Tribal war in Luluabourg, Belgian Congo by D'Lynn Waldron ©

The Belgian Congo, late spring 1960. by D’Lynn Waldron. PhD,FRGS ©
Excerpt from her book “The Secret in the Heart of Darkness: the Sabotaged Independence of the Belgian Congo” based on her journal and news stories written in the Congo in 1960 about her journey throughout the Congo just prior to Independence, during which she uncovered the cannibal war in the Kasai foster by Belgium to create chaos after independence, and was also the only foreign correspondent to write about Lumumba in Stanleyville.

D'Lynn was a correspondent for Scripps-Howard, then America's largest chain of newspapers, whose flagship was the New York Herald Tribune. Her stories were in part rewritten by the newspapers to take out what the people in charge did not want the public to know.

D'Lynn Waldron was a foreign correspondent and war photographer when she uncovered the tribal war in the Congo which the Belgian colonial government was keeping secret before the independence of the Congo from Belgium. The tribal war was fostered by the highest levels of the Belgian government so the Baluba could be driven out of the mineral rich area of the Kasai before Independence.
.SEE BELOW FOR LONG EXCERPT FROM ABOUT LULUABOURG AND THE KASAI, PLUS MATERIALS ABOUT KATANGA, FROM HER BOOK...... African Contents page ....... Lumumba,...... AUTHOR

D'Lynn Waldron's map of the tribal war zones drawn with the help of the Governor of the Kasai Provence, in Luluabourg in his handwriting in his office on his letterhead. This was at a time when the Belgian Government was suppressing all information on this war, but the Governor was a good and honest man who was outraged that the Government in Brussels, with the help of some of their administrators in the Congo, was instigating this war to cause post-independence chaos from which they could retrieve the diamond mines of the Kasai.

This is the press release put out by the Minister of Information in Luluabourg which greatly understated the police report from which he was supposed to be writing it. He assumed that I could not understand French. Only after I had heard the police report and had the press release did I start speaking French. Narrative below.

LULUABOURG chapter from the book The Secret in the Heart of Darkness, the Sabotaged independence of the Belgian Congo by D’Lynn Waldron, PhD, FRGS based on her news stories and the journal she kept while in the Congo in 1960.
The color in some of these Kodachromes is poor because the film was damaged by heat and damp in the jungle, and due to import restrictions three rolls of 36 exposure color Kodachrome slides had to last the entire journey throughout the Congo.

The old wood-burning train rattled along through the blue-black African night, dusting the Kasai savanna with bright orange sparks. I lay on my bunk in the faded elegance of the old Wagons Lits car, listening to the hypnotic clatter of wheels and smelling the sweet scent of savanna grass and wood smoke.

Night on the vast African plain always brought me a sense of peace and well-being, but that night it was an illusion, for there was a terrible secret hidden in this Heart of Darkness, as Conrad called the Congo.

For many months, I had been hitch-hiking the wandering roads of Africa, which had brought me to the Belgian Congo, crossing the border from Northern Rhodesia into Katanga and on to Elisabethville,
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From Elisabethville, I had hitch-hiked as far north as the garrison town of Kamina, where the Belgian authorities had told me that the road on to Luluabourg was closed and I would have to take the train.

I did not immediately suspect trouble, because the roads in the Belgian Congo were dirt tracks that the equatorial rains turned into quagmires.


I waited all the next day in the station which was at the edge of town. The platform was crowded with terrified refugees waiting for the train that would carry them back to the safety of their own tribal domain. Such belongings as they could take with them were tied up in bright cloth bundles which rested in white enamel basins that they would carry on their heads.

The train still hadn't come by sunddown. The Belgians locked up the station and I had to wait out on the platform.

With the coming of night, intimidating war drums encircled the little town and began closing in.

It grew very cold out on the open platform. The refugees huddled close around their little fires and they made no room for me. Then I saw an old woman all alone by a small fire. As I approached her I smelled a strange, sour odor. Then in the firelight I saw that leprosy had melted the features from her face. Her mouth gaped at me, and it was several seconds before I realized she was smiling.

I sat down by her fire and she told me that the train was days, not hours, late and there was no reason to expect it that night. She also told me that she had left the leprosorium to return to her family because after Independence on June 30th there would be no more sickness in the Congo.

Everyone would be rich. No one would have to work. Now, no more sickness! The fast-approaching day of independence from Belgium had taken on the mystical aspects of the Biblical Millennium.
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Earlier that day, while waiting for a ride out in the bush, I had talked to an old man dressed in tatters who was tending a herd of goats by the roadside. He had a new little box on a string around his neck. He told me that a man from the city had sold it to him for 50 francs and that it contained his ‘Uhuru’ (Freedom), which he could take out of the box on the 30th of June.

Little boxes of Freedom for the villagers, and in the towns, con men were selling deeds at 2000 francs each to the cars, homes and wives of the Europeans, valid from June 30th.

The menacing drums had come closer and closer until they seemed near enough to reach out and touch. Like the refugees, I kept my eyes fixed down the track, hoping to see the glimmer of the train’s headlight.

It was long after midnight and the old woman’s fire had burned down to embers. I was now so cold and tired the drums had lost their power to frighten me.

Then without warning, there was an explosive, pushing, shoving scramble to get a place along the edge of the platform. A few minutes later, the train arrived.

The Africans wedged their way into the already jammed third class cars. The conductor was in the baggage car, selling upper class tickets and I asked him for the compartment I had just seen two nuns vacate. Puzzled, he assigned it to me. But I knew what I was doing. On the still warm bunks were the blankets the nuns had rented. I climbed into the bottom bunk, piled both blankets over me and sunk into a deep sleep.


I was awakened by the sounds of an African dawn and the special sweet smell of the savanna grass as the sun dried the dew. I opened my eyes and looked around the old Wagos Lits railroad car with its ornate patterns of inlaid woods, stained, time-worn plush, and cut crystal vase in a chrome bracket beside the door. The blue night-light was still on and I switched it off.

I dropped the blinds and looked out. We were stopped at a little, track-side village of wattle houses thatched with palm fronds.

The villagers had nothing but a small field of mealie corn, a few chickens and a herd of stringy goats, because the railway was their principal source of livelihood. The Belgian administration had moved these villages to the side of the tracks and the men were forced to maintain the tracks as a labor tax. These people made most of their living by selling food to the passengers on the trains. What would become of them if the trains stopped running?

Women from the village walked along beside the train with baskets on their heads, selling food. I bought a ‘paw-paw (papaya), several lemons and one of those huge, rich, Congo avocados, whose flavor has no equal. The stop was a fortuitous one for me, as I was ravenously hungry and could not have afforded breakfast in the over-priced dining car.

The little children of the village, pot-bellied and rusty-haired from lack of protein, stood on the embankment shrilly demanding des bonbons of the European passengers. The older boys, in their ragged khaki shorts and sport shirts, shook their fists or made the ‘V’ sign at the whites on the train and shouted ‘Uhuru! repeatedly and threateningly.

It was a relief to pull out of the village and leave behind the threats and seething hatred of the young men. The politics of the Congo flowed along these arteries of communication. A few miles away in the bush, it was like stepping back into another century.

I showered, put on a fresh dress, and went up to the dining car, where the Europeans gathered to spend the day.

“Will your parents be along soon, young lady?” I was asked.

“I doubt it. They’re in America. I’m here alone.”

“That’s impossible. You can’t be more than fourteen years old!”

“I’m 23.” And I pulled out my passport and my credentials as an author and foreign correspondent.

When they learned I was from the press, everyone in the dining car clamored for my attention.

“Tell your papers what Brussels is doing to us!” said a priest in the order of the White Fathers, who was dressed all in white with a flowing white beard

“I’ll lose my duka and our house,” said a trader from India.

