National Geographic's Collectors Corner

Collaborative site for collectors, dealers, & anyone interested in our history.

100 Years Ago: October 1919

This is installment #57 of my series of reviews of National Geographic Magazines as they reach their centennial of being issued.

The first article is entitled “A Vanishing People of the South Seas” and was written by John W, Church. It has the subtitle “The Tragic Fate of the Marquesan Cannibals, Noted for Their Warlike Courage and Physical Beauty”. The article contains twenty-two black-and-white photographs, eleven of which are full-page in size and two contain nudity. It also contains a sketch map on page 281 that shows the location of the Marquesas Islands in the Pacific Ocean with an inset showing the islands themselves.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

Three thousand years ago a “horde of savages” arrived at the group of islands known as the Marquesas. They formed part of the hegira from Southeast Asia. Hiva, the native name for the island chain is possibly a corruption of Siva, the ancient worship of Java. Little is known of the natives’ history but about fifty years prior to this article an investigator secured a matu tatua, or family genealogy, going back 135 generations, or about 4,000 years. Unlike the Tahitians, the Marquesans neglected to keep a record of their families and traditions by a system of orero, or bards charged with rehearsing and teaching them to each successive generation. With no written language these people have lost their past. They have allowed their maies, or sacred groves, to fall into decay.

In 1595 Alvara Mendana and his Spanish fleet while sailing from South America in search of gold, discovered Fatuhiva, the southernmost of the eleven islands in the group. He named the group “Illas Marquesas de Mendoza”, for the wife of his patron, Don Garcia Hurtad de Mendoza, Viceroy of Peru. Mendana named the bay in which he dropped anchor the Bay of Virgins. Only the three lower islands were visited by the Spaniards. They were christened Santa Magdalena, Dominnica, and Santa Christina. The northern islands were discovered over the next two centuries by a half a dozen voyagers, including our own Admiral Porter in 1813. These islands, and the fifty-odd bays that indent their shores were given Christian names. The attempt to replace the native terms proved futile, and today the individual islands are known by their original designations.

To the Spaniards, these islands were paradise marred by the cannibal tendencies of the swarms of fierce warriors. The beauty of the women and the splendor of the islands outweighed the possibility of becoming “long pig”, or pua oa, the cannibals’ name for human flesh.

The Bay of Virgins is set in a volcanic crater. One side of the volcano has collapsed into the sea allowing its caldera to be filled by the bay. The outer walls of the volcano are mostly bare rock with some gnarly trees and sparse patches of shrubs. Inside the crater it is a different story. The luxuriant verdure of the tropics overruns the immense amphitheater in riotous profusion. Trees and vines, flowers and shrubs, cover the huge basin softening the harsh, broken landscape. Great cascades, springing high on the mountainside, leap over precipices into dark gorges far below.

Less than a century ago this forest was heavily dotted with brown thatched huts. Each hut was built on a platform, or paepae, of stone without mortar or cement, 20 by 30 or 40 feet, level and unbroken, often 10 or 15 feet high on the lower side. Thousands of these platforms, no longer in use, cling to the sides of valleys and ravines, perfectly preserved.

The visit of Mendana had little effect on the Marquesans but there is a story believed by the locals that several sailors, enraptured by the beauty of the native women, deserted and took a score of women and, braving the wrath of the cannibals, fled over the mountains to an inland valley and lived happily ever after. The story goes that from this adventure sprang a tribe of beautiful red-haired women and fierce warriors, who raided the bay villages for salt water, being no salt deposits in their valley. Of the existence of this tribe there is no proof other than several women and boys with auburn hair in the village of Hanavave and nowhere else in the island. Aside from this, the Spaniards left no marks on the few bays they visited.

