Congo Independent State and Congo Missions
Account of the Congo Independent State written before the annexation of the State by the Belgian Government
Congo Independent State and Congo Missions.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:—The following account of the Congo Independent State was written before the annexation of the State by the Belgian Government. Belgium‘s right to take over the Congo and the successive steps which have led up to the annexation will be found treated under sections II and VII. On August 20, 1908, the Chamber of Deputies approved the treaty of annexation, and on September 9 following the treaty was adopted by the Belgian Senate. By this agreement the Belgian Government took over the Independent State, including the Domaine de la Couronne, with all its rights and obligations. Among other trusts the Government guaranteed certain allowances to Prince Albert and Princess Clementine and created two funds, one of $9,100,000 to be expended in Belgium for public works, and another of $10,000,000 to be paid to the king and his successors in fifteen annuities and used for objects connected with the Congo.
The present article deals with the Independent State—both in its interior organization and international position—as it was down to the time of annexation.
I. EXPLORATION; FOUNDING OF THE STATE.—America has not been without a share in the discovery of the Congo Free State. It was James Gordon Bennett, the proprietor of the “New York Herald”, who (October, 1879) engaged (Sir) Henry Morton Stanley to undertake his voyage through Africa to find the lost explorer, David Livingstone. Americans, therefore, may claim a part in the honor of a discovery which has changed our geographical notions and opened a new country to civilization. Congo had been considered an arid, uninhabited desert; Stanley found there rich forests, an immense river, vast lakes, and millions of human beings to be civilized. Further, the United States was the first Power (April 22, 1884) that recognized the flag of the International Association as that of a friendly state. There are (1908) in Africa four Congo States: the French, German, Portuguese, and the Independent, or Free, State. It is this last which, more than the others, deserves particular attention. It was here that the plenipotentiaries, gathered at Berlin (February 24, 1885), hoped to see realized their ideal of generous freedom and civilizing humanity. Leopold II ascended the throne of Belgium in 1865. A man of undoubted genius and erudition, of large ideas and tenacious will, he was also inspired with great ambitions. Even before becoming king, in his speeches to the Senate (April 9, 1853, February 7, 1860, March 21, 1861) he expressed the desire to see his country rely on her own resources and extend her empire beyond the seas. Ascending the throne, he found himself ruler of a country so small that it was scarcely visible on the map of the world, and it was but natural that he should conceive the hope of one day ruling over a more extended dominion. He therefore set his heart on obtaining possession of the Congo for his people; nor was this his first effort to realize his ambition; it was perhaps the seventh or eighth attempt he had made at Belgian colonization.
Briefly, the successive stages in the foundation of the Congo Free State were as follows: As a consequence of the expeditions (1840; May 1, 1873) of Livingstone and Stanley, public attention began to be drawn to Central Africa, and Leopold II divined the great possibilities of the newly-discovered country. On September 12, 1876, he called a Conference Geographique at Brussels, which gave birth to the association for the exploration and civilization of Central Africa commonly called the International African Association. This was divided into different national committees each charged with the task of promoting the common cause. The Belgian committee was founded on November 6, 1876; King Leopold assisted at its foundation and delivered a remarkable speech. The Belgian was the only committee which displayed any serious activity. It collected a sum of 100,000 dollars, five times as great as the united collections of all the others, and took the leading part in the organization of the first expedition. The expedition naturally followed the route which had already been traced by Living-stone, i.e. it moved from east to west. It was a failure, however, and many lives were sacrificed in vain. In January, 1878, the news came that Stanley had crossed right through Central Africa, from the Zanzibar Coast to the mouth of the Congo River, whose upper course he was the first to discover during this journey. It was then that Leopold conceived the idea of sending out an expedition which should start from the western coast and explore the country. While others were content to applaud Stanley or to listen to his interesting narratives, the King of the Belgians resolved to employ the explorer to further his designs, which were not merely commercial or political, but sincerely humanitarian as well. At the very moment Stanley set foot on European ground envoys were waiting for him at Marseilles. The king succeeded in gaining him for his purpose, and then proceeded to found (November, 1878) a society afterwards called the International Congo Association. In the name of this association, in which Leopold was the principal though hidden agent, Stanley’s little party, counting only thirteen white men, set out. It was not the only expedition intent on planting a European flag on this virgin soil; at the same time a French and a Portuguese mission were also on their way.
Towards the end of 1879 Stanley reached a non-Portuguese territory on the right bank of the Congo River and founded there the post of Vivi. Moving slowly up the river he came at last to the Pool. The Brazza mission was already there, and the French flag was planted on the right bank. The French had not crossed the river, however, and the Portuguese expedition had stopped at the Upper Kwango, thus leaving the country to the interior open to the future colony. During this journey Stanley concluded many treaties with the native chiefs, by which they were to submit to the suzerainty of the Association, founded a certain number of posts in the North near the Equator and in the South in the Kassai district, and actually set up a government which was soon semi-officially recognized. In October, 1882, France tacitly acknowledged the capacity of the Association to enjoy international rights (see letter of M. Duclerc, President of the Council, to Leopold II). The United States (April 22, 1884) and Germany (November 8, of the same year) recognized in a more explicit manner the flag of the Association as that of a friendly State. A week later (November 15, 1884) the famous Berlin Conference was opened. The object of this conference, which included delegates from four-teen nations, is stated clearly in the heading which serves as preamble to the act containing the collection of decisions and called “l’Acte General de Berlin“. It runs as follows:
“Wishing to regulate, in a spirit of mutual good understanding, the conditions most favorable to the development of commerce and civilization in certain parts of Africa, and to assure to all nations the advantages of free navigation on the two principal African rivers [Congo and Niger] which flow into the Atlantic; desirous, on the other hand, of forestalling any misunderstandings and disputes which new acts of occupation on the African coast might cause in the future; concerned also with the measures to be taken for increasing the welfare both material and moral of the native races .” During the intervals between the meetings of the conference M. Strauch worked hard to win for the flag of the International Association official recognition by all the powers represented; his efforts were successful, and Leopold, as founder of the Association, was able to officially communicate the fact to the conference at its second last meeting (February 23, 1885). The plenipotentiaries then expressed their high appreciation of the work done by the Belgian king; at the same time they welcomed the birth of the new State, thus founded. At the final meeting of the conference the Berlin Act was accepted by the Association, which was then hailed by Bismarck as “one of the principal guardians of the work which they had in view”.