A middle aged businessman chain-smoking acrid Corporal cigarettes spoke next. “I have all my funds in a bank in Leopoldville in Congolese francs. Brussels has frozen all the funds in Congolese banks until after independence, and then Congolese francs will be worthless, especially with the Belgian Government carrying off all the gold from the Congolese treasury!”

A balding, gray-haired man tapped my shoulder to get my attention. “I’m a Belgian employed in the Congo by the Belgian government and our government says if we leave before Independence we’ll lose our pensions. If I stay at my post deep in the bush I’ll be killed. I’ve worked twenty years for the colonial administration and now my own government is stealing my pension.”

There was heartbreak in the voice of the young, blond conductor, with his broad Flemande face and snub nose. “I was born here and my father before me, and I’ll lose my homeland.”

The others fell silent as he continued.

“My grandfather built this railroad. My father is the manager of a station on this line, and I’m starting my career as a conductor. The Congo and this railroad are our lives. My grandfather is retired and lives with my grandmother in Elisabethville. They have a nice little house in the suburbs. But they’re afraid to stay after independence. His life savings are in the Elisabethville bank. Belgium used us, then betrayed us, beggared and abandoned us.”

No one in the car thought he had put the case too strongly. I had heard the same accusations in Elisabethville, but they took on more meaning here in the interior.

“Why are we going so slow?’ I asked him.

“The man can’t walk any faster,”

“What man?”

“The man who’s checking the tracks for dynamite,”

“WHAT dynamite?!”

“The last two trains didn’t make it to Luluabourg. They were derailed,”

“I just spent over a week in Katanga, and I never saw or heard one word about trains not getting through up here in Kasai Province.”

“Of course not. All news is controlled by the Belgian Government news agency, Belga. And the Belgian Government would hardly want the world to know what’s going on in the Kasai.”

“What is going on?”

“A bloody and horrible tribal war that started too soon. You see, monopolies in the Congo owned by the Belgian Government account for 20% of Belgium’s National Income. The best and most profitable of those monopolies are Katanga’s copper and uranium, and the Kasai’s gold and its 70% of the world’s industrial diamonds. Other areas of the Congo may be profitable for private companies such as Unilever, and other companies that sell beer and cigarettes, as well as individual businessmen like these two gentlemen men here, but as far as the Belgian government is concerned they don’t pay their way. In fact, last year, for the first time, it cost the Belgian government money to administer the Congo - $10 million. Before that, taxes collected in the Congo paid all the bills, including the ‘Royal Charities’!”

He ground out his cigarette with his heel on the floor of the dining car.

So being good businessmen the Belgian Government and the Royal Family decided to grant independence to the Congo, but on six months notice and with absolutely no preparation for self-government- no Congolese has ever had a higher education. That alone should insure disaster, but in addition the Belgians are fostering tribal wars and supporting tribally based politicians who want their own domains, so that the Congp will be torn apart after Independence.”

“But why should Belgian want to tear the Congo apart?”

“So they can hold onto the mineral rich areas of Katanga and the Kasai from the chaos. As for the rest of the Congo, it can go to Hell. And it will go to Hell, believe me it will.”

“And the tribal war in Luluabourg?”

“A little trouble the Belgians brewed up that’s come to the boil too soon. They have to keep it a secret, because if the world knew what the conditions were in the interior of the Congo, the Belgians might be pressured into postponing Independence. And I wouldn’t want to be in the Congo the day that happened, either!”

The next time I was to hear of this Belgian plot it would be from Patrice Lumumba when I travelled up the Congo River to Stanleyville.


That night I lay on my bunk listening to the wheels and breathing the sweet savanna air. I just could not believe that the shy, serious, young king of the Belgians, whom my mother and I had met in Brussels two years before, could be party to such perfidy, but party he would have to be because the Royal Family with the Belgian Government, were the owners of those rich monopolies.

Then I though back on the appalling and perfidious role the Belgian Royal Family had played in the past history of the Congo. Leopold II, great-granduncle of the present king, had tricked the European powers into giving the Congo into his ‘protection” in 1876. This ‘protector’ promptly showed himself to be one of the arch-fiends of history, stopping at no atrocity to increase his profits from the Congo.

Leopold sent brutal men from Europe with carte blanche over territories from which they were commissioned to extract every pound of rubber and tusk of ivory - the two valuable products of the Congo at that time.

Every African was set an annual quota as a ‘tax’ which he had to deliver to the government station. Those who could not meet these all but impossible quotas, were punished by the African police. The police, recruited from enemy tribes, went out to delinquent villages and cut the right hands off men, women, and even small children, The African police would smoke the hands and carry them back to the government station by the basketful to be tallied, and the paymennt was the same for the hand of a little girl as for her father's hand. At other times the police were ordered to enslave, torture, or kill tax delinquents. These were not isolated incidents, but on-going policy throughout the Congo which continued into this century. It is estimated that as many as ten million Congolese died as a direct result of King Leopold's administration.

Finally Roger Casement’s report to the British Government and Edmund Morel’s book 'Red Rubber' published in America in 1907, brought the force of world opinion to bear on the Belgian parliament which in turn made Leopold turn his Congo Free State over to the Belgian Government as a colony.

But Leopold managed to profit from even this, retaining the best lands and most valuable monopolies for himself and receiving payment for the roads and other improvements in the Congo he had built with African slave labor. The last thing Leopold did was empty the Congo treasury into his own pocket.

While the Belgian Government did not resort to cutting the hands off little children, they established an efficient, all-pervasive administration which was even better at exploiting the Congo and its people then Leopold had been.


I arrived in Luluabourg the next morning to find a town of 3,000 terrified Whites surrounded by 75,000 Africans, most of whom were engaged in an intertribal war of unspeakable atrocities.

Keeping order in the bush and insuring the safety of the white city was in the hands of the Force Publique. The officers were Belgian and the troops were recruited from the most vicious and feared tribes in the Congo. These smartly drilled troops in their impeccably starched uniforms were on the verge of running amok, (which they would after Independence with horrifying results).

The train station was a chaos of arriving antagonists and departing refugees, who milled about with their children, chickens and goats and were strangely non belligerent in the neutral territory of the railroad.

There were no porters in the station and no taxis outside, so I carried my own suitcase and cameras down the dirt road beside the tracks to the edge of the White city where I was told I could get a very nice suite of rooms in a modest motel for the extremely low price for the Congo of only $3 a day.

I was the only guest and the price was so low because it was considered unsafe to be that near the African township.

After leaving my things, I walked back up the road to the center of the white city.

The first part of the way, I passed a number of dukas, which were small general stores for Africans owned by Europeans, mainly from Portugal, people from the Indian sub-continent, and even from Turkey. There were tailors set up on the porches and I decided to have myself a new set of bush clothes made, since my baggy British bush shorts looked out of place in the Congo, where the bush shorts were cut short and tight.

In the White city almost every vehicle had been bashed up in some way. Most of the windshields were cracked, or broken out entirely. I was told that this happened when the cars encountered tribal roadblocks outside town. They smashed the car up first and found out who was in it afterwards. So far, no Europeans themselves had been deliberately harmed, but no one thought this could last long, and it didn’t.

At the little restaurant where I had lunch, I met a fellow American, an earnest young Presbyterian missionary, who invited me to see the American Congolese Presbyterian Mission compound which was out in the bush beyond the African township. Neither of us could have imagined that I was about to be witness to an atrocity, or that in a few months that same mission would be involved in a very personal tragedy in my own life. But I had no presentiments as we drove through the warren of alleys in the African township, then passed the last military check-point, and went into the open country.

It was a beautiful land, lush and rolling, and dotted with tiny African farmsteads. But no one was tending the goats or working in the vegetable patches, and the spherical grass huts stood hastily abandoned.

We came to the American Congolese Presbyterian Mission’s handsome, campus-like compound. Outside the walls of the Compound was the mission village of square, thatched, mud huts. Before we could reach the village or the compound, we were stopped by a military cordon. Soldiers were running from hut to hut and there was a large cluster of Belgian officers and missionaries in the road near a big old open truck that was smeared with what I thought was red paint.

