return home the 
survivors from the state prison there to escape a total decimation. The 
Kilo-Moto mines had to employ the Lugbara and the nearby Logo 
close to their homes and in fellowship with others of their countrjnnen 
if disaster was to be avoided.^ ^^ In the neighboring Watsa territory, 
among the Ndongo people, twenty-five years of close proximity to the 

Maniema, first half 1928, p.28, second half 1928, pp.9-10. After this failure UMHK 

turned its attention to recruiting in Ruanda-Urundi and to retaining a permanant 

work force through a policy of labor "stabilization." 


^^^RACB 1925, p.25. For 1924 the mining figures were 11.5 (Kilo) and 11.4 (Moto); 

for 1930 mortality was 12.85 (Kilo) and 9.5 (Moto); RACE 1930, p.l6. 

^29r>icB 1925, p.25; AA: RAPO, AIMO, 1927, p.40; AA, MOI(3608)204: G. Trolli, 

Rapport d'inspection medicale de d'hygiene du District du Bas Uele du 14 au 20 

decembre 1927. 

^^QCompte-rendu, Commission de Main-d'oeuvre, Haut-Uele, 7 October 1925, p.l; 

AA, MOI(3598)132/PO. 


Moto mines had produced an acute dennographic crisis which ap- 
peared to go beyond the simple spread of disease. In the words of its 
administrator, "the truth is that the introduction and multipHcation of 
industrial centers [and all that went with them] produced a profound 
trauma in the psychological life and by a natural progression in the 
organic life of the native population." ^^^ 

The 1920s witnessed the most massive changes in labor in the eas- 
tern Congo since the spread of Zanzibari control. The size, character, 
and remuneration of the African work force all changed dramatically. 
The colonial officials were caught between two policy developments. 
On the one hand, they were the principal agents of labor recruitment 
on behalf of the major employers and indirectly through the applica- 
tion of a substantial head tax, which, in Governor Moeller's words 
"had to keep its work-incentive character" and through the enforce- 
ment of the labor contract law.^-^^ On the other hand, the government 
was acting to restrict the scale of recruitment from any one area to 
fixed percentages, enforcing stricter regulations on working condi- 
tions, and reducing, if not eliminating its role as a labor recruiter for 
private employers. 

Within the limits created by these official policies and by their own 
personal and cultural perspectives, Africans were also shaping labor 
policies in this period. Understanding African attitudes is limited by 
the paucity of direct evidence and by the pervasiveness of compulsion 
in recruitment and cultivation, but some inferences are possible. This 
section will conclude by examining the complexity of African respon- 
ses to short and long-term employment in agricultural and mines. 

In the eastern Congo as elsewhere in colonial Africa in this period 
there was much discussion of Africans' reluctance to work on long- 
term contracts. According to some theories short-term jobs were 


^^^erard, Administrateur Territorial de Watsa to CD, Kibali-Ituri, 5 September 

1929, AA, D(778)B.n.2. 

^^^oeller's statement is from AA, Compte-rendu, Comite regional, PO, 21 April 
1927, p.2. Labor contract infractions were by far the largest category of offenses for 
which Africans were convicted, amounting to 25 percent of the total cases in 
Maniema in 1928 and 43 percent in Kibali-Ituri in 1930; AA, AI(1421): Rapport sur 
I'administation, Maniema, first and second semesters, 1928; RA/CB(157)5: RA.KI 

1930. Prison lab)or was used for many purposes by the government and the prison 
at Niangara had begun hiring out prisoners to private employers on a small scale at 
the end of the decade; AA, RA/CB(137)11-12: RAPO, Justice, 1929-1930. 


attractive because Africans were "target workers," who worked only 
until they had earned enough to pay their tax, pay the bride-price for a 
wife, or purchase some consumer item.^^a jj jg probably true that most 
Africans were reluctant to leave their rural communities, at least for 
the first time, except on a short-term basis. In part this was a natural 
"testing of the waters", but to a considerable extent it also reflected the 
fact that few employers provided the sort of environments in which 
family life might flourish. Certainly the kinds of wages and working 
conditions just described in the Eastern Province could have been 
perceived as attractive on their own merits by very few rural Africans. 
Moreover, official government policy opposed permanent residence 
for Africans until the next decade and officials made periodic sweeps 
of "imdesirables" out of such unofficial communities as existed-the 
last such general sweep coming during the Depression years.^^'* 

The actions of agricultural laborers in Kivu illustrate some of the 
complexity of African views of wage labor in this decade. Some saw 
wage employment a means of evading existing social obligations, 
especially toward village chiefs. In 1929 the head of Kivu distirct was 
convinced that most Africans who hired themselves out as long-term 
agricultural laborers were headstrong individuals seeking to escape 
the authority of their chiefs with the connivance of their European 
employers. Such individuals could evade certain obligations due to 
their chiefs by keeping their cattle on their employer's land. The chiefs 
in turn tried to reclaim part of the wages in lieu of these obligations. 
In 1930 the administrator of Unya-Bongo also affirmed that the Shi 
men seeking jobs with Europeans did so to escape from certain 
obligations owed to their chiefs.^^^ 

133^ lively debate has developed over whether African workers responded in an 
economically rational way to new employment situations in the colonial period or 
remained tradition-bound, short-sighted "target workers". A knowledgeable and 
sympathetic statement of the latter position is G. St. J. Orde Brown, The African 
Labourer (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1933). A vigorous presentation of the other 
side is Marvin P. Miracle and Bruce Fetter, "Backward-sloping Labor-Supply 
Functions and African Behavior," Economic Development and Culture Change, 18 

^•^'^uy Baumer, Les centres indigenes extracoutumieres au Congo Beige (Paris: Editions 
Domat-Montchrestien, 1939), pp.46-52. 

^^%ources for Kivu in this period are scattered among several archives. An impor- 
tant letter on the conflict between tribute relations with chiefs and employment 


Another aspect of labor in Kivu, however, was the great difficulty 
of getting anything like enough people to sign up as long-term 
workers, even though this paid much better than short-term work 
(from 9 to 12 fr versus from 7 to 7.50 fr a month in 1925).i36 Short-term 
workers remained relatively easy to hire provided they were able to 
return home each night and provided the employer was willing to put 
up with numerous absences and the local practice of substituting 
relatives to do one's work. This remained so even though the tax 
burden on Kivu Africans rose steadily in the 1920s: in 1919 Kivu paid 
239,000 fr in head tax (5 percent of the province's total); in 1930 they 
paid 3,595,000 fr in head tax (10 percent of the province's total).^37 
Evidently African laborers were (with some success) trying to hold on 
to the structures of everyday life while transferring to the new work 
situation the norms of a communal labor environment. 

The contradictions in the larger patterns of social change were 
clearly visible in rural Kivu. On the one hand, a process of substitu- 
ting individual wage income for communal rights and labor was 
underway. 138 On the other hand, salaries were insufficient to allow 
farm laborers to abandon communal resources. The chief was caught 
in the middle: forced to supply growing numbers of laborers to the 
colonists, he was in danger of losing his subjects and his traditional 
rewards from them. The colonists, concerned with getting their work 
done cheaply, had little interest in the rights of the chiefs or the liveli- 
hood of the workers. The workers attempted to make the best of a 
situation in which neither traditional reciprocal relations nor the laws 
of the market place applied. 

relations with colonists is in KAT, F3m, Autorites indigenes: Le Docte, CD, Kivu, to 
Agent Territorial, Unya Bongo, Costermansville, 25 September 1929. Annual 
reports on labor (AIMO) for the territory of Unya Bongo for 1929-1932 are in SKU. 
Administrators' views of the "problem" of Kivu labor appear in A A, RAPO, 1929, 
Affaires Economiques, part 2, pp.21 7f., and, in a slightly fuller form, in Governor 
Moeller's Rapport g6n6ral ISP 29 of 21 March 1930, in AA, D(778)B.II.3 and also in 
AA, MOI (3597)126, the major part of which was published by Jean-Luc Vellut, 
"Enqu&te sur la main-d'oeuvre au Kivu (1930)," Enquite et Documents d'histoire 
africaine, 3 (1978):30-38. A good overview is Bashizi Cirhagarhula, "Processus de 
domination socio-economique." 
136AA, MOI(3545)15, RA, AIMO, PO, 1925 (extract). 
^^"^RACB 1919, pp.262-63; RACE 1930. 

^3%itanana Ntamugab'umwe, "Reflections sur les conditions des travailleurs dans la 
province du Kivu (1922-1945)," (Travail de fin d'^tudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1977). 


However, in the case of short-term labor recruited by the 
administration, it was the interests of the employers rather than of the 
temporary workers that played the larger role. In the case of Kilo- 
Moto, which was employing ten thousand auxiliary laborers at the 
beginning of 1927, the auxiliaries had become the "poor relations 
(parents pauvres)"o( the labor force.^^^ Such workers were paid lower 
wages than regular workers and did not have their head tax paid (as 
the mines did for regular workers). In addition, because they were 
employed at non-mining tasks such as road building and erecting 
compounds, they did not receive the bonuses that in the latter 1920s 
were an important part of Kilo-Moto miners' incomes. Auxiliaries also 
received poorer housing and food: for example, they got only one-half 
the meat and oil allowance of regular workers.^*^ 

An additional aspect of the auxiliary situation was the almost 
constant disruption that their recruitment caused in the mining area 
particularly. During the second half of 1922, for example, the Kilo 
mines and colonists of Ituri were supplied with almost 2,600 recruits a 
month, while Moto received 2,400 a month from the Upper Uele 
administration to sustain quite modest auxiliary forces. In 1925 the 
Moto mines received 25,503 auxiliary workers on two-month contracts 
from the administration, though the size of their temporary work force 
averaged well under 6,000 for the year. In contrast, to keep their 
permanent work force of 4,000 (on three-year contracts) Kilo needed 
only 1,785 recruits (three-quarters supplied by the administration) in 
1922 and Moto required only 1,857 new recruits in 1925 to keep their 
permanent work force at about 5,700M^ So long as the administration 
remained responsible for recruitment the mines employed a high pro- 
portion (up to half) of auxiliaries in their work force, but once they 
began to do their own recruiting starting in 1928 the proportion fell 
rapidly, declining to 20 percent in 1928, 5 percent in 1929, and 1 
percent in 1930. A similar pattern prevailed at other employers. 

A permanent labor force at Kilo-Moto grew rapidly. Of the 8,161 

i^^Moeller to GG, 9 August 1926, report on Kilo mines, pp.3, 14 

^40aA, MOI(3606)166, VanReeth (CD, Haut Uele) to Vice-Govemor General, PO, 3 

December 1920, pp.5-11. 

^'^'^RACB 1922, p.76; AA, MOI(3545): RA.PO AIMO 1925, p.l99. Given these figures 

the size of the auxiliary force at Kilo in 1922 must have been larger than the figure 

reported by the mines shown in table 5.6. 


Table 5.6 

Kilo-Moto's African Work Force, 













Total i 




































































































Sources: "Mines de Kilo-Moto," Congo, (1924) 1:98; Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," p.410. 

Africans on regular contracts at Kilo in 1928, more than a third had 
been there for over four years, including 319 whose first contracts had 
been signed more than fifteen years earlier. Of those reaching the end 
of their contracts at Kilo that year, 77 percent signed new ones, of 
which more than three-quarters were for two years or more.^42 
Because statistics for other years are not available, these isolated 
figures must be treated with caution. Such high contract renewals 
may represent a response to improved living and working conditions, 
but it was the considered opinion of the 1930-31 Labor Commission 
that a considerable portion of those renewing their contracts did so 
because they lacked any savings that would have permitted them to 
return to their rural villages, i^^ It is also very likely that the poverty of 
the surrounding rural areas was driving more and more Africans to 
Kilo-Moto in the years and those that followed. As Bakonzi convinc- 
ingly argues, Kilo-Moto's success in stabilizing its work force after 
1925 was largely due to the absence of other viable alternatives for 
employment, particularly because the compulsory cultivation of crops 

^42aA, RA/CB(140)4, RAPO, Economique, 1928. 
^^%ertrand, Probletne de la maind'oeuxrre, p.233. 


to feed the mines and towns in effect were a subsidy that kept the 
rural areas in misery and economic depression. ^^4 

An illustration of how rural misery pushed people out of the 
northeast and of how Africans responded positively to the pull of 
much greater wage incentives can be found not far from the mines. 
Beginning in 1921 the Alur and neighboring peoples along lake Albert 
began migrating in large numbers into British Uganda. Seeking to 
escape the intensive recruitment for Kilo-Moto and for head porterage, 
they were lured to Uganda by wages that were four to ten times 
higher than those in the Belgian Congo. In 1930 the number of emi- 
grants was about two thousand. This voluntary migration continued 
through the 1930s and 1940s, though by 1930 the danger, if not the 
Belgian fears, that the entire Alur population would move perma- 
nently to Uganda had ended.^'*^ To stem the flow of emigrants Belgian 
authorities tried suspending direct government recruitment for the 
mines, asking British authorities to return the migrants, and (in the 
1930s) slowing European settlement in the aiea.A^ 

If most Africans who had a choice of employment were forced to 
choose between the lesser of two evils, there were some who did 
prosper in this decade. The settler invasion of Kivu, for example, 
brought about new opporturuties as well as new exploitation. Some 
found a chance to evade the authority of the local chief. Others 
became semi-skilled artisans, earning up to 180 fr a month. An excep- 
tional headman could command 450 fr. Some mission catechists 
found new callings as petty traders.^'*^ Many such individuals, whose 
personal lives remain unrecorded, moved to cities and towns inside 
the province or beyond during this decade. The larger significance of 
this trend became clearer during the 1930s. 

^4^akonzi, "Gold Mines," pp.739-50. 

^'*^A. W. Southall, Alur Society: a Study in Processes and Types of Domination 
(Cambridge: W. Heffer and Sons, Ltd., 1953), pp.318-20; idem, "Alur Migrants," in 
Economic Development and Tribal Change, Audrey I Richards, ed., rev. ed. (Nairobi: 
Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 148-50. 

^46AA, RAPO, AMO, 1927, p.26; MOI(3602)166: Moeller to GG, 11 December 1926, 
and Moulaert to Minister, 23 March 1928. Far larger numbers of Rwandans immi- 
grated to Uganda as cotton workers in this period, some 35,000 entering Buganda 
alone in 1928; see P. G. Powesland, "History of the Migration in Uganda," in 
Richards, Economic Development, pp.29-44. 
^47aPB, rape 1924-25, pp.421, 427-28. 



This chapter has examined the many efforts at labor reform and at 
labor mobilization that swept through the eastern Congo in the 1920s 
after the constraints of the war years eased. Compared to the 
preceding decades, the new restrictions against the abuse of African 
labor were significant. Though reforms were late in coming, one 
should not demean the importance of such decisions as the refusal to 
authorize forced labor for railroad construction, the withdrawal of the 
government from direct recruitment for the private sector, the efforts 
to protect communities from overrecruitment, the construction of 
motor roads, and the prohibition of unnecessary porterage. 

Yet, as the records of this decade make abundantly clear, the effect 
of these reforms was often blunted by other, more powerful forces or 
interests. The new laws were not applied to a static labor situation, 
but to one in which African employment by Europeans was growing 
so rapidly that it verged on being out of control. The labor demands 
of corporations, businessmen and settlers might be regulated, but they 
could not be ignored. Consequently, local officials were often asked to 
reconcile incompatible directives that demanded they supply large 
numbers of laborers or crops while respecting the new labor regu- 
lations. Only by closing their eyes to the law could they satisfy these 
demands. Higher officials had the authority to bend the regulations to 
accommodate European interests by raising the official limits on 
recruitment, by discovering "vacant" lands for settlers, by using com- 
pulsory cultivation as a way to supply food at below-market prices. 
Private companies and colonists used their personal ties of race, class, 
and nationality to evade the reforms as much as possible, trading on 
friendships with local administrators or the ability to bring corporate 
or political pressure on high officials. Long accustomed to the idea 
that the colony existed for their benefit and that it was the govern- 
ment's duty to provide them with African labor, they resisted the 
reforms as much as they could. 

African efforts to impose their will on these policies and practices 
are harder to detect in this decade. The open revolts of earlier decades 
were rare; union activities and political nationalism were far in the 
future. Individual actions, largely poorly documented, seems to have 
been the basis for accommodation and resistance: complaining to 


officials who would listen, passively resisting unpopular work rules 
and conditions, deserting the job and even the colony. 


Chapter 6 
Forced Labor and Labor Force, 1930-1940 

The onset of the Depression brought the labor shortages of the 
1920s to an abrupt, if temporary, halt. Contracting overseas markets 
for the Congo's crops and minerals (except gold) caused exports to 
decline by two-thirds between 1930 and 1933. European firms opera- 
ting in the Congo cut down or closed their operations.^ The colonial 
government, facing shrinking revenues in a budget already badly 
strained by an extremely high debt ratio, took steps to reduce admini- 
strative expenses: the lowest European employees were replaced with 
African clerks, the administrative structure was simplified, and the 
responsibilities of African chiefs were increased. 

To protect European interests the government made loans to 
colonists and offered reduced tariffs for the settlers' crops and other 
products. The African population received no such consideration; 
workers were laid off or had their salaries cut by a fifth and more. 
When the number of unemployed in the towns and cities rose rapidly, 
officials moved to "purge the larger centers of their least useful and 
most dangerous elements. "2 With unemployed Africans literally 
beating at their doors, the firms remaining in operation (with the 

^RACB 1930, p.lO. For a general treatments of the economics of this period see 
Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, "The Colonial Economy of the Former French, 
Belgian, and Portuguese Zones, 1914-35," Unesco General History of Africa, vol. 7: 
Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935, A. Adu Boahen, ed. (Berkeley: 
University of California Press, 1985), pp.351-81, and B. Jewsiewicki, "The Great 
Depression and the Making of the Colonial Economic System in the Belgian Congo," 
African Economic History. 4 (1977):153-76. 

^RACB 1930, p. 10. The African quarter in Uvira, for example, fell from 695 to 
358; RA/CB(197)7: Commentary by the CD, R. Hombert on RA, Kivu, AIMO 1932, 
27 February 1934. 


Table 6.1 

Indices of Growth, 1930-1940 

(1930 = 100) 

1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 

Population 100 101 100 103 109 114 115 115 115 116 

Head-tax 107 99 101 107 113 120 140 147 149 158 

Wage Laborers 84 67 69 95 97 111 129 137 138 137 

Cotton Harvest 134 78 119 157 184 203 231 264 211 271 

Rice Harvest 91 81 78 86 86 88 128 91 88 108 

Porterage (days) 87 151 291 391 439 375 361 354 299 NA 

Sources: Appendices 1-5; table 6.3; RACB(138)4, RAPO, AIMO, 1931. 

exception of HCB) needed no administrative help in recruiting. In 
1932 the Kilo-Moto n\ines responded to the labor glut by hiring the 
unemployed in the mining region and proposing to reopen some low- 
grade mines, if labor could be had for tv^o or three francs a day inclu- 
ding food. 3 The head of the colony's department of agriculture, 
voicing attitudes common in Brussels, asserted that Africans had 
scarcely suffered at all from these massive dislocations and the loss of 
their incomes. In his viev^ their wants were as easily to satisfy as those 
of the wildlife: "For the native of Equatorial Africa always finds some- 
thing to feed himself in the forest and the bush, whether there is a 
commercial crisis or not. He really has no need of European goods."^ 
He argued that since Africans' production went only to pay taxes and 
not to satisfy real needs and wants, so long as the tax rate was low- 
ered, they would remain unaffected. 

Despite Africans' lost opportunities for to earn income, their head 
tax was not reduced so that further revenue loss to the colony might 
be avoided. In fact tax collection increased significantly during the 
Depression years. Receipts in 1930 in the Eastern Province were 20 
percent above those of 1929; those of 1931 were 7 percent above 
1930.^ This increase was due to higher tax rates not just better 

■^AT R771: Commission MO, Comite Regional. Proces verbal of the seance of 3 
May 1932. Fortunately for such Africans food prices had also declined considerably, 
^dmond Leplae, "L'avenir de I'agriculture congolaise conformement au Discours 
du Due de Brabant," Congo (1937) 1:235-36. 


collection. Tax receipts rose in these years in every province in the 
colony and in every district in the Eastern Province. 

Fortunately the colony's economic recovery was almost as rapid as 
its decline. By 1934 the African work force had regained its pre- 
Depression numbers and its rapid growth continued for the rest of the 
decade, leveling off only during the 1939-40 recession. Agricultural 
sales experienced much smaller declines and earlier recoveries when 
measured by volume. More ominous was the increase in head 
porterage both during and after the Depression. 

Administration and Policy 

The Depression provided both the excuse and the occasion to re- 
verse the administrative decentralization of the 1920s. The number of 
provinces was increased, while the number of districts and territories 
was reduced.^ In 1933 the Eastern Province was divided in two. The 
new Stanleyville province was made up of three districts: the gold- 
mining area of Kibali-Ituri, a single Uele district, and a larger 
Stanleyville district including Aruwimi. The new Costermansville 
province included Maniema and Kivu districts. District boundaries 
were readjusted several times during the decade.'' 

Labor policies were the subject of yet another examination, this one 
the most comprehensive to date. A new labor commission under 
Major A. Cayen was appointed in 1930 after missionary complaints 
about the effects on African societies of the "prodigal" rate of economic 
development during the 1920s and the government's resultant use of 

^RACB 1929, p.l09; 1930, p.ll5; AA, RA/CB(138)4, RAPO.AIMO 1931, pp.37-38. 
The head of Maniema attributed the fall in tax receipts in 1933 to shortages of per- 
sonnel and slow cotton sales; AA, RACE (197)8, comments of F. Stradiot on RA, 
AIMO, Maniema, 1933, 17 February 1934, p. 10. In Kivu at least high taxes were seen 
as a way to force more Africans to work for the settlers. Colonel Bertrand raised the 
issue of high taxation in the Colonial Council, CRA 1932, 6 May 1932, pp.576-78, 

%ruce Fetter, Colonial Rule and Regional Imbalance in Colonial Africa (Boulder, 
Colorado: Westview Press, 1983), p.l54, says the objectives of this reorganization 
were "to break the power of the vice-governors general of Orientale and Katanga 
Provinces" and to focus more attention on the economic development of Kasai and 

In the mid-1930s, for example, the important mining territory of Lubutu passed 
from Kivu to Stanleyville, Kindu went from Stanleyville to Maniema, and Shabunda 
passed from Maniema to Kivu; AA, RA/CB(120bis)2: Reorganisation 1935. 


"exaggerated restraint" in labor recruitment.^ After field investiga- 
tions in the Congo in 1930-31 the Commission issued reports on each 
of the four provinces, along with a General Report containing overall 
comments and conclusions. The report on the Eastern Province by 
Colonel Alexis Bertrand was by far the longest and the most detailed, 
and appears to have strongly influenced the recommendations in the 
General Report.^ 

While these reports were far more detailed than previous studies, 
their analysis and recommendations did not represent significant 
departures from the policies already laid down. Like the 1925 Com- 
mission, the 1930-31 Labor Commission operated from the assumption 
that African societies were like animal herds that had to be carefully 
managed in order to keep their populations flourishing. Therefore, 
limits had been imposed-not unlike hunting quotas-on how many 
men might be recruited. When these limits were reached, a sort of 
closed season might be imposed, during which no further recruitment 
might be undertaken so that the population might regain its demo- 
graphic strength. The analogy of Africans as wild animals was also 
evident in the idea that certain persons might acquire a sort of domes- 
ticated status, becoming evolues and thus no longer in need of the 
protections officially accorded their "wild" brethren in the forests and 
bush. 10 

The Commission proposed no significant changes from existing 
policies beyond their stricter enforcement. First, it found no further 
need for direct government intervention in recruiting, except in excep- 
tional circumstances. Second, it recommended that the limit of 10 per- 
cent on the number of able bodied men that might be recruited away 
from any locale be enforced (though without regard to the old distinc- 
tion between working at a great or small distance from home), except 
where the provincial governors thought it prudent to authorize 

Victor Roelens, "Les abus de recrutement de la main-d'oeuvre au Congo: une pro- 
testation des chefs religieux catholiques de la colonie," Le Flambeau, 1 February 1929, 
pp.129-30. Roelens was bishop of the Upper Congo. 

^A. Cayen, Le probleme de la main-d 'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapport general de la 
Commission de la main-d'oeuvre 1930-1931 (Brussels: Etablissements Generaux 
d'Imprimerie, 1931); Bertrand, Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre. 

^^f. Bogumil Jewsiewicki, "Notes sur I'histoire socio-economique du Congo 1880- 
1960," Etudes d'Histoire africaine, 3 (1972):238-39, who characterizes colonial policies 
as resembling stock raising and culling. 


recruitment up to 20 percent. Third, it called for strict enforcement of 
the 15 percent limit on village labor devoted to cash crops, while 
recognizing the need for compelling cultivation of certain crops where 
food shortages might otherwise result and for "educational" purposes, 
so long as such crops were paid a fair market price and educational 
programs were limited to two or three years. 

Bertrand's report on the Eastern Province did not deal with most of 
Aruwimi, Maniema, and Kivu, but its limited scope was offset by the 
wealth of detail on the northern territories which it did examine and 
by the directness and bluntness of language that were so characteristic 
of the colonel and so rare in official Congo documents.^^ In zone after 
zone he delineated how far practice had deviated from stated policy 
and with what consequences for individual Africans and their tradi- 
tional communities. The report pointed out that very soon after the 
1925 Commission's limits were imposed, local administrators (and 
their superiors) had begun omitting cash-crop farming from calcula- 
tions of how much of the African work force was engaged in working 
for Europeans. In effect all distinction between labor on the spot and 
at a small distance disappeared, permitting the hiring, not of the 10 
percent of the able-bodied male population envisioned by the 1925 
Commission, but of up to 25 percent. Bertrand's examination of 
thirty-four of the province's fifty-eight territories revealed that in only 
six (with 28 percent of the province's population) were the recruits 
fewer than 10 percent, while in twelve territories (with 30 percent of 
the province's population) the figure exceeded 20 percent. ^^ jhe non- 
observance of these limits, accompanied by continued application of 
moral restraint in recruiting had produced a situation which Bertrand 
considered "extremely disquieting." 

