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Title: Life on the Congo
Author: Bentley, W. Holman
Language: English
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_From an Original Sketch._]


  _Of the Baptist Mission_

  With an Introduction
  _Explorer of the Upper Congo_



   CHAP.                                                            PAGE
         INTRODUCTION                                                  7

     I.  THE DISCOVERY OF THE CONGO                                   13

    II.  THE PHYSICAL FEATURES OF THE CONGO                           20

   III.  VEGETATION, CLIMATE, AND PEOPLE                              28

    IV.  HOME LIFE ON THE CONGO                                       49

     V.  THE RELIGIOUS IDEAS OF THE NATIVES                           62

    VI.  CANNIBALISM, FREEMASONRY AND CHARMS                          77

   VII.  MISSIONS IN CENTRAL AFRICA                                   95

  VIII.  MISSIONS ON THE CONGO RIVER                                 109



Although only four years have elapsed since my colleague penned the
accompanying chapters, yet events have followed each other so fast that
another short chapter seems to be needed to bring them up to date.
During this brief interval, our knowledge of the geography of the
country and the distribution of its waterways has been considerably
extended; important political events have transpired on both the
eastern and western boundaries of the Congo Free State; commerce has
seriously undertaken the task of exploiting the resources of the
interior; and missions also have been moving onward, and at the same
time have succeeded in strengthening their old positions.

The length of navigable waterway accessible from Stanley Pool has
already been proved to be more than 5,000 miles; and there are several
important rivers which flow into the Congo, still to be traced to their
ultimate points, besides tributaries of which we know nothing, save
that their volumes promise long navigable channels into the interior.
These unvisited waterways at a very moderate estimate will add another
1,000 or 1,500 miles to that wonderful system of natural canals which
is destined to prove such an important factor in the civilization
of this portion of Central Africa. So important are the facilities
afforded by the Congo water system that, notwithstanding the increased
distance involved, Mr. Stanley has taken advantage of them in making
his attempt to relieve Emin Pasha, who is encamped at Wadelai on the
Upper Nile; and if the proposed railway for connecting the Upper with
the Lower Congo does but become an accomplished fact, these waterways
will be the usual routes for communicating with the Central Soudan,
Lakes Albert, Muata Nzige, and Tanganika, as well as with Nyangwe and
the empire of the Muata Yamvo.

The political event of importance which has transpired on the western
boundary has been the delimitation of the frontier between the
French territory and that of the Congo Free State, extending between
to sea-coast and Manyanga, and also the bringing of the dividing
line between the two from 17° East longitude to the right bank of
the Mobangi. These disputed boundaries were matters with grave
possibilities in their wake till the signing of the treaty settled the
questions involved and removed all uneasiness. On the eastern side the
loss of Stanley Falls Station and its occupation by the Arabs was for
some time the source of great anxiety, but a treaty has been entered
into with the principal Arab chief, and if its stipulations are but
observed (and it will be to the interest of the Arabs to observe them),
the result will by no means be so disastrous as was feared.

The interest which the commercial world is taking in the Congo is
manifested by the operations of three separate enterprises--one
Belgian, one Dutch, and one French. Their energies are directed to the
purchase of ivory, making use of the waterways to reach the far-away
markets, and even the districts where, as yet, ivory has no commercial
value. With this end in view, the Belgian enterprise has already
launched a fine steamer on the Upper Congo, and the other competitors
are preparing to follow their example. The trade at present is only
limited to the supply of carriers for the transport of barter goods.
The cargo brought up country by large caravans is exchanged in a few
hours for the ivory, which even as low down as the Pool, seems to be
always waiting for buyers. Under these circumstances the competition
for carriers is very keen, and neither the State nor commercial
houses, nor the missionaries are able to meet their wants. The need
for a railway is very seriously felt, and already three separate lines
of survey are being run up country with a view of determining the best
possible route. This is an enterprise which has the best sympathies of
everyone, and if realised will speedily produce wonderful changes in
the very heart of Africa,--changes, however, which will not all prove
to be unmitigated blessings, as the facilities which will be afforded
for the introduction of strong drink will undoubtedly result in much

At the present time there are seven missionary organizations at work on
the Congo: these are represented by about seventy-five missionaries,
occupying twenty stations. Three of these organizations are Roman
Catholic, and four are Evangelical. The French Society, _Du Sainte
Esprit_, has two stations on the lower river,--one in the cataract
region, and one on the upper river, about a hundred miles beyond
Stanley Pool. The Portuguese Mission has a station on the lower
river, and one at Salvador. The Algerian Mission, under the direction
of Cardinal Lavigerie, has one station on the upper river. At these
various stations there are some seventeen or twenty missionaries.

Of the fifty-five Evangelical missionaries, five or six belong to the
Swedish Missionary Society, which has one station in the cataract
region, nine belong to Bishop Taylor’s (American Methodist Episcopal)
Mission at Stanley Pool, and the remaining forty or so are about
equally divided between the American and English Baptists--the former
possessing six stations, and the latter five. These two Societies also
possess valuable auxiliaries in the shape of steamers on the upper
river, which furnish ready access to vast populations scattered over
ten degrees both of latitude and longitude.

Bishop Taylor’s Mission also possesses a steamer larger than either
of the others; but as yet it is not at its destination, being on its
way up country past the cataracts, in the shape of plates, frames, and
portions of machinery, which will have to be put together at the Pool.

Besides these seven distinct enterprises, and that of the London
Missionary Society, which has reached from the east coast the far-away
waters of the Upper Congo, at the point where the Lukuga river leaves
Lake Tanganika to flow to the Lualaba, another mission has entered the
field. This mission is represented by Mr. F. S. Arnot, who, after a
series of perilous wanderings, and after enduring many hardships, has
established himself at Kagoma, about 250 miles north-west of the point
where Livingstone died.

The Swedish Society has published a translation of the Gospel according
to John. The American Society has printed the _Peep of Day_ in
Kilolo (the language spoken on the Equator for about six degrees of
longitude), and has one or two Gospels in Kishi-Congo ready for the

A dictionary and a grammar have been published by the Livingstone
Inland Mission (the precursors of the A.B.M.U.), and also Kiteke and
Kiyansi vocabularies. A grammar and dictionary is being published by
the Baptist Missionary Society, and the Religious Tract Society has
published the _Peep of Day_ in Kishi-Congo.

Not only are agencies for good being increased, but gratifying results
are following the efforts that are made. At Mukimbungu, Lukunga, Banza
Manteka, and San Salvador, native Christian churches have already been
formed, and the sincerity of the change of heart which is professed
by the members is attested by the self-denial and consistency of
their lives. At other points besides these the good seed is being
persistently sown, and there are evidences manifesting themselves which
encourage the missionaries to hope that it is taking root, and that the
harvest will ere long follow in these places also.

[Illustration: HENRY M. STANLEY.]


The Discovery of the Congo.

In 1484 Diogo Cam, a Portuguese navigator, first sighted the mouth of
the Congo River. Four centuries have since elapsed, and only now have
we the definite knowledge of the course of that mighty flood. Seven
years after the discovery of the river, an embassy was sent to the
capital of the Congo country, known as San Salvador; Roman Catholic
missionaries followed, who in time penetrated some 250 miles into the
interior. They made, however, San Salvador their head-quarters and
cathedral city, but were finally expelled by the Governor of Angola
some 130 years ago. They appear to have kept away from the river; what
records of their work remain throw no light as to its course. The slave
trade flourished in the mouth of the river, but interiorwards the land
remained unknown.

In 1816 Captain Tuckey was commissioned by the Admiralty to endeavour
to solve the mystery, and was instructed to ascertain whether there
was any connection between the Niger and the Congo. This ill-fated
expedition penetrated to a distance of 150 miles from the coast. And
this was the extent of our knowledge of its lower course until recently.

In 1871 Dr. Livingstone, travelling westward from the Lake Tanganika,
discovered a great river flowing northward, called by the natives
Lualaba. After three and a half months he returned to the Tanganika,
and finally striking south, died at Ilala, on the south of Lake
Bangweolo, the upper waters of the Congo-Lualaba, in April, 1873.

Lieut. Cameron, commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society to
carry fresh supplies and aid to Dr. Livingstone, met his dead body
being conveyed to the coast by his faithful servants. Continuing his
journey with the material he hoped to deliver to the Doctor, he crossed
the Tanganika, and reached Nyangwe, the point where Dr. Livingstone
had first sighted the Lualaba. He would have followed the course of
the mysterious river; but was unable to induce his men to attempt the
solution of the problem, and striking southwards skirted the lower edge
of the Congo Basin, and reached the west coast at Benguela in November,

In 1874 the _Daily Telegraph_ and _New York Herald_ combined to send
Mr. Stanley to Africa, to complete the geographical discoveries of Dr.

In _Les Belges au Congo_, the excellent Christmas number of _Le
Mouvement Géographique_, the official organ of the International
African Association, we have a sketch of the life of the greatest
living explorer. Born at Denbigh, in North Wales, in 1840, John
Rowlands lost his father at two years of age; he was educated at the
parish school of St. Asaph. At the age of sixteen he worked his
passage to New Orleans, where he obtained employment in the house of
a merchant named Stanley. He rose rapidly in favour and esteem, until
the sudden death of his employer destroyed his hopes. Assuming the
name of his benefactor, Henry Moreland Stanley was enrolled in the
Confederate army when the War of Secession broke out in 1861. He was
made prisoner at the battle of Pittsburg, in 1862, but effected his
escape. Constantly exposed to arrest as an escaped prisoner, he engaged
himself as a sailor in the Federal Marine, in which he obtained rapid
promotion, becoming secretary to the Captain of the Ticonderoga, and
later held the same position under the Admiral.

He accompanied his vessel on a European cruise, and obtained his
discharge at the end of the war. He was next correspondent of the
_Missouri Democrat_, and the _New York Tribune_, and later became
travelling correspondent to the _New York Herald_, for which he
accompanied the British forces during the Abyssinian and Ashantee
wars. After those he made a journey through Asia Minor, the Caucasus
and Persia to India, thence by Egypt to Spain, where he received his
commission to find Livingstone.

That successful expedition marked him as the man to carry on further
exploratory work in Africa; and when the news of Dr. Livingstone’s
death reached Europe, fired with the desire to carry on the work of
the great Doctor, he gladly accepted the commission of the _Daily
Telegraph_ and _New York Herald_.

Starting from Zanzibar November 17, 1874, he circumnavigated the Lakes
Victoria Nyanza and Tanganika for the first time, carefully charting.
Thence he struck across to Nyangwe. In spite of the obstacles and
difficulties that had hindered others, his immense determination, his
resources, and knowledge of the Swahili language, enabled him to induce
his men to follow him down the river.

He recalled to their minds the long weary marches, the terrible dank
forests of Urega, how easy it would be to sit in canoes, and paddle
down this great river, which must flow into the sea. They agreed, and
met the first serious impediment to navigation at the Equator, where a
series of seven cataracts in forty miles caused them to transport their
canoes overland round these obstacles.

Clear of these Stanley Falls they had an uninterrupted course for 1,060
miles, the river widening out in some places to as much as twenty-five
miles in breadth, studded with low sandy tree-covered islands. As
he neared the end of this grand reach of waterway, hills appeared,
the river narrowed, and the banks grew steeper until they towered a
thousand feet above him. The river widened out once more into a pool
some seventy miles in circumference, which is now named Stanley Pool,
at the western end of which the explorer heard the thunder of the Ntamu
Cataracts. From this point his difficulties were to be of a different
nature. Along the 1,000 miles of clear waterway which he had just
passed, he had been exposed to the constant attacks of wild, fierce
savages, now he had to struggle with a wilder, fiercer river. The next
one hundred miles occupied four months. Dragging his canoes overland,
past the Ntamu Cataracts, he took once more to the water, only to
find another cataract a few miles lower down. This was his constant
experience, while the porterage past these obstacles often involved
the conveyance of his heavy canoes, stores, etc., 700 and 1,000 feet
up the steep banks of the river, four or five miles overland, and down
again into the deep gorge. Stores were running short, food was scarce,
canoes were lost in the rapids, some of his men were drowned, including
Frank Pocock, his only surviving white companion. Privations, sickness,
and murderous natives had thinned his ranks, but he struggled on.
Clearing the Ntombo Mataka Falls, he found a reach of ninety miles of
very bad, but navigable water, and at the end of which were the great
Isangila Falls. There, learning that he was within a few days’ journey
of factories and white men, he left the river, and his weary company
toiled over the steep quartz hills and reached Mboma in August, 1877,
in an almost starving condition. A year of drought and great scarcity
of food had added much to his difficulties. However, the journey
was accomplished, the Congo River had been traced, the highway into
the heart of Africa had been explored. Taking his people down the
last quiet sixty miles of the river, he arranged for their return to
Zanzibar, via the Cape of Good Hope. Having seen them safe home again,
and rewarded their devotion and toil, he reached England to announce
his great discovery.


The Physical Features of the Congo.

Roughly we may describe the Basin of the Congo as extending from the
5th degree of North, to the 12th degree of South, latitude, and from
the hills skirting the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to 31st or 32nd
degree of East longitude.

