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Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo
(1887)

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo,   pp. [1]-42 ff.


Page 24

JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
Regarding the mortality in the cataract country, statistics show that
up to June, 1885, the English Baptist Mission had sent out twenty-seven
men from England. Of this number thirteen have died, some of them
during the first six months; others have been invalided home. Up to,
the same date, the Livingstone Inland, now the American Mission, had
sent out forty-five men, sixteen of whom have died, and a number been
invalided. it must be remembered that none of these missionaries had
ever been out of the cataract country. Of the two missionaries now at
the Equator Station, one has been on the Congo over three years, and
the other is now in his second year.
As to the mortality amongst the agents of the State, there are many
conflicting statements, and I could find no statistics. My own observa-
tion was as follows:
I passed through the lower cataract country on my journey to the
Upper River in May and June. On my return, the last of September,
one agent had died, and fourteen had been invalided home. This was
in the country between Vivi and Stanley Pool. While on the Upper
River, I saw but one case of sickness. Three agents were returning
home, having finished their three years' contract, and four others had
but a few months to serve. Of course there are exceptions; for ex-
ample, the chief accountant of the State has been on the Congo eighteen
years without a change. There are many of the traders who have re-
mained from three to ten years without change, but their lives have
been, as a rule, comfortable, plenty of good food, wine, and houses to
live in, and no such hardships as the missionaries and the agents of
the State have experienced as pioneers through the cataract region.
THE CONGO NATIVES.
The Congo Valley from Banana to Stanley Pool is but thinly popu-
lated, particularly along the river banks. Above Stanley Pool, and
especially above Bangala, the country is thickly populated, with large,
flourishing villages. Between the Arroowimi River and Stanley Falls,
the country has been laid waste by Arabs, but in September, 1885, the
people were commencing to rebuild.
The Baskungas, or natives of the Lower Congo Valley, are a weak,
indolent, superstitious race, and cannot be compared either in physique
or intelligence with the races of the Upper Congo.
The State has but little trouble with the Baskungas, the disputes be-
ing usually settled by 11 palavers." There have been instances when
it has been necessary to burn the villages, but as a rule the trouble is
soon settled. t notice in an extract from Mr. Tisdells report that
"the traders on the Lower River are in constant fear of attack, &C.7
This I am sure is a mistake, as I saw nothing of the kind, nor did I hear
of it. Some time ago, near Noki, the traders and natives had trouble,
which I think was settled by the missionaries without bloodshed, and
in regard to the burning of some factories referred to by Mr. Tisdell, it
has been discovered that this was done by some white employ6s for
plunder. The culprits have since been arrested and are, or were, being
tried at St. Paul de Loando:
The natives of the Lower Congo are armed with flint-lock muskets,
but they are almost harmless. They have no idea of markmanshipt
and it is the exception when a man is killed in their tribal wars. Ila
October, 1885, between M7Bauza Mateke and Vivi, I was in camp with
nearly six hundred of Makito's people (one of the most powerful chiefs
on the Lower River); these people were returning from the coast with
9"


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