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917
CONGO FREE STATE

basin and flows in a general north to south direction. Its lower course is tortuous, as it flows across level, often swampy, plains. The main northern branch rises in southern Adamawa in about 7° N ., 15° E. An almost equally large western branch, the Dscha (or Ngoko), rises in about 3° N., 13½ E., and after flowing W. for 100 m. makes a sudden bend S.E., joining the main stream in 1° 40′ N., 16° E. In its course it traverses a vast tract of uninhabited forest. The Sanga is navigable by steamers as far as the south-east corner of the German colony of Cameroon, a distance of 350 m. The Likuala and Alima, which join the Congo within 30 m. of the mouth of the Sanga, are much smaller streams. The Léfini (mouth in 2° 57′ S., 16° 14′ E.) is the last stream of any size to join the Congo above Stanley Pool.

Southern Tributaries.—The first of the southern tributaries of the middle Congo, the Lomami, enters the main stream in 0° 46′ N., 24° 16′ E. It has a length of over 700 m., rising in nearly 9° S. It flows S. to N., the greater part of its course being parallel to and from 40 to 150 m. west of the upper Congo. It is comparatively narrow and tortuous, but deep, with a strong current, and is hardly broken by rapids north of 4½° S. About 3° S. it traverses a region of swamps, which may have given rise to the reports once current of a great lake in this locality. For the last 200 m. it is navigable by steamers. Below the mouth of the Lomami there is a long stretch with no southern tributary, as the great plain within the Congo bend is drained by streams flowing in the same direction as the middle Congo-east to west. The Lulanga (or Lulongo), about 400 m. long, enters in 0° 40′ N., 18° 16′ E. Its northern branch approaches within 20 m. of the Congo in its upper course. The main branch of the Ruki or Juapa, which enters a little north of the equator in 18° 21′ E., has its rise between 24° and 25° E. and about 3° S., in the swampy region traversed by the Lomami. On account of the colour of its water it was named by H. M. Stanley the Black river. It is about 600 m. long and has two large southern tributaries. A few miles above the Ruki confluence the Ikelemba (some 150 m. in length) joins the Congo. The three rivers, Lulanga, Ikelemba and Ruki, and their sub-streams, have between them over 1000 m. of navigable waters. No rapids intercept their course.

Exploration.–Unlike the Nile there are no classic associations with the Congo. A single mention made of the Zaire by Camoens in the Lusiads exhausts its connexion with literature (up to the beginning of the 19th century), other than in little known and semi-fabulous accounts of the ancient kingdom of Congo. The mouth of the river was discovered by the Portuguese naval officer Diogo Cão or Cam either in 1482 or 1483. To mark the discovery and to claim the land for the Portuguese crown he erected a marble pillar on what is now called Sharks Point. Hence the river was first called Rio de Padrao (Pillar river). It soon, however, became known as Zaire (q.v.), a corruption of a native word meaning “river,” and subsequently as the Congo. In the three centuries succeeding Diogo Cao’s discovery strangely little was done to explore the river. At length the British Admiralty took action, and in 1816 dispatched Captain J. K. Tuckey, R.N., at the head of a well-equipped mission. The expedition was prompted by the suggestion that the Congo was identical with the Niger. So slight was the knowledge of the river at that time that the only chart with any pretension to accuracy did not mark it farther than 130 m. from the mouth, a state of affairs, in the opinion of the admiralty, “little creditable to those Europeans who for nearly three centuries have occupied various parts of the coast” near the river’s mouth. Captain Tuckey’s expedition reached the mouth of the Congo on the 6th of July 1816, and managed to push up stream as far as Isangila, beyond the lowest series of rapids; but sickness broke out, the commander and sixteen other Europeans died, and the expedition had to return. Captain Tuckey and several of his companions are buried on Prince’s Island, just above Boma, the point where the Congo widens into an estuary. A detailed survey of the first 25 m. of the river was effected in 1826 by the “Levin” and the “Barracouta” belonging to Captain (subsequently Vice-Admiral) W. F. W. Owen’s expedition; in 1857 Commander J. Hunt, of the “Alecto,” made an attempt to ascend the river. but only reached the cataracts. Captain, afterwards Sir Richard, Burton attained the same limit in 1863, and also proceeded inland as far as Banza Noki (São Salvador). In November 1872 an expedition under Lieutenant W. Grandy, R.N., was despatched from England for the purpose of advancing from the west coast to the relief of David Livingstone. So little was the Congo known, however, that Ambriz was chosen as the starting-point, and the expedition marched overland. After many vicissitudes Lieutenant Grandy had to retrace his steps. He reached, late in 1873, a point on the Congo below the cataracts and intended thence to push his way up stream. The death of Livingstone was soon afterwards reported; and in April 1874, just as Grandy was prepared to ascend the river, letters of recall brought the expedition to a close.

