« PreviousContinue »
on it. The two men asserted that they had at once returned to Mampoko, and had begged the Director of the Company to return with them to M** and see what his servants had done. But, they alleged, he had refused to comply with their request. On getting back to their town they then found that the man A A and the child B B were still tied to the trees, and had been shot in the arms as I now saw. On pleading with the sentry to release these two wounded individuals, he had required a payment of 2000 brass rods (100 fr.). One of the two men stayed to collect this money, and another returned to Mampoko to again inform the Director of what had been done. The two men declared that nothing was done to the sentry C C, but that the white man said that if the people behaved badly again he was to punish them. The sentry C C, they declared, remained some time longer in M**, and they do not now know where he is. || These people were immediately followed by a number of natives who came before me bringing a small boy of not more than 7 years of age, whose right hand was gone at the wrist. This child, whose name was F F, they had brought from the village of N**. They stated that some years ago (they could not even approximately fix the date save by indicating that F F was only just able to run) N** had been attacked by several sentries of the La Lulanga Company. This was owing to their failure in supplying a sufficiency of india-rubber. They did not know whether these sentries had been sent by any European, but they knew all their names, and the Chief of them was one called G G. G G had shot dead the Chief of their town, and the people had run into the forest. The sentries pursued them, and G G had knocked down the child F F with the butt of his gun and had then cut off his hand. They declared that the hand of the dead man and of this boy FF had then been carried away by the sentries. The sentries who did this belonged to the La Lulanga Company's factory at O**. The man who appeared with F F went on to say that they had never complained about it, save to the white man who had then been that Company's agent at O**. They had not thought of complaining to the Commissaire of the district. Not only was he far away, but they were afraid they would not be believed, and they thought the white men only wished for rubber, and that no good could come of pleading with them. || At the same time a number of men followed, with the request that I would listen to them. W declared that their town P**, which had formerly been on the north bank of the X** River (where I had myself seen it), had now been transferred by force to the south bank, close to the factory at Q**. He said that this act of compulsory transference was the
direct act of the Commissaire-Général of the
district. The Commissaire had visited P** on his steamer, and had ordered the people of that town to work daily at Q** for the La Lulanga factory. W had replied that it was too far for the women of P** to go daily to Q** as was required; but the Commissaire, in reply, had taken fifty women and carried them away with him. The women were taken to Q**. Two men were taken at the same time. To get these women back W went on to say, he and his people had to pay a fine of 10000 brass rods (500 fr.). They had paid this money to the Commissaire-Général himself. They had then been ordered by the Commissaire to abandon their town, since it lay too far from the factory, and build a fresh town close to Q**, so that they might be at hand for the white man's needs. This they had been forced to do many of them were taken across by force. It was about two years ago W thought that this deportation had been effected, and they now came to beg that I would use my influence with the local authorities to permit their return to their abandoned home. Where they were now situated close to Q** they were most unhappy, and they only desired to be allowed to return to the former site of P**. They have to take daily to Q** the following:
10 baskets gum-copal.
1000 long canes (termed ,,ngodji“), which grow in the swamps, and are used in thatching and roofing.
500 bamboos for building.
Each week they are required to deliver at the factory
200 rations of kwanga.
120 rations of fish.
In addition, fifty women are required each morning to go to the factory and work there all day. They complained that the remuneration given for these services was most inadequate, and that they were continually beaten. When I asked the Chief W why he had not gone to DF to complain if the sentries beat him or his people, opening his mouth he pointed to one of the teeth which was just dropping out, and said: "That is what I got from the D F four days ago when I went to tell him what I now say to you." He added that he was frequently beaten, along with others of his people, by the white man. || One of the men with him, who gave his name as H H, said that two weeks ago the white man at Q** had ordered him to serve as one of the porters of his hammock on a journey he proposed taking inland. HH was then just completing the building of a new house, and excused himself on this ground, but offered to fetch a friend as a substitute. The Director of
the Company had, in answer to this excuse, burnt down his house, alleging that he was insolent. He had had a box of cloth and some ducks. in the house in fact, all his goods, and they were destroyed in the fire. The white man then caused him to be tied up, and took him with him inland, and loosed him when he had to carry the hammock. || Other people were waiting, desirous of speaking with me, but so much time was taken in noting the statements already made that I had to leave, if I hoped to reach K** at a reasonable hour. I proceeded in a canoe across the Lulongo and up a tributary to a landing-place which seemed to be about . . . . miles from I**. Here, leaving the canoes, we walked for a couple of miles through a flooded forest to reach the village. I found here an sentry of the La Lulanga Company and a considerable number of natives. After some little delay a boy of about 15 years of age appeared, whose left arm was wrapped up in a dirty rag. Removing this, I found the left hand had been backed off by the wrist, and that a shot hole appeared in the fleshy part of the forearm. The boy, who gave his name as I I, in answer to my inquiry, said that a sentry of the La Lulanga Company now in the town had cut off his hand. I proceeded to look for this man, who at first could not be found, the natives to a considerable number gathering behind me as I walked through the town. After some delay the sentry appeared, carrying a cap-gun. The boy, whom I placed before him, then accused him to his face of having mutilated him. The men of the town, who were questioned