Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Of Mile End, Emotions & Morals

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One cannot help but to feel oneself spiritually elevated, elevated! By the Boticelli and Titian works that hang upon these walls, though of course, this being Mile End, the works are mere fraudulent copies; bequeathed to the Artistic Museum by the Bow Street Detective force in one instance (The Venus) most regretfully!  

But, let us not dwell on that but rather let us note, dear reader, the most prestigious Curate of the Mile End Artistic Museum, as he most surreptitiously guides his elegant guests  betwixt the many rich and lyrical works that grace the walls of this ninth wonder of the British Empire. 

“Little is known of Domenico Venziano the master of Francisco De La Pella, but what little remains of his work has a most lyrical beauty as you may see here. Note, the carefree yet harmonious study of design, the manner in which he depicts the naked Judas Iscariot, an image not of ignominious shame as in the mediaeval mind, but of elegance, of grace” and having so noted, his guests, the infamous Baron Montaperti, Lord Orlando Ottoline and his muse, the stage actress Mrs Madeline Drang, move on. 

“I am told that the best art is always true to the great, glad, aboriginal instincts of our nature. Never representing disease in the guise of health, many sided without being unbalanced, and forcible! Yes forcible! Without ever losing the fine sense of proportion!” 

Lord Orlando Ottoline is quite in agreement, 

“Yes, quite exquisite and most extraordinary!” 

“The painting?” 

“The sum paid for it. I am told Mr Disraeli paid some five hundred British Pounds?” 

“Five hundred sterling and hundred shillings and fifty pence, is the correct sum, I should know having brokered the deal” 

“Why?” 

“The good lord knows, though one must confess it hangs as handsomely within Mile End Art Gallery, as the brigands do without! Haw haw haw!” 

Baron (lately Lord) Montaperti is most taken with his own sense of humour though his companions are at a loss as to why they have been invited to peruse copies of paintings hung in some East End haunt, when they might be perusing the latest painting by Edward Lear at the Royal Academy of Art.   

“Though it may be said that the dead soil of art grows ever richer with the addition of new works, it is to be observed that there can be no improvement on the ancient works we have hung here, and that (copies though they are), they are a worthy and most enlightening addition to the culture of Mile End” 

Wonder at the elegance of the curate of the Artistic Museum, his dignified presence and the cut of his jib, as glossy as that of a new bought gelding. What shapely legs! What an elegant figure! What costly attire and all of it most graciously provided by the Society for the Suppression of Mendacity! 

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Academies, Academy status, ACCESSIBILITY, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them

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A council that temporarily closed two libraries just before the exam revision season as a supposed money-saving measure has spent up to three times as much per day on private guards to secure the buildings as it would have cost to keep them open, it has emerged.

Details of the security costs at the libraries, run by Lambeth council in south London, were given to the Guardian following a freedom of information request.

The money spent on guards at one of the libraries was inflated as it was occupied for 10 days by local people protesting at the temporary closure plans. However, the figures show that even at another library not similarly targeted, the money paid for private security was almost twice the usual running costs.

'Due to cutbacks, we've removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.'

‘Due to cutbacks, we’ve removed the last 20 pages from every mystery novel.’

The two sites – the Carnegie library in Herne Hill, south-east London, and the Minet library nearby – closed their doors on 31 March before planned works to turn each one into a “community hub”, a combination of a largely unstaffed library and a private gym. The Labour-run council said this was the only option to keep both libraries open amid massive central government cuts to local authority budgets.

When the libraries were closed no work was scheduled to begin for months. Opponents of the plans questioned why the sites could not remain open for longer, allowing students to use them for revision for summer exams. At the time the Lambeth cabinet member whose brief covers libraries, Jane Edbrooke, said this was impossible because the council needed to save money before the start of the new financial year.

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The freedom of information response shows that from 31 March, when the libraries closed, until 15 April, when the request was made, Lambeth spent £35,392.68 on guards to secure both sites, a fraction over £2,212 a day. In contrast, the council’s 2014-15 budget gives a combined running cost for both of £874 a day. This excludes spending on books and computer services, but those are paid for centrally for all of Lambeth’s 10 libraries, and the council has said it has no plans to cut them.

Of the security costs, just under £25,000 was spent at the Carnegie, a figure made bigger by the occupation by several dozen local residents, which lasted from 31 March to 9 April. But even when this was over, the average daily security cost at the library was £1,382, nearly three times the daily running costs.

At the Minet library, which was not occupied, security costs averaged £677 a day over the 16-day period, almost double the £386 daily running costs.

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The Guardian contacted Lambeth council on Friday morning to seek its reaction, and to ask about current security costs at the libraries. The council has yet to provide its promised response.

Laura Swaffield, chair of the Friends of Lambeth Libraries, which opposes the library-gym hybrid model, said the group had long predicted the early closure would not save any money.

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“It has been apparent from the very start that wrecking the library service would cost more than preserving it,” she said. “Now all the flaws in their plan are showing up, the council is panicking. It seems prepared to spend any amount of money trying to make this turkey fly.”

Under the plans, sections of both libraries are being handed to the social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited so they can be turned into private gyms. The council is promising that both libraries will reopen in early 2017, but building work has yet to begin at either.

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(Excerpt from ‘The Guardian Newspaper’)

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Racism, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

What Is The Purpose of Satire?

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Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement.Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

A feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm—”in satire, irony is militant”—but parody,burlesque, exaggeration,juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. This “militant” irony or sarcasm often professes to approve of (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack.

The word satire comes from the Latin word satur and the subsequent phrase lanx satura. Satur meant “full” but the juxtaposition with lanx shifted the meaning to “miscellany or medley”: the expression lanx satura literally means “a full dish of various kinds of fruits.”

The word satura as used by Quintilian, however, was used to denote only Roman verse satire, a strict genre that imposed hexameter form, a narrower genre than what would be later intended as satire. Quintilian famously said that satura, that is a satire in hexameter verses, was a literary genre of wholly Roman origin (satura tota nostra est). He was aware of and commented on Greek satire, but at the time did not label it as such, although today the origin of satire is considered to be Aristophanes’ Old Comedy. The first critic to use satire in the modern broader sense was Apuleius.

Laughter is not an essential component of satire; in fact there are types of satire that are not meant to be “funny” at all. Conversely, not all humour, even on such topics as politics, religion or art is necessarily “satirical”, even when it uses the satirical tools of irony, parody, and burlesque.

Even light-hearted satire has a serious “after-taste”: the organizers of the Ig Nobel Prize describe this as “first make people laugh, and then make them think”.

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Satire and irony in some cases have been regarded as the most effective source to understand a society, the oldest form of social study. They provide the keenest insights into a group’s collective psyche, reveal its deepest values and tastes, and the society’s structures of power. Some authors have regarded satire as superior to non-comic and non-artistic disciplines like history oranthropology. In a prominent example from ancient Greece, philosopher Plato, when asked by a friend for a book to understand Athenian society, referred him to the plays of Aristophanes.

Historically, satire has satisfied the popular need to debunk and ridicule the leading figures in politics, economy, religion and other prominent realms of power. Satire confronts public discourse and the collective imaginary, playing as a public opinion counterweight to power (be it political, economic, religious, symbolic, or otherwise), by challenging leaders and authorities. For instance, it forces administrations to clarify, amend or establish their policies. Satire’s job is to expose problems and contradictions, and it’s not obligated to solve them. Karl Kraus set in the history of satire a prominent example of a satirist role as confronting public discourse.[19]

For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions. The satiric impulse, and its ritualized expressions, carry out the function of resolving social tension. Institutions like the ritual clowns, by giving expression to the antisocial tendencies, represent a safety valve which reestablishes equilibrium and health in the collective imaginary, which are jeopardized by the repressive aspects of society.

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The state of political satire in a given society reflects the tolerance or intolerance that characterizes it,and the state of civil liberties and human rights. Under totalitarian regimes any criticism of a political system, and especially satire, is suppressed. A typical example is the Soviet Union where the dissidents, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov were under strong pressure from the government. While satire of everyday life in the USSR was allowed, the most prominent satirist being Arkady Raikin, political satire existed in the form of anecdotes that made fun of Soviet political leaders, especially Brezhnev, famous for his narrow-mindness and love for awards and decorations.

Juvenalian

Juvenalian satire, named for the writings of the Roman satirist Juvenal (late first century – early second century AD), is more contemptuous and abrasive than the Horatian. Juvenal disagreed with the opinions of the public figures and institutions of the Republic and actively attacked them through his literature. “He utilized the satirical tools of exaggeration and parody to make his targets appear monstrous and incompetent” (Podzemny). Juvenal satire follows this same pattern of abrasively ridiculing societal structures. Juvenal also, unlike Horace, attacked public officials and governmental organizations through his satires, regarding their opinions not just as wrong, but as evil.
Following in this tradition, Juvenalian satire addresses perceived social evil through scorn, outrage, and savage ridicule. This form is often pessimistic, characterized by the use of irony, sarcasm, moral indignation and personal invective, with less emphasis on humor. Strongly polarized political satire can often be classified as Juvenalian.
A Juvenal satirist’s goal is generally to provoke some sort of political or societal change because he sees his opponent or object as evil or harmful. A Juvenal satirist mocks “societal structure, power, and civilization” (Thomas) by exaggerating the words or position of his opponent in order to jeopardize their opponent’s reputation and/or power. Jonathan Swift has been established as an author who “borrowed heavily from Juvenal’s techniques in [his critique] of contemporary English society” (Podzemny).

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Ancient Greece

The Greeks had no word for what later would be called “satire”, although the terms cynicism and parody were used. Modern critics call the Greek playwright Aristophanes one of the best known early satirists: his plays are known for their critical political and societal commentary, particularly for the political satire by which he criticized the powerful Cleon (as in The Knights). He is also notable for the persecution he underwent. Aristophanes’ plays turned upon images of filth and disease. His bawdy style was adopted by Greek dramatist-comedian Menander. His early play Drunkenness contains an attack on the politician Callimedon.

The oldest form of satire still in use is the Menippean satire by Menippus of Gadara. His own writings are lost. Examples from his admirers and imitators mix seriousness and mockery in dialogues and present parodies before a background of diatribe. As in the case of Aristophanes plays, menippean satire turned upon images of filth and disease.

Roman world

The first Roman to discuss satire critically was Quintilian, who invented the term to describe the writings of Lucilius. The two most prominent and influential ancient Roman satirists are Horace and Juvenal, who wrote during the early days of the Roman Empire. Other important satirists in ancient Latin are Lucilius and Persius.Satire in their work is much wider than in the modern sense of the word, including fantastic and highly coloured humorous writing with little or no real mocking intent. When Horace criticized Augustus, he used veiled ironic terms. In contrast, Pliny reports that the 6th century BC poet Hipponax wrote satirae that were so cruel that the offended hanged themselves.

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Medieval Europe

Two major satirists of Europe in the Renaissance were Giovanni Boccaccio and François Rabelais. Other examples of Renaissance satire include Till Eulenspiegel, Reynard the Fox, Sebastian Brant’s Narrenschiff (1494), Erasmus’ Moriae Encomium (1509), Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), and Carajicomedia (1519).