Bertrand also reported that the imposition and enforcement of 
compulsory cultivation was often done in an arbitrary manner and 
with insufficient regard for the effects on individual cultivators. He 
recommended that compulsory cultivation be limited to what was 

^^That the report was unpopular in many circles is not surprising, but what is not- 
able is that its critics were hard pressed to find serious flaws in it, having to content 
themselves with innuendo and abuse. See Conseil d' Administration de la Societe 
des Mines d'Or de Kilo-Moto, La veritable situation aux Mines de Kilo-Moto, re- rapport du Colonel Bertrand (Brussels: R. Bausart, 1932) and Moulaert, 
Vingt annees a Kib-Moto, pp.1 73-76. 
^^rtrand, Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre, pp. 12-1 3, 247-48. 


strictly necessary, that monopolies over African production (such as 
the Cotonco's over cotton) be limited to four or five years, and that 
African workers be allowed to buy their way out of labor contracts by 
repaying the costs of their recruitment and training.^^ 

The most important of the recommendations of the 1930-31 Labor 
Commission were never implemented. The distinction between labor 
at small and great distances was officially dropped in 1938, but the 
idea of linuting recruitment to 10 or even 20 percent never received 
serious attention. Nor were Africans raising crops for sale to Euro- 
pean enterprises counted in the official tallies. Instead, the govern- 
ment monitored only those Africans working directly for Europeans, 
distinguishing between those who continued to dwell in their custom- 
ary social and ecological areas and those working outside these 
milieux.l'^ Similarly, while the imposition of compulsory crops for 
"educational" purposes became more rational in this decade, the com- 
pulsion to grow specified acreages of certain crops remained to the 
very end of Belgian colonialism and was defended on the same basis, 
the backwardness of African farmers, as when it was introduced.^^ 

The 1930-31 Labor Commission's recommendations were not car- 
ried out because of unresolved conflicts between colonial policy and 
practice. On the one hand, the Belgian Congo alone paid serious lip- 
service to the idea that limiting labor recruitment to fixed demo- 
graphic percentages would help preserve the demographic health of 
African communities. ^^ The idea reeked of paternalistic concern, but 
even if enforced, such limits by themselves could not sustain 


^"^RACB 1938, p.25; AA, RA/CB(120 bis)12: RA, PC, AIMO 1938, p.63. The 1937 
AIMO report for Stanleyville Province divided new workers into three categories: 
1) entirely spontaneous, 2) solicited (by promises, bonuses, gifts, etc.), and 
3) recruited. The latter was to be only for public utility labor for INEAC-Otraco; AA, 
RA/CB (198)6. 

^^The defense of compulsory cultivation by the Belgian representative to the Econo- 
mic and Social Council of the United Nations in 1953 is revealing of how long a 
questionable rationale could remain official policy: "Belgium is responsible for prim- 
itive populations that do not have a taste for agricultural labor and it is thus indis- 
pensable to have recourse to compulsory cultivation in order to give an agricultural 
formation to these populations" (quoted in T. Heyse Congo Beige et Ruanda-Urundi: 
Notes de droit -public et commentaire de la Charte Coloniale, (Brussels: G. Van 
Campenhout, 1957) 2:531. 

^%ee Malcolm Hailey, An African Survey (London: Oxford University Press, 1938), 


demographic health, as the colony conceded later in the decade. On 
the other hand, the administration continued to show little willingness 
to respect such limits in those places where labor was in greatest de- 
mand. Once the Depression passed, renewed demands for ever more 
labor brought on much the same response from an administration 
which was a major shareholder in many enterprises and in some was 
obliged to pay fixed dividends to the other shareholders. Thus, in 
May 1932, when asked to consider revising recruitment limits down- 
ward, the Provincial Labor Commission reaffirmed instead that an 
absolute maximum of 25 percent of any locale's able-bodied men 
could become wage employees, but authorized district commissioners 
to impose lower maximums or suspend recruiting where they thought 

Despite such actions the support for the system of recruitment 
quotas was eroding rapidly. By the middle of the decade the enforce- 
ment of even a 25 percent limit had become extremely lax. The district 
commissioner of Uele, P. Bougnet, considered excessive recruitment a 
"real danger" to his district's population, but felt that the system of 
population quotas governing labor recruiting was too cumbersome 
and imprecise to deal with the problem. ^^ He spoke for most admini- 
strators. In 1936 the Stanleyville Provincial Labor Commission also 
urged that all fixed percentages of recruitment be replaced by a 
simpler system. ^^ Official approval of these actions and proposals 

^'kAT, R771: Commission de la Main-d'cEuvre, Comite Regionale, PO, 3 May 1932. 
Recruitment was suspended until the end of 1932 in 131 chiefdoms where quotas 
had been exceeded and the suspension of recruitment for work outside or far 
outside the community was imposed in ninety others. KAT, R1104: Interdiction de 
Recrutement 1932. However, some of these restrictions were lifted early; see below. 
l^KAT, R1104: Instructions pour recrutement 1936: R Dufour to CDs of Kibali-Ituri, 
Stanleyville, and Uele, 10 April 1936, N°282-284/AIMO/UI; R771: Proc^s-verbal de 
la reunion de la Sous-Commission de la Main-d'oeuvre de I'Uele, Buta, 6 March 1936; 
R413h/B AIMO 1936 k 1939: Proc&s Verbal Commission de la Main-d'oeuvre 1939. 
PS, 8 April 1939. 

i^KAT, R771: R. Dufour to GG, Stanleyville, 11 April 1936,N=296/AIMO/X.15. 
Dufour, the provincial commissioner, had suspended all new recruiting permits 
pending reports on demographic situations. Meanwhile, he had authorized recruit- 
ment of up to 20 percent of the able-bodied men for work outside the community, 
plus 15 percent locally. Nor were rigid formulas being observed in Costermansville 
province in the middle 1930s, although the 25 percent maximum for wage employ- 
ment remained the rule of thumb; KAT, R413h/B AIMO 1936 k 1939: Extract from 
Compte-rendu, Commission de la Main-d'Oeuvre, PC, 1938. 


came at the beginning of 1938. At about the same time Governor 
General Pierre Ryckmans, without any public announcement, offici- 
ally abrogated the recruiting formulas in effect. Provincial heads were 
to decide how many men nught be recruited in each of their territories 
without the local communities being undermined.^o This did not 
throw the eastern Congo open to unlimited recruitment. On the con- 
trary, a large number of territories in both Stanleyville and Coster- 
mansville provinces were temporarily closed to recruitment of persons 
away from their homes in late 1938 and 1939 and in some places the 
hiring of labor for local work was halted. 2i 

In assessing the colony's official labor policies during this decade, 
one is impressed by the sincere efforts of administrators at all levels to 
regulate labor recruitment in the interests of African communities. Yet 
one must also share their feelings that the task was extremely difficult. 
The quotas recommended by the labor commissions were too complex 
to apply and were based on faulty demographic assumptions. More- 
over, as the rest of this chapter demonstrates, forces stronger than the 
colonial bureaucracy were shaping labor history. Some of these were 
the impersonal forces of the marketplace. Some were the organized 
demands of large employers and locally powerful interests. Some 
were the legacy of earlier colonial policy decisions. 

Industrial Labor 

Once the effects of the Depression began to ease in 1933 the indus- 
trial labor force resumed its upward growth. The number of Africans 
employed in industry in Stanleyville province rose from fewer than 
42,000 in 1932-33 to 70,000 in 1938. In Costermansville province the 
rise was even more dramatic: from 14,500 in 1933 to over 49,000 in 
1940. Mining continued to employ the largest segment of the indus- 
trial labor force in the region and experienced substantial growth 
during this decade with Kivu and Maniema joining Ituri as major 
mining centers. ^2 In Costermansville province gold production grew 

20aA, H(4421)611: Commission de la Main-d'Oeuvre, Proc&s-verbal, 6 February 

1940, statement of Minister of the Colonies Camus. 

21KACB 1939/44, p.33. 

besides Sokomo the main mining companies (and their gold production in 1937) 

were MGL (2399 kg), Forminiere and its affiliates (1,563 kg), Belgikaor (606 kg), the 

Societe Miniere de Bafwaboli (360 kg), and the Comite National du Kivu (201 kg); 


from 1355 kilograms in 1932 to 6,270 kilograms in 1940; tin ore pro- 
duction went from 114 tons to 5,257 tons.23 Despite this growth the 
older mines of Kilo-Moto retained a commanding lead by also expan- 
ding production dramatically. Their fine gold production rose from 
5,311 kilograms in 1932 to 7,761 in 1940.24 During the decade the 
Kilo-Moto work force doubled, from 20,000 to 40,000 men nearly all of 
whom were on long-term contracts.25 Two industrial areas deserve 
special attention One is the perennially important gold mines of Kilo- 
Moto. The other is the new gold and tin mining complex that sprang 
up in Maniema and parts of Kivu. Together they show the problems 
and practices of industrial labor recruitment during this decade. 

Despite the improved wages and working conditions that had 
come to Kilo-Moto during the 1920s, there was considerable resistance 
to working there in many quarters. As in the past administrators had 
to apply pressure on the chiefs in the northeast to meet the mines 
needs. One administrator told the 1930-31 Labor Commission 
investigator in the Eastern Province: "Were I not to intervene at all, the 
number of people from my jurisdiction serving in the mining camps 
would be reduced by three-quarters." Another noted, "To satisfy the 
labor demands which come my way, I am compelled to tell the chiefs 
assembled for these reasons that it is their duty to give workers to the 
Kilo-Moto Mines." 26 

Immediately following the inspection of the 1930-31 Labor 
Commission, there was a reluctance among colony administrators to 
involve themselves or the African chiefs under them in the actual 
recruiting of labor for Kilo-Moto. The loud complaints this brought 
forth from the mines' management committee to the minister of 
colonies in 1931 were quickly followed by a visit to the mines by the 
Governor General Auguste Tilkens, where he called a meeting of 
colony and mine officials. There it was decided, in the words of the 

RACE 1937, p.l55. By 1936 the eastern Congo was producing 3,092 metric tons of 

tin ore as well, 36 percent of the colony's total, with the Syndicat Mini^re d'Etain the 

main producer; RACE 1936, p.l43. 

23AA, RA/CB(120bis)10, 11, 14: RA.PC, AIMO, 1934, 1936, 1940. 

24Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," p.308. 

25MKM, Societe des Mines d'Or de Kilo-Moto, Reports 1930-39. 

2%ertrand, Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre, pp.1 90-91. Although the report does not 

identify these officials, a statement essentially similar to the first is attributed to the 

head of Faradje territory on page 230. 


historian Bakonzi, "that the local colonial administration should con- 
tinue to help the gold mines in their efforts to recruit Africans from 
rural areas, and that the Kilo-Moto recruiting agency should be re- 
lieved," a practice that remained in effect until 1944.27 This renewed 
intervention of the administration in recruiting was accompanied by 
more effective soliciting of miners by the company's own recruiting 
teams, which included former African employees .28 

The limits on recruiting recommended by the 1930-31 Labor Com- 
mission were largely overturned to meet the mines' needs. In part of 
Uele prohibitions on recruitment were lifted in 1934 to permit 500 new 
recruits for the Sokimo. In Kibali-Ituri the restrictions in the two terri- 
tories inhabited by the Nande were lifted to allow 7,500 men for the 
mines. 29 When their territory was switched from Uele to Kibali-Ituri 
in 1933, the Budu around Wamba were called upon to furnish 700 men 
for Kilo-Moto, despite the fact that they had already supplied 3,000 of 
the 4,000 work force at the Mini^re de la Tele (Formini^re). They were 
extremely reluctant to move to the much higher elevations at Kilo- 
Moto because of the effects on their health. The local administrator 
protested that the cream of the healthy men had already been skim- 
med off for the mines and the Force Publique so that he could only get 
more recruits through the use of force. He demanded specific author- 
ization from the district commissioner, who knew the Wamba situa- 
tion well, before he would supply the men. In the end the Budu were 
exempted from recruitment to Kilo-Moto. ^o For 1935 Kilo-Moto 
recruitment quotas were raised to produce a regular work force of 
thirty thousand. When a medical officer intervened, citing the demo- 
graphic consequences of such high levels of recruitment, his superiors 

^^Bakonzi, "Gold Mines," p.l46. Bakonzi is relying upon the official records of Man- 
agement Committee meetings that I was unable to see. 

2%ee AA, AI(1421): RA.PS, AIMO, 1935, p.89. The Sokimo recruited 220 volunteers 
in Faradje territory and 610 in Dungu territory. In Dungu men were said to have 
signed up willingly "because the native knows that [at Kilo-Moto] he is well treated, 
well paid, fed, and housed." 

29KAT, R32/N8/1: R1104- 1934, Note pour Monsieur le Commissaire de Province, 
15 March 1934. 

3f^T, F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire: Winckelmans to DC, Kibali Ituri, Wamba, 
21 October 1934; KAT, R13 Tableau MO, District de Stanleyville. Not so lucky were 
another gang of "recruits" for Kilo-Moto that year who were marched to the mine in 
slave yokes: KAT, R13 Tableaux MO, District de Stanleyville: Bougnet, acting DC, 
Uele, to Provincial Commissioner, Stanleyville, Buta, 5 January 1934. 


overruled him.^^ 

The mineral rush in Costermansville province during this decade 
also caused severe labor problems, as was acknowledged at all levels 
of the administration. The opening up of gold and tin mines, the 
construction of roads to serve them, and the subsequent food require- 
ments for the work camps all imposed great labor demands on the 
thinly populated and demographically fragile areas of Maniema and 
Kivu, especially because of the haste with which sites were opened. 
Early in 1934 the Maniema's senior administrator reported that 
recruitment for the mines was straining "very intensively" an already 
bad demographic situation in the district and the strains were likely to 
get worse.32 In September, citing forced recruitment, excessive por- 
terage, and failures to provide African workers with adequate food, 
clothing, shelter, and n:\edical care, as well as "numerous acts of ill- 
treatment and brutality," the minister of colonies instructed the gover- 
nor general to stop recruitment and the opening of new mines until 
these abuses could be corrected. ^3 while many of the most extreme 
abuses of labor in Maniema were removed as a consequence of greater 
administrative vigilance, the burdens on the local population re- 
mained high throughout this decade, as mining operations continued 
to grow, constituting "a regime of servitude" in the words of Colonel 
Bertrand, the most senior member of the Colonial Council.^ 

The development of mining between Lubutu and Shabunda was 
particularly rapid. One official investigator reported that "massive 
temporary recruitments" continued until the end of 1935, causing Afri- 
cans to flee into the bush to escape the recruiters, to the detriment of 
village order and food production. ^5 By 1937 some of the territories 
in that area had more than 35 percent of their adult male populations 

3^A. Bertrand, "De la necessite d'une documentation scientifique ou statistique, 

prealable a tout mesure interessant les indigenes," IRCB, Bulletin des seances, 3 


32aA, RA/CB(197)8: Commentaries by F. Stradiot on the RA Maniema AIMO 1933, 

17 February 1934, pp.9, 20-21. 

33Conseil Colonial, CRA 1934, pp.1091-98, 1457-68. The Ministry's director general, 

Camus, later described the situation at this time in Maniema as "catastrophic"; 

Conseil Colonial, CRA 1935, p.736. 

34a. Bertrand, Conseil Colonial, CRA 1934, p.l096. 

35Report of M. le Substitut De Reheve on the labor situation in Lubutu territory, 

quoted in Procureur General, a.i., to GG, Leopoldville, 7 May 1937; KAT, F22J/N23: 

Conseil du territoire. 


away at work. In some parts of Lubutu 42 percent and even 57 per- 
cent of the adult men were at work for the Europeans at the end of 
1938, forcing limitations on labor recruiting and engagements.^^ The 
Lega, who inhabited much of this mining territory, were subjected to 
particularly heavy recruitment, which resulted in 34 percent of their 
able-bodied men being recruited for work in European establishments. 
While, as the anthropologist Biebuyck has suggested, "Many [Lega] 
welcomed the opportunity to work in their homelands, in close con- 
tact with their own villages and with other Lega," large numbers were 
subjected to considerable administrative coercion to meet the mines' 
labor needs.37 

In opposing to the rapidity of mining development in Costermans- 
ville province, Bertrand had frequently condemned the pursuit of 
economic development to the detriment of African welfare. On one 
occasion he predicted that the runaway mining expansion would pro- 
duce "a generation of rebels. "^8 It is worth noting that in 1944 Lubutu, 
Masisi, and Shabunda territories were the scene of a rather bloody 
"Kitawala" (Watch-Tower) uprising, especially among the Kumu.39 

^^e the prohibitions on outside recruiting in Lubutu in arretes N°5 (3 January 
1935), N«g7 (2 December 1935), and N'^IO (5 March 1938), which closed all of Stanley- 
ville province to outside recruiting; KAT, R1104 Interdiction Recrutement. Both 
recruitment and engagement were prohibited in Lubutu by rsP63 (18 December 1938) 
and N°67 (20 December 1938); KAT, R413h/B AIMO 1936 k 1939: Proces verbaux. 
Commission de la Main-d'oeuvre, Stanleyville Province, 7 April 1939, and KAT, 
F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire. The closing of "engagements" was seen as facilita- 
ting putting together a work force of 1,500 men to build the Sulia-Nduma road. 
•^''AA, D(778)B.II.3, A. Bertrand, "Au cours de la periode d'euphorie economique," 
pp. 1-4; Biebuyck, Lega Culture, p.l4. 

3^onseil Colonial, CRA 1933, p.742; cf. CRA 1939, p. 826. Frustrated by what he 
felt were inadequate restraints on inining operations in Maniema, Bertrand, began 
opposing all new prospecting permits in the district. At first abstaining on votes, 
then voting against the permits, Bertrand and a slowly growing number of suppor- 
ters eventually succeeded in defeating one such measure in July 1938 by a vote of 9 
to 5. However, this almost unprecedented rejection of a ministry-supported motion 
was reversed in October by a vote of 8 to 3, when two councillors who had opposed 
the measure switched their votes, two abstained and one was absent. See Conseil 
Colonial, CRA 1935, pp.260-63, 735-37; 1938, pp.348-51, 732-34, 996-99. Thrice 
more, before the Council's meetings were suspended because of the war, Bertrand 
succeeded in stopping the issuance of new prospecting permits in overrecruited 
parts of Maniema; see CRA 1939, pp.812-38, 1940, pp.106-8, 186-88. 
^^RACB 1939-44, p.9. 



Provincial boundary 

Map 10. Major Mining and Agricultural Areas in the Late 1930s 

Sources: J. Moulaert, "Les exploitations mini^res de Kilo-Moto et de la Province 
Orientale," Congo (1935), 1:1-31; J.E. Opsomer, "Les cultures coloniales," 
Encyclopedie dii Congo Beige (Brussels: Editions Bieleveld, n.d.)/ 1:425-632. 


A gricultural Labor 

Agriculture continued to provide employment for the largest num- 
ber of eastern Congolese in the 1930s. In addition, 37 percent of the 
wage labor force worked for Europeans in agriculture in 1932 and 
another 8 percent was employed in the processing of agricultural pro- 
duce. ^^ At the onset of the Depression the pressures for ever greater 
production had been abruptly abandoned, as the region's industrial 
labor force declined and the export markets dried up. Rice even 
became unsalable for a time in 1931 and the planting of rice and cotton 
was ordered discouraged. ^^ As the Depression eased, the demand for 
foodstuffs, export crops, and labor for settlers again resumed an up- 
ward trend. Compulsion continued to be the norm both for peasant 
producers and agricultural recruitment for farm labor. 

Food production was the largest part of African agriculture, but 
received less careful monitoring in the official records than production 
for export. It is clear that the revival of industrial and mining centers 
led to greatly increased demands for foodstuffs to feed them. The 
food crops for Kilo-Moto miners, all of which came from African pro- 
duction after 1931, for example, rose from 14,500 metric tons in 1930 to 
39,000 tons in 1936, with some 25,000 additional tons of food being 
supplied to other mines in Stanleyville province the latter year.^ 
Overall rice production in Stanleyville province rose from 11,000 
metric tons in 1932, to 24,000 tons in 1934, and a peak of 44,000 tons 
(unhulled) in 1937. Rice in Costermansville province accounted for 
another 8,000 tons in 1937.^3 Scattered figures for other crops even 
more basic to the diet of African workers are shown in table 6.2 for 
Maniema and Stanleyville districts. The table makes clear the impor- 
tant growth of manioc and banana sales. Africans in Kivu district 
supplied another 25,000 tons of manioc flour and 24,000 tons of fresh 
bananas in 1938.44 

This food was grown under the compulsory cultivation laws im- 
posed in the previous decades, despite the strong trend among other 

4*^'Statistiques Industrielles 1932. Province Orientale," Congo (1934) 1:440-45. 

4^Leplae, "L'avenir de I'agriculture," pp.234-35; RACE 1930, p.l37; AA, AI(1421): 

RA Manyema AIMO, 1932, ch. 2. 

42AA, RA/CB(142)2: RA.PS, Agriculture, 1936, p.l. 

■^^Appendix 4. 

44AA, RA/CB(122bis)9: RA, Agriculture, CP, 1938, pp.6, 8. 


Table 6.2 

Selected African Food Crop Sales, 1933-1939 

(in Metric Tons) 











Fresh manioc 




Fresh bananas 






63,327 64,721 

Manioc/Banana floiir 






















Palm oil 








Sources: AA, RA/CB(122bis)8, 10: RAPC, Agriculture, 1936, p.4, 1939, p.lO. 
"L'agriculture du Congo Beige en 1937," BACB, 19(1938):418-506. KAT, T005 
1927: S. Lauwers, CD, Stanleyville District, to governor, PS, 5 October 1942, 
"Developpement economic du District de Stanleyville: Production agricole 
vendue par les indigenes." 

colonial powers against such practices. The 1930 Geneva convention 
of the International Labor Organization had defined the imposition of 
such compulsory cultivation, except for famine prevention, as forced 
labor.45 The 1930-31 Labor Commission had likewise argued that the 
use of compulsion, particularly in the case of food crops, was clearly 
for the benefit of European enterprises and that, because of laws, mer- 
curial prices, and the uneven burdens of different family situations, 
Africans were less often the beneficiaries. Compulsory cultivation, 
plus the taxes and direct labor obligations, composed the major part of 
the excessive labor demands on rural Africans."^ 

The extent of the obligations is difficult to judge since official im- 

'*^eyse, Congo Beige et Ruanda-Urundi, 2:530. By 1933 this convention had been 
ratified by the governments of the Gambia, Gold Coast, Nigeria, British Cameroons, 
Kenya, Uganda, Nyasaland, and South Africa. France and her major black African 
territories ratified it in 1937. Belgium did not ratify until 1944, even then imposing a 
reservation exempting "cultures obligatoires et #ducatives." 

4^rtrand, Problemede la main-d'xuvre, pp.39-46, 250-51. In 1936 the Ministry of 
Colonies' respected jurist, O. Louwers, and P. Gustin, both royal appointees to the 
Colonial Council, repeated the charge that the compulsory cultivation of cotton was 
"largely for the profit of European enterprises," while African producers "rarely re- 
ceived more than the crumbs from the table." Conseil Colonial, CRA 1936, pp.1 127- 


positions were unevenly enforced. Evidently Africans near areas of 
high demand were in considerably more need of being educated to the 
work ethic than those in more isolated areas. In general the expanses 
required to be cultivated resembled those of the late 1920s (table 5.2), 
except that the more unrealistic requirements had been reduced 
during the Depression. In most parts of Stanleyville province in 1937 
there was an obligation to grow two and a half hectares of rice or other 
food crops (three and a half in parts of Kibali-Ituri) and plant twenty- 
five oil palms (ten in Kibali-Ituri). In Uele, two to five hectares of 
cotton were imposed.'*'' 

Among the export crops imposed on Africans cotton remained of 
central importance. Production, which had fallen under 20,000 metric 
tons in 1932, surpassed 50,000 tons in 1936, and 67,000 in 1940. As a 
money-earner cotton had replaced rubber and ivory as the major con- 
tribution of the non-industrial sector to the colony's export earnings. 
Criticism of compulsion and monopolistic buying in the cotton pro- 
gram had ended, the director of the Agriculture Service noted, when it 
was seen how the cotton-growing areas had sustained the colony's 
revenues during the Depression years.'*® The director did not say if 
African cotton producers-of whose market acumen he held a low 
opinion-were satisfied, but he did maintain that for the foreseeable 
future cotton production would have to remain compulsory.'® 

The detailed report of the 1930-31 Labor Commission on the pro- 
vince suggested that generalizations about the effects of cotton grow- 
ing on Africans in the northern savanna could not be made simply. 
One significant variable was the marital situation of the individual. 
Because women did much of the actual farming and porterage of the 
crop to market, the burden was "light for someone... aided by two or 
three wives; it surpasse[d] the capacities of the single man."50 The 
willingness with which the work was done also varied considerably: 
administrators in three neighboring territories of Uele-Nepoko put the 
share of cotton grown willingly at 25 percent (Poko), 50 percent 
(Amadi), and 80 percent (Dungu).^^ There was variation in the zeal 

47aA, RA/CB(198)6: RA.PS, AIMO, 1937, p.59. 

''^eplae, "L'avenir de I'agriculture congolaise," p.236. 

^^dmond Leplae, "Notes sur le rel^vement de I'agriculture du Congo Beige: 5. 

Resultats economiques et educatifs de la culture obligatoire du coton. Importance du 

salariat au Congo beige," BACB, 23 (1932):127-32. 

^^rtrand, Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre, p.34. 


with which compulsory cultivation was enforced: in three territories of 

Uele-Itimbiri in 1929-30 with about 46,000 adult men 674 had been 

convicted of failing to meet requirements of compulsory cultivation; in 

Wamba territory with 38,000 men 400 had been convicted, but in 

Niangara territory, where the obligations were not so strictly enforced, 

out of 28,000 men only eighteen had been convicted of these 

A final variation of great significance was the amount of money 
cotton growers got to keep. Individual returns varied considerably. 
The Commission found, for example, that among the Mangbetu of 
Uele-Nepoko taxes took two- thirds of the cotton income in 1930, 
whereas in the economic zone designated 5A (astride the boundary of 
the two Uele districts) they took only 30 percent. However, it is signif- 
icant that in this latter case the Commission was of the opinion that 
the profit of the average planter (about seventy francs) was still insuf- 
ficient motivation and as a consequence production was falling.^^ 

Much more research needs to be done on the evolution of African 
attitudes toward cotton production during this period. In some 
places, such as among the Manga people of Banalia territory, the 
government's efforts to convince Africans that this crop was to their 
advantage clearly failed. At the end of the decade the local agent 
reported that they took little interest in the crop, harvesting it only 
when actually made to, since they considered it "the white man's 
field. "^'* In northern Uele compulsory cotton production was part of a 
complex of circumstances that drove people to emigrate to wage-labor 
centers, a point which is developed in the next section of this chapter. 
For others compulsory cotton production stimulated commercial agri- 
culture, since peanuts, which initially were alternated with cotton 
crops to add nitrogen to the soil, soon became an important cash crop. 
Large purchases were made by the mining camps, and from mid- 
decade there were also exports to Europe. Peanut sales in Stanleyville 
province jumped from from 220 metric tons in 1935 to 2,700 tons in 
1936. Most of these were from Uele. In the other cotton-growing area 

^'^Ibid., pp.172-77. 

52/bfd., pp.142-43, 158-59. 

53ftid., pp.133, 169. 