Along what is known as the South-West Coast of Africa, from the Gulf
of Biafra southwards, stretches a ridge of hill country. It commences
about fifty to seventy miles inland, and is about 300 miles in width.
In some parts it attains an elevation of 5,000 or more feet, but the
general altitude near the Congo is from 2,000 to 2,500 above the level
of the sea. It is really a belt or elevated plateau; rich soil is to be
found on the summits of the ‘hills,’ but the whole has been torn and
worn by the rains; little streams have in time cut out deep gorges, the
sides of which are being further eroded, until what was once a rolling
table-land appears as a chaos of hills; only from a few heights can
one gain a fair idea of the nature of the country.

This plateau belt forms the western watershed of the Congo River, and
on its seaward slopes gives rise to many unimportant streams, of which
the Cameroons, Gaboon, Ogowai, Kwilu, Chiloango, Mbidiji, (Ambrize),
Loje, and Kwanza are the principal. The Ogowai is the most important,
and has been explored by M. de Brazza for the French Government, which
has now annexed its entire basin. It is navigable for some 150 miles
for vessels of light draught; but beyond its course is much impeded by

This water-torn plateau country, with its little useless rivers, has
presented a formidable obstacle to exploration, and has served to throw
all interior water into the Congo. To the north of the Great Basin
stretches the high lands of the unknown countries which form also
the watershed of the Shari and the Nile. Eastward stretches the hill
country on the west of the Victoria and Albert Nyanza, and on the east
of Tanganika, while to the south is the watershed of the Zambesi.

This great circle of hills probably enclosed at one time an immense
fresh-water lake, of an area of a million and a half square miles,
which at length, overflowing at its weakest point, formed the outlet
which we to-day call the Congo River. The immense flood thus released
tore out the deep gorge, which is now 1,000 and 1,500 feet below the
main level. There are signs in some parts of changes in its course, one
notably in the Bundi valley, thirty-five miles from Vivi, which was at
one time undoubtedly a channel of the Congo; there are other valleys
also presenting that appearance, the levels, entrances, and exits of
which would lead one to conclude that such had been the case.

If a transverse section were taken about the middle of the cataract
region, there would be first an ascent from the river, almost
perpendicular, of from 300 to 500 feet in about one-third of a mile,
then a much steadier rise of some 500 to 700 feet in two miles, and
then a rise of another 500 to 700 feet in eight miles, with a further
steady rise for five miles, so that the actual valley in the cataract
region might be estimated roughly at from twenty to thirty miles in
breadth. The river itself varies from 300 yards to one-and-a-half or
two miles wide at mid-flood; while the difference between the highest
water of the rainy season and the lowest in the dry season, varies from
forty feet in the worst parts to about three feet on the lower river.

To the geologist the country between the coast and Stanley Pool is
best studied along the river. The first low hills approach near to the
mouth of the river, which is about seven miles wide, and devoid of a
delta; the next step in the plateau occurs at five miles west of Mboma,
fifty miles from the coast, where the tops of the ‘hills’ are from 500
to 700 feet in height. There we find a red clay yielding copal above
granitic rocks. The banks grow steeper and the river narrows, until at
Vivi the first serious obstacle is met, the plateau level being about
1,700 feet, and the river about 600 yards wide. Just above this is
the fierce Yelala Cataract; indeed, nowhere can you properly speak of
falls; a drop of fifty feet, which would be a fine scene on an ordinary
river, is almost disregarded by the Congo. The bed of a cataract must
be of very hard rock, and down this inclined plane, the river, nipped
tightly by the hills, rushes with fearful velocity, leaping in mad
waves, foaming and raging at its rocky obstacles. In some of the milder
cataracts it rushes down a swirling mound of water, which projected
into the quieter low level at the foot of the cataract, races on as
a heap of waters for nearly half a mile, before it consents to swirl
about at the lower level. Fierce up currents run along the shore at
such points, which would draw boats or canoes into the swirling
current, while along the edges of these counter-currents are great
whirlpools, giving way to each other, disappearing, and breaking up
into ‘caldrons,’ the whole surface heaving and seething. In a creek
three miles below the Ntombo Cataract we have watched this heaving. The
water would flow outwards from the creek, then meeting the impulse of a
fresh heave, would flow back until it would remain stationary for some
twenty seconds, often two feet higher than what it was a minute ago.
This flows backwards and forwards in the creek, recurring every two
minutes or minute and a half.

[Illustration: A LOAD.]

At Vivi the country is much eroded, granitic rocks, schist, mica,
gneiss, and quartz are exposed. The hill-sides are rock strewn, and
the country is wild and desolate, covered with weak grass and stunted
gnarled trees. In the more level spots rich soil has collected, and the
natives cultivate there their cassava, ground-nuts, etc. This is the
nature of the country for the next fifty miles. Near the river a chaos
of hills, further away rolling plateau, covered with strong grass and
stunted trees. The tops of these _nzanza_, by Mr. Stanley’s careful
survey, vary but fifty feet over stretches of forty miles. Above
Isangila limestone crops up with slaty rocks, the main level near
the river is lower, and traversed by straight ridges of hills running
parallel with the coast, and from five to ten miles apart. Clear of the
limestone, the country is once more a torn plateau, slate and shale
abound, until at 200 miles from the coast occurs a very marked step of
700 feet. Here the country is from 2,300 to 2,500 feet above the sea,
and continues so, the rock being a red or purple sandstone. Several
higher ridges cross the country as you near Stanley Pool, cut abruptly
by the gorge of the river, and continued on beyond. Stanley Pool is a
widening out of the river in a weak point among the hills, which marks
the head of the cataract region, the water level being about 1,000 feet
above the sea. The plateau country continues for a further 150 miles,
when hills disappear, and the main level appears to be about 1,100
feet above the sea. From Irebu, 250 miles above the Pool, to Stanley
Falls, the banks are forest-clad. The country then divides itself into
three regions between the coast and Stanley Falls. The lower river 100
miles, cataract region 200 miles (nearly 300 miles in winding course),
the upper river 1,060 miles. Or coast level fifty miles, plateau level
400 miles, central level 900 miles, of which 800 miles are forest-clad

The cataract region is the obstacle that has kept so long secret this
great highway; but that passed, on the upper river there are 1,100
miles of unimpeded navigation, while the affluents are estimated at
2,000 miles; beyond the Stanley Falls stretch another 2,000 miles of
riverway. Two of the affluents have been explored, and on each was
found a lake, while the natives at the mouths of other affluents speak
of lakes. It is highly probable that further explorations will reveal
other lake regions, all available to the steamers and boats on the
upper river.

Communications interiorwards are certain; but between the coast and
Stanley Pool everything must be transported on men’s heads, until there
shall be a railway. The roads are mere footpaths over the hills from
town to town; while the tall thick grass is so strong that it must be
hoed up and the bushes cleared before any wheeled carriage could be
used. Then again the country is so torn, and streams in their deep
gorges so abundant, that travelling is very largely a series of ascents
and descents.


Vegetation, Climate, and People.

The vegetation is very varied in the rock-strewn sides of the ravines,
in the granitic and quartzose regions it is very bare and weak. But
where the plateau level has been less disturbed, the thick _maxinde_
grass (x = sh) shows the richness of the soil; while the carefully
tended farms near the towns, beautiful with the rich green of the
ground-nut, thickly tangled with sweet-potatoes, or jungled with
cassava bushes, show what can be done with the soil, by clearing and a
little scratching with the hoe.

[Illustration: A CONGO VILLAGE.]

In the broader valleys, where the streams are smaller, or have done
less destruction to the country, grows the giant _diàdia_ grass, the
stems often attaining two and a half inches in circumference and a mean
height of fifteen feet; there may be found some of the richest soil in
the world. Where the _diàdia_ has been exists the wildest luxuriance
of vegetation; palms, plantain, Indian corn, ground-nuts, yams and
all garden produce are at their best, and ever at the mercy of the
elephants, who rejoice in such choice selection. In the Majinga country
the native houses have to be scattered through their rich farms, and
morning and night the people shout, scream, and beat their drums to
frighten off these giant marauders.

It is not a forest country. Strange clumps of trees grow on the tops
of the hills, which mark the ancient plateau level, but the rich
soil beside the streams and in the snug valleys is generally well
wooded. The vegetation presents an altogether tropical appearance,
the bracken in the glades is the only thing home-like. Rich creepers
drape the trees, beautiful palms lend their rare grace, and in their
seasons an endless succession of beautiful flowers, from huge arums to
a tiny crucifer of the richest scarlet, bright creepers, pure white
stephanotis-like blossoms, rich lilies, and many other gorgeous plants,
and bright berries, not in such wild, packed profusion that the eye is
bewildered with a blaze of beauty, but here and there with sufficient
interval to permit the due appreciation of their several lovelinesses.
The beauty of the leaf-forms is alone a pleasure; while the tints from
the darkest green to soft yellow, delicate pink, bronze, chocolate, and
bright crimson are mysteries of colour. On the rocky stream banks and
on the palm stems are graceful ferns, while the _lycopodium_ climbs
the bushes, mingled with the beautiful _selaginella_. The scenery of
the country is described in an unequalled manner by Mr. H. H. Johnston
in his book, _The River Congo_. Himself an accomplished artist, he
describes as only an artist can.

The vegetation suffers from the annual grass fires, which sweep the
country. As soon as the dry season has well set in (June) the burning
commences; in some parts it does not become general until August.
The grass is fired sometimes on a small scale by the children, that
they may hunt their rats, but the great fires occur when the natives
of a district combine for a grand hunt. For days the fire steadily
sweeps along, the game flee before it, hawks wheel above the line of
fire, catching the grasshoppers that seek to avoid the flames, while
smaller birds catch the lesser insects. The internodes of the burning
grass explode with a report like that of a pistol, and can be heard
distinctly a mile distant. Women and children follow on the line to dig
out the rats; and in the holes may be found rats, mice, snakes, and
lizards, seeking common protection from a common danger. At night the
horizon is lit up by the zigzag lines of fire, and in the daytime are
seen the thick columns of smoke slowly advancing, and filling the air
with a dull haze, which limits the horizon to ten or fifteen miles.

The climate of the Congo has been unduly vilified. In common with all
intertropical regions there is a malarial fever, which has claimed many
victims. It generally assumes an intermittent type, commencing with
an ague ‘shake;’ sometimes it is remittent, and combines with grave
symptoms. Although the precise nature of the malarial germ is still
unknown, continued study has enabled medical men to grapple much more
successfully with this great enemy. So long as it was the custom to
treat the fever with bleeding and calomel it was no wonder that Africa
was ‘the white man’s grave;’ that was not so much the fault of Africa
as the white man’s ignorance.

Traders on the coast have generally fair health, and many live to old
age. Ladies in the Mission stations and elsewhere live long on the
coast. Indeed, Dr. Laws, of Livingstonia, has expressed an opinion that
ladies, as a rule, stand the climate better than the men.

In these matters we are far readier to count up the misfortunes than to
note the large proportion of those who live long and do good work in

New missions and scientific expeditions have paid the penalty for
ignorance and the difficulties of pioneering; but where the experience
of others can aid, and due precautions are observed, there is no reason
why the Congo should be considered more unhealthy than India generally.
It is certainly possible to live on the Congo. The writer, who was one
of the first party of the Baptist Missionary Society’s Congo Mission,
and has had five years’ pioneering work, had not a single fever during
the last two and a half years. This is rather exceptional, but speaks
well as to the possibilities. Indeed, there are many reasons why the
climate of India should be considered worse. The Indian temperature
is far higher, dysentery and cholera are annual scourges, and liver
complaints far more common.

The excellent _Observations Météorologiques_ of Dr. A. von Danckelman,
of the International Association (Asher and Co., Berlin), gives most
interesting statistics of the Lower Congo. The highest temperature
registered by him at an elevation of 375 feet was 96·5° Fahr., and
the lowest 53°, the highest mean temperature being 83°. The general
midday temperature in the house in the hot season is 80°-85°; and at
night 75°-80°. On the coast a cool breeze blows in from the sea from
about eleven o’clock in the morning; commencing somewhat later in
proportion to the distance in the interior. This same cool sea-breeze
blows freshly on the upper river, and even when high temperatures can
be taken in the sun the air is cool. Very frequently thick clouds cover
the sky and temper the heat. In this respect the Congo compares very
favourably with India, and with other parts of the African coast. On
the Congo a punkah is quite unnecessary at any time, in a house built
on a reasonable site.

The rainy season commences in the cataract region about September 15,
attaining the maxima in November and April, with a minimum (the ‘little
rains’) about Christmas time, and ceasing about May 15. The rise of the
river commences about August, for the northern rains, culminating about
January 1, when it falls rapidly until April 1. It then rises rapidly
to a second but lower maximum about May 1; it then steadily falls until
August. These dates may vary a fortnight, or even three weeks; that is
to say, they may occur so much earlier, but seldom later.

The rain generally falls at night, often with a violent tornado soon
after sundown. Heavy clouds appear on the horizon, the tornado arch
advances, the wind lulls, and with breathless suspense everything
prepares for the onslaught of the storm. A dull roar is heard. The
hiss of coming rain, fierce gusts of wind, and in a moment the deluge
is upon you. Wild wind, torrents of rain, incessant peals of thunder,
flashes of lightning every few seconds. The whole world seems to be
going to rack and ruin. After an hour or two the fury of the storm is
spent, and heavy rain continues for a while.