Early Modern Western Satire

Pieter Bruegel’s 1568 satirical painting The Blind Leading the Blind.

Direct social commentary via satire returned with a vengeance in the 16th century, when farcical texts such as the works of François Rabelais tackled more serious issues (and incurred the wrath of the crown as a result).

The Elizabethan (i.e. 16th-century English) writers thought of satire as related to the notoriously rude, coarse and sharp satyr play. Elizabethan “satire” (typically in pamphlet form) therefore contains more straightforward abuse than subtle irony. The French Huguenot Isaac Casaubonpointed out in 1605 that satire in the Roman fashion was something altogether more civilised. Casaubon discovered and published Quintilian’s writing and presented the original meaning of the term (satira, not satyr), and the sense of wittiness (reflecting the “dishfull of fruits”) became more important again. 17th-century English satire once again aimed at the “amendment of vices” (Dryden).

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Jonathan Swift was one of the greatest of Anglo-Irish satirists, and one of the first to practise modern journalistic satire. For instance, In his A Modest Proposal Swift suggests that Irish peasants be encouraged to sell their own children as food for the rich, as a solution to the “problem” of poverty. His purpose is of course to attack indifference to the plight of the desperately poor. In his book Gulliver’s Travels he writes about the flaws in human society in general and English society in particular. John Dryden wrote an influential essay entitled “A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire” that helped fix the definition of satire in the literary world. His satirical Mac Flecknoe was written in response to a rivalry with Thomas Shadwell and eventually inspired Alexander Pope to write his satirical The Rape of the Lock. Other satirical works by Pope include the Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot.

Alexander Pope b. May 21, 1688 was a satirist known for his Horatian satirist style and translation of the Illiad. Famous throughout and after the long 18th century, Pope died in 1744. Pope, in his The Rape of the Lock, is delicately chiding society in a sly but polished voice by holding up a mirror to the follies and vanities of the upper class. Pope does not actively attack the self-important pomp of the British aristocracy, but rather presents it in such a way that gives the reader a new perspective from which to easily view the actions in the story as foolish and ridiculous. A mockery of the upper class, more delicate and lyrical than brutal, Pope nonetheless is able to effectively illuminate the moral degradation of society to the public. The Rape of the Lock assimilates the masterful qualities of a heroic epic, such as the Iliad, which Pope was translating at the time of writing The Rape of the Lock. However, Pope applied these qualities satirically to a seemingly petty egotistical elitist quarrel to prove his point wryly.

Daniel Defoe pursued a more journalistic type of satire, being famous for his The True-Born Englishman which mocks xenophobic patriotism, and The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters – advocating religious toleration by means of an ironical exaggeration of the highly intolerant attitudes of his time.

The pictorial satire of William Hogarth is a precursor to the development of political cartoons in 18th-century England.The medium developed under the direction of its greatest exponent, James Gillray from London.With his satirical works calling the king (George III), prime ministers and generals (especially Napoleon) to account, Gillray’s wit and keen sense of the ridiculous made him the pre-eminent cartoonist of the era.

Satire in Victorian England

The Force of Example.

A Victorian satirical sketch depicting a gentleman’s donkey race in 1852

Several satiric papers competed for the public’s attention in the Victorian era (1837–1901) and Edwardian period, such as Punch (1841) and Fun (1861).

Novelists such as Charles Dickens often used passages of satiric writing in their treatment of social issues.

In the same period, in the United States, Mark Twain (1835–1910) was a great American satirist: his novel Huckleberry Finn (1884) is set in the antebellum South, where the moral values Twain wishes to promote are completely turned on their heads. His hero, Huck, is a rather simple but goodhearted lad who is ashamed of the “sinful temptation” that leads him to help a runaway slave. In fact his conscience, warped by the distorted moral world he has grown up in, often bothers him most when he is at his best. Ironically, he is prepared to do good, believing it to be wrong.

Twain’s younger contemporary Ambrose Bierce (1842–1913) gained notoriety as a cynic, pessimist and black humorist with his dark, bitterly ironic stories, many set during the American Civil War, which satirized the limitations of human perception and reason. Bierce’s most famous work of satire is probably The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), in which the definitions mock cant, hypocrisy and received wisdom.

20th Century Satire

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Benzino Napaloni and Adenoid Hynkelin The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin later declared that he would have not made the film if he had known about the concentration camps.

In the United States 1950s, satire was introduced into American stand-up comedy most prominently by Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. As they challenged the taboos and conventional wisdom of the time, were ostracized by the mass media establishment as sick comedians. In the same period, Paul Krassner’s magazine The Realist began publication, to become immensely popular during the 1960s and early 1970s among people in the counterculture; it had articles and cartoons that were savage, biting satires of politicians such as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the War on Drugs. Prominent satiric stand-up comedian George Carlin acknowledged the influence The Realist had in his 1970s conversion to a satiric comedian.

A more humorous brand of satire enjoyed a renaissance in the UK in the early 1960s with the satire boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore, whose stage show Beyond the Fringe was a hit not only in Britain, but also in the United States. Other significant influences in 1960s British satire include David Frost, Eleanor Bron and the television program That Was The Week That Was.

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Contemporary Satire

Contemporary popular usage of the term “satire” is often very imprecise. While satire often uses caricature and parody, by no means are all uses of these or other humorous devices, satiric. Refer to the careful definition of satire that heads this article.

Satire is used on many UK television programmes, particularly popular panel shows and quiz shows such as Mock the Week (2005) and Have I Got News for You (1990–ongoing). Similarly it is found on radio quiz shows such as The News Quiz (1977–ongoing) and The Now Show (1998–ongoing). One of the most-watched UK television shows of the 1980s and early 1990s, the puppet Spitting Image was a satire of the royal family, politics, entertainment, sport and British culture of the era. Created by DMA Design in 1997, satire also features prominently in the British video game series Grand Theft Auto.

Stephen Colbert satirically impersonated an opinionated and self-righteous television commentator on his Comedy Central program in the U.S.

The television program South Park (1997–ongoing) relies almost exclusively on satire to address issues in American culture, with episodes addressing anti-Semitism, militant atheism, homophobia,environmentalism, corporate culture, political correctness and anti-Catholicism, among many other issues.

Stephen Colbert’s television program, The Colbert Report (2005–14), is instructive in the methods of contemporary American satire. Colbert’s character is an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who, in his TV interviews, interrupts people, points and wags his finger at them, and “unwittingly” uses a number of logical fallacies. In doing so, he demonstrates the principle of modern American political satire: the ridicule of the actions of politicians and other public figures by taking all their statements and purported beliefs to their furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, thus revealing their perceived hypocrisy or absurdity. 

Legal Status

For its nature and social role, satire has enjoyed in many societies a special freedom license to mock prominent individuals and institutions.In Germany, and Italy satire is protected by the constitution.

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Politics, Racism, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Ways Imperialism in 19th Century England Ruined the World

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“The sun never sets on the British Empire.” Arguably the greatest empire of all time, at its height the British Empire was certainly the largest empire in history, and for nearly two centuries was the foremost global power. By 1922, the British ruled more than 458 million people, and covered 13,012,000 square miles—almost a quarter of the Earth’s total land area.

But in spite of these great accomplishments, the British Empire sowed the seeds for some of the worst disasters that have afflicted humanity. Although the British were not responsible for all of the events directly, their interference in others’ problems was often just as destructive. Here are ten ways the British Empire ruined the world:

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Apartheid

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, the ruling party in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. The rights of the nation’s black majority were curtailed, and white supremacy and Afrikaner-minority rule was maintained.

The British did institute some reforms after they seized the Cape from the originally Dutch Boers—such as by repealing the more offensive anti-black Boer laws. But after one hundred years of wars, and having gained complete political control, the British made a decision that doomed many South Africans. They gave Boer republics the green light to disenfranchise all non-whites. The apartheid system was entrenched in the Union constitution, which was drawn and approved by the British government. In 1913, the Native Land Act was brought into force; it pushed black people off the land on which they were either owners or tenants, and relocated them to shantytowns in the cities.

Apartheid would not end until the F. W. de Klerk government moved to lift bans on African political parties, such as the Africa National Congress and Pan African Congress. These actions culminated in multi-racial democratic elections in 1994, which were won by the African National Congress headed by Nelson Mandela.

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Irish Potato Famine

During the summer of 1845, a “blight of unusual character” devastated Ireland’s potato crop—the staple of the Irish diet. A few days after potatoes were dug up from the ground, they began to rot. Over the next ten years more than 750,000 Irish died from the ensuing famine, and another two million left their homeland for Great Britain, Canada and the United States. Within five years, the Irish population was reduced by a quarter.

The inadequacy of relief efforts by the British Government worsened the horrors of the famine. England believed that the free market, left to itself, would end the famine. In 1846, in a victory for advocates of free trade, Britain repealed the Corn Laws, which had protected domestic grain producers from foreign competition. The repeal of the Corn Laws failed to end the crisis since the Irish lacked sufficient money to purchase foreign grain.

Britain began to rely on a system of workhouses, which had originally been established in 1838, to cope with the famine. But these grim institutions had never been intended to deal with a crisis of such enormity. Some 2.6 million Irish entered overcrowded workhouses, where more than 200,000 people died.

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Invention of the Machine Gun
 
In 1879, the Gardner Machine Gun was demonstrated for the first time. It could fire ten thousand rounds in twenty-seven minutes, and its accuracy was superior to that of the Gatling gun. This impressed military leaders from Britain, and the following year the British Army purchased the gun.

In 1881, the American inventor Hiram Maxim visited the Paris Electrical Exhibition. While he was at the exhibition a man he met told him “if you wanted to make a lot of money, invent something that will enable the Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.”

Maxim decided to move to London, and began working on a more effective machine-gun. In 1885, he demonstrated to the British Army the world’s first automatic portable machine gun. Maxim used the energy of each bullet’s recoil force to eject the spent cartridge and insert the next bullet. The Maxim Machine Gun would therefore fire until the entire belt of bullets was used up. Trials showed that the machine gun could fire five hundred rounds per minute, and therefore had the firepower of about one hundred rifles.

The British Army adopted the Maxim Machine Gun in 1889. The following year, Austria, Germany, Italy, and Russia also purchased the gun, causing an arms race on the European continent. The machine gun would haunt the British during the Battle of the Somme, when the British suffered 60,000 casualties.

 

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Atlantic Slave Trade

The British did not start the slave trade or even import the most slaves (both of these dubious distinctions belong to the Portuguese). In the beginning, British traders merely supplied slaves for the Spanish and the Portuguese colonies; but eventually, British slave traders began supplying slaves to the new English colonies in North America. The first record of enslaved Africans landing in British North America occurred in 1619, in the colony of Virginia.

