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Full text of "The truth about the Congo : the Chicago tribune articles"


THE LIBRARY 

OF 
THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 
LOS ANGELES 




UNIVERSITY of CALIFORNIA 

AT 

LOS ANGELES 
LIBRARY 



THE TRUTH 
ABOUT THE CONGO 




CHIKF NDOMHK WITH FAMILY GROW, IN His Tu \ 



THE TRUTH 
ABOUT THE CONGO 



THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 
ARTICLES 



FREDERICK STARR 




CHICAGO 

FORBES & COMPANY 
1907 

114533 



COPYRIGHT 1907 

BY 
THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE 




THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED 
TO 

MANUEL GONZALES, 

MY COMPANION AND PHOTOGRAPHER 
UPON MY CONGO EXPEDITION 

AND TO 
OUR BLACK BOYS, MANOELI A'.D TUMBA 



PREFACE 

WHEN I returned to America, I had decided 
to express no opinion upon the public and 
political questions of the Congo Free 
State. Having found conditions there quite different 
from what I had expected, it was impossible for me 
to state my actual impressions without danger of 
antagonizing or offending some whom I valued as 
friends. Hence, on landing at New York, I refused 
to say anything upon those matters to several report- 
ers who interviewed me. A little later, the Chi- 
cago Tribune asked me to write upon these subjects, 
urging the importance of the whole matter to our 
nation, and leaving me entire freedom in viewpoint 
and mode of treatment. In response to its request, 
Nf^I prepared a series of articles, which appeared in suc- 
cessive issues from January 20 to February 3, 1907. 
The articles were received with general interest, 
and many asked that they should be reprinted in book 
form. I felt that they were of momentary interest 
only, and as I have much other Congo matter for 
books and pamphlets more directly in the line of 
my professional work I was inclined not to reprint 
them. But I soon found myself the subject of bitter 
attack. Malicious and untrue statements were 
made regarding me and my motives. I have con- 



PREFACE 

eluded, therefore, that it is best that my articles 
should be accessible to all who are interested. What 
I wrote, I am ready to defend. I am not ready to be 
judged from misquotations, or condemned for what 
I never wrote. Hence this book. . 

I am not personally responsible for the title - 
The Truth about the Congo. Although I believe all 
my statements are true, I should not have selected 
that title for my articles. No man can say all that 
is true on any subject, and I do not arrogate to my- 
self a monopoly in truth-telling, either about the 
Congo or any other topic. But after my announce- 
ment under that heading, I decided to let it stand. 
I preferred some less assertive title, but I am content. 
So I use the same title for this book. The headlines 
of the articles, however, I have suppressed. They 
were not of my preparation and did not adequately 
suggest the matter or the treatment. The articles 
are reprinted with no changes except corrections in 
spelling, punctuation, or mistaken words. 

No man more desires the happiness and progress 
of the Congo natives than do I. I know them 
pretty well. I am their friend ; they are my friends. 
I shall be glad if what I here present makes them and 
their cause better known to thoughtful and sympa- 
thetic men and women. Mere emotion, however vio- 
lent, will not help them. Stubborn refusal to recognize 
and encourage reforms, which have been seriously 
undertaken for their betterment, will only harm them. 

[viii] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE 
CONGO 

I. 

January 20, 1907. 

MY own interest in the Congo Free State began at 
the St. Louis exposition. As is well known, 
that exposition made a special feature of groups 
of representatives of tribes from various parts of the world. 
These natives dressed in native dress, lived in native 
houses, and so far as possible reproduced an accurate pic- 
ture of the daily life to which they were accustomed in 
their homes. 

Among the groups there brought together was one of 
Congo natives. This group was commonly known as the 
pygmy group, though but four out of the nine members 
composing it made claims to be such. The group was 
brought by Mr. S. P. Verner, at one tune missionary to the 
Congo, who was engaged by the exposition to make a 
special journey into central Africa to procure it. Four 
members of the group were Batua, the others were large 
blacks representing the Bakuba and Baluba. 

The idea of visiting Africa was one which I had never 
seriously entertained, but in the study of these Congolese 
it seemed to me that there were interesting questions the 
solution of which would well repay a visit. The conse- 
quence was, that I determined to visit the Congo Free 
State and specifically that part of the state from which 
these natives had been brought. 

[i] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

About this time I received considerable literature from 
the Congo Reform Association at Boston, the reading of 
which had its influence in deciding me to undertake the 
expedition. 

After reading this literature I started for the Congo, 
fully prepared to see all kinds of horrors. I supposed that 
mutilations, cruelties, and atrocities of the most frightful 
kinds would everywhere present themselves. I expected 
to find a people everywhere suffering, mourning, and in 
unhappiness. 

My errand, however, was not that of a searcher after 
all these dreadful things, but purely that of a student of 
human races, with definite questions for investigation. 

I may say that my opportunities for forming an opinion 
of conditions in the Congo have been exceptional. Mine 
was no hasty journey, but a tarry in the country extending 
over more than one year. 

While my original plan was to spend the greater portion 
of my time in the district ruled by the Bakuba chief, 
Ndombe, with but a short period in other parts of the 
state, I had decided before reaching the mouth of the 
Congo to more evenly distribute my time, and to see far 
more of the Congo proper than I at first intended. As a 
consequence, I went first into the Kasai district, where I 
spent four months, after which, returning to Leopoldville, 
I went up the main river to the head of navigation, and 
even beyond, to Ponthierville, the terminus of the newly 
built line of railroad. We also went up the Aruwimi, to 
the famous Yambuya camp, where the navigation of that 
river is interrupted by cataracts. 

I have, therefore, seen not only the lower Congo, which 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

has been so frequently visited in recent years, but traveled 
thousands of miles upon the great river and two of its most 
important tributaries. 

In this extended journey I came into constant contact 
with representatives of the three groups of white men who 
live in the Congo Free State state officials, missionaries, 
and traders. I had repeated conversations with them all, 
and have heard opinions upon the Congo State from these 
diverse points of view. 

My position with reference to Congo matters is peculiar, 
doubly so. I may even say it is unique. My journey was 
made at my own expense; I was not the representative of 
any institution, society, or body. I was without instruc- 
tions, and my observations were untrammeled by any 
demands or conditions from outside. 

While I am under many and weighty obligations to 
scores of state officials, missionaries, and traders, I am not 
prevented from speaking my mind in regard to any and 
every matter. Both to the missionaries, state officials, 
and traders I paid board and lodging at every stopping 
point with the single exception of one American mission 
station a fact which leaves me freedom. While the 
state facilitated my visit and my work in many ways, I was 
not, at any time, in relations with it of such a kind as to 
interfere with free observations or free expression. I 
made this entirely clear on my first visit to the state author- 
ities at Brussels, and it was understood by them that I 
should speak freely and frankly of everything which I 
should see. On their part, the state authorities expressed 
the liveliest satisfaction that an independent American 
traveler should visit the Congo Free State, and said that 

[31 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

they did not wish anything concealed or attenuated, as 
they felt sure that such a visit as mine could only do them 
good. 

I have said that my position was doubly peculiar. I 
was not only independent and untrammeled in observation 
and expression, but my personal attitude to the whole ques- 
tion of colonization and administration by a foreign power, 
of natives, is radical. Personally I dislike the effort to 
elevate, civilize, remake a people. I should prefer to leave 
the African as he was before white contact. It is my belief 
that there is no people so weak or so degraded as to be 
incapable of self-government. I believe that every people 
is happier and better with self-government, no matter how 
unlike our own form that government may be. I feel that 
no nation is good enough, or wise enough, or sufficiently 
advanced to undertake the elevation and civilization of a 
"lower" people. Still less do I approve the exploitation 
of a native population by outsiders for their own benefit. 
Nor do I feel that even the development of British trade 
warrants interference with native life, customs, laws, and 
lands. I know, however, that these views are unpopular 
and heretical. 

In the series of articles, then, which I have been asked 
to prepare, I shall try to take the standpoint of the practical 
man, the business man, the man of affairs, the philanthro- 
pist, the missionary. All these agree that civilized folk 
have a perfect right to interfere with any native tribe too 
weak to resist their encroachment. They agree that it is 
perfectly right to trample under foot native customs, insti- 
tutions, ideas to change and modify, to introduce inno- 
vations, either to develop trade, to exploit a country, to 

[4] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

elevate a race, or to save souls. I am forced, then, to 
look at Congo matters from the point of view of these 
eminently practical men. 

Of course, I saw much to criticise. It is true that there 
are floggings, and chain-gangs, and prisons. I have seen 
them all repeatedly. But there are floggings, chain-gangs, 
and prisons in the United States. Multilations are so rare 
that one must seek for them; and I had too much else to 
do. There is taxation yes, heavy taxation a matter 
which I shall discuss quite fully further on. And in con- 
nection with taxation there is forced labor, a matter which, 
of course, I disapprove, but it appears as just to all the 
groups of eminently practical men to whom I have re- 
ferred. There are, no doubt, hostages in numbers, but I saw 
less than a dozen. And the whole matter of hostages is one 
which merits careful and candid discussion. And I know 
that in many a large district the population is much smaller 
than in former tunes. The causes of this diminution in 
numbers are many and various, and to them I shall return. 

Flogging, chain-gang, prison, mutilation, heavy taxa- 
tion, hostages, depopulation all these I saw, but at no 
time and at no place were they so flagrant as to force them- 
selves upon attention. And of frightful outrages, such as 
I had expected to meet everywhere, I may almost say there 
was nothing. It is, of course, but fair to state that I was 
not in the district of the A. B. I. R. I cannot believe, how- 
ever, that conditions in that district are so appalling as the 
newspaper reports would indicate. 

On the contrary, I found at many places a condition 
of the negro population far happier than I had dreamed 
it possible. The negro of the Congo or Bantu, if you 

[Si 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

please is a born trader. He is imitative to a degree. 
He is acquisitive, and charmed with novelties. He is 
bright and quick, remarkably intelligent. He readily 
acquires new languages, and it is no uncommon thing to 
find a Congo Bantu who can speak six or seven languages 
besides his own. In disposition variable and emotional, 
he quickly forgets his sorrow. I saw hundreds of natives 
who were working happily, living in good houses, dressing 
in good clothes of European stuff and pattern, and saving 
property. That this number will rapidly increase I have 
no doubt. 

And now, on my return, after having many of my pre- 
conceived ideas completely shattered, and feeling on the 
whole that things in Congoland are not so bad, and that 
improvement is the order of the day, I am startled to find 
the greatest excitement. Pages of newspapers are filled 
with stories of atrocities, many of which never happened, 
some of which are ancient, and a part of which, recent in 
date, are true. 

I find a fierce excitement about the Belgium lobby, 
vigorous resolutions presented in the senate, and the Presi- 
dent of the United States outrunning his most urgent 
supporters and advisers, ready to take some drastic action 
to ameliorate the conditions of the suffering millions in the 
Congo Free State. The surprise is so much the greater, 
as my latest information regarding the American official 
attitude had been gained from the letter written by Secre- 
tary Root some months ago. 

What can be the reason of such prodigious and sudden 
change ? 

What has happened in the Congo since April to produce 
[6] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the present state of mind? What is the motive under- 
lying the bitter attacks upon Leopold and the Free State 
which he established? Is it truly humanitarian? Or 
are the laudable impulses and praiseworthy sympathies 
of two great people being used for hidden and sinister ends 
of politics ? 

I do not claim infallibility. I do claim that my having 
spent a year in the Congo Free State, independently, should 
qualify me to express opinions on the conditions. I have 
heard both sides. I have traveled thousands of miles in 
Congo territory. I have visited natives of twenty- eight 
different tribes. No interference has been placed in my 
way. I have gone where I pleased, and when and how 
I pleased. No preparations have been made with refer- 
ence to my visits. I believe no changes in practice have 
been produced by my presence. 

In the series of articles before us it is my intention to 
present in detail what I have seen, and much of what I 
have heard, in the Congo Independent State. I may make 
errors, but I shall tell no intentional falsehoods. I shall 
criticise what deserves criticism. I shall praise what is 
praiseworthy. I trust that those who are interested in 
forming a true idea of Congo conditions may find some- 
thing useful in my observations. 

At this point it is necessary for us to know something 
of the Congo native himself. In Dark Africa for north- 
ern Africa is and always has been a white man's country 
there are three negro or negroid masses. There is little 
doubt that the original inhabitants of the continent were 
dwarf people, ancestors of the pygmies of the high Ituri 
forest, and the Batua of the upper Kasai. 

[7] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

To-day the pygmies are mere fragments, scattered and 
separated, but retaining with tenacity their ancient life. 
They are the same to-day as they were 5,000 years ago, 
when they were objects of interest to the old Egyptians. 
Little in stature, scrawny in form, with a face shrewd, cun- 
ning, and sly, the pygmy is a hunter. With his bows and 
poisoned arrows he kills the game of the forests and makes 
no pretense of doing aught in agriculture. He is univer- 
sally feared by the large blacks in the neighborhood of 
whose towns he settles. He trades his game for agricul- 
tural products with his large neighbors? 

In the Soudan and neighboring parts of western Africa 
live the true negroes, notable for their thick lips, project- 
ing lower faces, and dark skin. 

Throughout southern Africa we find a group of popu- 
lations much lighter in color, and on the whole more at- 
tractive in appearance, than the true negro. These tribes, 
plainly related in language, are no doubt of one blood, and 
are called Bantu. The name is unfortunate, as the word 
bantu simply means "men" in that group of languages. 
Practically the whole of the Congo population are Bantu 
there being almost no true negroes and but few pyg- 
mies in the area. 

It would seem as if the Congo native should be so well 
known by this time that the current description of him in 
the text-books would be accurate; yet, at least in two 
respects, these stereotyped accounts are wrong. The 
Congo Bantu are not long-headed, and it is not true that 
they differ from the real negro in the absence of a charac- 
teristic and disagreeable odor. There are scores of Bantu 
tribes, each with its own language and minor peculiarities 

[81 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

in appearance and life. It would be untrue to say that all 
smell badly, but I have often wished the writers of the 
books could be shut up a while in the same room with, for 
example, a group of Bobangi. It is certain that no type of 
African smells worse. 

It would be, however, a mistake to think that the Bantu 
are dirty. Far from it. I have repeatedly observed my 
carriers, when we came to some brook in the forest, set their 
loads aside, strip themselves when necessary, and bathe 
in the fresh cool water. They are scrupulous in attention 
to their teeth, and use, often several times a day, a little 
stick of wood, somewhat larger than a lead-pencil, shred- 
ded at one end, to clean their teeth. The instrument, by 
the way, serves its purpose far better than our own tooth- 
brushes. 

According to his tribe, the Bantu may be short, medium, 
or tall. King Ndombe of the Bakuba measures six feet 
three in stature, and is well built, though not heavy. 
Among the Bakuba, Baluba, Batetela, and Bakete, tall 
statures are common. It is rare, however, that the Bantu 
present what we would call finely developed forms; their 
chest is often flat and sunken; their shoulders not well 
thrown backward; and the musculature of their back, 
their chest, arms, and legs, is poor. Of course, there are 
exceptions, and one sometimes sees magnificently devel- 
oped specimens. In the lower Congo, where on the whole 
the men are shorter, they make excellent carriers. In the 
old caravan days the standard burden was sixty or seventy 
pounds, and a man would carry it without difficulty all the 
working day. The Kasai tribes are poor carriers and 
indifferent workers. The chopbox of sixty pounds weight, 

[9] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

which the lower Congo man shoulders easily and carries 
without complaint, will be slung to a pole to be borne by 
two carriers among the Baluba. 

In life the Bantu populations, so far as the Congo is con- 
cerned, present notable general uniformity. The general 
pattern is the same everywhere, though there are local 
and tribal differences of minor sort. Thus, almost every 
tribe has its own tribal marks cut into the flesh of face or 
body. 

Similarly, the members of one tribe may be distin- 
guished by their mode of dressing the hair. To a less 
degree, the form to which the teeth are chipped and broken 
mark tribal differences. It may almost be said that no 
two tribes in all the Congo build houses that are just alike, 
and almost every tribe has its characteristic mode of ar- 
ranging the houses in a group. Thus, in one tribe the 
houses will be arranged in continuous lines, one on each 
side of a straight road; in another the houses may be 
grouped around the three sides of a square, the group 
belonging to a single chieftain and being succeeded in the 
village by other similar groups of buildings; in another 
the houses will be arranged in two curved lines, leaving the 
open space in the center of the village oval or elliptical. 
The chairs or stools of one tribe will differ in form and 
decoration from those of another; so will the wooden 
spoons, the stirring-sticks, the combs, the dress and orna- 
ments. 

The Congo natives for the most part still lead a tribal 
life. A chief is the head of a little community clustered 
about him. He may not be the chief of a whole village; 
for example, at Bomanih, on the Aruwimi, there are three 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

chiefs. Each one has his own cluster of houses, and though 
the three clusters are arranged continuously in two, parallel, 
straight lines, every native of the village knows precisely 
where the domain of the individual chief ends or begins. 

The power and authority of the chief has been greatly 
weakened by contact with the whites, but he still retains 
great influence. At least over the members of his own 
household, including, of course, his slaves, he had the 
power of life and death. In large affairs, interesting a 
considerable number of people, he usually acted on the 
advice and opinion of his fellows as expressed in a village 
or tribal palaver. The chief was, and still is, distinguished 
from the common people by his dress and ornaments. 
He is usually a man of wealth, and has a considerable 
number of people actually dependent upon him, subject 
to his orders, and a force upon which he can depend in 
case of war or trouble. 

When I first entered the Congo my heart sank, for it 
seemed as if the native life was gone. In fact, in letters 
written from Matadi I doubted whether I had not come 
too late for aught of interest. My spirits began to 
revive, however, with the railroad journey from Matadi 
to Leopoldville. Groups of natives, with scanty dress and 
barbaric ornaments, replaced those who at Matadi and its 
neighborhood gathered at the station to see the train pass. 

In my first walk from the mission house where I lodged 
at Leo, within three minutes' walk of the mission I found 
a little cluster of Bateke houses which, with its inhabi- 
tants, much delighted me. 

Almost naked women, with abundance of beads and 
teeth hung at their necks as ornaments, with hair elabo- 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

rately dressed and bodies smeared with red camwood 
powder, squatted on the ground, were making native 
pottery in graceful forms. 

In the shade in front of the door of one of the houses 
was a true barbarian, lord of the place. By rare good 
luck he spoke a little English, so that we were able to carry 
on a conversation. When I asked him who the women 
were, he replied that they were his wives. I think there 
were three of them, and it was my first introduction to 
African polygamy. Each of these women occupied a 
separate house. Each of them had a garden patch in 
which she worked. All of them contributed to the im- 
portance and support of their husband. 

Polygamy, of course, prevails throughout Dark 
Africa. But do not misunderstand me. I do not use 
the word "dark" to characterize polygamy. It is a 
settled institution which seems to work quite well. Later 
on I saw the wives of Ndombe, thirty-four in number. 
Ndombe is a really important chief, but compared with 
some whom we met or of whom we heard in the Upper 
Congo, he was but scantily equipped. Sixty, seventy, a 
hundred, or hundreds of wives and female slaves, which 
count for much the same, are in possession of great chief- 
tains. There is, of course, always one favorite or principal 
wife. When Ndombe used to come, as he frequently did, 
to my house to see the stereoscopic pictures, he frequently 
brought his favorite wife with him. She was a pretty 
creature young and plump, graceful and modest. 
She wore good cloth and any quantity of beads and brass 
arm and leg rings. 

In every case the women of a chief or rich man live in 
[12] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

separate houses, each having her own. Until a man is 
married he is but little thought of. The greater the num- 
ber of his wives, the more important he becomes. As 
each one cultivates a field and does other productive 
labor, it will be seen that the man with the most wives 
is the richest man. 

The man has his own house, but visits and lives in the 
houses of his wives in turn. The child in Africa is rarely 
weaned before it is two or three years old, and during the 
period of time when a child is unweaned the father has no 
marital relations with the woman. On the whole, there is 
less quarreling among the wives of a polygamic husband 
than one would expect. Bantu women, however, are often 
termagants, as women elsewhere, and at times the chief's 
house group is lively. 

Domestic slavery still flourishes. The state, of course, 
has done much to end the actual slave trade for supplying 
white men and Arabs. It is, however, difficult to deal 
with the matter of domestic slavery, and in fact is scarcely 
worth the candle. 

Every chief or man of any consequence has slaves. 
Calamba, my interpreter, at Ndombe, though a young 
fellow, probably not more than 25, had two. It is rare 
that the lot of the domestic slave is unhappy. It is usually 
women or children who are bought, and they are treated 
in all respects as if members of the family. Little is re- 
quired of them in the way of work and service, and they 
must absolutely be provided for by the master, who is 
also frequently responsible before the public for their 
misdeeds. Formerly, of course, there was the possibility 
of being killed upon a festal occasion, the accession of the 

[13] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

chief to increased power, or to grace his funeral. Within 
those districts where the state has a firm hold and strong 
influence this possibility is done away with, and the most 
serious disadvantage in being a slave is thus removed. 
Slaves may become rich men, and not infrequently them- 
selves hold slaves. 

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the Bantu, 
as of the true negro, is his emotionality one instant 
joyous, the next in tears. Vowing vengeance for an in- 
jury to-day, he is on the happiest terms with his injurer 
to-morrow. He laughs, sings, dances. Of all the in- 
troductions of the white man, perhaps the accordion is the 
favorite. Men use it, but women play it constantly. 
Most of them play one song piece only, and one may 
hear it from one end of the state to the other at every 
hour of the day and night. Of course, there are native 
instruments in plenty, drums of every size and form, from 
the small hand drum, made by stretching a skin across an 
earthen pot three or four inches in diameter, up to the 
great cylindrical, horizontal drum made by hollowing 
logs a yard in diameter and ten feet long. There are horns, 
fifes, pipes, and whistles, and a great series of stringed 
instruments, ranging from the musical bow with but one 
cord to lutes with ten or twelve. Of course, the instru- 
mental music goes with the dancing. 

The native is born to dance. Babies, two or three 
years old, dance with their elders. Men dance together; 
women have their special forms; but in the majority of 
cases the two sexes dance together. There is, however, 
nothing like our waltzes or round dancing, individuals 
keeping themselves separate. The dances are most fre- 

[14] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

quent and lively when the moon is growing. On moon- 
light nights hundreds of people men, women, and chil- 
dren gather at dusk, and to the noise of drums dance 
wildly, often till morning. It is no uncommon thing for 
people working on plantations to work all day and dance 
almost all night, and this day after day. While some of 
the dances are extremely graceful, most of them are ob- 
scene and are followed often by frightful orgies. 