Considering the intensity of the electric disturbance, accidents by
lightning are rare. One or two cases only have been noted thus far: the
mission boat on the Cameroons River was struck, and three people on
board killed; a house of the International Association was fired; the
same thing occurred in a native village. Occasionally a tree is struck.

[Illustration: A SCENE ON THE CONGO.]

Game is not by any means abundant. Several species of antelope are
found, the most common being the harnessed antelope (_Tragelaphus
scriptus_). Elephants are numerous in some parts, but are very seldom
hunted. Leopards are found throughout the country. There are two
species of buffaloes on the upper river; west of Stanley Pool they are
less numerous, and more confined in their distribution. The gorilla
is reported three days north of Stanley Pool. The chimpanzee has been
heard of, but not seen. Many monkeys inhabit the woods. The jackal is
not uncommon; but the lion, which was common until fifty years ago,
has disappeared over the district between the Kwangu and the mouth of
the river. Hippopotami are very numerous; three varieties of crocodile
infest the rivers. Fish in great variety are caught by the natives in
traps and nets, and by hooks and spearing. Whitebait fishing affords
occupation to many men in the cataract regions. By day they sit on the
rocks waiting for the gleam of a shoal; and when one appears, in an
instant they have divested themselves of their scanty clothes, and rush
into the strong shallow water with their nets--not unlike a shrimper’s
net--each one a little beyond the other, and often are well rewarded
for their trouble. Their take is then dried in the sun and sold in the

The grey parrots fly home in the evenings in great flocks, whistling
and screaming, the happiest birds there are. There is an endless
variety of bird-life, which as the mating season nears dons brighter
and more striking colouring.

Not very promising was the aspect which the wild people dwelling on
the banks of the Congo River presented to Mr. Stanley during the first
journey through these unknown regions. As he approached a village, the
great war drums and horns thundered through the woods, canoes were
manned, and, apparently without the remotest reason, they proceeded to
attack the white man with his little flock.

Fierce, wild savagery, loathsome cannibalism, cruelty, the densest
darkness and degradation of heathenism--such was the aspect as the two
white men, with some one hundred and fifty followers, endeavoured
quietly and peaceably to paddle in midstream past the villages.

[Illustration: NGOMBE WARRIOR.]

We have talked with these folk about this humiliating phase of humanity.

‘Why did you attack the _mundele_ (white man)?’

‘We did not, but we were going to.’

‘Why? Sit down, and tell us all about it.’

This to a Zombo slave of the Bayansi of Bolobo, who had been sold by
his countrymen for ivory, when scarcely more than a baby. His forehead
scored with the tribal mark of his master, he was in bearing and speech
a thorough Mubangi, but remembered his old language, as there are many
such slaves on the upper river.

‘The news reached us,’ he said, ‘that a white man and his followers
were coming down the river. Every one above us had attacked him for
the honour and glory of having fought one of the mysterious whites we
hear of, and for whose cloth we trade. We could not let the opportunity
pass; had we done so, we should have been behind the rest, and become
the ridicule of the river. When we went to trade, and joined the dance
in friendly towns, the girls would sing how their braves had fought the
white man, while the Bolobo people had hidden in the grass like women.
We manned our canoes, and hid behind the long point above our town;
but a little above us the white man crossed to the other side of the
river. We waited to see what would happen, and soon one of our people
came from the opposite towns, and told us that the white man was buying
food, and giving beads, brass wire, and glorious things. We quickly
filled our canoes with plaintain, cassava pudding, fowls, etc., and
hurried over, and so we did not fight after all.’

That was the beginning of better days for Mr. Stanley. The story as we
heard it at Stanley Pool explains in a measure the persistent savage

Since November, 1882, there has been a station of the International
Association at Bolobo; and the Congo Mission is hoping shortly to
occupy that populous district.

       *       *       *       *       *

The inhabitants of Africa have been divided into six great races.
Their languages form the basis of such division. Mr. R. N. Cust,
the Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society, has recently published
a valuable work on the Languages of Africa, and the coloured map
accompanying it presents the distribution of races very graphically
to the eye. To the north we find the Semitic race. In the Sahara, on
the Nile, in Abyssinia and in Somali land, a Hamitic race, speaking
languages allied to Ethiopic. From Gambia to the mouths of the Niger
the Negro race, of whom the Ashantees are types.

Interspersed among the Negro and Hamitic races are detached peoples,
speaking languages of the Nuba Fullah group, of whom the Masai, among
whom Mr. Thomson has been travelling, to the east of the Victoria
Nyanza, may be taken as types.

To the south of all these is the great Bantu (= men) race. A line drawn
eastward from the Gulf of Biafra to the Indian Ocean will mark roughly
the boundary of this greatest of the African races. Near to the Cape of
Good Hope are found the Hottentot Bushman, a degraded race, who appear
to have been the aborigines, but now driven to the remotest corner, are
still yielding to the stronger Bantus.

It is surmised that some dwarf races, said to be scattered through the
Bantu countries, may be of this aboriginal stock, but no satisfactory
opportunities have yet offered for ascertaining the truth. These dwarfs
are always a little beyond the countries visited by travellers, a few
specimens, said to belong to them, have been seen, but their country is
ever elusive. It is likely that they may prove to be degraded tribes of
the races among whom they dwell, just as the Niam Niams are believed to
be Nuba-Fullahs.

Of the Bantus the Zulu Kaffirs may be the best known types, although
they have borrowed from the Hottentots the clicks that so much
disfigure their language.

With the exception of these hypothetical dwarfs, the inhabitants of the
Congo basin are all Bantus.

As before stated, language is the basis of such classification. With
the other races they have nothing in common. In roots, grammatical
construction and all distinguishing features of language, the Bantu
dialects have a marked individuality, differing almost totally from
the other races, while showing the most marked affinities among
themselves. It would be inappropriate to burden the present paper with
a lengthy dissertation on the peculiarities of the Bantu languages.
The most marked feature is the euphonic concord, a principle by which
the characteristic prefix of the noun is attached to the pronouns and
adjectives, qualifying it, and to the verb of which it is the subject.
Thus _ma_tadi _mama_ _ma_mpwena _ma_mpembe _me_jitanga beni: these
great white stones are very heavy. Quoting J. R. Wilson, Mr. Cust
remarks that ‘The Bantu languages are soft, pliant, and flexible, to an
almost unlimited extent. Their grammatical principles are founded on
the most systematic and philosophical basis, and the number of words
may be multiplied to an almost indefinite extent. They are capable of
expressing all the nicer shades of thought and feeling, and perhaps
no other languages of the world are capable of more definiteness and
precision of expression. Livingstone justly remarks that a complaint of
the poverty of the language is often only a sure proof of the scanty
attainments of the complainant. As a fact the Bantu languages are
exceedingly rich.’ My own researches fully confirm these remarks. The
question is very naturally raised, Whence do these savages possess so
fine a language? Is it an evolution now in process from something ruder
and more savage or from something inarticulate? The marked similarity
of the dialects points to a common origin; their richness, superiority,
and the regularity of the individual character maintained over so large
an area, give a high idea of the original language which was spoken
before they separated.

Heathenism is degrading, and under its influence everything is going
backwards. We are led by the evidence of the language to look for
a better, nobler origin of the race, rather than to consider it an
evolution from something infinitely lower. The Bantu languages are as
far removed from others of the continent as English is from Turkish or
Chinese. Some earlier writers have endeavoured to trace similarities,
but later research has proved that they do not exist. The origin of
the race must ever remain a mystery. What, when, and where, cannot be
ascertained, for no memorials exist in books or monuments. The Bantu
race and languages cannot be an evolution from something inferior;
they are a degradation from something superior. Coastwards there
are traditions of change and movement on the part of the people; in
the east and on the south marauding tribes and slave-hunters have
devastated large tracts of country, but there is no sign of general
movement on the part of the Bantus.

The traditions of countries along the coast where white men have long
settled speak of much greater, more powerful kingdoms in the past; and
after due allowance has been made for exaggeration, it is too evident
that the kings of Congo, Kabinda, Loango, and Angola, exerted at one
time far more influence than they do to-day. Indeed, the King of Congo
is the only chief who maintains his style and title; the others have
become extinct during this century. We find then the whole country in a
state of disintegration; every town a separate state, and its chief, to
all practical purposes, independent.

Makoko, the Teke chief with whom De Brazza made his famous treaty,
is said to have levied taxes on the north bank people near his town.
The King of Congo used to receive a tribute from the remnants of the
old Congo empire; but to-day he has to content himself with levying
a mild blackmail on passing caravans, and receives a present, when
he gives the ‘hat’ and the insignia of office to those who succeed
to chieftainships over which in olden times the kings exercised
suzerainty. Few, indeed, of those acknowledge him to-day even to that

These independent townships group themselves into tribes and tribelets;
it is, however, a matter of great difficulty to learn the tribal names,
which are best obtained from neighbours. The old Congo empire formerly
included the countries on the south bank from the coast to Stanley
Pool, and southward to the Bunda-speaking people of Ngola (Angola),
while homage was rendered by the kings of Loango and Kabinda. To-day
the influence of the king is merely nominal outside his town. He is
respected, however, in a radius of thirty or forty miles, but seldom if
ever interferes in any matters.

San Salvador is situated on a plateau 1,700 feet above the sea, about
two-and-a-half miles long by one mile wide. Broad valleys 300 feet deep
surround it, and in the south flows the little river Lueji, a tributary
of the Lunda-Mpozo.

There are abundant traces of its former importance. The ruins of a
stone wall, two feet thick and fifteen feet high, encircle the town.
The ruins of the cathedral are very interesting, and show it to have
been a very fine building. The material is an ironstone conglomerate,
while the lime was burnt from rock in the neighbourhood.

Amid the strong rich grass that covers the plateau exist ruins of some
twenty-six buildings, which are said to have been churches, while
straight lines of _mingomena_ bushes mark the sites of suburban villas
and hamlets. The story runs that the old kings kept up the population
of the Mbanza (chief town) by raids into the country. The natives of a
town forty miles away would wake up in the morning to find themselves
surrounded. As they came out of their houses they would be killed,
until there was no further show of resistance; then those who remained
would be deported to the capital and be compelled to build there, while
many would be sold to the slave-traders on the coast. These days are
for ever past. Men-of-war have so closely watched the coast that the
slave trade has languished and died, except in Angola, where it exists
under a finer name, the slave being considered a ‘Colonial,’ while
Portuguese ingenuity and corruption arrange for ‘emigration’ to the
islands San Thomé, Principe, and even to the Bissagos.

While these slave raids in Congo are things of the past, a mild
domestic slavery exists among the natives. In most cases the slaves
are more like feudal retainers or serfs. A man of means invests his
money in slaves, and thereby becomes more independent, for his slave
retainers can support him in difficulties with his neighbours. It
frequently happens that he builds a stockade at a little distance from
the town in which he has been brought up, and this becomes the nucleus
of a new town. In the latter end of the rainy season and the beginning
of the ‘dries,’ they will cut _nianga_ grass, the long six-foot blades
of which spring up out of the ground, and have no stem or nodes. This
grass is dried and used for the covering of the huts. Stems of palm
fronds are also trimmed and split. Papyrus is brought from the marshes,
and strips of its green skin twisted into string, with which they tie
together securely the posts and rafters, so that they may stand the
strain of the fierce tornadoes which sweep the country.



Home Life on the Congo.

Perhaps the home life of the Congo folk may be best depicted if some
familiar scenes are described.

While engaged in the transport service of the mission, I was sitting
quietly in my tent in Sadi Kiandunga’s town, when without the least
warning a volley was fired at less than a hundred yards from my little
camp. The men shouted, the women screamed, the wildest commotion
ensued. Was it an attack upon the town? What had happened? As a man
ran past the tent, I inquired the cause.

‘Oh, nothing,’ he said; ‘it is only a baby born, and everyone is
glad and shouting out their joy at the safe birth; they have fired a
feu-de-joie: don’t you do so in your country?’

The house where the little stranger had arrived was very small; a fire
was burning inside, filling it with strong wood smoke; and as if that
were not sufficient discomfort for such a time, the house was literally
crammed with women, all shouting vociferously, showing in this
well-meaning but mistaken manner their sympathy in the mother’s joy.

The people rise at daybreak, and the fire, which has been kept
smouldering all night, is replenished, or, if it has gone out, fire
is obtained from another household. The wife clears up the ashes from
the hearth, and sweeps out the chips and husks that remain from last
night’s supper.