^K-Ag 10/6/65, F. Boey to agronomist of Bengamisa zone, Banalia, 19 December 



of Maniema sales of peanuts in 1936 amounted to 972 metric tons.^ 

Coffee was another African cash crop that increased in importance 
in this decade. As in Kenya, the colonial authorities had actively 
discouraged African coffee growing during the 1920s on the official 
grounds that it would spread disease and from practical fears of a 
labor shortage for the settlers. However, the new emphasis given to 
African production led to experiments in several parts of the region 
which were not already heavily engaged in food or other cash crop 
activity. By 1936 Kivu Africans had nearly 6,000 hectares in produc- 
tion in 1936 (compared to 10,000 hectares on European plantations) 
and production in Costermansville province averaged about 4,000 
metric tons a year during 1937-40. After a rocky start involving a 
poorly chosen species, Africans in Kibali-Ituri began planting mostly 
arabica stock. Six hundred thousand seedlings went into the ground 
there in 1935 and 500,000 in 1936, bringing the total to about a million 
and a half. In 1938, when these began to produce, African sales 
grossed 600,000 francs.^^ 

The official emphasis on developing African agriculture was com- 
plemented by steps to stabilize European agriculture in Kivu and to 
promote the settlement of a small colonial elite through financial and 
technical aid rather than encourage large numbers of poorer 
colonists.57 Settler plantations also become important in Kibali-Ituri 
and Stanleyville districts as well. While the absolute number of 
settlers remained modest compared to Kenya (99 in Kivu, 70 in Kibali- 
Ituri, 256 overall in the eastern Congo at the beginning of 1939),^^ 
their role as employers of labor was substantial. One of the reasons 
for this was that most settlers planted coffee, a very labor intensive 
crop, especially at harvest time when large numbers of women and 
children were employed on a task basis. As has been seen, in 1929, 
before the Depression reduced demand, such female day-labor had 

55aA, AI(1422): RA.UN 1930, p.42; RA/CB(142)l-2: RA.PS Agriculture 1935, p.7, 
1936, p.l; RACE 1936, p. 162. Stanleyville District sold only six metric tons of 
peanuts in 1936, but its sales were 423 tons in 1940 and 4,077 tons in 1941; KAT, T005 
1927: S. Lauwers to Governor, PS, 5 October 1942. 

S^AA, RA/CB(122bis)8: RA.PC Agriculture, 1936, table 9; RA/CB(197)5: Commen- 
tary by F. Absil, CD, KI, on RA.Logo-Dongo AIMO 1933, 25 January 1934; RA/CB 
(142)1-3: RA.PS Agriculture 1935, p.8, 1936, p.l2, 1937, p.6. 

5^. Jewsiewicki, "Le colonat agricole europeen au Congo-Beige, 1910-1960: ques- 
tions politiques et economiques," Journal of African History, 19 (1975):62-63. 
^RACB 1938, pp.208-9. 


amounted to 510,000 person/days (90 percent in Kivu) and children 
furnished 430,000 person/days (slightly over half in Kivu). 59 The 
government did not compile estimates of such labor in the 1930s, but 
the growth in settler production, which more than doubled between 
1933 and 1938, provides a rough measure of the growth of African 
plantation labor. 

The problems of securing enough African labor slowed the pace of 
European colonization particularly in Kivu and Uele.^^ These diffi- 
culties arose despite a policy of unfettered labor recruitment in Kivu 
which was in place at the highest levels in the province from the 
beginning of the decade. In 1930 Governor Moeller had expressed his 
judgment that the limits on recruiting were to be treated as "a recom- 
mendation to be adapted to local circumstances," meaning that in 
areas of high demand such as Kivu recruitment could be very much 
higher. 61 Around Rutshuru in northern Kivu, at least until mid-1933, 
labor for all purposes was simply requisitioned from the chiefs and 
distributed to public and private employers. ^2 j^ 1938 half of the 
African population in Rutshuru worked on the European coffee plan- 
tations. Further south in Banya-Rongo colonial authorities did little to 
counter the impression among Africans that they had been attached to 
particular planters, even after these policies had been abandoned and 
the planters had cut wages.^-^ 

As the previous chapter showed, the recruitment for Kivu's settler 
plantations also varied because Africans saw working for the settlers 
as a way from escaping from the often onerous obligations they owed 
their chiefs. By 1930 this was already a serious problem among Afri- 
cans in Unya-Bongo. Natural disasters, such as the bovine plague of 
1933-43, also tended to force Africans into European employ in Kivu 

S'AA, RA/CB(141)12-13: RA.PO Agriculture 1929, 1930. 

69RACB 2935, pp.190-91, 208-9; B-Ag: RA.PO Agriculture 1931, p. 37; KAT, 

R413h/B AIMO 1936 k 1939: Proces Verbal, Commission de la Mairi d'oeuvre 1939, 

PS, 15 March 1938 and 5 April 1939. Oral sources indicate that female and child 

labor in Kivu were particularly poorly paid; see Bashizi Tchib-a-lonza Zaluba, "De la 

colonisation agricole: etude de quelques plantations a Walungu (1927-1960)," (travail 

de fin d'etudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1980), pp.81-82. 

^^Excerpt from Moeller's General Report N=29 of 21 March 1930, AA, D(778)B.II.3. 

62SKU: RA, Unya-Bongo, AIMO, 1930. AA, RA/CB (197)7: Conunents by R. 

Hombert, CD, on RA, Kivu, AIMO, 1933, 27 February 1934; RACB(120bis)12: RA.CP, 

AIMO, 1938, p.5. 

^RA, Banya-Rongo, AIMO, 1932. 


and Kibali-Ituri. Finally, policies of high taxes and the promotion of 
European manufactures had the same effect.^ 

The agricultural labor situation in the region of Aruwimi between 
the Lualaba and the Lomami rivers continued its unhappy tradition. 
The dominant interests of the Lomami Company and the Lever 
Brothers' HCB had prevented the exercise of effective control by the 
local administrators. Although the district was "super turated with 
concessions" by 1930, according to the governor, and * employment 
of Africans already exceeded official limits, both compare. 2s increased 
their demands for labor as they extended their areas of operation in 
the years that followed. While foreseeing more conflicts between ':he 
two companies over access to African labor and more hardships for 
the African communities, he governor nevertheless allowed the 
Lomami Company to expand its Isangi concession from 15,000 
hectares to 20,000, as had been authorized by prior agreements. ® 

Relations with the HCB remained equally accommodating. 
Despite the official ending of government recruitment for private con- 
cerns in 1928, local officials were still recruiting palm fruit harvesters 
by the hundreds for the HCB and the Regie des Plantations de 
Barumbu two years later. The district commissioner recorded his 
opinion that the companies were entitled to as much labor as they 
needed because of their large capital investments.^^ Nor were the 
conditions of labor all they should be. The 1930-31 Labor Commis- 
sion, while praising the HCB's efforts in recent years to open up some 
isolated sections of the district to a mutually beneficial trade in palm 
fruit, reported that the Africans living in the central area of the Elisa- 
betha concession were forced to perform the dangerous and unpop- 
ular work of harvesting palm fruit from trees they regarded as their 
own, yet were paid only for their labor .^'' By 1933 the administration 
in Aruwimi had managed to implement certain reforms in Isangi, 
including paying for palm fruit by weight instead of by cluster, and 

^Bashizi Cirhagarhula, "Processus de domination," p.6. 

^KAT, D353.1 [Terrains]: R. van de Ghinete, Governor, PO, a.i., to GG, Stanleyville, 
2 September 1930, N°3570/B20/I/T.F.; Bertrand Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre, pp. 17, 

^%:AT, F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire: Schmidt to Governor, PO, Basoko, 5 Octo- 
ber 1930. 

^^rtrand, Probleme de la main-d'oeuvre, pp.108-112. Such demands made recruit- 
ment for work outside the area, such as for Offitra, relatively easy. 


making HCB assume responsibility for all its own recruiting.^ ^ 
Despite continuing shortages of labor and disputes with local Africans 
over ownership of oil-palms the colony signed new agreements with 
Huilever in 1934 and 1935 relieving the company of the necessity, 
imposed in its original convention of 1911 but repeatedly postponed, 
to delimit its lands from those of local African communities.^^ 

In 1934 the Lomami Company had been persuaded to replace aux- 
iliary laborers by those on one-year contracts. However, with the 
administration continuing "to furnish the help necessary to the 
recruitment" of this permanent work force," progress was not rapid. '^ 
The labor report for 1935 noted that the Lomami Company's 
concession in Opala was fifteen years behind the rest of the territory in 
development. The 1937 report found the area stagnant and the 
company uncooperative. The following year a report suggested that 
the company would be more interested in building a wall around its 
concession than in building a road to suppress porterage.'^ 

Serious gaps in information exist about many aspects of agriculture 
in the eastern Congo in the 1930s, but the rapidly growing importance 
of African agricultural production is clear. Both on their own lands 
and on those of settlers and concessionaires African farmers dramati- 
cally increased the production of crops for local consumption and for- 
eign export. Because most of the peasant production and much of the 
agricultural labor remained subject to compulsion, it is not possible to 
infer what part of these efforts was motivated by the expectation of 
profit. Some labor probably was voluntary, notably by the larger 
producers of coffee and cotton, but there is ample evidence to suggest 
that the majority saw the compensation for their efforts as inadequate. 

^^KAT, AIMO Rapports annuels-Basoko: S. Lauwers, acting CD, 'TSfote sur le Terri- 
toire des Mobango-Mongelima, Isangi, 30 September 1933. In 1934 palm-fruit har- 
vesters in Elisabetha received 2 fr for 40 kg of palm fruit; RACE 1934, pp.21 7-21. 
6^5ee Conseil Colonial, CRA 1939, pp336-52, 227-46, for a report and discussion of 
the October 1938 agreement, which also reduced the company's original land claims 
and required it to spend 40 million francs in palm replantation in 1938 and 1939. In 
1932 the HCB processed 23,265 tons of palm fruit, while the Lomami Company 
processed 4,074 tons;RACB 1932, p.l75. 

70KAT, R32.B8.1/R1104 Correspondance 1936: C. Maree, CD, a.i., to ATs of Isangi 
and Opala, Stanleyville, 27 August 1934. 

T^AA, AI(1421)RA.PS, AIMO, 1935, p.8; RA/CB(198)6: RA.PS, AIMO, 1937, pp.7, 34; 
KAT, Rapports d'Inspection Haut-Congo 1921-65: S. Lauwers, AT, "Note pour M. 
lAdministrateur Territorial," Isangi, July-August 1938, N«^213/AIMO/A.3. 


Porterage and Roads 

Despite the road building program of the previous decade, the 
burden of porterage continued to be substantial during the middle 
1930s. During the early years of the Depression the decline in 
porterage that had begun in the mid-1 920s continued. Official tallies 
for 1931 listed under 1.5 million person /days of porterage in the 
province, half the level of 1925 (table 5.5). However, as the economy 
recovered porterage jumped to 2.5 million person /days in 1932, 5 
million in 1933, and 7.5 million in 1935, before again going into a 
decline down to 5 million at the end of the decade (table 6.3). 

What caused these startling changes? To begin with, it must be 
recognized that, as with other official statistics from the Congo, there 
are built-in inconsistencies. The 1930s' figures include porterage of 
food crops and of provisions for employment centers, items that were 
not always counted in the 1920s. Therefore the size of the increase is 
surely exaggerated. ''^ On the other hand, there were very substantial 
increases in the '30s associated with the hasty development of mining, 
the provisioning of the road gangs building access roads to these 
mines, and the provisioning of the mining crews themselves. In 
addition, agricultural production expanded faster than the capacity of 
the motor transport system. Indeed, the number of trucks in service in 
the Congo fell by thirty percent between 1930 and 1934. Of the 2,188 
such vehicles in service in 1934, a third (745) were in Stanleyville pro- 
vince and fewer than 10 percent were in Costermansville province, 
where the road network was still meagre.''^ 

Maniema continued to be crossed in the early 1930s by caravans of 
porters just as in the days of the Zanzibar!. The 231 km road from 
Kindu to Shabunda was not completed until 1936. Most of the porter- 
age in 1932 was in the newly formed Warega territory, which had 
nearly three-quarters of the district's total, of which four-fifths was for 
provisioning the new mining camps. In 1935 the needs of new mines 
and road gangs in northern Kihembwe territory (Maniema) and in 
neighboring northern Shabunda territory (Kivu) imposed heavy bur- 
dens. In 1936 two- thirds of the porterage in Costermansville province 

'^f. RACE 1934, p.l5. This does not mean that this decade's figures are complete; 
the report says the figures are very approximate. 
^RACB 1934, pp.82, 86. 


Table 6.3 

Porterage in the Eastern Congo, 1932-1939 

(in '000 person/days) 

DISTRICT 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 

Stanleyville 573 187 1,564 1,970 1,224 1,108 1,034 837 

Uele 1,096 2,514 2,007 2,344 2„056 1,697 1,712 1,371 

Kibali-Ituri 228 369 1,049 1,274 1,148 1,086 1,001 1,071 

Stanleyville province 1,897 3J070 4,620 5,588 4,428 3,893 3,747 3,279 

Kivu 122 NA NA NA 1,475 NA 1,615 1,202 

Maniema 563 NA NA NA 496 NA 676 621 

Costermansvilleprov. 685 clSOO c2,000 cl,900 1,971 2,271 2.291 1,823 

Totals 2,582 4,970 6,620 7,488 6,399 6,164 6,038 5,102 

Sources: AA, AI(1421) RAPO, AIMO, 1933, p.75; 1935. AA, RA/CB(138)6-8: 
RA.PS, 1936, p.72; 1937, p.63; 1938, p.71; 1939, p.97. AA, RA/CB(120bis)ll-13: 
RA.PC, 1936, p.72; 1938, p.61; 1939, p.66. 

(in 1938 three-quarters) still consisted of foodstuffs, most of that was 
concentrated in Shabunda and Kihembwe territories. A substantial 
part of this porterage, which declined in 1939, was by women. ^4 

In Stanleyville province the greatest proportion of the porterage 
was likewise of agricultural crops destined for export or for feeding 
industrial workers. These items accounted for over 80 percent of the 
porterage in 1937 and 1939. Food crops constituted the larger share in 
Kibali-Ituri because of Kilo-Moto, while cotton exports dominated in 
Uele. The porterage for Kilo-Moto fell when the number of buying 
sites visited by trucks along that area's relatively dense road network 
was increased, but the sheer size of the mines' work force meant that 
even relatively short distances were multiplied by large numbers. 
Thus in 1937 it was estimated that the porterage for Kilo-Moto 
averaged only one hour per week per person, but amounted to 80,000 
person/ days. ''5 Not all agricultural areas were so blessed by new 
roads and vehicles. In the Bafwasende territory porterage in 1940 was 

74AA, AI(1421): RA, Maniema 1930, p.36; RA, Maniema, AIMO, 1932. Bertrand "De 
la necessite," p.643. AA, RA/CB(122bis)7, 11, RA.PC, 1935, Agriculture, p.3; 1936, 
AIMO, pp.15, 47; (120bis)ll-13, RA.PC, AIMO, 1936, p. 2, 1938, p.61; 1939, p.66. 
Mashagiro Nkuba Ngagi, "La Cobelmin et le probleme de la main-d'oeuvre indigene 
(1932-1963)," (Memoire en licence, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1976), p. 161. 
75AA, RA/CB(198)6, 8: RA.PS, AIMO, 1937, 1939, pp.63-64. 


130,000 person/days, more than half for the transport of export and 
food crops. The head of the district considered the burden "enor- 
mous" for a territory whose adult male population was only 25,366, 
but saw no way to reduce it: "There is no interest in making roads 
there where the population is thin: the costs of construction and then 
of maintenance are too heavy. "^^ 

Beginning in 1940, under wartime orders, porterage figures were 
officially suppressed. One must assume that stifling criticism by those 
who remembered the excesses of the First World War was a major 
motive, since it was noted, "A certain apprehension reigns in all the 
native locales of the Province: everyone's fear is to be chosen as a 
military porter." 77 Shortages of vehicles and fuel during the war also 
resulted in more porterage. 

Nevertheless, without the completion of the road network in the 
eastern Congo the burden of porterage in the 1930s would have been 
far heavier. The roadbuilding effort begun in the 1920s, slowed 
considerably by the Depression, moved to completion in the mid- 
1930s. Most of this decade's construction was in the new mining 
regions. The MGL, for example completed 771 km of access roads 
during this decade, with other mining interests completing similarly 
amounts in Maniema. 78 

A motor road network was thus in place by the end of the 1930s, 
but most of the grander rail projects that had spurred the imaginations 
of early imperialists had gone the way of the Cape-to-Cairo line. No 
railroad was ever completed from the Congo to the Nile across Uele, 
although the north-south Bondo-Aketi Vicicongo line, completed in 
1927, was extended along a much longer east-west axis. From Aketi 
the new extension ran east across the cotton-producing savanna 

76KAT, Rap Insp Bafwasande: Lauwers, Rapport d'inspection du territoire de 
Bafwasande, March 1940. By 1946 the burden had grown to 187,000 person/days 
with the porterage of cotton for distances of 10-20 km and of bananas, peanuts, and 
and roofing leaves to the Mini^re de la Tele constituting nearly all of it. See KAT, 
Rap an Bafwasande-I: RA 1947, pp.56-58. 

77aA, RA/CB(130)9: RA.PS, AIMO, 1940, p.lO. American missionaries at Kasengu 
recorded the case of a local man named Udera, who beat up one soldier and killed 
another sent to arrest him for not working for the cotton company; AIM 81.22.19, 
letter by Fred and Hellen Lasse, 4 October 1941. 

7^Andre Huybrechts, Transports et structures de developpement au Congo (Paris: 
Mouton, 1970), p.42; Compagnie Mini&re des Grands Lacs Africaines, Rapport sur 
I'annee 1939 (Brussels: Impribel, 1939), p.6. 


through Buta, Zobia, and Paulis (Isiro)-where it halted for a time in 
1934 when funds ran out-to Mungbere at the edge of the eastern 
mountains. In 1932 the Vicicongo carried thirty-two thousand metric 
tons of freight and, when complete in 1937, it carried fifty-six thou- 
sand, nearly as much as the Stanleyville-Ponthierville section of the 
CFL.79 The one other rail project of this decade fell even further short 
of the original expectations. The Chemin de Per Tanganyika-Kivu, 
begun by the Kivu National Committee in 1929 to link the two lakes, 
made it only 93 km from Kulundu (on lake Tanganyika) to the 
Kamanyola escarpment by November 1931, when it fell victim to the 
economic crisis. To avoid an expensive cut it was decided to termi- 
nate the railroad there and complete the connection to lake Kivu with 
a less expensive motor road up the face of the escarpment.^ 

Once the new roads were completed their maintenance was pri- 
marily the responsibility of the local African communities. In many 
areas of low population density and /or high wage employment this 
was an impossible task. This was the case in Shabunda territory, for 
example, whose road network went from 17 km in 1935 to 454 in 
1939.8^ As one old-timer in the colony put it, "We built a lot of roads 
in the Congo from 1920 to 1940, but we often forgot to maintain 


While the complexity of the changing labor situation in the Eastern 
Congo in the 1930s and the paucity of historical records make gen- 
eralizations difficult, the direction and magnitude of the changes are 
reasonably clear. Although the population may have increased only 
by a sixth during the decade, the number of wage laborers went up by 
37 percent, accounting for 24 percent of the able-bodied men in 

'^uybrechts. Transports et structures, p.32. RACE 1932, p.l83; Pierre Rychmans, 
Discours pronounce a la seance d 'ouverture du Conseil du Gouvernement (Leopoldville: 
Courrier d'Afrique, 1939), p.47. 

^uybrechts. Transports et structures, p. 32. The colony sold the railroad's rights 
for 35 million francs; see Conseil Colonial, CRA 1933, pp.619-21. Today the escarp- 
ment road and the railroad are both abandoned; the main road from Bukavu to 
Uvira detours through Rwanda. 

8^AA, RA/CB(174)4.: RA.PC, Travaux Publiques, 1939, pp.10-12. 
^^Moulaert, Vingt annees, p.89. 


Stanleyville province and 36 percent in Costermansville province in 
1940. Peasant agricultural labor cannot be measured as directly, but 
the farming population, though thinned by the numbers drawn into 
wage labor, still expanded the production of food crops at a rate at 
least equal to the growth in the salaried work force. Non-food crops 
such as cotton increased much more rapidly. 

Still more difficult to measure are the motives of African farmers, 
miners, and other laborers who produced these changes. Were they 
motivated to sell their labor and its fruits more by the expectation of 
material gain or by the desire to escape administrative punishments? 
Was the continued growth of wage labor and cash cropping in the 
1930s the product of an emerging free labor market or the continu- 
ation of forced labor traditions? In short, which was more visible in 
the eastern Congo: the carrot or the stick? 

In general, it may be said that the overt coercion of wage laborers 
decreased during this decade, but it did not disappear. Once the 
Depression eased, the local officials were again under pressure to 
ensure colonists, missions, private firms, and government agencies an 
adequate supply of labor at low wages. Something of the situation at 
mid-decade in Stanleyville province may be gathered from these 
statements by its head, R. Dufour. In July 1936 he wrote to his 
subordinates urging them not to misinterpret an earlier instruction on 
labor recruitment: 

To prosper our enterprises need workers. The authorities must 
intervene without being told (spontanement) among native 
groupings in order to lead them to participate in the [colony's] 
economic progress in the form of labor exactions (prestations); they 
will strive by persuasive actions to vanquish the natives' hesitations 
to devote themselves to regular activity.® 

In April 1939 the same official, in answer to the state inspector's 
question on the observance of the quotas on labor, replied that "these 
percentages were respected in their spirit and not in their letter" since 
the latter would have closed down every administrative unit in the 
province and brought economic progress to an abrupt halt. He 
explained that "miserable populations" were being "managed," while 

^^KAT, R.Mechanization/R1104 Instructions provinciales recrutement 1936: R. 
Dufour to all CDs and all ATs, Stanleyville, 3 July 1936, NP496/AIMO/X.15. 


healthy and prolific populations were being used rationally. ^4 The 
next day he noted that the official policy of "absolute neutrality" on the 
part of the administration in recruiting was not always observed in his 
province, since some officials and agents were "still permitting them- 
selves to be drawn into 'furnishing a labor force' to employers who 
threatened to go over their heads" if they didn't.^ 

Around the provincial capital, Stanleyville district's head admitted, 
"most recruiting has been done by indirect and sometimes by direct 
intervention by the administration," since otherwise no one would 
sign up. He also showed that the subtleties of non-intervention were 
even less dear to the African chiefs than to the administrators (unless 
one takes the more cynical position that the chiefs had no need to 
clothe their actions in high sounding language): "When a Territorial 
Agent signals that a recruiter is going to come into a region, they 
consider that communication as em order to furnish men."^^ A long 
but mild letter from the governor general's office later that year 
suggested that the province might make a greater effort to observe the 
absolute neutrality called for, especially since the larger firms were 
perfectly capable of recruiting on their own.^^ 

Stanleyville's provincial reports for the latter years of the decade 
estimate what part of the labor force working outside their milieux did 
so willingly, without direct coercion in its recruitment. In 1938 the 
provincial average was 64 percent, while at the district level the 
figures were 49 percent in Uele, 52 percent in Stanleyville, and 80 
percent in Kibali-Ituri. Even greater variation appeared at the terri- 
torial level. In seven territories containing 32 percent of the work force 
employment was spontaneous in only 5 to 19 percent of the cases; in 
seven other territories with 20 percent of the work force 35-65 percent 
were spontaneous, and the remaining nine territories reported 70-100 
percent spontaneous recruitment.^ 

8^AT, R413h/B: AIMO 1936 k 1939, Procfes verbal, Commission de la Main- 

d'oeuvre, PS, 7 April 1939. 

SSjbid., 8 April 1939. 


S^KAT, F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire: Vice-Govemor General for GG to head of 

PS, 27 October 1939, N»11716/AO/870/III-A/4. 

88AA, RA/CB(138)7-9: RA, PS, AIMO, 1938, p.77. The territories with the lowest 

number of volunteers were Bafwasende, Basoko, and Lubutu in Stanleyville district, 

Dungu and Poko in Uele district, and Wamba and Watsa in Kibali-Ituri district. The 

middle category included Banalia, Isangi, and Yahuma in Stanelyville and Aketi, 


Direct coerdon was most visible in the rural areas: African farmers 
(and even pastoralists and hunters) were compelled to grow specified 
crops. Did the educational objective behind this compulsion succeed 
by getting Africans to grow cash crops volimtarily? Since the compul- 
sion continued in force, the presumption is that it did not. The low 
prices farmers received for their crops made it impossible for rational 
economic incentives to inspire market production. One study sug- 
gests that in the early years of the decade, when Depression prices 
prevailed, the cash income of farmers was far less than that of wage 
earners.^9 Many details presented in this chapter likewise suggest 
that the material rewards were not a significant motive for many 
cotton producers. On the other hand, in 1938 the head of Uele 
explained the difficulty of recruiting wage laborers in his district was 
because farming was both easier and more profitable. ^^ These obser- 
vations need not be contradictory. Much circumstantial evidence 
suggests that rural agriculture and wage-earning settings were both 
unattractive. In many places rural misery pushed people into wage 
labor. Tales of working conditions outside encouraged n\any others to 
remain where they were. 

The desire of many young men to avoid the burden of compulsory 
cultivation when they had no wife to aid them was frequently a reason 
for moving to wage labor. Escaping the tyranny of traditional rulers, 
the rising obligations of road maintenance and other obligations, and 
avoiding what one study of European urban migrants calls the "idiocy 
of rural life," added to the pressures to join the growing numbers 
volunteering for wage labor. 

A good example of this trend was the growing exodus of Zande 
from northern Uele. In this open savanna country, ideally suited to 
cotton, up to five hectares per man had been imposed. To make this 
requirement effective the government had introduced many other 
disruptive changes: roads were built and along them "whole tribes 

Bondo, Niangara, and Paulis in Uele. The greatest number of spontaneous wage 

earners were in the territories of Opala and Stanleyville in Stanleyville district, 

Ango, Buta, and Niapu in Uele, and Djugu, Faradje, Irumu and Mahagi in Kibali- 


^^ichel Merlier, Le Congo de la colonisation beige a I' independence (Paris: Francois 

Maspero, 1962), p.355. 

^AT, R413h/B AIMO 1936 h. 1938: Proc&s verbal. Commission de la Main- 

d'oeuvre, PS, 21 February 1938. 