The government troops kept us back and after a few minutes I was hustled into the car of the Commissioner of Prisons to be driven back to town. Like so many of the Belgian colonial administrators in the Congo, he was not willing to help the government conceal the chaos that was developing, and he told me in detail what had happened at the mission.

That morning, two of the men from the mission village, which was comprised of members of the Baluba tribe, took their old open truck out into the bush and stopped at an isolated Lulua village. Only women and children were in the village at the time, presumably because their Lulua men were out raiding. The Baluba men from the mission told the Lulua that there would be a festival in town that day and for 20 francs they would drive the women and children there and back. Sixteen women and children paid and got into the truck.

Instead of taking the women and children into town, the Baluba men stopped in front of their own village beside the mission. Their fellow villagers were waiting with pangas and they butchered the Lulua women and children for meat.

Five of the intended victims had escaped and the next day they were scheduled to identify their assailants from a line up of all the Baluba men at the village. The Commissioner was angry that was going to have to make room for the accused Balubas when his prison was already overcrowded.

The Commissioner took me with him over to the prison and it was jammed with prisoners!

There was a normal assemblage of Africans jailed because they could not pay the fines that were everlastingly bring imposed upon them as a source of revenue for the government. (Every year ten per cent of all the African men in the Belgian Congo spent time in jail.)

There were the usual women prisoners, locked up for bootlegging homebrew, for carrying out ritual murders to rid themselves of evil spirits, and for poisoning their husbands.

But now, along with the usual run of inmates, the prison was burdened with a great many Lulua and Baluba terrorists. There were men caught manning road blockades, or attaching villages, old women found poisoning arrows, and one gray-haired Amazon with tribal scars who bragged of personally burning down 52 Baluba huts with the people inside them.

The women were kept in the high security section of the prison compound because they were considered the most dangerous.

In the privilege section of the yard, I was formally introduced to the grizzled old gnome who was chief of the Lulua and had incited his tribe to start the terror campaign to drive the Baluba out of the province before Independence. I did a quick sketch of the old man and he was very flattered.

As we left the prison, I saw a poster announcing that the Baluba and Lulua inmates would square off against each other in a soccer match for the ‘Kasai Cup’.

That evening I sat in the sidewalk cafe of the Paix Hotel finishing the sketch of the old Lulua chief. The hillsides around the town were dotted with fires. Each of those fires was a village and in each of those villages, old men, women and children were being burned and hacked to death. The fire engines guarded by troop trucks raced back and forth across the town to the hills on one side and then the other, rending the night with their klaxons and making the ground tremble.

The Paix was the center of European life in Luluabourg. It was a big, old hotel with a restaurant, a little movie theatre, and a cafe on the broad sidewalk that faced the town square. I did not know it then, but after Independence these scared, jumpy, hard-drinking Whites would be barricaded in this hotel against the soldiers of the Force Publique, who would shoot at them from across the park-like expanse of the town square.

The Europeans sat in tight little knots around the tables, drinking brandy and telling each other they were not afraid or else speculating on the horrors they were sure would befall them.

Yet here, as later and more tragically in Stanleyville, the Europeans refused to leave. I would like to say it was pride or raw courage, but often it was not wanting to spend the money for tickets and/or abandon their possessions.

Many of the traders who ran the dukas out in the Congolese bush were Portuguese; the spiritual, if not actual descendants of the earliest exploiters of Africa’s west coast.

As I sat in the cafe, an army truck pulled up and let out one of these Portuguese traders. He was a small, dark man with eyebrows that met over his nose. White showed all around the irises of his tiny, deep-set eyes, giving him the look of a cornered animal in a dark cave. He was shaking all over and could not speak French until he had drunk a large brandy I grabbed from a nearby table.

“My duka...out in the bush...near a Baluba village. Tonight, a raiding party of Luluas attack in the dark. The villagers flee down into the jungle in back of the village. The Luluas, they begin setting fire to the huts. Then they find little Emile. He only two. He left behind. Luluas, they take little Emile and they tie him up on a spear. And.., And...”

Someone handed the Portuguese another brandy. He gulped it then continued.

“They hold little Emile over a fire to roast him alive. God, I hear him scream the rest of my life. I run out with my shotgun and shoot in the air. Luluas, they drop little Emile and run away. I pick him up. He burned and screaming. I run to my car and start for town. I see the lights of military check point, but a tree is dropped on my car. I get out and start to run for that check point. I forget all about Emile, because he not crying. When I get to the check point, the soldiers go back but Emile gone. What going to do with that baby?”

The Portuguese trader broke down completely and was led off into the Paix Hotel.

That night as I walked back down the deserted road to my hotel, I pondered my own simple analysis of the forces of history, which was the inborn genetic imperative to multiply one’s genes to the maximum, in service of which each species has its strategies- for the human race it is competition to the death winner take all, for the resources needed to provide for a maximum number of descendants.

Over a thousand years ago, the wandering ancestors of the Lulua had come upon this lush and pleasant savanna and settled down to farm the rich land. They developed a high culture, and a complex political structure under a paramount chief.

Some three hundred years ago, the first Balubas drifted in from the southwest. The Lulua were glad to have them as laborers and household slaves. Then in the middle of the last century, the brutal Arab slavers reached the land of the Baluba in Katanga and many refugees fled up into the Kasai.

Only a few decades later, the first missionaries arrived to harvest souls on the pleasant savanna.

The landless Baluba in the Kasai, living as virtual slaves to the Lulua, were quick to seize the opportunities for advancement offered by the mission schools and the colonial government.

While the aristocratic Lulua sat back on their prerogatives for sixty years, the ambitious Baluba got educations, took government jobs, went into business, and even managed to obtain large amounts of Lulua tribal land through a government scheme which was aimed at producing cheap manioc to feed the African mine workers. Under this government scheme, all unused land was declared public domain to which any African could obtain title by farming it. Soon Baluba farms encircled the town of Luluabourg.

Then without warning, the distant dream of independence became an impending realty, and it was clear to the Lulua that after independence the Baluba, with their educations, economic power, and experience in government, would take control of the province. This was intolerable to the Lulua, the ancient aristocrats of the land. The Belgians didn’t like it either, because the unpoliticized and tractable Lulua were far more likely to give the Belgians a free hand with the diamond mines, than were the knowledgeable and truculent Baluba.

The Lulua revived the position of paramount chief, the old man I had sketched, and began a campaign of terrorism to drive the Baluba out of the province before June 30th.

The Lulua started by burning down Baluba villages, and the Baluba retaliated by burning Lulu villages.

The Lulua following Kinq Leopold’s example, began hacking the right hands from every Baluba man, woman and child they could catch. The Baluba responded by cutting the hands off Lulua.

Now both sides were slaughtering and eating their victims.


I needed to see for myself what had happened in the African villages the night before, but it was impossible to hire a car to go outside of town, due to the danger, so I rented a bicycle.

I did not have to go far to see the results of the war because the African township itself was smoldering from the previous night, when the Baluba majority had burned out all the Luluas who lived there.

The air was sharp with the smell of wet ashes and men were standing in conspiratorial clumps all along the narrow, shanty-lined dirt roads. There were few women or children to be seen abroad on that dangerous day.

By the time I got to the military checkpoint on the far side of the African township, I was soaked with sweat and had hung my shoes on the handlebars.

To my consternation, I was turned back at the checkpoint. The Belgian lieutenant in charge suggested I go to the Minister of Information at the City Hall and obtain permission to accompany a military patrol.

After a long, hot peddle back into town, I found the Minister of Information. He was a grossly fat man in an elegant, paneled office. Across from his enormous desk, the wall panels had been swung open to reveal a large radio that was crackling the morning military reports. The Minister of Information was writing on a yellow pad and sweat was running down the rolls of fat on his neck despite the luxury of air-conditioning in his office.