The moment had now arrived for Leopold to show himself. Hitherto he had worked through various societies which finally developed into the International Association; he was the moving spirit of them all. He now came forward in the name of this Association, and receiving from the Belgian Chambers (vote of Chamber of Representatives, April 28, 1885; vote of Senate, April 30, 1885) the necessary authorization he announced to the various Powers on August 1, 1885, and the days following “that the possessions of the International Association would henceforth form and be called the Independent State of Congo”. He further declared himself sovereign of this State. It was understood that the only constitutional bond of union between Belgium and the Independent State of Congo was the person of the king. Thus was founded the Independent State. Leopold can justly regard it as his own creation. Nevertheless it is only fair to recognize the part taken in the work by some Belgian statesmen. Without the recognition of the Powers the Independent Congo State could not have won a secure position, and this recognition was obtained through the brilliant diplomacy of Mr. E. Banning and of Baron Lambermont at Berlin. Without the authorization of the Belgian Chambers Leopold could not have occupied a new throne; it was M. Beernaert, then prime minister, who obtained this authorization, and he is therefore justly regarded as “one of the statesmen who have contributed most to unite the destinies of the Congo and of Belgium” (Leroy-Beaulieu, “De la colonisation”, 352).
II. INTERNATIONAL AND POLITICAL SITUATION.—Recognition by the Powers.—The international position held by the Independent State results directly from the friendly recognition of the Powers accorded by treaty to the International Association, from which sprang the Independent State. Following, in chronological order, are the names of the contracting Powers and the dates of the treaties: United States of America (April 22, 1884); German Empire (November 8, 1884); Great Britain (December 16, 1884); Italy (December 19, 1884); Austria-Hungary (December 24, 1884); The Netherlands (December 27, 1884); Spain (January 7, 1885); France and Russia (February 5, 1885); Sweden and Norway (February 10, 1885); Portugal (February 14, 1885); Belgium and Denmark (February 28, 1885); Turkey (June 25, 1885); Switzerland (November 19, 1889); Republic of Liberia (December 15, 1891); Japan (July 9, 1900).
Neutrality of the Congo.—By the General Act of Berlin (ch. iii) the Powers had agreed to respect a political neutrality in the Congo Basin. They allowed all Powers having possessions there to put their territories under the protection of this neutrality. Availing itself of this privilege, the Independent State, August 1, 1885, declared its perpetual neutrality. This declaration was afterwards repeated, December 18, 1894, on the occasion of certain changes of frontier.
Obligations Imposed by the Act of Berlin.—In declaring its adhesion to the Act of Berlin (February 24, 1885) the Independent State contracted certain commercial, political, and other obligations which we shall briefly describe.—(a) Freedom of Commerce.—All nations were to have perfect freedom in commercial enterprise; the subjects of all flags were to be treated with perfect equality and be at liberty to engage in all kinds of transport; there was to be freedom of traffic on the coasts, rivers, and lakes of the Congo, and the harbors were to be open; free import and free transit were to be allowed to merchandise, save only such taxes or duties as might be required to defray the expenses entailed in the interests of commerce (subsequently, by an agreement made at Brussels on July 2, 1890, an import duty of ten per cent maximum might be imposed); finally no monopoly or privilege of a commercial nature might be granted.—(b) Protection of Natives, Missionaries, Travelers.—The Powers signing the Act bound themselves to care for the native peoples, their moral and material welfare, and to cooperate in suppressing slavery and especially the slave trade. They bound themselves to protect and assist, “without regard to distinctions of nationality or of creed, all religious, scientific and philanthropic establishments or enterprises, formed or organized for such ends, or calculated to instruct the inhabitants and to make them understand and appreciate the advantages of civilization”. In particular, Christian missionaries, men with scientific ends in view, and explorers, together with their escorts, were to be the objects of special protection (Art. 6). (c) Freedom of Religious Worship.—”Liberty of conscience and religious toleration are expressly guaranteed to natives as well as to other subjects and to foreigners. The free and public exercise of all forms of worship, the right of erecting religious edifices, and of organizing missions belonging to all creeds, shall not be submitted to any restriction or restraint” (ibidem).—(d) Postal Conventions.—The terms of the Universal Postal Union, revised at Paris, June 1, 1878 (Art. 7), were to be observed in the Congo Basin; these were officially accepted by the Independent State, September 17, 1885. In like manner, September 13, 1886, the additional Postal Act of Lisbon was adopted, on June 19, 1892, the Universal Postal Convention of Washington, and on May 26, 1906, that of Rome.—(e) Mediation and Arbitration.—In case serious disagreements should occur over the territories where commercial freedom was allowed, the Powers signing the Act bound themselves “before having recourse to arms, to seek the intervention of one or several friendly Powers”. In such a case the Powers reserved to themselves the right of having recourse to arbitration (Art. 12).
Conditions of the Act of Brussels.—The Slave Trade and Traffic in Spirits.—On July 2, 1890, on the proposal of England, an international conference met at Brussels. A general act was passed and signed by all the Powers that had formerly signed the Berlin Act, and also by the Independent State. By this the signatory Powers bound themselves to take measures to prevent the slave trade and to restrict the traffic in spirits in the zone lying between 20° N. lat. and 22° S. lat. Within this territory the distillation of liquor or importation thereof was forbidden in regions where the use of such liquor was not yet common. In the other parts where it was already in use a heavy import duty was imposed. This duty was fixed by the Convention of June 8, 1899, at seventy francs per hectolitre, fifty per cent alcohol (about $1.57 a gallon), for a period of six years; an equivalent excise duty was laid on the manufacture of such liquors.
Right of Preference of France.—Apart from the general provisions which govern its dealings with the Powers, the Independent State, owing to certain conventions, has special relations with France and Belgium. We shall treat first of those concerning France, comprised in the famous, but often badly explained, “Right of Preference”. On April 23, 1884, Colonel Strauch, President of the International Association, declared in a letter to Jules Ferry that if, owing to unforeseen circumstances and contrary to its intention, the Association was compelled in the future to sell its possessions, it would consider itself obliged to give the preference of purchase to France. On the following day the French minister officially acknowledged the letter and added that in the name of the French Government he bound himself to respect the established relations and the free territories of the Association. Thus the right was constituted. Writing, however, on April 22, 1887, to Bource, minister of France at Brussels, Baron Van Eetvelde declared that the Association had never meant or intended that this right accorded to France should be to the prejudice of Belgium of which Leopold II was king. In his letter of April 29, M. Bouree replied that this interpretation had come to his notice, but said nothing more. When in 1895 the question of the cession of the Independent State to Belgium was raised, it seemed prudent to negotiate with France. As a consequence the convention of February 5, 1895, was made between France and Belgium; France, on the one hand, agreed not to oppose the cession, and on the other secured a favorable determination of frontiers in Congo. On the same date, by another convention, the Belgian Government, already acting as successor of the Independent State, recognized the right of preference of France in the purchase of these territories, in case of a complete or partial exchange, concession, or lease to another Power. It declared besides that it would never give up gratuitously either the whole or a part of these said possessions. It is quite clear, therefore, (I) that the right of preference is simply one of pre-emption, i.e. in case of alienation on terms of sale, negotiations must first be entered into with France; (2) that France recognized in 1895 the priority of Belgium in this respect, or at least consented not to deny Belgium the right of preference.