in succession, corroborated the boy's statement. The sentry, who gave his name as K K, could make no answer to the charge. He met it by vaguely saying some other sentry of the Company had mutilated I I; his predecessor, he said, had cut off several hands, and probably this was one of the victims. The natives around said that there were two other sentries at present in the town, who were not so bad as K K, but that he was a villain. As the evidence against him was perfectly clear, man after man standing out and declaring he had seen the act committed, I informed him and the people present that I should appeal to the local authorities for his immediate arrest and trial. In the course of my interrogatory several other charges transpired against him. These were of a minor nature, consisting of the usual characteristic acts of blackmailing, only too commonly reported on all sides. One man said that K K had tied up his wife and only released her on payment of 1000 rods. Another man said that K K had robbed him of two ducks and a dog. These minor offences K K equally demurred to, and again said that I I had been mutilated by some other sentry, naming several. I took the boy
back with me and later brought him to Coquilhatville, where he formally charged K K with the crime, alleging to the Commandant, who took his statement, through a special Government interpreter, in my presence, that it had been done on account of rubber". I have since been informed that, acting on my request, the authorities at Coquilhatville had arrested K K, who presumably will be tried in due course. A copy of my notes taken in K**, where II charged K K before me, is appended (Inclosure 6). ]| It was obviously impossible that I should visit all the villages of the natives who came to beg me to do so at J or elsewhere during my journey, or to verify on the spot, as in the case of the boy, the statements they made. In that one case the truth of the charges preferred was amply demonstrated, and their significance was not diminished by the fact that, whereas this act of mutilation had been committed. within a few miles of Q**, the head-quarters of a European civilizing agency, and the guilty man was still in their midst, armed with the gun with which he had first shot his victim (for which he could produce no licence when I asked for it, saying it was his employer's), no one of the natives of the terrorized town had attempted to report the occurrence. They had in the interval visited Mampoko each fortnight with the india-rubber from their district. There was also in their midst another mutilated boy X, whose hand had been cut off either by this or another sentry. The main waterway of the Lulongo River lay at their doors, and on it well nigh every fortnight a Government steamer had passed up and down stream on its way to bring the india-rubber of the A. B. I. R. Company to Coquilhatville. They possessed, too, some canoes; and, if all other agencies of relief were closed, the territorial tribunal at Coquilhatville lay open to them, and the journey to it down stream from their village could have been accomplished in some twelve hours. It was no greater journey, indeed, than many of the towns I had elsewhere visited were forced to undertake each week or fortnight to deliver supplies to their local tax collectors. The fact that no effort had been made by these people to secure relief from their unhappy situation impelled me to believe that a very real fear of reporting such occurrences actually existed among them. That everything asserted by such a people, under such circumstances, is strictly true I should in no wise assert. That discrepancies must be found in much alleged by such rude savages, to one whose sympathies they sought to awaken, must equally be admitted. But the broad fact remained that their previous silence said more than their present speech. In spite of contradictions, and even seeming misstatements, it was clear that these men were stating either what they had
actually seen with their eyes or firmly believed in their hearts. No one viewing their unhappy surroundings or hearing their appeals, no one at all cognizant of African native life or character, could doubt that they were speaking, in the main, truly; and the unhappy conviction was forced upon me that in the many forest towns behind the screen of trees, which I could not visit, these people were entitled to expect that a civilized administration should be represented among them by other agents than the savages euphemistically termed,,forest guards". The number of these ,,forest guards" employed in the service of the various Concession Companies on the Congo must be very considerable; but it is not only the Concession Companies which employ „forest guards", for I found many of these men in the service of the La Lulanga Company, which is neither a Concession Company nor endowed with any rights of police", so far as I am aware. In the A. B. I. R. Concession there must be at least twenty stations directed by one or more European agents. || Each one of these factories" has, with the permission of the Government, an armament of twenty-five rifles. According to this estimate of the A. B. I. R. factories, and adding the armament of the two steamers that Company. possesses, it will be found that this one Concession Company employs 550 rifles, with a supply of cartridges not, I believe, as yet legally fixed These rifles are supposed by law not to be taken from the limits of the factories, whereas the,,sentries" or "forest guards" are quartered in wellnigh every rubber-producing village of the entire Concession. || These men are each armed whith a cap-gun, and the amount of ammunition they may individually expend would seem to have no legal limits. These capguns can be very effective weapons. On the Lower Lulongo I bought the skin of a fine leopard from a native hunter who had shot the animal the previous day. He produced a cap-gun and his ammunition for my inspection, and I learned from all the men around him that he alone had killed the beast with his own gun. This gun, he informed me, he had purchased some years ago from a former Commissaire of the Government at Coquilhatville, whose name he gave me.
It would be, I think, a moderate computation to put the number of cap-guns issued by the A.B. I. R. Company to its ,,sentries" as being in the proportion of six to one to the number of rifles allowed to each factory. These figures could be easily verified, but whatever the proportion may be of cap-guns to rifles, it is clear that the A. B. I. R. Society alone controls a force of some 500 rifles and a very large stock of cap-guns. The other Concession Companies on the Congo have similar privileges, so that it might not be an excessive estimate so say that these