I introduced myself in English as an American correspondent, and he said he would be with me in a minute.

The harried voice on the radio reported in French, “Ten Villages, 260 homes burned.”

The Minister of Information wrote, "One village burned", on his yellow pad.

“One hundred and seventy mutilated bodies found.”

"Four bodies found," he wrote, his fat hand leaving the pad puckered with sweat.

I stood there listening and watching as Then he called in the African clerk who would cut the stencil and run it off for the Belga news agency man and the local papers.

“Now, what can I do for you?”

“I would like to accompany a patrol.”

“That’s out of the question.”

“Why?”

“It is strictly against policy.”

“But how can I tell my papers what’s happening?”

“I will give you a copy of the press release.”

From his tone, I knew there would be no arguing with him. I would have to find another way.

Just then the door opened and a tall, Lincolnesque man entered. Under his arm he carried a gray solar topee with a huge silver shield of authority.

“I’ll be out for the day. I’m going on an inspection tour,” he informed the Minister of Information brusquely, and was turning to leave when I spoke up, in French.

“Pardon me, sir. I’m an American correspondent. May I go with you?”

“Of course. Come along.”

We left the Minister of Information trembling with rage, his face liver red. The Provincial Administrator was taking me where I wanted to go, and I had understood the reports that had come over the radio.

When we closed the door on him the Minister of Information, he was sputtering like a damp charge.

We were joined in the parking lot by the Administrator’s assistant, a sullen, balding man with a pasty face and a roll of fat over his belt. As I got in the back seat of the little Ford sedan, the Administrator placed one restriction on me, I was not to photograph the mutilated bodies.

There was a small arsenal in the back seat of the car, including a Bren gun that was to come in very handy later.

Before leaving town, the Administrator stopped at the Paix Hotel for three bottles of beer and then at his house to pick up the picnic basket his wife had prepared. That hamper with the red and white checked cloth peeping out from under the lid gave the whole thing a Kafkaesque touch. It did not seem possible we were really going to a war, but I knew it was no picnic.

At the last military checkpoint, two fire trucks raced by headed back towards town. The crews were slumped and haggard. They got no rest day or night and their klaxons were a constant reminder that Luluabourg was a city in siege.

The Administrator stopped for a report from the young lieutenant at the check point.

“Every road out to the rest of the Congo is blocked. Half a dozen barricades along each one. They take off when they see the military patrols, but they’re back again as soon as we’ve passed. There’s no way for a private car to get out.”

“The trains aren't getting through, either,” the Administrator informed him. As far as we can tell, the last one simply vanished. It was only a freight train, thank God!”

Just then I looked up to see one of the old DC3s of Sabena Airlines. Only the planes came and went with impunity, but every seat was now booked right through to Independence.

The young lieutenant gave me a big smile and waved good-bye to us as we drove off. Beyond that checkpoint, unarmed Europeans were not safe, and the Administrator’s assistant told me to buckle on one of the .45 automatics and put a clip in the Bren gun.


We drove first through rolling country with golden grass and scattered scrub trees, dotted with round, grass huts. Then the land turned into parallel fingers where the rains had cut deep ravines.

The roads were built on the ridges that separated the ravines, and the villages stood on one side of the road or the other. Usually the villages were comprised of ten to twenty wattle and thatch huts, with corn and vegetable patches, goats and a few chickens. Behind the villages, the land fell away steeply into a dense jungle valley. Across the valley would be another ridge, another road and more villages.

Many of the villages stood in ghostly desertion; a white enamel basin of washing in front of a hut, a meal in a pot over the cold ashes of a fire. It was if in the middle of their daily activities the inhabitants had just dematerialized. Chickens and the goats bleating to be milked were the only living things.
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The Administrator explained that the deserted villages were located in the territory of the enemy tribe.

As we drove along the ridges, again and again we would look across the valley to see a village under attack on the next ridge. But we could only stand and watch as the black smoke rolled into the bright blue sky. There was no way to get across the intervening valley, even on foot, and by the time we drove around the ‘U’ at the end of the ridge, the attackers had vanished and there was nothing left but for a patrol to come and rake the ashes for the bodies.

In one village, we found an ancient crone, as shriveled as a mummy, sitting in front of her hut defying, or just ignoring the danger. A goat was tethered beside her.

We came upon a very old, blind, itinerant minstrel. He scraped out a tune for us on his one—stringed ‘violin’ and sang a song. He could have been a Homer, but he wasn’t. The song was only about courting. We drove on wondering what would become of him.
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At noon we came to a large, partially inhabited village which had a government post. We stopped and had our picnic lunch while the Administrator questioned the people there as to the whereabouts of the men and boys. No one admitted knowing, which meant they were out raiding.

We drove on and encountered the regular patrol, six jeep-loads of soldiers. The young Belgian lieutenant was in a state of anguish.

“Sir, we’re chasing shadows. It’s been four days, and the best I can report is two old women caught poisoning arrows in the smoke of an herb fire, and seven Luluas carrying bows and quivers of arrows. We sent the arrows in, and we’re pretty sure they’re poisoned. Only nine people arrested, yet we’ve found a score of villages burnt to the ground. They strike where we aren’t, and on these damned roads that’s easy enough.”

The Administrator drove far on out, beyond the last Army outpost and surprised a truck and station wagon full of Luluas.
The Chief, who owned the vehicles, was dressed in military kit, and could hardly be called polite or respectful toward the Administrator when the official tried to convince him to give up raiding and go back to his village.

“The other tribe started it. You stop them and we’ll stop.” It was the same excuse on both sides.

We encountered three such war parties because our single Ford didn’t kick up the dust the convoy of jeeps in a patrol did. But the Administrator argued and pleaded in vain.
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We were headed back toward town when a patrol flagged us. The Belgian officer was on top of a grass hut with a walkie-talkie and his African radio man.

“Sir. There’s a bad attack going on over the next ridge.”

“Follow us,” the Administrator shouted as we jumped back in his car.

Out Ford soon outdistanced the jeeps. But then we blew a tire. We discovered our car had no tire iron to get the hubcap off, and we used a nonessential part of Bren gun for the job.

By the time the tire was changed, the jeeps caught up with us, but we passed them again, and came to a tree felled across the road. The Lulua who were waiting in ambush, fled from us.

The Administrator and his assistant moved the tree while I stood watch on the hillside above them with the Bren gun.

The two men were exhausted and drenched in sweat by the time they got the tree moved, and we could proceed.

The jeeps were right behind us again. It was like the hare and the tortoise, except we didn’t rest, but cleared the way.

Again we arrived too late. Our patrol went into the jungle, but netted only survivors, no attackers.

Next the Administrator stopped to look in on an isolated American woman whose husband worked in the bush.

We then stopped by the experimental agricultural station, where the director, his wife and an assistant also lived in isolation.

We passed two abandoned cars which were neither wrecked particularly old. For workers down on contract it was easier to get a new car then to repair one after a major breakdown.

We stopped at the big guard post at the edge of town. It was run by a downy-faced Belgian lieutenant who was sitting in his office.

A makeshift dressing station had been set up and a doctor was operating on the wounded. There were occasional screams from the patients. At each, the lad would visibly blanch. I could smell formaldehyde from the back room, where they were embalming the dead.

Out on the porch and in the driveway, the off-duty Congolese soldiers were cleaning their guns, playing cards, or their own stones and squares game which is a bit like Chinese checkers.

Back in town, I stopped by the courthouse to see some of the terrorists being booked, They were poor Africans from the bush dressed in tatters, and their weapons had been pangas, sling shots, clubs with nails around the top, and bows with poison-tipped arrows which were now carefully wrapped in Plyoflim as even a scratch would be fatal.
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I composed my first cable and went over the Government Post and Telegraph office.