Belgium‘s Right to Take Over the Congo.—The Belgian Act of April 28, 1885, had declared: “The union between Belgium and the new State of the Congo will be exclusively personal”. This could not, however, prevent the subsequent gift on the part of the king, nor could it take from Belgium the right of accepting such a donation. By his will, dated August 2, 1889, which was placed in the hands of M. Beernaert, who communicated it to the Chambers, Leopold II was to leave as a legacy to his country all sovereign rights over the Independent State of the Congo. He added, besides, that should the Belgian Government wish to take over the Congo before this time, he would be happy to see it accomplished during his lifetime. An agreement was next entered into, July 3, 1890, by which Belgium was to advance to the Congo twenty-five million francs, five millions at once and the remaining twenty at the rate of two millions a year. Six months after the expiration of the ten years (February 18, 1901) Belgium might, if it wished, annex the Independent State, with all the possessions, rights, and emoluments belonging to this sovereignty, provided it assumed the outstanding obligations of the State to third parties, “the king expressly refusing all indemnification for the personal sacrifices he had made”. On August 5, 1894, the king-sovereign announced that he was prepared to put at the immediate disposal of Belgium his possessions in the Congo. Following this announcement a treaty of annexation was concluded, January 8, 1895, between the Belgian Government and the Independent State, subject to the approval of the Chambers. This was given, February 12, 1895, but was withdrawn, June 19, and the treaty annulled by mutual consent, September 12, 1895. However, a new loan confirmed Belgium‘s option for 1901.
When this date arrived, Baron Van Eetvelde, minister of the State of Congo, addressed (March 28, 1901) a dispatch to the chief minister of the Belgian cabinet, Count de Smet de Naeyer, to the effect that possibly the moment had not yet arrived for Belgium to take over the Congo State; and that if this were so, in view of the letter of August 5, 1889, and the existing ties between Belgium and the Congo, it would, perhaps, be neither politic nor useful to fix a new term for the right of option. A further communication, May 22, 1901, emphasized the right held by Belgium, in virtue of the above-mentioned letter and the legacy of the king. It added that in case the right of annexation were unexercised, but not relinquished, Belgium ought to renounce, during such extension of her option, the payment of interest and the repayment of capital due to her. At the same time the Independent State declared its readiness to submit to annexation. M. Beernaert now proposed to annex the Congo, thus opposing the Government project of March 28, 1901, namely, to suspend the repayment of the capital lent, and the payment of the interest thereon. The king, by a letter addressed June 11, 1901, to M. Woeste, member of the Chamber, person-ally took part in the question. Only three Reins of this letter are public: the first clearly pointed out that the moment was inopportune for annexation; the second stated that in relation to the Congo Belgium should remain in the position she held in consequence of the Convention of 1890; the third enumerated the proofs of the attachment which the king had for his country. Thus came about the Belgian law of August 14, 1901, which renounced the repayment of the loans and the interest thereon until such time as Belgium should surrender the right of annexation—a right which she declared she wished to preserve. From an examination of these acts it seems certain that Belgium has an incontestable right to take over the Congo during the lifetime of the king. That certain prominent politicians, in a preliminary discussion in 1906, seem to have ignored this right, was doubtless only the effect of a surprise. When, however, as on June 3, 1906, the king-sovereign in a letter to the secretaries-general of the Independent State, added to his will a codicil which seemed to impose on Belgium the obligation of respecting (besides the engagements entered into with third parties) certain royal foundations, the amendment was not acceptable to the Chambers. The minister then stated that these wishes on the part of the king were not imposed as conditions, but were only earnest recommendations. On December 14, 1906, the House moved that while it desired for the Congo the advantages of civilization it was not unmindful of Belgium‘s rights; furthermore, that the question of taking over the Congo should be settled with the least possible delay.
The Territory.—The declarations of neutrality, together with the friendly treaties by which the united Powers of Germany, France, Portugal, etc., recognized the State, determined roughly its frontiers. Greater precision resulted from the treaty with England of May 12, 1894. With France, owing to some difficulties which arose, five treaties were made, the last being signed February 25, 1895. Treaties have still to be made with Germany to settle the Lake Kivu question and with Portugal about the Lake Dilolo region. With the exception of a narrow border-zone to the east near Lake Albert Edward, situated in the Nile Basin, nearly all the territory of the State belongs to the Congo Basin, which is about 1,158,300 sq. m. in extent. The State is the largest portion of this basin, and has an area of 945,945 sq. m., which is equivalent to a square having a side of three hundred leagues, or to seventy-five times the area of Belgium, or five times that of France. It is bounded on the north and northwest by French Congo and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan; on the east by British East Africa (Uganda Protectorate) and German East Africa; on the southeast and south by Rhodesia and Portuguese Angola; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean (which gives it about twenty-two miles of coastline) and the Portuguese territory of Cabinda. The State stretches from a little above 5° N. lat. to below 13° S. lat., and from 12° to between 31°-32° E. long., the most easterly point being on the Upper Nile.
III. DESCRIPTION OF THE INDEPENDENT STATE.—Physical Geography.—The general aspect of the State has often been compared to a huge cup. To the west lie the Crystal Mountains; to the southeast, the long chain of the Mitumba bordering on the plateaux of Ka-Tanga, from which descend the streams Lualaba, Luapula, etc., whose waters unite to form the Congo River. This vast central depression, divided into several terraces, rests on alternate strata of granite and gneiss. Lacustral settings (grit and clayey schists) are often found, as well as laterite. The innumerable rivers of the Congo are rocky in their upper courses and cut their way by rapids from one terrace to another, until, on the great alluvial plains of the center, they form an immense network of from 9000 to 11,000 miles of navigable waterways and spread out fan-like from Leopoldville. The principal tributaries of the Congo are the Ubanghi and Welle to the north; the Kassai-Sankuru, Lomami, etc., to the south. Beyond Stanley Pool are the famous falls which, by preventing continuous river-traffic, necessitated the railroad (about 270 miles, a journey of two days) binding Leopoldville to the seaport of Matadi (the highest point of the Congo Estuary reached by steamers). The falls of the Upper River will likewise be doubled by railroads. In fact, a trunk line to Stanley Falls has been completed, and another to the “Gates of Hell” commenced. Others in the direction of the Nile, of the Katanga, and of the English and Portuguese railways have been determined upon.