[were] moved from their hidden and isolated corners among the tall 
grasses and forest reaches.''^! The roads made cotton marketing 
easier, but required still more labor to maintain. Cotton sales brought 
in more money, but higher taxes took much of it back. In Ango terri- 
tory, for example, the maintenance of a kilometer of road fell upon as 
few as a dozen men and taxes reclaimed half of the cotton revenues. 
The political changes were also important: after the investiture of the 
new Zande paramount in 1934 the government had given Zande 
chiefs an especially free hand in dealing with their subjects. The chiefs 
used labor for building roads and maintaining the cotton buying sta- 
tions, infirmaries, roads, missions, and recruited it for their personal 
benefit and that of private individuals. Not surprisingly people were 
leaving the territory in large numbers. From 1935 to 1940 the able 
bodied n:\ale population fell by thirteen percent or more, as younger 
men went to Bambili, Titule, Buta, and elsewhere in search of work as 
salaried employees.^ 

So serious was the situation in the last years of the decade that 
communal work obligations such as road repair, porterage, construc- 
tion of public buildings, required by the decree of 5 December 1933, 
were reduced in parts of Stanleyville province. Arguing that these 
numerous corvees forced cash-cropping peasants away from their 
increasingly important and skilled farm work, the head of Stanleyville 
province after consultation with rural communities had begun collec- 
ting a supplemental rate in selected cotton-growing areas that exemp- 
ted the inhabitants from most communal work obligations. Instead, 
regular salaried workers were hired by the community to perform 
these tasks. "The ideal would be to arrive at a situation where the 
native cultivator could, in complete freedom of spirit and of time, 
devote himself to farming his fields without any fear of having to be 
interrupted by any call from European or native authorities."^ 

91AIM 81.12.45, Stauffacher, "Brief History," pp.72-73. 

92KAT, F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire: Schollaert (AT, Ango), "Note sur la situation 
demographique des populations du Territoire d'Ango au 31 decembre 1940," 17 
January 1941, pp.1-10. Schollaert put the cotton income for 1939 at 2,594,035 fr and 
the impot indigene at 1,269,216 fr. He put the number of taxpayers at 27340 in 1934 
and 23,878 in 1939. A month later his superior put Ango's able-bodied male popula- 
tion at only 22,647; see P. Bougnet (CD, Uele) to Governor, PO, Buta, 19 February 
1941, KAT, R1104 Aff. Ind. M. CEuvre 728. 
93AA, RA/CB(138)8: RA.PS AIMO 1939, pp.84-86. 


This ideal was not near in January 1941 when the head of Uele 
argued to his provincial superior that Uele people were overworked, 
overtaxed, and underpaid: 

Does a European planter need temporary labor? Immediately the 
Administrator is asked to intervene. There result instructions to the 
chiefs who devote themselves to hunting up men with a minimum of 
precautions; whereas these natives, thus tracked down, were in the 
middle of the cotton harvest.... Are the projects in the local stations 
running a little behind schedule? Immediately the Territorial Agent 
is ready to go, indeed to impose disciplinary punishments. There 
result inopportune efforts to get the materials furnished by the 
natives, who are ill-paid moreover, because the allocated funds are 
insufficient. 94 

Direct compulsion was not the only force pushing Africans into the 
cash economy The use of tax as an indirect goad to signing labor 
contracts continued to be semi-official policy in this decade. That tax 
collection was not necessarily very indirect in its operation may be 
seen from this instruction from the head of Stanleyville province in 
1936. When tax collection fell below 90 percent, he directed: 

The tax collector will let the delinquents know that they must choose 
between la contrainte (i. e., imprisonment, since there is talk of sup- 
pressing la contrainte mitiguee) and signing up for an engagement of 
a year or less under normal conditions. The recruiter will be able to 
stay in the same village as the tax collector and enroll the workers 
who want to sign a contract. ^^ 

Even without such machinations tax rates remained high enough in 
this decade to have been a strong push to wage labor.* 

Along with direct and indirect forces pushing Africans toward 
wage labor, one must consider the attractions pulling them in that 

^'*KAT, F22J/N23 Conseil de Territoire: P. Bougnet to Oief de Province, 21 January 
1941. The governor replied: "We surely ought to sacrifice certain parts of the native 
population for the benefit of the European enterprises. I don't really see why this 
burden ought to be equally distributed among all the communities, why on the one 
hand we should send people to the mines against their will and on the other keep at 
home against their will people who really want to go." KAT, F22J/N23 Conseil de 
Territoire: M. Maquet to CD, Buta, 25 June 1941, p.3. 

^^KAT, R.Mechanizafion/R1104 Instructions provinciates recrutement 1936: R. 
Dufour to all CDs and all ATs, Stanleyville, 3 July 1936, N=496/AIMO/X.15. 
^eemans, "Congo-Belgique, 1900-1960," p.361, table 110. 


direction. While wage rates are as difficult to compute for this decade 
as for earlier ones, the evidence does not suggest that very many 
Africans were the beneficiaries of rising wages. ^^ jhe minutes of 
Stanleyville's Provincial Labor Commission meetings in the latter part 
of the decade contain much criticism of the inadequate wages paid by 
employers large and small. For example, in 1937 a settlers' group 
around Bunia was told by the Kibali-Ituri labor sub-commission that 
their labor shortages were due to their paying monthly salaries of only 
15-18 fr when they should have been paying 25 fr. In 1938 the head of 
Uele district attributed the shortage of labor to inadequate wages. In 
1939 the Commission rejected a proposal by the local head of Huilever 
(HCB) to lower the tax rate, telling him bluntly that his firm's unrea- 
sonably low salaries of twenty francs a n\onth that needed to be 
altered, not the tax rate.* 

It is prudent to avoid putting too much emphasis on the signifi- 
cance of wages as an inducement to labor. A careful study of the 
relatively sophisticated workers of Stanleyville town in 1952-53 
revealed that pleasant work was far and away the most significant 
factor in their job preferences and that having a good boss and the 
social standing of one's work were also more important than good 
wages. 99 The policy of labor stabilization begun by the UMHK in the 
1920s had also demonstrated that Africans would react favorably to a 
greatly improved work environment. The UMHK had spent substan- 
tial sums to provide more adequate housing, food, health care, and 
family benefits to their employees in the hope of retaining them for 
longer periods. In the 1930s this example began to be followed by 
Kilo-Moto and other large firms in the Eastern Province. 

Another attractions of many larger employers in the 1930s was the 
fact that they furnished a regular food ration to all African workers, a 
practice, begun much earlier when food distribution was far more 
difficult, which continued until the end of the colonial period. Legis- 
lation in the 1930s specified the amounts and types of food to be 

^%id., pp.265-67, shows a general deterioration of wages in the eastern Congo 
compared to capital costs and imported goods. 

98proc&S verbal Commission de la Main-d'ceuvre, PS, 1937, 12/14 April 1937 (KAT, 
R771); 21 February 1938 and 7 April 1939 (KAT, R413h/B AIMO 1936 a 1939). 
^^elly Xydias, "Labour: Conditions, Aptitudes, Training," in Social Implications of 
Industrialization and Urbanization in African South of the Sahara, Daryll Forde, ed. 
(Paris: Unesco, 1956), pp.354-56. 


Table 6.4 

Food Distributions for African Workers 

(grams per day) 


Stanleyville, 1935 
General labor Heavy labor 

Symetain KUo-Moto 
Maniema, 1938 1937 

Meat or fish 

75d 75d 



Rice (*Com) 

215 400 




120p 120p 




21 71 




15 15 







480 480 

Total Calories 

2,500 3,600 



Notes: d=dried, f=fresh, p=peanuts, b=beans or peas. 

Sources: R. Mouchet and R. Van Nitsen, Le main-d 'oeuvre indigene au Congo 
Beige: les problemes quelle evoque (Brussels: Imprimerie des Travaux 
Publiques, 1940), pp.227-29; KAT, R32 Taux ration: L. Libois, CD, 
Stanleyville, 1 June 1935, decision N°348. 

furnished. To Africans facing food shortages at home the abundance 
and diversity of these distributions (table 6.4), even though meager 
compared to post-war standards, w^ere highly attractive.^^^ Wives and 
children also received some food allowances. ^^^ 

As was explained in the previous chapter, health factors also 
affected a worker's attitudes toward a particular job. In general, the 
health of both rural and urban Africans improved somewhat in the 
1930s. The establishment of a special fund in 1930 to improve African 
medical services and fight epidemic diseases had important long-term 

^°°A Kivu man recalled his first job with the MGL: "When I arrived at the firm in 
1938, everything was there in abundance: manioc, meat, beans, and clothes.... In the 
mining camps you easily forgot village life and detested it." Taberangwa Gogolelo 
of Mwenga, in Mashagiro, "La Cobelmin," p.l25. 

^^^Some workers in places where food supplies were more abundant and secure 
pressed for a cash payment in place of such distributions in kind. This was success- 
ful in the case of government workers in Stanleyville district in mid-decade, who got 
an immediate raise of six to seven francs a week. Despite sentiment among admini- 
strators for extending this practice, it did not become common. KAT, R13 Comm 
MOI de Bxl/Ou tillage Indigene: Proems verbal de la sous commission de la main- 
d'ceuvre du District de Stanleyville, 22 January 1934. 


results. ^02 7he health measures imposed on employers by the 
ordinance of 18 June 1930 were probably more important, despite the 
laxity with which they were sometimes enforced. ^03 The decline in 
mortality among the major employers during the decade suggests the 
growing efficacy of these efforts. At Kilo-Moto, for example, the death 
rates among African workers, which had been about twelve per 
thousand in 1929-31, at first increased to sixteen to twenty per 
thousand in 1932-34 (attributed by the company to epidemics and the 
larger number of auxiliary workers on the payroll) before gradually 
declining to nine per thousand in 1939.1^'^ 

The terms and conditions of work also played a significant part in 
making some jobs more attractive. For example, the Belgikaor mines 
in Maniema abandoned its efforts to sign workers to long-term 
contracts after 1934 in response to strong local preferences among the 
Lega to return home for a time after a year of^ Despite 
growing pressures from officials, employers around Stanleyville 
illegally honored African preferences for no contracts at all, a situation 
that permitted the workers even more flexibility in changing the term 
they spent with a particular employer.^^^ Many other employers 
provoked complaints from their employees for excessively long hours 
and too few rest days.^^'' 

^^^his was the FOREAMI (Fonds Reine Elisabeth pour I'assistance medicale aux 

^°^e head of Stanleyville Province, R. Dufour, admitted in 1939 that up until then 
the administration had "shown a great tolerance" in enforcing the requirement for 
adequate medicine and first aid supplies to spare the petits colons the expense 
involved, though some belated enforcement efforts were being discussed. KAT, 
R314h/B AIMO 1936 a 1939: Proces verbal de la Commission de Main-d'oeuvre 1939, 
PS, 5 April 1939. The first aid kit for up to 100 workers required only such simple 
items as 100 tablets each of aspirin, boric add, and quinine, some bandages, 250g. of 
vasoline, and two thermometers. 

^•Hf^KM, Rapports 1929-1939. These rates are all unrealistically low, reflecting the 
practice of sending seriously ill workers home. 

^°^. Stiernon, Rapport d' Inspection des Mines de la Societe Belgikaor, 1935, p. 3, 
quoted in Mashagiro, "La Cobelmin," p. 129. 

^o^AT, AF051 Rapports d'Inspection Terr, de Stanleyville 1920-67: M. Kreutz, 
Rapport d'inspection du Territoire de Stanleyville, December 1940; D52 MO, Com- 
mission CFL 164: R. Dufour to J. J. Van de Velde, AT, Stanleyville, 6 October 1938, 

^O'lKAT, D52 MO, Commission CFL 164: Dufour to Chief Engineer, CFL, Stanley- 
ville, 18 January 1937, and P. Ryckmans to Minister of Colonies, Leopoldville, 24 July 


One of the discernable consequences of the push out of the rural 
areas and the pull into the cities was the emergence of a permanently 
urbanized labor force in the eastern Belgian Congo in the 1930s. This 
trend was already well underway by the end of the decade and des- 
tined to be tremendously accelerated by the effects of the Second 
World War. In 1937 11 percent of Stanleyville province's population 
was officially listed as "not living under the control of native author- 
ities," half of whom were in the gold-mining areas of Kibali-Ituri; by 
the end of 1940 the figure reached 15 percent in Stanleyville and 9 
percent in Costermansville province.^^^ Such populations, which 
included descendants of the arabises of the Zanzibari period, soldiers 
retired from the Force Publique, as well as newer urban wage-earners, 
had been building for some time, especially during the 1920s. Initially 
opposed to permanent African urbanization, the government altered 
its policy late in 1931 by granting official standing to African quarters 
(centres extracoutumiers or CECs) with limited administrative auto- 
nomy in the larger towns. CECs were established in 1932 in Stanley- 
ville (contaiiung 9,388 residents), in Buta (7,823), and in Kindu (6,395) 
and in 1935 in Costermansville (2,012). Though the authorities still 
controlled the admission and expulsion of residents of the CECs, the 
regulations were difficult to enforce. By 1938 there were some 17,000 
Africans in Stanleyville, not all in the CECs.^^Q 

The establishments of CECs was more than an example of urban 
governance. Their existence was a recognition that Africans could no 
longer be regarded as short-term workers, whose true homes re- 
mained outside the developing urban-industrial economy and whose 
survival thus depended upon conserving the demographic vitality of 
those rural Congolese homelands. Henri Leonard, the head of the 
Miiustry's Mines and Labor Service, told the minister of colonies that 
previous labor legislation had paid little attention to the families of 

1937, N=350/D/163, and reply N°42/577 of 5 June 1937, concerning the advisability 
of legislating a fixed work week, in part in response the the CFL's constant abuses. 
lO^AA, RA/CB(198)6: RA, PS, AIMO, 1937, p.32, 34; "non soumise au regime des 
circonscriptions indigenes." RACE 1939-44, p.32. 

^°%aumer, Les centres indigenes, pp.51-64; Valdo Pons, Stanleyville: an African Urban 
Community under Belgian Administration (London: Oxford University Press for the 
International African Institute, 1969), pp. 22-37. There were only 9,609 official CEC 
residents in Stanleyville in 1937 (scarcely more than five years earlier) and 8,981 in 
Buta according to AA, RA/CB(198)6: RA, PS, AIMO, 1937, p.26. 


laborers; new legislation must recognize the importance of family 
policies outside traditional settings.^io 

A new Labor Commission was assembled in Brussels in February 
1940 to consider the implications of the many changes that had taken 
place in the African labor force during the decade. Its membership 
included representatives of the different colonial departments as well 
as Colonel Bertrand, author of the 1930-31 Labor Commission report 
on the Eastern Province, and Major Cay en, the head of the overall 
1930-31 Commission. This 1940 Commission never issued a report. It 
was quite literally overtaken by the march of events; on May 10, the 
day the Commission was to have discussed its draft report, Belgium 
was invaded by Germany. While thus never officially adopted, the 
draft report did reflect the tenor of discussion at the preliminary ses- 
sions and its contents are revealing of the changing view of Congolese 
labor. The report began by recommending that only two categories 
remained meaningful in analyzing the sociology of African workers: 
those "living in a family setting and those living outside that setting." 
Since it had proved impossible to preserve the demographic stability 
of rural communities, the concern must be to promote viable family 
life in urban and industrial settings. Therefore, the report recommen- 
ded, labor recruited for more than six months be required to include 
the man's family, which would necessitate the construction of ade- 
quate family housing and better organization of urban and industrial 
African neighborhoods, as well as family medical care, including pre- 
natal and maternity care. The demographic concerns of the previous 
commissions were not entirely abandoned. Village demographic 
studies were still to be carried out and considered in limiting recruit- 
ment, but they were no longer to occupy so central a place as they 
once had in official policy. 

With regard to rural Africans, the draft report recommended that 
the governor general study whether corvees for road maintenance and 
head taxes were not excessive in some places, as Bertrand argued they 
were in communities whose adult male population had been dimin- 
ished by heavy recruiting. It also recommended studies of whether 
compulsory cultivation might not better concentrate on trees than on 
annual crops, and might not be better proportioned to family circum- 
stances (recognizing the different productive capacities of single men 

"OAA, H(4421)611: Leonard, "Note pour M. le Ministre," 22 November 1939. 


and those with one or more wives). This also reflected Bertrand's 
recommendations, although he had also cast doubt on the utility of 
any sort of compulsory cultivation.^!^ The draft report picked out 
Maniema district for special notice, the one area which had been 
highlighted in Bertrand's presentation, suggesting that its labor crisis, 
brought on by rapid mineral development, could be relieved by 
creating a recruiting organization such as the Office du Travail du 
Katanga and perhaps by tapping the labor presently leaving Ruanda- 
Urundi to seek work in Uganda. 112 jhe significance of this draft 
report is that it shows how the changes of the 1930s had led to serious 
reconsideration of colonial labor policies. Yet, like the 1940 Commis- 
sion itself, the labor history of the Congo was overtaken by the events 
of the Second World War. At war's end new circumstances would 
require yet another rethinking of labor policies. ^^^ 

^^^Alexis Bertrand, Troblfeme de la M.O.I. Pointe de vue generale," presented at the 

session of 16 February 1940; AA, H4421)611. 

^^^AA, H(4421)611: Commission de la Main-d'CEuvre, draft for meeting on 10 May 

1940, pp.1-6. 

^^^e Jean Stengers, ed., Le Congo beige durant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale: Recueil 

d' etudes (Brussels: ARSOM, 1983). 


Chapter 7 

Beyond the Bend in the River has surveyed the char\ges in African 
labor history across deliberately broad geographical, temporal and 
thematic expanses. The area of study, though only a portion of the 
immense country of Zaire, nevertheless represents a large portion of 
equatorial Africa. The three-quarters of a century reviewed includes 
pre-colonial societies and the administrations of three successive 
external regimes. The kinds of labor activity covered are far broader 
than those of most labor studies. Moreover, because of the absence of 
any other surveys of the region focusing on administrative changes, 
the study devotes considerable attention to those matters. The 
reasons for setting these broad limits were given in the introduction. 
It now remains to assess what has been learned from this approach. 

Eastern Zaire's unity as a region of study derives directly and 
indirectly from a number of geographical factors. One tie among the 
societies of this region was their long isolation from the outside 
world. Remote from all the frontiers along which outsiders were 
penetrating sub-Saharan Africa in the centuries before the 1800s, the 
region was breached late and at a rush. In eastern Zaire the overseas 
slave trade and colonialism began within five decades of each other 
here; in parts of West Africa their beginnings were five centuries 
apart. The labor history of the region was likewise compressed. 

Remoteness went hand in hand with a low ratio of persons to land. 
Although the eastern Congo had roughly twice the population 
density of the rest of the Congo, that amounted to only four or five 
persons per square kilometer in the years after World War I. The 
population density in the late nineteenth-century was probably 
roughly similar. Moreover, that population was very unevenly 


distributed. The mountainous eastern frontier had some of the 
highest densities in central Africa and the forested center of the region 
some of the lowest. Overall lands for cultivating and grazing and vast 
uncultivated tracts for hunting and food gathering were far too 
abundant to create much pressure toward a labor market before the 
late nineteenth century. Indeed, densities were so low as to have 
discouraged the development of even local markets in food and other 
goods and created disincentives to long-distance trade until the 
demand for ivory in the outside world attracted foreign traders to the 
region. • 

The breaching of the region's geographical isolation by traders 
from Zanzibar began a long process of labor mobilization. The prin- 
cipal form of this mobilization in the Zanzibari period was slavery, 
but not all forms of enslavement were a labor strategy. For some of 
the Zanzibari slaves served a largely political role as followers and an 
economic one as a product to be sold. For others slaves dearly served 
a labor need as porters, soldiers, servants, and cultivators. King 
Leopold's labor needs likewise drove him to extraordinary recruit- 
ment efforts abroad before the conquest of the eastern Congo put the 
Zanzibari's slaves into his hands. Although they were no longer 
counted as slaves, they remained a coerced labor force. Except during 
the Depression years, the Belgian Congo government also faced a 
perennial labor shortage before the changes at the end of the Second 
World War. All three administrations suffered from moral biases 
which led them to use forced labor, but these failings should not 
obscure the fact that all three also had to face an underlying demo- 
graphic situation which made voluntary labor a rare commodity. 

These demographic circumstances were not unique to eastern 
Zaire or to Africa. A similar situation had occurred in the post- 
emancipation Caribbean. There too the availability of labor was tied 
to population density and the availability of arable land. In the low- 
density British colonies, such as Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, and 
Guiana, freed people preferred subsistence farming to plantation 
labor at the low wages offered by the planters, whereas in high 
density colonies such as Barbados, Antigua and St. Kitts, where the 
sugar planters controlled virtually all the arable land, wage labor was 
abundant.^ The correlation between the presence of land in excess 

^William A. Green, British Slave Emancipation: the Sugar Colonies and the Great 


of demand and the use of force in recruiting labor was first posited by 
Herman Nieboer in 1900.2 Although he applied his thesis only to 
the development of slavery and used no African examples, Nieboer' s 
work is clearly applicable to Africa and, I would argue, to non-slave 
forced labor as well.^ The official abolition of slavery in eastern 
Zaire did not remove the demographic circumstances that had given 
rise to the institution. So long as the potential labor force remained 
dispersed and in possession of adequate farming land, substantial 
coercion or substantial incentives were required to move it. 

The Zanzibar! and European regimes imposed unity of admini- 
stration and policy on this enormous and enormously diverse region. 
In a rough and ready way the disparate peoples and locales became 
joined together. For better or worse savarma pastoralists, hilltop- 
dwelling cultivators, riverain fisherfolk, and forest hunter-gatherers 
were yoked together within artificial boundaries and under foreign 
rulers. Their lives were united by new laws and languages, new 
religions and roads, and the shared experiences of exploitation. Given 
how often the internal boundaries of the eastern Congo were altered, 
stability of the external frontiers was remarkable. 

Yet these common experiences did not forge a strong sense of 
regional unity any more than Belgian colonialism produced strong 
national unity. The geographical size and diversity of the region were 
stronger-and are still stronger-than the efforts to overcome them. For 
example, the Belgians' effort to reorient the eastern Congo toward the 
Atlantic succeeded only in part. Kisangaiu and its dependencies on 
the great bend in the river were bound to the centers of political and 

Experiment 1830-1865 (Oxford: Qarendon Press, 1976), pp.192-93. 
^. J. Nieboer, Slavery as an Industrial System: Ethnographical Researches, 2nd ed. 
(The Hague: 1910), pp. 302-3. By "industrial" Nieboer meant diligent, productive 
labor, not manufacturing. All of his research concerned "pre-industrial" societies. 
Hopkins, Economic History, pp. 24-25, advances an explanation of West African 
slavery which he says is "essentially" Nieboer's, though he warns that "Nieboer's 
theory is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the existence of slavery, 
though it happens to fit the African case." I have found Nieboer's theory to fit pre- 
colonial Nigeria ("Nineteenth-Century Patterns," pp.1-16), and cite other Africanists 
who have found it useful in note 7 of that work. For a critique of the theory in the 
American context see Orlando Patterson, "The Structural Origins of Slavery: A 
Critique of the Nieboer-Domas Hypothesis from a Comparative Perspective," in 
Comparative Perspectives on Slavery in New World Plantation Societies, ed Vera D. 
Rubin and Arthur Tuden (New York: New York Academy of Sciences, 1977). 


economic power downstream. But the peoples on the western fringes 
of the Great Lakes retained closer ties to their eastern neighbors. The 
divorce of Stanleyville, now Upper Zaire, from Costermansville 
province, now Kivu, in 1933 was an amicable separation based on 
differences that may or may not have been irreconcilable. 

The similarities in the labor policies of the Zanzibari, the Congo 
Free State, and the Belgian Congo were not just similar responses to a 
demographic situation. By surveying a broad period of time, this 
study has shown how each of these administrations adopted policies 
and institutions it found in place. The degree to which the Zanzibari 
adopted existing African customs is obscured by the fact that their 
intrusion and overthrow so disrupted the region that it is difficult to 
know the preexisting situation in any detail. It is clear, however, that 
when control of the region passed from the Zanzibari conquers to the 
two European colonial regimes, existing labor institutions and policies 
went along. New names were applied, new features were added and 
old ones removed, but the underlying reality changed only slowly. 

In the first place, the absorption by the Free State of the territory 
and administration of Tippu Tip included the absorption of much of 
its slave labor force. The Free State obtained control of these slaves in 
several ways: by monetary redemption from their owners, by capture 
in the wars of pacification that brought the eastern Congo under its 
control, and by compelling African chiefs to furnish quotas of men for 
various projects (soldiers, railroad laborers, porters, etc.)-quotas the 
chiefs often filled by sending their slaves, so long as their supplies 
lasted. Even when not drawing upon existing slaves, the chiefs sup- 
plied recruits to the Force Publique and workers to the state under 
circumstances that strongly resembled the labor requisitions practiced 
by the Zanzibari. The resemblances to slave labor were particularly 
strong during King Leopold's rule, as the Free State lacked both the 
resources and the will to do more than adapt the existing labor system 
to its own ends until the last years of its rule. The Free State conscious 
and deliberate use of freedmen as its first labor force set a precedent 
for coerced labor that was all to easily followed during the years of 
Belgian rule. 

The transition from the Free State to the Belgian Congo also 
showed more continuity than change. The Belgian administration 
inherited the boundaries and the personnel of the Free State. Along 


with them came a tradition of forced labor and the beginnings of labor 
reform, both of which grew in the decades that followed. This 
emphasis on continuity should not obscure the fact that new officials, 
circumstances, and policies differentiated the Belgian Congo from its 
predecessor. But the abuses of the Belgian Congo era documented 
here, like the more notorious ones of the Free State and the Zanzibari 
periods, have not lost their power to shock with the passage of time. 

Colonialism by its nature was abusive, but the policies of different 
nations differed widely. Within equatorial Africa the Belgian record, 
for all the faults documented here, is generally regarded as having 
been superior to the French and Portuguese.'* At the level of the 
individual colonial official, this study has documented many instan- 
ces of personal responsibility and of officials who carried out bad 
policies with too little concern for their consequences. No doubt 
many others were careful to keep their wrong doings out of official 
files. Yet this researcher has been much more struck by the quality 
and morality of the longer serving officials in the eastern Congo. In 
contrast to the Zanzibari and Free State eras when exposures of 
abuses came principally from foreign sources, the abuses in the 1920s 
and 1930s documented here come principally from the records of 
colonial agents, the Ministry of Colonies, and the Colonial Council. 
Of particular importance in exposing and confronting colonial 
problems and in preserving the records about them was Colonel 
Bertrand, whose nan\e appears so frequently in the text and notes of 
this study that he might deserve to be listed as a co-author .^ 

A final factor providing continuity to the labor history of this 
period is capital. This study has not consciously employed or rejected 

^oquery-Vidrovitch, "Colonial Economy," passim, is the most scholarly effort. On 
a different set of issues there are many thoughtful comparisons in Phyllis M. Martin, 
"The Violence of Empire," 2:1-26 in History of Central Africa, David Birmingham and 
Phyllis M. Martin, eds. (New York: Longman, 1983). 