Two centuries later the famous Captain Cook arrived marking the beginning of the decay and eventual extermination of the people he desired to help. All eleven islands were heavily populated, with perhaps 150,000 natives in 1774. The only animal besides a few sea birds was the pig, probably brought by the savages when they arrived at the island group. There are many kinds of fish in the bays and reefs, including moko, or shark to the much smaller bonita. Cook introduced several fruits to the islands, including oranges, mangos, bananas, and fei from Tahiti and other islands. The coconut palm provided the natives with food, drink both hard and soft, oil, fiber for mats and rope, and fronds for thatching huts. They also had the breadfruit, or mei.

The bark of the breadfruit tree is used to make tappa cloth, worn by the natives. The Marquesan mango tree provides logs used in carving canoes. War clubs are fashioned from a type of ebony. Rosewood and “kokoo” are used in making bowls and paddles. From the “pua”, white blossoms are gathered and used to scent the coco oil used for skin care.

The islands have no poison reptiles and no insects to spread infection. With disease unknown to the natives before their discovery, population quickly outstripped the food supply. This led to not only warfare and cannibalism but also to the killing of infant girls as a means of population control. Men far outnumber women and a woman will have several husbands. Wife swapping was also customary.

Tattooing was practiced, like on many other south sea islands, but the French prohibited it at the request of missionaries since it had religious significance. The tattoo designs on women resembled fine lace. The tattoos in the Marquesas today are crude compared to those of the past for the skills and practices have been all but forgotten.

While the men had no qualms about eating women and children of other tribes, it was strictly taboo to eat the ones from their own tribe. Children were raised by the village, wandering from home to home. They learned to swim before they learned to walk. Women are forbidden from eating “long pig”. There are also taboos preventing them from eating pig, bonita, or squid. Also, they were not allowed to eat fresh breadfruit, bananas, or coconut except on special occasions. Women could not go in canoes and they were not allowed to weep. Except for pig and “long pig”, the taboos on food were lifted in times of plenty.

There are two intoxicants the natives use and they are as different as night and day. The first, ava-ava, is made from a root of the same name. Several maidens would chew the roots until they were a pulp and then spit into a bowl. Water was added and fermentation started almost immediately. It has a distinct soapy taste, unpleasant to the author’s palate. The second beverage is namu-ehi, or koko. It is made from the coconut palm. A tree is selected that is leaning due to the wind. The cluster of buds that would have become fifty or sixty coconuts are bound tightly using strips of bark. Resembling a fat cigar, the end is sliced off. A bowl is placed directly beneath the tip. After a few days, it begins to drip. The end must be resliced every day. This will produce one or more gallons per day. When fresh the beverage resembles lemonade, but fermentation occurs quickly and it hardens into a powerful drink.

The islands have well-defined wet and dry seasons and are subject to long droughts. Because of these droughts, the natives would stockpile breadfruit by burying them in pits covered by a layer of earth. In times of need the chief would open the pit. Even after ten years the breadfruit was edible. Once green, they had become black. Their interiors were white and mushy. Once open, fermentation would start immediately. When ground in a wooden bowl, it would rise like sticky dough. They had a bitter, acrid flavor, but edible. This dish is known as poipoi, not to be confused with the delightful poi from Hawaii. In times of great need, and when “long pig” was unavailable from other tribes, the chief and tribal elders would meet and decide which people in the tribe would be sacrificed to feed the village.

As mentioned, the arrival of Captain Cook, in 1774, was the beginning of the end for the Marquesans. He brought fruits and vegetables from other islands. He introduced cattle, sheep, and goats. And he presented iron and steel tools and knives to the warriors. Welcomed literally with open arms by the women and girls, his crew left behind a trail of diseases hitherto unknown by the island people. Today great herds of cattle, goats, and sheep roam unmolested on the islands while the Marquesan, when he eats meat at all, contents himself with the same pig which he has held in high esteem since before the white man’s arrival. The fruit Cook introduce rots on the ground, but the evil results of his visit have multiplied a thousand-fold.

