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Vautier Golding

Back to the Congo

By tracing Livingstone's river down to the sea, Stanley had found a possible way into the heart of the fertile country which that brave old pioneer had found. Other men now prepared to follow and make use of this rich land, and among the foremost of these was Leopold of Belgium. With the help of men from several different nations, he formed a society to open Central Africa to the trade of the world, and to put down slavery and cannibalism. The society was called the International Association of the Congo, and Stanley was sent in charge of an expedition to begin its work.

Early in 1879 Stanley started for Zanzibar, where he gathered his old followers and others, and in August of the same year he once more reached Boma. This time, however, he was not worn out and starving, but he had everything a pioneering party could possibly need, as well as three small river steamers which could be carried overland in pieces. He went up the river as far as he could, and landed his things at the foot of the Livingstone Falls. Here he made a station at Vivi on the hillside above the stream, and then the real work of the expedition began.

For about fifty miles above Vivi the river was impassable by boat as far as the top of the Isangila Fall, where Stanley had left the Lady Alice  in 1877. The first thing to be done was to make a good road past this lower stretch of falls to the easier waters above them. The black labourers set to work under the direction of Stanley and eleven white men from different nations, and after many months of hard cutting, levelling, blasting, stone-breaking, bridging, and draining, at last the road was finished. In a little less than a year the steamers were floating in the water above the Isangila Fall.

From this point the river, though difficult in places, was quite passable for a distance of about 100 miles, as far as Manyanga, a native town close to the Ntombo Mataka Fall. Here Stanley began road-making again, past the long upper stretch of the Livingstone Falls, which had cost so many lives on his former voyage. It was tedious work; but another sixty miles of road took him above the Ntamo Fall, and soon his steamers were afloat in Stanley Pool. By April 1882 he had founded the station of Leopoldville, on the shore of Stanley Pool, and was on his way home for a few months' rest.

He soon returned to the Congo, and by the end of 1883 had founded two more stations, one at Stanley Falls and the other on the river Ruki. He had very little trouble with the natives, for they had learnt to respect him, and he now set to work to gain them over to friendship. By the summer of 1884 he had made treaties with more than four hundred chiefs, who, for a few pounds of beads, gave the society trading rights over their country worth millions of money.

After this he returned to Belgium; and early in 1885, by a treaty amongst the nations of Europe, the Congo Free State was founded and marked on the map of Africa. Thus most of the country, drained by 3000 miles of this mighty river, was thrown open to trade with the world.

Stanley was now hoping to spend a few years among white men, but it was not very long before he was called to Africa again. The Dervish revolt in Egypt had for a time swept away all the law and order that General Gordon had made in the Soudan after many years of labour. The brave hero, Gordon, had died a noble and lonely death at his post while trying to save the women and children of Khartoum from the murderous rebels. One of his lieutenants, Emin Pasha, whose real name was Dr. Schnitzler, was hard pressed in his province of Equatoria, and had not been heard of for years. Most people thought he was dead, till news came that he was still alive but in great danger, near the shore of Albert Nyanza.

The news made a great stir, and many people joined together to pay for an expedition to bring him relief. Stanley was made leader, and among the nine officers he chose to help him were two surgeons, Parke and Bonny, while Major Bartellot was second in command.

Stanley, as usual, gathered his followers from Zanzibar; and he made an agreement with Tippu Tib, who promised to find him plenty of bearers. Stanley had found Tippu Tib untrustworthy before, and in trusting him again he made a mistake which helped to bring much trouble to the expedition.

In 1887 Stanley was once more at the mouth of the Congo; and by the month of June he had carried all his stores, by road and river, to a strong camp at Yambuya, on the Aruwimi, 96 miles above its junction with the Congo. Beyond Yambuya the bulk of their stores could go no farther, till 600 bearers could be found, and these Tippu Tib promised faithfully to send in nine days' time. Then Stanley, though twice over he had found Tippu, to be faithless, left Major Bartellot and about 260 men, with most of the stores and ammunition, at Yambuya, to wait for Tippu's bearers, while he himself went forward with 389 men. The other white officers remaining with the rear column were Jameson, Ward, Troupe, and Bonny, the surgeon; while Stanley took Capt. Nelson, Lieut. Stairs, Jephson, and Surgeon Parke.

On June 28, 1877, the advance column left Yambuya to follow up the river Aruwimi, and its branch the Ituri, and then to strike across to Albert Nyanza. The distance, in a direct line, was about 380 miles, but the march was made longer by the winding course they had to take. They were in the middle of the great forest of Central Africa, which is 600 miles long and 500 miles wide, and they had to pioneer a path to its eastern edge. It was an unknown country to all of them, and through much of it they had to cut their way with axes and bill-hooks. So great were their hardships that the men began to break down with fever and fatigue.

On July 4th, as the river seemed passable, the pieces of their steel boat were screwed together and she was launched. Some of the sick and the loads taken from fifty bearers were put in her; and these men, with forty-four boat-bearers, were then able to help the others. They now began to collect canoes on the way, and by the end of the month their fleet numbered fifteen vessels.