M. Souifflet, the Preceptor of Telecommunications refused me permission to send my news story cable Press Collect to my paper. (This is a special low rate and my paper would pay only 5¢ per word at the other end.)

M. Souifflet said I would have to get special permission from Leopoldville to send anything Press Collect, but if I wished to pay cash myself, I could send the 400 word cable at the regular rate of 50¢ per word - a total of $200, which was more than I spent per month in British Africa for all my living expenses! And even if I’d had $200 to spend on a cable, I knew it would arrive scrambled into unintelligibility, which is the second line of defense used by governments that do not want the news to get out.

I left with my cable, folded it up and put it in an envelope addressed to my home, which I mailed from a box on the street. When it reached America, it was published by my newspapers, Scripps-Howard, but with the criticisms of the Belgian Government largely removed by the editors.

As I walked back to my hotel, I knew that once again the hardest part of covering a story would be getting out cables out. I would later discover that getting the story out was a problem that could be overcome, whereas getting it published without it being censored and rewritten back at the newspaper.

In the past three years I had discovered that it is no problem to find an important and exclusive story; just go to some remote place where there are no other correspondents and things have been quiet for a while. Human nature being what it is, people don’t seem to be able to stay out of trouble for very long.

I had also found that I could always find some means of transportation into a remote area, even if it meant hitch-hiking on a bullock cart. It is no great problem to get up into the Himalayas or out into the Sahara, or down a jungle river, if one is willing to put up with the some discomforts and use a little ingenuity.

Often I had to cross borders to send to send my cables from another country to get passed the censors, and being a photojournalist, I had the second problem of keeping my color film cool and dry.

I found it remarkably easy to get interviews with leaders and people in power. Virtually without exception they want to tell their story to the world. But it is important that one writes fairly. It is amazing how quickly word will get back to the remotest jungle if a hatchet-job has appeared in the American or British press.

I never felt in danger, because I am petite and feminine and not threatening enough to be worth killing. In several cases, I found myself in the position of the only person able to go back and forth between enemy groups with impunity.

If these were annoyances, there was one heartbreaking aspect of being a foreign correspondent - and one that even in the Congo I was only just realizing. The attitudes of the publisher or editor, or even the rewrite man who turns one s cablese into prose for the typesetter, determines what gets into print, how a story is slanted, and the headline it is given. There were certain stories that I simply could not get published, such the truth about Lumumba, and in place of the truth, East and West each created their own myth.


The damp earth and sun—warmed grass smell of the African morning came sweet through the window, and close on it the chatter like an aviary, of the African workers coming to their jobs in the white city. The tailor went by carrying his sewing machine on his head. He’d said my suit of bush clothes would be ready today. A good thing, because the kit I’d left London with was in rags.

I rolled over to get another hour of sleep and had just dozed off when I was started awake by a frantic pounding on the door. I pulled on my robe and opened the door. There in front of me stood the American couple who directed the American Presbyterian Congolese Mission, with whom I had had dinner in their home the night before.

They were both terribly upset and the woman was crying.

“They’re taking all our people”, she sobbed.

I knew that a few days before the survivors of the massacre had accused every man in the village at a line—up, but then employers in town vouched that many of the men were at work and couldn’t have taken part in the slaughter, thus invalidating all the identifications, which forced the Belgians to release everyone. (Though even if convicted, the guilty would have received only 3 year terms - the Belgians didn’t put a heavy sanction on Africans killing Africans.)
“But the men were all released,” I said.

“This morning before dawn, the Belgians threw a military cordon around the entire village. They hauled our people out of their homes with only the belongings they could carry and lined them up along the road. Now trucks are carrying them away hundreds of miles out into the bush, ‘Back where their ancestors came from”, the officer in charge told me.”

“Please, you must do something. Cable your newspaper. Go to your friend the Administrator, They are taking everyone. Our teachers, our medical assistants. Fifteen years of our work is being scattered to the winds.

I told them I’d see what could be done and they left.

By sundown a village of Luluas from out in the bush had been moved into the empty Baluba homes at the APCM.

The missionaries were sure it was all a Belgian scheme to starve the Balubas out of the African township by deporting all the Baluba farmers - the only ones that would sell them food.

Deliberate plan or not, the outcome for the Balubas in that area was genocidal. They were forced to flee south into Katanga where Tshombe put them into concentration camps to starve to death, while the UN Administrators did nothing.

Tshombe’s motivation was political. Only by gerrymandering the voting districts in Katanga had the Belgian puppet, Tshombe’s party gotten a majority. The southern Katanga tribes were already outnumbered by the Baluba in the north of the province and the last thing Tshombe wanted was more Baluba in Katanga. So he put the newcomers in concentration camps and let starvation and cannibalism take care of his Baluba problem.

The UN peacekeeping force was to stand around and watch this happen, and well-fed reporters would walk up to the barbed wire and look at the wretched humanity within, like exhibits in a zoo, and then cable the plight of the dying to a world outside that simply did not care.

I didn’t see the missionaries again after that day, but before the summer was out our lives would be tragically connected.

Henry Noble Taylor, a big handsome young Southern gentleman, was the only son of Henry N. Taylor, the Scripps-Howard columnist and ambassador to Switzerland. Hank also worked for Scripps-Howard. Publisher Louis Seltzer, in a match-making mood, asked Hank to see me when he got to Hong Kong on his way to cover the Gary Powers U-2 Spy Plane trial in Moscow.

Hank was a dear, sweet person and my fondest memory of him is the evening we walked together hand in hand down by the typhoon shelter to watch the lantern light from the sampans dancing on the water. There was a marvelous rapport between Hank and me as if we’d known each other all our lives, and it made me feel warm and happy just to be with him.

But something was troubling Hank. A dozen times, for no reason, he suddenly said, “Thank God I’m not going where you just came from”, meaning the Congo. And he said that again as his last words when he called from Kai Tak airport to say good-bye.

The Powers trial ended very quickly and because Scripps Howard had had no one in the Congo since I left, and because it was in a sense ‘their’ story, they told Hank to fly down for a few days.

Hank was riding along one of those ridges outside Luluabourg in a UN jeep when they were fired upon by a machine gun. They got safely on the other side of the ridge but Hank put his head up to see where the machine gun was coming from.

The APCM missionaries gave Hank temporary burial before he was returned to Virginia.


I knew I must have some breakfast before starting the day’s work, and I went over to the African cafe where I took my meals. The woman brought out my usual two eggs and hard roll, but I had no appetite and she had to encourage me to eat.

The cafe was already crowded with African businessmen who were entertaining clients with the company of Free Women. These stately, African women, dressed in the latest fashion of batik prints from Belgium, had chosen not to marry but rather lead independent existences in the towns.

I looked at the women’s attire — several lengths of handsome batik-print cloth wrapped according to the latest fashion dictates from Belgium, as shown on posters in the cloth shops. I was reminded of the old British idea that if only every Chinese could be persuaded to add one inch to his shirt-tail the mills of Manchester would be kept perpetually busy.
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Here in the Congo, the Belgians required every African man with suitable land to cultivate one acre of cotton each year and to deliver the cotton bales to the Belgian owned cotton gin. The cotton staple went to Belgium where it was spun, woven and dyed, then the cloth was shipped back to the Congo and sold to the Africans. This scheme provided cheap cotton for Belgium’s mills, employment for Belgian mill workers, and created a cash economy out in the bush which the Belgians could further exploit. For the Africans it meant a lowered standard of living and the ruination of their farm land for other crops.

The more I got to know of the Belgian Congo, the more I was reminded of the efficiency of an abattoir where every part is turned into profit but the squeal.

After breakfast, I walked over to the excellent little museum of ethnic art. The young Belgian curator had gathered a priceless collection of tribal masks, ancestor statues and fetishes from the Kasai. He had devoted ten years to winning the confidence of the chiefs and fetish priests of the tribes so they would entrust him with these precious objects.