There are two seasons in the Lower Congo, the dry and the rainy. In the center the climate, always warm and rainy, has produced a vast equatorial forest of giant trees and jungle. In these regions much cocoa, coffee, copal, nut- and palm-oil, and, above all, caoutchouc are produced. Besides the elephant, hunted to excess, the fauna of the country includes the antelope, monkey, zebra (which it is hoped to domesticate), okapi, hippopotamus, and crocodile. There also are found termites, ants, mosquitoes, and the terrible tse-tse which causes the sleeping sickness. With regard to mineral wealth, Katanga gives promise of an immense amount of malachite copper (2 million tons, valued at00,000; 000, according to the official report of January, 1908), much tin (20 million tons, valued at $16,000,000 along the Lualaba); also iron magnetite and oligist. Gold also has been found in the mines of Kambobe, while those of Kilo (Aruwimi) produced 8841.25 oz. Troy ($170,000) in 1905.
Ethnography and Population.—Three indigenous races are found in the Congo Basin. The Azande, who seem to belong to the Nigritian races, inhabit the northeast frontier. The aboriginal Pygmies are found in the center, mingled with the rest, but especially in the region of the great forest. The larger part of the peoples belong to the Bantu family. The population is probably about twenty millions, although other estimates of from twelve to thirty millions have been given.
Language.—The language of the Blacks is, radically, the agglutinative speech of the Bantu peoples, i.e. it forms its words without fusion or alteration. It is divided into over forty very different dialects. The language is rich, rational, philosophic, and betokens a much higher level of civilization than do the morals and customs of this wretched race. In Lower Congo contact with the Portuguese has influenced the ideas and habits of the Blacks; it has taught them the commercial value of certain products, such as caoutchouc, and brought them under the enervating influence of alcohol; here the race has degenerated. In Upper Congo the Arab influence has introduced by violence both slavery and habits of industry. The pernicious practice of inhaling the fumes of hemp has come also with Arab domination. In the center of the country the race remains more pure.
Political Organization.—Present native customs show traces of a former supremacy of one chief over the others. There are unmistakable signs both of vassalage and of suzerainty. The tribes are ruled by a chief (mfumu) whose authority, however, is checked by the presence of a council of elders. The succession to the chieftaincy is hereditary, but not in the direct line of male descent. While only males can occupy the throne, the succession passes not to the son, but in the collateral line to the brother and then to the son of the daughter. Other information on ethnographical questions is given under VIII.
Commerce.—Some figures with regard to the commerce of the Congo may be given here. In 1887 when a total of the exportations of the Independent State was first made, the figure was about $396,088. This we may compare with the figures of subsequent years: 1890, $1,648,439; 1895, $2,188,603; 1900, $9,475,-480; 1905, $10,606,432; 1906, $11,655,566. Caoutchouc represents the greater part of this output. Its value was, in 1905, $8,751,180 (10,938,975 lbs.). The value of ivory (473,260 lbs.) for the same year was $967,554; palm nuts (11,355,529 lbs.), $302,817; palm-oil (4,335,229 lbs.), $220,678. Import statistics date only from the establishment of import duties in the second quarter of 1892. We append some dates and figures:—1893, $1,835,020; 1895, $2,137,169; 1900, $4,944,821; 1905, $4,015,072; 1906, $4,295,517. These figures represent largely Belgian commerce. In 1906 the Congo’s exports to Belgium reached $10,860,-939; the imports from Belgium were $3,057,058. Imports from the United States do not exceed $6,000.
IV. WHEN AND BY WHAT RIGHT THE CONGO STATE WAS CREATED.—How did the Congo State arise? The question is not an easy one to answer. Certain authors, the mouthpieces of the State, regard the Independent State as the natural heir of the petty chiefs who governed the various Congolese tribes. They maintain that through the treaties made with these chiefs the supreme power passed from native to European hands. This is a thesis easy to formulate, but impossible to defend. For in fact an international treaty supposes the existence of two nations. Now it may be admitted that the Congolese had, at the period in question, a political organization—though this point has been doubted by some; at any rate the International Association was at the time surely nothing more than a private company. Again, when the native chiefs agreed to put their mark at the bottom of a treaty in exchange for a few pieces of cloth, did they realize what they were doing? Did they realize that they were veritably abdicating, and not simply authorizing some European to settle on their land? A recent defender of the position stated above has gone so far as to imagine that Stanley improvised on the Congo coast a course of international law for the use of the native chiefs. For this Stanley had neither time nor means at his disposal, and he would have found it difficult to do so through an interpreter. Further, even if the chiefs did wish to transfer their authority, could they have done so without the consent of their tribes? Lastly the treaties in question were nearly all made with chiefs who inhabited the present French Congo; they affected only a very small part of the present Congo State.
Others say that the Independent State was created by the Berlin Conference. This hypothesis is also unacceptable. What right had this Conference over the Congo Basin? The plenipotentiaries claimed none; what they wished to do was not to create new States, but to make the Powers, present and future, holding interests in Central Africa, accept a regime of free trade. As a matter of fact it was during the intervals between the meetings of the Conference that the Independent State had its flag recognized by the different Powers one after another. The Conference, as such, only congratulated the State. It supplied the means of existence, but it did not create. M. Cattier (Droit et administration de l’Etat Independant, p. 43) is rightly of opinion that the Independent State owes its origin to an act of occupation. But was this lawful? Doubtless it was. First the land was a prey to the most revolting savage cruelties, even to cannibalism; second, it was ravaged by ceaseless intestine wars and by the slave trade; third, it denied strangers the protection of the jus pentium, or law of nations. In such a case the common good of man-kind sanctioned the imposition of a state of order and security, and hence the creation of a civilizing power. The Powers represented at the Berlin Conference gave the king-sovereign a free hand in the political occupation of the Congo Basin, while the treaties made with the native chiefs and the victories won over the Arabs likewise contributed to this end. But it was only when this occupation grew sufficiently effective (about 1895) that the embryonic polity of 1885 became in a true sense the Independent State. It is carefully to be noted that the occupation above referred to did nothing more than transfer the political authority; it did not modify or affect any private rights, e.g. property rights.