One thing greatly interested me. Had I been asked 
before my trip to Africa about the cake-walk a form of 
amusement which I love to see I should have said that 
it originated in America among the black folk of our 
southern states. But no, the cake-walk is no American 
invention. In every part of the Congo one may see it 
even in regions where white influence has seldom pene- 
trated. The American cake-walk is an immigrant. 

The Bantu child is wonderfully precocious. This 
precocity displays itself in everything. The children run 
about with perfect freedom, instead of tottering along, one 
unsteady step after another, as our children of the same 
age. They speak astonishingly soon. A babe in arms 
eats solid food notwithstanding the fact that it is not 
weaned until two or three years of age shockingly early. 
The little child imitates the every action of its older 
friends. Children of four or five, in shrewdness, com- 
prehension, and intelligence, are like our ten-year-olds. 
This precocity suggests the fact of early ripening. As a 
fact, boys of sixteen and girls of thirteen are frequently 
ready for marriage. A man of twenty-five is in the prime 
of life, a man of thirty aged, and on the whole the term 
of life closes at thirty-five. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

II. 

January 21, 1907. 

LIFE is easy in the tropics. Wants are few. A 
house to live in can be built in a few hours. Food 
can be gathered or produced with little labor. 
Dress is needless. Where life is easy there is little im- 
pulse to labor. 

The chief incentive to the Bantu to work is to secure 
the wherewithal to buy a wife. The boy, who, through a 
careless, happy childhood, has done naught but play, 
begins to think of settling down. But to have a wife he 
must have money or its equivalent. So he goes to work. 
It may require a year or more before he has the pieces of 
cloth which are necessary for the purchase of his desired 
loved one. The same stimulus which impelled him to 
labor for one wife may prod him to efforts for others. But 
with the establishment of a home, and the purchase of two 
or three wives to care for him and produce him wealth, his 
work is done. From fourteen years to twenty-five is his 
working period. Before that time a child, after that time 
he is a man of means. What wealth comes later comes 
through the women and their labor, and through trade. 

We have already stated that the Bantu is notably 
acquisitive. Wealth, apart from women and slaves, is 
counted mostly in cloth. One of the chief aims in life is 
to accumulate cloth, not for use as clothing, but as evidence 
of wealth and for the final display when the man dies and 
is buried. Among the Lower Congo tribes the dead body 
is wrapped in piece after piece of cloth, until the body dis- 
appears in a mass of wrappings made of scores of pieces, 
each piece consisting of eight or sixteen yards, as the case 

[16] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

may be. Young men have cloth, and it is most interesting 
to look through the boxes of the "boys." At Basoko we 
were robbed, and the authorities instituted a search. I 
was asked to inspect the boxes of all the workmen on the 
place. Without warning, every man and boy had to open 
his trunk, chest, tin box, or other store. I saw young fel- 
lows of no more than sixteen or seventeen years who had a 
dozen pieces of good cloth carefully folded away, watches, 
jewelry, ornaments, knives, dishes every kind of white 
man's tradestuff that could be imagined. When they are 
thirty those "boys" will be rich men, with women, slaves, 
and piles of stuff. 

The government of the Free State has issued coins for 
native use. There are large coppers of the value of one, 
two, five, and ten centimes. There are silver coins of half- 
franc, franc, two franc, and five franc value. But these 
coins have no circulation beyond Leopoldville. In the 
Kasai district and the Upper Congo every commercial 
transaction is done by barter. 

Certain things are so constantly in use as to have fixed 
values. For articles of trifling value nothing is so good as 
salt. A standard which varies from place to place is the 
brass rod, or mitaku. This is simply a piece of brass wire 
of certain length. The mitaku in the Lower Congo are 
short, those in the Upper Congo much longer. Beads 
have ever been used in trade, but the wise traveler avoids 
them, as their value has dwindled, and the taste not only 
varies from place to place, but from time to time. The 
bead which one traveler found useful in a given district 
may have lost its attractiveness before the next traveler, 
loaded with a large supply, comes that way. 

[17] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

At Ndombe the brass rod has no vogue. There the 
cowries (sea shells) are the standard in small transactions. 
Cowries were once used in many parts of Africa, but in 
most places have ceased to have value. Ndombe, how- 
ever, arrogates to himself and family the sole right of wear- 
ing brass arm and leg rings. Hence mitaku are not used, 
and the old-fashioned cowry remains. But the chief 
tradestuff, of course, is cloth. With it you may buy 
chickens or goats, pigs or wives. In the Upper Kasai a 
piece of cloth means eight yards "four fathoms." In 
the Upper Congo a piece of cloth is sixteen yards, or eight 
fathoms. Formerly at Ndombe eight or ten chickens 
were given for a piece of cloth, value five francs, or one 
dollar in our currency. To-day one must pay a fathom 
for each fowl. 

The attempt to introduce the use of coin among the 
natives was unsatisfactory alike to the people and the 
trader. It has, however, taken hold strongly hi the Lower 
Congo, and in time the use of true money must push its 
way up the river. Curious is the contempt of all for cop- 
pers. Ten centimes in Belgium would give delight to many 
a boy of twelve or fifteen years. The Congo native fre- 
quently throws it away or returns it to the person who 
gave it to him. Nothing less than a half -franc piece 
ten cents is valued. 

I have seen this illustrated many, many tunes, the first 
time in my own case. We were visiting a miserable fish- 
ing village of poor Bakongo. As I entered the village a 
naked child, no more than two or three years old, met me. 
I smiled at him and he at me. I extended my hand, which 
he clasped and accompanied me for half an hour as I 

[18] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

wandered from house to house, never once relaxing his 
hold upon my fingers. It caused great amusement to the 
adult portion of the village, as apparently the little one 
rarely made such friendships. When I was about to leave 
I took a ten centime piece from my pocket and gave it to 
him. Such a look of disgust as came over his face would 
not be expected in any one short of adult years. It was 
the last time that I gave a copper to a native. 

Unquestionably one of the most striking characteristics 
of the Congo people is loquacity. Their tongues hang 
loosely, and wag incessantly. Anything will do to talk 
about. Start one and he will talk until you stop him. 
Quarrels, troubles, friendships, joys, plans, and achieve- 
ments, all are retailed at any hour of the day or night. 
When excited, several will talk together with great vivacity, 
though it is plain that no one knows what any other is 
saying. 

One of the chief occupations of the man is the palaver. 
The Portuguese term applies to any serious consultation 
on any subject, pleasant or otherwise. A palaver may be 
confined to chiefs or it may include practically all the men 
of one or more villages. In many towns there is a place 
for gathering for palavers under a tree known as the pa- 
laver tree. Those who participate in a palaver bring their 
chairs or stools or a roll of skin, which they place upon the 
ground to sit upon. At the beginning there is more or less 
formality, and each one presents his view decently and in 
order; sometimes, however, hubbub ensues, disturbance 
arises, and the palaver breaks up hi disorder. In these 
palavers frequently speeches of great length and finished 
oratory are delivered. Not only are the emotions played 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

upon by the speaker, but keen argument is employed, and 
the appeal is made to the intelligence. 

All matters of consequence tribal, intertribal, and 
dealings with the white man are settled in palavers. The 
white man who knows the natives is wise to conform to 
native customs. If he has some difficulty to settle, some 
favor to ask, some business to arrange, he will do well to 
have a formal palaver called in which he himself partici- 
pates. 

On the occasion of my second visit to Ndombe I found 
the town in great excitement. Going to the chief's head- 
quarters, we found a great palaver in progress. Our com- 
ing was looked upon as a favorable omen, and with much 
formality chairs were brought and placed for us in the 
midst of the gathering. The remarks were translated to 
me as they were made. 

Ndombe's town is really an aggregation of villages. 
Not one but four different tribes are represented in the 
population. The central town, walled and of Bakuba 
style, was Ndombe's own. Three or four Bakete towns 
were clustered near it. In another direction were several 
Baluba towns, and close by them small villages of Batua. 
These four populations, though living by themselves, were 
all subject to Ndombe, and the group of villages taken 
together made a town of some pretension. 

The day before our visit, there had been a battle with 
the Bakete in which several men had been wounded, 
though none were killed. The trouble was taxes. The 
state demanded increased payments. The proud Bakuba 
decided that the Bakete should pay the new tax, and so 
informed them. Against this there had been a feeling of 

[20] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

rebellion, and the Bakete refused to pay the tax. Hence 
the battle. All were greatly excited. The speeches were 
full of fire. The men Bakuba challenged each 
other to show mighty deeds of valor; they belittled and 
derided the unfortunate Bakete; they drew unpleasant 
contrasts between themselves and their vassals. 

Many of the speeches were fine efforts, and the words 
were emphasized by the most graceful and vigorous gestic- 
ulation. Finally an old woman crowded in from one side 
where she had been listening to the speeches. In impas- 
sioned language she described the heavy labors which the 
women of the tribe already endured. They could stand 
no more. If the Bakuba were men let them prove it now 
or forever after remain silent. Force the Bakete to work. 
Put no more heavy tasks upon your mothers, wives, and 
sisters. The old woman's speech stirred the audience, and 
the meeting broke up, the men hurrying to prepare them- 
selves for a new battle. 

The market was among the most important institutions i 
of the Congo native. It retains importance to the present 
day. In the Lower Congo a week consisted of four days, 1 
and market was held at each market-place once a week. \ 
The markets were named from the day of the week on 
which they were held. Thus, a Nsona market was a 
market held on the day of that name. 

To these markets people came in numbers from all the 
country round, and it was no uncommon thing to see 
thousands thus gathered. There were special places for 
certain products. Thus, women who brought pottery for 
sale occupied a set place; those who brought bananas 
would be grouped together in their section ; sellers of cam- 

[21] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

wood, sweet potatoes, kwanga (native cassava bread), 
palm wine, oil, salt, fowls, pigs, goats all occupied 
places well known to the frequenters of the market. In 
the olden times, of course, there was a section devoted to 
the sale of slaves. 

Such a market presented a scene of active life and 
movement. Yet order was preserved. No crime was 
considered more serious than the disturbance of a mar- 
ket. Such an act deserved severest punishment, and 
those in whose hands the maintenance of order lay never 
hesitated to kill the offender at once, and to make a public 
display of his punishment as a warning to all. 

There is no question that the Congo native is cruel, and 
this cruelty shows itself in many ways. The killing of 
slaves was extremely common. It is true that it was never 
carried to the extreme in Congoland that it reached in 
some true negro kingdoms, as Dahomey and Benin. It 
was, however, customary to kill slaves on the occasion of 
the death of a man of any consequence. The body of one 
of the slaves thus killed was placed first in the grave to 
serve as a pillow for the dead man. It was a common 
practice to preserve the skulls of victims sacrificed on 
such occasions as memorials. 

Not only were slaves sacrificed to grace the funeral 
ceremony of chiefs, but often one or more were killed upon 
occasions of festivity and joy. King Ndombe once pre- 
sented me a skull. It was that of a Batua slave who had 
been killed upon the occasion of the chief's coming into 
power. In this case, apparently, judging by the condi- 
tion of the skull, the victim had been killed by simply 
knocking in his head. 

[22] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Until lately all through the Congo public executions 
were of a more formal character than this. At Lake 
Mantumba we were shown the exact mode of procedure. 
A sort of stool or seat was set upon the ground and sticks 
were tightly driven in around it, in such a way as to limit 
the motions of the victim after he was seated; in fact, to 
almost prevent all movement. A sapling was then thrust 
in the ground. A sort of cage or framework made of pliant 
branches was fixed about the head of the victim. The 
sapling was then bent over in an arch and firmly fastened 
to the cage, thus holding the head firmly and stretching 
the neck tense and hard. The hands were tied together, 
as were the feet. When all was ready the executioner 
with his great knife at a single blow struck off the head. 

Enemies killed in battle were often mutilated, and 
fingers, nails, bones, or the skulls were treasured as tro- 
phies. When the white men first visited the villages of 
the Upper Congo there was scarce a house without its 
ghastly trophy, and the houses of great chiefs displayed 
baskets filled with skulls. 

It is doubtful whether the Congo native has as keen 
a sense of physical suffering as ourselves. In almost every 
tribe men and sometimes women, are marked with tribal 
marks upon the face or body; thus, among the Bangala 
each member of the tribe bears a projection like a cock's 
comb running vertically across the forehead from the nose 
root to the hair line. This excrescence is frequently 
three-quarters of an inch in breadth and of the same eleva- 
tion. Its development begins in childhood, when a series 
of short but deep horizontal lines are cut in the child's 
forehead; these are irritated to produce swelling; later 

[23] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

on they are cut again, and again, and again, until the 
full development is produced. We should certainly find 
such an operation painful in the extreme. I have seen 
women whose entire bodies were masses of raised pat- 
terns, produced by cutting and irritating. 

When being operated upon the subject usually squats 
or lies in front of the operator, who sits cross-legged on 
the ground. The head or other portion of the body which 
is being cut rests upon the lap or knees of the cutter. No 
particular pain is shown by the subject, though the cuts 
are often deep and blood flows copiously. A few minutes 
after the operation, smeared with fresh oil on the wounds, 
the scarred person walks about as if nothing had happened. 

The first subject that I saw treated for rheumatism was 
a young woman. She was standing before her house 
door, while the old woman who was treating her was 
squatted on the ground before her. In her hand the old 
woman had a sharp, native razor, and with it she cut lines 
several inches long and to good depth in the fleshy part of 
the leg of her standing patient. Not once nor twice, but 
a dozen times the old woman cut, and rubbed in medicine 
in the open wounds. The patient gave but little signs of 
pain. Once or twice she winced as the knife went a little 
deeper than usual; she held a long staff in her hand, and 
in the most serious moments of the cutting she clutched 
it a little the tighter. But there were no groans, no cries, 
nor tears. I have never seen a white person who could 
have stood the operation with so little evidence of suf- 
fering. 

Part of the time that we were in Ndombe's district we 
had charge of an establishment employing 140 natives, 




COPYRIGHTED 1907, UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD, NEW YOR 



BAKUMU AT EASE : STEAMER CHAIRS AND PIPES FOR THREE 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

more or less. Among these natives was one Casati. I 
think he was a Zappo Zap. Originally a man of quick- 
ness and intelligence, he had become a complete physical 
wreck through drink and other forms of dissipation. He 
boarded with a girl named Tumba. One afternoon 
they presented themselves before me with a palaver. It 
was some question in regard to payment and service. 
Like most Bantu difficulties, its beginning seemed to 
extend backwards to the world's creation. 

I knew Tumba to be a worthy and industrious girl; 
Casati was a miserable and worthless wretch. I therefore 
refused to decide the difficulty, stating that the parties 
interested must wait until the return of the true owner of 
the establishment, who would decide their question. 
This was not at all to the satisfaction of Casati, who, 
merely to show his dissatisfaction, took a sharp knife and 
cut three big gashes in his own shoulder. It seems plain 
to me, from this apparent lack of pain under scarring, 
medical treatment, and self-infliction, that there is a nota- 
ble difference between the Bantu and ourselves. 

III. 

January 22, 1907. 

NATURALLY, in the Congo there is little need of 
dress. Before the white man's influence most 
native men wore nothing but a breech- clout a 
long strip of cloth passed between the legs and fastened 
as a belt around the waist or else a piece of native 
cloth made from palm fiber, perhaps a yard in width and 
long enough to go around the body. This latter garment, 
technically called a cloth, is still the dress of almost all the 

[25] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

workmen and workwomen on white men's places, but 
European stuff has replaced the old palm cloth. 

The women were usually much less clad than the men, 
but the style of dress varied from tribe to tribe. The 
Bangala woman wore, and still wears, a girdle at the waist, 
from which hung a fringe of grass or vegetable fiber 
reaching to the knees. The women of some Aruwimi 
tribes wear a simple cord, from which hangs in front a bit 
of grass cloth no more than three or four inches square. 
On occasion, the Bakuba woman wears nothing but one 
string of beads around her waist, from which hang in 
front several large brass or copper rings. The Ngombe 
women regularly go naked. 

Where white influence has become pronounced every 
one wears white man's cloth, and many have this cloth 
made up in form similar to those of the Europeans. After 
a Bantu has begun to be imbued with white man's ideas 
he is unhappy until he has a jacket, trousers, and hat. In 
form and material these are frequently so startling as to 
cause surprise to the person really accustomed to white 
men's clothes. Thus, a man may be dressed in loose and 
flowing trousers made of the most brilliant calicoes in 
gaudy pattern. He may have a jacket made of a strip of 
handkerchiefing which never was meant to be used as 
material for clothes, but to be cut or torn into kerchiefs. 

But happiness is not complete for the Bantu in trans- 
formation until he has a white man's umbrella. Not that 
he needs it for rain, because when it rains the Bantu 
always goes into his house and at once falls into a profound 
slumber which lasts until the rain is over. It is merely 
fashion, or for protection against the sun, a thing of which 

[26] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the Bantu really has no need. Two boys who were in 
our employ at Ndombe accompanied us afterwards as 
personal servants on our long journey up and down the 
Congo. When the time came to leave them at Leopold- 
ville we took them to the white man's store and asked them 
what they wanted as a parting gift. Their selections were 
eminently characteristic. My companion's boy at once 
declared his wish for an umbrella, while my own, of a far 
livelier and more sportive disposition, wished an accordion. 

It is a common complaint among the white men that 
the native is ungrateful. Many and many a time have we 
listened to such tirades. You will hear them from every- 
body who has had dealings with the Bantu. The 
missionary complains of it as bitterly as does the trader 
or the state official. All of them unite in declaring that 
gratitude does not exist in native character. This seems to 
us a baseless claim. The African is the shrewdest of 
traders. It is true that frequently he lets things go to 
white men for what seems to us a mere nothing. But he 
gets what he wants in return for his goods. He enjoys 
bickering. His first price is always greatly in excess of 
what he actually expects to receive. He will spend hours 
in debating the value of his wares. 

No one need seriously fear for the outcome to the black 
man in open trade with whites. The purpose of the white 
man in visiting him and dealing with him is a mystery to 
the native mind. He can understand the value of palm 
oil and ivory, for palm oil and ivory he uses himself. 
Why rubber and copal should be so precious is beyond his 
understanding. He but dimly grasps the purpose of the 
state and of the missionary. On the whole, he lends 

[27] 



THE, TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

himself to all alike, and being naturally kind, tries to 
please all and do what is expected of him. Still, he knows 
that he is being exploited by the foreigner, and it is but 
fair that he should exploit in return a thing at which 
he is an adept. Why, then, should he be grateful for 
what is done for him? He naturally believes that mis- 
sionaries, government officials, and traders all gain some 
advantage from their dealings with him; it is his duty to 
gain all he can in return in his dealings with them. And 
there is no especial ground for thanks. There is no reason 
for gratitude. 

I presume it is true that on one occasion perhaps 
it has been true on many a native who had been care- 
fully and lovingly cared for through a long and trying 
sickness, when restored wished to know what the mis- 
sionary was going to give him. He had taken all the bad 
medicines and all the invalid's slops without complaint, 
but naturally he expected some sort of compensation at 
the end. Yet the missionary would quote the incident as 
an example of ingratitude. 

It is common to call black Africans dishonest. Here, 
again, the judgment is undeserved and arises from mis- 
comprehension. The African knows, as well as we do, 
what constitutes truth, yet he lies, especially to white 
folk. He has as clear a knowledge of mine and thine as 
we, and yet he steals from his employer. The explanation 
lies in the same idea precisely. He thinks we are constantly 
getting something from him; he in turn must exploit us. 
The white man is a stranger. Throughout tribal life 
the stranger is a menace; he is a being to be plundered 
because he is a being who plunders. 

[28] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Among themselves, lying is not commended and 
truth is appreciated ; but to deceive a stranger or a white 
man is commendable. Native houses are often left for 
days or weeks, and it would be easy for any one to enter 
and rob them. Yet robbery among themselves is not 
common. To steal, however, from a white employer 
upon whom the native looks as a being of unlimited and 
incomprehensible wealth is no sin. It is unfair to 
stamp the native either as a liar or a thief because he lies 
to white men and steals from his employer. 

Among the Congo natives wealth has weight. The 
rich man has authority and power and influence because 
he is rich. There is a servile, cringing, element in the 
Bantu character which showed itself as plainly in the old 
days before the white men came as it does today. Cring- 
ing, toadying, scheming, marked the daily life. While 
a man was rich he had respect and friends and power. If 
reverses came he lost them all. None was so poor to do 
him reverence. Arrogance was the chief element of the 
chieftain's stock in trade; servility the chief mark of the 
slave and poor man. White men who have to do with 
natives are forced to act decisively. They must inspire 
fear and respect; kindness is weakness. To permit 
discourtesy or insolence invites contempt. Perfect justice, 
firmness, and consistency will give the white men who 
must deal with natives a respected position which vacilla- 
tion or mistaken friendliness will never gain. 

Emotional to a high degree, the native often passes 
for affectionate. Affection of a certain kind he no doubt 
has; many examples come to the mind of personal ser- 
vants who have almost shown devotion to white masters. 

[29] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

On the whole, true affection as we know it, unvarying, 
consistent, which stands the test of varying circumstances, 
occurs but seldom. Extremely beautiful and touching, 
however, is the love which every Bantu has for his mother 
a love undoubtedly encouraged and strengthened by 
the polygamous life. A boy's relation to his father is 
nothing; his relation to his mother is the closest tie in 
human life. He is of her blood. Her relatives are his. 
The nearest male connection which he has is her brother. 
Toward him the boy shows particular respect, but toward 
his mother true love. She is far nearer and dearer to him 
than wife or slaves. Through his boyhood she is his 
refuge in every kind of trouble; in young manhood she is 
his adviser and confidant; in manhood he still goes to 
her in every trouble and with every question. There is 
but one person in his whole lifetime whom he trusts. 
She is ever sure to be his friend; she never betrays his 
interest. 

All early white visitors to dark African populations 
were profoundly impressed with the respect shown to the 
aged. This was genuine. The old man or woman was 
the repository of wisdom. The experiences through which 
they had passed made them wise counselors. Tribal 
affairs were decided by the old. This trait of native char- 
acter, constantly mentioned by all the early writers, tends 
to disappear in all those districts where the white man's 
influence has spread. Such is ever the case. And it is 
natural. 

The white man's wisdom is a different thing from that 
of the native. Contact with the white man causes con- 
tempt and despisal of the wisdom of the ancients. It is 

[30] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the children who always gain this new wisdom from the 
whites, and with their eating of the tree of knowledge there 
comes a loss of all respect for older people. Missionaries 
in vain will preach the fifth commandment to the children 
in their schools. The reading, writing, and arithmetic 
which they learn from books, the new ways and manners 
and points of view which they gain from contact with their 
teachers, render all such teaching mere platitudes without 
vital force. The children educated by white men, must 
always lose respect and admiration for their parents and 
the elders of their tribes. 

