The Negro eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 168 pages of information about The Negro.

Meantime the Luba-Lunda people to the eastward founded Kantanga and other states, and in the sixteenth century the larger and more ambitious realm of the Mwata Yamvo.  The last of the fourteen rulers of this line was feudal lord of about three hundred chiefs, who paid him tribute in ivory, skins, corn, cloth, and salt.  His territory included about one hundred thousand square miles and two million or more inhabitants.  Eventually this state became torn by internal strife and revolt, especially by attacks from the south across the Congo-Zambesi divide.

Farther north, among the Ba-Lolo and the Ba-Songo, the village policy persisted and the cannibals of the northeast pressed down on the more settled tribes.  The result was a curious blending of war and industry, artistic tastes and savage customs.

The organized slave trade of the Arabs penetrated the Congo valley in the sixteenth century and soon was aiding all the forces of unrest and turmoil.  Industry was deranged and many tribes forced to take refuge in caves and other hiding places.

Here, as on the west coast, disintegration and retrogression followed, for as the American traffic lessened, the Arabian traffic increased.  When, therefore, Stanley opened the Congo valley to modern knowledge, Leopold II of Belgium conceived the idea of founding here a free international state which was to bring civilization to the heart of Africa.  Consequently there was formed in 1878 an international committee to study the region.  Stanley was finally commissioned to inquire as to the best way of introducing European trade and culture.  “I am charged,” he said, “to open and keep open, if possible, all such districts and countries as I may explore, for the benefit of the commercial world.  The mission is supported by a philanthropic society, which numbers nobleminded men of several nations.  It is not a religious society, but my instructions are entirely of that spirit.  No violence must be used, and wherever rejected, the mission must withdraw to seek another field."[28]

The Bula Matadi or Stone Breaker, as the natives called Stanley, threw himself energetically into the work and had by 1881 built a road past the falls to the plateau, where thousands of miles of river navigation were thus opened.  Stations were established, and by 1884 Stanley returned armed with four hundred and fifty “treaties” with the native chiefs, and the new “State” appealed to the world for recognition.

The United States first recognized the “Congo Free State,” which was at last made a sovereign power under international guarantees by the Congress of Berlin in the year 1885, and Leopold II was chosen its king.  The state had an area of about nine hundred thousand square miles, with a population of about thirty million.

One of the first tasks before the new state was to check the Arab slave traders.  The Arabs had hitherto acted as traders and middlemen along the upper Congo, and when the English and Congo state overthrew Mzidi, the reigning king in the Kantanga country, a general revolt of the Arabs and mulattoes took place.  For a time, 1892-93, the whites were driven out, but in a year or two the Arabs and their allies were subdued.

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The Negro from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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