The French took possession of the islands in 1842 with the arrival of Admiral Du Petit-Thouars. This was done to protect missionaries. Forts were built on several islands and troops installed to enforce French authority. For the next fifty years wars between the French troops and Marquesan warriors were waged. The natives, poorly armed and at war among themselves, were always defeated. The French forbad tattooing, the native religion, the hula, and especially the eating of “long pig”. In an attempt to convert the natives, missionaries appealed to the French to destroy all customs not in harmony with the Christian religion.

“Blackbirders” from North and South America would raid weakened villages and sell the men and women into slavery in far-off lands. Worse still were the frightful ravages of smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy, and other contagions among a people who had not known disease. In one instance, a Chilean blackbirder in 1861 had raided several bays on Nukuhiva and Uapu. A French warship captured the slaver’s ship off the coast of Peru. While transporting the Marquesans back home, smallpox broke out on board. The French put the ill savages ashore on Nukuhiva. The natives from Uapu took canoes and paddled 30 miles to their home. In less than three months 5,000 people on Uapu had died, almost depopulating the island. Nukuhiva also suffered greatly until the epidemic ran its course.

One missionary, Kikela, a native Hawaian, is credited with saving an American’s life. During Kikila’s stay a Puamau in 1861, a blackbirder had succeeded in carrying off several men and women. The chief swore vengeance on the next ship which entered the bay. This happened to be an American whaler. The first mate, a man named Whalen, went ashore for food and water. The crew succeeded in getting back to the ship, but Whalen was captured. By trading his coat and an ornately carved canoe, Kikila convinced the chief not to turn Whalen into “long pig”. Upon his return to America, Whalen made public his experience, whereupon President Abraham Lincoln sent Kikila a written testimony of appreciation and a gold watch. Kikila has long since met his maker but the watch, no longer a timepiece, is still an object of veneration. The author got to see it in the hut of another missionary following in Kikila’s footsteps.

After quelling a rebellion on the island of Hivaoa thirty years ago, the French withdrew save for a token presence, leaving the natives to their fate. Rejecting western customs, and having forgotten their own, the Marquesans are diminished. Their art and virtues are gone leaving only vices, along with the vices brought by the white man. Tattoo artists and wood carvers have vanished. The making of namu ehi goes on and a vile beer from fermented bananas and oranges is made. This has been supplemented by alcohol from trading schooners.

Only six of the eleven islands are now inhabited with only a few villages on these. An official French census taken in 1914 give a population of 3,004. The author completed a journey throughout the islands visiting every inhabited bay and village. His count was 1,950, a decrease of 33% in less than five years. While the official report lists 60 cases of leprosy, he saw considerably more than that number. The average death rate is eight deaths for every birth, and in many villages runs higher. The author doubts that there will be any full-blooded Marquesans left in ten years.

The second article this month is entitled “A Mexican Land of Canaan”. It was written by Frederick Simpich, former American Consul at Nogales and author of “Where Adam and Eve Lived” and other articles. It has the subtitle “Marvelous Riches of the Wonderful West Coast of Our Neighbor Republic”. The article contains sixteen black-and-white photographs. Six of those photos are full-page in size. The article also contains a full-page sketch map of the West Coast of Mexico on page 310.

Map courtesy of Philip Riviere

The article starts with the author leaving Nogales, on the U.S. border, by train. As he watched the border town and its tin-roofed adobe shacks slip away, he saw a wayside corral where cowboys were urging the cattle into a “dip-tank” where the cows took a creosote bath to prevent fever ticks from entering the U.S. and infecting our own herds. For a thousand curving, twisted miles the train pushed into the Mexican West Coast. For about 200 miles the landscape was very similar to Arizona, but upon leaving the high plains of northern Sonora and entering the Yaqui valley a new world opened up to the author.