Mentally, the native of the Congo is quick and bright. 
We have already spoken of his ability in languages and his 
facility in oratory. He delights in saws and proverbs 
condensed wisdom. Hundreds and thousands of such 
proverbs, often showing great keenness and shrewdness, 
deep observation and insight, might be quoted. No peo- 
ple with a mass of proverbial philosophy, such as the Bantu 
and the true negroes have, could be considered stupid. In 
learning new ways and customs and in imitation of others 
they are extremely quick and apt. Every white settlement 
in the Congo has introduced new ways of living, and the 
black boys who can cook well, do fair tailoring, good 
laundry work, and personal service of other kinds are sur- 
prisingly numerous. Under direction they frequently 
develop great excellence in work. 

In a few years after the establishment of the Free State, 
the caravan service for transporting freight of every kind 
from the head of navigation at Matadi to Leopoldville, 
above the rapids, was admirably developed. The men 
carried their burdens willingly and uncomplainingly; it 

[31] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

was extremely rare that anything was lost or stolen. So, 
too, they have rapidly adopted military life, and the native 
soldiers under Belgian training present as great precision, 
promptness, and grace in executing their maneuvers as 
many white troops would do. 

With both the true negroes and the Bantu, belief in 
witchcraft was prevalent. Sickness, disease, and death 
were not natural events. That a man should die in battle 
or from wounds was understood, but that sickness should 
cause death was not grasped by the native mind. Sick- 
ness and death from sickness were regularly attributed to 
the evil practices of witches. If a man suffered pains in 
the head or body, it was because some enemy was intro- 
ducing a mysterious and harmful object into his system. 
It was necessary, therefore, to adopt some method of un- 
doing the harm. There were men and women whose 
business it was to detect the author of witchcraft and to 
recommend means for saving the victim from his opera- 
tions. Nothing more serious could happen to a man than 
to be accused of witchcraft. No matter how rich he was; 
how high his station ; how many or how strong his friends 
the accusation of witchcraft was dangerous. 

A person accused of witchcraft was usually subjected 
to an ordeal of poison. It was generally the drinking of a 
poisoned brew produced by steeping leaves, or barks, or 
roots in water. If the accused vomited the drink and suf- 
fered no serious results, his innocence was demonstrated. 
If, however, the draft proved fatal, his guilt was clear. It 
is true that sometimes the witch doctor played false, 
and, in administering the ordeal, might be influenced by 
bribes. 

[32] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

This whole matter of witchcraft and the ordeal has been 
magnified by many writers. It is true that there was con- 
stant danger for a progressive man, a rich man, or a great 
chief. Such men would naturally arouse jealousy and 
envy, and no doubt accusations were frequently made 
against them without cause. For my own part, however, 
I have long believed that the ordeal for witchcraft was not 
an unmixed evil, and I was more than pleased at hearing 
a missionary, who has been many years in the Congo, state 
that, after all, while it was subject to occasional abuse, it 
tended toward wholesome control of conditions in a com- 
munity. 

It is much the custom for white men to speak of Congo 
natives as big children. Whenever some custom is par- 
ticularly unlike our own, they will shrug their shoulders 
and say: "You see, they are only children." I believe as 
much in the theory of recapitulation as any one. I believe 
that the life history of the individual repeats the life history 
of the race. 

I believe that one may truly say that children among 
ourselves represent the stage of savagery; that youth is 
barbarous; that adult age is civilization. It is true that 
children among ourselves present many interesting sur- 
vivals of the savage attitude. In a certain sense savages 
are children. I think, however, from the points in native 
character which I here have touched, that my readers will 
agree with me that the adult native of the Congo is no 
child. He is a man, but a man different from ourselves, 
He represents the end of a development, not the begin- 
ning. 



[33] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

IV. 

January 23, 1907. 

HAVING some of the more marked characteristics 
of the Bantu in mind, let us consider the condi- 
tions and circumstances of the white men in the 
Congo. There are, of course, but three classes state 
officials, traders, and missionaries. Practically, the state 
officials and the traders are in the same condition; the 
missionary is so differently circumstanced that he must 
be considered independently. 

Few persons can imagine the trying climate and the 
serious diseases of the Congo region. It is claimed that 
Nigeria is worse. It may be, but, if so, I should wish to 
keep away from Nigeria. Fever, of course, abounds in all 
the Lower Congo districts. If one escapes it for a time it 
is so much the worse for him when finally he succumbs to 
the infliction. It is only malaria, but it is malaria of the 
most insidious and weakening sort. A man is up and 
working hi the early morning; at noonday he takes to his 
bed with fever; at night or next morning he may again be 
at his daily work. 

It seems a trifling thing a disease which often lasts 
less than a day. But the man is left weak and nerveless. 
The next attack continues the weakening process. Finally, 
with blood impoverished and strength exhausted, he dies. 
Of course, the remedy is quinine. Careful people going 
into the Congo begin to take their daily dose of this specific 
at the beginning of their journey, so that they may be 
fortified against attack before arrival. For the most part 
the English missionaries take two, three, five, or six grains 
daily throughout the period of their stay. Some foreigners 

[34] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

prefer ten grain doses on the ist, nth, and 2ist of every 
month. Few really refuse to take it, and such usually find 
an early grave. 

The disadvantage of this constant dosing with quinine 
is the danger of the dreaded haematuric fever. This dread 
disease rarely attacks a person until he has been a year in 
the Congo. It is commonly attributed to the system being 
loaded up with quinine. The instant that its symptoms 
develop, the order to cease taking quinine is promptly 
issued. Among the European population of the Congo, 
haematuric fever is regularly expected to have a fatal issue. 
It is more than probable that the use of wines, beers, and 
liquors predisposes the system to a fatal result. Plenty of 
missionaries die of haematuric fever also, but the appear- 
ance of the disease among them by no means produces the 
panic which it does among continentals. Perhaps one in 
five or six cases dies, two of the remainder flee to Europe, 
the other three recover. But the disease is no trifling mat- 
ter, and must be seriously taken. 

Few persons realize the frightful effect of the tropical 
sun in Central Africa. When Jameson came down the 
river from the ill-fated Yambuya camp, natives on the 
shore sent a flight of arrows against his paddlers, not 
knowing that a white man was present with them in the 
canoe. To show them that such was the case and pre- 
vent further attack Jameson stood in his canoe and waved 
his hat at the assailants. It is unlikely that he had it 
from his head more than a minute or two, but in that time 
he was stricken with the fever which a few days later 
caused his death. 

Glave, after spending six years in Africa at the state 
[35] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

post of Lukolcla, returned in safety to his native land. 
After some years he revisited the scene of his earlier labors, 
entering the continent on the east coast and passing in 
safety to Matadi. While waiting for a steamer he was 
making a short journey on the river in a canoe. His head 
was exposed for a mere instant to the sun, and Glave was 
shortly a dead man. 

One who has been on three different occasions in the 
Congo once remarked to me that he could see no reason 
for the strange and frightful modes of suicide adopted by 
Europeans who wished to end their lives. All that would 
be necessary is to seat oneself upon a chair or stool in the 
open sunshine for a brief period. Yet the Bantu goes out 
every day with no hat upon his head, and with no apparent 
bad results. And when he has the fever one of his quick- 
est means of restoration is to seat himself in the open sun- 
shine. Of course, the Bantu does not have the fever as 
frequently or as severely as the white man. 

The Bantu suffers much, however, from sleeping-sick- 
ness. For a long time it was believed that this strange dis- 
ease was peculiar to the dark populations of Africa. The 
disease formerly was local, and while frightful hi its rav- 
ages, was not a serious matter. To-day, however, it is 
extending up and down the whole length of the main river 
and throughout the area drained by many of its main trib- 
utaries. 

In its approach it is slow and insidious. The saddest 
cases are those where the victim attacked was notably in- 
telligent and quick. The subject becomes at first a little 
moody, and from tune to time has outbursts of petulance 
and anger out of proportion to the exciting cause. These 

[36] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

outbursts become more and more common, and assume 
the character of true mania, during which the person may 
attack those around him, even though they are his best and 
dearest friends. It is frequently necessary to tie him, in 
order to prevent injury to others. Presently the person 
is affected with stupor, shows a tendency to sleep, even 
at his work; this increases until at last he is practically 
sleeping, or in a comatose condition, all the tune. In this 
latter stage of the disease he loses flesh with great rapid- 
ity, and presently is naught but skin and bones. At last 
death takes him, after he has been useless to himself and 
others for a long time. 

The sleeping-sickness is not confined to the Congo Free 
State, and at the present time its ravages are felt severely 
in the British district of Uganda. The disease has been 
investigated by learned commissions, but no satisfactory 
treatment, at least for an advanced stage of the trouble, has 
been yet discovered. 

There is a tendency among physicians to connect the 
transmission of the sleeping-sickness with the tsetse fly. 
It is, "of course," a germ disease such being at the 
present all the fashion. A medical friend in New York 
tells me that the Japanese have made recent important 
investigations of the sickness, and that their line of treat- 
ment gives greater promise of success than any other. 
Latterly the disease has attacked white people, and a num- 
ber of missionaries have died from it or been furloughed 
home for treatment. 

Whole districts of Bantu have been depopulated. We 
were shown the site of a Catholic mission until lately highly 
prosperous; the place has been deserted, all the natives 

[37] 

114533 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

under the influence of the mission having died of the sleep- 
ing-sickness. 

Malaria, haematuria, sun fevers, and sleeping-sickness 
are the most fearful scourges which the white settler in the 
Congo faces. 

We could, of course, extend the list of strange and 
dreadful diseases, but have said enough to show that every 
white man who goes into the Congo country does so at a 
serious risk. No one is quite immune, and the number 
who even seem to be so is small. No one is ever quite 
well, and every one is chronically in a state of physical 
disorganization. 

The climate and the actual diseases are bad enough. 
They perhaps would lose a portion of their terror if the 
food supply were adequate, wholesome, and nutritious. 
Even the missionaries use little native food. The state 
officer and trader use practically none. The chopbox is 
an institution of the country. Its simplest expression is 
found at the trading-post of some company where but a 
single agent is in residence. Once in three months the 
steamer of his company brings him his chopbox outfit. 
There are usually two long wooden boxes, one of which 
contains a great variety of tinned meats, fish, vegeta- 
bles, and fruit. I never had the least idea until my 
African experience how many things were put in tins. 
The second box contains flour, oil, vinegar, salt, and 
spices. The quantity is held to be sufficient for the 
three months. In addition to the actual food supply, 
there is a quota of wine in demijohns and of gin in 
square bottles. 

No one who has not had the experience can imagine 
[38] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the frightful satiety which comes upon one who has fed 
for weeks from chopboxes. 

It is true that "the boy" does his best to serve a pala- 
table dinner. It is true that sometimes a piece of elephant 
or hippopotamus, a guinea fowl or grouse, some buffalo 
or antelope, or fresh fish or fowls are brought in by the 
natives as gifts or trade. But even with this help the poor 
company agent has the same food, meal after meal, day 
after day. Frequently the tinned stuff is old and really 
unfit for eating; but the quota is none too large for his 
three months' period. Sometimes the flour or macaroni 
is moldy, having been soaked through with water in the 
hold of a leaky steamer. The food is not attractive nor 
substantial. The state officer, the company agent, in 
Central Africa, is underfed and badly nourished. 

Not only does the white man in the Congo suffer physi- 
cal disorganization; he also suffers mental disintegration. 
The memory of white men in the Congo weakens. This 
is a matter of universal observation, and my attention has 
been called to it repeatedly. A disinclination to any kind 
of intellectual activity takes possession of one, and only 
by the exercise of strong will-power can he accomplish his 
daily tasks and plan for the work of the future. There is 
a total lack of stimulus. 

When to the weakening effects of fever and other ill- 
ness, and to the depression caused by innutritious food, 
we add the influence of constant dread of coming sickness 
and of native outbreaks, it is no wonder that the white 
man of the Congo is a nervous and mental wreck. At 
home, accustomed to wines and spirits at his meals, he 
finds it difficult to discontinue their use. Beer ought to be 

[39] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

completely avoided in the Congo; there is no question of 
its injurious effect upon the liver. Wine may be taken in 
the evening, and a very little spirits in the night after 
dinner, without noticeable bad results. But many of these 
lonely men pay no attention to wise rules of drinking, and 
through constant dissipation lay themselves open to dis- 
ease and death. Nor are they always satisfied with in- 
toxicating drinks. The use of opium in different forms is 
common. Many a time have company agents or state 
officials come to me and asked for some remedy from my 
medicine chest, for sudden and distressing pains. In 
every case it has been a preparation of opium which they 
have taken. 

V. 

January 24, 1907. 

WITH physical and mental disorganization there 
must, of course, be moral disintegration. 
Even the missionaries in an enlightened country 
like Japan constantly complain of the depressing influences 
around them. 

Such a complaint, to my mind, is preposterous when 
applied to Japan, but it is easy to understand with refer- 
ence to Central Africa. If there is but one agent at the 
station, he rarely sees another white man. Day after 
day, and all day long, his constant contact is with the black 
folk. There is nothing to appeal to his better nature. 
He must pit himself against the scheming and servile 
native. He must look out for the interests of the company. 
He must scheme, browbeat, threaten. Chances for 
immorality abound. 

[40] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Constant sight of cruelty begets cruelty. Alone in a 
population so unlike himself, his only safety rests in his 
commanding at once fear, respect, obedience. He fre- 
quently possesses governmental power. The only white 
man in a large area of country, he must insist upon the 
fulfillment of the requirements which are passed down to 
him from his superiors. There are no white men living 
who could pass unscathed through such a trial. 

The wonder is not that from tune to time company 
agents and governmental officials are encountered who 
are monsters of cruelty. The wonder is, with the constant 
sapping of the physical, the mental, and the moral nature, 
that any decent men are left to treat with natives. 

Of course, there are almost no white women in the 
Congo Free State outside the missions. The director- 
general at Leopoldville, the railroad station agent at the 
same point, a commandant at Coquilhatville, and two of 
the officers at Stanleyville have their wives with them. 
It is possible that there are some of whom I am ignorant, 
but it is doubtful if there are a dozen white women of 
respectability in all the Congo except, of course, the 
ladies in the missions. Almost without exception, the 
other state officials and traders have black women. 

These black women of the white man are to be seen 
wherever the white man himself is seen. A man usually 
selects his black companion shortly after reaching the 
Congo and supports her in his own house, where he treats 
her on the whole with kindness. He considers her an 
inferior being, but treats her like a doll or toy. She is 
dressed according to her own fancy and frequently 
brilliantly and more or less expensively. She rarely 

[41] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

forces attention upon herself, but where he goes she goes. 
If he travels on the steamer, she is there; if he makes a 
trip through the rubber district, stopping night after 
night in native towns, she is ever one of the caravan. 
She is true to him and on the whole, though there has been 
no marriage, he is true to her. 

Frequently, a strong affection appears to spring up 
between the couple, and the hybrid children resulting 
from the relation are almost always loved and petted by 
their white father. Not infrequently, the little ones are 
taken home to Belgium for education, and are generally 
received with kindness by their father's parents. 

On the steamer which brought us back from Congo 
were two Belgians, one with a little girl, the other with a 
boy slightly older. The children were well dressed, well 
behaved, pretty and attractive. And it was interesting 
to see the affectionate greeting that was given them by 
their grandparents on their landing at the dock in Ant- 
werp. 

At one post, where we were entertained for several 
days, the lieutenant had his two little daughters, 3 and 5 
years respectively, at the table with him at all meal times, 
together with the other two white men of the station and 
his two guests. The little ones were extremely pretty 
and gentle. At the table it is their custom to sing between 
the courses. Their father almost worships them. While 
the children are thus constantly petted in public and 
appear on all sorts of occasions, the black woman rarely 
if ever sits with her white man at the table or enters the 
room where he is laboring or receiving guests. 

We have described the condition of a single agent at a 
[42! 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

station. At many stations there is more than one. At 
first sight, it would seem as if the lot of the agent who with 
one or two others is at a station would be far happier than 
that of the lonely man whom we have pictured. 

There are, however, two results of the environment 
to which we have as yet not alluded. On my return to 
Brussels, after my visit to the Congo, a state official who 
has never been in Africa asked me with interest and some 
evidence of concern whether in my judgment it was true 
that those in Africa were always a little crazy. I told 
him that I believed such to be the case, and quoted to 
him a statement made by an old Afrikander: "We are 
all a little crazy here; it is the sun. You must not mind 
it." Men on the slightest provocation will fly into the 
most dreadful fits of anger. A little cause may bring 
about catastrophe. 

The second curious result suggested is the fact that 
everything appears much larger, more important, and 
more serious than it really is. A slight, neglect, or insult 
of the most trifling character becomes an enormous injury. 
With this unsettled intellectual condition and this constant 
tendency to magnify and enlarge an injury, we almost 
always find where two men or more are associated in 
Congo stations frightful hostilities and enmity. One 
would think that the common feeling of loneliness would 
unite men and cement friendships. On the other hand, 
every subordinate is plottingjagainst his superior. Cabals 
are formed; injuries planned and developed. 

Of course, we understand that criticism, plotting, un- 
dermining occur wherever human beings live. But the 
thing develops to an extreme among the white men of the 

[431 






THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Congo. When a man has an outside visitor ready to 
listen to his complaints he will spend hours in pouring 
out his woes. The most innocent actions and words on 
the part of his fellows will be warped and misconstrued; 
imaginary insults and neglects will be magnified, brooded 
over, and reiterated. 

It would be a mistake to think that the men who go 
to the Congo are bad. Missionaries assert that the quality 
of those who come to-day is worse than formerly, which 
may be true. When the Congo enterprise was first 
launched, sons of good families, lured by the chance of 
adventure or pining for novelty, enlisted in the service 
of the state. Probably the number of such men going 
to the Congo is lessening. 

To-day, when all the terrors of the Congo are well 
known, when the hardships of that kind of life have been 
repeated in the hearing of every one, rich men's sons find 
little that is attractive in the Congo proposition. But I 
was constantly surprised at the relatively high grade of 
people in low positions hi the Congo state. Most of them 
are men of fair intelligence; some, of education. Not 
only Belgians, but Scandinavians, Hollanders, Swiss, and 
Italians, go to the Congo in numbers. They are not by 
nature brutal or bad; doubtless they were poor, and it was 
poverty that led them to enter the Congo service. The 
term for which they regularly enter is three years. No 
man from any country, could stand three years of such 
surrounding influence without showing the effect. 

In passing, we may call attention to certain curious 
facts of observation in connection with the strangers who 
come to Congo. We might suppose that the Scandina- 

[44] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

vians would particularly suffer physically in going from 
their northern latitudes into the tropics. On the contrary, 
it is precisely the Scandinavians who seem most readily 
to adapt themselves to their surroundings. Almost all 
the captains of steamers on the Congo River are Nor- 
wegians or Swedes. 

A record astonishing and presumably unparalleled is 
presented by the Finns. On one occasion, I was sitting in 
a mess-room where it proved that each member of the 
company spoke a different language French, Flemish, 
Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Dutch, German, and English 
were all represented. On my expressing interest in 
there being a Finn present, the gentleman of that nation- 
ality stated that he and fifty-four of his companions came 
to the Congo State six years ago; that they were now 
ending their second term, and that fifty-one out of the 
original number were still living. I presume the state- 
ment was true, and, if so, it is as I have stated, unparalleled. 
Another member of the company told me later that the 
case was far more interesting and striking than I realized, 
as three out of the four who died were drowned, not 
meeting their death from disease. 

There is a tendency for the population of a nationality 
to flock into the same line of work in the Congo State. 
Thus, a large proportion of the Finns in question were 
engineers upon the steamers. The Italians are largely 
doctors, and one meets with Italian physicians in every 
quarter of the country. 

I have already stated that those who go to the Congo 
insist that in Nigeria the climatic conditions are still worse 
for health. If they are no worse, but just as bad, we 

[45] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

should find the same disintegration in physical, mental, and 
moral ways. It is easy to criticise the lonely white man in 
Central Africa; to stamp him as brutal, cruel, and wicked. 
But the Englishman occupying a similar position in Ni- 
geria, or even in Uganda, must present the same dreadful 
results of his surroundings. I suspect that our American 
young men, isolated in remote parts of the Philippines, 
show the same kind of decay. Any nation that insists 
upon bearing the black man's burden must pay the price. 

Belgium is the most densely populated land in Europe. 
It, if any European country, needs room for expansion. 
Leopold II. claims that his interest in the Congo from the 
first has been due to a desire to provide an opportunity for 
Belgian overflow. I am loath to attribute to that mon- 
arch so much sagacity. It is, however, true that as a 
colony of Belgium, the Congo Free State will ever receive 
a large number of young men who hope, by serving a term 
in Congo, to better their condition. They realize the dan- 
gers and deprivations, but they expect at the end of their 
three years to come home with a neat sum of money in 
their possession; with this they think to establish them- 
selves in business for life. Unfortunately, these bright 
hopes are rarely realized. They start for home in Europe 
with the neat little sum of money. For three years, how- 
ever, they have had no social pleasure, have spent no money. 

Arrived in the home land, old friends must be enter- 
tained. The theater, the saloon, the dance-hall present 
attractions. Before he knows it, the man has spent his little 
hoard in foolish pleasures, and has naught to show for his 
three years of labor. He hates to return to Congo, but 
the fact that he has been in Congo stands in the way of his 

[46] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

securing steady and normal employment in Belgium. At 
last, without money and without work, after a bitter strug- 
gle, he decides that there is nothing left but another term 
in Congo. If he was a state employe, he decides that he 
will better himself by entering into the service of a com- 
pany ; or, if he were in the employ of a company, he thinks 
another company or the state will better appreciate and 
pay for his services. It is a fatal assumption. The 
moment that he presents himself before his would-be 
employers and speaks proudly of his experience in Congo 
as a reason for his hiring, suspicion is at once aroused that 
he must have left his earlier employment under a cloud. 
He is told to call again, and inquiries are set on foot with 
his old employer, who, irritated at his employe's desertion, 
gives as unfavorable report as the case will warrant. On 
returning at the appointed date, the applicant is either 
told that his services are not wanted, or is offered wages 
below what he before received. Angered at this lack of 
appreciation, he goes back to his old employer and offers 
his services at the old price. This is refused. And the 
discouraged seeker for work is compelled frequently to 
accept, in spite of an experience which would make him 
more valuable, lower wages than he was accustomed to. 



VI. 

January 25, 1907. 

UNDOUBTEDLY the finest houses in the Congo 
are those at missions. The grade of living in 
these mission stations is also of the best. This 
has led to strange criticism by many travelers. One of 
the latest to visit the Congo State speaks with surprise, and 

[471 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

apparently disapproval, of the English missionaries "liv- 
ing like lords." 

