On Cannibalism.

By Captain S. L. Hinde.

[Extracted from Reports to British Association, vol. 65, 1895, pp. 829-30.]


Captain Hinde, who has been travelling and fighting for some years in the Congo basin, and has therefore had many almost unprecedented opportunities of observing the natives, gave the following information with regard to cannibalism:—

Almost all the races in the Congo basin practise cannibalism, and though in some parts it is prevented by the presence of white civilisation, in others it seems to be on the increase. An extensive traffic in human flesh prevails in many districts, slaves being kept and sold as an article of food. The different tribes have various and horrible methods of preparing the flesh for eating; in some instances, before the death of the victim, certain tribes of the Bangala race themselves acknowledge that they break the arms and legs of the [p.830] victim, and place the body, thus mutilated and still living, in water for two or three days, on the supposition that this pre-mortem treatment renders the flesh more palatable. There are also distinct tribal preferences for various parts of the body, and it is remarkable that, contrary to an ignorant yet very generally accepted theory, the negro man-eater never eats flesh raw, and certainly takes human flesh as food purely and simply, and not from any religious or superstitious reasons.

[Also, in the same work:]

Three Years' Travelling and War in the Congo Free State.

By Captain S. L. Hinde.

In 1891 Captain S. L. Hinde landed at Boma, and went up the caravan road to Stanley Pool. After four months' residence in the neighbourhood of the Pool, part of which was spent in exploring, he went up to the district of the Lualaba, and [p.759] arriving there was immediately ordered to join an exploring expedition to Katanga. The force consisted of 350 regular soldiers, a Krupp gun, and porters. While on the road to Katanga they were attacked by Tippo Tib's slave raiders, under the command of his son Sefu. Alter the defeat of Sefu, a general rising of the Mahometans and the federation of all the branches of Arab slave traders of the Upper Congo and its tributaries occurred. The war which ensued resulted in the complete overthrow of the Arab slave trade in equatorial Africa west of Tanganyika. After the war Captain Hinde surveyed the unexplored parts of the Lualaba and Lukunga, between Kasongo and M'Bulli, connecting the surveys of Joseph Thomson with those of Stanley and his successors. In these regions the extreme fertility of the soil is noticeable. Owing to the intense heat, great moisture, and alluvial sail, all forms of vegetable life grow with an incredible rapidity. This vast tract of country is intersected by water ways navigable by steamers for some thousands of miles, and, as can be realised, might easily be exploited by Europeans.

As a result of the Arab overthrow, the traffic which formerly went down to Zanzibar from Nyangue and the Lualaba now follows the Congo to Stanley Pool and the Atlantic. The whole Congo basin must be specially adapted for coffee growing, as in every part of the forest wild coffee, of excellent quality, is abundant. While waiting for the coffee plantations to yield, rubber—which is found everywhere, and which only requires collecting—would be an important source of wealth.