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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 27

JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
is an old man, and his power nominal. The chiefs of the villages being
younger, pay but little attention to his wishes. The Bangalas are very
intemperate; it is a rare thing to find the chiefs sober. The favorite
,drink is a sort of rum made from the sugar-cane, which is grown in
large quantities.
Between Stanley Pool and Bangala, the south bank, belonging to
the Congo State, is more thickly 'populated than the north bank, which
is French territory. The tribes on the north side of the river have their
villages more in the interior, back from the river. The south bank
natives appear to be the richer and more powerful of the two.
Above Bangala both banks are thickly populated by rich, powerful
tribes, each village being independent, yielding obedience only to its
own chief. The people become more hostile as you ascend the river;
they seem to be continually on the alert, very suspicious, and treacher-
ous. The war-drums are kept going all night, and, in fact, the greater
part of the country above Bangala seems prepared for war. We had the
greatest difficulty buying food in this section, and from the 5th to the
20th of August we were obliged to depend almost entirely upon our
canned provisions. Our blacks we fed on bananas and plantains, a
supply of which we laid in at Bangala. The people in this section are
-cannibals, and, although more fierce and warlike, they appear more de-
graded, and are not the equals, physically, of the Byanzis.
The most populous districts above Bangala are the Upoto, six days,
and the Yembinga, ten days, above, on the north bank; the Yalulema
District, twelve days above, on the south bank. The Arroowimi District,
sixteen days above Bangala, includes the villages in the vicinity of the
Arroowimi River on both banks of the Congo. Many large flourishing
villages are met between these principal districts; in fact, it-was the ex-
ception for a day to pass, above Bangala, that we did not sight one or
more powerful towns.
At the Monongeri Channel and Arroowimi I found it impossible to
pass peaceably, and, as before stated, I was attacked in both places in
broad daylight.
Above the mouth of the Arroowimi River the Arab slavers had de-
stroyed every village to within twenty-four hours of Stanley Falls, and
the people were living in canoes; in some instances, they were trying to
rebuild. The few undisturbed towns near Stanley Falls were friendly
with the Arabs, and one or more well-armed men were seen on the beach
in front of the towns.
On nearing the cataract region of Stanley Falls, the natives appear to
deteriorate rapidly. I found them heavy, less intelligent, and evidently
Much inferior to the tribes lower down.
At Stanley Falls the people live by fishing. They are very expert in
the management of their canoes in the rapids below the cataract.
In the immediate vicinity of the Falls there appears at presenc to be
but little cannibalism.
Between Bangala and Stanley Pool the natives are not hostile7 but
arl most anxious to trade, and at most seasons there is no difficulty
buying food. Above Bangala, however, one meets at once with hostile,
suspicious people. This state of affairs, no doubt, is due to the fact that
the influence of the white man is not sufficiently felt in this region, there
being a stretch of 500 miles without stations or white men; and also
the reports that have been brought down concerning the work of the
Arabs have left the people in a most excited state. And then, again,
these people are cannibals and may require more severe lessons than
the   -yazis.
27


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