Yet it is certain that the missionaries, if any one, 
should live well. The state official and the company's 
agent go to the Congo with the expectation of staying but 
a single term. The English missionary goes there with 
the purpose, more or less definitely fixed, of spending the 
remainder of his life in his field of labor. No matter how 
well he is housed or how good his food, he must meet with 
plenty of inconvenience and privation. If he is to accom- 
plish anything for those who send him, he should be as 
comfortable as the circumstances will allow. More than 
that, the English missionary regularly takes with him his 
wife, and any white woman is entitled to the best that can 
be had; it is a poor return for what she must necessarily 
undergo. 

There was, of course, mission work in the kingdom of 
Congo more than 400 years ago. It had an interesting 
history, it had its periods of brilliant promise, and appar- 
ent great achievement. The work was spent, its effect 
had almost disappeared, when recent explorations rein- 
troduced the Congo to the world. Stanley's expedition 
aroused the interest of the whole world. 

The missionaries were prompt to see the importance of 
the new field open for their labors. In 1878 three impor- 
tant events in mission history took place. In February 
of that year Henry Craven of the Livingstone Inland Mis- 
sion reached Banana; in the same month, the Catholic 
church decreed the establishment of the Catholic mission 
of Central Africa, with what is practically the Congo State 
as its field of operations. In the same year Bentley, Corn- 
US] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

her, Crudington, and Hartland, representatives of the Bap- 
tist Missionary Society, made a settlement at San Salvador, 
a little south of the Congo River, which became the center 
from which extended the most widely developed and influ- 
ential mission work of all the country. 

Since that tune the representatives of many other mis- 
sions have undertaken work within the Congo State 
which, of course, in 1878 had not yet been established. 
Some of these flourished for but a brief time; others have 
continued. At present there are within the Congo limits 
missionaries of at least eight different Protestant societies 
representing England, America, and Sweden and 
Catholic missionaries representing five different organi- 
zations. 

By far the greatest number of the Protestant mission- 
aries are English, even though they may in some cases be 
representatives of American boards. They naturally 
carry with them into their stations the English mode of 
life, traditions, atmosphere. Though the currency of the 
Congo Free State is reckoned in francs and centimes, they 
talk all business and quote all prices in shillings and pence; 
in making out an account everything is calculated in Eng- 
lish money, and it is with a certain air of gentle remon- 
strance that they will convert the total, at the request of 
the debtor, into Belgian or Congo cunency. Their impor- 
tations all are English; they take their afternoon tea; 
they look with mild but sure superiority upon all differing 
methods around them. Few of them really talk French, 
the official language of the country; still fewer write it 
with any ease or correctness. 

It would seem as if one of the first requirements of a 
[49] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

society sending missionaries into a country where the offi- 
cial language is French and where the vast majority of the 
officials, with whom the missionary must deal and come 
into relation, know no English, would be that every candi- 
date for mission work should be a competent French 
scholar. Otherwise there is danger of constant misunder- 
standing and difficulty between the mission and the gov- 
ernment. No such requirement seems to be made. 

Unfortunately, there is a strained relation amounting 
at times to bitterness between the state officials and the 
English-speaking missionaries. This feeling is general, 
and there are curiously many specific exceptions. Thus, 
there are certain missionaries who, by their immediate 
neighbors among officials, are highly spoken of; for 
example, the manner, the ingenuity in devising and plan- 
ning work, the promptness and energy, of Mr. Joseph 
Clark at Ikoko, are constant themes of admiring con- 
versation on the part of officers at the Irebu camp, and 
Mrs. Clark's dress, linguistic ability, and cookery are 
quoted as models to be attained if possible. 

At first I thought these officials were poking fun, but 
soon became convinced that they were speaking in serious 
earnest, and that it was not done for effect upon myself 
was evident from the minute details into which the prais- 
ers entered. I found an almost precisely similar condition 
of things at Lisala camp, near the mission of Upoto, where 
Mr. Forfeitt's wisdom and knowledge of the natives and 
Mrs. Forfeitt's grace and charm were frequently referred 
to. At Stanleyville, also, one heard constant praises of 
Mr. Millman's scholarship and Mr. Smith's skill in photog- 
raphy. 

[50] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

In all three of these stations, the officials would talk 
dreadfully of British missionaries in general, but for the 
local missionary they seemed to feel an actual regard. To 
a less degree, and tinged, of course, with English conde- 
scension, there was frequently expressed a feeling of recip- 
rocal regard from the missionary's side. While the repre- 
sentative of the state on the whole was a frightful creature, 
merely to be condemned, there were usually some local 
officers, known personally to the missionary, who pre- 
sented streaks of excellence. 

While it is true that a well-built house, and as good 
meals as can be prepared within the Congo, operate to 
keep the missionary in better health of mind and body 
and morals, yet even he feels the disintegration due to the 
environment. He lives a fairly normal life. The pres- 
ence of a wife and woman of culture and refinement in 
the household is a great blessing. Children, of course, 
are sent home for education and to escape disease. The 
result is there are no little ones in the mission homes, but, 
apart from this serious lack, the influence is helpful and 
healthful. 

The missionaries, probably all of them, are abstainers. 
There is no question that their refraining from wines and 
liquors is a physical and mental advantage. In the 
nature of the case, they are constantly subjected to moral 
restraints, which are lacking to the state official and the 
company agent. For all these reasons the missionary 
stands the country much better than any other group of 
white men. 

A white missionary is rarely if ever the sole representa- 
tive at a station. With a definite continued work, in its 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

nature inspiring, with congenial companions, and the 
encouragement of others working in the same cause, his 
lot is often a happy one. But even the missionary has 
fever, dies of haematuria, or must hasten back to England 
with incipient sleeping-sickness; he, too, becomes anaemic 
and nerveless; he becomes irritable and impatient; the 
slightest provocation upsets him, and he magnifies every 
little grievance, as do his white neighbors in other lines 
of work. 

On the whole, the missionary is the only white man in 
the country who seriously learns the language of the 
natives among whom he works. He devotes himself with 
eagerness to its acquisition. A newcomer in the country, 
his first desire is to gain sufficient knowledge of the lan- 
guage to teach and preach to the people in their own 
tongue. Many of these missionaries have written extended 
grammars and dictionaries of native languages, and the 
number of translations of portions of the Bible and of 
religious teachings into these languages is large. 

It is true that the mere stranger is sometimes doubtful 
as to the reality and thoroughness of the missionary's 
knowledge of his people's language. He hears the mis- 
sionary give a distinct order to the native, and, behold, 
the boy does the precise opposite. This has happened 
too often for one to be mistaken. The missionary shrugs 
his shoulders and says in explanation that the blacks are 
stupid or cuffs the boy for inattention. The fact prob- 
ably is that the missionary gave a different order from 
what he thought. The black is really shrewd and quick 
to grasp the idea which the white man is trying to convey 
to him. 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Whether it is true that the white man often gains suffi- 
cient control of the language to make himself completely 
understood by the natives or not, it is absolutely certain 
that much of the^ reading of translations into his own lan- 
guage by the native is pure fiction. At one mission which 
we visited, it was the custom after breakfast for the house- 
boys of the mission to come in to family prayers. Each 
was supplied with a translation to be read in the morning's 
exercise. The boys, seated on the floor, read brief pas- 
sages in turn. They might, through mistake, skip a 
whole line or completely mispronounce a word, indicating 
a total lack of understanding of the passage read, and 
yet it was done with the same air of satisfaction that would 
accompany a task well done. My own boy, Manoeli, 
used to cover whole sheets of paper with meaningless 
scrawls in pencil, and with an air of wisdom, which he 
unquestionably thought deceived me, he would at my 
request proceed to read line after line, and even page after 
page, of stuff that had no meaning. And even if I stopped 
him and turned him back to some earlier point, he would 
begin and go on as if it really meant something. I was 
constantly reminded by these boys at prayers of Manoeli's 
pretended reading of fake writing. 

On the Kasai River steamer many of the Baluba boys 
and girls had books from the Luebo mission. These were 
mostly elementary reading books. Nothing pleased them 
better, especially if any one seemed to be paying attention 
to what they were doing, than for a group of them to gather 
about one who played the teacher. With an open book 
before him and a cluster of six or eight about him, looking 
carefully at the syllables to which he pointed, they would 

[53] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

call out in unison the sounds represented. It was done 
with gusto, with rhythm, almost with dancing. It seemed 
to show remarkable quickness in recognizing the printed 
syllables. 

After I had seen the thing three or four times I myself 
took the book in hand and centering the attention of the 
group upon one syllable to which I pointed, I would start 
them by pronouncing a syllable several lines below; once 
started, though distinctly looking at the thing to which I 
pointed, they would call out the complete list, one after 
another, in proper order, but never the ones, of course, to 
which my finger pointed and which they pretended to be 
reading. In other words, these Baluba boys and girls 
knew their primer by heart and repeated it like parrots, 
with no reference to the actual text. I must confess that 
I have little confidence in the ability of most Congo mission 
boys and girls to read understandingly the simplest of the 
books with which they deal. 

There are different types of Protestant missions. At 
Leopold ville there would probably be no mission but for 
the fact that it is the terminus of the railroad and the place 
from which the river steamers start. The natives directly 
reached by its work live for the most part on the mission 
property, in quarters much like those upon the old planta- 
tions of the South. They receive their rations weekly and 
are paid a monthly wage. Early in the morning the rising 
bell is sounded and morning prayers take place. Work 
begins and all are kept busily employed upon the grounds 
and buildings. Noon hours of rest are given, and at 
evening work for the day stops. There are various 
religious services and classes meeting after supper on 

[54] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

different evenings of the week. The presence of great 
numbers of workmen and soldiers of the state at Leopold- 
ville introduces conditions not helpful to mission labor. 
It is necessary, however, to have a force at hand able to 
help missionaries going up or coming down the river, trans- 
porting their baggage and freight, and doing other service 
constantly called for at a point of receipt and shipping like 
Leopoldville. 

The mission's work is not confined, however, to the 
town, and teachers are sent to neighboring villages to 
teach and conduct classes. 

VII. 

January 26, 1907. 

AT Yakusu great stress is laid upon the work of 
teaching. The mission property adjoins an im- 
portant Lokele village. Within easy reach are 
villages of three or four other tribes. It is an area of rather 
dense population. Villages in number occur all along 
the shores of the river for miles downstream. Other 
villages of inland folk lie behind these. Thousands of 
people are within easy reach. The mission maintains a 
liberal force of houseboys for the four houses of missiona- 
ries ; it has also a corps of excellent workmen, who make 
brick, do carpentering, build houses, and keep the grounds 
in order. These are not from the local tribe, but are 
Basoko from down the river. Children from the im- 
mediate village flock to the mission school, but this is 
only the least significant portion of the work. More 
than 200 teachers are in the employ of the mission, teach- 
ing in village schools throughout the country around. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

To supply text-books, the mission press at Bolobo turns 
out editions of four or five thousand copies. 

Similar in its plan of sending out native teachers to 
outlying villages is the great work at Wathen, in the Lower 
Congo. This was once on the main caravan route from 
Matadi to Leopoldville. Since the building of the rail- 
road it is completely off of beaten lines of travel, and only 
one who specifically desires to visit it will see it. The 
main feature of this work, marking it off from all the other 
mission work in the Congo State, is a central boarding 
school for native children, where a definite course for 
study, extending through several years, is continuously 
carried on. Boys graduating from this school go out as 
teachers. And the mission demands that the villages thus 
supplied shall meet the expense of conducting their schools. 
This seems to me the best educational experiment in the 
Congo, and scores of villages throughout the district of 
the cataracts have self-supporting schools with Wathen 
boys for teachers. 

In the official report of the royal commission of inquiry 
sent to investigate conditions in the Congo Free State 
recently, there is found this passage : 

"Often, also, in the regions where evangelical stations are estab- 
lished, the native, instead of going to the magistrate, his rightful 
protector, adopts the habit, when he thinks he has a grievance against 
an agent or an executive officer, to confide in the missionary. The 
latter listens to him, helps him according to his means, and makes 
himself the echo of all the complaints of a region. Hence, the 
astounding influence which the missionaries possess in some parts 
of the territory. It exercises itself not only among the natives within 
the purview of their religious propaganda, but over all the villages 
whose troubles they have listened to. The missionary becomes, for 

[56] 




pq 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the native of the region, the only representative of equity and justice. 
He adds to the position resulting from his religious zeal the influence 
which in the interest of the state itself should be secured to the 
magistrate . " Translation. 

It is true that the Congo native carries all his grievances 
to the missionary. On one occasion, when we had been 
in Leopoldville but a day or two and had seen but little of 
native life and customs, we noticed a line of fifty people, 
some with staves of office showing them to be chiefs or 
chiefs' representatives, filing in a long line to the mission. 
They squatted under the palaver-tree, awaiting the atten- 
tion of the missionary. Their errand was in reference to 
the local market. Formerly there was a market at Leo, 
important alike to the people of the town and to the pro- 
ducing natives of the country around. There had been 
disorders and disturbances; the sellers lost their goods 
through theft and seizure, and for several years it had 
been discontinued. 

After repeated petitions on the part of the people to the 
government, Bula Matadi yielded, promised restoration 
of the market, assigned a place, and put up a building. 
Though apparently all had been done that they had asked, 
the people were not satisfied, and this delegation had pre- 
sented itself to the missionary to ask him to present their 
complaint and desires. The place selected was not a 
good one; a different one close by the railroad station and 
the English traders, was requested. The missionary 
brought the matter to the attention of the local govern- 
ment, which yielded to the people's suggestion, and gave 
permission for the opening of the market on the following 
Sunday in the place of preference. 

157] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

We became interested in this matter, and on the follow- 
ing Sunday the missionary, my companion, and myself 
made our way to the spot to see how matters were pro- 
gressing. A considerable number of sellers had come in 
with produce, mostly kwanga and other foodstuffs. They 
were beginning to display these upon the ground. Would- 
be purchasers were gathered in numbers, and among them 
crowds of Bangala women from the workmen's camp. 
The sellers seemed suspicious lest attack might be made 
upon their wares. Their suspicions were, unfortunately, 
well founded. For a little tune things appeared to go 
well but at last Bangala women, standing by, swooped 
down upon the piles of stuff temptingly offered for sale, 
and seizing handfuls, started to run away. One soldier- 
policeman, who, a few moments before, seemed to be 
fully occupied with his duty of guarding the railway 
station, and several idle men and boys joined in the looting. 
The thing was done as quickly as if there had been pre- 
concerted plotting and a given signal. 

In an instant all was turmoil. Some of the sellers were 
hastily packing away in cloths what was left of their stores; 
others grappled with the thieves, some of whom, how- 
ever, were making good escape with their plunder. We 
all three rushed in to help the robbed to stay the thieves, 
and for a few minutes there was a free-for-all fight. Most 
of the stolen stuff was retaken, and the angry sellers, with 
all that was left to them packed jaway, refused to again 
open up their stores. The missionary suggested that they 
should move nearer to the trading-post of the English 
traders and ensconce themselves behind a fence, buyers 
being allowed to approach only upon the other side, 

[58] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

while we three and the white men from the traders should 
guard to prevent further attack and thieving. Finally, 
this scheme was put into operation. One or two soldier- 
police were summoned, the stores were again opened up, 
though trading had to stop every now and then to permit 
of the dispersal of the crowd which thronged around 
awaiting the opportunity for another attack. 

Under these difficulties, in which the missionary and 
my Mexican companion performed prodigies of valor, the 
market was conducted with a fair degree of success. I 
was interested in the further history of this market. Our 
missionary friend shortly wrote me that things had been 
reduced to order; that the government had built a market- 
house and supplied regular guards to maintain order; that 
the number of sellers had increased, and that purchasers 
flocked to buy. 

But all this brilliant promise came to a sad end. When 
we again reached Leopoldville the market-house was 
closed ; there were no signs of interest. It seems that Bula 
Matadi thought the market presented an admirable chance 
for getting even. One day, when the stock of kwanga and 
other foodstuffs was exceptionally large, the representa- 
tives of the law swooped down upon the sellers, claimed 
that they were in arrears in payment of their kwanga tax, 
and seized their stock in trade. The result was that the 
market died. 

Among the laws which in their intention, perhaps, were 
good, but in their application vicious, is one regarding 
orphan and abandoned children. In native life, unaffected 
by white influence, there could be no difficulty regarding 
such children. If a native child were left without a 

[591 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

mother it would at once be taken over by the mother's 
family. There would be no feeling that it was a burden, 
and it would suffer no deprivation. 

Such a thing as an abandoned child, in strictly native 
condition, is scarcely conceivable. According to state 
law, an orphan or abandoned child less than 14 years of 
age may be turned over by the court to missions for care 
and education. The mission, of course, is entitled to the 
child's services through a term of years. Advantage of 
this law has never been taken by Protestant missions, but 
Catholic missions have at different times had numbers of 
children committed to their charge and have used their 
services in the development of property. A child of 14, 
the limit of the law's application, is better than a child of 
12, because capable of immediate service. A boy of 15, 
16, 17, 18, would be still better, but, of course, it is illegal 
to seize a young fellow of that age and employ him at such 
labor. Once committed, the child remains in the mis- 
sion's power until manhood. 

There is no question that the missions, taking advan- 
tage of this law, many tunes seize boys who are beyond 
the age limit and many others who are neither orphans 
nor abandoned. I myself have seen a young man who 
could not have been less than 19 or 20 years of age, who 
was married and a member of the Protestant church, who 
had been taken by the peres under this law. He was 
brought before the state authorities and immediately set 
at liberty. 

It is due to this fact, that the native goes constantly to 
the missionary with his complaints that he looks upon 
him as the proper person to represent his cause before the 

[60] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

state officials; that the missionary, himself, feels it his duty 
to bring abuses to the attention of the authorities that 
the feeling already mentioned between the missionary and 
the state official has arisen. There have been, unfortu- 
nately, abundant occasions for intervention; there have 
been flagrant and cruel things which the missionary has 
felt called upon to report. 

I do not doubt the honesty of the missionary. I have 
sometimes felt, however, that they have become so filled 
with a complaining spirit that they are incapable of see- 
ing any good. I have heard them for hours complain of 
things that neither hi themselves nor in their results were 
really open to criticism. I have heard them carp and find 
fault with any matter with which the name of the govern- 
ment could be connected. If their attention is called to 
some apparent purpose to reform abuses, they shake their 
heads and say it will come to nothing; it is a subterfuge. 
If, as time passes, the thing assumes the appearance of 
reality, they say there is some hidden and mysterious pur- 
pose back of it; the state would never do so well unless it 
were preparing some new iniquity. The attitude of com- 
plaint becomes habitual: the ability to see improvement 
seems completely lost. 

The first tune that I attended family prayers hi a mis- 
sionary home I waited with some interest to hear the peti- 
tion hi favor of the government. When it came, it assumed 
this form: "O Lord, stay the hand of the oppressor. 
Pity and aid the oppressed and overburdened. Prevent 
cruelty from destroying its victims. Interfere with the 
wicked and designing schemes of the oppressor." 

A dozen such expressions and petitions were uttered, 
[61] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

but no request for divine wisdom and enlightenment for 
the rulers. It can easily be conceived that, where godly 
and pious men cherish such sentiments toward represen- 
tatives of the state, the feelings of state officials toward 
missionaries are little likely to be completely friendly. 

VIII. 

January 27, 1907. 

f \H.E actors in the Congo drama are now clearly 
before us the black man and the white man, the 
state official, the trader, and the missionary. 

Travel in the Congo state is, naturally, for the most part 
by water. The mighty river is the main member in a water 
system surpassed only by that of the Amazon. The Congo 
itself presents a total length of almost 3,000 miles, of which 
more than 2,000 is navigable. The vast network of tribu- 
tary streams, with a total length of almost 17,000 miles, 
gives nearly 5,000 miles more of navigation connected with 
that of the main river. 

To-day these thousands of miles of navigation are util- 
ized by a fleet of steamers eighty or more in number. Most 
of these are vessels of the state; a smaller number belong 
to the great concession companies; a few are the property 
of the missions. Many of them are small, but some of the 
more recent steamers constructed for the state are vessels 
of 400 tons burden. They are flat-bottomed steamers of 
small draft, because the rivers through which they ply are 
often shoaled by sand banks. Even the mighty Congo 
itself, at certain seasons of the year, becomes dangerous 
and almost impassable, even for vessels of this light draft. 
By means of these boats it is easy now for travelers not only 

[62] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

to go over the chief part of the main river but to enter the 
larger tributaries at their mouth and travel for hundreds 
of miles up towards their sources. 

It can be well imagined with what surprise the natives 
saw the first steamer. The pioneer vessels were brought 
in pieces to the head of navigation for sea steamers, and 
then transported by human carriers the weary distance 
from Vivi, near Matadi, around the cataracts to Stanley 
Pool, where the parts were assembled and the vessels pre- 
pared for service. Some of the earliest steamers are still 
in service, and, while they have been eclipsed in size and 
power and speed by later vessels, have a true historic 
interest. No vessel on the Congo deserves more or has 
a better record than the Peace. This was the earliest of 
the mission steamers, presented to the B. M. S. by Robert 
Arthington of Leeds, England. It was throughout its 
history in charge of George Grenfell, the intrepid mission- 
ary explorer, whose death took place during our stay in 
the Congo. 

We saw the little vessel at Yakusu, and looked at it with 
especial interest. In it George Grenfell explored many 
thousand miles of unknown waterway. With it he made 
the study which enabled him to construct the best naviga- 
tion maps and charts so far published of the Congo 
charts which the state still uses on its own steamers. 

The state steamers are, of course, primarily for the 
service of the state. So far as the main river is concerned, 
a steamer is started from Leopoldville for the trip to Stanley 
Falls every ten days, taking from twenty- four to thirty days 
to make the journey. The down trip requires less time, 
and can be made under favorable circumstances in four- 

[63] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

teen days the usual time being seventeen or more. By 
these steamers state officials are taken to their posts, work- 
men and soldiers are transported to their place of service, 
chopboxes and other supplies are taken to the state em- 
ploye's, materials for construction are taken to the place 
where needed, products, such as rubber, ivory, and copal, 
are brought to Leopoldville for shipment. Generally they 
are well loaded with both passengers and cargo. 

The company boats do for the company what state 
boats do for the state transporting from place to place, 
bringing in supplies, taking out products. Similarly the 
mission steamers are intended solely for the movement of 
the missionaries and their supplies. The state boats may 
carry freight and passengers, but only when they are not 
loaded fully with the materials of the state. Arrangements 
must be made by strangers, and it is only when the state 
is favorable that they may travel or ship goods. The com- 
pany boats are not allowed to carry outside passengers or 
freight without the express permission of the state, but are 
obliged to carry state people and freight in cases of especial 
need. If a mission steamer carries outside passengers or 
freight, it can do it only gratuitously. 