It was by working down from its source that the riddle of the Congo was finally solved. In 1868 David Livingstone traced the course of the Chambezi to Lake Bangweulu. In March 1871 he reached the town of Nyangwe on the Lualaba, and died (1873) whilst endeavouring to trace the head-streams of that river, which he believed to be the Nile. “I have no fancy,” he once said, “to be made into ‘black man’s pot’ for the sake of the Congo.” Livingstone’s views were not shared by the scientific world, and as early as 1872 geographers were able to affirm from Livingstone’s own reports that the great river system he had explored in the region north of the Zambezi must belong to the Congo and not to the Nile. Actual proof was lacking, and of the course of the main river there was absolute ignorance. But in October 1876, H. M. Stanley arrived at Nyangwe from Zanzibar and from that point navigated the river over 1600 m. to Isangila—“Tuckey’s Furthest”—reached in July 1877, thus demonstrating the identity of the Lualaba with the Zaire of the Portuguese. Stanley’s great journey marked an epoch in the history of Africa, politically and commercially as well as geographically. Of the many travellers who followed Stanley in the Congo basin none did more to add to the exact knowledge of the main river and its greatest tributaries—the Ubangi, the Kasai and the Lomami—than the Rev. George Grenfell (1849–1906) of the Baptist Missionary Society. The Aruwimi was partly explored by Stanley in 1887 in his last expedition in Africa, and was further examined by Grenfell in 1894 and 1902. The western head-streams were largely made known by the Belgians, Capt. C. Lemaire and A. Delacommune, the last-named also mapping the upper Lomami and the Lukuga. (See also Ubangi; Kasai; Livingstone and Stanley).

See H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, &c. (London, 1878); George Grenfell, Map of the River Congo, with Memorandum (London, 1902); Sir H. H. Johnston, George Grenfell and the Congo (2 vols., London, 1908); C. Lemaire, Mission scientifique du Ka-Tanga (Brussels, 1901–1908); 17 memoirs, No. 16 being the Journal de route; J. K. Tuckey, Narrative of an Expedition to explore the river Zaire, &c. (London, 1818); E. Behm, “Proofs of the Identity of the Lualaba with the Congo” (Proc. Roy. Geo. Soc. vol. xvii., London, 1873); Le Mouvement géographique (Brussels, weekly since 1884), and the geographical works mentioned in the bibliography of the Congo Free State. Grenfell’s map, scale 1⋅250,000, is of the river between Stanley Pool and Stanley Falls. For the lower river see H. Droogmans, Carte du Bas Congo, scale 1⋅100,000, and Notices sur le Bas Congo (Brussels, 1900–1902).  (F. R. C.) 


CONGO FREE STATE, the name formerly given by British writers to the État Indépendant du Congo, a state of equatorial Africa which occupied the greater part of the basin of the Congo river. In 1908 the state was annexed to Belgium. The present article gives (1) the history of the state, (2) an account of the topography, ethnology, &c., of the country and of its economic condition at the date of its becoming a Belgian colony.

I. History

The Congo Free State owed its existence to the ambition and force of character of a single individual. It dated its formal inclusion among the independent states of the world from 1885, when its founder, Leopold II., king of the Inception
and
formation.
Belgians, became its head. But to understand how it came into existence a brief account is needed of its sovereign’s connexion with the African continent. In 1876 King Leopold summoned a conference at Brussels of the leading