He explained to me that although the details may vary from tribe to tribe, like the sects of Christianity, there are certain basic elements common to the Bantu belief systems throughout Africa.

The Bantu see their ancestors as protecting the tribe in return for perpetuation of the old ways - not unlike the Chinese concept. The chief is the tribe’s intermediary with its ancestors, and an initiation ceremony enters boys into the estate of manhood and also makes them acceptable to enter their ancestor’s heaven, where they will spend eternity with their friends and relatives. In many tribes, Christian converts cannot enter the ancestral heaven.

Yet the European’s religion holds out the promise of 'power' to the African.

The Bantu strives for 'power' the way men in other cultures strive for money, possessions or territory. Perhaps this is because land is owned communally in most Bantu societies and until the Europeans came there were few material goods to be acquired.

'Power' is a kind of life force and if one has it, he can protect himself from evil and exert a mystic control over others. Victorious warriors and great leaders have 'power', obviously. 'power' is incorporated into the physical body and increases with age. In West Africa it is called Tsav and it is seen as a yellow substance around the heart (a doctor would recognize this as fatty deposits,) In many tribes, all a man has to leave to his son is his 'power' and so when a man dies his son honors him by cutting out his heart and eating it. The bodies of 'powerful' men are much sought after by other men, who want to acquire their 'power' by eating the body,

When the Europeans came to Africa they came as conquerors. They said their strength came from their God, and many Bantu became Christians to partake of that 'power'.

The Bantu believe that all god and evil is accomplished through the exercise of 'power' by people. The exercise of 'power' for evil is witchcraft and a man who cannot counteract it himself must obtain the services of a witch doctor who exercises his own power in his client’s behalf. A fetish priest who has some object in which 'power' has been caught that he can direct, can also counteract evil.

Believing that all illness and misfortune is the work of another person's malevolence creates a paranoid atmosphere, which varies in intensity from tribe to tribe. In some tribes this tension builds up until a periodic orgy witch hunting eliminates all those whose wealth or political position shows they must possess Power and can therefore be blamed for the ills of everyone else. Among the BaKongo, witch-hunts are turned on the fetish objects and periodically a mania to destroy all fetish objects seizes the tribe.
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The curator had his African assistant take the finest fetishes ancestor statues and ritual masks out into the sunlight so I could photograph them. Then he showed me the massive file cabinet of slides in his office, of all the significant pieces still in situ in the Kasai.

Next we went over to a workshop he had established for local artisans so young men could learn the old skills and acquire new ones. One young man was carving an ivory tusk, I recognized him, Two years before I had seen that same young man as a part of the diorama of African village life in the Congo pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair. He’d been doing a similar carving then..

The carver had a motor scooter, and offered to take me around town. We first went to the post office where I mailed to my parents a large package of African hand-crafts which I had purchased in the museum store. Then we went by the railroad station where I made a reservation for that evening on the train leaving for Port Francqui.

The young man left me off at my hotel, and I have often wondered what became of him. He was a Baluba and a quarter of a million of his people would die after Independence.

And the little museum with its priceless collections? It was burned to the ground.


Down the Kasai River to the Congo River, The Belgian Congo, late spring 1960. by Dr. D’Lynn Waldron ©

Excerpt from her book about her journey throughout the Congo just prior to Independence, during which she uncovered the cannibal war in the Kasai foster by Belgium to create chaos after independence, and also was the only foreign correspondent to write about Lumumba in Stanleyville.

I had a train reservation north from Luluabourg with it horrifying cannibal war to the end of the line at Port Francqui. There I would take the riverboat down the Kasai River to the Congo River.

The Belgian Government back in Brussels had stopped all money from going in and out of the Congo so that those whose savings were in Congolese francs would have worthless paper after Independence rather than Belgian francs.

Because of the embargo on all money transfers, I had only $36 in travelers’ checks above the cost of my boat fare.

The train from the south was a day and a half late, but it did get through, which surprised the station master.

The train was again old Wagons Lits cars, which were not too clean but comfortable, and elegant with plush, brass, crystal and inlaid wood.

That night the train to Port Francqui just crawled along. At one stop a band of hungry Baluba tried to steal the dining car.

The next day, the train never proceeded at more than 20 mph, and at every cluster of African huts along the track people piled on and off from the African cars which were in front of the engine.

There was no longer much food for sale by the trackside and I was hungry, having eaten my provisions for the journey while waiting in the Luluabourg station for the train to arrive.

All through the long, hot day, the old wood-burning engine wheezed slowly across the grassy savanna, and dipped down into steamy jungle valleys, where streams wandered for miles without the light of the sun striking their waters.

At one point, on the side of a slope, our train had to stop for repairs which took three hours. The Europeans got their weapons out of their luggage and loaded them, but the train was not attacked.

The conductor came into the dining car where everyone had gathered, to announce that dinner would be served in half an hour.

“Who are we having?” asked a gray-bearded White Father, with the brittle humor of war.

Those of us who were sober laughed in a release of tension. Others in the dining car had drunk themselves into merciful oblivion.

We arrived in Port Francqui late in the afternoon and I was informed by the OTRACO riverboat people that besides the ticket, passengers must pay in advance for three meals a day. The fee for meals was $12.80 per day and I had only $36 beyond my boat fare me and no way of getting money sent to Port Francqui. Then I found out OTRACO wouldn’t accept the travelers’ checks that I had for my passage on the boat!

I went up to the town to cash the travelers’ checks, but the bank had packed up and left two days before.

When I inquired about the Post and Telegraph office to wire the American Express representative in Leopoldville, I was informed I’d missed the post office by only a day

The OTRACO people just shrugged and told me it was my problem.

I envisioned myself stuck there while the town disappeared around me.

Finally the OTRACO manager agreed to radio Leopoldville to see if something could be arranged. I went back up the hill to wait in the hotel lobby with the other passengers.

The town was small and unprosperous looking, and now it was half deserted as well.

The old hotel was built and run by the Wagons-Lits Company. It was large and rather splendid in a Victorian colonial way, but now it was as desolate as the rest of Port Francqui.

The hotel lobby looked like a corner of some prop room. It was piled with an incredible assortment of things- round-topped, brass bound trunks that were green with mildew, Edwardian clocks and figurines, fishing rods and guns, mothy trophy heads with missing glass eyes and straw leaking out the cracked noses, and pathetically, old baby buggies.

The settlers who had come down from Belgium two generations earlier, could never have envisioned a return under such circumstances to the Europe they had left behind. Now their descendants sat dazed, amid the pitiful salvage of their lives, facing an unknown future.

Out on the verandah a small group of white Congolese sat drinking beer and ignoring their shrieking, running, wailing children, who upset chairs and pummeled each other.

One of the other passengers from the train came over to me and urged me to come along with him as they had made a great find.

The find, a few blocks away in the town. It was a small but modern supermarket, complete with carts, that had a big sign in the window that said in French - “Wall to Wall Clearance Sale.”

We went in and found the other train passengers buying large bags of the greatest bargains I’d ever seen. Caviar from Russia at 20¢ an ounce and the frozen foods were being sold for practically nothing.

When the passengers had bought all they were going to buy and started to leave, the owner’s wife, who was sitting behind the cash register wearing a flowered hat, emptied all the money from the drawer into a shopping bag and walked out behind us tossing the keys to the head African clerk.

The owners were Portuguese. They came to profit and over the years they had. This was a setback, but they could toss over the keys and walk away.

But I still had my problem. How to get out of the Kasai?

Except in the center of the main towns, the roads in the Congo were just dirt tracks, many with grass strips between the tire ruts and impassable in the rainy season.

The Belgians had been fortunate to find in the Congo an excellent, natural transportation system of waterways.

The major rivers, the Congo, Lualaba, Kasai and Ubangi, and their tributaries, totaled more than 8,000 navigable miles, and the eastern border was lined with a chain of great lakes.