In the steamers of the state the traveler who has per- 
mission to embark upon them pays for a ticket, which 
entitles him merely to transportation; he is expected to pay 
five francs a night additional for his cabin ; for food he pays 
twelve francs per day during the period of the voyage. 
The steamers of every class tie up at evening, and no trav- 
eling is done at night. In steamers of the larger class 
there may be as many as four white employe's the cap- 
tain, his assistant, a commissaire, or steward, and the 

[64] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

engineer. In smaller steamers there are only the captain 
and the engineer. All the crew and employes in the cab- 
ins, mess, and deck are blacks. In steamers with an upper 
deck, the blacks are expected to stay below; only when 
called for special service are they allowed on deck. 

No black man remains on board during the night. Even 
the personal servants, or boys, of the white passengers must 
go with the crew and other workmen on to shore to spend 
the night. As promptly as the ship is fastened, the black 
men, women, and children, with cooking utensils, food 
supplies, bedding, and beds, hasten off on to shore to pick 
out the spot on the bank, or in the forest, where they will 
spend the night. It is an animated and curious scene. As 
darkness comes on, the fires for cooking their evening food 
have been kindled here and there over the terrace or in the 
forest, and the groups gathered around them while the 
cooking proceeds, or eating takes place, are picturesque in 
the extreme. At daybreak the steamer whistles the signal 
for all on board, and the whole mob come rushing for no 
time is lost, and it is easy to be left behind in the forest 
pellmell on board. 

The fuel for the steamers is wood, cut from the forest. 
One of the most serious problems which the state has had 
to face is the securing of sufficient and continuous fuel sup- 
ply. Wood-posts have been established wherever possible ; 
the natives at the wood-posts are required to supply, in 
form of tax, for which a small compensation is, however, 
returned, a certain number of yards or fathoms of wood. 
A space is marked out on the ground as many yards in 
length as there are cutters of wood. Stakes are placed at 
intervals of a yard and ropes are stretched from one to 

[65] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

another at a yard's height. Each bringer of wood is 
expected to fill the space indicated for him to supply. 
Much time is lost, even under the best circumstances, in 
taking wood at these wood-posts. Whenever possible, the 
night's landing is made at a wood-post, and as large a 
supply of fuel as possible is brought on board during the 
night. Sometimes it happens that several steamers reach 
a wood-post in quick succession before a new supply has 
been procured; under such circumstances the crew fre- 
quently must cut wood for itself in the forest, a task which 
they greatly dislike. 

In each crew is a capita or head man, whose business 
it is to oversee the work and to assign the portions of the 
task. He is held responsible for the service of his subordi- 
nates, and usually is more successful in securing prompt, 
efficient service than a white man would be. He is him- 
self, of course, frequently watched and directed by a white 
officer, but on the whole he is the one man on the vessel 
who comes into direct contact with the black laborers. 

It is extremely interesting to watch the black hands on 
a steamer when for any reason landing is made at villages. 
Many of them have bought a stock in trade at Leopoldville. 
Beads, pieces of bright cloth, salt, accordions, made-up 
clothes, hats, umbrellas these are the things they are 
most likely to have brought with them. A crowd of women 
and children always flocks to the landing, and quickly the 
bartering begins. If the steamer-boy has had experience, 
he makes money both coming and going. All the product 
of his sales en route between Leo and Stanley Falls he at 
once invests in rice when he reaches the district in which 
it is so largely produced. T>rfs-4orms his capital upon his 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

return to Leopoldville, where it brings a price largely in 
excess of what it cost him and enables him to stock up 
again for new business on his next voyage. 

Our first long voyage on these river steamers was the 
journey from Leopoldville to Wissmann Falls, on the High 
Kasai. We were in a steamer of the Kasai company, 
and we had hard luck in wood-posts, frequently arriving 
when earlier steamers had taken all the fuel. We were 
forced repeatedly to tie up for the night close by the forest 
and to drive our force of cutters into the dense, almost 
impenetrable, mass of trees, bound together by hundreds 
and thousands of creeping plants and vines. The natives 
not only do not enjoy the cutting of the wood; but they do 
not like to be turned out into the dense forest for sleeping. 
Particularly after a heavy rain, conditions are disagreeable 
for sleeping. Many a time it seemed hard to force them 
to pass the night in such conditions, on the wet ground, 
under the dripping foliage, in haunts of mosquitos and 
other insects. 

While we were in the Kasai country the governor-general 
made his journey of inspection throughout the upper 
Congo. When we reached that district in our later jour- 
ney we found that he had ordered a most excellent reform, 
which had been carried out. The steamers were put under 
orders to stop at wood-posts or at villages every night, 
tying up against the forest only on those rare occasions, 
when it was unavoidable. The order also provided for 
the immediate erection at all wood-posts and villages of 
a great hangar for the shelter of the black people. A 
hangar is a substantial roof, supported on posts, for giving 
shelter at night or in rainy weather. These hangars for 

[67] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the shelter of the black people from the steamers are 
enormous things, capable of sheltering 150 to 200 people 
and giving ample opportunity for the building, by each 
little group, of its own fire for cooking and for warmth. 
While the natural travel in the Congo Free State is by 
boat upon the river, there is, of course, land travel as well. 

There are almost no beasts of burden in the country. 
Horses seem to lose all force and vigor; oxen suffer in 
many districts from the tsetse fly. The State has made 
several interesting experiments in its effort to secure some 
animal of burden. Indian elephants have been brought 
into the country, partly with the view of using them as 
carriers and partly in the hope that they might be used in 
the domestication of the African elephant. At present, 
of course, the latter animal has the reputation of being 
untamable, though for several hundred years in history 
we know that it was tamed and used on a large scale for 
draft and war. The experiments so far made toward 
its recent domestication have not met with much result. 
Camels have been introduced as an experiment, and in 
Leopoldville one sees a little cluster of them under an 
imported Arab driver. 

In the district where the zebra is at home, efforts are 
being made now to tame that animal and use it for practi- 
cal purposes. But notwithstanding all these interesting 
experiments, some of which ultimately may be successful, 
it must be stated that at present there is absolutely no beast 
of burden in the Congo. The result is that land travel 
must be done by caravan. The outfit of the traveler, his 
trade stuffs, and whatever else he may have for transporta- 
tion, must be carried on human backs. 

[68] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

With the exception of a few experimental roads built 
with reference to the introduction of automobiles for 
moving freight, there is nothing which we would call a 
road in all the Congo. The native, on the march always 
go in single file. The trails leading from village to vil- 
lage are only a few inches wide, though they are usually 
well worn, sometimes to a depth of several inches into the 
soil. Most of them are hi use so constantly that there is 
little or no grass growing in them. For my own part, when 
they are dry I could ask no better path for travel, and my 
ideal of African travel is the foot journey over the native 
trails. 

Many white men do not like to walk, and must have 
their hammock. It is a simple hammock, usually made 
of a strip of foreign stuff swung by ropes to a long bamboo 
or palm pole. Unless the person to be carried is extraor- 
dinarily heavy, there will be two or four carriers. When 
four men are carrying a hammock, two in front and two 
behind shoulder the pole at its two ends. Usually the car- 
riers swing along at a sort of dog trot. Frequently they 
strike their palms against the carrying pole to make a noise, 
and indulge in an explosive snort in taking breath. They 
may sing or shout or cry when carrying, and if they 
approach a settlement, either native or foreign, their pace 
quickens, their exertion increases, they cry and yell with 
great force, increasing their noise and outcry with the 
importance of the person carried. When they rush up to 
the place where he is expected to dismount, the whole 
party bursts into a loud yell, which would appall the 
bravest if he never had heard it before, as they stop sud- 
denly. 

[69] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

For my own part, I can imagine nothing more dis- 
agreeable than traveling in a hammock. The four men 
rarely are on the same level, and the jolting and move- 
ment up and down, now of one's head and upper body, 
now of one's feet tilted high in air, are extremely disagree- 
able; from one's position he must look up constantly into 
the sky and see nothing of the country through which he 
travels; if the sun shines, his face must be shaded, and if 
one wears, as he usually must do, his cork helmet, it is 
difficult to adjust it in any way other than putting it over 
the face. Personally, I invariably have a half-day of 
fever after a hammock journeyi I would rather walk 
thirty miles every day than to go twenty -in a hammock. 

There are still opportunities in the Congo for making 
fine journeys on foot. From Stanley Falls to the English 
steamer on the Lake is a foot journey of forty days over 
a good road. If I had had the time, I should have made 
that journey. 

There are at present two operating railroads in the 
Congo Free State, besides a little line of a few miles run- 
ning from Boma into the country back. The more im- 
portant of these two roads is the Congo Railroad, running 
from Matadi to Leopoldville. Before its building it took 
freight three weeks to go by caravan around the cataracts. 
The engineering difficulties of this line were all in its 
early course within a few miles of Matadi. Several years 
were spent in the construction of the road, which has a 
total length of about 250 miles. It is a narrow-gauge 
road, well built, and fairly equipped. After a train once 
starts it is entirely in the hands of black men as no white 
conductor or engineer is employed in its running. 

[70] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Two classes of cars are run, one for whites, first-class, 
the other for blacks. The fare for first-class passage 
from Matadi to Leopoldville at the time we made the 
journey was 200 francs, or $40; the second-class, jimcrow- 
car fare, was 40 francs, or $8. The journey requires two 
days for its accomplishment. Starting from Matadi at 
7 in the morning, the train reaches Thysville at 5 or 6 in 
the evening, and stays there for the night. Starting at 7 
the next morning, it is expected to reach Leopoldville at 2 
o'clock in the afternoon, but usually is from half an hour 
to two hours behind time. The road, during the period 
of its construction, was often considered a wild speculation, 
but it has paid remarkably well, and its stock sells at an 
advance of many hundreds per cent upon face value. 

The second serious obstacle to Congo navigation 
the Stanley Falls is got around in a similar way by a 
railroad line just finished. This line of railroad from 
Stanleyville to Ponthierville, is about 75 miles in length. 
It has just been finished and at the tune of our visit, while 
it was transporting passengers on account of the state, 
was not open to general travel. We had the pleasure, 
however, of going the full length of the line, a journey 
which required some eight hours. The whole course of 
the railroad is included in dense forest, and nothing is to 
be seen in all the journey except the forest. There is no 
question that this little piece of tracking will have great 
business importance. Hundreds of miles of navigable 
water lie above Ponthierville, and steamers both state 
and railroad are already plying upon it. A country 
of great resources is by it brought into near relations with 
that portion of the Congo already developed. This piece 

[71] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

of road forms but a small part of the line planned, which 
is known by the name of the Great Lakes railroad. Con- 
struction is in progress upon another section of it. 

While we made our journey from Stanleyville to Pon- 
thierville by rail, we made the return journey by canoe, 
in order to see the rapids. Of course, the construction of 
the railroad had already affected this old route and mode 
of travel. Until lately all passengers and freight going 
up the Congo beyond Stanleyville were forced to make 
the journey by canoe. 

It is the district of the Congo where the canoe reaches 
its fullest development and most striking expression. 
There are canoes cut from a single tree- trunk which will 
carry tons of freight and scores of men. Some of the 
great native chiefs had canoes of state in which they were 
paddled from place to place by a hundred or more paddlers. 
While the one in which we made our journey was by no 
means so pretentious, it was certainly large enough for 
all practical purposes. An awning, or rather a thatched 
roofing, extended over the middle third of its length to 
protect us and our things from the sun. An officer of the 
state, an Italian, accompanied us through half our journey 
to see that we met with prompt and proper treatment. 
And two native soldiers were deputed to accompany us 
the total distance and to take the canoe in charge when 
we finally reached the landing at Stanley Falls. It was 
a most interesting experience, for nothing that I had read 
had prepared me for so well developed a system. 

When we came to the rapids we and our stuff were 
landed. The signal had been given as we approached 
the beach, and by the time that we were ready to take the 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

trail around the rapids the women of the native village 
had presented themselves with carrying straps, ready to 
move our freight. In ten minutes time everything was 
ready and the caravan upon its way, twenty or thirty 
women carrying our boxes, satchels, provisions, and col- 
lections. Meantime, our paddlers were occupied in 
passing the canoe down through the rapids, and by the 
time we reached the lower beach they were there ready 
for re-embarkation. We took five days for our journey, 
though it might have been done in half that time or even 
less. 

At each village where we landed we found arrange- 
ments for the traveler. A neat house of two or three 
rooms, constructed by the state, was at our disposition. 
It was supplied with table, chairs, and beds. Near the 
house for white travelers was a comfortable hangar for 
blacks, and near it a large hangar for the storage of freight 
and baggage. The paddlers who started with us at 
Ponthierville were dismissed after a day of service and a 
new set of paddlers taken on, furnished by the village 
chief. These, after a few hours of service, were again at 
liberty, and a new crew supplied. Everything was done 
with promptitude and readiness. The journey was one 
of the most interesting I ever made. 

You understand, of course, that all this service, the 
carrying of freight around the rapids by the women of the 
village and the supplying of male paddlers by the chief 
were taxes to the state, for which a nominal return in 
money or trade goods is allowed. At no point did we 
see the slightest evidence of difficulty in furnishing the 
service or of dissatisfaction in supplying it. Everywhere 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the people seemed to take it as a pleasant thing. It is 
entirely possible that when the caravan service was at its 
height and all freighting and traveling was done upon the 
river, it may have been a heavier burden. But nowhere 
did the people seem to show fear, hostility, or the effects 
of bad treatment. If we had made the long walking trip 
above referred to, from Stanleyville to the Lake, we would 
have found analogous arrangements for the traveler's 
comfort. Good sleeping-houses, with necessary furniture, 
occur at intervals of four or five hours throughout the 
entire journey, and no one need sleep out of doors a single 
night, unless he chooses to do so. 

It will be seen that one to-day may go easily throughout 
the enormous area of the Congo Free State without 
serious hardship and really with much comfort. But, 
as a matter of fact, there are almost no true travelers 
in the area. One can hardly call a state official, on his 
way to his post, or going from place to place in the per- 
formance of his duty, a traveler. Nor is a company agent, 
making his tour for the collection of rubber, or for inspec- 
tion of property, exactly one's ideal of a traveler. Nor is 
the missionary, coming back from furlough or going home 
invalided, a traveler. The number of actual travelers 
in the Congo at any time is small. My photographer and 
myself, I think, might be called travelers. 

We spent fifty-three weeks in the Congo Free State. 
During the period of time that we were there we learned 
that Mr. A. Henry Savage-Landor spent a few days in the 
High Ubangi. He came in from the north, visited only one 
station of a company, and then went out again. Mr. Har- 
rison, who, some little time ago, took a group of pygmies 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

from the High Ituri forest to London, was again in the 
country, though he had left his little people behind him. 

At the same time, an English gentleman was hunting 
the okapi (that curious antelope) in the same district. 
When we were coming out and were delayed at Leopold- 
ville, a Capt. Daniels of the English navy arrived at Leo- 
poldville, having made his way across the continent from 
the east coast. At Bolengi we met a Mr. Creighton, an 
American clergyman, who had made the way so far from 
Mombasa. Mr. Verner, bringing back his native group 
from the St. Louis exposition, was in the Congo during 
the same period. 

On the steamer coming down from Stanley Falls, 
we had for fellow passengers, M. and Mme. Cabra. M. 
Cabra was a royal commissioner, having been sent to the 
country by Leopold himself, to make a careful examina- 
tion of conditions throughout the whole upper region 
of the Ituri and Congo rivers. M. and Mme. Cabra 
entered Africa at Mombasa; they had traversed on foot 
the forty days of journey I have referred to, but as the 
purposes of their investigation required them to zigzag 
back and forth instead of following a direct path, they had 
occupied a much longer period of time and covered much 
more distance. Eighteen months on their long journey, they 
both of them reached Matadi in good health, and Mme. 
Cabra is probably the first lady to have crossed the African 
continent in the equatorial regions from ocean to ocean. 

Now, these were the only travelers besides one French- 
man, who was a mystery, of whom we heard or whom 
we met in our fifty- three weeks in Congo experience. It 
is unlikely that there were many others. The stranger 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

in the Congo is talked of everywhere. We were not within 
hundreds of miles of Henry Savage-Landor, or. Mr. 
Harrison, or the okapi hunter, but we heard of their 
existence. Even if the given list is but the half of Congo 
travelers during the year, it can be seen that the real traveler 
is a rarity within the limits of the state. 

IX. 

January 28, 1907. 

IN the romantic history of African exploration and 
development there is no more interesting chapter 
than that relating to the Congo. In 1854 Living- 
stone finished a great journey into the continent; in it he 
had visited a portion of the district drained by the Kasai 
River. In his final journey we find him again within 
the district of what to-day forms the Congo Free State; 
he discovered Lake Moero in 1867 and Lake Bangwelo 
in 1868; he visited the southern portion of Tanganika in 
1869, and followed the course of the Congo to Nyangwe. 

At that time no one knew, few if any suspected, that 
the river he was following had connection with the Congo. 
Livingstone himself believed that it formed the uppermost 
part of the Nile, and in all the district where he saw it, 
its course from south to north would naturally lead to 
that opinion. It was his heart's desire to trace the further 
course and determine whether it were really the Nile or a 
part of some other great river. Death prevented his 
answering the question. 

Backed by the New York Herald and the Daily Tele- 
graph, Stanley, on November 17, 1874, struck inland from 
the eastern coast of Africa, with the purpose of determining 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the question as to the final course of the great river flow- 
ing northward, discovered by his missionary predecessor. 
He circumnavigated Lake Victoria, discovered Lake 
Albert Edward, and made the first complete examination 
of the shore of Tanganika. He reached the Lualaba 
Livingstone's north-flowing stream, and, embarking on 
its waters, devoted himself to following it to its ending. 

There is no need of recalling the interesting experiences 
and adventures of his journey; every one has read his 
narrative. Suffice it to say that his great river presently 
turned westward so far north of the Congo mouth that one 
would never dream of connecting the two waters, but as 
unexpectedly it turned again toward the southwest and 
finally showed itself to be the Congo. During the Interval 
between Stanley's two great expeditions the one in 
which he found Livingstone and the one in which he dem- 
onstrated the identity of the Lualaba and the Congo 
there had been a growing interest in Europe in everything 
pertaining to the Dark Continent. 

This interest, which was widely spread, was focused 
into definite action by Leopold II., king of the Belgians, 
who invited the most notable explorers of Africa, the presi- 
dents of the great geographical societies, politicians, and 
philanthropists, who were interested in the progress and 
development of Africa, to a geographic conference to be 
held in Brussels. The gathering took place in September, 
1876, at the king's palace. Germany, Austria, Belgium, 
France, Great Britain, Italy, and Russia were represented. 
The thirty-seven members who made up the conference 
represented the best of European thought. 

From this conference there developed the International 
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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

African Association. This Association organized a scries 
of local national associations, through which the different 
countries interested should conduct investigations and 
explorations in Africa upon a uniform plan, and with 
reference to the same ideas and purposes. It possessed, 
also, a governing international commission, of which the 
king of the Belgians was the president, and upon which 
were representatives of Germany, and France, and the 
United States, Minister Sanford replacing a British repre- 
sentative. This committee laid out a definite plan of 
exploration. Its first expedition was to go in from the 
east coast at Zanzibar, passing to Tanganika. The com- 
mission adopted as the flag of the International African 
Association a ground of blue upon which shone a single 
star of gold. 

The Association's plan included the discovery of the 
best routes into the interior of Africa; the establishment 
of posts where investigators and explorers could not only 
make headquarters but from which they might draw sup- 
plies needed for their journey. These advantages were 
to be extended to any traveler. The expeditions them- 
selves were national in character, being left to the initia- 
tive of the local national committees which had been devel- 
oped by the Association. This Association existed from 
1876 to 1884. During that time six Belgian, one German, 
and two French expeditions were organized, accomplish- 
ing results of importance. 

It was in November, 1877, that the result of Stanley's 

T expedition came to the knowledge of the world. It 

wrought a revolution in the views regarding Central Africa. 

In Belgium it produced at once a radical change of plan. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

The idea of entering the heart of Africa from Zanzibar 
was abandoned. The future operations of the A. I. A. 
at least, so far as Belgium was concerned would 
extend themselves from the Congo mouth up through 
the vast river system which Stanley had made known. 
Details of this mode of procedure were so promptly 
developed that when Stanley reached Marseilles in Jan- 
uary, 1878, he found an urgent invitation from the king 
of the Belgians to come to Brussels for the discussion of 
plans of conference. 

After a full study of the matter, it was determined by 
the Belgian committee that a society should be organized 
with the title of the Committee of Studies of the High 
Congo. This, it will be understood, was purely a Belgian 
enterprise. It had for its purpose the occupation and 
exploitation of the whole Congo district. For this pur- 
pose prompt action was necessary. In February, 1879, 
Stanley went to Zanzibar and collected a body of work- 
men and carriers. With this force of helpers and a num- 
ber of white subordinates he entered the Congo with a 
little fleet of five steamers, bearing the flag of the A. I. A. 
Arrived at Vivi, where he established a central station, he 
arranged for the transportation of his steamers in sections 
by human carriers to the Stanley Pool above the rapids. 

He worked with feverish haste. France was pressing 
her work of exploration, and there was danger of her 
seizing much of the coveted territory. Portugal, too, was 
showing a renewed interest and activity, and might prove 
a dangerous rival in the new plans. Native chiefs were 
visited and influenced to form treaties giving up their 
rights of rulership in their own territories to the Associa- 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

tion. Lands were secured for the erection of stations; 
the whole river was traversed from Stanley Pool to Stanley 
Falls, for the purpose of making these treaties and secur- 
ing the best points for locating the stations. The Com- 
mittee of Studies of the High Congo now possessed at least 
treaty rights over a vast area of country, and by them gov- 
ernmental powers over vast multitudes of people. It had 
these rights, it had a flag, but it was not yet a government, 
and it stood in constant danger of difficulties with gov- 
ernments. About this time it changed its name from the 
Committee of Studies of the High Congo to the Interna- 
tional Association of the Congo. 

Meantime events were taking place which threatened 
the existence of the Association. Portugal began to assert 
claims and rights which had long been in abeyance. She 
proposed to organize the territory at the Congo mouth, 
and which, of course, was of the greatest importance to 
the Association, into a governmental district and assume 
its administration. In this project she found willing 
assistance on the part of England. 