The husband, if a tidy man, sweeps his compound. Negro toilet
operations then ensue. A calabash of water is taken behind the house,
and filling his mouth with water Ndualu (Dom Alvaro) allows a thin
stream to flow over his hands as he carefully washes them, also his
face; then cleaning his teeth, he goes to sit in front of his house
to comb his hair. The ladies have been bestirring themselves, and a
snack of food is ready--a few roast ground-nuts, or a piece of prepared

The infants are placed in the care of older babies, and the women and
girls of the town wend their way to the village spring, where they
bathe and gossip until all the calabashes being full they return with
the day’s supply of water. One calabash is for the baby, who is brought
outside, and carefully washed, squalling lustily as the cold douche is
poured over him. If the mother is careful, his feet are examined for
jiggers. This sand flea, brought from Brazils some twenty years ago, is
a great pest. Burrowing into the feet often in the most tender parts,
the insect swells until its eggs are mature, when the little cyst
bursts, and they are set free. If they are not extracted the jiggers
set up an inflammation, which may even terminate in mortification. It
is very common to see one or two toes absent from this cause.

The preliminaries of the day being over, the women start for the farms.
Taking with them in the great conical basket a hoe, a little food, and
a small calabash of water, the baby is carried on the hip, or more
often made to straddle its mother’s back, and tied on with a cloth
dexterously fastened in front. So the poor child travels often through
the hot sun, bound tightly to its mother’s reeking body, its little
head but inadequately protected by its incipient wool. No wonder that
an African baby who has survived the hardships of babyhood grows up to
be strong, and able to bear great strain and fatigue. The weaklings are
early weeded out, and often poor mothers, wringing their hands, wail
and deplore the loss of the little darling, whose death is due to their
own lack of care, rather than to the supposed witchcraft and devilish
malice of some one in the town.

The men will sometimes help in the farms when trees have to be felled,
but otherwise the women perform the farm work; and as the ground does
not need much scratching to produce a crop, the hoeing and weeding
afford them healthy employment, sufficient to keep them so far out of
mischief. We have seen towns in the neighbourhood of Stanley Pool where
the women do no farm work, living on the proceeds of their husband’s
ivory trade; they gossip, smoke, sleep, and cook, or spend an hour or
two in arranging the coiffure of their lord or of a companion. Laziness
is not good for any folk, and where there is so little housework the
gardening is not too severe a tax on the women. Towards evening they
return, bringing some cabbage or cassava leaves, or something to make
up some little relish, and proceed to cook the evening meal.

The men have their own departments of work: they are great traders. The
Congo week consists of four days; Nkandu, Konzo, Nhenge, Nsona, and
every four or eight days they hold their markets. As they have many
markets within a moderate distance, and occurring on different days of
the week, there is generally a market to attend on each day, if any one
is so disposed. The marketplaces are in open country, generally on a
hill-top, away from towns. These precautions prevent surprises.

On the appointed day large numbers of men, women, and children are to
be met carrying their goods. There is cassava in various forms, dried,
in puddings, or as meal; plantain, ground-nuts, and other food-stuffs;
pigs, goats, sheep, fowls and fish; dried caterpillars on skewers;
dried meat; wares from Europe; cloth, beads, knives, guns, brass wire,
salt, gunpowder. Drink in abundance, palm wine, native beer, sometimes
gin and rum. Native produce, such as palm oil, ground-nuts, sesamum,
india-rubber, crates of fowls, bundles of native cloth, meal sieves,
baskets, hoes, etc.

Stringent laws are made to protect these markets. No one is allowed to
come armed, no one may catch a debtor on market-day, no one may use a
knife against another in a passion. The penalty for all these offences
is death, and many muzzles of buried guns stick up in the market
places to warn other rowdies against a like fate. Between the coast
and Stanley Pool beads are the currency; above the Pool brass rods
take their place. A man wishing to sell salt and to buy india-rubber,
first sells his salt for beads, and with the beads buys the rubber.
Large profits can be made on these markets, and many natives spend
the greater part of their time travelling from one to another for the
purpose of trade.

Children commence trading very early. A five-year old boy will somehow
get three or four strings of beads, and with them will buy a small
chicken. After a few months of patient care, it is worth eight or ten
strings, and his capital is doubled. He is soon able to buy a small
pig, which follows him about like a dog, and sleeps in his house until,
by and by, it fetches a good amount on the market. The proceeds of rat
hunting, barter among the town boys, and further trade, have meanwhile
increased his stock in trade. When he grows older, he accompanies a
caravan to the coast, he gets a nice present to carry food for his
uncle; en route his ideas of trade are enlarged. He commences to buy
india-rubber, and brings back with him next time salt and cloth, a
gun and some powder, a knife, and a plate. And so by degrees he is
encouraged to fresh effort, until he has sufficient to pay for a wife
or two. Continuing still in trade, he buys and sells, investing his
property in slave retainers, and hiding some in reserve, in case of
misfortune, or against his death. For it is the ambition of all to be
buried in a large quantity of cloth. Then the report goes that so and
so was buried, and that he was wound in 200 fathoms of cloth, and that
50 guns were buried with him, and so on. This sort of burial is a Congo
Westminster Abbey.

The girls help their mothers in farming and housework until they arrive
at a marriageable age. In some places they are betrothed very early;
the intended husband paying a deposit, and by instalments completing
the price demanded by the girl’s maternal relatives. The amount is
often heavy--reckoned by Congo wealth--but varies much according to the
position of the girl’s family or the suitor’s wealth. It is altogether
a business matter. Should the wife die, her maternal relatives have
to provide another wife without further payment; and as frequently
they have spent the sum paid in the first instance, they are landed in
difficulties. Palavers about women are a fruitful source of war.

Children are considered the property of the wife’s relatives, the
father has little or no control over them. The right of inheritance is
from uncle to nephew, thus a man’s slaves and real property go to the
eldest son of his eldest sister, or the next of kin on such lines. A
wise nephew will therefore leave his father’s house, and go to live
with his uncle, whom he hopes to succeed. His uncle also, knowing that
his nephew is to inherit his goods, while his own children belong to
his wife’s clan, cares more for his nephew than his own children. The
evil of the system is recognized by many, but they cannot see how the
necessary revolution is to be brought about.

At the age of five or six the boys do not stay longer with their
mothers. Some bigger boys having built a house, the small boys just
breaking loose from parental restraints go to them, and beg to be
allowed to live with them. They in turn promise to find them in
firewood, and to be their little retainers pro tem. These boys’ houses
are called _mbonge_. I turned up late at night (eight o’clock) in a
native town, having made a forced march. I had never visited there
before, and not liking to rouse the chief at such an hour, I went
to the _mbonge_, and asked the boys whether I and my two attendants
might sleep there to save fuss and trouble, as I must be off again at
daybreak. ‘Oh, you are Ingelezo, are you? come in; yes, we are glad to
see you, so often we have heard of you, and now we see you. We are very
pleased.’ This was kindly spoken; so, stooping through the low doorway,
I entered a roomy house. Some ten boys had just finished supper, and
squatted round a smoky fire. I was glad to stretch out on the papyrus
mat they gave me, keeping low down, to avoid the smoke which otherwise
almost blinded me. I had with me half a fowl, a small bell (1¼_d._),
and three strings of beads. A boy spitted my fowl over the fire, while
my attendants dozed, for they were worn out with the long march of the
day. I begged some plantain, and a lad went to the door, and shouted,
‘Bring some plantain to the _mbonge_.’ A kindly woman brought some.
When my meal was ready I asked for a pinch of salt and some water; they
shouted for these, and got them. Having finished my meal, I coiled
up in my blanket; and next morning, giving them the bell and three
strings, thanked them, and so we parted.

The boys of the _mbonge_ are well attended to; for to get the name of
‘stingy’ is the first step towards the terrible rumour of witch.

The constant activities of trade tend to develop the intellectual
faculties of the people. Cute, long-headed men, with wonderful
memories, having no account books or invoices, they ask you sensible
questions; and if you can speak their language, an hour’s chat may be
as pleasant with them as with some whiter and more civilised folk.
If you have a bargain to drive with them, you need all your wits and
firmness; while if they are stronger than you, or have no reason to
respect you, they will have their way.

Clever in pottery and metal work, making hoes and knives, casting
bracelets, anklets, and even bells from the brass rods of trade,
beating out brass wire, and ribbon, they strike you at once as being of
a superior type.

We might draw another picture. There are districts where there seems
to be no energy in the people. Take, for instance, the Majinga or the
Lukunga Valley, as we knew them two years ago. Here the natives live in
the midst of plenty, for the soil is not to be equalled in richness.
The proceeds of a goat sold on one of the markets will find a large
family in palm fibre cloth for a year; while a crate or two of fowls
will provide salt, gunpowder, and an occasional hoe or plate.

A boy grows up in this rich country, and for a while his intellect
expands as he learns about the little world around him. As he grows
older, he may bestir himself to find means to buy a gun, and then
a wife: that accomplished, he has practically nothing more to learn
or live for. He sleeps or smokes all day, unless about September the
grass is burnt and there is a little hunting, though a war or a palaver
may sometimes break the monotony. Otherwise, his wife cultivates the
land, and feeds him; he eats and sleeps. Living such an animal life,
his intellect stagnates, he becomes quarrelsome and stupid to a degree
almost hopeless. Dirty, he is contented to see his hut fall to pieces
almost over his head.


The women are content often with a rag for clothing. They wear a
grass stem three inches long through the nose, and a dirty rag for
an earring. The hair is matted with a mixture of oil and vegetable
charcoal; and if a lady happen to be in mourning the same filthy
compound is smeared over her face.

With the advent of white men this sad picture has begun to change. The
Livingstone Inland Mission (American Baptists) and the International
Association have stations among them; their transport and that of the
Baptist Missionary Society (English) passes through the country. The
people are coming forward as carriers; they sell their goats, fowls,
etc., are getting cloth; and in this short time a change for the better
is apparent. Here lies all the difference between the degraded and the
higher types of the African. The intellect of the one is stagnant,
while the other has everything to quicken it.

As children the better class will compare favourably with English boys;
bright, sharp, anxious to learn, they push on well with their studies.
Our schools are full of promise. At Stanley Pool the other day the boys
were much concerned because a new boy had mastered his alphabet the
first day. They all felt that he was too clever.

The future of these interesting people is full of the brightest hope.
Give them the Gospel, and with it the advantages of education, and
books to read; quicken within them tastes which will render labour a
necessity and a pleasure; give them something high and noble to work
and live for; and we shall see great and rapid changes. Christian
Missions are no experiment. We have to deal with a vigorous race that
will repay all that Christian effort can do on their behalf.


The Religious Ideas of the Natives.

There is nothing that can be said to take the place of a religion
throughout the whole region of the Congo. There is no idolatry, no
system of worship; nothing but a vague superstition, a groping in
the dark, the deepest, saddest ignorance, without a hope of light.
The people have the name of God, but know nothing further about Him.
The idea is not, however, of an evil being, or they would wish to
propitiate him. A mild and gentle chief gets little respect or honour.
A man who is hard and stern, reckless of life, is feared and respected.
Hence, as they fear no evil from God, they do not trouble themselves
about Him in any way--never even invoke Him. Perhaps it may be because
they regard Him as beyond their reach and ken, or careless of them.

Nzambi, or some slightly modified form, such as Nyambi or Anyambie,
is the name by which God is known over the explored regions of
the western portion, while the Bayansi of the upper river use
also Molongo, which is the same as Mulungu and Muungu of the east
coast. Of the derivation of Nzambi we cannot speak definitely or
even approximately. Suffice it to say that the word has a sense of
greatness, and conveys a definite idea of a Supreme Being. It cannot be
connected with a vague notion of sky, having nothing common with the
word Ezulu (heaven).

There is a decided idea of personality, and the Congos generally speak
of Nzambi-ampungu, the Most High (Supreme) God. The name of God is
all that they know, and certainly they have no notion of any means of
communication between God and man. They regard Him as the Creator, and
as the sender of rain, but would never under any circumstances think of
their voice being heard in heaven. So, having no helper, they betake
themselves to charms to avert evil and for general protection.

The knowledge of the name of God gives us a good basis to work upon. We
can tell them that we bring them a message from Nzambi Himself, not a
story of a white man’s God, but their God and ours, and at once we get
a ready and deeply interested hearing.

‘Have we seen Nzambi? Does He live in the white man’s land under the
sea? How did we hear this news?’ Such are the questions they are ever
ready to ask.

On one occasion, at Stanley Pool, a lad from the far upper river
sold by Zombo traders to the Bayansi, asked me, ‘But, Mundele, all
joking apart, what do you really come here for if you do not want to
trade? Tell me truly.’ I told him that we had been commissioned with
the message of good news from Nzambi, and that was our real and sole
business. ‘What! Nzambi, who lives in the heavens? (Nzambi kun’Ezulu).’
As he said this he pointed up into the sky. Poor boy! I wondered how he
knew that there was a God, and that he so instinctively pointed up to
the blue sky. I saw him once or twice after that. He soon returned to
his distant home, but could tell his people that he had seen white men,
who were coming soon to bring them a good message from Nzambi.

They have a very decided idea of a future state, but as to what and
where the opinion is much divided. Indeed, there is not the remotest
notion that death can be a cessation of being. If any one dies they
think that some one, living or dead, has established a connection with
the unseen world, and somehow, and for some purpose, has ‘witched away’
the deceased.

When a man is sick he first resorts to bleeding and simple remedies. If
no relief is obtained, a native doctor is called. The man’s friends and
relatives help him to pay the fee, if large. Having agreed as to the
fee, the doctor may fetch aromatic or bitter leaves from the woods, and
make a decoction of them, wring them in water, or in some way extract
their properties. Perhaps he may add a small scraping of a snake’s
head, of a few nuts or seeds, or of some mysterious articles in his
bundle of charms. There is an endless variety of procedure.