V. INTERIOR ORGANIZATION. Legislative and Administrative Power.—Leopold II exercises over his Congolese subjects a sovereignty which makes him the most absolute monarch in the world: he governs them by his sole and uncontrolled will. He gives all important orders, constitutes the whole administration, and is the source of all authority in his African kingdom. He has established the Congo Central Government at Brussels. While reserving to himself the supreme legislative power, he has, since September 1, 1894, confided to a secretary of state the direction of the Central Government. This official can enact measures (Arretes du Secretaire d’Etat) which have the force of laws. When he is absent his place is taken by three secretaries-general, who, acting in concert, possess his power; as a matter of fact, since the period of office of Baron Van Eetvelde there has been no secretary of state. Further, the sovereign-king instituted (April 16, 1889) at Brussels a Conseil Superieur, which acts as a high court of justice and gives advice on such questions as the king submits for consideration. His Majesty names the members of this council. In the Congo territory itself a governor-general is at the head of the administration. He possesses a restricted legislative power and can make police regulations and the like. The State capital is at Boma. The country is divided into fourteen districts, governed by the commissaires, and these are subdivided into zones and secteurs which are under the authority of the chefs de zone, chefs de secteur.
Judicial Power.—For the administration of civil and criminal cases there are five lower courts, each composed of a judge, an officier du ministere public (procureur d’Etat) to represent the people, and a greffier; there is also a court of appeal composed of a president, two judges, an officier du ministers public (procureur general), and a greffier. In places where there is no regular court the officier du ministers public (who must be a doctor in law) can, within certain limits, exercise a summary jurisdiction. Finally, the native chiefs (mfumu) have certain judicial powers over their own peoples. The repression of crimes, or, in the terminology of Congo law, infractions, which include even such offenses as that of murder (see Code Penal de l’Etat Indep.), is further confided to local courts, appointed by the governor-general, and composed (at least normally) of a judge, who need not have studied law (very often he is the commissaire), and an officier du ministere public (substitute) who must be a doctor in law. There are also military courts (conseil de guerre, conseil de guerre d’appel). At the head of this administration of justice is the conseil superieur de Bruxelles, which constitutes the tour de cessation. The judges and officers of justice are not appointed for life, but are all removable; the governor-general possesses a sort of supremacy both in their nomination and supervision.
Domanial Policy.—At first (1885-1891) the State favored private initiative and claimed for itself no monopoly. Later on (since 1892), anxious to increase its resources, and hearing of the vast wealth of rubber and ivory in the Upper Congo, it inaugurated a regime of monopoly. Invoking an ordinance of July 5, 1885, which had declared that “the unoccupied lands must be considered as belonging to the State”, it invalidated all acts of occupation made, whether by natives or strangers, after this date. It then put in practice a system of proprietorship and exploitation of the soil and its products. We add here a short resume of the extremely complex legislation now in force:—(a) Concerning the Natives.—The decrees profess respect for all native occupation “such as it existed before July 5, 1885”. Hitherto no adequate or serious inquiry has determined the rights which the natives possessed in virtue of this occupation. Does the State admit that they now have a true proprietary right to any part whatever of the soil? It is impossible to say. At any rate they may not, without the authorization of the governor-general, dispose of their lands to a third party. The natives may continue, then, to inhabit their plots of land where they plant msnioc; in addition, by virtue of the reform decrees of 1906 each village has been allotted an area triple the size of that which it previously inhabited and cultivated. The natives are full possessors of the products of the lands thus cultivated. Further, if they formerly enjoyed any certain use of any woods or forests they may still retain that use.
(b) Concerning the Non-Natives.—The rights above mentioned being safeguarded, all the rest of the Congo State has been declared the property of the State; it is consequently at the absolute disposition of the sovereign-king, who has distributed it thus: (I) One-third constitutes the Domaine National, administered by a council of six charged with the task of developing its revenues. These revenues are intended to cover the ordinary budget expenses, to pay off the public debt, to form a reserve fund, and to serve certain purposes of public utility for the Congo State and for Belgium. (2) One-ninth, selected in the richest part of the country, forms the Domaine de la Couronne. It is the private property of the king, who, however, has the intention of giving it eventually to some institution of public utility, and in the meantime desires that its revenues should create and subsidize certain works and institutions for the general good, whether in the State or in Belgium. Six mines, hereafter to be selected, also belong to this Domaine, which is administered by a committee. Hitherto both of these territories have been administered (en regie) by the employees of the State. (3) The rest of the territory constitutes the Terres Domaniales, which the State reserves to itself to sell, to let, or to grant as it pleases. All alienation or letting of these lands must, to avoid nullity, be ratified within six months by the king. Of these public lands about one third have been granted or alienated, principally to concessionary companies. The grants of use, however, far exceed the alienations, and they give to the companies in question the monopoly of exploitation. In the greater number of these companies the State owns half the stock.
Fiscal System.—(I) The State subjects non-nativesto direct and personal taxes similar to those in Europe. As a consequence of the Brussels Conference (July 2, 1890) a customs duty was laid on all imports. The export customs duty on rubber (0.65 fr. per kilogram—about 6 cts. per pound) and ivory (I to 2.1 fr. per kilogram—about 9 cts. to 17 cts. per pound) forms one of the principal sources of revenue of the State.—(2) The natives are subject to conscription. Since the reforms of 1906 the annual contingent to be supplied is divided into two sections, one of which goes to the army and the other furnishes laborers for the public works. The soldiers serve for seven years, the workmen for five. Further, the natives who are not so engaged are subject to a poll tax affecting every adult, male or female. This tax varies from 6 to 24 fr. (about $1.20 to $4.80) a year; it may be paid in money, in kind (food-stuffs as a rule), or in personal labor. Every year the commissaire draws up for the different villages tables of equivalence between money, kind, and labor, which must, since the last reforms, he publicly exhibited. The personal labor demanded may not exceed in duration a total of forty hours a month—hence the phrase “forty hours’ tax”. For this labor the natives receive a certain remuneration—by “an act of pure condescension” according to the latest decrees. The annual income and outlay of the State are about 30,000,000 fr. (roughly $6,000,000). The products of the Domaine National together with taxes paid in kind represent 16,500,000 fr. The remuneration paid (in kind) to the natives amounts to 2,500,000 or 3,000,000 fr.
VI. CRITICISMS OF THE CONGO.—For some years past the Independent State has been the object of very severe criticism, particularly on the part of the Congo Reform Association, directed by Mr. E. D. Morel. We do not presume to judge intentions; nevertheless this hostility, directed against one only of the four Congos, and that one dependent on a people powerless to defend itself, creates in Belgium painful feelings of surprise. Grave accusations have been made against the French Congo; the German Parliament in the name of humanity has heard earnest protests against excesses in the German Congo; and it is not likely, if a commission of inquiry were to traverse Rhodesia, that it would have nothing but eulogies to record. Why then single out one country, and that a defenseless one? It seems but fair, also, to remark that one cannot justly compare a colony in its beginnings with a colony established more than a century ago. The early history of colonies has ever been a sad one, as is instanced by Macaulay’s account of Warren Hastings and the British occupation of India. On the other hand wrong does not justify wrong. The standard of a government should be absolute justice, and it is from this point of view that the wrongs imputed to the Congo administration will be considered.