Never particularly enthusiastic over the scheme of 
Leopold II., England had shown no interest at all during 
the later part of all these movements. It is true that she 
was represented at the first conference held at Brussels; 
it will be remembered that in the later organization an 
American had replaced the English representative. No 
work had been done of any consequence by a British com- 
mittee. No expedition had been sent out. By the treaty 
with Portugal, England would at one stroke render the 
whole Congo practically worthless. The crisis had come. 
France and Germany came to King Leopold's help. The 

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CHILDREN AT MOGANDJA, ARUWIMI RIVER 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

former recognized the political activity and status of the 
Association and promised to respect its doings; Germany 
protested vigorously against the Anglo- Portuguese treaty, 
which fell through. 

Bismarck, who favored the plans of the Belgian mon- 
arch in Africa, officially recognized, on November 3, 1884, 
the Association as a sovereign power, and invited represen- 
tatives of the powers to Berlin for the purpose of estab- 
lishing an international agreement upon the following 
points : First, commercial freedom in the basin of the Con- 
go and its tributaries; second, application to the Congo 
and the Niger of the principle of freedom of navigation; 
third, the definition of the formalities to be observed in 
order that new occupations of African shores should be 
considered as effective. The conference began November 
1 5th, Bismarck himself presiding. Fourteen powers par- 
ticipated Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, 
United States, France, Great Britain, Italy, The Nether- 
lands, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Norway, and Turkey. 

As the result of three months of deliberation, the Congo 
State was added to the list of independent nations, with 
King Leopold II. as its ruler. Promptly the new power 
was recognized by the different nations of the world. 

X. 

January 29, 1907. 

WHAT has the Congo Free State done during 
its twenty-two years almost of existence ? 
It has taken possession of a vast area of 
land, 800,000 square miles in extent, and dominated it. 
It has most skillfully developed a mighty waterway. We 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

are already familiar with the simple and original method 
of development which has been and is being pursued. We 
have already called attention to the fact that, notwith- 
standing interruption to navigation here and there in 
the Congo and its larger tributaries, there are long stretches 
of navigable water above the obstacles. The plan of utili- 
zation and development has been to occupy directly the 
natural stretches of navigable water and to get around 
the cataracts by the shortest railroad lines possible. This 
has been done already at two points, and will be done at 
others in the near future. It is the most economical man- 
ner of developing a way of penetration into the great area 
to be developed and exploited. 

It has continuously carried on geographical explora- 
tions by which the world's knowledge of African geog- 
raphy has been profoundly increased. We have already 
called attention to the fact that during the eight years when 
the A. I. A. was in existence, Belgium equipped and main- 
tained six expeditions; during the same period France 
maintained but two, Germany one, and England none. 
In other words, Belgium did more for geographic science 
during that time than the other three great nations com- 
bined. 

It has put an end to inter- tribal wars, to execution of 
slaves at funerals and festal occasions, and to cannibal- 
ism in all those districts to which its actual authority 
extends. It is understood, of course, that twenty years 
is a short time for the penetration of the state's authority 
into remote parts of its territory. There are still inter- 
tribal wars in remote parts of the Congo Free State; exe- 
cutions and the eating of human flesh are no doubt still 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

common in districts which have but little felt the influ- 
ence of the white ruler. With the extension of the defi- 
nite power of the state into these remoter sections, these 
evils will disappear as they have disappeared in the more 
accessible portions of the country. 

It has developed a native army which is available in 
case of attack upon the integrity of the state, and which 
serves as a policing party within its territory. In the first 
days of the state 's history its soldiery was drawn from the 
Zanzibar district, and to a less degree from the English 
possessions along the western coast of Africa. It soon 
was realized that from every point of view this condition 
was undesirable. Between the foreign soldiery and the 
native people there were no bonds of common interest. 
No national feeling or spirit could develop among them. 
From the point of view of expense the foreign soldier was 
extremely costly. For these different reasons the state 
early developed the idea of an army made of Congo 
natives. To-day there are but few foreign soldiers in the 
public force. 

If there is ever to be a real nation in the Congo district 
there must develop in some way a feeling of unity of 
blood and interests among the people. In tribal life each 
tribe is absorbed in its own interests petty, of course 
and looks upon all other tribes as enemies. Many of the 
tribes were insignificant in number and in the area which 
they occupied. Nothing but an outside influence can 
unite into one useful whole such a multitude of petty, dis- 
trustful, hostile groups of men. In the public force there 
are soldiers from almost every tribe within the Congo. 
At the great training camps men are brought together who 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

speak different languages, have different customs, and 
come from widely separated areas. Under the military 
discipline, these men are brought into close and long con- 
tinued relations. They must accommodate themselves 
to one another. They must respect each other's ways 
of thought and doing. At the end of his term of service 
the soldier goes out necessarily broadened in his ideas, 
necessarily less prejudiced and more tolerant. The army 
is the most important influence toward arousing national 
existence. 

It has conducted many interesting experiments and 
researches along scientific lines. While these had fre- 
quently practical ends, they were in themselves worth 
doing, and their beneficent results are not confined to the 
Congo. Thus, at Leopold ville there is a well- equipped 
bacteriological institute for the study of tropical diseases. 
Naturally, the most of its attention up to the present has 
been given to the subject of sleeping-sickness. 

The experiments upon the utilization of the African 
elephant and the zebra have general interest; if they fail, 
the warning may be useful; if they succeed, their results 
will be by no means confined to the Congo Free State. 
At Eala is a botanical garden creditably devised and well 
conducted. Six hundred species of plants are there in 
cultivation, something more than half of them being 
foreign species. There experiments are being made upon 
a broad scale to discover the uses of native plants and the 
possibility of cultivating them to advantage. Forty species 
of African plants yield rubber; those the product of which 
is of a quality to warrant experimenting, are here being 
cultivated with reference to ascertaining their value in 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

plantations. Foreign rubber producers, coffees from 
different portions of the globe, medicinal plants, dye and 
other useful plants are being tested to find out how they 
flourish in Congo. 

Nor is the interest of the Congo Free State in scien- 
tific Investigations limited to its own enterprises. Some 
tune ago a British commission, consisting of three special- 
ists in tropical medicines, visited the Congo with the pur- 
pose of investigating the sleeping-sickness. Not only 
were they given every facility for their investigation, but 
after they returned to England the total expenses of their 
expedition were returned with the compliments of the 
State government in recognition of the general value and 
utility of their investigations. Individual investigators 
and expeditions of a scientific character within the Congo 
State always have found the government interested in 
furthering and aiding their studies. 

It has developed a significant and growing section of 
the world's commerce. When Stanley came down the 
Congo, the value of the exports from that region was so 
small that it might be neglected. To-day the Congo 
furnishes the world with ivory and supplies a most sig- 
nificant portion of the rubber which is used. To-day 
Antwerp is the greatest market for these two products. 
That Liverpool should lose in relative importance in the 
matter of West African trade is no doubt hard for Eng- 
lishmen. But the world gains by having several great 
trading centers in place of one. 

It has checked the extension of the Arab influence 
with all its horrors. To one who reads Stanley's descrip- 
tion this means much. With this checking, the foreign 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

slave trade ceased. Do not misunderstand me. There 
was much admirable in the Arab culture. There is no 
question that the practical men, whose views we always 
keep in mind, and to whom we make our argument, 
would approve the substitution of it or the barbarism 
that existed before. But it is certain that it stood in 
the way of European influence; that it came into conflict 
with European ideas, and if it were desirable that these 
should ultimately prevail, the Arab life and culture must 
disappear. 

^fWe might, of course, continue and extend our list of 
the achievements of the Congo Free State. We have 
said enough, however, to show that it has done much 
toward carrying out its promise to civilize and modify the 
native population in the direction of our own ideals. Even 
the bitter enemies of the Free State government will admit 
all this, and more. But they claim that all the credit of 
it disappears in view of the atrocities, the cruelties, and 
horrors connected with its own administration. 

Atrocities no doubt exist; they have existed; they will 
exist. They are ever present in cases where a popula- 
tion of natives is exploited by an active and aggressive 
"higher race." The process of elevating natives, of mak- 
ing them over in new pattern, is never a happy one for 
the native. The wrenching of old ties, the destruction 
of old ideals, the replacing of an ancient life by one differ- 
ent in every detail, is a painful thing. 

I deplore atrocities, but I have often thought that, if 
I were a member of a race that was being improved by 
outside influences, I would rather they should kill me out- 
right with bullet or with knife than subject me to the 

[86] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

suffering of years in molding me to new ideas. In other 
words, I sometimes feel that flagrant outrage is less pain- 
ful to the victim than well-meant direction, teaching, and 
elevation to their object. 

Let us turn, however, to the whole subject of atrocities. 

XI. 

January 30, 1907. 

MUCH has been said of flogging and the chicotte. 
There is no question that flogging is general 
throughout the Congo Free State. The English 
word "flogging" is one which is generally known and 
understood by officials of every nationality throughout the 
country; it is known, too, by a surprising number of 
natives. The chicotte is known to everybody within the 
state limits its name is Portuguese. In all my journey 
in the Congo, while I frequently heard the word "flogging" 
and constantly heard the word "chicotte," I never heard 
the French term for either. Nor do I think the native has. 
It is plain that neither flogging nor the chicotte was 
introduced by Belgians. These found them in the coun- 
try on their arrival, introduced by English and Portu- 
guese. 

It is not the fact of flogging in itself that raises objec- 
tions; not only the state and traders but the missionaries 
find it necessary to whip their black employe's. In fact, 
at a missionary conference I think it was one mis- 
sionary referred laughingly to the boys whom another 
(by the way, one of the chief witnesses against the state) 
"had flogged into the kingdom of heaven." He did not 
mean the boys had died as a result of the flogging, but 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

simply that they had found salvation through its means. 
It is, then, the amount, severity, and undeservedness of 
the whipping which are reprobated. 

I saw, of course, plenty of flogging. Not, indeed, with 
such an instrument as has been recently shown throughout 
the United States by a complaining missionary. I was 
conversing recently with a friend who had been profoundly 
stirred in connection with Congo atrocities. He happened 
to mention the chicotte, then said: "Have you ever seen 
a chicotte? You know it is made of six thongs of hip- 
popotamus skin, twisted tightly together." I told him 
that I had seen hundreds of chicottes, but that I had never 
seen one such as he described. As a matter of fact, I 
have seen chicottes of a single thong, and of two or three 
twisted together, but I have never seen one composed of 
six. I do not know whether such an instrument would 
cause greater suffering in punishment, but it certainly is 
better suited for display to sympathetic audiences who 
want to be harrowed by dreadful reports. The first 
flogging that I happened to see was at a distance. I was 
busy measuring soldiers; hearing cries, I looked in the 
direction whence they came, and saw a black man being 
publicly whipped before the office of the commissaire. 
An officer of proper authority was present inspecting the 
punishment, which I presume was entirely legal. 

In the second flogging which I witnessed, this time at 
close quarters, I was myself implicated to a degree. We 
were at a mission station. The mission force and practi- 
cally all the people from the place were attending Sunday 
morning service. It was fruiting time for the mango 
trees, which were loaded with golden fruit. Suddenly 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

we heard an outcry, and in a moment the mission sentry, 
delighted and excited, came up to our veranda with an 
unfortunate prisoner, whom he had taken in the act of 
stealing fruit. He insisted on leaving him with us for 
guarding. I turned him over to my companion, who set 
him on his veranda, telling him to stay there until the 
missionary should come from the service. 

The prisoner squatted down upon the veranda without 
a word of discussion, laying the fruit, evidence of his 
guilt, upon the floor at his side. We were so angry at 
him that he made no attempt at escaping, and did not even 
eat the fruit which he had stolen, that we washed our 
hands of the whole affair, and believed he deserved all 
that might be coming. The service over, the missionary 
appeared, accompanied by the triumphant sentry. When 
the prisoner had admitted his guilt, the missionary asked 
whether he preferred to be sent to the state for punishment 
or to be whipped by him, to which the prisoner replied 
that he should prefer the mission flogging. 

With great formality the instrument of punishment was 
produced; it consisted of two long and narrow boards, 
perhaps six feet in length and two or three inches wide; 
between them was fixed a board of the same width, 
but of half the length. At one end these were firmly 
screwed together, while the other end was left open. It 
will be seen that when a heavy blow was given with the 
instrument the free ends of the two long sticks would strike 
together, producing a resounding whack which, no doubt, 
produced a psychic suffering in the victim in addition to the 
true physical pain. However that may be, fifteen blows, 
I think, were administered, and the prisoner discharged. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

One day, upon the Kasai steamer, we witnessed a 
wholesale whipping, which was typical of this mode of 
punishment as regularly administered. The night before 
we had been forced to tie up beside the forest. The 
night was dark and the cutters refused to make wood for 
the next day's journey. This was a serious act of insurrec- 
tion, involving delay and trouble. When, finally, the 
next morning the wood had been loaded and the steamer 
was under way, ten of the rebels were marched up to the 
captain. In turn each lay down upon the floor, a friend 
held his hands and wrists, while the capita administered 
twenty blows. It is comparatively rare that the white 
man himself does the flogging; usually it is the regular 
capita who is in charge of the workmen, or a special one 
of the working force detailed to play the part. 

It makes a notable difference in the way in which the 
punishment is received whether the hands are firmly 
held to prevent struggling. An English-speaking white 
man not in the government or company employ, who had 
had more or less opportunity for observation in our 
Southern states, and whose experience in the Congo 
extends over several years, told me that flogging with the 
chicotte was a rather mild and simple punishment; that 
it hurt but little, and that, for his part, he preferred to hit 
the workmen on the head and kick them in the shins, 
those being places more tender to the application than the 
part subjected to the chicotte. On the whole, I am in- 
clined to think that there was something in what he said. 
It is certain that in most cases the suffering from a flogging 
is momentary. I have even seen persons undergoing 
serious flogging exchange significant glances and signals 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

with their friends, in which the suggestion of pain was 
quite absent. Many a time, also, I have seen a man 
immediately after being flogged, laughing and playing with 
his companions as if naught had happened. Personally, 
though I have seen many cases of this form of punishment, 
I have never seen blood drawn, nor the fainting of the 
victim. 

It is common to speak of the chain-gang with great 
sympathy. One sees chain-gangs at every state post; 
it is the common punishment for minor offenses to put 
the prisoner on the chain. Sometimes as many as twelve 
or fifteen are thus joined together by chains attached to 
iron rings placed about their necks. They are employed 
in all sorts of work bringing water for use about the 
station, sweeping roads, clearing fields, carrying burdens. 
On our arrival at a state post, immediately after we had 
presented our introductions to the commandant, the chain- 
gang would be sent to bring our freight and baggage to 
the rooms to which we were assigned. The ring around 
the necks of these prisoners is a light iron ring, weighing 
certainly not to exceed two pounds. The weight of chain 
falling upon each prisoner can hardly be more than six 
or eight pounds additional. In other words, the weight 
which they are forced to carry in the shape of ring and 
chain does not exceed, probably does not equal, ten pounds. 

From the viewpoint of service rendered, the chain- 
gang has little value. It dawdles, lags, idles, and plays; 
only when it is carrying burdens does it really work. I 
have never seen a chain-gang composed of women, nor 
have I seen women on the same gang with men. It is 
stated by the missionaries that such things occur. Cer- 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

tainly, every one would object to the chaining together of 
male and female prisoners. Apart from this, the chain- 
gang does not particularly arouse my sympathy. It is 
a very mild form of punishment, and one which, of course, 
is common in as bad a form or worse throughout many of 
our Southern states. To grieve over the weight carried 
in the form of chain and ring is simply ridiculous; there 
are to-day thousands of women among these Congo tribes 
who for the sake of decoration cany about their neck a 
heavy ring of brass weighing twenty, twenty-five, or thirty 
pounds. It is no uncommon thing for both men and women 
to have a weight of thirty, forty, or fifty pounds of brass 
and iron rings and ornaments upon them. 

I cannot believe that the ordinary flogging, such as I 
have seen, causes notable suffering to people who, for 
purposes of decoration or treatment of rheumatism, sub- 
mit without evidence of pain to such operations as I have 
described in detail in an earlier article. Nor can I feel 
that the mere fact of carrying chain and ring of less than 
ten pounds' weight involves terrible suffering for people 
who regularly carry much heavier burdens of ornaments. 

Much has been said of late in regard to hostages. The 
taking of hostages and holding them until some obliga- 
tion or agreement had been performed was a common 
native custom. Stanley frequently captured women 
and children, or even men, of tribes in the districts through 
which he was passing and held them as hostages until they 
should show him the trail he should follow, or until their 
people supplied him with the food or other things which 
he desired. At the ill-fated Yambuya camp the rear 
guard frequently seized the women of the natives who 

[92] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

had failed to bring in food supplies in return for the trade 
stuffs offered. This seizure of hostages is mentioned 
repeatedly in the writings of the early travelers, and seems 
to have caused no outcry on the part of the sensitive 
civilized world at that time. Why should it now ? 

It is a common practice, though a disagreeable one to 
us, for one who sells a thing to keep back a part of it in 
making delivery of the goods. On one occasion we bought 
a musical instrument, a marimba, which consisted, in 
part, of a dozen gourds as resounding bodies. Every one 
of these gourds was necessary to the instrument, yet the 
seller, after we had examined it with care to see that it 
was perfect, removed three of the gourds, in accordance 
with this custom. The instrument was sent to us by the 
son of the seller's chief, old Chicoma. When we found 
the instrument at home we at once noted the absence of 
the three gourds. Old Chicoma's son had a companion 
with him. We at once decided to hold the chief's son as 
a hostage, sending word by his companion that he would 
be set free only on the appearance of the missing gourds. 
When we told the youth that we had "tied him up," that 
being the expression for holding a person hostage, he 
looked sheepish, but made no complaint, recognizing the 
justice of our action. 

This was at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. He made no 
attempt to escape, although we had not in any way actually 
interfered with his freedom of movement. We gave him 
supper when the time came and breakfast in the morning. 
He found his stay tedious, however, and finally, when none 
was looking, slipped away. He must have nret the mes- 
senger bringing the missing gourds before he was any 

[93] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

distance from the house, as he appeared with our property 
about half an hour after the flight. 

The only other personal experience in the matter of 
hostages that we had was in the High Kasai. A white 
man, agent of the Kasai company, was our guest for the 
night. In the early morning our friend, Chief Ndombe, 
appeared, in great excitement, begging us to loan him 
cloth, as the white man had seized one of his slaves and 
would not release him until he had fully paid a debt which 
the white man claimed he owed him. The question 
appeared complicated, and we let him have the cloth, 
after which we went over to hear the palaver accompany- 
ing the payment. Both sides told their story, with much 
gesticulation. The white man's boy had owned a woman, 
for whom he claimed to have paid six pieces of cloth ; she 
had run away, and he had sought in vain for her. The 
chief, old Chicoma, told him that the woman was at 
Ndombe and in the house of the great chief. So they 
seized Ndombe's slave a little lad about 1 1 years of age, 
whose bright face and curious head shaving always had 
greatly attracted me. This boy our visitors were holding 
as a hostage until Ndombe should produce the woman or 
pay her value. 

Of course, the whole procedure was illegal, and I was 
inclined to take up the matter vigorously. There were, 
however, so many elements of doubt in the matter that 
I finally concluded to let it pass. Of hostages held by 
company agents or by state people we saw but few, and 
never learned the circumstances under which they had 
been taken. They were rarely in actual confinement, and 
we saw no evidences of bad treatment toward them. In 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

native custom, the hostages are regularly well treated and 
fed regularly, while held in captivity. While we have 
never seen maltreatment of hostages, we can readily 
understand how such could arise. Taken, as they usually 
are, in order to force the bringing in of food or forest 
products, if their holding does not produce the desired 
effect the feeling of vexation resulting may easily lead 
to cruelty. 

XII. 

January 31, 1907. 

PEOPLE in this country seem to expect that every 
traveler in the Congo must meet with crowds of 
people who have had one or both hands cut off. 
We have all seen pictures of these unfortunates, and have 
heard most harrowing tales in regard to them. Casement, 
the English consul, whose report to the British government 
has caused so much agitation, and who described many 
cases of mutilation, himself saw* but a single case ; and that 
case, though put forward by the missionaries as an example 
of state atrocities, was finally withdrawn by them, as the 
subject had not been mutilated by human assailants, but 
by a wild boar. Casement traveled many miles and spent 
much time in securing the material for his indictment, and 
yet saw * but this one case. We saw a single case of mutila- 
tion. It was a boy at Ikoko, probably some twelve years 
old. He had been found, a child of three or four years, by 
the side of his dead mother, after a punitive expedition had 
visited the town. His mother's body had been mutilated 

*I am here in error. Casement saw more than one case of mutila- 
tion; he carefully investigated but one. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

and the child's hand cut off. We might have seen a second 
case of this sort at this place if we had searched for her. 
There is a second there. 

No one, I think, would desire to excuse the barbarity 
of cutting off the hands of either dead or living, but we 
must remember that the soldiers in these expeditions are 
natives, and in the excitement and bloodthirst roused by a 
military attack they relapse to ancient customs. There 
has, indeed, been considerable question recently whether 
the cutting-off of hands is really a native custom. Sir 
Francis de Winton, himself an Englishman, and Stanley's 
successor in the administration of the Congo State, says 
that it was. And Glave says: "In every village in this 
section (Lukolela) will be found slaves of both sexes with 
one ear cut off. This is a popular form of punishment in 
an African village. It is not at all unusual to hear such 
threats as 'I will cut your ear off,' 'I will sell you,' or ' I 
will kill you,' and often they are said in earnest." Where 
such customs were constant in native life it is not strange 
that they have lasted on into the present. 

Of course, in this connection we must not forget that 
mutilation of dead bodies is not by any means confined to 
the Congo Free State, nor to its natives. Only a few 
months ago, in Southern Africa, the British force cut off 
the head of a hostile chief. When the matter was inves- 
tigated, the excuse given was that it was done for purposes 
of identification, and that the body was afterwards brought 
in and buried with it. 

The most of the difficulty with the natives of the Congo 
Free State, of course, comes in connection with the demand 
to gather rubber. The native hates the forest; he dislikes 

[96] 




MEN SENTENCED TO THE DEATH PENALTY FOR MURDER AND 
CANNIBALISM, BASOKO 



to gather rubber; it takes him from his home, and com- 
fort, and wife. We have never accompanied a party of 
natives gathering rubber, but we have seen them started 
and have also seen them bringing in their product. The 
best rubber of the Congo is produced by vines which fre- 
quently grow to several inches in diameter. The same 
vine may be tapped many times. The milky juice, which 
exudes abundantly, promptly coagulates into rubber; as 
it hardens it is rolled into balls between the palm and some 
portion of the body, such as the chest or leg. 