Mr. Comber was recently watching a ‘doctoring’ at Ngombe. A chief,
Lutete, was sick, and the people were very anxious about him. The
doctor called for a fowl, a string was tied to its leg, and the other
end to Lutete’s arm. After some mysterious actions, and placing some
white marks with pipeclay upon the body of the sufferer, he proceeded
to push the complaint from the extremities into the body, from the body
into the arm, and finally succeeded in drawing the disease down the
arm, through the string, and into the unfortunate fowl, which doubtless
was little the worse for its vicarious position, until the doctor had
it killed for his evening meal.

There is far more knavery than skill in all their doctoring. If the
disease does not yield to such treatment, other doctors are called
in; and as matters become more serious, it is evidently not a simple
case of sickness, for it will not yield to skilful physicians; it must
be a case of witchcraft. The sufferer now becomes terribly anxious,
and Nganga-a-moko (the charms doctor) is called in. His duty is to
tell what and why the patient ails. He may say that it is a simple
sickness, and prescribe accordingly. Or if he deems it really serious,
he declares it to be a case of witchcraft. He professes to be able to
ascertain who is ‘witching’ the sufferer; but as it is not his business
to mention names, he does not do so, neither do people inquire. Having
made thorough diagnosis, he shouts to the witch, who is spoken of as
Nximbi (x = sh), to let his patient alone, to let him live. ‘Does
he not know that this wicked course will bring its deserts? If he
persists in destroying his victim the witch doctor will surely find him
out.’ Then all the people join in calling upon the unknown Nximbi to
relinquish his victim. The agony of mind of the sufferer, and of those
dear to him, can be imagined.

If in spite of all the man dies, in grief and rage the family call
for the witch doctor, Nganga-a-ngombo. Space prevents a detailed
description of his methods of procedure. He is a cunning rogue, and
has his agent, who ascertains whether any one is in special disfavour,
or whom it will be safe to declare a witch. He may decide haphazard, or
he may ascertain that the deceased man dreamed of some one. He consults
Nganga-a-moko. At early dawn the sound of his _ding-winti_ drum
startles the town. Who knows whether he may not be accused of the crime?

After working people into the wildest frenzy by a protracted series
of dances and mystery, the doctor at last selects one or two of
those present, and declares him or them to be guilty of the devilish
crime. The excitement culminates; the victim declares his innocence
and ignorance; but the rascally doctor tells a long story of the way
in which the crime was accomplished, till all feel the guilt fully
established, and would like to tear the witch to pieces on the spot.

However, there is a regular course of things, and a market-day is
appointed when the ordeal poison shall be taken. On the day decided,
all the people of the district assemble in vast crowds, as they used to
do in this country before executions were performed in private.

The poor victim believes his innocence will be established, and
fearfully, but still generally willingly, he drinks the poisonous
draught. His stomach may reject the noxious compound. If he vomits,
the man is declared innocent, and the witch-doctor loses his
fee--indeed, in some parts is heavily fined for a false charge. More
often, if he has not avoided the risk by referring the death to some
charm, or to some person recently dead, he does his work too surely.
His victim staggers and falls. With a wild yell the bystanders rush at
him and beat him to death; shoot him, burn or bury him alive, throw
him over a precipice, or in some way finish the terrible work, with a
savage ferocity equal to their deep sense of the enormity of the crime
with which he is charged.

One could gather hundreds of terrible stories of the like kind with
much variety of detail; but the same principle runs through all. We
heard of a case where, on the Nganga making his declaration, the
witch-man went into his house close by, fetched his gun, and shot the
witch-doctor dead on the spot. He had to pay twenty slaves to the
friends of the Nganga; but no one ventured further to trouble that

Sometimes, and in some places, the witch-doctor is called in in case of
sickness only, and witches are killed to stay the sickness; and again
at the death of the person, sometimes even in the case of a baby. A
serious accident--as drowning, a fall from a palm-tree, or the death
of a chief--is considered the work of several witches; one alone could
not accomplish such a thing. Six men of the Vivi towns were drowned
through the upsetting of a canoe in the rapids, and three witches were
found for each man; eighteen victims had to suffer for the death of
those six men--twenty-four deaths in all.

Even when the victim vomits, and should be free, they sometimes find an
excuse to finish the work.

‘But why,’ you ask, ‘did you kill Mpanzu? What did he do to the man who
died? Did any one see him do it?’

‘Oh, Mundele! why do you ask such questions? Did not Nganga-a-ngombo
ascertain by his witch-charms? Did he not tell us how he did it? And
when he took the ordeal and swooned, was not his guilt proved? Why, we
should all say that any one who dared to question such a decision must
be himself a witch!’

‘But what does a witch do--how does he do it?’

‘How do I know? I am not a witch. Why, if we did not kill our witches
we should all die in no time! What would check them?’

You cannot get much further than this with young people or common
folk, all except the dictum of the Nganga _ex cathedrâ_. Indeed, many
of them have been accused, and have been fortunate enough to reject
the poison. Those who may escape by vomiting the draught are generally
confirmed in the truthfulness of the ordeal that established their

However, I have never discussed the matter privately with an
intelligent native who did not acknowledge the wickedness and deplore
the custom. The fear of being dubbed a witch compels generosity, and
here lies the strength of the custom.

Nga Mbelenge, one of the chiefs of the district of Leopoldville,
Stanley Pool, has told me how it fared with him.

‘I had a town of my own when quite young. You know how the Bayansi sell
to the Bakongo, and we act as middlemen, and interpret for them. I
pushed business, and many traders came to me because they had so much
trouble with the other old chiefs about here. I soon became very rich,
married several wives, bought many slaves out of my profits, and my
town grew large.

‘The other old chiefs, instead of pushing their trade, grumbled that
I got so much. They would say, “Look at young Nga Mbelenge; how
rapidly he is growing rich! It seems only yesterday he was a boy,
and now to-day look at his town, see how rich he is! No doubt he is
selling souls also.” Without any warning or trial, they came down on
me suddenly, accused me of witchcraft, and in my own town compelled
me to drink the ordeal poison. I vomited, and thus my innocence was
established.’ He acknowledged that the whole custom is very wicked.
‘But what am I to do? If I say that I will have no more of it in my
town, my people will say that I am myself a witch, and therefore I do
not wish further execution for witchcraft. If I try to stop it, I bring
it upon myself.’

As a sequel to this, I learned that a fortnight after, another man was
killed in his town as a witch.

The question is naturally asked, What is this crime of witchcraft?
Those people who do any trading imagine that a witch is able by means
of some fell sorcery to possess himself of the spirit of his victim. He
can then put the spirit into a tusk of ivory, or among his merchandise,
and convey it to the coast, where the white men will buy it. In due
course, if not at the time, the ‘witched’ man dies. Then the white man
can make him work for him in his country under the sea. They believe
that very many of the coast labourers are men thus obtained, and
often when they go to trade look anxiously about for dead relatives.
Sometimes when we are travelling they look on with wonder and disgust
as we open our tinned provisions, ‘calculating’ that that at least must
be one of the uses to which we put their dead relatives.

The notion of the land under the sea has its origin in their faculty
of observation. They see ships coming in from sea appear, first the
mast, then the hull; and thus at a decent distance out, so as not to
reveal the trick, we white men emerge from the ocean. Travellers love
to enlarge upon the wonders they have seen, and so the story grows, and
the people have been brought up in the belief that away under the sea
their relatives make cloth, etc., for us white folk.

This is, however, a new idea, comparatively. The old notion still
prevails in many parts, that away in some dark forest land departed
spirits dwell. The witches, they think, have some interest in sending
away their fellows to the spirit land. Perhaps they get pay from the
spirits, no one knows or questions why. Who can know a witch’s business
but a witch?

Even if a man dies in war, or is taken by a wild beast or crocodile,
it is witchcraft. To such an extent is this believed, that people will
bathe in streams where crocodiles abound. So long as there are plenty
of people together, the cowardly reptiles are not likely to attack. In
this way the idea has come about that real crocodiles will not eat
men; but if such a thing occurs it is proof positive that either a
witch has transformed himself into a crocodile to obtain his victim, or
induced the reptile to do it for him. If you ask how, ‘I do not know;
I am not a witch.’ At Lukunga, Mr. Ingham, of the Livingstone Mission,
shot a huge crocodile which came out at night after his pigs. In the
stomach of the reptile were the anklets of a woman, which were at once
recognised by the townsfolk. Yet they told me that the crocodile cannot
have eaten the woman.

‘But how about those anklets?’

‘Very likely crocodiles have a fancy for such things. You see what a
lot of stones he had in his stomach. Perhaps he took off those anklets
when he had done as he was told to do.’

This was no ghastly joke. I discussed the matter further, and asked
a more intelligent companion whether he could really believe as he
asserted. He replied that the man was not joking.

A lad, who was for some time a scholar at our school at Underhill
Station, died in his own town a month or two after leaving us. The
people said that our Mr. Hughes had stolen the boy’s soul, and sent it
away to the white man’s land to be converted into Krooboys to work for

The Ngombe people told us that once on the market near their town,
some travellers halted to buy palm wine, and all the people heard a
hoarse voice proceed from a tusk of ivory, ‘Give me a drink of wine, I
am fearfully thirsty.’ Some wine was poured into the tusk, there was a
sound of drinking, and after rest the travellers passed on. Everyone
believed the story, but I could never see any one who was present. It
was of course a spirit in transit to the coast.

Witch doctors are up to all manner of tricks in their wicked business.
Sometimes they declare that a dead man is the witch, and will dig in
the grave, and as they get near the corpse suddenly tell the people
to get out of the way. The doctor is going to shoot the witch, then
throwing down a little blood which he has secreted, he fires a gun and
points triumphantly to the blood of the escaped witch.

One of our boys told us how he had helped to unmask one of these
tricks. His mother was ill, and the doctor said that there was a witch
in the ground under the head of the bed on which she slept. The people
all went out of the house; but the boy, who was anxious to witness the
destruction of the witch, begged to remain, and while the doctor was
busy digging, he found a bundle under the bed, and took it out. It was
the doctor’s charms, and among them he found the gizzard of a fowl full
of blood. He took it to the chief, who examined it, and the doctor,
discovering his loss, emerged to say that the witch had been too sharp
for him; he was obliged to run away, the people were so angry with him
for trying thus to deceive them. It might seem too much to believe
that, once discovered, he would venture the same trick again; yet some
time after he was sent to inquire as to the death of a man in the town,
and declared that there were two witches, one he pointed out, the
other was a dead man. He proceeded to dig up the dead witch, and the
chief, remembering at once the old dodge of this very man, sent some
one to fetch his bundle, which he was more carefully watching. There
was another gizzard ready. This was too much for them. They seized
the wretched man, and, breaking his arms and legs, threw him over the
precipice, the fate intended for his victim.

There is a story which explains the cruelty of breaking the arms and
legs. A man had been accused of witchcraft, and thrown down into the
great chasm, a distance of over one hundred feet. He fell into some
soft mud at the bottom, and was able the next day to return to the
town. The people broke his arms and legs, to make sure of him, and
threw him down again; and such is the rule now.

Witch stories without end there are, but they still leave unsolved
the question, What is a witch? Some say a man who knows how to weave
the spell; others that an evil spirit takes up its abode in a man to
accomplish this; in either case, it is held to be an imperative duty
to kill the men. The spirit world is either under the sea or in a dark
forest land; but how the spirits live, and what they do, is not known,
since no one has ever returned to tell the story. But ghouls and evil
spirits are said to lurk about in the neighbourhood of graves and
uncanny places.

There is a natural fear of death--the spirit world is an unknown
land--but there is no apprehension of meeting Nzambi, nor is there a
burden of sin.

There is a sense of right and wrong. To steal, to lie, or to commit
other crimes is considered wrong, but only a wrong to those who suffer
thereby--there is no thought of God in it.


Cannibalism, Freemasonry and Charms.

Cannibalism is not met with on the Congo until we ascend almost to
Stanley Pool. The first tribe of the Bateke--the Alali--on the north
bank, are said to eat human flesh sometimes, but only those who have
been killed for witchcraft. The Amfuninga, or Amfunu, the next tribe of
Bateke, are also credited with the same vice. It is only a report; we
have no evidence of the fact. From Bolobo (2° South lat.) upwards it is
known to be a custom. White men have had to witness the cutting up of
victims, being powerless to prevent the act. When remonstrated with,
the natives have replied, ‘You kill your goats, and no one finds fault
with you; let us kill our meat then.’ When eating their ghastly meal,
the parents give morsels of the cooked flesh to the little ones, to
give them the taste for such food.

Why they eat human flesh it would be difficult to say. Tribes towards
the east coast eat their enemies that they may gain their strength and
courage, and it is probable that some such notion underlies the custom
on the Upper Congo. We hope to settle among these folk soon, and may
get to understand the reasons.

It is customary on the upper river to bury--sometimes alive--slaves or
wives of a deceased chief. This is done that he may not appear without
attendants in the spirit world.

