Book: At the Back of the Black Man’s Mind
Author: Richard Edward Dennett

At the Back of the Black Man’s Mind By Richard Edward Dennett

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 277
Publication Date: 1906

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Fully illustrated. Published in 1906, this book looks at Bantu and Yoruba spiritual practices and philosophy, including nature worship, sacred kingship, and shamanism. R. E. Dennett spent many years studying West African folklore, culture, and religion at the turn of the 19th century. Chapters include Sacred Lands And Rivers, Measures, Signs, And Symbols, Coronation Of A King In The Kongo, Benin Districts, Bibila, The Philosophy Of The Groves and Bavili Psychology.

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WE owe the discovery of the Kongo to the enterprise of Prince Henry the Navigator, fourth son of John I., King of Portugal, and grandson of Edward HL, King of England.

Diego Cão, by royal edict dated 14th April, 1484, was commissioned to extend the explorations on the coast of Africa, and he discovered the Kongo River in 1484. The native name for this river is Zaili, Zairi, or Zaidi, and it was so called as being the way of the spirit, or personality of love and knowledge. The name, of course, was given to it long before it was discovered by Diego Cão, and as part of the Fiote religious system, as we shall learn later on. It must not be supposed that the river was called by this name because the missionaries of old came that way and taught the natives certain trades. The spirits of all rivers in this part of Africa are supposed to teach the Fiote some lesson.

The first expedition arrived at San Salvador in 1491. One hundred years later we have a list of the provinces of the King of Kongo's immediate kingdom, given to us by Pisafetta on the authority of the hermit, Duarte Lopez.

The first mention of Luango is of a comparately late date, i.e., 1663, when Christianity was first brought there by Father Ungaro. The stay of this missionary was quite a short one. Father Jerome Merolla da Sorrento, 1682, says that he never heard there was any Christian Prince in the kingdom of Angoyo (Kabinda), that country having been always inhabited by a people extremely given to sorcery and magic. But Barbot, who must have touched at Luango about the year 1700, says English was spoken in Kabinda at that time and that the blacks were all Christians.

When the history of Luango and Kakongo by the Abbé Proyart (Paris, 1776), is brought up to date, much use should be made of the old trade books with their accounts of the sale of slaves and trade with the captains of sailing vessels who were in the habit of giving the princes credit and making remarks in these books. Father T. Derouet has collected a great number of facts in this way, and I hope may soon follow up the work of his famous predecessor, thus filling up the interval between the time of the "tree climbing" missionary age and the present-shall we say-intellectual one?

Then the old books of copies of correspondence of the firms of the British African Merchants, Taylor and Laughland, and those of Messrs. Hatton and Cookson, would throw light on the following period, when merchants had settled establishments.

But while missionaries and explorers have come and gone, it is an interesting fact that the only constant associates of the inhabitants of the country during the last century were the traders, so that when Mr. Stanley and M. de Brazza rediscovered and brought these parts once more within history, they found the traders long established.

The history of European political influence on the Kongo does not go back half a century. The most important dates are the following.

In 1873 the German West African Expedition settled in Chinchonso, a place in the county of Samanu, in the kingdom of Luango.

In spite of the work of Du Chaillu, Bruce Walker, the Marquis de Compiegne, and Monsieur Marche, the Ogowe River remained unknown until in 1874, when M. de Brazza began his interesting labour in that part of Africa.

1875.-In 1875 De Brazza expressed his anxiety to open up the Ogowe.

1877.-In 1877 Stanley arrived in Boma.

1878.-The Comité d'Etudes du Haut Congo was formed in Brussels.

1879-1882-De Brazza's voyage to the Kongo viá the Ogowe to Brazzaville was carried out, and treaties were made with the chiefs of Alima and Ntamo. In 1882 De Brazza declared the only practical route between the coast and Brazzaville to be viá the Kuilu River.

1882, November 30th.-The famous Makoko treaty was ratified by the French Parliament.

1883, January 10th.-De Brazza was appointed Commissionnaire du Gouvernement de la République Française in West Africa.

1883.-Return of missionaries to Luango.

1884, April 23rd.-Colonel Strauch, on behalf of the African International Association, gave France the famous "droit du préférence" on the Congo State.

1885, February 5th.-France, by a treaty with the African International Association (nascent Congo State), gave up its pretensions to the left bank of the Lower Kongo, and obtained the cession of the territories Niari Kuilu. February 14th.Portugal, with the mediation of France, concluded a treaty with the African International Association.

1885, February 26th.-Berlin Act was signed by which the district of "Congo Français" was acknowledged as French.

Since which time this part of Luango under French rule, and no longer managed by its native rulers, has passed through a somewhat troublous time.