The place where we have seen most of rubber produc- 
tion is in the High Kasai, where the famous red rubber is 
produced, which sells for the highest price of any African 
caoutchouc. My missionary friends have told me that 
conditions in the Kasai are not bad and that they have no 
special fault to find with the Kasai company. While there 
were things that might be criticised, there was apparent 
fairness in the business. The natives waited several days 
after they had gathered their balls of rubber before bring- 
ing them in. This was for the reason that the company's 
agent had but an unattractive stock of goods in his maga- 
zine at the moment; they preferred to wait until a new 
stock should come up on the expected steamer. As soon 
as it appeared they sent word that they might be expected 
the following day. 

The old Bachoko chief, Maiila, was brought in state, in 
his blue hammock; his people came singing and dancing 
with the baskets full of balls of rubber on their heads. All 
proceeded to the magazine, where the great steelyards were 
suspended and the rubber weighed ; each man looked care- 
fully to see that his stock balanced evenly, and one of their 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

number, who understood the instrument and could figure, 
stood by to see that all went fair. While the rubber was 
a demanded tax, a regular price of i franc and 25 centimes 
the kilo was paid. This was given in stuffs, of course, and 
J the native selected what he pleased from the now abundant 
stock of cloths, blankets, graniteware, and so forth. It 
may truly be said that they came in singing gayly and 
went home glad. 

At Mobandja we saw a large party setting out to the 
forest to gather rubber, different from any that we had seen 
before in that a considerable number of women formed a 
part of it. This feature I did not like, although I presume 
it is an effort to meet the criticisms of the report of the royal 
commission of investigation. The commission particu- 
larly criticised the fact that the men, in going into the for- 
est, were deprived of the company of their women a 
hardship strongly emphasized. It is surely a mistake, 
however well it may be meant, to send the women into the 
forest with the men to gather rubber. Such a procedure 
involves the neglect of her fields and interrupts the woman's 
work. 

And here we touch upon the thing which in my opinion 
is the worst feature of the whole Congo business. Any- 
thing that affects the woman's work necessarily brings 
hardship. I have seen many heart-rending statements in 
regard to the loss of work time which the man suffers by 
going to the forest to gather rubber. We are told that by 
the time he has gone several days' journey into the dense 
forest, gathered his balls of rubber, and returned again 
to his village, he has no time left for work, and his 
family and the whole community suffers as a consequence. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

But from what work does this gathering of rubber take 
the man ? 

We have already called attention to the fact that the 
support of the family and the actual work in any village 
fall upon the woman. The man, before he went into the 
forest to gather rubber, had no pressing duties. His wife 
supported him; he spent his time in visiting, dancing, 
lolling under shelters, drinking with his friends, or in pal- 
avers, sometimes of great importance but frequently of no 
consequence; in other words, he was an idler, or a man 
of leisure. I feel no sorrow on account of the labors from 
which he is restrained. Personally, I should have no 
objection to his idling. If he does not want to work and 
need not work, I see no reason why he should not idle. 
But my readers are practical men, who talk much of the 
dignity of labor and the elevation of the lazy negro. Very 
good ; if work is dignified and the elevation of the negro 
necessary, let him collect rubber, but do not mourn over 
the fact that he is deprived of opportunity to earn a living 
for himself and family. 

There is, indeed, one set of circumstances under which 
the man may really be deprived of opportunity to aid in 
the work of gaining a living. Where the men in a com- 
munity are really fishermen they are not always so 
to take them from their fishing entails a hardship. 

The thing which seems to me the worst is the kwanga 
tax on women and the fish tax on men. The former is at 
its worst, perhaps, in Leopold ville; the latter is bad enough 
at Nouvelle Anvers. Leopoldville is situated in a dis- 
trict which yields much less for food than necessary. 
It has always been so. Even in the days before the white 

[99] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

man came, the people in the native villages on Stanley 
Pool were obliged to buy food supplies from outside, as they 
themselves, being devoted to trading, did no cultivation. 
With the coming of the white man, and the establishing 
of a great post at Leopoldville, with thousands of native 
workmen and soldiers to be fed, the food question became 
serious. The state has solved the problem by levying a 
food tax on the native villages for many miles around. 

The women are required to bring a certain amount of 
kwanga native cassava bread to Leopoldville within 
a stated period of time. To do this involves almost con- 
tinuous labor, and really leaves the women little time for 
attending to the needs of their own people. Some of 
them are forced to come many miles with the supply of 
bread. When they have cared for the growing plants in 
their fields, prepared the required stint of kwanga, brought 
it the weary distance over the trails, and again come back 
to their village, they must begin to prepare for the next 
installment. For this heavy burden there must certainly 
be found some remedy. Personally, it seems to me that 
the women belonging to the workmen and the soldiers 
might be utilized in cultivating extensive fields to supply 
the need. The condition of the men who pay the fish 
tax is analogous to that of these kwanga-taxed women. 

The question of the population of the Congo is an 
unsettled one. Stanley estimated it at 29,000,000 people, 
Reclus, in 1888, estimated it at something over 20,000,000; 
Wagner and Supan claimed 17,000,000, and Vierkandt sets 
the figure at 11,000,000. The governor-general, Baron 
Wahis, who has several times made the inspection of the 
whole river, is inclined to think that even Stanley's figure 

[100] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

is below the true one. Between these limits of 11,000,000 
and 29,000,000 any one may choose which he prefers. 
No one knows, or is likely for many years to know. Those 
who believe that Stanley's figure was true in its time, and 
that Vierkandt's is true at present, may well insist, as they 
do, that depopulation is taking place. 

Personally, I have no doubt that depopulation is going 
on. Of course, the enemies of the Free State government 
attribute the diminution in population chiefly to the cruel- 
ties practiced by the state, but it is certain that many 
causes combine in the result. 

The distribution of the Congo population is exceedingly 
irregular. From Stanley Pool to Chumbiri there has 
been almost no population during the period of our knowl- 
edge. On the other hand, from Basoko to Stanley Falls 
the population is abundant and there is almost a continu- 
ous line of native villages along the banks for miles. 
Practically, the state of population is really known only 
along the river banks. Back from the riverines are inland 
tribes, the areas of which in some cases are but sparsely 
settled, while in others they swarm. They are, however, 
little known, and just how the population is distributed 
is uncertain. The district which we personally best know 
- the Kasai is one of the most populous of all the 
Congo State, and around the Sankuru, one of the main 
tributaries of the Kasai, we perhaps have the densest 
population of the country. If we take Stanley's estimate 
as accurate, the population would average twelve to the 
square kilometer. 

Among known causes for the diminution of Congo 
population we may mention first the raiding expeditions 

[101] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

of the Arabs. These were numerous and destructive in 
the extreme, throughout the .region of the Upper Congo 
and the Lualaba. Organized for taking slaves and 
getting booty, they destroyed ruthlessly the adult male 
population and deported the women and children. Towns 
were burned and whole districts left unoccupied. There 
is no question that many of the punitive expeditions of the 
state have been far more severe than necessity demanded ; 
"the people must be shown the power of Bula Matadi." 
It is said that Vankerckhoven's expedition destroyed 
whole towns needlessly in the district of Chumbiri and 
Bolobo. Certainly, the population in this section was for- 
merly abundant. Everywhere along the shores one sees 
the groups of palm trees marking the sites of former 
villages; probably the present population is no more than 
one fourth that which existed formerly. 

Throughout the whole district, where the French 
Congo touches on the river, it is a common thing for timid 
or disgruntled villagers to move en masse across the river 
into French territory. These wholesale removals are an 
advantage to the natives, as that portion of the French 
Congo is less well occupied by white posts and govern- 
ment officials than the corresponding part of the Congo 
Free State. The natives who have thus removed un- 
questionably have an easier time in the French colony. 
This, however, can hardly be called depopulation, as it 
involves no loss in persons, but merely a transfer from the 
Free State side to the other. It does not at all affect the 
actual number of the race. 

Sleeping-sickness is carrying off its tens of thousands. 

But after we suggest these causes we are still far from 
[ 102] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

a full solution of the problem of depopulation, which is a 
mysterious thing. In Polynesia we have another example 
of it on a prodigious scale. In Polynesia we have neither 
slave raids, nor punitive expeditions, nor sleeping-sickness. 
Yet, adults die and children are not born. If things con- 
tinue in the future as in the past, the time is not far dis- 
tant when the Polynesian one of the most interesting 
and attractive of human races will be a thing completely 
of the past. 

The case of our own American Indians is similar. 
Whole tribes have disappeared; others are dying out so 
rapidly that a few years will see their complete extinction. 
I am familiar with the arguments which, from time to 
time, are printed to demonstrate that the number of 
American Indians is as great as ever. It seems, how- 
ever, that it is only rich tribes that hold their own; the 
reason is not far to seek, but we may not here pursue 
the argument further. 

XIII. 

February 1, 1907. 

NOR is apparent depopulation of the Congo a mat- 
ter of recent date. Quotations might be given 
from many travelers. We quote three from 
Bentley, because he was well acquainted with the country 
and because he was an English missionary. In speaking 
of the town of Mputu, an hour and a half distant from San 
Salvador, he describes the chief, Mbumba, a man of 
energy, feared in all his district. He was strict in his 
demands regarding conduct. In his presence others were 
required to sit tailor-fashion. "To ease the cramped 

[103] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

limbs, by stretching them out before one, is a gross breach 
of decorum; any one who did so in Mbumba's presence 
was taken out, and was fortuate if he lost only an ear. We 
have known several great chiefs who would order a man 
who sat carelessly to be thus mutilated. His own people 
were much afraid of him on account of his cruel, mur- 
derous ways; for a small offense he would kill them 
relentlessly. He was superstitious and very ready to kill 
witches. Through his evil temper, pride, and superstition, 
his town of several hundred people was reduced to eighty 
or ninety souls." 

Again he says: " Our next camp was at Manzi; but as we 
had so many people, the natives preferred that we should 
camp in a wood at Matamba, twenty minutes' walk beyond 
the town. The wood marked the site of a town deserted 
some years before. There were no other towns on the road 
from there to Isangila, a distance of thirty miles, for the 
wicked people had killed each other out over their witch 
palavers. This was what the natives told us themselves. 
Yet they went on killing their witches, believing that if 
they did not do so all the people would be exterminated. 
Two wretched villages of a few huts each were to be found 
a few miles off the path, but the country was practically 
depopulated." 

In another place he says, in speaking of the caravan 
days: "All the carriers suffered acutely from fever, and 
this was the case" with all the caravans on the road. This 
mortality was largely increased by the improvidence of the 
carriers themselves. Thousands of men were engaged 
in transport work at the time, but very few troubled to 
cany enough food with them, or money wherewith to buy 

[104] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

it. As a rule, the young men staid in their towns as long 
as they had anything to buy food with; when they failed, 
they borrowed until their debts became too great. Then 
they arranged to go with some caravan to carry, and 
received ration money for the road. This would be partly 
used up in the town, and the rest go to those from whom 
they borrowed. On the road they lived largely on palm 
nuts and raw cassava, and returned to their homes in a 
terribly exhausted condition. With the influx of cloth 
gained by transportation came hunger, for wealth made 
the women lazy; they preferred to buy food rather than 
produce the gardens came to an end, then hunger fol- 
lowed, and sickness and death. Women staid at home 
to mourn, and the mischief became worse. Sleep-sick- 
ness and smallpox spread. The population of the cata- 
racts district is not more than half what it was fifteen 
years ago. The railway is now complete, and the country 
will adapt itself to its new conditions." 

Those who are hostile to the state, of course, will find 
great comfort in this quotation; for the transport system 
was an introduction by the Belgians. It will be observed, 
however, that the author mentions no cruelty on the part 
of the new masters in this connection; it must also be 
remembered that the missionaries were as much interested 
in the caravan system as any, and assisted in its develop- 
ment. My chief object in introducing the quotation is 
to show how impossible it is to affect native conditions in 
one way without bringing about a connected series of 
changes, not always easy to foresee. 

To me, the real wonder is that there are any of the Congo 
peoples left. Think of the constant drain due to the for- 

[105] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

eign slave trade, continued from an early date until after 
the middle of the last century. Think of the continuous 
losses due to the barbarism of native chiefs and demands 
of native customs to wars, cannibalism, execution, and 
ordeal. Think of the destruction caused by punitive 
expeditions towns burned, people killed. Think of 
the drafts made by the caravan system and the public 
works which the state has been forced to carry out. Think 
of the multitudes who have died with the diseases of the 
country and from pestilence introduced by the newcomers. 
Yet the population really shows signs of great vitality 
to-day, and the most discouraged missionary hesitates 
a real prediction for the future. 

There is a most interesting and suggestive map in 
Morel's new book, "Red Rubber." It bears the legend, 
"Map showing revenue division of the Congo Free State." 
Upon this map we find marked with little crosses the local- 
ities where specific reports of atrocities have been received. 
The distribution of these crosses is interesting. We find a 
concentration of them along the main river from the Rubi 
River almost to the mouth of the Kasai, a notable bunch 
of them in the region of the A. B. I. R., and in an area 
worked by the Antwerp trust; also in the district of Lake 
Leopold II. There are few crosses indicative of bad treat- 
ment in the Congo above this district, and practically none 
in the lower Congo and the Kasai. It is precisely in the 
areas where these crosses are so frequent that the early 
travelers had difficulty with the natives in first traversing 
the country. In other words, the districts where native 
hostility has in recent years produced the acts of alleged 
cruelty have always been centers of disturbance and 

[106] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

attack against the white man. Districts which were 
found occupied by peaceful and friendly tribes have been 
the scenes of few outrages. This seems to me a point 
worthy serious consideration. 

For my own part, I believe that any well-behaved white 
man can to-day traverse Africa in every direction without 
danger as long as his journey confines itself to areas of 
Bantu and true negroes. Livingstone practically had no 
trouble with native tribes; Schweinfurth, entering from 
the Nile, penetrated to the heart of Africa with little 
trouble; Du Chaillu traveled throughout the Ogowe 
valley without difficulty with natives; Junker, fol- 
lowing Schweinfurth's trail, penetrated farther into 
what is now the Congo Free State, passing through 
the territory of many warlike and cannibal tribes, but 
never armed his men and never had a difficulty with any 
native chief. It is true, however, that the tribes of the 
Congo differ vastly from each other in disposition. Some 
are warlike, some are peaceful to cowardice; some are 
genial, friendly, open; others are surly, hostile, reserved, 
treacherous. While I have always felt that Stanley looked 
for trouble and that he left a trail of blood unnecessarily 
behind him, I recognize that the Bangala and many of 
their neighbors are less agreeable, less kindly, more dis- 
posed for trouble than many of the other tribes in the Free 
State. It is precisely with these tribes that the chief diffi- 
culties of the state have been. 

Another curious point is shown on Morel's map. 
From what has been said by critics of the state we would 
be justified in expecting to find those districts where the 
white man's influence had penetrated most fully, and 

[107] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

where he himself existed in greatest number, the worst in 
the matter of atrocity. But it is precisely in these districts 
that Morel's map shows no marks of reported atrocities. 
It is plain, then, that the officials of the Congo Free 
State are not, as a body, men delighting in cruelty and 
outrage. Where there are numbers of them, instead of 
conditions being at their worst they are at their hap- 
piest. It is only where there are lonely men surrounded 
by depressing influences and in the midst of hostile 
and surly tribes that these dreadful things are found. 
It is natural to expect that with fuller penetration of the 
white men into these districts conditions will change 
hopefully. 

But why should we pick out the Congo Free State for 
our assault? Atrocities occur wherever the white man, 
with his thirst for gold, comes into contact with "a lower 
people." He is ever there to exploit; he believes that 
they were created for exploitation. If we want to find 
cruelty, atrocities, all kinds of frightful maltreatment, we 
may find them in almost every part of negro Africa. They 
exist in the French Congo, in German Africa, in Nigeria, 
even in Uganda. If we insist on finding them, we may 
find cruelty, dispossession, destruction of life and property, 
in all these areas. The only ruthless act involving the 
death of a black native that we really saw was in French 
territory. If there were any object in doing so, we could 
write a harrowing story of British iniquity in Africa, but 
it is unnecessary; every one who stops to think and who 
reads at all knows the fact. 

Wherever British trade finds native custom standing 
in its way, we shall find cruelty. Why was King Ja Ja 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONG 

deported ? I have heard an interesting incident connected 
with his case. One who for many years has voyaged up 
and down the western coast of Africa tells me that while 
Ja Ja was still at his height of power the natives of his 
district, paddling near the shores in their canoes, were 
always happy and joyous. Ja Ja stood in the way of the 
British traders gaining so much money as they wanted, 
and so he was exiled and taken a prisoner to distant lands. 
From the day of his departure the happiness of life was 
gone from all the country. Few natives put out in their 
canoes, and those who did were silent; the song and 
laughter of former days were hushed. Until the day when 
he was brought home, a corpse, for burial, somberness 
and sadness settled down upon his people, before so gay 
and light hearted. What was it caused the trouble at 
Benin but British greed insisting on opening up a ter- 
ritory which its natives desired to keep closed? The 
Benin massacre that followed was dreadful, but it did not 
begin to compare in frightful bloodshed with the punitive 
expedition which followed a feat scarce worthy of 
British arms. What was the cause of hut-tax wars ? What 
is the matter now in Natal? Do we know all that 
goes on in Nigeria? Wherein is excellence in the ex- 
propriation of lands and products in Uganda for the 
benefit of concession companies of the same kind exactly 
as those in Congo? Why is it worse to cut off the 
hands of dead men for purposes of tally than to cut 
off the heads of dead chiefs for purposes of identifica- 
tion ? But let it pass we are not undertaking an assault 
on Britain. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

XIV. 

February 2, 1907. 

RETURNED from the Congo country and a year 
and more of contact with the dark natives, I find 
a curious and most disagreeable sensation has 
possession of me. I had often read and heard that other 
peoples regularly find the faces of white men terrifying 
and cruel. The Chinese, the Japanese, other peoples of 
Asia, all tell the same story. 

The white man's face is fierce and terrible. His 
great and prominent nose suggests the tearing beak of 
some bird of prey. His fierce face causes babes to cry, 
children to run in terror, grown folk to tremble. I had 
always been inclined to think that this feeling was indi- 
vidual and trifling; that it was solely due to strangeness 
and lack of contact. To-day I know better. Contrasted 
with the other faces of the world, the face of the fair white 
is terrible, fierce, and cruel. No doubt our intensity of 
purpose, our firmness and dislike of interference, our 
manner in walk and action, and in speech, all add to the 
effect. However that may be, both in Europe and our 
own land, after my visit to the blacks, I see the cruelty 
and fierceness of the white man's face as I never would 
have believed was possible. For the first time, I can appre- 
ciate fully the feeling of the natives. The white man's 
dreadful face is a prediction; where the fair white goes 
he devastates, destroys, depopulates. Witness America, 
Australia, and Van Diemen's Land. 

Morel 's "Red Rubber" contains an introductory chapter 
by Sir Harry Johnston. In it the ex-ruler of British Cen- 
tral Africa says the following: "A few words as to the 

[no] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

logic of my own position as a critic of King Leopold's 
rule on the Congo. I have been reminded, in some of 
the publications issued by the Congo government; that 
I have instituted a hut tax in regions intrusted to my 
administration; that I have created crown lands which 
have become the property of the government; that as an 
agent of the government I have sold and leased portions 
of African soil to European traders; that I have favored, 
or at any rate have not condemned, the assumption by 
an African state of control over natural sources of wealth; 
that I have advocated measures which have installed 
Europeans as the master for the time being over the 
uncivilized negro or the semicivilized Somali, Arab, or 
Berber." 

It is true that Sir Harry Johnston has done all these 
things. They are things which, done by Belgium, are 
heinous in English eyes. He proceeds to justify them 
by their motive and their end. He aims to show a notable 
difference between these things as Belgian and as Eng- 
lish. He seems to feel that the fact of a portion of the 
product of these acts being used to benefit the native is 
an ample excuse. But so long as (a) the judge of the 
value of the return made to the sufferer is the usurper, 
and not the recipient, there is no difference between a 
well-meaning overlord and a bloody-minded tyrant; and 
(b) as long as the taxed is not consulted and his permission 
is not gained for taxation, there is only injustice in its 
infliction, no matter for what end. Sir Harry uses the 
word "logic." A logical argument leaves him and Leo- 
pold in precisely the same position with reference to the 
native. 

[in] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Sir Harry closes his introduction with a strange and 
interesting statement. He says: 

"The danger in this state of affairs lies in the ferment 
of hatred which is being created against the white race 
in general, by the agents of the king of Belgium, in the 
minds of the Congo negroes. The negro has a remark- 
ably keen sense of justice. He recognizes in British Cen- 
tral Africa, in East Africa, in Nigeria, in South Africa, in 
Togoland, Dahomey, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and 
Senegambia that, on the whole, though the white men 
ruling in those regions have made some mistakes and com- 
mitted some crimes, have been guilty of some injustice, yet 
that the state of affairs they have brought into existence 
as regards the black man is one infinitely superior to that 
which preceded the arrival of the white man as a tempo- 
rary ruler. Therefore, though there may be a rising here 
or a partial tumult there, the mass of the people increase 
and multiply with content and acquiesce in our tutelary 
position. 

" Were it otherwise, any attempt at combination on 
their part would soon overwhelm us and extinguish our 
rule. Why, in the majority of cases, the soldiers with 
whom we keep them in subjection are of their own race. 
But unless some stop can be put to the misgovernment of 
the Congo region, I venture to warn those who are inter- 
ested in African politics that a movement is already begun 
and is spreading fast which will unite the negroes against 
the white race, a movement which will prematurely stamp 
out the beginnings of the new civilization we are trying 
to implant, and against which movement, except so far 
as the actual coast line is concerned, the resources of men 

[112] 




COPYRIGHTED 1907, UNDERWOOD AND UNDERWOOD, NEW YORK 



CONSTRUCTING NEW HOUSES AT BASOKO 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

and money which Europe can put into the field will be 
powerless." 

This is curious and interesting. But it is scarcely 
logical or candid. Allow me to quote beside Sir Harry's 
observations the following, taken from the papers of 
March 4, 1906: 

" Sir Arthur Lawley, who has just been appointed 
governor of Madras, after devoting many years to the 
administration of the Transvaal, gave frank utterance 
the other day, before his departure from South Africa for 
India, to his conviction that ere long a great rising of the 
blacks against the whites will take place, extending all 
over the British colonies from -the Cape to the Zambesi. 
Sir Arthur, who is recognized as an authority on all prob- 
lems connected with the subject of native races, besides 
being a singularly level-headed man, spoke with profound 
earnestness when he explained in the course of the fare- 
well address : 'See to this question. For it is the greatest 
problem you have to face.' And the solemn character 
of his valedictory warning was rendered additionally 
impressive in the knowledge that it was based upon 
information beyond all question." 