The accusations fall under two heads: (I) infidelity to promises given to the civilized Powers; (2) injustice towards the Congolese.
Breach of Faith.—The land system inaugurated in 1891 is said to be incompatible with the commercial freedom stipulated for at Berlin, in particular with Article 5, which forbade the granting of monopolies, and any privileges in commercial matters. The Independent State denies the charge of infidelity: “There is no `commerce’ in selling the product of one’s own land. We do no more than that. The monopolies we accord are not commercial.” In support of this view the opinions of jurists of different countries are adduced. These were consulted, especially in 1892, and included Professor Westlake and Sir Horace Davey, the latter an English judge and member of the Privy Council.
Inhuman Treatment of Natives.—This accusation appeals to Christian people; it touches the principles of humanity. The Congo State is accused of oppressing, instead of civilizing, the Congo, and charges of atrocious cruelty have been brought. So grave were these that King Leopold thought it wise to establish an International Commission of inquiry with unlimited authority to investigate the condition of the natives. The decree of July 23, 1904, entrusted this important duty to M. Janssens (General Advocate of the Court of Cassation of Belgium), as president of the commission, Baron Nisco, an Italian (Temporary President of the Boma Tribunal of Appeal), and Doctor de Schumacher (Counselor of State and Chief of the Department of Justice of the Canton of Lucerne, Switzerland). The commission arrived at Boma, October 5, 1904. They concluded their investigations, February 13, 1905, and on the 21st of the same month embarked for Europe. The report was made public, November 5, 1905, in the official bulletin of the Independent State, and is obviously the most serious item in the question that we are now discussing. We must except, however, the chapter dealing with the missionaries. In this the commissioners departed from their habitual prudence, and their expressions here—as is commonly stated—do not accurately represent their judgment. According to this report one cannot directly charge the Independent State with responsibility for cruelties inflicted upon individuals. There are doubtless isolated crimes, but these are punished. There are also the involuntary consequences of governmental measures, but these unhappy effects were not foreseen. Such were the delegation of powers to the agents of companies; the giving of fire-arms to black sentinels; the failure to distinguish between military demonstrations to prevent rebellion and war operations to repress a revolt. Moreover, the report drew attention to grave abuses in the recruiting of laborers, in the imposition of compulsory labor on the natives, in the land regime, and in the organization of justice.
Following the publication of this, the king named a Reform Commission, whose work resulted in certain recommendations drawn up by the secretaries-general of the State. These the king accepted and em-bodied in the Reform Decrees of June 3, 1906.
It would be premature at this time to forecast the probable influence of these reforms on the general situation in the Congo; we are too near the events. Impartial history will distinguish the good from the evil, and fix the responsibilities. It may be said that the Report recognized, on the part of the Independent State, the splendid campaign against the Arabs, signalized by many deeds of heroism, which put an end to the slave trade, and rendered its resuscitation almost impossible. To the intestine wars between the chiefs have succeeded, almost everywhere, peace and security. The use of the flail and of alcohol have been rigorously prohibited, and the cannibal tribes an but very rarely find an opportunity of indulging their savage instincts. Finally, it may be observed that in this whole affair Belgium is in no way responsible; this is an opinion expressed by two ministers of the British Government (see debates of the British Parliament for February 27 and March 3, 1908). Belgium as a whole has remained aloof from the African project, and the methods adopted were not known to it. If, indeed, the Congo Government had appealed with more simplicity and frankness to the religious sentiments of the Belgian people; if it had taken care to proclaim a program of Christian civilization, it would have kindled more enthusiasm among them, and evoked more sympathy. In that case, also, it would have found more easily the men capable of contributing to a work of such supreme moral importance.
FUTURE OF THE CONGO STATE.—By a vote of December 14, 1906, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives expressed its willingness to consider as soon as possible the question of annexation. A commission of eighteen was immediately charged with making a draft of proposed colonial law. When M. de-Trooz succeeded M. de Smet de Naeyer as prime minister, he announced his intention of rapidly bringing about the transfer of the Congo State to Belgium. During August, 1907, the Belgian and the Congo Governments each named four plenipotentiaries to draw up the treaty of annexation. A praiseworthy activity was displayed. The commission of eighteen adopted on the first reading a tentative body of laws; the plenipotentiaries agreed to sign a treaty. The treaty, however, was not well received by the public; the Liberal Left unanimously declared they could not accept it. The principal difficulty, it seems, was the clause in the Treaty of Cession which assures the perpetuity of the Domaine de la Couronne. It is true that the revenues of this Domaine were to be disposed of in a generous way; yet many representatives refused to bind the mother country to the maintenance of a foundation which had merely been earnestly recommended. In the meantime M. de Trooz died. M. Schollaert, his successor, pronounced in favor of annexation, and his declaration before the Chamber gave promise of more acceptable conditions of annexation. An additional clause introduced by him into the treaty greatly improved the situation.
MISSIONS IN THE CONGO.—Ancient.—The evangelization of the Congo began as early as 1484, when Diego Cam discovered the mouth of the Congo River, known as the Zaire until the seventeenth century. Cam’s naval chaplain set himself at once to preach the “good news” to the natives, and won to the Faith the chief of Sogno, a village on the right bank of the Congo, where he first landed. Some of the inhabitants of this village accompanied Cam on his return voyage and were solemnly baptized at the court of John II of Portugal. Later, the head chief of Banza-Congo (Outeiro, the present San Salvador) asked King John for missionaries. Three were sent (whether they were Dominicans or Franciscans or members of a Lisbon chapter, we do not know); they finally baptized the head chief and many other subordinate ones at Banza-Congo, in a wooden structure called the church of the Holy Cross. In 1518 a grandson of this chief, known as Henry, who had been ordained in Portugal, was made titular Bishop of Utica, and appointed by Leo X Vicar Apostolic of Congo. Unfortunately, he died before quitting Europe. He is the only native bishop Congo has ever had.