Most of the river boats were tiny Victorian relics, half rusted away and painted the color of rust so it wouldn’t show. Many of the larger riverboats had been towed across the Atlantic after outliving their usefulness on the Mississippi. These were big, old-fashioned, flat-bottomed, stern wheelers that drew only a few feet of water.

The Belgians had constructed railway links between the water systems.

The major towns were served by Belgium’s national airline, SABENA, which had a monopoly in the Congo. SABENA would greedily guard that monopoly through June 30th, even though SABENA did not have enough planes to transport all the Europeans who wanted to escape the interior.

Other forms of communication were as inadequate as the roads. There were only 13,000 telephones in the whole of the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, and no phone service at all between most cities.

The riverboat was my only way out of the Kasai.


The sun was a vast scoop of tangerine sherbet sliding towards the horizon, when the OTRACO manager came up to announce it was embarkation time.

He told me that American Express Company’s representative in Leopoldville would guarantee the price of my ticket against the our family credit card.

When we arrived at the river front, Congolese were piling wood into the open engine deck of the side-wheeler, and some other Africans were manhandling the supermarket owners’ Volkswagen up a couple of wooden planks onto the top of the long, low, barge which was in front of the riverboat.

Lashed to the far side of the barge was a small, old, brown riverboat, which no longer traveled under its own power, but served as second and third class accommodations for the numerous African passengers.

Many of the Africans had brought four-legged passengers. Several goats bucked and bleated as they were dragged up the gang-plank, and one African had a three foot long crocodile in a reed sling, its snout tied shut.

The top of the barge was about four feet above the waterline, and the river ran coolly by and most of the Africans preferred the barge top to their river boat.

A missionary’s car was put aboard next, and he stood in the panoramic window of our dining room, which was even with the prow of the boat, taking movie film of the process to show the mission board.

I put my things in my cabin. It was small and spartan and entirely white.

I went back out onto the deck.

This was a rather small river boat and there was only one passenger deck. In the front was a dining room and bar, that also served as a lounge. The tables were arranged around the panoramic window and overlooked the barges and African boats, the river and the jungle.

I went off by myself, back to the stern, and watched the sun drop behind the towering jungle. This was what I had imagined most of Africa would be like, but it was the first expanse of jungle I had seen.

These mighty African rivers flow across the high central plateau of the continent, then plunge down to the coastal lowlands.

Africa is not spectacular for the height of its landforms, but for the vast distances they extend. In Africa, as on the great deserts, one is awed by space — the plains that spread from sunrise to sunset, the rolling hills that seem to follow one another into infinity.

At 10:30, I was alone in the lounge reading a tattered paperback of ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. After a few games of backgammon, the Belgians had retired for the night. If they had been British the singing and yarning would have gone on until long after midnight.

Suddenly the hot, humid air became charged with electricity. I went out on the deck and watched the sky blacken with storm clouds. A violent wind came up that whipped the leaves of the dense jungle foliage along the bank. Then I heard a sound like a fire hose on a tin roof as a line squall moved up the barges towards us. I ran out on the deck to greet the storm.

The huge, driving drops of rain came down in solid sheets and the air in the squall was 200 cooler. I stood there with the rain running through my hair and soaking my clothes. I turned my face up and let the sweet water pour into my mouth and If the deck hadn’t been so slippery, I would have danced in the rain like the children did that day in Saigon, when it rained out of season.

I climbed the steps to the top deck where the bridge was and the European officers lived and where the Captain’s wife had a little cabin like a cottage, with flowers and all.

I poked my head through the open door to the bridge. “Sightseers allowed?”, I asked.

“Sure. Why don’t you work that hand spot for us?”

The powerful spotlight struck the sheets of rain and glared back into my eyes. Then I saw the bank; vines and great shiny leaves overhanging a steep muddy slope that was bleeding red, laderite soil into the river.

All I could see in the wheelhouse was the orange tip of the captain’s cigarette which glared yellow when he drew on it, and the pilot’s disembodied face floating eerily green in the glow from the binnacle—like radar scope.

“Cinq metres!” I shouted over the din of the torrential rain on the roof.

The captain was at the wheel and swung the riverboat away from the bank until once again all I could see was the rain. Back behind us, the navigator called out his calculations from the dimly lit chart room.

I searched through the beaded curtains of rain for the next hour, calling out whenever I saw the bank.

Of course it was insanity to be navigating at night in such a storm but it was even less safe to tie up.

That hour in the wheelhouse, in the tropical rainstorm that drowned out all other sound and washed the air clean was one of the most marvelous I have known.

I have always liked storms, the wilder the better. As a child I liked to go up into the mountains when the wild summer storms came, and stand in the wind and the driving rain with the lightning playing about me. It was dangerous, but being part of the pure, wild power of the elements gave me a sense of exhilaration like no other.

By midnight, the rain stopped and the spotlight could be fixed to shine on the bank a hundred yards down stream as our riverboat and the dark, oily smooth river continued on our mutual journey to meet the mighty Congo.

The next day, we were lined up along the rail watching Africans carrying wood aboard at a fueling station, when one of the missionaries suddenly turned to us.

“It’s not a failure of the Christian principals we’ve instilled, it’s a matter of protein need. They are fighting a war, so they must have protein. The bodies of their enemies are the only source of protein available.”

But, as I had seen, the cannibalism in the Congo was also used as a form of terrorism. Very soon there were so many bodies that only the rump roasts were removed and the rest left to rot. Entrepreneurs saw the commercial value of what the warriors left behind, and the government had to pass a law that no meat could be sold without some of the hide attached.

After a hasty refueling, the riverboat pulled away from the bank where it was so vulnerable.

The Kasai River was quite wide but the navigation channel was near the shoreline, and so we had an excellent view of the jungle and the villages as the boat moved along. In some sections, the river split into many smaller streams through marshy flats, where we could see for miles. Then it came together again between steep jungle banks with gashes cut by the rain where the red earth ran down into the river.

About every half hour we passed a village set in a clearing. Some villages had nets hung out to dry and dugout canoes, because they were fisher people. Others had great piles of wood in front of them because they made their livelihood selling fuel to the riverboats.

At noon, I went over to the African boat, looked around, and to see what it was like, bought a meal from their kitchen, to the horror of the First Class purser. It was bland corn meal mush and some boiled fish.


We arrived at Banningville the next afternoon.

Banningville was an important communications center where the tributary Kasai joined the mighty Congo River.

The land was hot and flat, with dense jungles.

It surprised me to see the local women carrying their burdens in a basket on their back supported by a strap across the forehead, which was in the manner of mountain people.

Women in flat country else where in the Congo balanced burdens on their heads, usually in a white enamel basin with a kerchief securing it’s contents. It always astounded me to see women walking with empty 20-gallon oil drums balanced on their heads, but then, how else could one person carry a 20-gallon oil drum?

Because of their method of carrying, the women of Banningville were bent and graceless, in distinct contrast to the stately women with beautiful posture in other parts of the Congo.

While I ate supper, I watched the crew attach still another Third Class boat to our side and put even more barges out front. By the time we sailed at midnight we were a flotilla.

The next day, the open decks of the Third Class boats were spread with drying fish and the stench was so awful that the Europeans spent a great deal of time one the prow of the first barge, upwind of the fish, instead of lounging besides their cars. But most of the sunlit hours were too hot to go out by the cars, so the stink had to be endured.

The barge tops out front of the riverboat were classless territory, shared by the Africans and the Europeans, and both groups amused themselves by noting the peculiarities of the other as we sailed through vast stretches of swamp, broad miles of flat, barren land, and finally hills that looked rather like Wales, on our way down downstream to the great Congo River.

There was a lot of mail waiting for me in Leopoldville, including clippings from the American papers where my stories on Luluabourg had run on the front pages above the masthead. There was also a cable from the publisher, “Send more about cannibals” it said. But when I read the stories in the papers, I was furious- the ‘cannibals’ were all they had used, cutting out the political and economic material entirely.