Here the vast coastal plains began with their bright, colorful life. Flocks of parrots flew overhead, screeching. Coyotes dashed away into the bushes. At dusk spotted bobcats stalked rabbits. Troops of Yaqui Indians are stationed along the railway to protect it from their wild brothers in the hills. Beyond the Yaqui zone were vast level plantations of cane, corn, beans, tomatoes, and the important Mexican crop, the “garbanzo”, or chick pea. The hills were rich in gold, silver, and copper, but even without its mineral riches this land was prized for its startlingly fertile soil, alive with wild animals and birds, a Mexican Eden.

Despite the many ranches and plantations, the coast country as a whole was undeveloped. The author saw vast areas still covered in jungle, brush, and wild grasses. Due to its soil and climate, this region was being colonized by Americans, Chinese, and a few Europeans. These foreign residents are scattered all down the coast from Tijuana to Tehuantepec.

In the Yaqui Valley an American corporation had cleared and watered thousands of acres and established an American colony. Long, deep canals with miles of laterals and take-offs replaced the weed-choked irrigation ditches of the Indians. Tractors and gang-plows replaced the crude implements and scratch sticks of a decade before. In Nacozari a Yankee mining company built a free club and social center for its Mexican employees, with baths, pool tables, and a library.

Mexicans from other states refer to the Sonora natives as “the Yankees of Mexico” because of their thrift, advancement, and close relationship with the Americans. All the merchants and ranchers sent their children to schools in the U.S. These children returned wearing American clothes and speaking American slang. The average homes were largely furnished with American wares. And these Sonorans got most of their clothing, shoes, vehicles, and canned food from U.S. factories.

It seems the Sonorans understood Americans better than Americans understood their Mexican neighbors. This was due to the fact that most Sonorans had learned to speak English. The author felt this situation would improve with more and more American schools teaching Spanish.

With the opening of the Panama Canal, ports on the western coast of Mexico had opened up like never before. This allowed more goods to reach a region that was mostly limited to the railway for supplies in the past.

So much of the land in Mexico was only suited to grazing, therefore the ratio of meat-bearing animals to humans was probably higher than any other country in the world. Every year Americans ate thousands of imported Mexican cattle. On one great American-owned ranch about 15,000 calves were branded. Little feeding was done since the cattle could graze year-round. In some mountains many so-called “wild cattle” roamed, timid as deer, their forebearers having strayed from unfenced ranches.

There was an amazing diversity of crops exported from western Mexico. The most talked about was the garbanzo, or chick pea, with an annual crop worth several million. Hundreds of carloads of tomatoes are shipped to the U.S. every winter. Rice and Sugar grown there are mostly consumed in Mexico. Delicious, wild coffee was picked from the uncultivated bushes and supplied the locals with their beverage.

Another profitable venture in the region is bat hunting. By following bats back to their often-hidden caves, “prospectors” would then mine the cave floors for guano. Many dyewoods were also harvested and shipped to America, from the bright-red dye used in paper to the dye Uncle Sam used in his army khaki uniforms.

On bean farms the Mexicans practiced a system of green manuring where, after the harvest, the vines would be cut to the ground. The roots would be left to rot in the soil. The vine, weeds, and field trash were gathered in piles and buried under several inches of dirt covering the field in mounds. Later, a hole would be dug in the side of each mound and the dry vegetation inside was set on fire. The hole was mostly closed allowing the vegetation to smolder. Once completely burned, the mounds were broken down and the field was ready for the next planting.

Until recently, this coastal zone was cut off from the rest of the world except by sea. Even at the time of this article there was only one north-south railway spanning the region, the American-owned Southern Pacific of Mexico. There were no east-west railroads across Mexico, and not even a passable wagon road spanning the country. Soon the rail line would be extended to connect to Guadalajara, thus connecting San Francisco to Mexico City. Wagon roads were almost totally lacking in the region. Freight was carried largely by burro.

There were more fish and more kinds of fish in the Gulf of California, it was said, than any other known body of water. A cannery built here could feed thousands. Instead, the tons of fish were food for pelicans, cormorants, and other sea birds. The wild fowl were a pest particularly at irrigation time. The region lies on their great migration route. Wild animals were abundant in the region. Lions and other wild cats, the black deer, antelope, and the bighorn sheep were all prized.

