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The Truth About the Congo

Frederick Starr

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . the purchase of two or three wives to care for him and produce him wealth, his work is done. From fourteen years to twenty-five is his working period. Before that time a child, after that time he is a man of means. What wealth comes later comes through the women and their labor, and through trade.

We have already stated that the Bantu is notably acquisitive. Wealth, apart from women and slaves, is counted mostly in cloth. One of the chief aims in life is to accumulate cloth, not for use as clothing, but as evidence of wealth and for the final display when the man dies and is buried. Among the Lower Congo tribes the dead body is wrapped in piece after piece of cloth, until the body disappears in a mass of wrappings made of scores of pieces, each piece consisting of eight or sixteen yards, as the case may be. Young men have cloth, and it is most interesting to look through the boxes of the “boys.” At Basoko we were robbed, and the au. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I found this gem in my University library. A collection of writings from an American explorer of sorts - about his time in early 20th century Belgian Congo. Some of the language is archaic; however, it provides a fascinating insight into the perspective of the 'white man' in foreign lands.