It is certain that the affairs in the Congo Free State 
have produced neither restlessness nor concerted action 
in British Africa. Why is it that on both sides of South- 
ern Africa there have been recent outbreaks of turbulence ? 
The natives, indeed, seem ungrateful for the benefits of 
English rule. Sir Arthur Lawley looks for a rising over 
the whole of British Africa, from the Cape to the Zambesi. 
In what way can the misgovernment of the Congo by its 
ruler have produced a condition so threatening? Both 

["31 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

these gentlemen have reason, perhaps, for their fears of 
an outbreak, but as I have said, there is neither logic nor 
candor in attributing the present agitation in Southern 
Africa to King Leopold. 

What really is the motive underlying the assault upon 
the Congo? What has maintained an agitation and a 
propaganda with apparently such disinterested aims? 
Personally, although I began my consideration of the 
question with a different belief, I consider it entirely 
political and selfish. Sir Harry Johnston naively says: 
"When I first visited the western regions of the Congo 
it was in the days of imperialism, when most young Brit- 
ishers abroad could conceive of no better fate for an 
undeveloped country than to come under the British 
flag. The outcome of Stanley's work seemed to me clear; 
it should be eventually the Britannicising of much of the 
Congo basin, perhaps in friendly agreement and parti- 
tion of interests with France and Portugal." 

Unquestionably this notion of the proper solution of 
the question took possession of many minds in Great 
Britain at the same time. And England was never satis- 
fied with the foundation of the Congo Free State as an 
independent nation. 

A little further on, Sir Harry states that the British 
missionaries of that time were against such solution; they 
did not wish the taking over of the district by Great Brit- 
ain. And why? "They anticipated troubles and blood- 
shed arising from any attempt on the part of Great Britain 
to subdue the vast and unknown regions of the Congo, 
even then clearly threatened by Arabs." In other words, 
Britons at home would have been glad to have absorbed 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

the Congo; Britons on the ground feared the trouble and 
bloodshed necessary. But now that the Belgians have 
borne the trouble and the bloodshed and paid the bills, 
Britain does not despise the plum. Indeed, Britain's 
ambitions in Africa are magnificent. Why should she 
not absorb the entire continent? She has Egypt tem- 
porarily and shows no sign of relinquishing it; she has 
the Transvaal and the Orange Free State; how she picked 
a quarrel and how she seized them we all know. Now 
she could conveniently annex the Congo. 

The missionaries in the Congo Free State are no doubt 
honest hi saying, what they say on every possible occa- 
sion, that they do not wish England to take over the 
country; that they would prefer to have it stay in Belgian 
hands; that, however, they would have the Belgian gov- 
ernment itself responsible instead of a single person. I 
believe them honest when they say this, but I think them 
self-deceived; I feel convinced that if the question was 
placed directly to them, "Shall England or Belgium 
govern the Congo?" and they knew that their answer 
would be decisive, their vote would be exceedingly one- 
sided and produce a change of masters. But the mis- 
sionaries are not the British government; they do not 
shape the policies of the empire; their agitation may be 
useful to the scheming politician and may bring about 
results which they themselves had not intended. It is 
always the scheme of rulers and of parties to take advan- 
tage of the generous outbursts of sympathy and feeling 
of the masses for their selfish ends. 

The missionaries and many of the prominent agita- 
tors in the propaganda against the Free State have said 

["5] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

they would be satisfied if Belgium takes over the govern- 
ment. This statement never has seemed to me honest 
or candid. The agitators will not be suited if Belgium 
takes the Congo; I have said this all the time, and the 
incidents of the last few days have demonstrated the just- 
ness of my opinion. Already hostility to Belgian owner- 
ship is evident. It will increase. When the king really 
turns the Congo Free State government into Belgium's 
hands the agitation will continue, complaints still will be 
made, and conditions will be much as formerly. 

Great Britain never has been the friend of the Congo 
Free State; its birth thwarted her plans; its continuance 
threatens her commerce and interferes with expansion 
and with the carrying out of grand enterprises. In the 
earlier edition of his little book entitled "The Coloni- 
zation of Africa," Sir Harry Johnston spoke m high 
terms of the Congo Free State and the work which it was 
doing. In the later editions of the same book he retracts 
his words of praise; he quotes the atrocities and malad- 
ministration of the country. My quotation is not verbal, 
as for the moment I have not the book at hand, but he 
ends by saying something of this sort: "Belgium should 
rule the Congo Free State; it may safely be allowed to 
govern the greater portion of that territory." 

"The greater portion of the territory" and what por- 
tion is it that Belgium perhaps cannot well govern? Of 
course, that district through which the Cape- to- Cairo Rail- 
road would find its most convenient roadbed. If Great 
Britain can get that, we shall hear no more of Congo 
atrocities. There are two ways possible in which this 
district may be gained. If England can enlist our sym- 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

pathy, our aid, our influence, she may bid defiance to 
Germany and France and seize from Leopold or from 
little Belgium so much of the Congo Free State as she 
considers necessary for her purpose, leaving the rest to 
the king or to his country. 

If we are not to be inveigled into such assistance, she 
may, in time and by good diplomacy, come to an under- 
standing with France and Germany for the partition of 
the Free State. Of course, in such event France would 
take that section which adjoins her territory, Germany 
would take the whole Kasai, which was first explored and 
visited by German travelers, and England would take 
the eastern portion, touching on Uganda and furnishing 
the best site for her desired railroad. 

The same steamer which took me to the Congo carried 
a newly appointed British vice-consul to that country- 
On one occasion he detailed to a missionary friend his 
instructions as laid down in his commission. I was 
seated close by those in conversation, and no attempt 
was made on my part to overhear or on their part toward 
secrecy. His statement indicated that the prime object 
of his appointment was to make a careful examination 
of the Aruwimi River, to see whether its valley could be 
utilized for a railroad. The second of the four objects 
of his appointment was to secure as large a volume as 
possible of complaints from British subjects (blacks) 
resident in the Congo Free State. The third was to 
accumulate all possible information regarding atrocities 
upon the natives. These three, out of four, objects 
of his appointment seem to be most interesting and 
suggestive. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

On a later occasion I was in company with this same 
gentleman. A missionary present had expressed anx- 
iety that the report of the commission of inquiry and 
investigation should appear. It will be remembered 
that a considerable time elapsed between the return of 
the commission to Europe and the publishing of its report. 
After the missionary had expressed his anxiety for its 
appearance and to know its contents, the vice-consul 
remarked: "It makes no difference when the report 
appears; it makes no difference if it never appears; the 
British government has decided upon its course of action, 
and it will not be influenced by whatever the commission's 
report may contain." Comment upon this observation 
is superfluous. 

Upon the Atlantic steamer which brought us from 
Antwerp to New York City there was a young Canadian 
returning from three years abroad. He knew that we 
had been in the Congo Free State, and on several occa- 
sions conversed with me about my journey. We had 
never referred to atrocities, nor conditions, nor politics. 
One day, with no particular reason in the preceding con- 
versation for the statement, he said: "Of course, the 
Belgians will lose the Congo. We have got to have 
it. We must build the Cape-to-Cairo road. You know, 
we wanted the Transvaal. We found a way to get 
it; we have it. So we will find some way to get the 
Congo." 

Of course, this was the remark of a very young man. 
But the remarks of young men, wild and foolish though 
they often sound, usually voice the feelings and thoughts 
which older men cherish, but dare not speak. 

[I*] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

XV. 

February 3, 1907. 

OUGHT we to interfere ? In this whole discussion 
I have looked at the question solely from the 
humanitarian standpoint. I assume that Secretary 
Root's first presentation of the matter was carefully pre- 
pared. He insisted that we had no grounds for interfer- 
ence, insofar as the Berlin conference was concerned. It is 
only, then, from the point of view of interest in the natives, 
the desire to save them from suffering and from atrocity, 
that we can join with England in calling a new confer- 
ence of the world's powers to consider Congo matters. 
Ought we to pursue such a course? We ought not, and 
that for several reasons. 

First We should not interfere in Congo matters from 
philanthropic reasons, unless we are ready to undertake 
the policing of the whole of Africa. If the atrocities in 
the Congo are sufficient to involve us in difficulty with 
Belgium or with Belgium's king, the atrocities and cruelty 
practiced in the French Congo, throughout German 
Africa, in the Portuguese possessions, and even in the 
English colonies, must also attract our notice. If we really 
intervene to save the African black man from white 
oppression, we must do this job thoroughly and on a large 
scale. 

Second We should not interfere with the conditions 
in Congo unless we desire strained relations with France 
and Germany. No possible agitation will bring about a 
second meeting of all the powers that participated in the 
Berlin conference. Turkey alone, so far, has signified her 
willingness to act with England. The only other nation 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

in which there seems to be the slightest trend toward par- 
ticipation is Italy. No Scandinavian country Sweden, 
Norway, Denmark will join in the movement. The 
many Scandinavians who, in one capacity or another, 
have labored in the Congo Free State are, on the whole, 
well satisfied with the conditions. Though there is a 
vigorous and aggressive Swedish mission in the country, 
it is significant that its members have never joined in the 
agitation. Nor is Holland, which has sent a large number 
of individuals into the Congo State as employe's of gov- 
ernment and concession companies, likely to favor an 
agitation. Austria, for various reasons, stands aloof. 
France has a definite understanding whereby in case of 
the dissolution of the Congo Free State she becomes heir 
to all the district. Germany, responsible for the founda- 
tion of the Congo Free State, has, on the whole, always 
favored its existence, and would certainly oppose inter- 
ference in its affairs. In case of the partition of the 
Congo, Germany would be willing enough to take her 
share, but it is really more to her interest both at home 
and abroad to maintain its independence. All these 
European countries speak quite freely in regard to Eng- 
land 's design. France and Germany would seriously op- 
pose any demonstration by England and the United States. 
Third We, ought not to interfere unless we are really 
willing to play the undignified part of pulling England's 
chestnuts from the fire. What would we, nationally, 
gain by the partition of the Congo? Our repeated 
declarations about not wishing new territory in distant 
regions are, of course, looked upon as twaddle by other 
nations. If we really mean them, we must avoid the very 

[120] 



appearance of evil. What will the natives gain by par- 
tition? They will still have their oppressors, only they 
will be divided around among three instead of being 
exploited by one. Suppose the redistribution did take 
place. Suppose France, Germany, and England divided 
the Congo between them; suppose as would be certain 
that oppression and atrocity continued in the divided 
territory. Would we still continue our noble effort in 
behalf of the suffering black millions? 

Fourth We should not interfere, unless we wish to 
present a glaring example of national inconsistency. Dis- 
tance lends enchantment to the view. We are solicitous 
about the Bantu in their home under the rule of Leopold 
II.; we have 12,000,000 or more of them within our own 
United States. The Bantu in the Congo we love. We 
suffer when he is whipped, shudder when he is put upon 
a chain-gang, shriek when he is murdered. Yet, here he 
may be whipped, put on the chain-gang, murdered, and 
if any raise an outcry he is a sentimentalist. Our negro 
problem is a serious and difficult one. We do not know 
how to treat it. But it is at our door, and we can study it 
and strike out some mode of treatment. But the years 
pass, and we do nothing. So complicated is it and so 
united together and interdependent its issues and its ele- 
ments, that any course of action is dangerous, because we 
frequently cannot foresee the outcome of well-meant 
effort. With this example constantly before us, one 
would suppose that we would hesitate in meddling with 
the equally complicated problem, regarding conditions 
of which we know little or nothing, on the other side of 
the globe. 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Fifth We ought not to interfere, unless we come with 
clean hands. We have an even closer parallel to Congo 
conditions than our negro problem in the South. In the 
Philippines we found a people to be elevated ; an inscru- 
table Providence so we say thrust the Philippine 
Islands, with their millions, upon us. A few years ago 
we heard much of benevolent assimilation. Benevo- 
lent assimilation is the most dreadful of all forms of can- 
nibalism. Our Congo reformers emphasize the fact that 
the Congo State was founded with many philanthropic 
assertions and with high-sounding promises of improv- 
ing and elevating the native population. The parallel 
is close. We took the Philippines and Filipinos for their 
good. So we said. Of course, we took them just as 
the European nations have taken Africa for exploita- 
tion. Had there been no hope of mines, of timber, of 
cheap land for speculation, of railroads to be built, and 
other enterprises to be undertaken and financed, we 
should never have had such a tender interest in the 
advancement of the Filipinos. And how has our benevo- 
lent assimilation proceeded? Just exactly as it always 
proceeds everywhere in tropic lands with "lower peoples." 
Torture, punitive expeditions, betrayal of confidence 
and friendship, depopulation these have been the agen- 
cies through which we have attempted to elevate a race. 

You will tell me that what I am about to quote is 
ancient history and has lost its force. It is no more 
ancient than the bulk of the atrocities and cruelties 
within the Congo. We quote a newspaper of April 12, 
1902: 

"From the Philippines authentic news is now at hand 
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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

tending to confirm the charges of barbarity on the part of 
American army officers, which have hitherto been strenu- 
ously and sweepingly denied. This news comes in Associ- 
ated Press dispatches reporting the court-martial trial of 
Major Waller, now in progress at Manila. This officer led 
an expedition last winter into the interior of the island of 
Samar. After being given up for dead, he and his party 
returned to camp January 28th, delirious from privation. 
Major Waller was next heard of in this connection in a dis- 
patch of March 6th from Manila. He had been subjected 
to court-martial proceedings, on charges of having, while 
on this ill-fated expedition, executed natives of the island 
of Samar without trial. One of the specifications alleged 
that in one instance the accused had caused a native to 
be tied to a tree, and on one day to be shot in the thigh, on 
the next in the arm, on the third in the body, and on the 
fourth to be killed. Friends of Major Waller attributed 
his horrible action to delirium caused by privation; but 
Major Waller himself refused to make this defense, insist- 
ing that he had acted under superior authority." 

This sounds like an indictment of the Belgians in 
the Congo put forth by the Congo Reform Associa- 
tion. It is revolting; it is horrible; it probably is true. 
Personally, I believe that Major Waller must have suf- 
fered from the physical, the mental, the moral disintegra- 
tion which the tropics so constantly produce in white men. 
It is unlikely that he was by nature a man of exceptional 
cruelty. He became what he was either permanently or 
for a time through the environment in which he lived. 
He had excuse; so have the Belgians. There is another 
respect in which this quotation sounds Congo-like. Major 

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

Waller insisted that he had "acted under superior 
authority. ' ' 

This phrase, he "acted under superior authority," 
is constantly harped upon by Morel and others of the 
Congo agitators. Much is made of it, and we are con- 
stantly asked to trace home the order which issued from 
superior authority From whom came Major Waller's 
orders? In his trial, February 8th, 1902, he disclosed 
the startling nature of General Smith's orders, as he had 
understood them. He swore that General Smith had 
said: "I wish you to kill and burn. The more you 
kill, the more you will please me. The interior of Samar 
must be made a howling wilderness. Kill every native 
over ten years old." 

When serious complaints of maladministration are 
brought before the Belgian authorities of the Congo, inves- 
tigation and trial are usually ordered. The Congo agita- 
tors lay great stress upon the fact that in the Congo these 
trials are farces; that the accused is rarely sentenced to pun- 
ishment; that sometimes after his acquittal he is lionized, 
made a hero of, advanced in office. This is an unpardon- 
able crime when committed by the Belgians. Lothaire 
and really Lothaire was as bad as any was thus treated. 
One would imagine from the chorus of complaint along this 
line that every English or American officer accused of 
cruelty, misgovernment or maladministration was promptly 
and severely punished. 

Major Waller received the verdict that he had acted "in 
accordance with the rules of war, the orders of his superior, 
and the military exigencies of the situation." This, again, 
can hardly be improved upon in all the cases put forward 

[124] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

joyously by the reformers. When complaint is made it is 
never treated honestly. There is always whitewashing. 
Why howl over Belgian failure to punish ? Waller's ver- 
dict shows that we do precisely the same thing in the same 
circumstances. But look at what was done with General 
Smith, the man who ordered that down to ten years of age 
the natives should be killed. He, too, was ordered to 
undergo court-martial. From a newspaper of May 3d, 
1902, we quote: "At the opening, Colonel Woodruff 
announced his willingness to simplify the proceedings by 
admitting that most of the accusations were true. He said 
he was willing, hi behalf of General Smith, to admit that 
inasmuch as the country was hostile, General Smith 
did not want any prisoners, and that he had issued 
orders to Major Waller to kill all persons capable of bear- 
ing arms, fixing the age limit at ten years, because many 
boys of that age had borne arms against the American 
troops, and that he had ordered Major Waller also to burn 
the homes of the people and to make Samar a howling 
wilderness." 

What was done with General Smith ? His court-martial 
began on April 25. Its result was, of course, a whitewash; 
it always is, whether the person tried is American, French, 
German, or Belgian. It is curious, however, to observe 
how others were affected by this case. There was one 
man who knew better than any other all the facts relating 
to the Philippines. His utterance, which we shall quote, 
was expressed, indeed, before this trial, but it was expressed 
with full knowledge of similar facts. That man, on 
March 5th, made the assertion: "It is not the fact that 
the warfare in the Philippines has been conducted with 

["Si 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

marked severity; on the contrary, the warfare has been 
conducted with marked humanity and magnanimity on 
the part of the United States army." What a pity that we 
are less ready to talk of marked humanity and magna- 
nimity of others! Can Waller's crime be 'surpassed by 
anything from Congo; can any order be more cruel than 
General Smith's? 

I have said that this would be called ancient history. At 
Leopoldville I asked about atrocities ; the response was that 
at present there was nothing serious to complain of in that 
region beyond the kwanga tax; when I reached Ikoko, 
where undoubtedly many cruel things have taken place, 
they told me that at present such things did not occur there, 
that to find them I must go to the A. B. I. R. ; that the fish 
tax was too heavy, but that of cruelties, atrocities and muti- 
lations there had been none for years. At Bolobo I heard 
precisely the same story the most frightful things had 
taken place at Lake Leopold II. that recently nothing 
serious had happened at Bolobo itself. I presume that 
there are outrages and cruelties of recent date in the A. B. 
I. R. and the Antwerp Concession. But here, again, the 
parallel between the Congo and the Philippines is close. 
While the Waller and Smith incident is ancient, there is 
plenty doing at the present time. We quote a paper 
August 18, 1906: "The Pulajanes wild tribesmen of the 
Philippine island of Leyte continue their fighting. Five 
Americans, including a lieutenant and a surgeon,were killed 
in a hand-to-hand encounter in the town of Burauen on the 
9th. It was reported on the i4th that Governor- General 
Ide has determined to exterminate the Pulajanes, even if it 
should take every American soldier on the islands to do it. ' ' 



This sounds like depopulation. And why is depopula- 
tion worse in Africa than in the Philippines ? Why should 
a President who views the latter with complancency and 
I may say with commendation feel so keenly with refer- 
ence to the former? A special message of commendation 
was promptly sent to an American leader for his killing of 
hundreds of men, women, and children; depopulation on a 
large scale and of the same kind as he reprobates when done 
by Leopold's soldiers. Our friends of the Congo Reform 
Association are strangely silent in regard to such letters of 
commendation; they are much grieved because Lothaire 
was lionized, but they hurrah over the accumulating hon- 
ors of a Funston. 

When our hands are clean and when we have given the 
Filipinos their well-deserved independence and free govern- 
ment, and left them to work out their own salvation, then 
and not till then, should we intervene in the Congo Free 
State for reasons of humanity. I say when we have left 
the Filipinos to work out their own salvation; we have 
strange ideas regarding the kindnesses we do to other 
peoples. Thus Cuba is supposed to be under an eternal 
debt of obligation to us for the government which we set up 
in that unhappy land. We devised a model government, 
according to our own ideas; to be sure, it is a government so 
expensive to keep up that few, if any, portions of the 
United States with the population of Cuba could pos- 
sibly support it. We put in sanitary improvements, nom 
inally for the benefit of Cubans, but actually with a shrewd 
afterthought for ourselves, which we demanded should be 
maintained at any price. Of course, it is impossible for a 
country with the population and resources of Cuba to main- 

[127] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

tain them. This will give us repeated opportunities for 
interference in the affairs of the island, interference which 
ultimately may weary the people into assent to uniting with 
us. They will lose both independence and happiness, and 
we will gain an added problem; and the only persons 
profited will be those who are, and will be, exploiting the 
island for their selfish ends. 

So, in the Philippines, we will develop a government 
which, theoretically, may seem perfect. The difficulty is 
that it must be much less suitable for Filipinos than a less 
perfect government, planned and carried out along lines of 
their own ideas. Lately a Filipino in this country has said 
something which has the ring of truth. " We have money 
enough to maintain a better and less expensive government 
than that costly one which is trying to make the people 
what the government wants them to be, and not to make 
itself what the people want and expect, dictating laws one 
day which next day are canceled and changed in a thousand 
places and in a thousand ways, so that justice is con- 
verted into a mere babel. Believe me, dear sir, that even 
our ephemeral government at Malolos showed no such in- 
capacity. This is due to the fact that he who governs the 
house does not belong to the house, and everybody knows 
the old Spanish proverb, 'The fool is wiser in his own 
house than the wise man in his neighbor's.' ' 

If it is necessary for us as a nation to look for African 
adventure; if to give a strenuous President the feeling that 
he is "doing something" we must meddle in the affairs of 
the Dark Continent, there is a district where we might inter- 
vene with more of reason, and consistency, and grace than 
we are doing by going to the Congo. We once established 

[128] 



THE TRUTH ABOUT THE CONGO 

on African soil, whether wisely or not I do not intend to 
discuss, a free republic for the blacks. In Liberia we have 
an American enterprise, pure and simple. It has not been 
a great success. It is just possible though I doubt it 
that Liberia would at several times have profited and been 
advantaged by our instruction and interest. But it seems 
to possess little interest for us. Just now, like the Congo, 
it is attracting British attention. Whether it has large or 
little value, whether it possesses great opportunities or not, 
it is now a center of interest to Great Britain. She does not 
need our help in pulling chestnuts from the fire there, and 
there has been strange silence and ignorance in this coun- 
try regarding it as a new sphere for English influence. If 
we assist England in expanding her African possessions at 
the expense of the Congo Free State, Liberia will be the 
next fraction of Africa to succumb to English rule. Eng- 
land's methods of procedure are various. It might be a 
useful lesson for our statesmen and politicians to study 
Liberia's prospects with care. We are still young in the 
business of grabbing other people's lands. England could 
teach us many lessons. The latest one may well be worthy 
our attention, since, in a certain sense, it deals with a dis- 
trict where we naturally possess an interest. 



[129] 



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