From Sonora to the Yucatan over 50 separate dialects were spoken. All the inhabitants of the West Coast, with the exception of a few hill tribes, understood Spanish. One of the tribes the author visited were the Seris of Tiburon (Shark) Island in the Gulf of California. According to the author, these Seris were thieves and killers; it was even rumored that they were once cannibals. They swarmed to the beach where the authors ship laid anchor. They were tall and slender. Except for a few bows and arrows, they were unarmed. The chief wanted liquor; the author gave him cigars. Upon visiting the Seri village, the author discovered their “huts” were little more than holes in the sand with brush piled in circles around them. They subsisted mainly on fish, birds’ eggs, and meat. There was no marriage among the Seris, they simply mated.

“Baja”, or Lower California is a long, thin peninsula stretching down from the U.S. border, west of the Colorado River. This 800-mile long strip is separated from the mainland by the Gulf of Cortez, or California on American maps. In picturesque La Paz, where Cortez repaired his schooners, a Yankee ran a busy tannery, turning out 600 sides of leather every day for an American shoe factory.
The author then turned his attention to the delicate problem of water rights at the Colorado delta. It was the opinion at the time that the only way to resolve this issue was by a treaty. One such issue was a canal from Yuma to California ran 60 miles through Mexico because it followed terrain. This canal provided the Imperial Valley its water. It was agreed that 50% of the flow would be used to irrigate the Mexican side. This area became a vast cotton-growing region, almost wholly owned by Americans. In 1918, its crop was worth nearly ten million dollars. The reliance on the canal made some California farmers nervous, especially about the section through Mexico.

In the last five years, the author noted that there were around 900 Japanese and 2,000 Chinese immigrants in Baja California, working mostly as coolies. There were no Japanese or Chinese settlements. The Kondo Company, a sea food and whaling concession had built wharves and drying sheds, but had only operated out of Turtle Bay.

Santa Rosalia was a privately-owned mining city of 12,000. Owned by Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and the Paris Rothschilds, its workers were imported and exported at will. The company owned everything. Treeless and empty for miles around, every necessity of life, except fish, was imported.
Magdalena Bay, although a fine harbor, was a desolate place due to lack of fresh water. Forty years prior, hundreds of misguided American settlers failed and escaped with the aid of a U.S. Navy vessel.

From San Xavier and the ruined Tumacaciri in Arizona down to Guadalajara there is a line of stately old churches which marks the northern march of the cross. They were always built near ample water and rich soil. Traces of old irrigation ditches show they grew their own grain and fruit. There were cisterns and loop-hole compounds for defense. As recent as 1879 Apaches attacked the town of Sonora. Some of the people took refuge in the nearby church of San Ignacio. Its thick adobe walls were scarred from Apache bullets.

The author ends his article with a tale of how in the Sinaloa hills he met an old padre who told him strange tales of the hill folk and their primitive ways. Then Mr. Simpich summarizes the enormous value of the products America was buying from Sonora: ore, bullion, hides, cattle, garbanzos, fiber, and hardwood. He saw a bright future for the region barring an always threatening revolution.

The third article is entitled “Wild Ducks as Winter Guests in a City Park”. It was written by Joseph Dixon, and is “A Contribution from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California”. It has a footnote that references Henry W. Henshaw’s “American Game Birds” in “The Book of Birds” published by the National Geographic Society. The article contains eleven black-and-white photographs, five of which are full-page in size.

The city of Oakland set a portion of Lake Merritt up as a winter bird sanctuary. A portion of the lake was separated by a log boom with boating prohibited. Dogs must be leashed in the city park adjoining the lake, and of course, no shooting. The birds were fed every morning at 10 o’clock. The city provided food and water to the ducks through its Board of Park Commissioners. The normal feeding period lasted 100 days at an average cost of around $400. Drinking basins around the lakeside are kept full of fresh water.