^A long career in the colonial service and on the Colonial Council was capped by 
his election as director of the Section Morale et Politique of the prestigeous IRCB in 
1943. The tragic end of Bertrand's career came with his dismissal from the IRCB in 
December 1944, after an investigation headed by his long-time friend, J. Henry de la 
Lindi, on account of "I'attitude favorable a I'enemi qu'il a observee durant I'occupa- 
tion"; Bulletin IRCB 15 (1944):416. Bertrand died in obscurity in the Uccle commune 
of Brussels on 20 Novemb>er 1946 at the age of 76 and was buried in a strictly private 
ceremony; see the death announcement in Le Soir, 29 November 1946. He is not 
mentioned in the six volumes of the Biographie colonial beige. 


any economic theory. Its concern was much more with recovering the 
details of this period than with presenting a theoretical analysis. The 
identification of capital as a fundamental force is not intended to be a 
departure from that empirical approach. It is abundantly clear that 
the most dynamic forces for change in this period sprang from the 
international economic system. In the first place, it has long been 
recognized that the penetration of central Africa by the Zanzibari was 
a "secondary imperialism," which sought ivory to supply bourgeois 
decorative tastes and conquered with the firearms of European indus- 
trial production. King Leopold's desire for more wealth and his 
adroit use of capital markets in securing the Congo basin as a personal 
fiefdom need no elaboration here. The tie of Belgian rule to corporate 
and banking interests is also too well known to merit elaboration here 
and too complex to receive more than the schematic outline in figure 

What does need to be stressed is the impecunious nature of this 
capitalism. At every stage of this process it was the presence of 
capital in insufficient quantities that shaped the directions of change. 
Theorists may debate whether monopoly was a natural or unnatural 
form of capitalism, but for eastern Zaire it seems clear that the stifling 
of a free market in labor was encouraged by monopoly systems under 
public and private control to enable them to profit from insufficient 
investment. It is also clear that, as a general trend, workers were freed 
from direct coercion as more capital investment in transportation 
networks, housing, etc. increased. Here as elsewhere, capital was not 
so much a force for good or evil, as a force-a force that was applied in 
ways and quantities whose effects were felt far and wide. 

The third aspect of eastern Zaire's labor history which has received 
broad treatment in this study is the kinds of labor that are included. 
This study has examined public and private labor forces, conscripts 
and volunteers, peasants producers and industrial wage earners. Just 
as it examined the connections between pre-colonial and colonial 
labor, the study has sought to show how interconnected the different 
types of labor and labor demands were. The need to regulate com- 
peting demands for industrial labor forces, porters and agricultural 
producers was the major challenge of colonial policy in the 1920s and 
'30s-and the major failure of colonial practice. 

A major feature of labor mobilization was that Africans were more 


du Lomami 

> Cnmna 

du Katanga 











de la Tele 







^ Committee > 





themin de Fer" 


1, Kivu J 




Figure 7.1. Financial Interests in the Eastern Belgian Congo 
in the 1930s 

Note: Arrows indicate lines of principal investments; heavier arrows 
indicate controlling interests. 


often pushed into wage labor than pulled into it. The direct push of 
forced recruitment was far from over in 1940 and the head tax rates 
had long been used as an indirect way to achieve the same end. The 
growing tendency in many places for the misery of rural village live 
to push persons into the towns and mining camps has also been 
noted, along with the need for more research to be done on this topic. 

What remains to be examined are the reasons why the pull of 
wage employment remained so weak, why the incentives to wage 
labor in eastern Zaire were too low to draw enough labor into the 
work force. The reasons varied over time. In the early part of the 
period the desire for short-term profits appears to have been the 
paramount cause of inadequate wages. The Zanzibari might have 
preferred wage labor in the abstract, but they were in too much of a 
hurry to make the kinds of changes that would have created a labor 
market. They offered no positive incentives to those in their service, 
except, perhaps, the promise of booty. Because of the limits on its 
investment capital, the Free State was in an equal hurry in its early 
years to obtain profits. Though officially committed to ending 
slavery, it may have offered even less in the way of incentives to wage 
labor and certainly relied on more systematic forms of labor coercion. 

The heavy exactions in labor and goods that continued through 
the end of the First World War and the colony's near monopoly over 
the economy retarded the growth of free market labor in several 
ways. First, it was nearly impossible for private firms (other than 
concession holders) to operate and to compete for labor because of the 
government's virtual monopoly over all economic activities. Second, 
because currency was not introduced into the eastern Congo until 
1911-12, payment for the impressed goods and services was made in 
an often arbitrary assortment of goods whose value was generally 
inflated. As a consequence real earnings were depressed. Third, the 
government's control of most labor and its ability to requisition labor 
depressed wage rates generally. Finally, the low payments and low 
wages retarded the development of local markets in food and other 
produce, causing food shortages and further misery. 

Under Belgian rule the scope of the direct exactions was gradually 
curtailed, currency was introduced, and the government's direct con- 
trol of the economy was drastically reduced. Nevertheless, the volun- 
tary labor force fell far short of labor demands. The wages and other 


benefits were absurdly low for various reasons. These included short- 
term factors such as the disruptions of war and economic depression, 
but three long-term factors appear to have remained dominant: 
geography, monopoly, and ideology. The region's remoteness from 
world markets and the high cost of transportation within and from 
the region certainly imposed limits on the wages that might be paid, 
yet also discouraged the investment of capital and the importation of 
machinery that might have improved productivity. One must be 
careful to avoid reductionist explanations, but the fact hat the greatest 
changes in the incentives to labor came in the 1930s after the comple- 
tion of the transport network and after the rates on transport systems 
had been substantially reduced, was surely no coincidence. 

Second, despite the growth of the private sector labor in the 
Belgian Congo, the economy retained many features of a monopoly. 
The government itself owned a large or controlling share in many of 
the existing firms and was thus still an interested party; the private 
sector was imder the control of a limited number of investment firms. 
The interconnections among this small group were many and 
complex (figure 7.1). Cooper's statement about Kenya and Zanzibar 
applies equally well to the Congo: "the invisible hand [of the market 
place] took over only when the visible one had done its work.^ 

Third, the belief was widespread among Congo employers and 
officials that Africans were not economically motivated, that paying 
higher wages would reduce not increase the length of their willing 
employment since they would reach the target motivating their 
employment earlier. Such a belief was not unique to the Congo, but it 
certainly reinforced other reasons for keeping wages artificially low. 

What is equally significant is the view of quite a number of Euro- 
peans, including some in high places, that Africans in the eastern 
Congo would and did respond with their labor when adequate 
incentives were offered. In 1918 Governor General Henry, respon- 
ding to rising demands for labor and for the use of force in recruiting 
it, expressed his view in these words: 

For the native, as much as and more than for the civilized man, the 
only feeling which may be a principle of activity is self-interest. 
When the native is persuaded that it is in his interest to lend his labor 
to European enterprises, he will not hesitate to do it. 7 

hooper. From Slaves to Squatters, p.68. 


Self-interest for Africans in the eastern Congo was, however, more 
complex than the governor general may have realized. No doubt 
higher wages and better working conditions would have produced a 
larger labor response, but, as has been shown, Africans put great 
emphasis on social as well as material self- interest. When direct and 
indirect coercion did not prevent otherwise, many Africans strongly 
resisted leaving their social milieux even for relatively good wages, as 
at the Kilo-Moto mines. In some cases Africans chose much lower 
paying forms of labor, such as short-term farm labor in Kivu, that 
allowed them to retain their social ties more intact. 

Yet it would be wrong to think that Africans viewed self- interest 
only in terms of preserving the existing social order and its norms. 
Self-interest was a matter of alternatives. No doubt conservatism 
played a role in encouraging people to stay home as did the unattrac- 
tive image that working for the European developed as a result of the 
excesses of the rubber tax, the brutal forced labor of the war years, 
and the problems of food, health, and harsh discipline that prevailed 
at many employers. It is nevertheless true that even in the early colo- 
nial years wage employment was preferable to village life for some 
Africans such as the Uele people who had sought employment in the 
Force Publique and elsewhere, the Kivu inhabitants who sought to 
evade the obligations to their chiefs, and the demobilized veterans of 
the Force Publique who created new settlements around government 
posts rather than return to their villages. Except for the case of the ex- 
slaves in military service, for whom employment meant an escape 
from the inequities and iniquities of slave status, the reasons for these 
preferences are not easy to document, since they involved personal 
feelings as well as the actual conditions in the villages-neither of 
which are readily knowable. 

What is clearer is that the numbers of such willing employees 
increased during the later years covered by this study. Such choices 
may represent worsening conditions in the rural areas, despite the 
government's efforts to sustain their demographic vitality. In at least 
some cases these government efforts made rural life more disagree- 
able by distributing the growing demands for village corvees an\ong a 
declining population of healthy males. In a large number of cases the 
demands of compulsory cultivation made wage labor more attractive 

tug^ne Henry, RACE 1918, p. 13. 



to single men. On the other hand, the relative benefits of wage labor 
also improved. As the major employers gradually abandoned their 
conviction that African labor was intrinsically temporary and short 
term in the late 1920s and 1930s and began efforts to stabilize it by 
improving the housing, feeding, and family benefits accorded to their 
African employees, wage employment's attractiveness increased sub- 
stantially, just as Governor Henry had predicted. 

Such changes were certainly welcome, and the extension of them 
during and after the Second World War marked a further maturing of 
working-class circumstances. Even so, one must be careful not to 
exaggerate the degree of change that occurred. Only in comparison to 
the drastic extremes of slavery and forced labor of the late nineteenth 
and early twentieth century did the conditions of the 1930s look like 
improvements. The labor history of industrial societies elsewhere 
provides adequate evidence of how constant a struggle and against 
what odds small gains are won. The lateness of eastern Zaire's devel- 
opment of a working class, the geographical obstacles that were only 
eased but not erased by the introduction of motorized rail, road, and 
river transport, and the long tradition of coerced labor hardly put the 
region of the verge of a golden age by 1940. 

An aspect of the broader scope eastern Zaire's labor history that 
has not been treated adequately here is the role of women workers. It 
is clear that throughout the decades covered by this study women 
were a major component, if not the major component of the agricul- 
tural work force. The observations of a Free State agent writing home 
from Basoko late in 1891, though colored by the prevailing ideas of his 
time and prone to over generalize, still captured the spirit of nine- 
teenth century life: 

In Africa the men indulge in no work other than the construction of 
their huts. They especially loathe working the earth. All the 
planting is left to the women; they are the ones who prepare the 
fields, plant the manioc and the sugar cane, sow the com, the 
sorghum, etc., and take in the harvest. It is also the women who 
make the manioc flour, the chiquangue, and the palm oil, prepare the 
meals, clean the markets, carry all the loads, bring in the firewood, 
do the marketing, etc., etc. The men fish if they are sailors, hunt if 
they dwell in the woods. While their wives toil arduously, they 
drink palm wine or sleep. 8 


As this study has pointed out women's role in agriculture continued 
during the colonial period but they played a large (and sometimes 
exclusive role) in the corvees to maintain roads to transport goods, 
crops, and firewood. It is their role as wage and contract laborers that 
is much more poorly documented. There is no question that women 
were employed along with men or in preference to men even in the 
early colonial period. For example, in 1893 there were already over 
eighty women employed as brickmakers in Basoko.^ Large numbers 
of women on one to three year contracts worked on rubber planta- 
tions in Aruwimi in 1909.^^ However, in later decades the number of 
working women is very poorly documented, except for wives accom- 
panying their husbands to the mines, who often worked as food 
producers. One partial exception is the large number of women who 
worked as seasonal laborers on settler farms, especially in Kivu.^^ 
Thus, in all eras and all districts of the eastern Congo much work 
remains to be done to recover the labor history of women.^^ 

Despite this and many other omissions that have resulted from 
trying to approach the labor history of eastern Zaire from a broad 
perspective, it is hoped that this study will be a useful introduction to 
a previously obscure part of African history. This study could never 
have been completed without the pioneering local studies undertaken 
by colonial officials, Zairian students, and a host of other scholars. It 
is hoped this publication will encourage others to fill in the many gaps 
and to correct the many errors that remain. 

^RAC, RG 1078, Archives Chaltin, 14 November 1891, 4:34. 

^Ibid., book 2. A senior official in Uele who gave a female worker twenty-five 

strokes of the whip for insolence in 1902 was vebally reproved by the GG. AA, IRCB 

(772)73/1, Hanolet to GG, 4 November 1902, and reply. 

^^ne hundred women worked on contracts in Mogandjo in Aurwimi, mostly 

alongside their husbands; FO403/410, in N°43, Campbell, "Report on... Aruwimi and 

Haut Uele." 

"Women worked a total 344,484 days in 1928, 509,500 days in 1929, and 104,801 

days in 1930; children were employed for nearly as many days: 241,512 in 1928, 

429,800 in 1929, and 24,619 in 1930. Harvesting coffee was principally done by 

women and children. AA, RA/CB(141)11-13, RAPO, Agriculture, 1928-30. 

^^See the pioneering study by Barbara A. Yates, "Colonialism, Education, and Work: 

Sex Differentiation in Colonial Zaire," pp.127-52 in Women and Work in Africa, Edna 

G. Bay, ed. (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982). 





Official Registration of African Population, 

Eastern Congo, 1919-1940 ('000) 





































































































































































































Note: Totals for 1919-21 include 257,000 pjersons in Lowa District, which was sup- 
pressed in 1922. Kivu figures for 1923-24 must have been estimates of the total 

Sources: RACB 1920, p.ll; 1921, p. 81; 1922, p.29; 1923; 1924, p.61; 1925, pp. 
155-56; 1926, p.85; 1927, p.97; 1928, pp.9-10, 104; 1929, p.7; 1930, p.S; 1931, p.9; 
1932, p.lO; 1933, p.lO; 1934, p.l2; 1935, p.l7; 1936, p.lS; 1937, p.l6; 1938, p.22; 
1939-44, pp.28-29. AA, MOI(3545): RAPO, third quarter 1921 (extract); RA/CB 
(200)1: RAPO 1929 AIMO, p. 19. 


Africans Employed in the Eastern Congo, 1919-1940 ('000) 

Year ville 






































































































































































Note: Totals include Lowa district figures of 1,300 in 1919 and 900 in 1920. 

SourcesiRACB 1920, p.l4; 2921; 1922, p.75; 1925, p.l78; 1928, p.l2; 1929, p.ll; 
1930, pp.11, 135; 1931, p.l6; 1935, p.21; 1936, p.23; 2937, p.23; 2939, pp.27-28; 
1939^4, p.35. AA, MOI(3545)15: RAPO 1919 (extract), RAPO 1925 AIMO p. 197, 
RAPO 1924; (unclassified): RAPO 1927 AIMO pp. 31-34; RA/CB(1937)3: RAPO 
1928 Avant Propos p. 17; RA/CB(141)16: RAPS 1933 Economique et Agriculture, 
Annexes, table 4; RA/CB(120bis)13-14: RAPC 1939 AIMO, p. 66, RAPC 1940 AIMO 
p. 45; RA/CB(138)8: RAPS 1939 AIMO p. 103. "Rapport economique Aruwimi 
1926," Congo 1927, 2:309-13. Comite Consultative MOI, Rapport de la Sous- 
Commission, p.24. Bertrand, Probleme de la main-d'ceuvre, pp.6-7. Henri Leonard, 
"Le developpement industriel du Congo et la legislation sociale," Bulletin de 
V'lRCB, 12 (1941), p.274. 



Head Tax Collected, Eastern Congo, 1915-1940 

(millions of francs per calendar year) 





Lowa/ Mani- 
















































































































































































Note: Missing calendar-year data results from the colonial reports sometimes 

reporting tax revenues only by fiscal year. 
Sources: RACE 1915, p.35; 1916, p.32; 1917, p.46; 1918, p. 195; 1929, pp. 262-63; 

1921, p.44; 1923, pp.10, 61; 1924, pp.10, 80; 1925, pp.86, 157; 1925, pp.21, 105; 

1929, p.l09; 1930, pp.19, 115; 1931, p.l51; 1932, pp.31, 164; 1935, p.4; 1936; 

1937; 1938; 1939-44; AA, RAPO 1927. 



African Rice Production, Eastern Congo, 1920-40 

(in Metric Tons, unhulled) 

















































































































Stanleyville Prov. 













































Note: Figures in italic are estimated by the author. 

Sources: RACE 1920, pp.43, 61; 1921, pp.72, 175; 1923, p.69; 2925, p.l86; 1927, 
p.l03; 1931, p.l78; 1932, p.205; 1933, pp.147, 288; 1934, pp.225, 264-65. AA, 
(Unclassified) RAPO 1926 Economique pp.46-47; RA/CB(140)7: RAPO 1931 
Affaires Economiques, table 7; RA/CB(141)16: RAPS 1933 Annexes, RAPS 1934 
Agriculture; RA/CB(142)2, 4, 5: RAPS 1936 Agriculture; RAPS 1938, 1939, 1940 
Agriculture; RA/CB(122bis)9-10: RAPC 1938, 1939 Agriculture. KAT, T005 1927: S. 
Lauwers (CD), Developpement economique du District de Stanleyville; Production 
agricole vendue par les indigenes, 5 October 1942. 'Tiapport sur la situation econo- 
mique de la Province Orientale," Congo 1924, 2:97-98; "L Agriculture du Congo 
Beige en 1937," BACB, 19 (1938):490. 


Appendix 5 

African Cotton Production, Eastern Congo, 1920-40 

(in Metric Tons Unseeded) 











Kivu 1 


i PC 









































































































































Sources: RACE 1931, p.79; 1939-44, p.209; AA, RA/CB(120bis)10: RAPC 1934 
AIMO, p.115; ToUens, "Economic Analysis of Cotton Production," p.45. 



Archival Sotirces - Supplement 

Pepartement de rAdministration du Territoire, Kisangani. 

DROIT-CIVIL, COMMERCIAL, PENAL: D353 Terrains, Occupation 
du Pays, 1926-1964; D52 "MO" Convention CFL 1932-1964. 

AIMO et d'inspection, 1921-1967; F213 Rapports d'inspection, Haut 
Congo, 1921-1965; F22h Conseil du gouvernement; F22j Conseil des 
Territoires; F3m Autorit^s Indigenes. 

Indigene; R1104 Recrutement, Instructions provinciales. Inter- 
dictions, 1934-1952; R2 Classification des Travailleurs, 1932-1962; 
R32 Salaries, 1927-1962; R413 Sessions de la Commission Regionale, 
Rapports AIMO, Enquetes AIMO; R771 Commission de la Main- 
d'oeuvre, 1932-1956. 

AFFAIRES ECONOMIQUES : T005 Zones economiques. Province 
Orientale, 1927-1966. 

Other Zairian Archives 

Note: Those consulted are "living archives" of governmental 
units, not part of the national archives of Zaire. Guides to many 
such holdings in Kivu Province are available in the library of the 
Institut Sup^rieur Pedagogique, Bukavu. 

Division Regionale de la Culture et des Arts, Kisangani. 

Division Regionale de I'Agriculture, Haut Zaire, Kisangani. 

Division Regionale de I'Agriculture, Kivu, Bukavu. 

Division Regionale de I'lnspection des Mines, Bukavu. 

Archives de la Sous Region du Sud-Kivu; photocopies in the 
library of the Institut Sup^rieur Pedagogique, Bukavu. 

Archives de Zone, Uvira. 



Archival Sources 

Archives Africaines . Minis t^re des Affaires Etrangdres. 
2, rue des Quatre Bras, Brussels, Belgium. 

Guides: Madeleine Van Grieken-Tavernier. Inventaire des archives 
des Affaires etr anger es de I'Etat Independent du Congo et du Minister e 
des Colonies (1885-1914). Brussels: ARSC, 1955 
. La colonisation Beige en Afrique centrale: guide des archives afri- 
caines du ministhre des affaires africaines 1885-1965. Brussels: 
Minist^re des Affaires Etrang^res, 1981. 

. .Supplement. Brussels: Ministdre des Affaires Etrang^res, 


Tobback. Letters and journal of Isidore Tobback covering the years 

(137-38), (140-43), (155-57), (159-60), (197-200). Provincial and district 
annual reports for the years 1926-40, including reports on admini- 
stration, agriculture, economic affairs, justice, public works, and 
African labor (AIMO). Not all series are complete. 

AFFAIRES ETRANGERES: AE(200-1), (208), (217), (242), (339), (341-45), 
(349-52). General correspondence between the Free State and foreign 
governments for the years 1887-1906; copies of the English reports on 
the Free State with French translations and refutations of them; corres- 
pondence and depositions of the 1904-5 Commission of Inquiry. 

AGRICULTURE: AGRI(380) 27bis-28. Cotonco 1930-33. 


PRIVATE COLLECTIONS: D(382)9 H. Bodart, (382)29 Emile Lemery, 
(385) Frans Comet, (387) Edouard Five, (778) Alexis Bertrand. 

INSTirUT ROYAL COLONIAL BELGE: IRCB(507)84 Dossier Verbiest, 
"Lothaire 1893-94"; (772) private correspondence with King Leopold 11; 
73, summaries of correspondence from Africa for the King, 1901-2, 
1904-8; letters sent to the Congo, 1904-6; 74, correspondence de 
Cuvelier/Leopold n, 1891-1908; 75, correspondence of Baron Griendl, 

HYGIENE: H(839), (850), (855) sanitation reports, Haut Ituri, 1905-11; 
Kilo-Moto, 1909-14; sleeping sickness reports and correspondence, 
1910-34. H(4421-22) 607, industrial health, 1927-29, correspondence; 
611, Labor Commission, 1940; 614, feeding of workers, 1923-39, 
correspondence and documents. 

AFFAIRES INDIGENES: AI(1371), (1415-16), 1421-22) various reports 
and studies of labor-related issues, 1907-35. 

MAIN-D'CEUVRE INDIGENE: MOI (3544-45), (3547-49), (3552-54), 
(3559bis) correspondence and reports on labor recruitment and legi- 
slation, 1911-32; (3587-98), reports sollicited by the 1927 Labor Com- 
mittee; a few provincial labor commission records, 1918, 1925; (3600- 
3), industrial and mining labor recruitment: correspondence 1904-31; 
(3605-8), labor law correspondence, 1909-28. 

Musee Royal de I'Afrique Centrale, Section Historique. 
Steenweg op Leuven, Tervuren, Belgium. 

Guide: Marcel Luwel. "Inventaire des archives historiques du Musee 
royal du Congo beige h Tervuren," Bulletin de I'IRCB, 25 

R.G. 1078 Archives Louis Chaltin: 26 notebooks, 1891-1901. 
50.30 Archives du District de Bas Uele, 1908-22. 
54.95 & 59.40 Fonds Albert Sillye. 


Public Record Office. Ruskin Avenue, Kew TW9 4DU, England 


FO 84 Slave Trade: Correspondence with British officials in Zanzibar 
and elsewhere in East Africa for the years 1866-1892; occasional refer- 
ences to the eastern Congo region are in files 1265, 1279, 1292, 1307, 
1325, 1344, 1373-76, 1385-93, 1398-1400, 1414-17, 1426, 1451-54, 1483- 
86, 1513-15, 1546-48, 1574-75, 1599-1601, 1620-23, 1632, 1644-46, 1677- 
80, 1722-30, 1771-78, 1850-55, 1904-13, 1973-85, 2058-70, 2145-53, 2228- 

FO 107 General Correspondence, Zanzibar: A continuation of the 
Zanzibar correspondence from 1893-1905. (The most significant of the 
Zanzibar correspondence from 1885 onward was printed in FO 403 
Confidential Print, Africa, files 93-107, 117-20, 136-39, 158-59 for the 
years 1885-91 and files 181-84, 193-96, 208-11, 225-28 for the years 
1893-96. The intervening years are in FO 881 Confidential Print, print 
nimibers 6124, 6338-41, 6362, 6403, and FO 300 Embassy and Consular 
Archives, Belgium, Miscellenia, files 25, 27, 29.) 

FO 403 Confidential Print, Africa: Other correspondence and reports 
concerning the Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo for 1890-1913 
are in files 168-69, 188, 201-2, 218-19, 236-37, 252, 271, 304-5, 327, 338, 
351, 364, 372-4, 387-88, 399-400, 409-10, 417-18, 425-26, 434-35, 443-44. 

FO 629 Embassy and Consular Archives, Belgium: Congo: 8 Anon., 
Report on the Economic Situation in the Belgian Congo, Leopoldville, 
June 1926; 9-12 Roger Casement, Congo Atrocities; 13 Conseil 
Protestant du Congo, Correspondence 1933-36. Most other FO records 
concerning the Congo were destroyed in 1940. (See FO 603/1-13 
Embassy and Consular Archives, Belgium, Index to Subject Files, 

Archives de la Soci^t^ des Missionaires d'Afrique (Pferes Blancs) 
Via Aurelia, 269; 00165 Rome, Italy 

Guide: Rene Lamey. Archives de la Sociiti des Missionaires d'Afrique 
(Pbres Blancs). Zug: Consiglio Intemazionale degli Archivi, 1983. 


SOURCES IMPRIMEES (pro manuscripto, ad usum internum) 

Chronique trimestrielle de la Societe des Missionaires de Notre-Dame 

d'Afrique, 1879-94. 

Chronique trimestrielle de la Societe des Missionaires d'Afrique (P^res 

Blancs), 1895-1903. 

Chronique de la Societe des Missionaires d'Afriques (P^res Blancs), 


Rapports Annuels des Missions des P^res Blancs, 49 vols., 1905-60 

Vicariat Apostolique du Haut-Congo, 1905-30. 

Vicariat du Kivu, 1930-39. 

Vicariat du Lac-Albert, 1919-39. » 

MISSION STATION DIARIES (typescripts of originals) 

Nya-Ngesi (Kivu), 1906-19, 3 vols. 

Vieux-Kilo (Lac Albert), 1911-20, 1 vol. 

Rugari (Kivu), 1911-13, 1916-38, 3 vols. 

Kabare (Kivu), 1922-23, vol. 1. 

Mugeri (Kivu), 1924-47, 1 vol. 


1 113 Haut-Congo, Mgr. Roelens, 1893-1922. 

1 144 Haut-Congo, Mgr. Huys. 

1 122 Guerre 1914-1918, Afrique Equatoriale 

1 216 Haut Congo, Mgr. Roelens 

Billy Graham Center . Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois 60187 

Collection 81: African Inland Mission, American Home Council 
Archives Fragmentary records, reports, statistics, unpublished histor- 
ical sketches and correspondence on the mission in/northeastern Zaire, 
1911-62; extensive personnel files and correspondence with the dozens 
of individual missionaries who served in that area. 

Collection 162: Joint International Missionary Council /Conference of 
British Missionary Societies Missionary Archives Africa and India 
1910-1945 (microfiche): box 287, Belgian Congo, Labour Question. 


Unpublished Theses, Dissertations, and Reports 

Armstrong, Jack P. "Report on the Condition of the Natives of Uele 

District," 30 September 1910. FO403/425, in N« 16. 
Bahati Mutimatonda. "Les Bahundu et la colonisation beige (1902- 

1960)." Travail de fin d'etudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1977. 
Bakonzi Agayo. "The Gold Mines of Kilo-Moto in Northeastern Zaire: 

1905-1960." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 

Bashizi Tchib-a-lonza Zaluba. "De la colonisation agricole: etude de 

quelques plantations k Walungu (1927-1960)." Travail de fin 

d'etudes, historie, ISP, Bukavu, 1980. 
Bertrand, Alexis. "Au cours de la periode d'euphorie economique. ..." 