‘The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.’

There are two customs which prevail through the country--_Ndembo_, and
another, very much like Freemasonry, called _Nkimba_.

In the practice of _Ndembo_, the initiating doctors get some one to
fall down in a pretended fit, and in this state he is carried away to
an enclosed place outside the town. This is called ‘dying _Ndembo_.’
Others follow suit, generally boys and girls, but often young men
and women. Most feign the fit; but sometimes, when it has become the
fashion, others will be attacked with hysteria, and so the doctor gets
sufficient for a wholesale initiation, twenty or thirty, or even fifty.

They are supposed to have died. But the parents and friends supply
food, and after a period varying, according to custom, from three
months to three years, it is arranged that the doctor shall bring
them to life again. The custom is not only degrading, but extremely
mischievous in its results. So bad is it, that before we reached San
Salvador the king of Congo had stopped the custom in his town; and
others had followed suit in neighbouring districts, giving the reason
that it was too vile to be continued.

When the doctor’s fee had been paid, and money (goods) saved for a
feast, the _Ndembo_ people are brought to life. At first they pretend
to know no one and nothing; they do not even know how to masticate
food, and friends have to perform that office for them. They want
everything nice that any one uninitiated may have, and beat them if
it is not granted, or even strangle and kill people. They do not get
into trouble for this, because it is thought that they do not know
better. Sometimes they carry on the pretence by talking gibberish, and
behaving as if they had returned from the spirit world. After this they
are known by another name, peculiar to those who have ‘died _Ndembo_.’
There seems to be no advantage accruing to the initiated, the license
and the love of mystery seem to be the only inducements. We hear of the
custom far along on the upper river, as well as in the cataract region.

The _Nkimba_ custom is an introduction from the coast of comparatively
recent times. The initiatory fee is paid (about two dollars of cloth
and two fowls), and the novice repairs to an enclosure outside of
the town. He is given a drug which stupefies him, and when he comes
to himself he finds his fellow Nkimbas wearing a crinoline of palm
frondlets, their bodies whitened with pipeclay, and speaking a
mysterious language. Only males are initiated into this rite, which is
more like our own Freemasonry. Living apart for a period, varying from
six month to two years, he acquires the mysterious language, and at
the end of his time he is reckoned a full brother, _Mbwamvu anjata_,
and all Nkimbas in all districts hail him as a brother, help him in
his business, give him hospitality, conversing freely with him in the
mystic language. It is no gibberish, as that attempted by the Ndembo
folk, but until quite lately no white man could get any collection of
words. I have, however, been able to get over two hundred words and
forty sentences; and while still unable to understand thoroughly the
principles on which it has been made up, it is evident that it has been
made. The vocabulary is limited, and is characterised by the system of
alliteral concord. Some words are slight changes of ordinary Congo, and
others bear no resemblance.

  ‘Lusala, a feather, is Lusamwa,
  Vana, to give, is Jana.
  Kwenda, to go, is Diomva.
  Masa, maize, is Nzimvu.’--(qy. from Ngemvo, the beard of maize).

The common people are given to understand that the Nkimba know how
to catch witches. In the daytime they wander in the grass, and dig
for roots, and gather nuts in the woods, often beating people on
the roads who do not run away on their approach. At night they rush
about screaming and yelling and uttering their wild trill. Woe to the
unfortunate man who ventures out of his house in the night for any
purpose, a beating and heavy fine will surely follow.

There is no other nonsense to add to the mystery and fear, but the
whole _raison d’être_ is the establishment of this fraternity or guild,
for mutual help and protection; and the period of separation is for the
acquirement of the useful mystic language. Ndembo is an unmitigated
abomination; Nkimba is comparatively harmless and useful. It is making
its way in from the coast, and may be found interiorwards on the south
bank for one hundred and seventy-five miles.

An instance of the usefulness of Nkimba is supplied in the story of the
founding of our Bayneston Station. It was decided that a promontory,
jutting into the river near Vunda, would be a most advantageous site
for a base of water transport on the piece of river, still used by Mr.
Stanley, and lying between Isangila and Manyanga. We were then using
the wild river there because the road by land was blocked.

We had carried overland for fifty miles our steel sectional boat,
the Plymouth. Landing on the promontory, Messrs. Comber and Hartland
pitched their tents for the night, sending a message to the towns on
the hills by a fisherman that they would like to see the chiefs in the
morning. Up to eleven o’clock no one appeared, and they determined
to go themselves. As they neared the towns all was in the wildest
excitement; no white man had ever been there before. The women had
been sent into the woods, and the men advanced in the grass with their
guns to fight the intruders. The missionaries had with them a headman
who was a Nkimba, and seeing the dangerous state of affairs, he rushed
forward uttering the Nkimba trill; this was replied to, and all was
quiet. The missionaries were received by some of the principal men,
who agreed to let them have the headland, and, a fortnight later, they
signed the contract, selling the land to us, in consideration of a
fitting present. Although some of our best scholars are called away
sometimes to be initiated into Nkimba, we do not regard it as an
unmixed evil.

       *       *       *       *       *

The natives of the Congo basin are not idolators, and as they know of
no means of communicating with Nzambi (God), they betake themselves to
charms. A Congo boy grows up, and sees every one with his charms. One
man boasts that he has a charm that will make him rich, and he ties to
it a little strip of every piece of cloth he buys; others have charms
to keep away witches, against theft or sickness, to stop or to bring
rain--charms which enable them to cure sicknesses, or to perform the
office of witch-doctor, of _Nganga-a-moko_, or to discover theft. From
very babyhood a child hears the word Nkixi (a charm, x = sh) frequently
uttered; no wonder, then, that as he grows up he thinks that there must
be something in it. He knows a man, who for a consideration, will teach
him to make a charm, or perhaps will sell him a little image and bundle
of mysteries. Fondly hoping that it will do all that the charm-doctor
has promised, he always keeps it with him, and perhaps believes that
his own life is in the thing, and if any one got possession of it he
could cause his death; he dare not sleep without it near him, and so
the falsehood works until he becomes its slave.

I have watched a chief on market-day weaving his spells. He would bring
out his charms and spread them on a mat, take a little red powder, work
it into a paste, and put some on his image and on each side of his own
forehead; then rummage in his bundles and find some mysterious nuts, or
something strange, scrape a tiny fragment and put it into his mouth,
nibble it, and spit and sputter over his image and charms; then take a
little gunpowder, and mix a little mystery with it, and burn it on a
stone. Next, chewing some cola-nut, he would spit and sputter it over
the charms, burn more powder, rummage further among his charms; and
finally, making some marks on his temples and forehead, he would be
ready to go to market.

Such a man is feared. Who knows what he could do with all those charms?
His air of mystery, the fuss he makes, his boasts--these, with a large
amount of knavery, make the common people think him a great man.

On one occasion, in the early times of the mission, Mr. Comber was
forbidden to sleep in a town on the road. He was compelled to sleep
out in the grass with his people without shelter. There was some sign
of rain, so the carriers begged one of their number, who boasted much
of his rain-charms, to avert the coming storm. He worked hard with
his charms, but notwithstanding it rained hard on the shelterless folk
nearly all night. The medicine-man said that his charms would not work
with white men about.

Among our hired labourers from the coast and elsewhere, we have often
had in our gangs rascals making much fuss about their charms, and in
consequence much feared by all their work-fellows. They were consulted
by their mates in sickness, and demanded heavy pay for their advice.
Then, because they were supposed to have such great powers for evil
as well as for good, they would borrow money or goods, and no one
dare refuse, or make them repay. They would need to be constantly
propitiated, and thus one scoundrel would get eventually a large share
of the wages of his mates. We could never get direct evidence or proof,
and could not interfere; and as the payments would mostly be made after
they had received their wages, and were beyond our reach, we had to
know of the evil, but were powerless to check it.

This, however, is more a coast type. Those nearest to ‘civilization’
are far more superstitious, or rather make more use of superstitions,
than the natives of the interior. But everywhere the same principles
work in a variety of forms.

There are doubtless many simple folk who believe it all; many must,
however, be consciously imposing on their fellows. To-day, even in
England, there are people who would hesitate to take down the horseshoe
which was put up over the doorway ‘for luck.’ Others still believe it
unlucky to pass under a ladder. Dream-charms and fortune-telling have
not yet disappeared from this Christian land.

There is an infinite variety of nkixi in Congo, almost anything may go
towards their composition. Dry leaves, snakes’ heads, hawks’ claws,
feathers, elephant’s skin, stones, seeds, nuts, beans, the horns of the
smaller antelopes, but with all a quantity of red ochre. Pipeclay also
plays an important part.

Images have been mentioned, not that they are idols, or more personal
than bundles of mysteries; but just as children playing with clay
would think first of making a little man, so Congos, often make little
images, hideous, rudely carved, with perhaps a piece of looking-glass
on the chest.

In some towns there may be seen a great image, under a sheltering
roof, which represents the charm that protects the town. Children are
placed under its protection by the payment of a fee to the Nganga,
who weaves certain spells and makes certain articles _taboo_. In some
places it is _nlongo_ (taboo) to eat an egg, or a fowl, goat’s head,
hippopotamus flesh, pork, yams, antelope flesh, rats, bananas. This
taboo must be observed to insure the protection of the fetish; to
break it would entail disease and death. Sometimes a town possesses an
image-charm which will enable its doctor to find out thefts, and in
consequence the people are afraid to steal. Talking with a man once
about this ‘thief-medicine,’ he positively declared the truthfulness
of the oracle. ‘Why, I was found out myself once,’ he said; ‘I went
to Dedede’s town, and stole a piece of cloth from a man’s house. No
one saw me, or had any means of knowing that I did it; and yet the
thief-doctor found me out at once. What can you say after that?’

Often in the houses of the sick, the ‘medicine’ may be seen in one
corner of the room, a dirty image and charms, bespattered with blood
and chewed cola-nut.

So strong is the belief in the discerning power of these charms, that a
thief will sometimes return what he has stolen, rather than incur the
disease that might follow. I know a case in which a man lost something
in a town. He paid a small fee to the thief-doctor, who arranged with
his charms to curse the thief with disease if the articles were not
restored by the next morning. The things appeared in due course, and
were found lying in front of the door, having been returned during the

These charms are sometimes addressed and often scolded when they do not
act as they ought; but even the images in no way take the places of
idols, neither are they regarded as personalities or sentient beings.
Any such address is only by way of apostrophe or ill-temper. Such a
scene as that depicted in a recent work on _The Congo_, of a native
prostrate praying to his fetish image, is altogether due to imagination
and a graphic pen; such a thing we have never heard of, and it is
contrary to radical principles.

A fetish, of whatever kind, is but a charm, and imports no more than is
conveyed by that word. It is an appeal to the black art for protection
and help, as they know nothing of a God who loves and cares for them,
and with whom there can be any communication. The gospel of the love of
God in its fullest revelation in Christ, and brought to bear upon their
hearts by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit, is the only power
which can lift these poor people out of their darkness and degradation,
and satisfy the yearnings of their hearts.

Circumcision is largely practised in some parts, and is generally
performed early, but is by no means universal. It is not a religious
rite. The customs of Ndembo and Nkimba are in no way connected with it.
It is simply a custom supposed to have some advantages.

There is something which approaches to a sacrifice, although very
imperfectly. Blood is sometimes used in the weaving of a spell[1]
or charm, whether for medicine or any other purpose. The victim
slaughtered is called _kimenga_, and the blood used in the charm or
smeared on the _nkixi_ is called _nzabu a menga_. Sometimes the blood
of a beast slain in the chase is poured out on the grave of a great
hunter to insure further success. This ceremony, and libations of palm
wine poured out (very rarely) on the graves of great men, are the
only traces of ancestral worship, and are not worthy of being thus
dignified. The spirit of the dead hunter visiting his grave may be
pleased at the sight of the blood, which will recall to him past times.
Perhaps the spirits of dead chiefs can, in some way, enjoy a libation
of the palm wine, to which they were once so addicted.

    [1] The expression ‘to weave a spell’ is the literal
        translation of _vanda onkixi_; _vanda_ = to weave or plait.

[Illustration: CROSSING A RIVER.]

In concluding this sketch of native customs and superstitions, it
may be well to note one or two which help us to express some of our
religious ideas. When coming down from Stanley Pool on my last journey,
I was sleeping in a town, and at midnight heard a woman screaming and
calling out the name of a fetish. This lasted for some time, until,
not understanding the customs, I felt apprehensive lest some might
think that I had bewitched her. I learned, however, that it was all
right, and in the morning a new phase of fetishism was explained to
me. This woman had placed herself under the protection of a charm. She
had been to a doctor, who wove mysterious spells, drummed, sang, and
danced, gave her something to drink, made certain articles of food
_taboo_, and behaved in such a wild and strange manner that he was
able to persuade her that a certain fetish influence or spirit had
entered into her, which would bring her luck, would protect her from
evil influences, and which, should a witch approach her to do her harm,
would arouse her to a sense of her danger. On the night in question the
poor woman had a bad dream, and waking with a sense of horror, believed
that her good fetish spirit had made known to her the approach of a
witch. So, rushing out in wild excitement, she screamed and shouted to
the fetish, and thus tried to frighten the witch.