From the beginning the Portuguese undertook to introduce European customs in Congo. The petty chiefs became kings with Portuguese names; their secretaries of State headed public documents thus: “We, Alphonso [or Diego] by the grace of God King of Congo and of Ilungo, of Cacongo, of Ngoyo, of the lands above and below the Zaire, Lord of the Amboados and of Angola … and of the Conquest [sic] of Parizon… “The chiefs for the most part could do no more than put their mark to these documents. One of them imitated the feudal system and divided his kingdom into seigniories, duchies, etc. At the beginning of the seventeenth century a native chief, Alvarez II, sent one of his relatives, a marquis, as his representative to the papal court. The ambassador arrived in Rome in a dying condition and expired the day after his arrival, the Eve of Epiphany, 1608. Paul V, who personally assisted the ambassador in his last moments, gave him a magnificent state funeral and erected to his memory a monument at St. Mary Major’s. Later, Urban VIII had a superb mausoleum erected to him by Bernini; it still stands at the entrance to the choir of the basilica. The Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, and Jesuits were the first missionaries of the Congo. In spite of the promising beginnings, their labors, though trying, were rather fruitless. In the seventeenth century the Jesuits had two colleges, one at Loanda, another, of minor importance, at San Salvador. On the whole, religion never really took firm root, and was early brought into discredit by the vices and slave-trading of the Portuguese. It has managed, however, to linger on in Portuguese Congo to our days. While the Portuguese always confined themselves to the Lower Congo, as early as the seventeenth century the missionaries had traversed the course of the Zaire, and a seventeenth-century map has been discovered which traces the river according to data supplied by them. From this it would seem that Stanley has not the distinction of being the first white man to explore the Upper Congo.
Modern.—French and Portuguese Congo.—On May 20, 1716, Clement XI created the episcopal see of Santa Cruz do Reino de Angola. The residence was at first at San Salvador, but was later on transferred to Loanda. The Portuguese bishop of this town has under his jurisdiction about twenty priests. It is through this see that the ancient and modern missions of Congo are united (see Angola and Congo). The first modern missionaries were the Fathers of the Holy Ghost (mother-house at Paris). Towards the middle of the nineteenth century this flourishing congregation of missionaries had the spiritual care of all the West African coast from the Senegal to the Orange River, with the exception of the Diocese of Loanda. They still have charge of all French Congo and of Portuguese Congo (Loanda excepted).
French Congo.—The Fathers of the Holy Ghost have here three vicariates: (a) Gabon, founded in 1842 and confided to them in 1845. Msgr. Adam is vicar Apostolic; 12 residences; mission staff, 42 priests, 21 brothers, 1 native priest, 7 native brothers, and 41 catechists. (b) Loango River (Lower French Congo), founded, November 24, 1886; pro-vicar Apostolic, Msgr. Derouet; 6 residences; mission staff, 18 priests, 11 brothers, 1 native priest, 8 native seminarists, 17 native brothers, and 60 catechists.—(c) Ubanghi (Upper French Congo), founded, October 14, 1890; vicar Apostolic is Msgr. Augouard; 7 residences; mission staff, 24 priests, 16 brothers, and 14 catechists. The Christians of these three vicariates number about 40,000, of whom more than half are catechumens.
Portuguese Congo.—This has a prefecture Apostolic dating from June 27, 1640. The Capuchins administered it until 1834, when the mission was abandoned. A pontifical decree of September 1, 1865, reestablished it and entrusted it to the Fathers of the Holy Ghost; 4 residences, 11 priests, 11 brothers, 12 native seminarists, 10 native brothers, and 24 catechists; Christians about 7000. These figures represent the condition of the missions of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost in March, 1906.
The Free State.—Charles George Gordon, the hero of Khartoum, a Presbyterian, was among the first to draw the attention of Leopold II to the need of establishing numerous Catholic missions in his African kingdom. At the beginning of 1884, some days before his departure for the Sudan, Gordon was chosen General Administrator of the Stations of the International Association, and in this quality had an interview with Leopold, towards the end of which Gordon remarked: “Sire, we have forgotten the principal thing—the missionaries”. “Oh, I have already considered the question”, said Leopold. “The Association gives help and protection to all missionaries; further, it has given a subsidy to the missionaries of the Bible Society, to the Baptists …” “Yes,” replied Gordon, “but you must also send Roman missionaries, many Roman missionaries” (Revue Generale, 1885, p. 116). From February 24, 1878, there was at the extreme east of the Congo State a pro-vicariate Apostolic for the Upper Congo. This became, in 1880, a vicariate, and was served by the White Fathers of Cardinal Lavigerie (q.v.). But after the establishment of the new State in 1885, Leopold persuaded the Holy See to reserve the Catholic evangelization of his African dominion to Belgian missionaries. Cardinal Lavigerie did not, however, abandon this post of honor, but founded a Belgian branch of his institute, which, by a pontifical Brief of December 30, 1886, was placed in charge of the Vicariate of the Upper Congo. Its activities are confined to the Independent State; vicar Apostolic, Msgr. Roelens. An African seminary was founded at Louvain (1886) and placed under the direction of Canon Forget, professor of theology at the University of Louvain. The difficulties attached to such an enterprise soon made themselves felt, and it was found impossible to carry it on without the help of some religious institute. The aid of the young but already flourishing Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Mary (known also as the Congregation of Scheutveld, after the mother-house at Scheutveld near Brussels) had already been sought in 1876, and they were again appealed to in 1884. Though the missions in China and Mongolia absorbed nearly all their strength, they determined (1886-87) to make an effort to assist the Congo. In 1888 they took over the African seminary, and on May 11 of the same year Leo XIII created the immense Vicariate Apostolic (present incumbent, Msgr. Van Ronsle) of the Belgian Congo, which he committed to their care. On July 26, 1901, a part of this territory was detached, though still left in their charge, to form the new Prefecture Apostolic of the Upper Kassai; pref. Ap. (1908) is Msgr. Henri Cambier.
Towards the end of 1891 the Belgian Jesuits, already overburdened with two foreign missions, undertook to send a body of missionaries to the Congo. They were placed in charge of a portion of the Belgian Congo vicariate; on January 31, 1903, their mission became the Prefecture Apostolic of Kwango. The superior and pref. Ap. (1908) is the Rev. Julian Banckaert, S.J. There are also a prefecture Apostolic: Welle, founded May 12, 1898, Premonstratensians of the Abbey of Tongerloo (pref. Ap., Rev. M. L. Derikx) and a vicariate Apostolic: Stanley Falls, founded as a prefecture August 3, 1904, Priests of the Sacred Heart (vie. Ap., Rev. G. Grison). There are other missionaries in the Belgian vicariate who, though having no autonomous territory, nevertheless render very important service in the evangelization of the country. Among these are the Trappists and the Redemptorists. The former went from the Abbey of Westmalle in 1894, hoping to acquire in Africa, by the foundation of agricultural colonies, a civilizing influence similar to that of the medieval Benedictines. Their first efforts in the Lower Congo were fruitless; later they established themselves in the Upper Congo beyond the confluence of the Congo and the Ruki, almost on the Equator. Their principal post is at Bamania. The Redemptorists have succeeded the secular priests at Matadi in the evangelization of the town and of the railway employees. In 1905-06 the Mill Hill Missionaries (English) accepted two posts in the Upper Congo. The Vicariate Apostolic of Sudan, administered by the White Fathers, has under its jurisdiction a portion of the Congo State; vicar Apostolic, Msgr. H. L. Bazin. In May, 1907, the Fathers of the Holy Ghost were engaged as chaplains to the second railway section of the Great Lakes.—The numerous sisters of various religious institutes who have devoted their fortunes and their lives to the moral and religious education of the Congolese women do an amount of good beyond all praise. The Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary (Ghent Institute) were the first to enter on this arduous mission. They are found in the districts evangelized by the Fathers of Scheutveld and are assisted by the Franciscan Sisters, from Gooreind, Antwerp province. The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood (Natal, Holland) are employed in the missions of the Trappist Fathers. The Congregation of Our Lady of Africa (White Sisters) devote themselves to the natives in the Vicariate of Upper Congo. In the Prefecture of Kwango the Notre Dame Sisters (Namur) are established; in Welle the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary (Berlaerlez-Lierre). For statistics see below the table of Catholic missions.