In the 1660s, the number of slaves taken from Africa in British ships averaged 6,700 per year. By the 1760s, Britain was the foremost European country engaged in the slave trade, owning more than fifty percent of the Africans transported from Africa to the Americas. The British involvement in the slave trade lasted from 1562 to until the abolishment of slavery in 180—a period of 245 years. History Professor David Richardson has calculated that British ships carried more than 3.4 million enslaved Africans to the Americas during this time.

In addition to being a major player in the slave trade, the British supported the pro-slavery Confederates during the Civil War. The British needed cotton to fuel their machines; this caused the demand for cotton to skyrocket, which in turn demanded slave labor. If the Confederates had won at the battle of Antietam, the British would have given full support to the rebels, and may even have tipped the Civil War in favor of the Confederates.

And although Great Britain was one of the first nations to abolish slavery, they quickly made up for the loss of human labor by extracting Africa’s raw materials and resources.

ies on the first day. Since its introduction, the machine gun has caused countless fatalities across the world, and has allowed for more people to be killed within a shorter time span.

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Opium Wars

Seeing little to gain from trade with European countries, the Chinese Qing emperor permitted Europeans to trade only at the port of Canton, and only through licensed Chinese merchants. For years, foreign merchants accepted Chinese rules—but by 1839 the British, who were the dominant trading group, were ready to flex their muscles.

They had found a drug that the Chinese would buy: opium. Grown legally in British India, opium was smuggled into China, where its use and sale became illegal after the damaging effects it had on the Chinese people.

With its control of the seas, the British easily shut down key Chinese ports and forced the Chinese to negotiate—marking the beginning of what is known as the “one hundred years of humiliation” for the Chinese. Dissatisfied with the resulting agreement, the British sent a second and larger force that took even more coastal cities, including Shanghai. The ensuing Opium War was settled at gunpoint; the resulting Treaty of Nanjing opened five ports to international trade, fixed the tariff on imported goods at five percent, imposed an indemnity of twenty-one million ounces of silver on China to cover Britain’s war expenses, and ceded the island of Hong Kong to Great Britain.

This treaty satisfied neither side. Between 1856 and 1860, Britain and France renewed hostilities with China. Seventeen thousand British and French troops occupied Beijing and set the Imperial Palace on fire. Another round of harsh treaties gave European merchants and missionaries greater privileges, and forced the Chinese to open several more cities to foreign trade.

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Scramble for Africa

The Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 began the process of carving up Africa, paying no attention to local culture or the differences between ethnic groups, and often leaving people from the same tribe on opposite sides of artificial, European-imposed borders.

Britain was primarily concerned with maintaining its lines of communication with India, hence its interest in Egypt and South Africa. Once these two areas had been secured, imperialists like Cecil Rhodes encouraged the acquisition of further territory, with the goal of establishing a Cape-to-Cairo railway. Britain was also interested in the commercial potential of mineral-rich territories like the Transvaal, where gold was discovered in the mid-1880s.

As a result, during the final twenty years of the nineenth century, Britain occupied or annexed territories which accounted for more than thirty-two percent of Africa’s population, making the British the most dominant Europeans on the continent.

By 1965, Britain had lost its stranglehold on the continent—but the consequences of imperialism were immense. Firstly, the settler states of Kenya, Rhodesia, and South Africa saw many episodes of violence before African nationalists could forge a return to stability, after the departure of the colonial governments. Corrupt African “strongmen,” or dictators, often gained power—despite ignoring the social needs of the people. Economic dependence on the West, coupled with political corruption, crippled attempts to diversify.

Even today, Africa is the least developed region in the world, with poverty and malnutrition running rampant. The idea that Europeans wanted to “civilize” Africa was an utter lie, and a means to justify the exploitation of the continent.

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Satire, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Chapter 11: Professor Powell’s Revelations

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“I dare say Jonas, that you find my behaviour squalid and tawdry, that you feel as though you’ve entered a light-less region far, far, away from the innocence of British Civilisation.” I made no reply to this, for, dear reader, how may respond to such a one, who, having brazenly discarded all things Christian, avows that he has done so for a higher purpose? What greater purpose could there be in savage hinterlands such as this, than dauntless and unflinching service to that imperious empire led by our great and glorious queen?

“Look at them Jonas! Look at these artless innocents and consider whether it is better to have followed the imperial edicts of Umbongo Umbongo and the British Empire or do as I have done! These are children freed! Freed! From years of enslavement to the vulgar business of Ivory harvesting! Freed! From miserable, crushing enslavement to the overweening hubris of empire! Freed and free to twerk!”

Equatorial winds whistled through the palm trees around us and as if in response the palm frond skirt tied around his waist rustled. Professor Powell swayed his hips gently in time to music he alone could hear. I must confess that even though the twerking fantasia had abated, a distinct feeling of nausea overcame me at the sight of him performing that torrid native dance with a look of ecstasy upon his face.

50e4c-6a0112791cb10528a40168e888d710970c-550wi I felt myself encompassed by a dark, cabalistic silence in that stifling, steaming place. Torches soaked in elephant fat, and then set alight, surrounded us on every side, their barbarous glow drenched the Umbongoan natives who surrounded us in scarlet and orange light, so that they seemed more savage looking than usual. 

“The worker deserves his hire Jonas, but these my poor, poor, infants” he gestured grandly towards the Umbongoan Natives “Have received not so much as a sovereign from the grandiose empire! Oh but we shall have what’s ours despite them!”. Professor Powell’s eyes blazed with a degree of monomanic malevolence that I thought most imprudent in one who had taken the British Empire’s many sovereigns, along with an oath (most passionately given I might add), to do his duty by queen and country.

“Nivy! Teelah! Maguti!” he cried, “Nawaba Nimbi! Come forth! Come hither my children! Show Mr Stanley what servants of the empire will do for the Queen’s shilling! Ribi Ha! Neeti Kon-Tiki! Show him, show him my children! Show him how the empire rewards those it keeps in servitude!”. 

How may I describe the hideous cries that broke unbidden from my lips at the sight of so many crippled! For where there should have been two arms there was only one, and where two legs had been, one leg and a pair of wooden crutches sufficed! Who had been the author of these unspeakable villainies?”. 

“But this is not a British practice!” cried Captain Dunrudy,”T’is a Belgian aberration! You cannot hold the British Empire to blame for this surely?!”. Oh that Captain Dunrudy had kept his mouth shut! For at his utterances Professor Powell’s face reddened with anger and his eyes gleamed with a most unnatural light. 

“Before the advent of the British Empire the Nederhiwi numbered two thousand. All that remains of the Nederhiwi now is what you see here, some one hundred and fifty souls gifted to me by the Goddess Umgowah! Of these some sixty have been mutilated, mutilated in punishment for not meeting the Imperial Administrator’s yearly quotas for Ivory! ”

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RibaKiba Mission

Oh grotesque horror of horrors! What monstrous lunacy was it that forced civilised men to resort to such practices? To leave off worshipping Jehovah and to bow one’s educated brow to heathen practices and a heathen goddess! To dress like a native and resolutely take up the cause of a foreign and barbarous race! Reeling back in disgust I caught hold of Pasher Arshad by the arm, but his ashen face offered me no reassurance, his right hand firmly wrapped around his prayer beads he shook his head sorrowfully. “To put one’s hand in the mouth of the British lion” he grimly declared, “and then to thump it righteously on the head is not a good idea Professor Powell Saab! Compassion and mercy are most glorious things, if one is alive to appreciate them! But the empire is a mighty, ravenous, beast which none have stood against for good reason! We are all doomed! You have brought the taint of death and destruction down upon all our heads! It is like Khartoum under General Gordon Pasha all over again!”.

Oh terror upon terror! The Professor was flirting with immense forces far more powerful than himself, heinous forces that would have him court-marshalled and hung! Yet still he was defiant,”Doomed?” he cried looking around at his children who grimaced reassuringly back “Doomed? We children of the Goddess Umgawah have freed ourselves and we will not be subjugated again! The lioness of Britannia is unassailable you say? Do not think that we stand alone in our virulent dislike of the empire! Why even now the Wahiri Hiri and the Barbary Corsairs march towards our glorious outpost! We shall join arms with them and together we shall bring down that nefarious imperial beast! If they will not free us we shall free ourselves! Umtargatie victoree! Victoree!” shrieked he,

“Dear God he’ll kill us all!” declared Captain Dunrudy reaching for his hip flask, which fortunately for us Pasher Arshad had confiscated,”Moribund moribund tee tee!” declared he upon finding that his flask was missing. “Moribund gazulu tee tee!” I replied, for few had passed through such a fiery trial as our own!

missionaries Congo early 1900s

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Satire

Where Ignorance & Darkness Reign (Part 2)

A letter to Fanny Lawrence, fiancée (and later wife) of Sergeant Arthur Pace of the 51st Battalion of the Ferkin Hausah’s…..

I wonder that I haven’t been hacked to death by a native Wahiri Hiri or eaten alive by a rogue Riba Kiba. For I hear that such misfortunes have befallen others as have thought to defend dear old England in far flung Umbongo Umbongo. There’s many a lunatic with wild eyes and floating hair as has sought to impale me upon their spear with a wild cry of “Umtargatie Victoree!” my dear, but I have outwitted them all and remained very much alive!

With all the men I have sorrowfully killed I should be a-swoon with much penitence and regret, were those deaths not a matter of empire and survival. Colonel Anstruthers thinks of the Umbongo Umbongo as a ‘romantic’ place and I must needs keep a close eye on him as a consequence, for I remember well serving under General Gordon of Umbongo Umbongo; he whose ‘romantic’ reputation was etched in stone at the cost of many British troops. 

Remember Stanley Blenkinsall? Why iz smile would have slain an army of sweet hearts ‘ad he not ‘ad the great misfortune to be placed at the command of General Gordon! T’was ‘im as sought vainly to hold off them Moslem devils what swarmed through the streets of British Khartoum. On many a dark night (when the foreign winds howl more ominously than normal) I wake to the terrible sound of his screams, screams such as should never have been uttered if the ‘great’ general ‘ad followed his orders and evacuated all and sundry from the lunacy some refer to as the rise of the Egyptian Mahdi.

But he, forgetting he was a soldier and mistaking ‘imself for a missionary, jettisoned his duty to the British citizens of British Khartoum faster than the speed of a rifleman’s bullet, and I count myself (and my great friend Captain Dunrudy) lucky to have escaped the horror of that ensuing slaughter at least. I made an oath to myself then that no such calamity should befall me (or my men) again. At the fort of Aqua Fung Dinghi I observed the Colonel closely for any signs of untoward ‘heroism’

that might result in calamity. I was much relieved to find Colonel Anstruthers unusually restrained in both his deliberations and his decisions as it concerned his British Squaddies, less so regarding the native contingent of his battalion, but then he is not called Colonel Faustus for nothing!

We camp tonight at Nabi-Het-Het, if ever a place was accursed this is most certainly it! For t’was ere that a bunch of British officers intent upon slaughtering wild boar in the midst of sacred tribal grounds, wound up shooting several important clansmen. It seems that the clansmen had the nerve to be offended by the senseless slaughter of their livestock in the midst of their local place of worship!