We can use their phraseology to explain how we may be brought under
a higher, holier, and more blessed influence. They can the better
understand how our Heavenly Father will give us His Holy Spirit, who
will dwell within us to be our Guard and Guide, to warn us against
wrong-doing, to protect us from our spiritual foes, and to purify our
hearts. That woman’s dream gave us words to express most graphically
and intelligibly the great truths of which they in their darkness still
had a shadow.

Another custom helps us. When a slave has a bad master, who ill-treats
him, and who may, perhaps, intend to sell him on the coast, the slave
will run away to a chief who has a good name in the country, and tell
him that he has come to be his slave. If the chief is willing, he
orders a goat to be killed; the chief and the slave eat goat together;
the covenant is made, and the new slave is called a ‘goat.’ His old
master hears that his slave is with the other chief, and comes with
bluster to demand him back. The new master refuses to give him up in
spite of all threats, and finally the old master is obliged to accept
a fair price. Slaves thus obtained are much esteemed, for they are
generally faithful, and having thus made their choice, are not likely
to run away again. Sometimes free people in trouble will thus become
slaves for protection.

So, borrowing their terms, we can urge the dear lads of our schools
to take refuge with the Saviour, who will redeem them from a more
terrible bondage, and deliver them from the power of the evil one; a
Saviour who will be their protector, and who will take them to live
with Him, a Master in whose service is truest freedom. We have reason
to believe that some of our lads have taken the Saviour thus to be
their Lord and Master, and trusting in Him for pardon, rejoice to
consider themselves His ‘goats.’

Our couriers came in one day and told us that they had seen a man
killed on Mbimbi market. A chief had caught a man for debt on
market-day; and as there is a stringent law to provide perfect security
on market-day, the chiefs sentenced the offender to death. He was
allowed to find a substitute, and bought a slave in a neighbouring
district. This poor innocent man was beaten to death on the market
in the place of the chief. We have thus words and ideas to aid us in
telling the story of the loving Saviour, through whose blood we have
redemption, pardon, and reconciliation.

Trade and commerce appear only to increase the wickedness and cruelty,
for while their influence quickens the intelligence, activity, and
industry of the people, it can have no moral and spiritual effect. It
is best that there should be both legitimate traders and missionaries,
each working in their own sphere. Trade will but elevate to a certain
point. The gospel only will work the radical cure.

The children, passing in numbers through our schools, understand many
of the evils which degrade and enthral their fellow countrymen, and
deplore them. When they grow up they will form a party, which will in
time make itself heard; and as the young people have much influence
in a town, changes may take place fairly soon. It all means steady
persistent work, which must in the end prevail.


Missions in Central Africa.

Until the Missionary Explorations of Dr. Livingstone had given us the
knowledge of the interior of Africa, nothing could be done towards the
evangelisation of its teeming populations; all effort was confined to
the coast. The Church Missionary Society were carrying on their work at
Mombasa, commenced in 1844 by Dr. Krapf, and after the early decease of
Bishop Mackenzie, of the Universities Mission, Zanzibar became the seat
of the Bishop of Central Africa.

The whole burden of the work rested on Dr. Livingstone’s shoulders.
For him the end of the geographical feat was the commencement of
missionary enterprise; misunderstood by most people, he endeavoured,
single-handed, to solve those geographical problems which must be
mastered before Christian missions could be commenced on practical and
comprehensive lines.

The salient points were ascertained, while his marvellous journeys
drew attention to the peoples and their needs. He went to open the door
to Central Africa, he flung it open wide, and when the news of the
Doctor’s death reached this country, it was felt to be a call to the
Christian Church for a new and worthier effort for the evangelisation
of the Dark Continent. From that time commenced that development of
Missionary Enterprise which is now steadily and surely overcoming the
difficulties which kept Africa so long secret; and already we are
not far from the time when chains of Mission Stations will cross the

The first to move was the Free Church of Scotland, followed at once
by the Established Church. In May, 1875, the first party started to
ascend the Zambesi, and by way of the Shire to reach the Lake Nyassa.
They took with them in pieces a steam launch, the Ilala; putting her
together at the Kongone mouth of the Zambesi, they ascended as far
as the Murchison Cataract on the Shire River. There the steamer was
again taken to pieces, transported, in 700 loads, past the cataracts,
reconstructed, and in October they steamed into the Lake Nyassa; a
week later the foundation of the Livingstonia Settlement commenced.
There are now several stations on the lake, school-work is being
energetically carried on, the New Testament has been printed this
year in Chinyanga by Dr. Laws, and everything is full of promise.


  C.M.S. Church Missionary Society.
  L.M.S. London Missionary Society.
  Univ. M. Universities Mission.
  Sc. M. Established Church of Scotland.
  Sc. M.(Fr.Ch.) Free Church of Scotland.
  U.Meth. United Methodist Mission.
  B.M.S. Baptist Missionary Society.
  A.B.M.U. American Baptist Missionary Union.
  U.P. United Presbyterian.
  A.P. American Presbyterian Mission.
  A.E.M. American Episcopal Mission.

The Established Church of Scotland has its mission at Blantyre, near
to the Murchison Cataracts; and lately the Universities Mission has
undertaken work at Chitesi’s, on the eastern shore of the Lake Nyassa;
they have also a steamer.

Beside these societies, the African Lakes Company has been formed for
commercial purposes, seeking to develope the resources of the country
and the industry of the natives, and while carrying on trade on a sound
business basis, to do so on Christian principles.

To-day they are prepared to book passengers and goods from this country
as far as the northern end of Lake Nyassa, from which point the
‘Stevenson Road’ is in process of construction, to the southern end of
Tanganika. This work has been delayed in consequence of the death of
Mr. Stewart, the engineer in charge; and at the end of last July, we
learnt, with regret, that Mr. McEwen, who went to take his place, has
also succumbed to the climate. It is to be hoped that before long some
Society will be able to undertake mission work on the head waters of
the Congo, reaching Lake Bangweolo by way of Lake Nyassa, and so on to
the Luapula and the Lualaba.

A letter from Mr. H. M. Stanley, which appeared in the _Daily
Telegraph_ of Nov. 15, 1875, giving an account of his visit to Mtesa,
the powerful king of Uganda, on the northern shore of Lake Victoria
Nyanza, spoke of Mtesa’s earnest desire that Christian teachers should
be sent to his country. A few days later, an anonymous friend offered
£5000 to the Church Missionary Society, towards the establishment of
a Mission on the Victoria Lake. A similar offer of £5000 followed a
day or two after. The offers were accepted, and in the middle of the
following year the pioneer party of the Mission reached Zanzibar. A
line of stations has now been established between the coast and Rubaga,
the capital of Uganda, at Mamboia, Mpwapwa, Uyui, and Msalala. Although
the missionaries have experienced much difficulty from the first,
and since Mtesa’s death a fierce persecution has raged, still the
Mission has steadily advanced; some eighty natives have been baptized,
including one of Mtesa’s daughters. Schools and translation work have
had a good influence, and the blood of the martyrs at Uganda, as
elsewhere, is proving ‘the seed of the Church.’

[Illustration: BAYNESTON, ON THE CONGO.]

The old Mission at Mombasa, Kisultini, and Frere Town, is still being
carried on, and is extending its operations into the interior. It
is hoped that soon a shorter route to the lake may be opened up from
Mombasa, by way of Mount Kenia, on the lines of Mr. Thomson’s recent

The Universities Mission has its headquarters at Zanzibar, whence its
operations are carried on on the mainland opposite, in the district
behind Mombasa, and on Lake Nyassa.

The United Methodist Free Church has also a mission in the interior,
behind Mombasa.

In 1877 the London Missionary Society, aided by the generous gift of
£5000, by Mr. Robert Arthington of Leeds, undertook mission work on
Lake Tanganika. They now occupy Urambo in Unyanyembe, and Uguha, on the
western shore of the lake; also Liendwe at the south-western end, where
they have been constructing their steamer the Good Tidings, which has
been conveyed to that point by the African Lakes Company. The steamer
has been launched, and by last advices she was waiting for some heavy
parts of her machinery, which were delayed on the road.

The Arabs have so harassed the districts round the lake, that mission
work is very difficult and trying; but when the steamer is complete, a
station will be built at the south-eastern corner of the lake, which
will be the terminus of the Stevenson Road. In the meanwhile, progress
with the language is being made.

Thus, in spite of toil and difficulty, privations and losses, the
continent is been attacked from the east coast, and in less than ten
years the best strategic points have been occupied.

Neither has there been any crowding of several missions on one spot.
The field is large, and each of the great societies is far apart from
the other, but so arranged that between them the best points and most
practicable lines have been taken.

The same policy is being carried out on the south-west coast. The
Baptist Missionary Society have been established in the Cameroons
district since 1845; and four hundred miles further to the south, the
American (North) Presbyterian Church carries on the mission founded
in 1842 at the Gaboon. Neither of these missions have been able to
make much progress into the interior, and each has been lately brought
almost to a standstill by the harsh and arbitrary action of European

Three years ago, the French Governor of the Gaboon made a law that
there should be no instruction in the native language. Everything
was to be on the lines of the French normal schools; other harassing
restrictions were made, calculated to close the Protestant schools,
and the utmost has been done to drive out the American missionaries,
and indeed all foreigners (traders, etc., other than French). The
schools have been closed; but otherwise the foreigners have not been
driven away. All are hoping for a better, more reasonable policy.

In 1885 the German Government, in quest of unannexed lands on the
African coast, took possession of the Cameroons. Their shameful
treatment of the Baptist missionaries is fresh in the memory of all,
and need not be recounted; suffice it to say that the policy of the
French in the Gaboon has been followed, with greater determination and
energy. Feeling that it was impossible to Germanise their new colony so
long as the English missionaries were present who had reclaimed it from
savagery, they have determined to drive them away, and the mission will
have to be abandoned at an early date. This arbitrary action on the
part of civilised governments renders hopeless any attempt to reach the
Congo Basin from the west coast by any route other than the great river
itself, which, happily, has now been declared open and unrestricted to
missionaries and traders.

Before giving particulars of the two missions on the Congo, it will
be best to note the other missions along the coast. In 1885, Bishop
Taylor, of the American Episcopal Methodist Church, started with a
party of twenty missionaries, intending to enter the continent by way
of Loanda and the Kwanza river, to establish a chain of stations as
far as Nyangwe, on the line of Pogge and Wissmann’s recent journey.
At Nyangwe they hope to meet with a like party starting from the
east coast--a grand idea, and by no means impracticable. Many of the
missionaries are accompanied by their wives and families, and there is
an idea that after a station is built it can become self-supporting.
We have reason to fear that the hardships of the pioneer work will
lessen this brave band, and prove specially trying to the women and
children; but the self-supporting idea could only be entertained by
those ignorant of African life and circumstances. This will be a
matter of painful experience; but as the mission comes face to face
with the difficulties and realities, we may expect that more practical
lines will be adopted, and that, with the necessary reinforcements
and supports, their grand scheme will be carried out. Such a party as
twenty missionaries, with wives and families, must be very unwieldy and
difficult to provide for, arriving, as they did, on the coast without
any previous experience or friends.

We would not criticise, but only suggest that, in these days, when so
much information about Africa may be obtained, it is well for those who
contemplate founding new missions to use every precaution to minimise
risk and difficulties.

A few months ago, a Faith-healing Mission, a party of four men, sent by
Mr. Simpson’s church in New York, started for the Congo. They held this
same notion of self-support, and of being able to establish mission
work far into the interior with a small sum of money. I saw the leader
of the party, gave him the fullest information, and more advice than
was agreeable. They reached the Congo, and, ignoring medicine, the
leader died in a week or two, the rest were obliged to abandon their
principles, and the mail of May brought a message from them that they
wish they had followed my advice. They had come to the end of their
means, differences of judgment had arisen; without money enough to
return home, they were hoping to get some employment on the coast, and
thus to earn sufficient to return. Such a story needs no comment, but
certainly ought to be known.

The next point occupied along the coast is Benguela, whence the
missionaries of the American Board had extended their operations as far
as Bihe (Ovihe). The intrigues of Portuguese traders resulted in their
being driven away from Bihe and Bailunda, and nearly all the party
returned home. We hope, however, to hear shortly that the work, which
commenced with so much promise, has been resumed, and that the southern
districts of the Congo Basin may be evangelised by that agency.

Further south we find the Rhenish Missionary Society in Namaqualand;
but there we are beyond the limits of the Congo Basin.

So the various societies are attacking the continent from the west
coast at points about four hundred miles apart. Roman Catholic Missions
have been established in the Gaboon territory, also at Loango, Landana,
on the Congo as far as Stanley Pool, in the Portuguese possessions
south of the Congo, and on the Cunene River.

On the east coast they are at Zanzibar and Bagamoyo; also on the
Victoria, Nyanza, and Tanganika lakes, and on the Zambesi River.

[Illustration: THE PLYMOUTH AFLOAT.]


Missions on the Congo River.