Typescript in Bertrand Collection, AA, D(778)B.n.3, n.d. 
Birhakaheka Njiga. "La principaute de Nyangezi: essai d'histoire 

socio-economique (1850-1960)." Memoire de Licence en Histoire, 

ISP, Bukavu, 1978. 
Bitanana Ntamugab'umwe. "Reflections sur les conditions des 

travailleurs dans la province de Kivu (1922-1945)." Travail de fin 

d'etudes, histoire, ISP, Bukavu, 1977. 
Campbell, Gerald. "Report on a Tour in the Aruwimi and Haut Ituri 

Districts of the Congo State," January-May 1909. FO403/410 in N° 

. "Report on a Tour in the Province Orientale, Aruwimi and 

Equator Districts." FO 403/417 in N^ 35. 
Cobut, Michel. "Historique des transports au Congo, periode 1918- 

28." Memoire de licence, Institut Catholique des Hautes Etudes 

Commerciales, Brussels, 1966. 
Kaboy, Ruboneka. "Implantation missionnaire au Kivu (Zaire): une 

etude historique des etablissements des P^res Blancs, 1880-1945." 

Doctoral thesis, ecclesiastical history. Pontifical Gregorian 

University, Rome, 1980. 
Keim, Curtis A. "Precolonial Mangbetu Rule: Political and Economic 

Factors in Nineteenth-Century Mangbetu." Ph.D. dissertation. 

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1976. 
Lamont, W. J. "Report on a Tour of Upper Congo. Section I: Matadi to 

the River Aruwimi. Section 11: Report on the Third Zone of the 

Congo opened to Free Trade, July 1, 1912, Aruwimi and Uele 


Districts." FO 403/443 enclosed in N° 1, Lament to Grey, Bomu, 20 

November 1912. 
Lloyd, David Tyrell. "The Precolonial Economic History of the 

Avongara-Azande c.1750-1916." Ph.D. dissertation, University of 

California, Los Angeles, 1978. 
Malherbe, Gerard. "La mission au Lac Albert (Ituri-Zaire) 1911-1934: 

^l^ments et indications pour une etude." Ph.D. thesis, Universite 

Catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve), 1976. 
Mashagiro Nkuba Ngagi. "La Cobelmin et le probl^me de la main- 

d'oeuvre indigene (1932-1963)." Memoire en licence, ISP, Bukavu, 

Musimwa Bisharhwa. "Histoire coloruale de Kaziba: essai d'etudes 

des aspects religieux et 4conomiques (1908-1960)." Travail de fin 

d'etudes, ISP, Bukavu, 1980. 
Newbury, David S. "Kings and Clans: Ijwi Island, ca 1780-ca 1840." 

Ph.D. dissertation. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1979. 
Purdon, R. J. "Report... on the Political and Commercial Situation of 

Stanleyville." FO403/444 in N^ 3. 
. "Report on a Tour in the Districts of Stanleyville, Lowa, 

Maniema and a portion of Aruwimi." FO403/443 in N° 6 Lamont 

to Grey, 16 December 1912. 
Ramazani Mwanatingu. "La culture du coton dans la Zone de 

Kabambare." Travail de fin d'etudes, ISP, Bukavu, 1976. 
Senga Ongala. "Les arabis^s Kusu et la creation et revolution du poste 

de Walikale (1901-1954)." Travail de fin d'etudes, ISP, Bukavu, 

Shaw, Bryant P. "Force Publique, Force Unique: the Military in the 

Belgian Congo, 1914-1939." Ph.D. dissertation. University of 

Wisconsin-Madison, 1984. 
Tollens, E. F. "An Economic Analysis of Cotton Production, 

Marketing and Processing in Northeastern Zaire." Ph.D. disser- 
tation. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1975. 

Serial Publications 

Annuaire del'Etat Independent du Congo, Brussels, 1903ff. 
Annuaire officiel du Congo Beige, Brussels, 1910ff. 
La Belgique Coloniale, Edited by Ren^ Vauthier, Brussels, 1895-1912. 
Belgium. Conseil Colonial. Compte rendu analytique des seances, 


1909... 1940. Brussels: A. Lesigne, 1910ff. 
Biographic Coloniale Belge/Biographie Beige d'Outre-mer. 7 vols. 

Brussels: IRCB/ARSC, 1948-77. 
Bulletin Officiel de I'Etat Indipendent du Congo, Brussels,1885-1908 
Congo: Revue Ginirale de la Colonie beige, 1920-40. 
Congo Beige, Rapport annuel sur I' administration de la colonie, 1909-59 

(title varies). 
Congo Beige, Rapport surl'hygihne publique, 1925-59. 
Congo Mission News/Nouvelles Missionaries du Congo (Organ of the 

General Conference of Protestant Missionaries in Congo), Bolobo, 

Belgian Congo, 1912ff. 
Heimat und Mission (Illustrierte Zeitschrift herausgegeben van den 

Herz-Jesu-Priestem der Missionsschule Clairefontaine), Luxem- 
burg, 1927ff. 
Inland Africa (Organ of the African Inland Mission), New York, 

Institut Royal Colonial Beige, Bulletin des Siances, Brussels, 1930ff. 
. Sections des Sciences Morales et Politiques. Mimoires, Brussels, 

Le Mouvement Giographique (Organe de I'lnstitut national de 

G^ographie de Bruxelles), ed. A.-J. Wauters, Brussels, 1884-1938. 
La Tribune Congolaise, Antwerp, 1903ff. 

Published Books and Articles 

"L'agriculture au Congo Beige en 1937." RACB 19 (1938):490. 

Anstey, Roger. King Leopold's Legacy: the Congo under Belgian Rule, 

1908-1960. London: Oxford University Press, 1966. 
Anthoine, R. "Les mines de Kilo-Moto. Leur ^volution-Leur avenir." 

Revue Universelle des Mines 13 (1922):165-79. 
Asiegbu, Johnson U. J. Slavery and the Politics of Liberation 1787-1861: 

a Study of Liberated African Emancipation and British Anti-Slavery 

Policy. London: Longmans, 1969. 
Austen, Ralph and Rita Headrick. "Equatorial Africa under Colonial 

Rule." In History of Central Africa. 2: 27-94. Edited by David 

Birmingham and Phyllis M. Martin. New York: Longman, 1983. 
Bashizi Cirhagarhula. "Processus de domination socio-6conomique et 

marche du travail au Bushi (1920-45)." Enquetes et Documents 

d'histoire africaine 3 (1978):l-29. 


Baumer, Guy. Les Centres indigenes extracoutumiers au Congo Beige: 
Etudes de sociologie et d 'ethnologie juridique. Paris: Editions Domat- 
Montchrestien, 1939. 

Bay, Edna G., editor. Women and Work in Africa. Boulder, Colorado: 
Westview Press, 1982. 

Belgium. "Rapport de la Commission des Colonies chargee d'exami- 
ner le Projet de Loi contenant le Budget ordinaire du Congo Beige 
et du vice-gouvernement general de Ruanda-Urundi pour 
I'exercice 1934." Documents Parlementaires. Senat. 1933-34. 
Document N° 85 and annex. 

. Le probleme de la main-d'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapport de la 

Commission pour I 'etude du prohlime de la main-d 'ceuvre au Congo 
Beige (1924-1925). Rapport du Comite Consultatif de la main-d'oeuvre 
(1928). Brussels: Goemaere, 1928. 

. Le probleme de la main-d'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapports 1) de la 

Commission pour I 'etude du probleme de la main-d 'ceuvre au Congo 
Beige (1924-1925). 2) du Comite Consultatif de la main-d'oeuvre 
(1928). Supplement. Brussels: Goemaere, 1928. 

. Comite consultatif de la main-d'oeuvre. Rapport de la Sous- 
Commission chargee de depouiller la questionnaire des employeurs de 
main-d' ceuvre indigene au Congo Beige. Brussels: Etablissements 
Generaux d'Imprimerie, 1932. 

. Minist^re de la Defense Nationale. Les campagnes coloniales 

beiges, 1914-1918. 2 vols. Brussels: Imprimerie de I'lCM, 1927-29. 
Bennett, Norman R. , editor. Stanley's Despatches to the New York 

Herald. 1871-1872, 1874-1877. Boston: Boston University Press, 

Bertrand, Alexis. "De la necessite d'une documentation scientifique ou 

statistique, preable k toute mesure interessante les indigenes." 

IRCB Bulletin des seances 5 (1934):641-59. 
. Le FrobUme de la Main-d'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapport de la 

Commission de la main-d'oeuvre indigene 1930-1931. Province 

Orientale. Brussels: Imprimerie A. Lesigne, 1931. 
Biebuyck, Daniel. Lega Culture: Art, Initiation, and Moral Philosophy 

among a Central African People. Berkeley: University of California 

Press, 1973. 
Bontinck, Frangois, editor. L 'Autobiographic de Homed ben Mohammed 

al-Murjebi Tippo Tip (ca. 1840-1905). Brussels: ARSOM, 1974. 


Borms, Fernand Louis Am^lie. "Le Pays des Batetela." Belgique 

Coloniale, 23 & 30-1901, pp.289-91, 303-5. 
Erode, Heinrich. Tippoo Tib: the Story of His Carer in Central Africa 

Narrated from His Own Accounts. Translated by H. Havelock. 

London: Edward Arnold, 1907. 
Buell, Raymond Leslie. The Native Problem in Africa. 2 vols. New 

York: Macmillan, 1928. 
Bustin, Edouard. "The Congo." In Five African States: Responses to 

Diversity, pp.9-159. Edited by Gwendolen M. Carter. Ithaca: 

Cornell University Press, 1963. 
. Lunda Under Belgian Rule: the Politics of Ethnicity. Cambridge: 

Harvard University Press, 1975. 
Bouche, Denise. Les villages de liberte en Afrique noire frangaise 1887- 

1910. Paris: Mouton & Co., 1968. 
Bowe, H. Eugene. "Slaves." Inland Africa October 1921, p. 12. 
Cameron, Vemey Lovett. Across Africa. New Edition. London: George 

Philip & Son, 1885. 
Cattier, Filicien. Droit et administration de I'Etat Independent du Congo. 

Brussels: Larcier, 1898. 
. Etude sur la situation de I'Etat Independent du Congo. Brussels: F. 

Larcier, 1906. 
Cayen, A. Le Probleme de la Main-d'oeuvre au Congo Beige. Rapport 

General de la Commission de la main-d'oeuvre 1930-31. Brussels: 

Etablissements Generaux d'Imprimerie, 1931. 
Ceulemans, P. La question arabe et le Congo (1883-1892). Brussels: 

ARSC, 1959. 
Chubaka Bishikwabo and Newbury, David. "Recent Historical 

Research in the Area of Lake Kivu: Rwanda and Zaire." History in 

Africa 7 (1980):23-45. 
Collins, Robert O. King Leopold, England, and the Upper Nile 1899- 

1909. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968. 
Comite National du Kivu. Rapports du Conseil de Gerance et du College 

des Commissaires. Brussels: Imprimerie Industrielle et Financi^re, 

Congr^s Colonial National. Rapports. Comptes rendus. 2 vols. 

Brussels: A. Lesigne, 1930-31 
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Harper & Brothers, 

Conseil d' Administration de la Societe des Mines d'or de Kilo-Moto. 


La veritable situation aux Mines de Kilo-Moto, reponse. . .au rapport du 

Colonel Bertrand. Brussels: R. Bausart, 1932. 
Ccx)key, S. J. S. "West African Immigrants in the Congo, 1885-1896." 

Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3 (1965):261-70. 
. Britain and the Congo Question 1885-1913. New York: 

Humanities Press, 1968. 
Cooper, Frederick. From Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and 

Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 1890-1925 New Haven: 

Yale University Press, 1980. 
Coquery-Vidrovitch, Catherine. "Population et demographie en 

Afrique Equatoriale Frangaise dans le premier tiers du XX^ si^cle." 

In African Historical Demography, pp .331-51. Edinburgh: Center for 

African Studies, University of Edinburgh, 1977. 
. "The Colonial Economy of the Former French, Belgian and 

Portuguese Zones, 1914-35." In UNESCO General History of Africa, 

vol. 7: Africa under Colonial Domination 1880-1935. pp.351-81. 

Edited by A. Adu Boahen. Berkeley: University of California 

Press, 1985. 
Coquilhat, Camille. Sur le Haut-Congo. Paris: J. Leb^gue et Cie, 1888. 
Cornet, Rene-Jules. Bwana Muganga: hommes en blanc en afrique noire. 

Brussels: ARSOM, 1971. 
Crokaert, Jacques. "Le developpement economique du Congo Beige 

pendant la guerre." Revue Economique Internationale, April 1921, 

De Bauw, G. "La Zone Uere-Bomu." Belgique Coloniale, 10, 17, and 24 

February 1901, pp.63-67, 73-75, 88-91. 
De Jonghe, Ed. with Julien Van Hove. Les Formes d'asservissement 

dans les societes indigenes du Congo beige. Brussels: IRCB, 1949. 
Delhaise, Charles. Les Warega (Congo Beige). Brussels: Albert de Wit, 

Delcommune, Alexandre. L 'avenir du Congo beige menace: bilan des dix 

premitres annees, 1909-1918, d' administration coloniale gouverne- 

mentale. Brussels, 1921. 
Dickerman, Carol and David Northrup, "Africanist Archival Research 

in Brussels." History in Africa 9 (1982):359-65. 
Dorman, Marcus. A Journal of a Tour in the Congo Free State. Brussels: 

J. Leb^gue/ London: Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner, 1905. 
Eltis, David. "Free and Coerced Transatlantic Migrations: Some Com- 
parisons." American Historical Review 88 (April 1983):251-80. 


.Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. 

New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 
Emerson, Barbara. Leopold II of the Belgians: King of Colonialism. New 

York: St. Martin's Press, 1979. 
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. The Azande: History and Political Institutions. 

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. 
Fallers, Lloyd. Bantu Bureaucracy. New Edition. Chicago: University 

of Chicago Press, 1965. 
Fetter, Bruce. The Creation of Elisabethville 1910-1940. Stanford; 

Hoover Institution Press, 1976. 
. Colonial Rule and Regional Imbalance in Central Africa. Boulder, 

Colorado: Westview Press, 1983. 
Flament, F., editor. La Force Publique de sa naissance a 1914: 

Participation des militaires d. I'histoire des premieres annees du Congo. 

Brussels: IRCB, 1952. 
Forester, C. S. The Sky and the Forest. Boston: Little, Brown, 1948. 
Fox-Bourne, H. R. Civilization in Congoland: a Story of International 

Wrong-Doing. London: P. S. King & Son, 1903. 
Franck, Louis. "Discours d[u] Ministre des Colonies, k la Chambre des 

Representants, 24 Noven\ber 1920." Congo (1920) 2:358-69. 
Freund, William. "Labor and Labor History in Africa: a Review of the 

Literature." African Studies Review 27 (1984):l-58. 
Gann, L. H. and Duignan, Peter. The Rulers of Belgian Africa, 1884- 

1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979. 
Glave, E. J. "Extracts from the Journals of the Late E. J. Glave." 

Century 52 (1896):589-606, 765-81, 918-33; 53 (1897):900-15; 54 

Green William A. British Slave Emancipation: the Sugar Colonies and the 

Great Experiment 1830-1865. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976. 
Guebels, Leon, editor. Relation complete des travaux de la Commission 

Permanent pour la protection des indigenes au Congo beige. Brussels: 

Centre d'Etude de Probl^mes Sociaux Indigenes, 1953. 
Gustin, Lieutenant. "Vers le Nil." Mouvement Geographique, 1898, 

cols. 199-204, 211-15, 228-30, 237-40, 265-67, 286-89, 295-99, 319-22, 

337-40, 345-47, 360-62, 367-71, 379-83, 403-7. 
Gutkind, Peter C. W., Cohen, Robin and Copans, Jean, editors. 

African Labor History. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1978. 
Hailey, Malcolm. An African Survey: a Study of Problems Arising in 


Africa South of the Sahara. London: Oxford University Press, 1938. 
Hawker, George. The Life of George Grenfell, Congo Missionary and 

Explorer. London: Religious Tract Society, 1909. 
Henry, Eugene. "Circulaire du Gouverneur General relative k 

I'etablissement de culture de produits d'exportation par les 

indigenes." BACB 5 (December 1914): 549-52. 
Heyse, Theodore Le regime du travail au Congo Beige. Second Edition. 

Brussels: Goemaere, 1924, 
. Congo Beige et Ruanda-Urundi: Notes de droit publique et 

commentaires de la Charte Coloniale. 2 vols. Brussels: G. Van 

Campenhout, 1952-57. 
Hinde, Sidney Langford. The Fall of the Congo Arabs. New York: 

Thomas Whittaker, 1897. 
Hodges, G. W. T. "African Manpower Statistics for the British Forces 

in East Africa, 1914-1918." Journal of African History, 19 (1978): 

Hopkins, Anthony. An Economic History of West Africa. New York: 

Columbia University Press, 1973. 
Huybrechts, Andre. Transports et Structures de developpement au 

Congo: Etude du progres economique de 1900 a 1970. Paris: Mouton, 

Hiffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika. London: Cambridge 

University Press, 1979. 
Janssens, Edmond, Nisco, Giacomo, and Schumacher, E. de. "Rapport 

de la Commission d'Enquete k M. le Secretaire de I'Etat Indepen- 
dent du Congo, 30 octobre 1905." BOEIC 1905 N° 9-10, pp.l35- 

Jean-Aubry, Gerard. Joseph Conrad in the Congo. Boston: Little, 

Brown, and Company, 1926. 
Jewsiewicki, Bogumil. "Notes sur I'histoire socio-economique du 

Congo (1880-1960)." Etudes d'Histoire africaine 3 (1972):209-41. 
. "The Great Depression and the Making of the Colonial Economic 

System in the Belgian Congo." African Economic History 4 (1977): 

."Unequal Development: Capitalism in the Katanga Economy, 

1919-40." In The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern 

Africa, pp.31 7-44. Edited by Robin Palmer and Neil Parsons. 

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977. 
. "Le colonat agricole europeen au Congo Beige, 1910-1960: 


questions politiques et dconomiques." Journal of African History 20 
_. "Belgian Africa." In Cambridge History of Africa, vol. 7: from 

1905 to 1940, pp. 460-93. Edited by A. D. Roberts. London: 

Cambridge University Press, 1986. 
Joye, Pierre and Lewin, Rosine. Les trusts au Congo. Brussels: Soci^te 

Populaire d'Editions, 1961. 
Kabemba Assan. "Les Rapports entre Arabes et Manyema dans 

I'histoire du XIX^ si^cle." Cahiers du CERUKI, series C2 (Sciences 

Humaines)N=l (1979):31-51. 
Katzenellenbogen, S. E. "Labour Recruitment in Central Africa: the 

Case of Katanga." In Imperial Impact: Studies in the Economic 

History of Africa and India, pp.270-79. Edited by Clive Dewey and 

A. G. Hopkins. London: Athlone Press, 1978. 
Keim, Curtis A. "Long-distance Trade and the Mangbetu." Journal of 

African History 24 (1983):l-22. 
. "Women in Slavery among the Mangbetu c. 1800-1910," In 

Women and Slavery in Africa, pp. 144-59. Edited by Claire C. 

Robertson and Martin A. Klein. Madison: University of Wisconsin 

Press, 1983. 
Klein, Herbert S. and Engerman, Stanley L. "The Transition from 

Slave to Free Labor: Notes on a Comparative Economic Model," In 

Between Slavery and Freedom: The Spanish-Speaking Caribbean in the 

Nineteenth Century, pp. 255-69. Edited by Manuel Moreno 

Franginals, Frank Moya Pons, and Stanley L. Engerman. Balti- 
more: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. 
Kopytoff, Igor and Miers, Suzanne. "African 'Slavery' as an Institution 

of Marginality." In Slavery in Africa, pp.3-81. Edited by Suzanne 

Miers and Igor Kopytoff. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 

Laclav^re, Georges, editor. Atlas de la Republique du Zaire. Paris: 

Editions Jeune Afrique, 1978. 
Lagae, C.-R. Les Azande ou Niam-Niam: V organization zande, croyances 

religieuses et magiques, coutumes familiales. Brussels: Vromant & 

Co., 1926. 
Landeghem, Andre Jacques. "De I'influence des cultures de coton par 

les indigenes sur le developpment economique des regions 

cotonni^res." Congo (1927) 2:298-303. 
Le Grand, L., S. J. "La depopulation du Congo Beige et les 


recensements de 1917." Congo (1921) 1:202-10. 

Leonard, Henri. "Le developpment industriel du Congo et la legisla- 
tion sociale." Bulletin des Seances del'IRCB 12 (1941):264-83. 

. "Les concessions de mines au Congo Beige dans les regions 

autres que le Katanga." Congo (1925) 1:1-15. 

. Le contrat de travail au Congo beige et Ruanda-Urundi (entre 

indigenes et maitres civilises. Brussels: Femand Larder, 1934. 
Leplae, Edmond V. "Les cultures obligatoires dans les pays d'agri- 

culture arri^ree." BACB 20 (1929):449-478. 
. "Notes sur le rel^vement de I'agriculture du Congo Beige: Resul- 

tats economiques et educatifs de la culture obligatoire du coton. 

Importance du salariat au Congo beige." BACB 23 (1932): 127-32. 
. "Histoire et developpement des cultures obligatoires de coton et 

de riz au Congo beige de 1917 k 1933." Congo (1933) 1:645-753. 
. "L'avenir de I'agriculture congolaise conformement au discours 

du Due de Brabant." Congo (1937) 1:233-86. 
"Les 'levee des travailleurs'." Congo (1920) pp. 368-70. 
Lippens, Maurice. Notes sur le gouvernement du Congo, 1921-1922. 

Ghent: Ad. Herckenrath, 1923. 
Livingstone, David. The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central 

Africa from Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-five to his Death. Edited by 

Horace Waller. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875. 
Lloyd, David. L'Histoire economiques des Avongara-Azande c.1750-1960. 

Brussels: CEDAF, 1978. 
Louis, William Roger. Ruanda-Urundi 1884-1919. Oxford: Clarendon 

Press, 1963. 
Louwers, O. La politique economique au Congo Beige: rapport au comite 

permanent du congres colonial. Brussels: Goemaere, 1924. 
and Andre Hoornaert. La question sociale au Congo: rapport au 

comite du congres colonial national. Compte-rendu de la seance pleniere 

du 24 novembre 1924. Brussels: Goemaere, 1924. 
Lovejoy, Paul. Transformations in Slavery in Africa. Cambridge: 

Cambridge University Press, 1983. 
Lux, Andre. Le marche du travail en Afrique noire. Publications de 

rUniversite Louvanium de Leopoldville. Louvain: Institut de 

Recherches Economiques, Sociales et Politiques, 1962. 
Lyons, Maryinez. "From 'Death Camps' to Cordon Sanitaire: the 

Development of Sleeping Sickness Policy in the Uele District of the 

Belgian Congo, 1903-1914." Journal of African History 26 (1985): 69- 


McEverdy, Colin and Jones, Richard. An Atlas of World Population 

History. New York: Penguin Books, 1978. 
McSheffrey, Gerald M. "Slavery, Indentured Servitude, Legitimate 

Trade and the Impact of Abolition in the Gold Coast, 1874-1901: a 

Reappraisal." Journal of African History 24 (1983):349-86. 
Martin, Phyllis M. "The Violence of Empire." In History of Central 

Africa, 2:1-26. Edited by David Birmingham and Phyllis M. 

Martin. New York: Longman, 1983. 
Mason, Michael. "Working on the Railroad: Forced Labor in Northern 

Nigeria, 1907-1912." In African Labor History, pp.56-79. Edited by 

Peter C. W. Gutkind, Robin Cohen, and Jean Copans. Beverly Hills 

and London: Sage Publications, 1978. 
"Material Development in the Congo Beige." Congo Mission News, 

October 1931, pp. 22-23. 
Merlier, Michel. Le Congo et la colonisation beige d. V independence. 

Paris: Maspero, 1962. 
Miers, Suzanne. Britain and the Ending of the Slave Trade. London: 

Longman, 1975. 
and Roberts, Richard, editors. The End of Slavery in Africa. 

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. 
Miracle, Marvin P. and Fetter, Bruce. "Backward-sloping Labor- 
Supply Functions and African Behavoir." Economic Development 

and Culture Change 18 (1970):240-51. 
Moeller, Alfred. "Sous-Comite de la Province Orientale. Rapport au 

Comite consultatif de la main-d'oeuvre, 25 September 1928," L e 

Probleme de la main-d'ceuvre au Congo beige. Supplement (Brussels; 

Goemaere, 1928)" 
. Le developpement de la Province Orientale et les voies de 

communication." Congo (1930) 1:63-64. 
. "L'adaptation des societes indigenes de la Province Orientale h la 

situation creee par la colonisation." Bulletin IRCB 2 (1931):52-66. 
Monnom, Vivienne, editor. Etat Independent du Congo: documents sur 

le pays et ses habitants. Brussels: Monnom, 1904. 
Morel, Edmund Dene. Red Rubber: The Story of the Rubber Slave Trade 

Flourishing on the Congo in the Year of Grace 1906. London: T. Fisher 

Unwin, 1906. 
. History of the Congo Reform Movement. Edited by William Roger 


Louis and Jean Stengers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968. 
Moreno Fraginals, Manuel. "Plantations in the Caribbean: Cuba, 

Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic in the Late Nineteenth 

Century." In Between Slavery and Freedom: the Spanish- Speaking 

Caribbean in the Nineteenth Century, pp.3-21. Edited by Manuel 

Moreno Franginals, Frank Moya Pons, and Stanley L. Engerman. 

Baltin\ore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. 
Mouchet, R. and R. Van Nitsen. La Main-d 'CEuvre indigene au Congo 

Beige: les problemes qu 'elle evoque. Brussels: imprimerie des Travaux 

Publics, 1940. 
Moulaert, Georges. "Les Mines de Kilo-Moto." Congo (1926) 2:155-90. 
. Vingt annees a Kilo-Moto (1920-1940). Brussels: Charles Dessart, 

Moulaert, J. "Les exploitations mini^res de Kilo-Moto et la la Province 

Orientale." Congo (1935) 1:1-31. 
Nahan, Lieutenant. "Reconnaissance de Banalia vers Buta et retour 

par Bolulu." La Belgique Coloniale, 13 and 20 November 1898, 

pp.544-46, 557-59. 
Naipaul, V. S. The Bend in the River. New York: Knopf, 1979. 
Newbury, David S. "Le Bushi et les historiens: Thames historio- 

graphiques sur Test du Kivu." Enquetes et Documents d'Histoire 

Africaine 1 (1975):6-26. 
Nieboer, Herman J. Slavery as an Industrial System: Ethnographical 

Researches. 2nd ed. The Hague: 1910. 
Northrup, David. "Nineteenth Century Patterns of Slavery and 

Economic Growth in Southeastern Nigeria." International Journal 

of African Historical Studies 12 (1979):1-16. 
. "The Ideological Context of Slavery in Southeastern Nigeria in 

the 19th Century." In The Ideology of Slavery in Africa, pp. 101-22. 