The government of Umbongo abated any potential scandal in the usual way, and so the tribe of Muck-A-Bees is no more and the imperial administrators have renamed the village the ‘Place of August Benevolence’. T’is ever the way of the empire my dear! Tell little Alfie to look to his numbers and our Lily to tend to her bible, them’s the ways to a blameless life my love as we well knows!

Love Arthur

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Satire

Chapter 10: Where Ignorance & Darkness Reign (Part 1)

A letter to Lady Millicent Anstruther wife of Colonel Faustus Anstruther of the 51st Battalion of the Ferkin Hausah’s (sent prior to his disappearance) 

To ride through the Nederhiwi is to read the whole romance of the Umbongo Bongo my dear! This is the lookout from which our blessed empire has strained its vision upwards! Ever upwards unto the vast, silent, homicidal desert land which is Morocco! Morocco! That place which has been Umbongo’s distant neighbour and all but her undoing and will be soon her triumph again. If Umbongo Bongo is like a ferocious wild boar that many hunters (the Germans amongst them) have pursued and none tamed, then the Nederhiwi Ivory Outpost is a man eater, gorged with flesh yet insatiable, yet never fear my dear! We shall subdue it!

Having re-taken the Port of Aqua-Fung-Dinghi from the encroaching Wahiri horde, and having reclaimed all the British missionaries taken captive by the Barbary Cossairs, we’ve proceeded a-pace to that infamous Ivory Outpost lurking in the Nederhiwi Lowlands. A place from whence (we are told) an outbreak of lunatick rebellion has led to an interruption in the placid flow of imperial commerce.

The powers that be have informed us that the governor of the Nederhiwi outpost has gone lunatick, having been touched by a combination of rabid nativism and the unrelentingly savage heat, and that no Ivory has been transported from there in nigh on ten months. Several administrators had ridden out to enquire as to the nature of the interruption but (ominously), none had returned. So my dear, we have been charged with the task of restoring imperial order to the Ivory Station.

The Nederhiwi hinterlands resemble nothing so much as a ravenous beast my dear, and my men have watered it with more of their blood than the Nederhiwi will ever yield to pay for! A ravenous beast that is not sated yet my dear yet we will conquer him, and restore the entirety of Umbongo Umbongo to it’s true owner, our Imperial British Queen!

Riding to arms with two hundred Umbongoans and fifty white officers is quite an affair my dear. For the black does not take easily to soldiering (much less to horse riding), and it takes a great deal of restraint not to wind up shooting most of one’s recruits. T’is not a little disconcerting to find oneself obliged to forcibly conscript one’s men into doing their duty on the Umbongoan Battlefield, for no Englishman labours under such a disability!

Why, our British troops do not quail at the thought of going to war, indeed, being so highly endowed, they will not stint at engaging the enemy on any battlefield no matter how barbarous nor how foreign! In that respect we are like the Romans my dear, conquering all the earth, wading through the unconscionable, in order to impose civilisation upon the incomprehensible. In the midst of the savagery, the utter barbarousness of it all (and the darkness) the Romans neither failed nor faltered my dear,theirs was as ours has ever been, one glorious pyrrhic victory after another!

In the virtues that come naturally to the British Officer they shine exceedingly! Stiffened by one bout of yellow fever after another, plagued by intermittent outbreaks of Dysentery, Cholera Camps, and an abundance of forced marches, those that remain alive are a mirror of soldierly virtue. At present we are only a hundred miles from the Nederhiwi Ivory Outpost, tonight we shall make camp at Nabi-Het-Het (in English it is called ‘the place of august benevolence’), that place infamous for the unintended slaughter of a tribe of Muck-a-bites (now extinct) by a rampant regiment of Belgian Garde Civique.

T’was fortunate that the incident occurred deep in the hinterlands of savagery, one can only conjecture the outcry that would have ensued had the incident taken place in the more established parts of the empire (or heaven forbid dear old England!).

We resume our march at the crack of dawn tomorrow my dear and shall reach the outpost by midday at the latest. Tender my felicitations to your mama and tell Frederick that it shall not be long before they greet their papa upon the shores of our dear old emerald isle! I look upon your portrait nightly my dear. 

Faustus Anstruthers

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The Hearth-lands of Darkness….Currently…..

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Part 1 

As we rowed down the Lualaba River, I could not help but to reflect upon the series of mysterious events that had drawn us onto this quest. We had traversed the hinterlands of Um Bongo Bongo and now journeyed through the dense forests of The-Niger-Farage. At the behest of the British Commissioner we had travelled accompanied by a minimal crew of thirty natives, (most of whom had abandoned us mid-route upon the ferocious emergence of an AdministrataIainusDunkannSmithus, who had slain one of their number). The journey had been as unrelenting as it had been arduous, fierce heat beat down upon our sunburned faces whilst overhead giant Um Bongo Bongoan grasshoppers chittered loudly and leapt from tree to tree. On this stage of the journey we had opportunity to make camp, this we duly did establishing a clearing for ourselves and building a great fire in the midst of it, so that we might have light all around.

I took this occasion to re-read the last ever missive sent by my mentor Professor Powell;

‘The darkness and savagery of Umbongo Bongo is without imagining my dear! It is as if we had travelled backwards in time and become stranded in some pitiless, empty void, one where only the harsh strains of ‘Twerk It’ prevail.There are lap dancing clubs here my love! Places of unimagined and near ungovernable horror!, places where the chidren of Eden (just west of eastern europe) have risen up to dance and play! Oh my dear! The wrath of God! It is limitless!’ here the letter broke off becoming a series of dis-jointed rambling scrawls.

Abandoning all civilised constraint we travelled ever deeper into the dense bosom that was The-Niger-Farage. “I say oughtn’t we to go back? I have a feeling we’re lost!” casting off the remnants of my shirt I shook my head, “Not much further now” I said, “The Lualaba lies dead ahead, if we travel north by north west we should soon reach it”

“But won’t that mean we pass nearby Bulgaria?!!” I nodded,

“Only by fifty thousand miles,there is a shorter path over the snow capped mountains of Kilimanjaro but then we would have had to traverse sixty thousand miles within the multifarious dangers of Romania and few have survived that ordeal!”

We journeyed on from time to time stopping to take a nip of gin & tonic from our canteens. At length the forests of The-Niger-Farage fell away and the rushing, tumultuous waters of the Lualaba lay before us. What an awesome sight! But our travails were not yet over! A lengthy river journey lay before us “I say! That is Captain Dunrudy’s tugboat is it not?” and indeed my friends so it was, for I had arranged for him to join us on this, the second leg of our journey.

“A hale and hearty welcome gentleman welcome aboard!” roared Captain Dunrudy “I trust the waters of the Lualaba find you in good health? I had begun to think you would never arrive, for many have lain down to sleep in the midst of The-Niger-Farage never to arise!”

And indeed Captain Dunrudy looked like one such for I observed with disquiet the cauliflowered nose, the severely ruddied face (too indicative of excessive inebriation) and worst of all the partially unbuttoned trousers, a’las that we had ever left London! The river boat journey begun I drew the Captain’s attention to the sudden appearance of pale, wan faced beings drifting along the length of the river bank. The Captain nodded,”The natives refer to them as the Wahiri Hiri, it is an Umbongo term meaning plenty rouble makers”

“You mean trouble makers surely?” Captain Dunrudy shook his head,”They runs money making presses or so I’m told, renowned they is for the troubles they cause wherever theys apt to migrate theyselves, t’is said they are of Romanian and Bulgarian descent” he shuddered, glancing briefly at their pallid and attentive faces before turning back to the ministrations of his tug-boat. The boat continued on it’s merry way and we made progress ever closer to the Nederhiwi Ivory Station, that place from whence Professor Powell had prophesied ‘rivers of blood’ would hence flow. What foul delusions would have swamped his mind as he moved amongst the Umbongo Bongo, a lone English man in the midst of conquered natives, I could not fathom, suffice it to say that it had been his cry out of the primitive dark that had drawn me forth. And caused me to take upon my lone and narrow shoulders a venture I should never have contemplated otherwise. “Awww my god! Aww mercy! Sweet God! They is ere! They ‘as launched themselves upon us!” so cried out Captain Dunrudy as one by one and then on mass the Wahiri Hiri launched themselves upon us and clung tenaciously to the sides of the boat.

“Oh mah gawd!” screeched the panic stricken Captain “We iz gawn to diiiiiiiee!” and it did indeed seem to be the case for the boat lurching fro to fro sped hastily over the edge of a waterfall which, a’las in his panic, the Captain had forgotten to navigate us away from……

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Part 2

In The Year Of Our Lord 1888

My Dearest  Mater,

Having survived the tumultuous waters of the Luabalaba and the furious onslaught of stray Wahiri Hiri, we have now arrived at the Nederhiwi flatlands. Staggering ashore and dragging our provisions with them, the Umbongo Bongoans were soon able to collect sufficient kindling for a bonfire. This they set to building immediately, setting it alight with a flint that one of them had, had, the foresight to clench between his teeth when we had slipped over the waterfall. But once the fire was lit what a ghastly discovery was made! For Jamieson’s dinner jacket (along with his charcoals for sketching) had been lost to the waters of the Luabalaba! Captain Jamieson put a good front on it however (though I noted with much apprehension, the minute tremor beneath his left eye) and we were soon able to make camp for the night.

My darling, how best may I describe to you the savage wonders of the Nederhiwi? The infernal wonderment that suffused my weakened bosom each time I gazed up towards the stars?  The brooding sense of foreboding that overcame me as I listened to the lurid squawks of the Hysterius Ukippus? I can only quote those phrases handed down to me by my mentor in his last missive,‘Gone! The faces of my loved ones. Gone! The works of Louis Pasteur and Purcell and that cultured enlightenment that can scarce be glimpsed at by these primitive hordes! Gone all vestige of  culture, all civilised pretence. For I too am of Umbongo Bongo and all I may do now is twerk! Clustered around the roaring camp fire, we sipped on our gin and tonics and expressed the hope that we might make good progress towards the Ivory Station tomorrow. “Will there be time to stop by Ribakiba?” Jamieson inquired to which I innocently replied,”Hardly, why?”

“I have a fancy for painting some watercolours of the terrain” was his disingenuous response and this I did not question, for it was well known that Jamieson had a brooding artistic obsession with Umbongo Bongo. But later that evening, when all save I had fallen asleep, Pasher Arshad (our Syrian interpreter) voiced his disquiet. “I do not think sir” he murmured,”That you ought to let Captain Jamieson anywhere near the Ribakiba”

“That’s hardly for you to say!” I retorted, but the deferential manner of Pasha Arshad stopped me dead in my tracks and so I inclined my hand for him to continue,”The Ribakiba are infamous for their cannibalistic practices, Captain Jamieson spoke of this in the hearing of several of the boys, indeed, he purchased several boxes of watercolours and a little girl for the purpose”

“For what purpose?” asked I to which Pasha Arshad calmly replied,”To paint the rituals of cannibalism in the minutest detail

“Dear God! Has he gone mad?!” I cried but Pasha Arshad eyed me sombrely, “No more than any other Englishman I have served” he replied. Such is the nature of the Umbongo Bongo my dear, it makes savages of us all!