A variety of waterfowl make use of this refuge and they are divided into two main groups: those that come out and loaf on the lawns and those that remain in the water. Pintails, Baldpate, Shoveler, coots and gulls spent much of their time sleeping and basking on lawns. Those that stayed on the lake included Canvasback, Scaup, Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Ruddy, and the Eared and Pied-billed grebes.

The duck began arriving in October and they would scatter again after the close of hunting season, February 15, after which they are protected throughout the whole state. Different species arrived and departed at different times. For instance, the Pintail arrived much earlier in the fall than the Canvasback and departed correspondingly earlier in the spring.

The author then described in detail the four species of ducks with the greatest numbers in the sanctuary. The Pintail is the largest and most graceful of the wild ducks. It aggregates in large numbers on lawns. The Canvasback, North America’s most famous wild duck, was the next most numerous. Canvasbacks got their food by diving. The Baldpate, or Widgeon, was the species third most in abundance on Lake Merritt. Mingling freely among the Pintail, they were difficult to photograph, always keeping several Pintail between themselves and the camera. The last duck the author described was the Shoveler, or Spoon-bill, named for its spoon-shaped beak. It is one of the most beautiful ducks in the U.S. They would occupy a certain central portion of the lawn, to which they were very partial.

To the city man or woman, the recreational value of wild ducks was of far greater importance than of any monetary value. The hours of relaxation in the open air among the blending colors and graceful movement was important to maintaining personal health and vigor.

The fourth and final article in this month’s issue is alliteratively entitled “Curious and Characteristic Customs of Central African Tribes”. It was written by E. Torday, a member of the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and member of the Council of the Folk Lore Society. The article has a footnote stating that the article was based the author’s book “Camp and Tramp in African Wilds”, published by the J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia. The article contains thirty-five black-and-white photographs. Four of those photos are full-page in size and six contain nudity.

The author begins by describing the Bambala tribe, who resided along the Kwilu River, a southern tributary of the Congo. Each village had a chief, the wealthiest man in the tribe. Between the chief and the ordinary freemen was a hereditary class called muri. Upon death the title passed to the nephew (sister’s son). The muri may not eat human flesh nor the meat of fowls. The main privilege of this class was the right to a portion of each animal of killed in hunting.

To resolve disputes between two people of the same village, a trial by poison was used. The poison acted quickly and the accused either died or vomited, which was proof of innocence. Funeral ceremonies were complex and ritualistic, and it was believed that the soul would wander about or take the form of an animal.

The Bambala were tall, a very dark brown, with black hair and greenish black eyes. Their noses were not flat nor their lips thick as with most other tribes. The northern Bambala were taller and more strongly built. As the author proceeded south, they became slighter due to the scarcity of food. They are also lighter in complexion. Both sexes wore the same piece of palm cloth, about a yard and a half by a yard in size, wrapped around the waist. The women wore strings of beads. The garments were sewn with native-made iron needles and palm fiber thread. Mr. Torday described hair styles and jewelry, then went into the practice of scarification. Tattooing was rare but ornamental scars on the face, arms, and body were common.

The Bambala diet consisted of manioc flour, leaves prepared with palm oil and pepper, goats, pigs, and from rats, ants, grasshoppers, and grubs up to and including human flesh. Human flesh was a special delicacy and was forbidden to women. Women were forbidden many other meats including goat, bird, snake, and animals killed in the hunt, with the exception of antelope. They could also eat rat.

Cannibalism was an everyday occurrence based on a sincere liking for human flesh. Enemies killed in war, those who failed the poison trial, and slaves were all consumed. In the north, slaves provided the food for feasts. Vessels in which human flesh was prepared were broken and thrown away to prevent women of other prohibited persons from using them. Laws against cannibalism were ineffective. The author surmised the only way to end cannibalism was to use a kissi (medicine) to prevent them from eating human flesh. Only by using a powerful kissi could the natives be convinced they would die if they ate man.