At first the natives were unfriendly and often attacked them, shooting from behind cover with poisoned arrows. Some of the poison was made from dried red ants, another kind was prepared by boiling down a species of arum, and this was so deadly that the natives always made it in the woods far away from their villages. In a two days' skirmish, Stairs and nine men were wounded with this poison, and four of the men died. The natives also fixed sharp and poisoned wooden skewers in the tracks to their villages; and so cunningly were these hidden with leaves that even the wariest of the men were wounded in their naked feet.

About the middle of September they came into country desolated by Arab raiders in search of ivory and slaves. The forest was silent and deserted, the villages empty and ruined, the plantations wasted and overgrown. Here the horror of their journey began. For 197 miles, nearly a month's march, they lived mainly upon fungi, herbs and roots. This soon told terribly upon them, and the sick list daily increased. On October 6th the waters of the Ituri were found too wild for the canoes, and now they could not carry all their sick. Nelson and fifty-two men were left in a place afterwards called Starvation Camp, while the rest pushed on to an Arab settlement at Ipoto, supposed to be distant only three days' march; but they did not reach Ipoto till October 18th. While on the way they shot Stanley's donkey for food, the men almost fighting for its skin and hoofs.

Jephson at once hurried back to Starvation Camp with food, but he only found Nelson and five men, and two of the latter were dying. The survivors were almost skeletons. Stanley left all his sick with his boat and most of his stores at Ipoto under Nelson and Parke, while he himself pushed forward with a light caravan.

In November they were passing through Pigmy land, where the little dwarf natives ranged in height from 3 ft. to 4 ft. 6 in. There were two distinct races of them, the Wambutti and the Batwa. They were fierce little fighters and very clever hunters and fishers. They caught their game with pitfalls and snares, and were most skilful with the bow; even the wee pigmy children practised with tiny bows and blunted arrows. Food again grew scarce, and the caravan suffered much from hunger till, in the middle of November, they reached Borya's village in Ibwiri and found a land of plenty. After a short rest Stanley pushed on, and on November 30th came to open country after marching through forest for 156 days. The Albert Nyanza was now 126 miles distant, but, though he had to fight his way there among the natives, Stanley at last reached the lake near Kavalli's village on December 14th.

Letters had been sent from Zanzibar asking Emin to send his steamer from the end of the lake to look for Stanley. Nothing, however, could be heard of Emin, no canoe could be found, and the land march to the Pasha's province through hostile natives was impossible for Stanley's reduced band. Many men would have given up the search; but Stanley returned to Ibwiri, where food was plentiful and the natives friendly. Here he built a stockade, called Fort Bodo, and made plantations of corn and bananas, while Stairs went back to Ipoto for the men, boat, and stores they had left there.

On April 18th Stanley was again at Kavalli's with his boat, and he at once sent Jephson by water to Emin with letters. In eleven days Jephson returned with the Pasha, and the first object of the expedition was attained. Emin had been found safe and well; but now, when help had at last come, the Pasha could not make up his mind whether to return with Stanley or to stay in his province.

Stanley was by this time very anxious about his rear column, which Bartellot should have brought up long before had all things gone right. He therefore decided to go and meet it, and left Emin to go back to his province and make up his mind in the meanwhile.

Stanley hurried back with forced marches, but day after day passed without any sign or tidings of the missing column. He found his canoes again and went down the Aruwimi, until on August 17th he came to the stockaded village of Banalya and saw a white man among the crowd of black faces on the bank. On landing he found Surgeon Bonny, and soon learnt the history of the rear column.

Tippu Tib had been worse than faithless. He had taken gift after gift from Bartellot and made promise after promise; but in the end he sent just a handful of men, who not only tried to make Bartellot's men rebel, but also threatened the friendly natives till they refused to sell food to the camp. Bartellot could neither manage Tippu Tib, nor did he seem to know how to manage his men in the right way.

At last, on June 11, 1888, nearly a year after Stanley's departure, he started from Yambuya with all the men he could muster. He took half the stores forward a march at a time, and then sent back for the other half.

In this way he came to Banalya. On July 19th Bartellot and Bonny were the only white men at Banalya. Early in the morning a drum was beaten in the quarters of Tippu's men against Bartellot's orders. The major sent a messenger to put a stop to the noise; but the beating of the drum still went on, while shots were fired into the air in defiance. Bartellot went to enforce his commands with revolver in hand, and found the drummer was a woman. While he was telling her to stop he was shot dead from a loophole in the wall of a hut by her husband, Sanga, one of Tippu's men. Then there was a general stampede, in which they rushed to plunder the stores. Bonny came out of his hut and went bravely into the middle of the mob. One of Tippu's headmen with sixty others threatened him with their rifles. Yet, unarmed as he was, Bonny quelled them by his brave spirit and determined words. Then he got some faithful men together, and restoring order by degrees saved all the stores except 48 loads.

Three days later Jameson came up, and at once took Sanga to Tippu Tib at Stanley Falls, where the murderer was tried and shot for his crime. Not long after this Jameson took fever and died. Troupe had already gone home on sick leave, and Ward had been sent with a message to the coast. Thus the whole responsibility fell upon Bonny, and but for his pluck and coolness all Stanley's stores would have been shared by Tippu's men.