The following morning we struck out for the Ivory station and were pleasantly surprised to find that we had not very far to go at all. Indeed, but for the ferocious emergence of a tribe of Moncktus Brenchley we would have reached the Ivory station by noon. T’was as though nature herself conspired against us and had it not been for the bravery of the porters, she would have had her way. As it was our path lay strewn with the mangled bodies of several porters, who had, had, the good fortune to impale themselves on the enemies spears for our sake, and so our journey continued.

How shall I describe that final journey over the heartlands of darkness my dear? How may I best convey the creeping on of shadows, fast obscuring the faltering light of day and the relentless heat? So that as fast as we consumed one flagon of beer, another had to be prepared. It is hard to describe my desperate yearning for the journey’s end and yet the dawning horror of its conclusion. To lay eyes on my mentor at last, to observe what changes this brutal terrain had wrought upon his person. We had left the waters of the Luabalaba lapping seductively against the shore and in its place? We had entered a place of boundless terror, of limitless despair,”What are they?” Jamieson cried out, clutching the little girl tightly by the hand. “Lithuanians” Pasher Arshad murmured,”Perhaps even Poles” he continued unsheathing his sword. “Poles?” I cried, “This far inland? What could they possibly want with us?”

Pashar Arshad shrugged,”Who knows? Maybe they’re between jobs? Try throwing some beer at them” we had wrestled with death and emerged victorious but worse was to come.”Pasher Stanley! Pasher Stanley! Where is Captain Jamieson?”. Oh, we knew beyond any reckoning where he had gone, for the little Wahiri Hiri child was not to be found either, but tempus fugit. I could only hope that Captain Jamieson might remember his breeding, that and the fact that he was heir to a lucrative whisky business, and change his mind.

Pasher Arshad’s distaste, on the other hand, prompted him to draw my attention to article thirty-five of the constitution of Umbongo Bongo, which he assured me dealt with the suppression of savage customs,”Cannibalism” he assured me was such a custom. It was my painful duty to assure him in return that the British Empire could never be signatory to a barbarous convention such as this. Furthermore, next to the acquisition of that Ivory station and the discovery of Mr Livingstone, the death of one Wahiri Hiri was of little consequence.

Pasher Arshad paled, he seemed profoundly shocked by my response, though I could not for the life of me see why, after all had he not stood as military interpreter to General Gordon of Umbongo Bongo?

P.S

Parts of this tale are based on a true story, the question is which parts?

RibaKiba Homestead

RibaKiba Homestead

 

Part 3

A Letter written by Emma Cranford (recovered during the 10th Wahiri Hiri Rebellion of Umbongo Bongo)

January 1888

Church of the Unbridled Redemption of St John (the Methodist),

Ribakiba Mission Post,

NederHiwi Flatlands,

Umbongo Bongo

Dearest Abilene,

T’is nigh upon a year since last I wrote and I thank he whose beneficent, benevolence, has seen fit to furnish me with pen and paper with which I now write. I speak of the estimable Captain Jamieson who having arrived at our mission only last week, now resides with ourselves at RibaKiba . He is the first white man I have seen here (besides my brother), a man quick and decisive in his movements, lithe of limb, tousled of head and oh my dear! That piercing blue gaze! I walked with him this morning, under the shade of the Nederhiwi palms, with the gentle cawing of the Chinky-birds & the Hysterius Ukippus overhead, swooning only a little in his presence. Perhaps it was mild sunstroke my dear, I cannot tell, but that my collar was speedily loosened (by Ileana my maid!) and Captain Jamieson escorted me home half-supported upon his arm. Once in my quarters I trembled, so that Ileana (once she had finished smoking her cigar) asked if I were ill, and, having readied me for my evening nap, bade me get some sleep before the evening matins.Would that Arthur, my dear brother, displayed half that attentiveness to my desires, but he thinks only of the RibaKiba souls whom the good lord has seen fit to entrust to his (and my) care.

“That child, Emma”

“What child dearest?”

“That child” exclaimed Arthur impatiently clasping his monocle firmly before his eye, “The one tied by the wrists to his horse, pray, what is her name?”

“Her name dearest?” I replied, for it seemed obvious to me that the child was an Umbongo slave, not of RibaKiba origin, and therefore of no spiritual concern to us, “Is it important?” I asked pinning on my best cameo brooch (the one left to me by mama in her will).

“Not as such only I observe that she is rarely out of Captain Jamieson’s sight. When you walked with him last he had her chained to his belt did he not?”

“I cannot remember dearest, no I don’t think so” I lied, though in truth I could not tell, enthralled as I was by his masculine proximity.

“You look flushed my dear” Arthur exclaimed with some concern,

“Do I?” said I dabbing my forehead a little with a delicate lace hanky (also bequeathed me by mama)

“T’is nothing, a little fatigue from the heat is all” but as my heart throbbed urgently beneath my corseted bosom I could think only of him, Captain Jamieson, and his masterful hands.

How best shall I describe our meeting place to you dear Abilene? Picture an imposing building elaborately hewn from grey stone, with elegant soaring spires and now picture its antithesis. Yes my dear, to this we have been called! Far from our beloved England to this! This heathen fleshpot of iniquitous dealings that teetered on the brink of famine! A famine brought on by that unspeakable wickedness that had, held sway amongst their much depleted numbers! We have been called to succour the indigent and the reluctant, the intransigent and the inordinately violent! It was not easy my dear, for at first we were greatly opposed by the Wahiri Hiri (rouble-makers) who turned a fine profit out of selling the tribesmen prodigious amounts of Vodka and fire wood!

Indeed, when we first arrived in RibaKiba they contrived to take us hostage and then to sell us onto the RibaKiba tribesmen, with a free wooden Barbey-Kooo (some invention of theirs) thrown in! Had the RibaKiba been drunk we should have been at their mercy, alas, then, for the Wahiri Hiri that Arthur carried a loaded pistol, and they were sober! I cannot recount the fate of these iniquitous souls (t’is more than becomes such as I), suffice it to say that the grounds of the graveyard, behind our place of worship, are vast my dear!

Eighty souls have been placed in our care, all of whom flock around Arthur constantly, plucking at his linen suit with their sweaty little fingers and hanging on his every utterance. I wish they would hang around him less, obliged as I am to play the church organ at morning bible study when the eyes in their dull faces may be most clearly seen. Oh, some might think me most uncharitable and even a little racist, but there is something about those Negro faces and in particular about their eyes.

” Emma dearest shall we begin?” I nod slightly and with my back turned towards the RibaKiba Christians and my face buried in my Methodist hymn book I begin,

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me

let me hide myself in thee! 

Be of sin the double cure

save me from it’s wrath and power!”

May the good Lord forgive me, but I found myself  adrift on the tides of romantic yearning to such a degree that even as my fingers slid across the organ keys, even as my dainty feet trammelled the peddles, I failed to note that Arthur had fallen silent and all singing had ceased. Raising my head from the hymnal I gathered sufficient courage to look around for the reassuring presence of my brother, but he was not there. Glancing at the RibaKiba I noted with some relief that their backs were turned towards me, their necks and faces straining towards something that was occurring just out of my line of sight. I noted also with some alarm, that the Ileana (my Wahiri maid) was present, cigar in hand!

“Ahhhhhhhh! Aaaaaaah!” the little Umbongo’s child’s cries (for t’was she), caused the hair on the nape of my neck to stiffen, in a trice all thought of berating Ileana had fled and I wondered instead with much foreboding, where Arthur could have got to. “Unhand her you fiend!”

“Never!” came the reply (most brutally I might add), “I’ve travelled here at great expense to paint the Umbongoan child being prepared for dinner and eaten and paint her I shall!”

“Oh, you most pitiful wretch! You SHALL NOT!!! Unhand herrrrrrr!!”

T’was Arthur and at the very sound of his voice (accompanied most shockingly  by the blast of his shotgun) the RibaKiba glanced at one another knowingly, and turning to me at once, they resumed singing. Taking one last puff on her cigar Ileana favoured me with a smirk,

“Look like Captain Jamieson get himself caught in an elephant trap no?”

Oh my dear, these are the times that try us……..

missionaries Congo early 1900s

Part 4

The savagery, the utter savagery of it all consumed us; death lurked everywhere, it preened, it shimmied, it pranced, pranced with the frenetic energy of a Neder -Hiwi Witch Doctor! Death leered at us through the darkened windows of every deserted village hut we passed, it lingered midst the grimy foetid rags covering the strewn bones of the village’s former inhabitants. Above us the skies were black, so black that I fancied we might find ourselves swept up and devoured by the vast darkly ominous storm clouds, which now roiled tumultuously overhead.

We’d ventured on for many miles now, passing the abandoned ruins of a deserted outpost the Umbongoan natives called ‘Na-Wango-Bretagne’. Na-Wango-Bretagne had been a trading post till it had been burnt down by a treacherous Italian scout the staunch English traders had mistakenly invited into their midst.

During the monsoon season the Nederhiwi Flatlands were overrun by Hysterius Ukippus whose slippery hides-once plucked and scoured clean-might be sold for ten pounds sterling a piece (according to the natives). If this were true I conjectured that two seasons spent in these lush hinterlands could render a man as rich as Croesus; if he survived the cannibalism of the Riba Kiba natives, the unrelenting heat, and the ravages of Yellow Fever. Such was the price one was apt to pay in pursuit of riches, such was the world we’d stumbled into.

“Tis a country plagued by many djinn” muttered Parshar Arshad looking about himself watchfully. “Strong, lusty, red eyed spirits of mammon are rampant here! See! The destruction they have left in their wake!”

“Nonsense!” I coolly replied “Umbongo Umbongo is under the protection of the British Empire”.

“So was the Sudan!” cried Parshar Arshad despairingly “And look what happened there! Oh that I were still in the service of that great martyr of Britannia, General Gordon of Umbongo!”.

“Indeed. Shall we onwards? According to this map (bequeathed me by Captain Jamieson), the Nederhiwi Ivory Station is just over that hill”

“That hill?!” cried Umbutu savagely

“Just so” I replied raising a stern eyebrow, for if our remaining porters had had their way, we’d have turned back several times along our route. Fortunately I had taken care to deploy a pistol about my person, and through infrequent use I had managed to keep us fixed upon our journey.

“That hill?!” Umbutu cried once more turning his terror stricken gaze upon the other porters “That hill is accursed! Like the village and the outpost before it! We will go no furdah! Umbwaaga na butu! Naaah butu!”

On such occasions as this an abrupt rebuke from the Pashar would have silenced this dissent, but he had blithely unrolled his prayer mat and now proceeded to pray whilst mayhem unfurled around him. “Umbwaaga na butu! Naaa butu!” cried all the other porters dropping our cargo midst the lush grass and taking flight. I am afraid to say I had much recourse to the pistol I normally kept holstered at my side, and so we continued onwards with our journey.