The Bambala were excellent traders. Livestock was traded for rubber, rubber for salt, and salt for slaves and more goats. Women ran the household in a similar manner exchanging food and pottery. Profits made in trading were enormous. A gross profit of 150% can be made in a month. The currency was the djimbu, small shells. One hundred djimbu were worth four to six cents.

The next people the author documented were the “Ngombe”, or bushmen. They were ill-looking, their faces being considerably disfigured by scarring. The Ngombe are cannibals just like the bambala and the other tribes in Central Africa. Further up the Congo near Basoko, Mr. Torday encountered natives with two-inch diameter lip plugs, these too were cannibals.

The city of Stanleyville was “a curious mixture of an Arab, European, and negro town”. While the Arabs enslaved many, and slaughtered still more natives, they also introduced rice, potatoes, beans and many useful plants. They taught the natives cleanliness and opened many schools.

The author hoped to secure supplies for his expedition inland but he could find no tents or cots. He secured a little food and set off across the river below the falls by canoe. There men carted his luggage up above the falls to another dugout. This was a huge canoe manned by 40 paddlers. At every village the crew was changed, so that the men were never far from home. In one village, the men refused to work. The author secured their employment by “kidnapping” their women.

During the journey Makoba, a native boy who worked for the author, was dragged off and killed by a leopard. The author searched for the boy’s remains and, when found, laid an ambush for the beast. He was almost ready to give up when the leopard returned and a bullet avenged Makoba. While lions were more of a danger than leopards, the latter usually attacked women and children.

When the author visited the village of Pweto, it was outside the tsetse fly zone. They were able to keep cattle. The herd increased splendidly. Lions never came near and hyenas would not enter the coral. Some years later the destructive fly invaded the region and the cattle were destroyed. Lions came in such large numbers that guards now must be posted at night.

The author had a first-hand encounter with lions along the Lukumbi River. Upon reaching a village near the river, he was surprised by the warm greeting he received until he found out that eight, man eaters had taken up residence near the settlement. That night he awoke to the sound of a lion outside his hut. He shot towards it, and sure enough he found it, dead where it had been hit.

Greater than the lion, the hyena, and the leopard; greater than crocodiles and snakes, the mosquito was the most dangerous animal in Africa. A person could defend himself from any other beast, but the mosquitoes were relentless. The author had two boys wave branches around him constantly from breakfast to nightfall, stopping only to replace the exhausted boys and to little effect. At nightfall, clouds of the pest forced the author under his mosquito netting. Apart from these pests, the Kinchasa region had an abundance of snakes. This made raising domestic animals impossible. The author had witnessed a whole pig being swallowed by one of these beasts.

The author has crossed the Congo Free State twice and had never come across a tribe that was not naturally good-tempered, hospitable, and trusting. When he finally left Africa, people from the neighboring villages came to see him off. As his steamer set sail, the natives waved him goodbye.

Tom Wilson

Views: 1180

Reply to This


Legal notice about this site

Note: Any sales or trade arrangements are solely between users of this site; The National Geographic Society is not a party to and does not endorse or promote any particular sales or trade arrangements between collectors, dealers, or others. Due to the immediate nature of this medium, National Geographic Online also does not review, censor, approve, edit or endorse information placed on this forum. Discussion boards on National Geographic Online are intended to be appropriate for family members of all ages. Posting of indecent material is strictly prohibited. The placement of advertisements or solicitations unrelated to National Geographic also is prohibited. National Geographic Online shall review information placed on this forum from time to time and delete inappropriate material that comes to its attention as soon as it is practicable, but cannot guarantee that such material will not be found on the forum. By posting material on this discussion board you agree to adhere to this policy prohibiting indecent, offensive or extraneous advertising material, and to legally assume full and sole responsibility for your posting.

© 2024   Created by Cathy Hunter.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service