German East Africa.—The German possessions occupy but a very small part of the Congo Basin. There are three vicariates in charge of the White Fathers: South Nyanza under Msgr. J. J. Hirth; Unymuezi under Msgr. F. Gerboin; and Tanganyika under Msgr. A. Le Chaptois. In addition there is the Vicariate of Central Zanzibar, in charge of the Fathers of the Holy Ghost, under Msgr. F. X. Vogt. Finally, the Vicariate of South Zanzibar, or Dar es Salaam, in charge of the Bavarian Congregation of St. Odile under Msgr. T. Spreiter.
Non-Catholic Missions.—There are very few of these in the French Congo. We may mention the two missions of Ogowe, formerly held by the American Presbyterians, and now by the Paris Evangelical Missions. Quite recently a Swedish mission has been established in Loango. In Portuguese Congo the Methodists have nine missions. Six missionary societies devote themselves to the evangelization of German East Africa, viz.: the Evangelical Missionary Society for German East Africa, the Pagan Missionary Society, the Community of Brothers, and the Evangelical Missionary Society of Leipzig; and two English, viz.: the Universities Mission to Central Africa and the Church Missionary Society. In the Congo Independent State there are many Protestant missions. The longest established is the English Baptist Missionary Society, Lower Congo (1877). In 1879 followed the Livingstone Inland Mission; Lutheran Svenska or Swedish Mission (1881); American Baptist Missionary Union (1883); Bishop Taylor’s Self-Supporting Mission (1886); Congo Balolo Mission (1889); International Missionary Alliance (1889); American Southern Presbyterian Mission (1891); Arnot Scotch Presbyterian Mission (1891); Seventh Day Baptists (1893). In 1897 there were 56 stations with 221 mission workers of both sexes.
The Natives.—The irreligion and ignorance of the Congolese have often been exaggerated and misrepresented. They are not so debased as many pretend. They recognize a supreme God, Creator of all things, but they seem very largely to ignore His immediate Providence and His intervention in the affairs of this world. They believe in the existence of spirits, and admit a metempsychosis more or less happy in a future life. Their worship is a species of gross fetishism, propagated by the sorcerers, whose influence is very great and often most pernicious. These sorcerers are the “wise men” of Congo; they are consulted about everything. If misfortune comes or crime is committed, it is to them that recourse must be had, and whoever is designated by them as the cause of the evil must pass through the test of fire or of casque (poisoned drink). The State forbids such tests under most severe penalties. Superstitious fears and slavish attachment to amulets are the chief obstacles to conversion. Others are the practice of polygamy, largely due to the custom which prevents the wife from having any relations with her husband during the period of lactation—from two to three years—lest she should make her child unhappy; the cannibalism which exists in certain parts; ingrained habits of idleness; gross egoism; the worship of might as confounded with right—in short that sum of differences which separates, as by an abyss, the essentially pagan soul of the Congolese from the Christian conception of right and wrong which the missioners try to impart. The excesses and the evil example of the Europeans themselves render the missionary’s task even more difficult. Add to this the abuse which, in districts where the rubber trade flourishes or in the neighborhood of towns, imposes a hard task of from fifteen to twenty days per month of forced labor instead of the forty hours fixed by the law; the unfortunate divisions between the Christian churches and the acts of petty opposition consequent thereon—and the problem is still further complicated. Nor is all ended when the Congolese is converted; he must be continually urged to hold fast to the gift he has received, for his fickleness is very great. Often he imagines that his obligation to remain a Christian ceases with the contract which binds him to a mission or to the service of Europeans. In the eastern part of Upper Congo the Arabs, who frequently make slave raids, have managed to win over to their religion many of the intelligent tribes of the Bakusus. These proselytes regard all their workmen as slaves for life; they are immoral, fanatic, and very hostile to the Gospel.
The noble work of evangelization in the Congo, however, is far from being fruitless. As formerly under the Portuguese rule, so today the missionaries find souls in which their teaching takes firm root. Msgr. Augouard gives the example of a catechist of the tribe of Babois who, seeing the resources of the mission failing, undertook to feed and clothe the children of his school with the profits of his sewing-machine. The most intelligent part of the population inhabits the Domaine de la Couronne and is well disposed towards Christianity. Until 1908 these people were shut off from all immediate missionary influence; they were evangelized, however, by some of their countrymen who had become Christians while serving in the army. Many travelled long distances to see and speak with the Catholic missionaries, and both men and women, nothing daunted, undertook perilous journeys in order to reach the mission stations. It is not surprising, therefore, that the missionaries have been received everywhere with enthusiasm, and that the natives have offered to build their simple habitations and schools.
The Manner of Evangelizing.—Guided by experi ence, the present missionaries confer baptism only on those who have been well instructed and well tested. Their chief reliance is placed in the education of the young. Hence in the stations they have founded schools where religion is taught along with the trades. For the Catholics it is the religious, men and women, who have devoted themselves to this work; among the Protestants Mrs. Bentley deserves the highest praise for the intelligent direction she has given to the trade instruction. The fermes-chapelles, of which mention is often made, are rural schools where, under the guidance of certain picked pupils, the young Congolese are taught agriculture. The missionary who regularly visits these posts supplies the farm instruments and the seeds; the chief who grants the use
Fathers possessed a school of catechists with 73 pupils, a petit seminaire with 14 pupils, and a grand seminaire with one pupil. The resources of the Catholic missions are mostly derived from private charity. Many Protestant missions are very richly endowed. F
(28 M. P.
Priests of Scheutveld
400 F. Ch.
Fathers of the Sacred Heart
Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary
Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood
Sisters of Our Lady
2 HOMES A. VERMEERSCH