Paths, paths everywhere, muddy half-botched affairs they were, leading up the hill through the long grass and down it through the sickly yellowish mounds of low grass. Near the top of the hill I almost fell into a vast hole from which arose a near suffocating rancid odour.

“The rotted remains of many wild boar” declared Pashar Arshad peering over the edge of the hole into the vast maw of that wild darkness. “I am told that wild boar tusks are as valued by the Germans, as elephant ivory is by the French”.

“German hunters carried out this wasteful carnage?” I cried, Pashar Arshad rolled his eyes.

“They are one of the few nations discerning enough to have no liking for the cooked flesh of Wild Boar! Of course they are German, but the more pressing question is what were they doing here, so close to the Nederhiwi Ivory Station?”

We did not have to wait long to find out, for as we descended the sepulchral mound a swarthy devil who had gone on ahead jabbered excitedly “Umbwaa bwaaa Nederhiwi!!!”.

We had finally reached the Nederhiwi Ivory Station, but before we could descend the primitive mound, we discerned the growing sound of murmuring voices and stamping feet. How best might we describe the emotions that swept over us as we, carefully making our descent, observed the frenetic dancing of the lanky brutes who, festooned in Resig-Nata-Smithus hides, stomped and swayed to and fro afore the barred gates of the Ivory Station. Leaping high in the air and uttering primeval screeches that made my skin crawl, they seemed grotesque to the point of moral indecency. “T’would seem they object to the presence of the Ivory Station” observed Pashar Arshad calmly.

“T’would seem they’ve objected to a darn sight more than that!” exclaimed Captain Dunwoody pointing to the hairy objects each bellicose dancer had tied to their grass skirts. Hairy objects which on closer observation (through my Acme patented binoculars) appeared to resemble shrunken human heads.

“How barbarous!” I cried “How are we to gain entry to the Ivory Station now?!”

” With great care” replied Pashar Arshad strumming his prayer beads ruminatively. Captain Dunrudy nodded in agreement, taking little nips of whisky from a pewter flask he pointed towards the savage leaping forms . “These are not Umbongoans indigenous to this region, nor are they Wahiri Hiri or Riba Kiba. What we have here is a tribe of Kon-Kon-Safwoah-Redwoods and they is an altogether diff’rent kettle of fish!! We must tread carefully or wind up like them Germans, shrunken and dangling from a grass skirt!” he sipped ruminatively on his whisky, lit a slightly shabby looking cigar and settled back in the low grass for the time being. Glancing with great fear in the direction of the Ivory Station, the native porters murmured ominously amongst themselves, but then taking one look at my pistol they too dropped our cargo (delicately) upon the low grass and prepared to dig in for the night.

The gibbous moon hung low in a pitch black sky that was as frightening to behold as the gaping maw of a panther. Whilst down below us my sharp eyes (aided by binoculars) observed the grotesque visages and the contorted bodies of the Kon-Kon-Safwoah-Redwoods prancing savagely through the impenetrable dark. “You’ll ne’er meet a more monstrous tribe than that lot! ” declared Captain Dunrudy as he too observed their barbarous prancing. ” Twelve year I’ve bin here on the river mostly doing a bit o’ trade with the Europeans. Umbongo (plagued as it is by indigenous tribes) is a devilish hard place to make one’s living, devilish, dangerous and fiendish”. Could I nay say him? For here we lay, hidden in the low grass half a league away from the only remnant of civilisation we’d laid eyes on in eighty days of travel.

We had traversed the wildernesses of Umbongo Bongo and survived the treacherousness of the Lualaba River; only to find ourselves kept back from attaining the pinnacle of our adventure. As the meagre wretches below us continued to screech and to dance wildly I felt a surge of hatred arise in my Christian breast, and almost reached for my pistol, but a sardonic glance from Captain Dunrudy stayed my hand.

A paroxysm of quiet sobbing convulsed me momentarily, but I soon suppressed it and settling into the mobile cot which one of the natives had thoughtfully carried on his head from Na-Wango-Bretagne I soon fell asleep.

 

RibaKiba Mission

RibaKiba Mission

Part 5

The day would have begun serenely were it not for the throbbing drums below us and the low, ominous mutterings of the natives. T’was a fitful night we spent, slumbering in the low grass, whilst grasshoppers chittered and Pashar Arshad kept watch through the night. T’was an unrelentingly ominous yet sunny day we found ourselves awaking to. I could not help but to recollect Pashar Arshad’s reminisces about the fall of the heroic city of Khartoum to the massacring Mohammedan hordes of the Mahdi;it had been a scorchingly hot day then too, Pashar assured me. Looking up into the vast empty soul-less sky I cursed the gods that had trapped us between the roaring waters of the Luabalaba and the Nederhiwi Ivory Station. Not for the first time I questioned what dark primeval forces had lured me out of merry old England during cricket season and into the darkest reaches of dimmest Africa. Why on such a morn as this, I should have been drinking chocolate out of a delicate china cup and slowly devouring a plate of Turkey Twizzler Kedgeree.

“Oi oi!” cried Captain Dunrudy “There’s movement down below! The gates are being opened, somebody’s coming out!” I looked down upon the Irish man who had crawled halfway down the hill on his belly with a cigarillo dangling from his lips and a telescope extended in front of him. His begrimed britches were partially split around the back, so that the stark white linen of his undergarments shone through, as he wriggled farther down the hill to get a closer look. “Oh ho! It’s a party of natives and that looks like-is that Professor Powell?!” he handed the telescope to me and as I looked a gasp of unsuppressed horror escaped me.

The burnt low grass scratched my cheeks, and tickled my lips, as I wriggled still further down the hill to more closely view what Africa had wrought upon this once civilised Englishman. For it was clear to me that the most esteemed Professor Powell had gone native. Here was an Englishman-who had been the founder of the New College Drinking Club, a fellow of the Royal Archaeological Society and a lay preacher at Canterbury Cathedral-clad in a grass skirt, fashioned it appeared from Palm fronds. Elephant tusks had been tied to either side of his head beneath a crown of Hysterius Ukippus feathers. Gold and Ivory bracelets adorned his wrists, his chest alone was bare and tanned as dark as a beech-nut.

“Oi oi! He’s addressing the Kon-Kon-Safwo’s with dance! He’s clearly gawn bonkers!” exclaimed Captain Dunrudy disbelievingly as he crawled still further down the steep stark hill with us crawling along behind him. The drumming had increased in intensity as the Kon-Kon-Safwo-Redwoods shimmied and shook in time to its rhythm. Not to be outdone in aggressive ferocity, Professor Powell shimmied and shook his own lean body with twice the speed and ferocity.

He twisted, he leapt, he skipped ferociously in a circle with a band of similarly garbed Umbongo Umbongoans dancing sombrely beside him. It seemed to me that some unearthly discourse was taking place, one such as no civilised Englishman could possibly comprehend. Even as we had travelled inland from the outer regions of Umbongo Umbongo we had heard rumours of the godless depths to which he (Professor Powell) had plummeted. The devilish rites to which it was rumoured he had been party, but I had not thought to witness a display so swinishly heathen, for he grimaced and rolled his eyes back in his head broodingly as though he were Umbongoan born and bred, twirling the ivory handled fly swatters in his swarthy hands with joyous abandon.

“Have you visited the Kalahari desert?” whispered Pashar Arshad ” The Bushmen of the Kalahari perform such heathen feats as these, they call it ‘ungah-wiri’ ”

“Tis the Umtargatie-Yaw-Yaw” replied Captain Dunrudy chuckling quietly to himself as he watched the good professor performing a bellicose strutting skip with his sunburned paunch thrust out, and his hands jerking spasmodically at his sides. “The Professor is attempting to perform the Umtargatie-Yaw-Yaw, tis the tribal way of marking out one’s territorial boundaries”

“By God! He’s an Englishman! Can he not simply have the brutes shot and mark out his territorial boundaries that way?” I exclaimed in horror. The Kon-Kon-Safwo-Redwoods seemed terribly excited by the presence of an Englishman in their midst, for the drum beat picked up its pace and now the brutes shook their spears and their grass skirts savagely, so savagely that the grotesque little shrunken German heads attached to them bobbed up and down.

“Ooooh that don’t look good. If they keep that up he will have to shoot them.” observed Captain Dunrudy uncapping his flask and knocking back a long hard slug of whisky.”Still” he continued, “his loss will be our gain; them gates to the outpost are wide open”. Death lay skulking in the air and if we were not careful it would eat its fill of us,the wide open gates were akin to a luminous flash of hope in that heathen darkness.

Conferring quietly with Pashar Ashad (who in turn instructed the head native-porter) I unholstered my pistol and crawling deeper into the low grass, I made my way carefully downhill. Sweat trickled down my face and neck staining my only remaining pure white bespoke shirt. The ground beneath my dirty fingernails throbbed savagely with the frenzied thud of savage feet on the sun-baked, my head ached so fiercely from the searing heat that I feared I would betray my Britishness by swooning. Still, I made my way onwards, wriggling along the stony ground on my belly till at length I was at the gates of that sparkling sanctuary from barbarism, the Nederhiwi Ivory Station ………

Of Commerce & Industry!

Of Commerce & Industry!

Part 6

Ivory, lots of it, heaped up in vast glistening piles everywhere we looked. Enough riches to buy the City of London many times over. How remarkable that in the midst of this vast and desolate marauding wilderness such riches should exist! Was this why men journeyed fearlessly into the dark inhuman reaches of a jungle infested with Tarantulas, Scorpions and legions of Red Ants? Was this why they came, braving this hotbed of Yellow Fever and Dengue Flu and dying in their legions raving and foaming in the Nederhiwi Bush? All this to secure one’s financial position in English Society indefinitely?

What monomanic affliction (I wondered) bade the Professor horde up prodigious supplies of that for which men gladly drove themselves mad? Even as I speculated as to what sickness drove my poor friend’s embrace of barbarism and avarice, Captain Dunrudy surveyed the gleaming mounds of Ivory and giggled quietly to himself. He glanced at the Chief Porter whose swarthy visage lit up at the sight of the white tusks and he too giggled,”Moribund moribund tee tee!!” he declared lifting his hands to heaven and giggling some more. Captain Dunrudy clearly agreed with him for “Moribund moribund mayhem gazulu tee tee!” was his guffawing reply “Small wonder the Kon-Konsafwo-Redwoods are on the warpath! “.

I looked at Captain Dunrudy questioningly, but he merely laughed until the tears ran down his cheeks and pointed towards the dozen or so tethered vultures kept in bamboo cages, nearby the gargantuan mounds of Ivory. “Look at those cages” he said, “If I’m not mistaken those are West Africa Company Carrier Vultures” he chuckled “They only gets sent to the Ivory outposts when Ivory cargoes stop coming altogether!”.

He guffawed so heartily that his face turned redder than usual and his eyes streamed with tears. His humour proved so infectious that the natives were soon rolling around on the ground alongside him clutching their sides. I must confess that I could not see what humour there was in our predicament. The vast heaps of gleaming Ivory should have been despatched to the West Africa Company’s imperial outpost in Nefertiri Umbongo, but for whatever sinister reason, that had not happened.