Edited by Paul Lovejoy. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1981. 
. "The Ending of Slavery in Eastern Zaire." In The End of Slavery 

in Africa. Edited by Suzanne Miers and Richard Roberts. 

Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988. 
Oliver, Roland. The Missionary Factor in East Africa. London: 

Longmans, Green and Company, 1952. 
Opsomer, J. E. "Les cultures coloniales." In Encyclopedic du Congo 

Beige, 1:425-632. Brussels: Editions Bieleveld, n.d. 
Orde Browne, Granville St. John. The African Labourer. New York: 

Barnes and Noble, 1933. 


Packard, Randall. Chiefship and Cosmology: an Historical Study of 

Political Competition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983. 
Page, Melvin E. "The Manyen\a Hordes of Tippu Tip: a Case Study in 

Social Stratification and the Slave Trade in Eastern Africa." 

International Journal of African Historical Studies 7 (1974):69-84. 
. "Tippu Tip and the Arab 'Defense' of the East African Slave 

Trade." Etudes d'histoire africaine 6 (1974): 105-1 7. 
Palmer, Robin andParsons, Neil, editors. The Roots of Rural Poverty in 

Central and Southern Africa. Berkeley: University of California 

Press, 1977. 
Patterson, Orlando. "The Structural Origins of Slavery: A Critique of 

the Nieboer-Domas Hypothesis from a Comparative Perspective." 

In Comparative Perspectives on Slavery in New World Plantation 

Societies. Edited by Vera D. Rubin and Arthur Tuden. New York: 

New York Academy of Sciences, 1977. 
Peemans, Jean-Philippe. "Congo-Belgique, 1900-1960." In Diffusion du 

progres et convergence des prix: etudes inter nationales. 2:3-515. 

Louvain and Paris: Nauwelaerts, 1970. 
. "Capital Accumulation in the Congo under Colonialism: the 

Role of the State." In Colonialism in Africa, 1870-1960, vol. 4: The 

Economics of Colonialism, pp. 165-212. Edited by Peter Duignan and 

L. H. Gann. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975. 
Perrings, Charles. Black Mineworkers in Central Africa: Industrial 

Strategies and the Evolution of an African Proletariat in the Copperhelt, 

1911A1. New York: Africana, 1979. 
Pons, Valdo. Stanleyville: an African Urban Community under Belgian 

Administration. London: Oxford University Press for the lAI, 1969. 
Powesland, P. G. "History of the Migration in Uganda." In Economic 

Development and Tribal Change. Revised edition. Edited by 

Audrey I. Richards. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1973. 
Prothero, G. W. British Possessions IT, the Congo Great Britain. Foreign 

Office, Historical Section, Peace Handbooks, 16:96-99. London: H. 

M. Stationery Office 1920; reprint ed. New York: Greenwood Press, 

Renault, Frangois. Lavigerie, I'esclavage africain et I'Europe. 2 vols. 

Paris: E. de Boccard, 1971. 
. Liberation d'esclaves et nouvelle servitude: les rachats de captifs 

africains pour le compte des colonies franqaises apres V abolition de 

I'esclavage. Abidjan: Nouvelles Editions Africaines, 1976. 


Robertson, Claire C. and Klein, Martin A., editors. Women and Slavery 

in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983. 
Roelens, Victor. "Les abus du recrutement de la main-d'oeuvre au 

Congo: une protestation des chefs religieux catholiques de la 

colonie." Le Flambeau, 1 February 1929, pp.129-30; reprinted from 

La Libre Belgique, 20 January 1929. 
Romaniuk, Anatole. La fecondite des populations congolaises. Paris: 

Mouton, 1967. 
. "Infertility in Tropical Africa." In The Population of Tropical 

Africa. Edited by John C. Caldwell and Chukuka O Konjo. New 

York: Columbia University Press, 1968. 
Rutten, Martin "Notes demographiques Congolaises." Congo 1920, 

Rychmans, Pierre. Discours prononce...a la seance d'ouverture du 

Conseil de Gouvernement: reseignements, statistiques. Leopoldville: 

Courrier d'Afrique, 1939. 
Saint Moulin, Leon de. "Mouvements recents de population dans la 

zone de peuplement dense de Test du Kivu." Etudes d'histoire 

africaine 7 (1975):113-24. 
Salmon, Pierre. Le Voyage de Van Kerckhoven aux Stanley Falls et au 

camp de Yambuya (1888). Brussels: ARSOM, 1978. 
Sandbrook, R. and Cohen, R., editors. The Development of an African 

Working Class. London: Longman, 1975. 
Schweinfurth, Georg. "King Munza." In African History, pp.31 7-23. 

Edited by Robert O. Collins. New York: Random House, 1971. 
Slade, Ruth. King Leopold 's Congo. London: Oxford University Press, 

Smith, Alison. "Historical Introduction". In Maisha ya Hamed bin 

Muhammed el Murjebi yaani Tippu Tip. Translated and edited by 

Wilfred H. Whitely. Supplement to East African Swahili Committee 

Journals 28 (1958) and 29 (1959). 
. "The Southern Section of the Interior, 1840-84." In History of 

East Africa, 1:253-96. Edited by Roland Oliver and Gervase 

Mathew. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963. 
Southall, A. W. Alur Society: a Study in Processes and Types of Domin- 
ation. Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons, 1953. 
. "Belgian and British Administration in Alurland." Zaire, 7 



. "Alur Migrations." In Economic Development and Tribal Change. 

revised ed., pp.141-60. Edited by Audrey I Richards. Nairobi: 
Oxford University Press, 1973. 

Stanley, Henry M. Through the Dark Continent, or the Sources of the 
Nile around the Great Lakes of Equatorial Africa and down the Living- 
stone River to the Atlantic Ocean. 2 vols. London: Sampson Low, 
Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1878. 

. The Congo and the Founding of Its Free State. 2 vols. New York: 

Harper & Brothers, 1885. 

. The Story of Emin's Rescue as Told in Stanley's Letters. Edited by 

J. Scot Keltie. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1890. 

. In Darkest Africa, or the Quest, Rescue, and Retreat of Emin, 

Governor of Equatoria. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & 

Rivington, 1890. 
Stanley, Richard and Alan Neame, editors. The Exploration Diaries of 

H. M. Stanley. London: William Kimber, 1961. 
Stengers, Jean. "Le role de la Commission d'Enquete de 1904-1905 au 

Congo." Annuaire de I'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales et 

Slaves (Universite Libre de Bruxelles) 10 (1950):701-26. 
. "Correspondance Leopold Il-de Cuvelier." Bulletin IRCB 24 

(1953): 824-37. 

. Combien le Congo a-t-il coute d. la Belgique? Brussels: ARSC, 1957. 

. Belgique et Congo: I'elaboration de la Charte coloniale. Brussels: La 

Renaissance du Livre, 1963. 
. "The Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo before 1914." In 

Colonialism in Africa, 1870-1960, vol. 1: The History and Politics of 

Colonialism, 1870-1914, pp.261-92. Edited by L. H. Gann and Peter 

Duignan. Cambridge: At the University Press, 1969. 
, editor. Le Congo Beige durant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale: recuil 

d' etudes. Brussels: ARSOM, 1983. 
and Vansina, Jan. "Western Equatorial Africa: King Leopold's 

Congo, 1886-1908. In Cambridge History of Africa, vol. 6: c.1870- 
C.1905, pp.315-58. Edited by Roland Oliver and G. N. Sanderson. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. 

Thompson, E. P. The Making of the English Working Class. New York: 
Vintage, 1966. 

Tippu Tip. Maisha ya Hamed bin Muhammed el Murjebi yaani Tippu Tip. 
Translated and edited by Wilfred H. Whitely. Supplement to East 
African Szvahili Committee Journals 28 (1958) and 29 (1959). 


Trolli, Giovanni. "L'alimentation chez les travailleurs indigenes dans 

les exploitations commerciales, agricoles, industrielles et mini^res 

au Congo." Africa, 9 (1936):197-217. 
Turner, Thomas. Review of La Mutiniere militaire au Kasai en 1895: 

introduction, by Marcel Storme. Journal of African History 13 

Vail, Leroy and White, Landeg "Twani, Machambero!': Forced Cotton 

and Rice Growing on the Zambezi." Journal of African History 19 

Vandewoude, Emile J.,editor. Documents pour servir a V etude des 

■populations du Congo beige: aperqu historique (1886-1933) de I' etude 

des populations autochtones par les fonctionnaires et agents du Service 

Territorial, suivi de I 'inventaire des etudes historique, ethnographique et 

linguistique conservees aux Archives du Congo beige. Archives du 

Congo beige, N^ 2. Leopoldville: Archives du Congo Beige, 

Section Documentation, 1958. 
. Documents relatifs a I'ancien district du Kivu 1900-1922. Archives 

du Congo Beige N° 3. Leopoldville: Section Documentation 

Bureau Archives, 1959. 
Van Eetvelde, Edmond. "Rapport au Roi." BOE/C 2897, pp.47-56. 

. "Rapport au Roi." BOEIC 1900, pp. 128-30. 

Van Grieken-Taverniers, Madeleine, "Inventaire des archives des 

affaires etrang^res de I'Etat Independent du Congo et du Minist^re 

des Colonies (1885-1914)," Memoire de I'ARSC, Classe des sciences 

morales et politiques, n.s. 9(1955). 
, editor. Decrets de I'Etat Independent du Congo non publics au 

Bulletin Officiel. 2 vols. Brussels: Minist^re des Affaires 

Etrang^res et de la Commerce Exterieur, 1967. 
Van Onselen, Charles. Chibaro: African Mine Labour in Southern 

Rhodesia, 1900-33. London: Pluto Press, 1976. 
Vansina, Jan. Introduction a I' ethnographic de Congo. Brussels: Centre 

de recherche et d'information socio-politiques, 1956. 
. "The Peoples of the Forest." In History of Central Africa, 1:75-117. 

Edited by David Birmingham and Phyllis M. Martin. New York: 

Longman, 1983. 
Vellut, Jean-Luc. "Rural Poverty in Western Shaba, c. 1890-1930." In 

The Roots of Rural Poverty in Central and Southern Africa, pp.294- 

316. Edited by Robin Palmer and Neil Parsons. Berkeley: 

University of California Press, 1977 


_. "Enquete sue la main-d'oeuvre au Kivu (1930)," Enquetes et 
Documents d'Histoire Afrkaine 3 (1978):30-38. 
_. "Mining in the Belgian Congo." In History of Central Africa, 2: 

VIG-Gl. Edited by David Birmingham and Phyllis M. Martin. New 
York: Longman, 1983. 

Vermeersch, Arthur. La question congolaise. Brussels: Charles Bulens, 

Wauters, A.-J. Histoire politique du Congo Beige. Brussels: Pierre Van 
Fleteren, 1911. 

Willequet, Jacques Le Congo Beige et la Weltpolitik, 1884-1914. 
Brussels: Presse Universitaire de Bruxelles, 1962. 

Wilson, Charles. The History of Unilever: a Study in Economic Growth 
and Social Change. 2 vols. London Cassell & Co., 1954. 

Wissmann, Hermann von. My Second Journey Through Equatorial 
Africa from the Congo in the Years 1886 and 1887. Translated by 
Minna J. A. Bergmann. London: Chatto & Windus, 1891. 

Xydias, Nelly. "Social Effects of Urbanization in Stanleyville, Belgian 
Congo. Labour: Conditions, Aptitudes, Training." In Social 
Implications of Industrialization and Urbanization in Africa South of 
the Sahara. Edited by Daryll Forde. Paris: Unesco, 1956. 

Yates, Barbara A. "Colonialism, Education, and Work: Sex Differenti- 
ation in Colonial Zaire." In Women and Work in Africa, pp.127-52. 
Edited by Edna G. Bay. (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1982). 

Yogoelo Tambwe ya Kasimba. "Recrutement des travailleurs du 
Haut-Katanga au Kivu-Maniema de 1926 k 1928." Prohlemes 
sociaux zaioises 114-115 (1976):127-40. 



Aba, 154. 

Abed ben Salum el Khaduri, alias 

Tanganyika, 25, 27. 
Afrikaners, 145-46. 
Agriculture, 6, 9, 178-79, 121-22, 

138-40, 178, 190-91, 204. 
Aketi, 136, 154, 200, 203n. 
Albert, lake, 43, 60, 62, 63, 76, 174. 
Alur, 114, 174. 
Amadi territory, 192. 
Anglo-Belgian India Rubber 

Conipany (ABIR) 56, 59. 
Ango, 204n, 205. 
Angola, 21. 

Arabises, 15, 42, 43, 210. 
Arabs, 23, 24, 41, 42, 44, 45, 133. 

See also Zanzibari. 
Arebi, 101. 
Aruwimi district, 17, 38, 40, 45n, 

48, 51, 52, 57, 58, 59, 67, 72, 73, 

76, 82, 90, 93-94, 118, 132, 133, 

141, 148, 157, 160, 163, 179, 181, 

196, 224. 
Aruwimi river, valley, 16, 17, 26, 

38, 62, 69, 87. 
Auxiliaries. See Labor, auxiliary. 
Avakubi, 63; territory, 126. 
Babwa, 18, 53, 152. 
Badjoko, 39n. 

Bafwasende, 128, 199, 203n. 
Bagbe, 87. 

Bakonzi Agayo, 173, 185. 
Bambili, 87, 152, 154, 156, 157, 205. 

Banalia, 26, 62, 128, 193, 203n. 

Bangala province, 112. 

Barghash, Sultan, 30. 

Basoko, 38, 43, 48, 51, 62, 203n, 
223, 224. 

Becker, Gustave, 32. 

Belgian Antislavery Society, 32. 

Belgian Congo, 82-86, 123-25, 184- 
90, and passim. 

Belgium, 37, 39, 54, 55, 64, 81, 83, 
111; Colonial Council, 37, 107, 
127, 128, 130, 143, 150, 187, 217; 
loans to Congo, 40; Parliament, 
37, 53, 75, 81, 130, 153; Ministry 
of Colonies, 37, 104, 128, 130, 
136, 153, 162-64, 210, 217. 

Bena-Kamba, 34. 

Beni, 112. 

Berlin, Act, 41; Conference, 23, 30, 

Bertrand, Alexis, 83, 95, 98, 104, 
113, 127, 151, 152, 179n, 180-81, 

Biebuyck, Daniel, 187. 

Bill territory, 165. 

Bima, 50, 61, 62. 

Bomokandi, town, 62; zone, 38, 
51, 58, 72, 73. 

Bondo, 44n, 61, 154, 200, 204n. 

Bougnet, P., 183. 

Britain. See Great Britain. 

British Cotton Growers' Assn., 140. 

British East Africa, 153. 


British Empire, 4. 

Brussels, 10,162,178,211. 

Budu, 186. 

Buell, Raymond, 134. 

Buja, 52. 

Bukavu, 149. See also 

Burundi, 24, 212. 
Buta, 53, 61-62, 69, 71, 87, 111, 129, 

136, 154, 156, 157, 164, 201, 204n, 

205, 210. 
Cambier, Ernest, 30. 
Cameron, V. L., 20, 22, 27, 28. 
Capital, capitalism, 7-8, 22, 196, 

Caribbean, 4, 5, 214. 
Casement, Roger, 37, 54, 56. 
Cattle, 9, 15, 16, 146, 148, 170. 
Cayens, A., 179,211. 
Centres extracoutumiers, 210. 
Chenim de Fer Tanganyika-Kivu, 

132, 154, 201. 
Chemin de Fer Vicinaux du Congo 

(Vicicongo), 132, 136, 154, 164, 

168, 200-1. 
Chibaro, 5. 
Chiefs, African, 42-46, 48, 56n, 67, 

73-74, 79, 89, 90, 97-99, 102, 105, 

127, 129, 134, 135, 138, 139, 167, 

170, 171, 177, 185, 195, 203, 205- 

6, 216. 
Chinese, 32. 
Coffee, 9, 129, 142, 146, 148, 194- 

95, 197, 224n. 
Colonial Charter, 37, 75, 81, 95. 
Colonists. See Settlers. 
Comite Special du Katanga, 38, 


Commission of Inquiry, 38, 42, 47, 
55, 58-60, 64, 65, 71, 74, 75, 78. 

Compagnie Cotonni^re Congo- 
laise (Cotonco) 140, 168, 182. 

Compagnie des Chemins de Fer 
du Congo Superieur aux 
Grands Lacs Africains (CFL), 60, 
74-75, 118, 132, 135, 168, 201, 

Compulsory cultivation, 5, 118, 
141-42, 144-47, 173, 175, 181, 

Concessions, 9, 47, 56, 59, 75-76, 
93-94, 118, 125, 132, 196-97. See 
also Anglo-Belgian India 
Rubber Company, Lomami 
Company, Compangie des 
Chemins de Fer Superieur aux 
Grands Lacs Africains. 

Congo Free State, 1, 2, 13, 21, 23, 
29, 81, 89, 93; administration, 5, 
29-36, 38-48, 215-17; labor policy 
and practice, 2, 48-71, 111. 

Congo Oriental Company, 103. 

Congo Reform Association, 54. 

Congo river and valley, 22. 

Conrad, Joseph, 39. 

Cooper, Fred, 221. 

Corvees, 41, 56, 59, 66, 68, 98, 106- 

Costermans, 55. 

Costermansville, 86, 149, 154, 179, 
184, 187, 188, 190, 194, 190-99, 
202, 210, 216. 

Cotton, 9, 121, 122, 128, 139-44, 
147, 151-54, 157, 167-68, 178, 
182, 190, 192-93, 197, 199-200, 
202, 204-6. 


Currencies, 17, 65, 76, T7, 84-85, 

Dakwa territory, 165. 

Dhanis, Baron Francis, 32. 

Dhoti, 64, 70n, 71. 

Djamba, 62. 

Djuma Dina, 34. 

Domaine de la Couronne, 77. 

Domaine prive, 41, 84. 

Doruma territory, 128. 

Dufour, R., 183n, 202, 209n. 

Dugumbi, Mwini, 24-25, 27. 

Dungu, 112, 154; territory, 141, 
147, 186n, 192, 203n. 

Elisabetha, 93-94, 132, 163, 168, 

Eltis, David, 5. 

Emin Pasha, 31. 

Employers, private, 5, 121, 195; 
public, 5, 121, 184, 194-95, 203, 
207, 209. See also by name. 

Equator province, 129. 

Fallers, Lloyd, 44. 

Famine, 107, 109, 114, 191. 

Faradje, 121, 154, 185n, 186n, 204n. 

First World War. See World War 

Firearms, 21-22, 24-26, 30-32, 218. 

Fisher, Edward, 140n. 

Food, allowances, 85, 88, 94, 102-3; 
131, 159-61, 163-65, 172, 178, 
187, 207-8; crops, 103, 110-11, 
117, 121, 124-25, 140-44, 145-47, 
167, 187, 190-92, 194, 198-200, 
202; exports, 144; prices, 144, 
159; requisitions 87, 89, 95-96, 
98, 101-2, 106-7, 109, 114, 163, 
175; shortages, 95, 103, 107; 

108n, 109, 114, 128, 133, 140, 
143-45, 157, 161, 163-65, 181, 
208. See also Famine. 

Force Publique, 33, 35, 43, 46, 71- 
74, 85, 106-8, 110, 126, 130, 167, 
186, 210, 216, 222. 

France, 2, 153. 

Free State. See Congo Free State. 

Freed slaves, 33-36, 40, 72-73, 216. 

French Equatorial Africa, 112. 

Fuchs, Felix, 52. 

Fune, 54. 

Gender, 18, 68. See also Women. 

Geneva convention (1930), 191. 

German East Africa, 32, 81-82, 106- 
7, 109, 126. 

Germany, 49, 81. 

Glave, E. J., 43, 47-48. 

Go, 112. 

Gold, 9, 76-77, 82, 96, 98-99, 123, 
131, 154, 156, 159, 161, 166, 177, 
179, 184-86. 

Goma, 112, 154. 

Gombari, 101. 

Great Britain, 30, 82, 83, 112; 
officials in Congo, 37, 40, 42, 43, 
48, 54, 57, 66, 70, 76, 77, 78, 79, 
84, 87, 94, 95; officials else- 
where, 33, 139, 174, opposition 
to Congo Free State, 39, 54, 55, 

Great Depression, 6, 122, 130, 138, 
177-79, 183-84, 190, 192, 194, 
198, 200, 202, 204. 

Gurba-Dungu zone, 38, 51, 57, 58, 
72, 73, 84. 

Gwane territory, 165. 

Hamed bin Muhammed el 


Murjebi. SeeTippuTip. 
Haut Ituri. See Upper Ituri. 
Haut Uele. See Upper Uele. 
Haut Zaire. See Upper Zaire. 
Health, 111-16, 127, 157-58, 160, 

163, 165-68, 182, 186, 203, 207-9. 
Henry, Eugene, 138, 221-22. 
Hopkins, Anthony, 3-4. 
Huileries du Congo Beige (HCB), 

93-94, 118-19, 132, 133, 145, 163, 

165, 168, 177, 196-97, 207. 
Hunde, 110. 
Huys, Bishop, 115. 
Ibembo,62, 112. 

Influenza, 85, 94, 112, 114-15, 116. 
Interfina, 154, 156. 
International Congo Assn., 23, 30. 
Irumu, 108, 152, 154, 204n. 
Isangi, 45, 48, 196, 203n. 
Isiro. SeePaulis. 
Itimbiri river, 61, 63, 154. 
Ituri, district, 82, 89, 90, 96, 99, 105, 

114, 114, 118, 123, 125, 134, 145, 

148, 151, 156, 157, 159, 161, 172; 

forest, 15; river and valley, 26n. 
Ivory, 5, 9, 21, 24-27, 31, 41, 43-44, 

46, 48, 50, 51, 93, 192, 218. 
Jabir, town, 61. 
Jabir, Zande chief, 26. 
Janssens, Camillo, 40. 
Janssens, Edmond, 39n. 
Kabambare, 16, 24, 47, 61. 
Kalembelembe, 61. 
Kamanyola, 201. 
Kanua, 95. 
Kasai province, 9, 45n, 115, 135, 

139, 140, 165. 
Kasongo, 22, 25, 29, 31, 32, 42, 45, 

48, 61, 70, 108; territory, 125, 

Kasongo Richie, 25-26. 

Katana, 86. 

Katanga province, 8, 9, 99, 103, 
109, 115, 135, 144, 153, 166, 167, 

Keim, Curtis, 21. 

Kenya, 149, 150, 194, 221. 

Kibali zone, 50. 

Kibali-Ituri district, 123, 127, 128, 
132, 137, 141, 146, 147, 148, 157, 
158, 179, 186, 192, 194, 196, 199, 
203, 207, 210. 

Kibanga, 23, 36n. 

Kihembwe territory, 198, 199. 

Kilo-Moto, 63, 72, 76, 77, 85, 90-91, 
93, 96, 98-106, 112-13, 115, 118, 
126, 131, 134-37, 141, 145-46, 
156, 161-62, 164, 168, 172-74, 
178, 185-86, 190, 199, 207-9, 222. 
See also Regie Industrielle des 
Mines, Societe des Mines d'Or. 

Kilonga-Longa, 26n. 

Kindu, 108, 198, 210. 

Kinshasa, 6. 

Kirundu, 108, 134. 

Kisangani, 28, 30, 38, 45, 215. 

Kitawala, 188. 

Kivu, district, 81, 82, 85, 86, 89, 90, 
109, 110, 112, 14, 115, 117, 118, 
122, 123, 135, 127, 132, 137, 141, 
148-52, 157, 167, 170-71, 174, 
179, 181, 184-85, 187, 190, 194- 
95, 198, 199, 222; precolonial, 26; 
zone, 67, 68, 70, 72. 

Kivu, lake, 16, 49, 60, 61, 82, 106, 
109, 112, 114, 115, 154,201." 


Kivu National Committee, 150-51, 

Klein, Georges- Antoine, 39n. 

Kulundu, 201, 

Kusu, 15. 

Kusu, Mwini, 24. 

Labor, agricultural, 93-97, 101-3, 
119, 138-50, 170-71, 190-99, 202; 
auxiliary, 101, 137, 172-73, 197, 
209; contract, 33-34, 42, 72-74, 
75, 77, 85, 88, 91, 100-2, 123-24; 
forced, 2, 54, 56n, 59, 71, 75, T7, 
87, 94, 97, 98, 100-2, 110-11, 118, 
121, 128-30, 134-35, 138, 143, 
152, 167, 175, 187, 191, 196, 202, 
205, 216, 222; industrial, 95-96, 
102, 118-19, 131-38, 172-74, 184- 
89; recruitment, 32-34, 42, 62, 
73-74, 76-78, 82, 85, 88, 95, 97- 
101, 105, 107, 110-13, 116, 118, 
122-25, 126-30, 233-38, 149, 152, 
161, 166-67, 169, 172, 174-75, 
177, 179-88, 190, 195-97, 202-6, 
21-12; wage, 3-5. 9, 70-71, 84, 89, 
118-19, 122, 131, 170, 178, 183, 
190, 193, 201-2, 204, 206, 210, 
220. See a/so Corv^es. 

Labor commissions, 122, 123-24; of 
1925, 123-24, 180; of 1928, 124- 
25; of 1930-31, 128-29, 128, 173, 
180-82, 185-86, 191-92, 196; of 
1940, 211-12; district, 183, 207; 
provincial, 129. 

Labor uruons, 6, 175. 

Lado enclave, 38, 48, 56n, 62, 82. 

Lantonnois, vice-governor general, 

Latex, 5, 41. See also Rubber. 

Le Kithule de Ryhove, Mr., 98. 

Le Marinel, Paul, 76. 

Lega, 15, 16, 17n, 18, 21, 188, 209. 

Lemery, Emile, 48. 

Lendu, 96, 102, 103. 

L^nard, Henri, 210. 

Lipoid n, 1, 13, 26, 37, 48, 63, 64, 

82, 214; destruction of records, 

10, 47; invertments in Congo, 

40, 218; relations with Tippu 

Tip, 30; rule, 40, 41, 43, 46, 55, 

65, 77, 216. 
Leplae, Edmond, 99, 139, 142, 147. 
Lese, 102, 152. 

Lever Brothers, 93, 132, 133, 196. 
Libokwa, 53. 
Lindi river, 17, 41, 57, 63. 
Lippens, Maurice, 133. 
Lisala, 68. 

Livingstone, David, 16, 19, 22, 24. 
Logo, 168. 
Lokando, 48. 
Lomami Company, 51, 58, 75-76, 

94-96, 132, 196-97, 219. 
Lomami river and valley, 17, 26, 

32, 38, 48, 57, 75, 132, 196. 
Lowa, district, 82, 90, 106, 108, 109, 

110, 111, 118, 123, 148; territory, 

137, 141, 167. 
Lower Uele district, 123, 136, 142, 

147, 148, 152, 156-57, 168. 
Lualaba river and valley, 16, 22, 

24, 25, 26, 38, 41, 42, 48, 50, 57, 

60, 61, 70, 87, 106, 132, 134, 153, 

Lubero, 156, 166. 
Lubutu territory, 179n, 187, 188, 

Lugbara, 102, 168. 


