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919
CONGO FREE STATE


subsequently gave rise to considerable discussions with France, and eventually a protocol, signed at Brussels on the 29th of April 1887, continued the boundary along the Congo to its confluence with the Ubangi (Mobangi), whence it followed the thalweg of that river to its intersection with the 4th parallel of north latitude, below which parallel it was agreed that the northern boundary of the Congo Free State should in no case descend. In accepting this frontier King Leopold had to sacrifice all claims to the valley of the Niadi Kwilu, in which he had founded fourteen stations, and to the right bank of the Ubangi. With Portugal the Association concluded an agreement on the 14th of February 1885, by which the northern bank of the Congo was recognized as belonging to the Association, while Portugal retained the southern bank of the river as far as Noki. North of the Congo Portugal retained the small enclave of Kabinda, while south of the river the frontier left the Congo at Noki and followed the parallel of that place to the Kwango river.

In April 1885 the Belgian chamber authorized King Leopold “to be the chief of the state founded in Africa by the International Association of the Congo,” and declared that “the union between Belgium and the new State of the Congo shall be exclusively personal.” This act of the Belgian legislature regularized the position of King Leopold, who at once began the work of organizing an administration for the new state.[1] In a circular letter addressed to the powers on the 1st of August 1885 His Majesty declared the neutrality of the “Independent State of the Congo,” and set out the boundaries which were then claimed for the new state. At the date of the issue of the circular the agreements with France and Portugal had partially defined the boundaries of the Free State on the lower river, and the 30th degree of longitude east of Greenwich was recognized as the limit of its extension eastwards.

The following is a list of the agreements subsequently made with reference to the boundaries of the state (see also Africa, §5):—

1. 22nd of November 1885, with France.—Protocol for delimitation of the Manyanga region.

2. 29th of April 1887, with France.—Protocol for delimitation of the Ubangi region.

3. 25th of May 1891, with Portugal.—Treaty for delimitation of the Lunda region, and convention of even date for the settlement of frontiers on lower Congo.

4. 24th of March 1894, with Portugal.—Declaration approving delimitation of Lunda region.

5. 12th of May 1894, with Great Britain.—Agreement as to Nile valley and boundaries with British Central Africa.

6. 14th of August 1894, with France.—Agreement as to Mbomu river, and Congo and Nile basins.

7. 5th of February 1895, with France.—Agreement as to Stanley Pool.

8. 9th of May 1906, with Great Britain.—Agreement as to territories leased in 1894 in the Nile valley.

The net result of the above agreements was to leave the Congo Free State with France, Portugal and Great Britain as her neighbours on the north, with Great Britain and Germany as her neighbours on the east, and with Great Britain and Portugal on her southern frontier. The main object of King Leopold’s ambition was to obtain an outlet on the Nile, and for the history of the incidents connected with the two important agreements made in 1894 with Great Britain and France, and their sequel in the agreement made with Great Britain in 1906, reference must be made to the article Africa, § 5. The expenditure necessitated by the efforts of the king to attain his object involved a heavy strain on the finances of the state, reacting on its internal policy. The avowed object of the Free State was to develop the resources of the territory with the aid of the natives, but it early became apparent that the Arab slave-traders, who had established themselves in the country between Lake Tanganyika and Stanley Falls and on the upper river, opposed a serious obstacle to the realization of this programme. The scanty resources at the disposal of the state imposed a policy of restraint on the officers who were brought into relations with the Arabs on the upper river, of whom Tippoo-Tib was the chief. In 1886 the Arabs had destroyed the state station at Stanley Falls, and it was apparent that a struggle for supremacy was inevitable. But the Free State was at that time ill prepared for a trial of strength, and at Mr Stanley’s suggestion the bold course was taken of appointing Tippoo-Tib governor of Stanley Falls, as the representative of King Leopold. This was in 1887, and for five years the modus vivendi thus established continued in operation. During those years fortified camps were established by the Belgians on the Sankuru, the Lomami, and the Arumiwi, and the Arabs were quick to see that each year’s delay increased the strength of the forces against which they would have to contend. In 1891 the imposition of an export duty on ivory excited much ill-will, and when it became known that, in his march towards the Nile, van Kerckhoven The War
against
the Arabs.
had defeated an Arab force, the Arabs on the upper Congo determined to precipitate the conflict. In May 1892 the murder of M. Hodister, the representative of a Belgian trading company, and of ten other Belgians on the upper Lomami, marked the beginning of the Arab war. When the news reached the lower river a Belgian expedition under the command of Commandant (afterwards Baron) Dhanis was making its way towards Katanga. This expedition was diverted to the east, and, after a campaign extending over several months, during which several battles were fought and the Arab strongholds of Nyangwe and Kasongo were captured, the Arab power was broken and many of the leading Arabs were killed. The political and commercial results of the victory of the Free State troops were thus described by Captain S. L. Hinde, who was Baron Dhanis’s second in command:—

“The political geography of the upper Congo basin has been completely changed, as a result of the Belgian campaign against the Arabs. It used to be a common saying in this part of Africa that all roads lead to Nyangwe. This town, visited by Livingstone, Stanley and Cameron, until lately one of the greatest markets in Africa, has ceased to exist, and its site, when I last saw it, was occupied by a single house. Kasongo, a more recent though still larger centre, with perhaps 60,000 inhabitants, has also been swept away, and is now represented by a station of the Free State 9 m. away on the river-bank. In harmony with this political change the trade routes have been completely altered, and the traffic which used to follow the well-beaten track from Nyangwe and the Lualaba across Tanganyika to Ujiji, or round the lake to Zanzibar, now goes down the Congo to Stanley Pool and the Atlantic.”[2]

These results had been attained largely by the aid of native levies and allies, and a number of the men who had taken part in the Arab campaign were enlisted as permanent soldiers by the Belgians. Among these were some Batetelas, who in 1895 revolted in the Lulua and Lomami districts. The mutineers were eventually defeated; but in 1897, while Baron Dhanis was making his way with a large expedition towards the Nile, the Batetelas again revolted, murdered several of their white officers, and took possession of a large area of the eastern portions of the state. Although defeated on several occasions by the Free State forces, the mutineers were not finally dispersed until near the end of 1900, when the last remnants were reported to have crossed into German territory and surrendered their arms. In other parts of the country the state had difficulties with native chiefs, several of whom preserved their autonomy. In the central Kasai region the state had been unable to make its authority good up to the time it ceased to exist.

The international position of the Free State was from the first a somewhat anomalous one. It has already been noted that the right of preference accorded to France in 1884, as interpreted in 1887, was not intended to be opposed Inter-
national position.
to that of Belgium. By his will dated the 2nd of August 1889 King Leopold bequeathed to Belgium “all our sovereign rights over the Independent State of the Congo, as they are recognized by the declarations, conventions and treaties concluded since 1884 between the foreign powers on

the one side, the International Association of the Congo and

  1. The formal proclamation of sovereignty was made at Boma on the 1st of July 1885.
  2. After 1900 Nyangwe and Kasongo again became towns of some importance, and traffic along the route to Tanganyika revived with the advent of railways, though the main traffic continued down the Congo river.