Ashar Parshad alone shared my dismay and unease “This is very very bad Mr Stanley, very bad indeed. Professor Powell has taken up arms against that fine bulwark of Englishness, the West Africa Company. Why, they own all the Gold, Gari and Palm Wine Reserves and most of the Ivory Reserves of Umbongo! To go against them is to brave the wrath of the Governor-General of Umbongo Umbongo, and the legions of Glorious British Grenadiers sent to safeguard the Empress of India’s booty!”

“A parlous state of affairs and a puzzling one” I admitted for the Professor Powell who mentored me as a boy at New College in Oxford, professed no interest in the business of Ivory. His had been an anthropological fascination, what lunatick epiphany could have propelled him from those scientific realms he so loved into the very depths of tawdry nativism he had embraced? Why, it hardly bore thinking on and yet as I bit into a Panama Plum I found myself obliged to think on it.

yambuya_river_congo_1890

Chapter 7

These many weeks the hunt for Professor Powell had occupied my thoughts and filled my waking moments. I who set out upon this dark and shudderingly terrifying adventure, full of all sorts of nightmarish fears and wild apprehensions, have now reached my journey’s ruinous black end. The Professor Powell I knew at New College is a man greatly changed! So preoccupied has he become with the protection of his ever increasing mounds of glorious Ivory, that he has become remiss in his duties towards the Empire.

The West Africa Company (who commissioned his research) have received not a single consignment from the Nederhiwi Ivory Outpost . What is worse, he has left off wearing the starched shirts and linen suits indicative of his imperial standing amongst the natives, adopting the native garb with all the resolute enthusiasm of a degenerating heathen.

Why even now a ferocious tribe of head shrinking savages, intent upon collecting their share of the Ivory have joined him in dance-combat!. For two days now the drums of the Kon-Kon-Safwo-Redwoods have rung out savagely, and as a blood red sun sets shimmeringly on the horizon and the day draws to a close, I cannot help but to wonder what the outcome will be.

“Have you had a bite to eat?” enquired Captain Dunrudy as he partook of tinned Sardines delicately mingled with fried Nederhiwi Red Herring. I could not help but to marvel at a man who having imbibed enough whisky rations to have inebriated an entire army, now sat contentedly chewing upon a plateful of pungent smelling fish served up for him by a voluptuous plum skinned Umbongoan maiden, who grimacing broadly offered me some native victuals.

From the jovial manner in which Captain Dunrudy chewed upon his food I assume it was most palatable for him. My English constitution I fear is not as robust, for I found the mere smell of the cooked victuals surprisingly repellent, and was forced to fall back upon the remainder of some Kitchener Dried Mule Jerky I had purchased several months ago at the Umbongo Nefertiri Outpost. I soon completed my spartan meal, washing it down with several Gin and Tonics, before wandering off in the direction of that eccentric structure to the left of the Ivory mounds which I’m told was the main headquarters of the outpost.

“Umbwaaga na butu! Believe me!” Captain Dunrudy declared as he chewed his fish, washing it down with yet more whisky. “He’s built a graveyard behind that lot, and what you’ll find there scarce bares imagining! The natives say there’s at least a dozen imperial administrators buried back there. Right alongside the half a dozen missionaries what thought they’d make civilised Christian Englishmen out of the Nederhiwi, well! They soon learned a thing or two!”

As I walked towards the towering structure from time to time I would glimpse out of the corner of my eye occasional glimmerings such as would suggest the swift, furtive movements of dark skinned savages. Not that I let that put me off my mission which was to acquire what insight I could as to the precise nature of Professor Powell’s barbarous lunacy.

As I approached the wooden structure which alone seemed to tower over that corner of the compound, I was overcome by a sudden desire to mutter the Pater Noster under my breath, and I could not resist crossing myself several times as I entered into the soul-less dark interior of Professor Powell’s home. A ponderous and weighty silence filled each oak panelled chamber, whose tables of sparkling cut-glass and crisp white linen, whose walnut cabinets full of intricately painted bone-china, silver plate and scrimshawed Ivory had been dusted and polished to perfection, t’was most disturbing.

Travelling deeper into the cavernous interiors of Professors Powell’s home I came upon a chamber whose earthen floor had been polished to such a high shine that one could almost see one’s face in it. An ornately carved chair had been placed in the centre of this room and upon it sat a poor creature in a state of parlous anguish. Her matted hair was loose and lay dishevelled upon the shoulders of a tattered gown and it was impossible at first to discern whether she was of civilisation or merely a tribeswoman of the Wahiri Hiri.

There was an air of tainted purity about her , an aura of almost imperceptible light and as she raised her head from off her chest I saw that she bore a gold crucifix upon it. Could this be an English woman and a missionary?! T’was a terrible shock to perceive an English woman shackled and chained like a savage to a chair owned by the good professor (who had once partaken joyously of high church), and in a room festooned with grotesque Nederhiwi statues, which I took to be representations of the local deities.

“What is this place?” I asked not wishing to hear what I guessed would be an answer most shocking to my Christian sensibilities.

“T’is the Twerking Chamber of Professor Powell!” she replied “A most barbarous and impious sight you are unlikely to see in any other imperial district! I have been imprisoned for some months merely for seeking to turn the Nederhiwi back from the wilderness of vicious corruption that, that devil (turned heathen!) has urged them to embrace! I have been chained up to the Throne of Ululations for exhorting them to be good Christians! Professor Powell proclaimed that I shall not leave here till I relinquish my faith and twerk!”.

Raising a delicate and trembling milk white palm to her pallid face she tilted back her head and fell to laughing hysterically till she howled with anguished tears, finally she let loose such a stream of terrible invectives that it seemed as if she had succumbed to that impenetrable darkness some call Africa. But at last she recovered her composure and I, having stifled my horror and gathered my resolve, drew forth a Maxim Pistol and firing off several shots, freed the unfortunate lady from her chains.”Praise God!” gasped she, her face contorted with joy,

“An Englishman has come! An Englishman has come!”

RibaKiba Homestead

RibaKiba Homestead

Part 8 

Ah me!” sobbed Miss Cranford “How many dark and onerous days have passed since last I laid eyes upon the beloved face of my poor deceased brother; most beloved padre of the children of RibaKiba. Alas that he who survived so much depredatory wickedness, should have fallen foul of the evils of the Wahiri Hiri Rebellion!”

“The Wahiri Hiri have rebelled?” I cried disbelievingly for I found it hard to imagine such a pale and disinteresting species mounting a regime overthrow of any kind.

“The Wahiri Hiri having conducted much of their business with the Barbary Corsairs, and having seen how well they prosper in their piracy, have become discontented with their lot!” replied Miss Cranford “Hence their desperately wicked rebellion against the forces of the British Empire! Why I myself was forced to flee bible in hand, and many Christian Riba Kiba with me!”

 

“But what of Captain Jamieson?” Miss Cranford’ became agitated and her face darkened at the mention of his name , I can only conjecture from this that some infamous misfortune had befallen my greatly misled friend. “Kidnapped by the Barbary Corsairs” replied she in a whisper not quite meeting my eye “As were most of the Christian Riba Kiba”

The Barbary Corsair Pirates were infamous throughout North Africa for their dissolute pirating practices, and I could scarce conjecture how they had become involved in the imperial affairs of Umbongo Bongo. The Barbary, wealthy beyond imagining, were a terror to all who encountered them, for though they were generally spoken of as pirates their truer profession was that of white slavers! I One thing now seemed beyond doubt, we must quit this savage outpost at the earliest opportunity.

When first I entered the palace of Professor Powell it had been midday, but now the suns last rays pierced the stained glass windows of that shadowy heathen chamber as I carefully untied Miss Cranford, and gently led her out of that place of heinous depravity. As she wept wildly clinging to my strong masculine shoulder, I led the newly liberated English gentlewoman from the place of her captivity, and she all but collapsed into the arms of Captain Dunrudy once we had reached the camp.

“Mah Gawd! It cannot be!” cried Captain Dunrudy as the poor woman sobbed terribly in his sinewy masculine embrace “Mah Gawd Miss Cranford! What terrible development is this? When last I saw you, you and your saviour were happy and blest! Should you not be at the Riba Kiba Mission with your dear brother the most Reverend Cranford?” alas the woman was unable to respond to his inquiries for she had fainted; and he, deeply moved by the sight, tossed away his flagon of Whisky and scooping up the distressed lady carried her into his tent and laid her on his portable camp bed.

“I’ve been in this bally country for nigh on fifteen year and never laid eyes on a more sinister set of goings-on! An English woman and a missionary held prisoner by natives! Where’d you find er? Professor Powell’s Twerking Harem is what she told me but he couldn’t have!” Captain Dunrudy looked at me “Nay he wouldn’t! No! Not to an English woman!”

“An Englishman who has gawn native and cavorts about in grass skirts is capable of anything” I replied “What is more she says the Wahiri Hiri are at war with the Imperial Army of Umbongo Bongo and in league with the Barbary Corsairs!”

“Bloody hell!” he cried looking about him with dawning horror “Out of the frying pan into the fire! Where’s me whisky!”

“Bismillahi!” Shrieked Pashar Arshad, he glared malevolently at the red nosed sailor,

“You’ve downed enough whisky to merit a thousand lashes many times over! If the Wahiri Hiri have burned down the missionary outpost it will not belong before they turn up here! Do you wish to wind up eating roast Armadillo and pulling an Ox Cart in Morocco? No? Then you had better leave off Shaytan’s juice!”

missionaries Congo early 1900s

Part 9

In the distance we could hear the native drumming then just as suddenly it ceased. Night fell and with it an uneasy silence broken only by the insidious humming of grasshoppers,and the raucous braying of a herd of Nederhiwi Wild Boar. All around us lit torches materialised, and with them the native occupants of the outpost, who did not acknowledge our presence, but did make sure that the area in which we were camped was exceeding well-lit.

“Wallee ici! Wallee na hutu ici!” jabbered one of the splay footed natives pointing enthusiastically towards the wide open gates. The excitement rippled through that alien horde until as one they cried “Wallee ici! Wallee ici” turning their faces and bodies as one towards the din being made by the sound of approaching drums. Had Professor Powell prevailed victoriously over the Kon-Kon-Safwo-Redwoods? We would soon know!

“Wallee ici!!! Umtargatie victoreee!”

Umtargatie victory indeed! For even as Professor Powell led his triumphal procession in through the Ivory festooned gates, the Wahiri Hiri were conquering the Umbongoan Countryside and sweeping all before them!How long would it be before they reached this Ivory outpost?

“Umtargatie victoree! Victoree!” more cries of triumph and celebration as the Nederhiwi clamoured to meet their alabaster skinned saviour. Glancing feverishly upon his enthralled flock whose wildly impassioned joy was infant like in its expression, Professor Powell let himself be passed from hand to hand overhead, till at length he came to rest upon a huge intricately carved Ebony Wood stool.

