The Negro eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about The Negro.

Humanity and commerce, however, did not replace the Arab slave traders.  Rather European greed and serfdom were substituted.  The land was confiscated by the state and farmed out to private Belgian corporations.  The wilder cannibal tribes were formed into a militia to prey on the industrious, who were taxed with specific amounts of ivory and rubber, and scourged and mutilated if they failed to pay.  Harris declares that King Leopold’s regime meant the death of twelve million natives.

“Europe was staggered at the Leopoldian atrocities, and they were terrible indeed; but what we, who were behind the scenes, felt most keenly was the fact that the real catastrophe in the Congo was the desolation and murder in the larger sense.  The invasion of family life, the ruthless destruction of every social barrier, the shattering of every tribal law, the introduction of criminal practices which struck the chiefs of the people dumb with horror—­in a word, a veritable avalanche of filth and immorality overwhelmed the Congo tribes."[29]

So notorious did the exploitation and misrule become that Leopold was forced to take measures toward reform, and finally in 1909 the Free State became a Belgian colony.  Some reforms have been inaugurated and others may follow, but the valley of the Congo will long stand as a monument of shame to Christianity and European civilization.


[23] Quoted in Du Bois:  Timbuktu.

[24] Von Luschan:  Verhandlungen der berliner Gesellschaft fuer Anthropologie, etc., 1898.

[25] Frobenius:  Voice of Africa, Vol.  I.

[26] Cf. p. 58.

[27] Keane:  Africa, II, 117-118.

[28] The Congo, I, Chap.  III.

[29] Harris:  Dawn in Africa.


We have already seen how a branch of the conquering Bantus turned eastward by the Great Lakes and thus reached the sea and eventually both the Nile and South Africa.

This brought them into the ancient and mysterious land far up the Nile, south of Ethiopia.  Here lay the ancient Punt of the Egyptians (whether we place it in Somaliland or, as seems far more likely, around the Great Lakes) and here, as the Egyptians thought, their civilization began.  The earliest inhabitants of the land were apparently of the Bushman or Hottentot type of Negro.  These were gradually pushed southward and westward by the intrusion of the Nilotic Negroes.  Five thousand years before Christ the mulatto Egyptians were in the Nile valley below the First Cataract.  The Negroes were in the Nile valley down as far as the Second Cataract and between the First and Second Cataracts were Negroes into whose veins Semitic blood had penetrated more or less.  These mixed elements became the ancestors of the modern Somali, Gala, Bishari, and Beja and spread Negro blood into Arabia beyond the Red Sea.  The Nilotic Negroes to the south early became great traders in ivory, gold, leopard skins, gums, beasts, birds, and slaves, and they opened up systematic trade between Egypt and the Great Lakes.

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The Negro from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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