Now as to the Congo River, and the two Protestant missions established
there. When the missions had been established on the great lakes, Mr.
Arthington, of Leeds, wrote to the Committee of the Baptist Missionary
Society, offering them £1,000 if they would undertake mission-work in
the Congo country, and in districts east of Angola, where there had
been Roman Catholic missions in time long past. The Society accepted
the offer, and sent instructions to two missionaries at the Cameroons
to prepare for a preliminary journey in the region to be occupied.

Scarcely had these steps been taken, when the news reached this country
of Mr. Stanley’s arrival at the mouth of the Congo, having traced the
course of the river from Nyangwe, and thus discovered a water highway
into Central Africa. At once the field of the new mission became
enlarged almost indefinitely. In January and April, 1878, journeys of
exploration were made by Messrs. Grenfell and Comber, and the latter
returned to this country to confer with the Committee and to seek for
help in this enterprise. While these preliminary investigations were
being made, a party arrived on the river to found the Livingstone
(Congo) Inland Mission (undenominational).

In June, 1879, Mr. Comber returned with three helpers, of whom the
writer was one. We made our first station at San Salvador, the old
capital of the Congo country, about seventy miles south of the highest
navigable point of the Lower Congo. The natives of the upper river
bring their ivory and produce in canoes to Stanley Pool, and there all
has to change hands, as the river is not further navigable. The natives
of the cataract region buy at the Pool, and convey to the white men on
the coast. One of the great trade routes passes close to San Salvador,
and we hoped that these traders might carry our stores and help us to
Stanley Pool. They, however, steadily and persistently refused to allow
us to go to the Pool, in spite of all we told them of our errand. ‘No,’
they said; ‘you white men stay on the coast, we will bring the produce
to you there; but if you go to the Pool you will know our markets and
buy where we do; our trade will be lost; then how shall we obtain our
guns and powder, beads and brass, crockery-ware, and knives, cloth,
and all the fine things we get now? No, we will never let you pass our
towns; and if you persist you will be killed.’ They could not conceive
of people who were not traders.

We built a stone house, and were getting on nicely in our work at
San Salvador, but beyond the king’s territory we were blocked by the
native traders. Thirteen attempts were made, first on one road and then
on another, until Mr. Comber was attacked, and shot. He was able to
escape, and the slug was extracted.

Then followed long palavering, and at last the road was declared open.
Meanwhile, we learned that Mr. Stanley had returned to the Congo, and
was engaged in making a road from Vivi, on the north bank of the Congo,
from the point where the river ceased to be navigable. He was said to
be acting for the King of the Belgians, and to have instructions to
open up communications between the coast and Stanley Pool. This was
good news indeed. Next we learned that a M. de Brazza, who had for a
long time been exploring inland from the Ogowe River, near the Equator,
had come down on to the Upper Congo, thence to Stanley Pool, and by
the north bank to the coast. As the south bank road was declared open,
it was determined that Messrs. Comber and Hartland should once more
try it, while Mr. Crudgington and I should attempt the north bank. The
south bank party met with a repulse in a few days; on the north bank we
were more fortunate. We found that Mr. Stanley’s steamer road extended
as far as Isangila, a distance of about fifty miles from Vivi. There
we found his advanced party; beyond was unknown land. De Brazza must
have kept far from the river, for we were soon among people who had
never seen a white man, while there was so little intercommunication
between the people that no one knew of Mr. Stanley’s approach a day’s
march beyond his camp. We were therefore able to take the people by
surprise; and when we reached the districts of the ivory traders, they
were bewildered at our sudden, unexpected advent, not having any idea
of white men trying to reach the upper river; they had not recovered
from their astonishment before we had passed on. So, sleeping in quiet
places, and travelling rapidly in this way, we were able to reach the
Pool, and visited Ntamu, where now Leopoldville and our Arthington
Station are established. Having accomplished all that we desired,
and ascertained the correct geographical position of Stanley Pool,
we returned. It was a risky, adventurous, anxious journey, but we
accomplished it in safety, and were thus the first who had made the
journey from the coast to Stanley Pool.

We found that our brethren of the Livingstone Mission had established
their advanced post at Mbemba, on the banks of the Congo, about eighty
miles from Vivi.

Mr. Crudgington came to this country, to consult with the Committee
of the Society, and to get a steel sectional boat, according to Mr.
Stanley’s advice. He hoped to be able to navigate a reach of about
ninety miles of the cataract region, from Isangila to Manyanga, a
distance of only eighty-five miles from Stanley Pool; he advised us to
do the same. Mr. Crudgington brought out the boat, the Plymouth, which
we transported to Isangila, and then were able to establish ourselves
beside the International Association at Manyanga.

After a few months Mr. Stanley kindly offered us a fine site at Stanley
Pool, which we gladly accepted and occupied in the autumn of 1882,
calling it Arthington Station.

Some months after, the Livingstone Mission arrived, and obtained a site
from the International Association. Thus far, the two missions are
arranged alternately along the line. Each manages its own transport
service, which is a severe task on those who have to attend to it--so
severe, indeed, that we cannot arrange ourselves so that each might
help the other, although we should like to do so; but, as it is, we can
find sufficient carriers, and maintain the transport in an effective
manner. When the natives saw that we were transporting by water, and
thus avoiding their opposition, they opened the roads, and were
willing to carry. We therefore gladly relinquished the cataract water,
and now all is conveyed from Underhill, our first station on the south
bank, nearly opposite Vivi, to Stanley Pool, a distance of about 225


Everything is carried on men’s heads from station to station. The
Baptist Mission has four stations between the coast and Stanley Pool
inclusive. The fifth station, San Salvador, is off the line. The
Livingstone Mission has six stations up to the Pool. A Portuguese Roman
Catholic mission soon followed us to San Salvador, but they have not
been able to do much to trouble us.

As soon as the transport service was working properly, Mr. Grenfell,
of the Baptist Mission, came to this country to superintend the
construction of a steamer for the Upper Congo. The whole expense was
generously met by Mr. Arthington. The Peace was built by Messrs.
Thornycroft and Co., of Chiswick; she ran her trial trip on the Thames.
The vessel is built of galvanised steel, is seventy feet in length, and
propelled by twin screws. After her trial trip she was taken to pieces,
and sent out to the Congo in that state.

Arrived at Underhill, she was transported over the 225 miles to the
Pool, on men’s heads, and everything reached there safely; of the
thousand and one parts that go to make up a steamer, nothing was
missing. Two engineers were sent out to reconstruct her, but they died
of fever before they arrived at the Pool. When the news reached this
country, another engineer was sent out. He, too, died on the road up.

Mr. Grenfell had then to build the steamer himself, and, having great
engineering ability, he was able to instruct his native assistants
in the art of riveting. Having placed a part in position, they drove
the rivets, and did their work so carefully and skilfully that, when
the time came to launch the Peace, she was found to be a perfect
success--no leaks--as nicely riveted as if European workmen had put her

The Livingstone Mission has also a stern wheel steamer, the Henry Reed,
built by Messrs. Forrest. She, too, was transported in the same manner,
was reconstructed after the Peace was launched, on the same stocks, by
Mr. Billington, of that Mission.


Mr. Stanley has also three steamers on the Upper Congo, and a fourth
had by the last mail nearly reached the Pool. The International
Association had by this time acquired sovereign rights over large
districts in the cataract region of the Congo, and in the valley of the
Niadi Kwilu. It had also established itself at the Equator, beyond
which Mr. Stanley had continued the work, over the whole length of the
navigable river, to the Stanley Falls, 1060 miles, exploring several
affluents, upon which he found two new lakes. Treaties were made with
chiefs over the whole length, stations and military posts were placed
among friendly people, and a station was established at the Stanley

While this was going on, various circumstances were bringing Africa
very prominently before the eye of Europe. Germany was annexing freely
along the coast. Complications arose in consequence of this. There were
difficulties in reference to Angra Pequena, the south-east coast, the
Niger; troubles between the French Government and the International
Association. Portugal proposed to annex the mouth of the Congo. An
annexation fever was in the air. To prevent the breaking out of serious
trouble, a Conference of the Great Powers of Europe was called.

It was now time for the International Association to explain its
position, and to seek a recognition of its acquired rights.

When the news of Mr. Stanley’s great journey ‘across the Dark
Continent’ reached Europe, King Leopold of the Belgians conceived the
idea of opening up the vast newly-discovered regions to the benefits
of civilisation and commerce. It was felt that such a work could not
be accomplished unless the whole region could become a Free State. It
was rightly feared that, as soon as the importance of the Basin became
known, France or Portugal might annex the mouth of the river, and thus
destroy all hope of future development. In their colonies near the
mouth of the Congo, both France and Portugal so hampered trade with
heavy dues and restrictions that comparatively little could be done.
Then, again, there could be no future for the Free State without a
railway to convey the produce from Stanley Pool to the coast. With such
a means of transport, the whole country, with its vast resources, would
be placed within easy reach of Europe. Were a simple company to attempt
this, it would soon be ruined by the greed or false economy of France
or Portugal. Quietly, but energetically, therefore, the Association
acquired sovereign rights, until France and Portugal threatened to
annex. When the Conference commenced to sit, these two Powers each made
large demands.

European jealousies, however, prevailed to thwart this greed. The
other Powers saw no advantage in allowing either France or Portugal
to annex, and keep for herself, this newly-found continent; so, first,
they agreed that the whole region of the Congo Basin should be thrown
open to the commerce of all nations.

Since Europe had thus declared herself, the district was scarcely
worth so much in the eyes of France. Accordingly, she consented to
recognise the sovereignty of the Association, on condition that large
tracts on the right bank of the Congo were ceded to France. It was an
unsatisfactory bargain, but it was either that or nothing for the Free
State. Accordingly, the French boundary is extended from the Gaboon
down to 5° S. latitude, thence, following the line of the Chiloango
River to its northernmost source, whence the line strikes the Congo a
little above Manyanga; the river becomes the boundary until near the
Equator, then the eastern watershed of the Likona is the limit.

Portugal was very obstinate, and an identic note from England, Germany,
and France was necessary to bring her to terms. It was finally arranged
that the Portuguese boundary should be extended to the south bank of
the Congo as far as Wanga Wanga, a distance of ninety-five miles; then
to follow a line, due east, on the latitude of Noki, as far as the
Kwangu River, including also a small piece of coast-line near the
French frontier.

The others Powers readily recognised the Free State, which had thus a
coast-line of 23½ miles. The Conference had meanwhile decided that the
whole of the Congo Basin should be thrown open to free trade without
any restriction, and added to the region a coast-line from Setta Cama
to Ambriz. Avoiding the watersheds of the Nile and the Zambesi, it is
extended to the Indian Ocean. The north bank of the Zambesi to five
miles above the confluence of the Shire is included, also the basin of
the Shire, and the Lake Nyassa. Thus both the Scotch Missions and the
African Lakes Company are safe.

Beside the most rigid injunctions enforcing free trade, absolute
religious liberty and freedom of worship are guaranteed; special favour
and protection is provided for all missionaries and religious and
scientific enterprises. The slave trade also is not to be tolerated in
any part. King Leopold of Belgium will assume the sovereignty of the
Free State.

We cannot fail to see the hand of God in this result. Those who
have been watching the development of affairs can but wonder at the
marvellous Providence which has guided all. Now with such a sovereign,
and such a Charter of Freedom, we can but look forward with the fullest
hope to the future of the Free State of the Congo (_l’Etat Indépendant
du Congo_).

The Livingstone Mission has, since the 1st of January, 1886, been
transferred to the American Baptist Missionary Union. The best
understanding exists between the two societies on the field; there is
room for all the energy and force that each can bring. Although on the
line of transport we are compelled to keep near to each other, on the
great upper river we must keep far distant, if we would wisely and
thoroughly occupy this vast field. As to its openness and readiness for
missionary effort, let the last news received speak. Mr. Grenfell had
recently returned from a voyage in the Peace (B.M.S.) over the whole
length of the river to Stanley Falls, exploring several affluents, a
journey of over 4000 miles, one third of the voyage being in waters
never before visited by any European. One of the affluents, the
Mobangi, he traced for 400 miles as far as 4.30° N. lat., and when he
turned back it was still a great river, and navigable probably for
a long distance. It is believed to be identical with Schweinfurth’s
Welle, and if so, we have a highway to the Southern Soudan.

The Baptist Missionary Society intend, as soon as possible, to place
ten stations, say 100 miles apart, along the 1060 miles of clear
waterway to Stanley Falls, each in the best strategic positions,
which shall be centres for further operations on the great affluents
and surrounding districts. Mr. Arthington presented the Mission last
year with a further donation of £2000, on condition that as soon as
practicable its operations should be extended as far as the Lake Muta
Nzige (about 250 miles), where we hope, before many years have elapsed,
to join hands with our brethren of the Church Missionary Society,
working westward from Rubaga in Uganda (distant about 200 miles), and
our brethren of the London Missionary Society, working northwards from
Lake Tanganika (about 100 miles).

There must be much patient work before that be accomplished; but the
time is by no means distant when the workers from the east and those
from the west shall join hands in the centre of the continent. If so
much has been accomplished in ten short years, what may we not look
forward to in the future? Our Great Master is with us, planning,
guiding, strengthening, and sustaining. Cost what it may in life or
treasure, we must not abate our efforts until we have won Africa for

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation
marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left

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