“My dear children!” cried he waving an imperious hand over us all “The battle was joined and won, the Kon-Kon-Safwo’s have conceded their defeat and it is as Emperor of Nederhiwi that I now address you!”

“Conceded their defeat?” said I turning to Captain Dunrudy who stood close by scratching his his head and looking perplexed “What does he mean by that?” in reply Captain Dunrudy discretely tapped the butt of his Maxim “Not what he thinks! Them Kon-Kon-Safwo’s don’t like being crossed, they gets their livelihood from delivering cargoes of Ivory, Ivory which he won’t let them have they may have departed, but they won’t have gone far I wager!”

More exultant whoops of pleasure followed and with it a degree of frenzied dancing so far divorced from the region of moral decency that I shudder even to describe it.

“Twerk it my children! Twerk it! Twerk it!” cried he whose spiritual faculties were now so weak that moral decency even in dance eluded him,”Twerk it!”.

“Declared isself Emperor of Nederhiwi?!” muttered Captain Dunrudy wiggling his hips discretely in time to the the beat of the Tom-Tom Drums “The Imperial administrators won’t like that!”

“Y’all-ah!” muttered Pasher Arshad “Had he been in the service of the Sultan Abu Dekallah he would have been whipped severely, tied to a dozen horses and torn limb from limb for his treacherous infamy!”

Dear devout reader, t’was as if we had descended into the very fires of hell with the good professor as our guide! No importunate sinner found chained midst the smouldering embers of Gehenna could have known such despair, such horror! The dreams of empire had borne us aloft from the emerald isle we called home, to this place of boundless savagery. The Professor Powell I knew had entered Africa as a highly civilised British Anthropologist, but like an infatuated, sultry eyed lover, darkest Africa had lured him deep into the nihilistic bowels of the Nederhiwi, and the savagery, the utter savagery of it all had closed around him.

Above us the pure white stars sparkled innocently, and the pale moon hung luminously in their midst, looked down with a cold eye upon the tawdry goings-on to which we found our good Christian selves reluctantly made privy. Ah! How the torches scattered around the camp glimmered, their unrelenting glare casting light and shadow upon the nefarious twerkings of Professor Powell and the heathen Nederhiwi. Oh! The plenteous tears shed by us all as we witnessed the frightening depths of degradation to which the Professor had succumbed! With a look of primal ecstasy he arched his back and shimmied till the Palm Fronds tied to his thick waist swished to and fro rustling audibly, and all the while, rapt with horror, we watched him, watched him and prayed!

“Twerk it! Twerk it! Twerk it!” cried Captain Dunrudy wiggling his hips and joining arms with the bemused Chief Porter who snickered loudly and declared “Umbwaaga na butu! Moribundus tee tee!”. Dear reader, how many morally decent supplications can be offered up in circumstances such as this and to whom? I must confess that I could think of no appropriate bible scriptures that could touch on matters such as this save one,

“It is not the sound of victory,
it is not the sound of defeat;
it is the sound of twerking that I hear.”

Of Commerce & Industry!

Of Commerce & Industry!

Standard
Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Racism, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Chapter 9:Insidious Hummings….

logo

In the distance we could hear the native drumming then just as suddenly it ceased. Night fell and with it an uneasy silence broken only by the insidious humming of grasshoppers,and the raucous braying of a herd of Nederhiwi Wild Boar. All around us lit torches materialised, and with them the native occupants of the outpost, who did not acknowledge our presence, but did make sure that the area in which we were camped was exceeding well-lit.

“Wallee ici! Wallee na hutu ici!” jabbered one of the splay footed natives pointing enthusiastically towards the wide open gates. The excitement rippled through that alien horde until as one they cried “Wallee ici! Wallee ici” turning their faces and bodies as one towards the din being made by the sound of approaching drums. Had Professor Powell prevailed victoriously over the Kon-Kon-Safwo-Redwoods? We would soon know!

“Wallee ici!!! Umtargatie victoreee!”

Umtargatie victory indeed! For even as Professor Powell led his triumphal procession in through the Ivory festooned gates, the Wahiri Hiri were conquering the Umbongoan Countryside and sweeping all before them!How long would it be before they reached this Ivory outpost?

“Umtargatie victoree! Victoree!” more cries of triumph and celebration as the Nederhiwi clamoured to meet their alabaster skinned saviour. Glancing feverishly upon his enthralled flock whose wildly impassioned joy was infant like in its expression, Professor Powell let himself be passed from hand to hand overhead, till at length he came to rest upon a huge intricately carved Ebony Wood stool.

“My dear children!” cried he waving an imperious hand over us all “The battle was joined and won, the Kon-Kon-Safwo’s have conceded their defeat and it is as Emperor of Nederhiwi that I now address you!”

“Conceded their defeat?” said I turning to Captain Dunrudy who stood close by scratching his his head and looking perplexed “What does he mean by that?” in reply Captain Dunrudy discretely tapped the butt of his Maxim “Not what he thinks! Them Kon-Kon-Safwo’s don’t like being crossed, they gets their livelihood from delivering cargoes of Ivory, Ivory which he won’t let them have they may have departed, but they won’t have gone far I wager!”

More exultant whoops of pleasure followed and with it a degree of frenzied dancing so far divorced from the region of moral decency that I shudder even to describe it.

“Twerk it my children! Twerk it! Twerk it!” cried he whose spiritual faculties were now so weak that moral decency even in dance eluded him,”Twerk it!”.

“Declared isself Emperor of Nederhiwi?!” muttered Captain Dunrudy wiggling his hips discretely in time to the the beat of the Tom-Tom Drums “The Imperial administrators won’t like that!”

“Y’all-ah!” muttered Pasher Arshad “Had he been in the service of the Sultan Abu Dekallah he would have been whipped severely, tied to a dozen horses and torn limb from limb for his treacherous infamy!”

Dear devout reader, t’was as if we had descended into the very fires of hell with the good professor as our guide! No importunate sinner found chained midst the smouldering embers of Gehenna could have known such despair, such horror! The dreams of empire had borne us aloft from the emerald isle we called home, to this place of boundless savagery. The Professor Powell I knew had entered Africa as a highly civilised British Anthropologist, but like an infatuated, sultry eyed lover, darkest Africa had lured him deep into the nihilistic bowels of the Nederhiwi, and the savagery, the utter savagery of it all had closed around him.

Above us the pure white stars sparkled innocently, and the pale moon hung luminously in their midst, looked down with a cold eye upon the tawdry goings-on to which we found our good Christian selves reluctantly made privy. Ah! How the torches scattered around the camp glimmered, their unrelenting glare casting light and shadow upon the nefarious twerkings of Professor Powell and the heathen Nederhiwi. Oh! The plenteous tears shed by us all as we witnessed the frightening depths of degradation to which the Professor had succumbed! With a look of primal ecstasy he arched his back and shimmied till the Palm Fronds tied to his thick waist swished to and fro rustling audibly, and all the while, rapt with horror, we watched him, watched him and prayed!

“Twerk it! Twerk it! Twerk it!” cried Captain Dunrudy wiggling his hips and joining arms with the bemused Chief Porter who snickered loudly and declared “Umbwaaga na butu! Moribundus tee tee!”. Dear reader, how many morally decent supplications can be offered up in circumstances such as this and to whom? I must confess that I could think of no appropriate bible scriptures that could touch on matters such as this save one,

“It is not the sound of victory,
    it is not the sound of defeat;
    it is the sound of twerking that I hear.”

To be continued…….

 

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Cultural Intolerance, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Racism, Satire, Social Justice, The Hearthlands of Darkness

Chapter 8: A Dark Remembrance

 

Ah me!” sobbed Miss Cranford “How many dark and onerous days have passed since last I laid eyes upon the beloved face of my poor deceased brother; most beloved padre of the children of RibaKiba. Alas that he who survived so much depredatory wickedness, should have fallen foul of the evils of the Wahiri Hiri Rebellion!”

“The Wahiri Hiri have rebelled?” I cried disbelievingly for I found it hard to imagine such a pale and disinteresting species mounting a regime overthrow of any kind.

“The Wahiri Hiri having conducted much of their business with the Barbary Corsairs, and having seen how well they prosper in their piracy, have become discontented with their lot!” replied Miss Cranford “Hence their desperately wicked rebellion against the forces of the British Empire! Why I myself was forced to flee bible in hand, and many Christian Riba Kiba with me!”

“But what of Captain Jamieson?” Miss Cranford’ became agitated and her face darkened at the mention of his name , I can only conjecture from this that some infamous misfortune had befallen my greatly misled friend. “Kidnapped by the Barbary Corsairs” replied she in a whisper not quite meeting my eye “As were most of the Christian Riba Kiba”

The Barbary Corsair Pirates were infamous throughout North Africa for their dissolute pirating practices, and I could scarce conjecture how they had become involved in the imperial affairs of Umbongo Bongo. The Barbary, wealthy beyond imagining, were a terror to all who encountered them, for though they were generally spoken of as pirates their truer profession was that of white slavers! I One thing now seemed beyond doubt, we must quit this savage outpost at the earliest opportunity.

When first I entered the palace of Professor Powell it had been midday, but now the suns last rays pierced the stained glass windows of that shadowy heathen chamber as I carefully untied Miss Cranford, and gently led her out of that place of heinous depravity. As she wept wildly clinging to my strong masculine shoulder, I led the newly liberated English gentlewoman from the place of her captivity, and she all but collapsed into the arms of Captain Dunrudy once we had reached the camp.

“Mah Gawd! It cannot be!” cried Captain Dunrudy as the poor woman sobbed terribly in his sinewy masculine embrace “Mah Gawd Miss Cranford! What terrible development is this? When last I saw you, you and your saviour were happy and blest! Should you not be at the Riba Kiba Mission with your dear brother the most Reverend Cranford?” alas the woman was unable to respond to his inquiries for she had fainted; and he, deeply moved by the sight, tossed away his flagon of Whisky and scooping up the distressed lady carried her into his tent and laid her on his portable camp bed.

“I’ve been in this bally country for nigh on fifteen year and never laid eyes on a more sinister set of goings-on! An English woman and a missionary held prisoner by natives! Where’d you find er? Professor Powell’s Twerking Harem is what she told me but he couldn’t have!” Captain Dunrudy looked at me “Nay he wouldn’t! No! Not to an English woman!”

“An Englishman who has gawn native and cavorts about in grass skirts is capable of anything” I replied “What is more she says the Wahiri Hiri are at war with the Imperial Army of Umbongo Bongo and in league with the Barbary Corsairs!”

“Bloody hell!” he cried looking about him with dawning horror “Out of the frying pan into the fire! Where’s me whisky!”

“Bismillahi!” Shrieked Pashar Arshad, he glared malevolently at the red nosed sailor,

“You’ve downed enough whisky to merit a thousand lashes many times over! If the Wahiri Hiri have burned down the missionary outpost it will not belong before they turn up here! Do you wish to wind up eating roast Armadillo and pulling an Ox Cart in Morocco? No? Then you had better leave off Shaytan’s juice!”

To be continued……..

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