Lusambo, 35, 46. 

Maertens, Charles, 99-100. 

Mahagi territory, 146, 204n. 

Mahdists, 31. 

Makelili, 107. 

Malaria, 106. 

Malfeyt, Justin, 39, 83, 91. 

Mamvu, 46. 

Manfroy, Mr., 104. 

Manga, 193. 

Mangbetu, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 44, 46, 

Maniema, 14, 17; district, 82, 86, 
90, 10, 109, 111-12, 117-18, 123, 
125, 137, 140-42, 144, 148, 152, 
157, 16-7, 168, 179, 181, 184, 185, 
187, 190, 194, 198-200, 208-9, 
212; precolonial, 22, 24, 28, 31, 
34; zone, 38, 40, 44, 47, 48, 51, 52, 
58, 61, 64, 70, 72, 73. 

Masanze, 23, 36n. 

Masisi territory, 118. 

Mason, Michael, 4. 

Mathelin, Mr,, 104, 160. 

Medje territory, 137, 141. 

Meje, 53-54. 

Meningitis, 114-15. 

Messageries de I'lturi Occidentale 
(MIO), 154. 

Messageries Automobiles de la 
Province Orientale (MAPO), 

Meulemeester, Adolphe de, 39, 44, 
83, 123, 164. 

Michell, George B., 65. 

Mines, mining, 6, 110, 142, 150-51, 
153; gold 85, 90, 91, 93-105, 113, 
115, 118, 123, 126, 131, 136, 145- 

47, 151-52, 156, 159, 161-64, 166, 

168-69, 172-74, 177-78, 185-90, 

198-99, 209; iron, 16; tin, 187. 

See also by name of company. 
Mini^re de la Tele, 168, 186, 200n, 

Mini^re des Grands Lacs (MGL), 

128, 132, 137, 146, 156, 168, 200, 

Misisi, 108. 
Missionaries, 11, 23, 32n, 35, 36n, 

37, 42, 61, 63, 67, 84, 86, 87, 96, 

106, 114, 115, 118, 127, 134, 142, 

148, 149, 150, 154, 179. See also 

White Fathers. 
Moeller, Alfred, 123-25, 135, 150, 

159, 163, 169, 195. 
Mogange, 86. 
Mohara, Mwini, 27, 32. 
Mokoia, Mwini, 24. 
Molari, 86. 
Mopoie, 44. 
Morel, E. D., 53n, 54. 
Moulaert, Georges, 161-62. 
Mozambique, 134, 139. 
Mtagamoyo, 31. See also Mohara, 

Mulwewa, 23. 
Musee Royal de I'Afrique 

Centrale, 11. 
Naipaul, V. S., 9. 
Nande, 186. 
Ndongo, 168. 
Ngandu, 52. 

Ngongo Lutete, 26, 32, 34. 
Ngweshe, 86. 
Niangara, chief, 26; town, 112, 128, 

154, 168; territory, 193, 204n. 


Nieboer, Herman, 215. 

Nile river, 38, 50, 53, 60, 62, 63, 
154, 200. 

Nya-Lukemba, 112. 

Nyali, 96. 

Nyamwezi, 22, 24, 27, 28. 

Nyangwe, 16, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 
31, 32, 48. 

Obenge Benge, 94. 

Office du Travail (Offitra), 128-30, 

Opala, 76, 94, 197, 204n. 

Palm oil and products, 5, 9, 16, 68, 
93, 103, 121, 125, 132, 141, 142, 
144, 151, 192, 196-97. 

Paulis, 201, 204n. 

Peanuts, 191, 193-94, 208. 

Permanent Commission for the 
Protection of the Natives, 111, 

Pimpurnieux, Alexandre, 40. 

Poko territory, 192, 203n. 

Ponthierville, district, 138; town, 
134, 201; zone, 38, 48, 51, 57, 58, 

Population, 2, 8, 48, 49, 60, 68, 72, 
86, 87, 109-16, 119, 121-24, 149- 
50, 152, 169, 174, 178, 180, 183, 
187, 200-3, 205, 210-11, 213-14. 

Porterage, head,5, 25, 27, 28, 41-44, 
47-48, 49, 50, 52-53, 56, 59, 60-64, 
66, 70-71, 78, 82, 87-91, 95-98, 
106, 108-11, 114-15, 118, 121-23, 
124, 127, 130, 140-41, 147, 149, 
151-54, 156-59, 161, 166-67, 178, 
179, 187, 192, 197, 198-200, 205, 
216; canoe, 48, 50, 60, 63-64, 78, 

Portuguese colonies, 4, 33, 134, 

139. See fl/so Angola, 

Portuguese traders, 21-22. 
Prestations, 41, 46, 47, 49, 55, 59, 

64, 68, 71, 74, 77, 86, 98, 202. 

See also Ivory, Labor, Rubber. 
Province Orientale, 38, 40, 41, 74. 
Prudon, R. J., 94. 
Pygmies, 15. 
Railroads, 69, 75, 124, 126, 131-32, 

145, 153-54, 158, 175; CFL, 60, 

74-75, 109, 132; East African, 60, 

63, 156; Lov^er Congo, 33, 34, 59, 

74, 128, 130, 153, 164; 

Stanleyville-Ponthierville (CFL), 

60, 74, 77; Tanganyika-Kivu, 

132, 201; Uele (Vicicongo), 63, 

69, 132, 136, 154, 164, 200. 
Rebellions and revolts, 52-54, 59, 

64, 71, 72n, 74n, 75-76, 91, 102, 

103, 105, 175. 
Rejaf, 50, 62, 63. 
Regie des Plantations de Barumbu, 

R^gie Industrielle des Mines de 

Kilo-Moto (RIM), 131, 160, 162. 

See also Kilo-Moto. 
Rennette, Baron de, 40. 
Riba-Riba, 48. 
Rice, 9, 16, 42, 43, 81, 110-11, 118, 

121-22, 134-138, 141-42, 144-45, 

151, 163, 167, 178, 190, 192, 208. 
Roads, 6, 96, 121-22, 126-28, 131, 

137, 141-43, 145, 148, 151-54, 

156-58, 159, 172, 175, 197-201, 

Roelens, Victor, 150. 


Romaniuk, Anatole, 116. 
Rubber, plants, 40, 50, 57, 93, 224; 

tax, 41, 43-48, 50-59, 64-68, 71, 

79, 87, 89, 117, 222; trade, 40, 84, 

94, 192. 
Rubi, river and valley, 16, 61, 112; 

zone, 38, 51, 52, 58, 66, 68, 72, 73, 

Rue, Lieutenant, 48. 
Rumaliza, 23n, 32, 34, 35. 
Rutten, Martin-Jean, 99, 129, 130, 

Rutshuru, 108, 166, 195. 
Ruzizi-Kivu zone, 38. 
Rwanda, 24, 108, 212. 
Rychmans, Pierre, 184. 
Salmon, Pierre, 16. 
Sasa, 44. 
Scandanavia, 2. 
Scarpari, MaiUio, 75. 
Schweinfurth, Georg, 17, 21. 
Second World War. See World 

Sefu, 34. 
Semio, 44. 
Sengule, 137. 
Sesame, 9, 145. 
Settlers, European, 103, 122, 148- 

51, 159, 174-75, 177, 190, 194-95, 

197, 202, 207. 
Shaba province, 6, 8. 
Shabunda territory, 179n, 187, 188, 

198, 201; town, 198. 
Shi, 170. 
Sillye, Albert, 40. 
Slave, slavery, 4, 5, 6; precolonial, 

7, 18-20, 133; imder Zanzibari, 

3, 24, 27-29, 44, 77, 214, 216, 220; 
in Free State, 44-45, 72-73, 216, 
222; in Belgian Congo, 127, 129, 
133, 143; in West Africa, 7. 

Sleeping sickness, 96, 112-13, 165- 

Smallpox, 114, 123. 

Smulders, the Rev., 109. 

Societe Africaine de Construction 
(Safricas), 128, 130, 164. 

Society Anonyme Beige, 39n. 

Society Belgika, 134, 157. 

Sod^te Coloniale de Construction 
(Socol), 136, 219. 

Societe des Messageries Automo- 
biles du Congo (MACO), 154. 

Soci^t^ des Mines d'Or de Kilo- 
Moto (Sokimo), 131, 136, 163, 
186, 219. See also Kilo-Moto. 

Society Fores ti^re et Mini^re 

(Formini^re), 93, 95, 96, 118, 132, 
168, 186, 219. 

Soldiers, 5; of Zanzibari, 28; of 
Free State, 48, 216; of Belgian 
Congo, 127, 157, 163, 166, 210. 
See also Force Publique. 

Songye, 15. 

South Africa, 145. 

Stanley, Henry M., 16, 22-23, 25- 

Stanley Falls, cataract, 17, 26, 31, 
60; district, 30, 38n, 41; station, 
31, 34, 38; zone, 38, 51, 58, 64, 66. 

Stanleyville, town, 38, 42, 43, 56, 
57, 60, 62, 63, 71, 74, 108, 134, 
138, 145, 152, 154; district, 67, 82, 
138, 141, 148, 152, 157, 159-60, 


170, 179, 190-91, 194, 199, 203, 
208; province, 179, 183, 190, 192, 
193, 199, 202, 203, 205-7, 210. 

Steamers, 39n, 60, 62, 63, 70, 152. 

Stengers, Jean, 54n. 

Strikes, 6. 

Sudan, 38, 48, 63, 154. See also 
Lado enclave. 

Suronga, 112. 

Swahili, 21, 24. 

Syndicat Mini^re d'Etain 
(Symetain), 185n, 208. 

Syphilis, 116-17. 

Tanganyika, district, 35; lake, 17, 
22, 24, 26, 28, 35, 43, 49, 50, 60, 

Taxes, 9, 40, 81, 84-91, 94, 96-98, 
101-2, 117-18, 122, 133, 142, 147, 
159, 169-72, 178-79, 191, 193, 

Tetela, 15, 22n, 25, 52. 

Thompson, E. P., 7. 

Thornton, W. E., 54. 

Tilkens Auguste, 185. 

Tilkens, Edouard, 53. 

Tin, 9, 185, 187. 

Tippu Tip, 1, 10, 15, 22, 24, 25, 26n, 
28, 30-35, 44, 45, 216. 

Titule, town, 87, 89; territory, 156- 

Tobback, Nicholas, 34. 

Tombeur, General, 109. 

Transportation, 40, 46, 50, 59-65, 
68, 69, 76, 103, 106, 107, 109, 111, 
118, 122, 132, 136, 150, 151-58, 
198, 200, 221. See also Porter- 
age, Railroads, Roads. 

Trolli, Giovanni, 128. 

Ubwari peninsula, 16. 

Uele, district, 10-11, 38, 40, 41, 44, 

46, 52-54, 57, 59, 60, 63, 66, 68, 

71-75, 78, 82, 84, 85, 87-90, 93, 

98, 101, 108, 110,-11, 113, 15, 

117-18, 125, 132, 140-42, 144, 

154, 158, 164, 179, 183, 186, 192- 

93, 195, 199, 200, 203,-4, 206-7; 

river and valley, 21, 26, 32, 38, 

Uele-Itimbiri district, 123, 137, 

141-42, 148, 157, 165, 193. 
Uele-Nepoko district, 123, 127-28, 

137, 141, 143, 147-48, 157, 192, 

Uere-Bili zone, 38, 51, 58, 59, 72-73. 
Uganda, 112, 139, 142-43, 151, 174, 

Ujiji, 16, 22, 24, 28, 29. 
Ukwa, 147. 
Union Mini^re du Haut Katanga 

(UMHK), 166-67, 207. 
Union Nationale des Transpor- 

teurs Fluviaux (Unatra), 136, 

United States of America, 2, 132, 

Unya-Bongo territory, 170, 195. 
Unyamyembe, 22, 28. 
Upper Ituri zone, 38, 51, 57, 58, 62, 

64, 66, 70, 76, 78. 
Upper Uele, 123, 129, 148, 157, 161, 

Upper Zaire province, 1, 216. 
Urbanization, African, 6, 210-11. 
Urega territory, 125. 
Uvira, 17, 23, 24, 112, 114, 154, 

Van Eetvelde, Edmond, 46. 


Van Kerckhoven, Guillaume, 32. 23, 220; slavery, T7, 214; traders, 

Verstraeten, Aiitoine, 52-53. 22, 25, 29, 42-43, 45, 52, 66, 72, 

Vicicongo. See Chemin de Fer 78,117,169,214-18. 

Vicinaux. Zappo Zap, 50. 

Wage labor. See Labor, wage. Zobia, 62, 78, 95, 201. 

Wagenia, 17, 20. 
Wages, 5, 6, 70, T7, 84-85, 88-89, 

93-94, 97, 119, 126, 133, 136, 137, 

154, 157, 158-61, 167, 170-72, 

174, 185, 195, 202, 206-21. • 

Wahis, Theophile, 36, 42, 54. 
Wamba territory, 137, 141, 186, 

193, 203n. 
Watsa territory, 203n. 
Whipping, 144, 161, 164, 224n. 
White Fathers, 23, 96, 109, 114, 148. 
Wissmann, Hermann von, 26. 
Women, 48, 62, 67, 117, 146, 147; 

labor of, 18, 48, 69, 89, 95, 97, 

106, 111, 114, 127-28, 142, 148, 

152, 156-57, 167, 192, 194, 195n, 

199, 223-24; slaves, 27. 
World War 1, 6, 11, 81, 106-11, 121, 

123, 131, 139, 148, 152, 157-59, 

175, 200, 213, 220. 
World War H, 6, 11, 200, 208, 210, 

212, 214, 223. 
Yalusuna, 45. 
Yambuya, 26, 69. 
Yanonge territory, 133-34. 
Zaire river, 9, 17. See also Congo 

river, Lualaba river. 
Zande, 15, 18, 19, 21, 44, 54, 140, 

142, 204-5. 
Zanzibar, 31, 43; Sultan of, 13, 22, 

30, 33; traders from 1, 10, 21, 24, 

Zanzibari, 2, 15, 21; colonization 



ISBN Prefix 0-89680- 
Africa Series 

25. Kircherr, Eugene C. ABBYSSINIA TO ZIMBABWE: A 
Guide to the Political Units of Africa in the 
Period 1947-1978. 1979. 3rd ed. 80pp. 
100-4 $ 8.00* 

27. Fadiman, Jeffrey A. MOUNTAIN WARRIORS: The 
Pre-Colonial Meru of Mt. Kenya. 1976. 82pp. 
060-1 $ 4.75* 

36. Fadiman, Jeffrey A. THE MOMENT OF CONQUEST: 
Meru, Kenya, 1907. 1979. 70pp. 

081-4 $ 5.50* 

GAMBIA: Volume I, Mandinka Griots. 1979. 

083-0 $12.00* 

GAMBIA: Volume II, Family Elders. 1980. 

084-9 $15.00* 

39. Reining, Priscilla. CHALLENGING DESERTIFICA- 
TION IN WEST AFRICA: Insights from Landsat into 
Carrying Capacity, Cultivation and Settlement 
Site Identification in Upper Volta and 

Niger. 1979. 180pp., illus. 

102-0 $12.00* 

41. Lindfors, Bernth. MAZUNGUMZO: Interviews with 
East African Writers, Publishers, Editors, and 
Scholars. 1981. 179pp. 

108-X $13.00* 

THEIR INTERPRETATION: The Mijikenda of Kenya. 
1982. xii, 163pp. 

109-8 $13.50* 

43. Harik, Elsa M. and Donald G. Schilling. THE 
KENYA. 1984. 102pp. 

117-9 $11.50* 

TANGANYIKA. 1985. x, 98pp. 

125-X $ 9.00* 

45. Keto, C. Tsehloane. AMERICAN-SOUTH AFRICAN 
RELATIONS 1784-1980: Review and Select Biblio- 
graphy. 1985. 159pp. 

128-4 $11.00* 

46. Burness, Don, and Mary-Lou Burness, ed. 
WANASEMA: Conversations with African Writers. 

1985. 95pp. 

129-2 $ 9.00* 

AFRICA: A Case Study of the Press and the 
Ciskei "Homeland". 1985. 80pp. 

130-6 9.00* 

48. Heggoy, Alf Andrew. THE FRENCH CONQUEST OF 
ALGIERS, 1830: An Algerian Oral Tradition. 

1986. 101pp. 

131-4 $ 9.00* 

49. Hart, Ursula Kingsmill. TWO LADIES OF COLONIAL 
ALGERIA: The Lives and Times of Aurelie Picard 
and Isabelle Eberhardt. 1987. 156pp. 

143-8 $9.00* 

SOUTH WEST AFRICA COMPANY, 1894-1914. 1988. 

146-2 $10.00* 

Latin America Series 

CHILE'S FUTURE. Tr. by Miguel d'Escoto. 
Intro, by Thomas Walker. 1977. 79pp. 
066-0 $ 8.00* 

4. Martz, Mary Jeanne Reid. THE CENTRAL AMERICAN 
SOCCER WAR: Historical Patterns and Internal 
Dynamics of OAS Settlement Procedures. 1979. 

077-6 $ 8.00* 

CRITICAL COUPS: State, Society, and the 
Military in the Processes of Latin American 
Development. 1979. 83pp. 

082-2 $ 7.00* 

6. Dietz, Henry A., and Richard Moore. POLITICAL 
Urban Poor in Lima, Peru. 1979. viii, 102pp. 
085-7 $ 9.00* 

7. Hopgood, James F. SETTLERS OF BAJAVISTA: 
Social and Economic Adaptation in a Mexican 
Squatter Settlement. 1979. xii, 145pp. 

101-2 $11.00* 

8. Clayton, Lawrence A. CAULKERS AND CARPENTERS 
IN A NEW WORLD: The Shipyards of Colonial 
Guayaquil. 1980. 189pp., illus. 

103-9 $15.00* 

RICO'S ECONOMY: 1947-1976. 1981. xiv, 104pp. 
107-1 $11.75* 

REFORMA GUATEMALA, 1871-1885. 1983. viii, 

113-6 $ 8.50* 

11. ' Shaughnessy, Laura N. , and Louis H. Serra. 

126-8 $11.00* 

Comparison of Domestic and Foreign Investment 
in Columbian Manufacturing. 1987. 186pp. 
145-4 $12.00* 

13. Henderson, James D. CONSERVATIVE THOUGHT IN 
LATIN AMERICA: The Ideas of Laureano Gomez. 
1988. 150pp. 

148-9 $11.00* 

14. Summ, G. Harvey, and Tom Kelly. THE GOOD 
NEIGHBORS: America, Panama, and the 1977 Canal 
Treaties. 1988. 135pp. 

149-7 $11.00* 

Southeast Asia Series 

31. Nash, Manning. PEASANT CITIZENS: Politics, 

Religion, and Modernization in Kelantan, 
Malaysia. 1974. 181pp. 

018-0 $12.00* 

38. Bailey, Conner. BROKER, MEDIATOR, PATRON, AND 
KINSMAN: An Historical Analysis of Key Leader- 
ship Roles in a Rural Malaysian District. 
1976. 79pp. 
024-5 $7.00* 

026-1 $4.00* 

PHILIPPINES. 1977. 121pp. 

029-6 $7.00* 

44. Collier, William L. , et al. INCOME, EMPLOYMENT 
1977. 160pp. 

031-8 $10.00* 

45. Chew, Sock Foon and MacDougall, John A. 
FOREVER PLURAL: The Perception and Practice of 
Inter-Communal Marriage in Singapore. 1977. 

030-X $6.00* 

072-5 $12.00* 

48. Wilier, Thomas F. , ed. SOUTHEAST ASIAN REFER- 
1801-1972/73: An Index. 1978. 110pp. 

033-4 $ 8.50* 

49. Durrenberger, E. Paul. AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION 
Description. 1978. 142pp. 

071-7 $9.50* 

50. Echauz, Robustiano. SKETCHES OF THE ISLAND OF 
NEGROS. 1978. 174pp. 

070-9 $10.00* 

51. Krannich, Ronald L. MAYORS AND MANAGERS IN 
THAILAND: The Struggle for Political Life in 
Administrative Settings. 1978. 139pp. 

073-3 $ 9.00* 

54. Ayal, Eliezar B. , ed. THE STUDY OF THAILAND: 
Analyses of Knowledge, Approaches, and Pros- 
pects in Anthropology, Art History, Economics, 
History and Political Science. 1979. 257pp. 
079-2 $13.50* 

56. Duiker, William J. VIETNAM SINCE THE FALL OF 
SAIGON. Second edition, revised and enlarged. 
1986. 281pp. 
133-0 $12.00* 

57. Siregar, Susan Rodgers. ADAT, ISLAM, AND 

110-1 $10.00* 

58. Van Esterik, Penny. COGNITION AND DESIGN 
078-4 $12.00* 

ENCES: The Case of the Mons in Thailand. 
1982. X, 93pp. 

112-8 $10.00* 

60. Frederick, William H., and John H. McGlynn. 
Indonesian Upheavals of 1948 and 1965. 1983. 
vi, 168pp. 

111-X $ 9.00* 

61. Cady, John F. CONTACTS WITH BURMA, 1935-1949: 
A Personal Account. 1983. x, 117pp. 

114-4 $ 9.00* 

62. Kipp, Rita Smith, and Richard D. Kipp, eds. 
BEYOND SAMOSIR: Recent Studies of the Batak 
Peoples of Sumatra. 1983. viii, 155pp. 

115-2 $ 9.00* 

63. Carstens, Sharon, ed. CULTURAL IDENTITY IN 
116-0 $ 9.00* 

64. Dardjowidjojo, Soenjono. VOCABULARY BUILDING 
IN INDONESIAN: An Advanced Reader. 1984. 
xviii, 256pp. 

118-7 $26.00* 

65. Errington, J. Joseph. LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL 
CHANGE IN JAVA: Linguistic Reflexes of Moderni- 
zation in a Traditional Royal Polity. 1985. 
xiv, 198pp. 

120-9 $12.00* 

66. Binh, Tran Tu. THE RED EARTH: A Vietnamese 
Memoir of Life on a Colonial Rubber Plantation. 
Tr. by John Spragens. Ed. by David Marr. 
1985. xii, 98pp. 

119-5 $ 9.00* 

67. Pane, Armijn. SHACKLES. Tr. by John McGlynn. 
Intro, by William H. Frederick. 1985. xvi, 

122-5 $ 9.00* 

OF PATANI. Tr. by Conner Bailey and John N. 
Miksic. 1985. xx, 98pp. 

123-3 $10.50* 

69. Keeler, Ward. JAVANESE: A Cultural Approach. 
1984. xxxvi, 523pp. 

121-7 $18.00* 

70. Wilson, Constance M. , and Lucien M. Hanks. 
Three Descriptive Documents. 1985. x, 128pp. 
124-1 $10.50* 

71. Thomas, Lynn L. , and Franz von Benda-Beckmann, 
Local, Regional, and Historical Perspectives on 
West Sumatra. 1986. 363pp. 

127-6 $14.00* 

72. Reid, Anthony, and Oki Akira, eds. THE 
Memoirs of 1942-1945. 1986. 411pp., 20 illus. 
132-2 $18.00* 

73. Smirenskaia, Ahanna D. PEASANTS IN ASIA: 
Social Consciousness and Social Struggle. Tr. 
by Michael J. Buckley. 1987. 248pp. 

134-9 $12.50 

74. McArthur, M.S.H. REPORT ON BRUNEI IN 1904. Ed. 
by A.V.M. Horton. 1987. 304pp. 

135-7 $13.50 

75. Lockard, Craig Alan. FROM KAMPUNG TO CITY. A 
Social History of Kuching Malaysia 1820-1970. 
1987. 311pp. 

136-5 $14.00* 

LINGUISTICS. 1988. 492pp. 

137-3 $18.50* 

SINGAPORE. 1987. 229pp. 
139-X $12.50* 

79. Walton, Susan Pratt. MODE IN JAVANESE MUSIC. 
1987. 279pp. 
144-6 $12.00* 

EXPERIENCE: A Challenge for Development. 1987. 

141-1 $15.00* 

81. Van der Veur, Paul W. , ed. TOWARD A GLORIOUS 
INDONESIA: Reminiscences and Observations of 
Dr. Soetomo. 1987. 367pp. 

142-X $13.50* 

82. Spores, John C. RUNNING AMOK: An Historical 
Inquiry. 1988. 190pp. 

140-3 $13.00* 


Orders for titles in the Monographs in Inter- 
national Studies series should be placed through the 
Ohio University Press/Scott Quadrangle/Athens, Ohio 
45701-2979. Individuals must remit pre-payment via 
check, VISA, MasterCard, CHOICE, or American 
Express. Individuals ordering from the United 
Kingdom, Continental Europe, Middle East, and Africa 
should order through Academic and University 
Publishers Group, 1 Gower Street, London WCIE 6HA, 
England. Other individuals ordering from outside of 
the U.S., please remit in U.S. funds by either 
International Money Order or check drawn on a U.S. 
bank. Postage and handling is $2.00 for the first 
book and $.50 for each additional book. Prices and 
availability are subject to change without notice. 

Ohio University 

The Ohio University Center for International Studies was estab- 
Ushed to help create within the university and local communities a 
greater awareness of the world beyond the United States. Com- 
prising programs in African, Latin American, Southeast Asian, 
Development, and Administrative studies, the Center supports 
scholarly research, sponsors lectures and colloquia, encourages 
course development within the university curriculum, and pub- 
lishes the Monographs in International Studies series with the 
Ohio University Press. The Center and its programs also offer an 
interdisciplinary Master of Arts degree in which students may fo- 
cus on one of the regional or topical concentrations, and may also 
combine academics with training in career fields such as journal- 
ism, business, and language teaching. For undergraduates, major 
and certificate programs are available. 

-^ For more, information, contact the Associate Provost for Inter- 
national Studies, Burson House, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 


David Northnip 

For nineteenth-century intruders and twentieth-century colonists 
alike, the key to Africa's wealth was control of its labor. Focusing 
on the Kivu and Upper Zaire provinces of the Republic of Zaire, 
David Northrup examines ttie interrelationships of the full spectrum 
of imposed laboring systems in the heart of the continent: slavery, 
porterage, mining, cashcrop farming, and military service, from 
the time bfthe Zanzibar trader TippuTip^ through Belgian rule. 

Noting the remarkable persistence of coercion in the mobilization" 
of African labor in the eastern Congo, Northrup devotes particular 
attention to the ways in which the evolution t)f colonial labor 
policies, the introduction of modern transport, and African 
Reactions affected the labor climate. In addition to the effects of 
geographieaUsoJatidn, and European racism and greed, he^points 
to certain indigenous African cultural values which affected labor 
practices. ^ ^ 

Fased largely on archival sources, this study documents a tragic 
period in the history of central africa. However, it offers a new~ 
perspective on a strategically important region and people — both 
integral to a more balanped view of the history of Zaire. 

ISBN 0-89680-151-9