I composed a cable on just the political situation and took it across the Congo River’s Stanley Pool to French Equatorial Africa, where the French were happy to transmit the story of the chaos in the colony of their rivals in Africa, the Belgians.

Patrice Lumumba was the arch fiend in the Belgians’ pantheon of black political devils. They said he was a raving madman, and they also said he was diabolically clever, but he was the most important man in the Congo, so I would have to go far up the Congo River, deep into Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, to seek the truth about this man Lumumba.

I was alone in the lounge reading a beat-up paperback copy of The Brothers Karamazov. It was only 10:30, but after a few games of backgammon, the Belgians had retired for the night. If they’d been British they’d have been yarning, singing, and telling jokes until after midnight.

Suddenly the hot, humid air became charged with electricity. I went out on the deck and watched the moon and stars disappear behind storm clouds. A violent wind came up that whipped the leaves of the dense jungle foliage along the bank. Then I heard a sound like a fire hose on a tin roof as a squall line moved up the barges towards us.

Soon the huge, driving drops of rain were coming down in solid sheets and the air in the squall was much cooler.

I stood there with the rain running through my hair and sticking my clothes to my body which was a treat after the coffee colored river water that came out of our taps and showers, carrying in it the danger of disease.

I climbed the steps to the bridge deck. There on that top deck the European officers lived, and the Captain’s wife had a little cabin like a cottage, with European flowers.

I poked my head through the open door to the bridge. “Sightseers allowed?” I asked.
“Of course. Why don’t you work that hand spot for us?”

All I could see in the wheelhouse was the orange tip of the captain’s cigarette, which flared yellow when he drew on it, and the pilot’s disembodied face floating eerily green in the glow from the binnacle-like radar scope. Behind us from the dimly lit chartroom, the navigator called out his calculations.

As I swung the powerful spotlight around it struck the sheets of rain and glared back into my eyes.

Then I saw the bank. It was steep and overhung with vines and great shiny leaves, and muddy slope that was bleeding rivulets of red, laderite soil into the Kasai.

“Cinq metres!” I shouted over the din of the torrential rain on the roof.

The captain swung the wheel and the riverboat moved away from the bank until again all I could see was the rain.

For the next hour, I peered through the bead curtain of rain calling out whenever I saw the bank.

Of course it was insanity to be navigating at night in such a storm but it was no longer safe to tie up, either.

I have always liked storms. As a child I liked to go up into the mountains when the wild summer storms came, and stand in the wind and the driving rain with the lightning playing about me. I knew it was dangerous, but being part of the pure, wild power of the elements gave me a sublime sense of exhilaration.

That hour in the wheelhouse, in the tropical rainstorm that drowned out all other sound and washed the air clean was one of the most marvelous I have known.

By midnight, the rain stopped and the spotlight could be fixed to shine on the bank a hundred yards down stream, as our riverboat forged ahead of the dark, oily smooth river on our mutual journey to meet the mighty Congo.

The next day, while I was standing at the railing, watching the coffee-colored river slip by, the eight missionary children who were on board sidled up to me, their faces fixed into expressions of sweet innocence.

“Auntie Lynn, we have something for you,” they said in that devilish singsong of children up to mischief. “Close your eyes and put out your hands.”


I did as they asked and when I opened my eyes there was a giant Hercules beetle occupying most of each palm. They were black with a vertical pincer on the forehead. One rested content in my palm, the other hissed and snapped his pincer at me.

I took them to my cabin. Any pet is better than no pet.

The next morning when I awoke, I found the friendly beetle had snuggled up besides me on the pillow, while the ill-tempered one had betaken himself to the farthest corner of the cabin. He spent the rest of the voyage in the cabin keeping his own unpleasant company, while the other rode around all day on my collar.

I was worried that my pets might be hungry but the captain couldn’t see tying up in a war zone while I harvested heart of palm for two beetles.

We stopped at a fueling station and the passengers lined up along the railing to watch the Congolese carrying wood aboard.

One of the missionaries whose mind had been very troubled the whole voyage, suddenly turned to us.

“The cannibalism in the Kasai is not a failure of the Christian principals we’ve instilled, it’s a matter of protein need. They are fighting a war, so they must have protein. The bodies of their enemies are the only source of protein available,

I thought to myself, the fact that there is a war is a failure to instill the principles of the Prince of Peace. But the Europeans could hardly offer themselves as a better example. To me, cannibalism was not especially horrifying. Once a person has been killed, the disposal of the body is very secondary.

But the cannibalism in the Congo was used as a form of terror as well as a source of food.

In fact, there was soon a wanton waste of human meat, with only the prime cut, the rump roast removed and the rest left to rot. But soon entrepreneurs saw the commercial value of what the warriors left behind, and the government had to pass a law that no meat could be sold in the market without the hide attached.

After a hasty refueling, the riverboat pulled away from the bank where it was so vulnerable.

The Kasai River was quite wide but the navigation channel was near the shoreline, and so we had an excellent view of the jungle and the villages as the boat moved along.

In some sections, the river split into many smaller streams through marshy flats, where we could see for miles. Then it came together again between steep jungle banks with gashes cut by the rain.

About every half hour we passed a village set in a clearing. Some villages had nets hung out to dry and dugout canoes, because they were fisher people. Others had great piles of wood in front of them because they made their livelihood selling fuel to the riverboats.

At noon, I went over to the native boat to look around and have a meal from their kitchen (to the horror of the First Class purser). As in most of Africa the food was unspiced with corn meal mush as the staple, as in much of Africa.


We arrived at Banningville the next afternoon. Banningville was an important communications center where the Kasai and Congo Rivers joined. The land was hot and flat, with dense jungles.

The local women carried their burdens in a basket on their backs supported by a strap across the forehead, in the manner of mountain people.

Elsewhere in the flat country of Africa, women balanced their burdens on their heads usually in a white enamel basin covered with a kerchief. But I often saw women walking with empty 20-gallon oil drums balanced on their heads, but how else could one person carry a 20-gallon drum?

Because of their method of carrying, the women of Banningville were bent and graceless, in distinct contrast to the statuesque grace of the other women of the Congo.

While I ate supper, I watched the crew attach still another Third Class boat to our side of our OTRACO riverboat and put even more barges out front. We were now a flotilla!

Among the Europeans who came to the boat to see who was aboard and get the latest gossip from up river, was the young director of Post and Telegraph, Mr. Mathys.

He beautifully handsome and spoke perfect American because he had served for a number of years in the American Merchant Marine.

Having seen the world, he returned to the Congo where he was born and married his sweetheart, who had waited all those years. Now he was chief of Post and Telegraph and the father of three little sons. He was deeply worried about the safety of his wife, who was expecting again, and his children. But he was determined not be driven from his home and the country of his birth by “other Congolese dancing around my house yelling ‘Uhuru’.”

He asked me if I would come out to the house, as his wife got so little company these days.

We ran down the gangplank through a maddening swarm of tiny insects and got into his Volkswagen. On the way out to the house, he tried to hit a civet cat that darted across the road. He already had two skins and needed a third to make a stole for his wife.

Mrs. Mathys was a plain, worn woman in her thirties who looked much older than her youthful husband, but the isolation of the Congo had given her a child-like simplicity. Their three sons were beautiful beyond belief and the couple lavished love on them. Mr. Mathys did not like having his wife alone in the house without servants, but he was afraid to have servants in the house, now.

We talked long into the evening and Mr. Mathys showed me the sketches he had made while at sea and the poems and songs he had written. Then he took me out to see the transmitter which he had assembled mainly from old receiver tubes and chicken wire.

When I left the Mathys family that night, I felt as if I had been in the company of very special people who were too good for this world. Later, I tried to reach them through every possible channel to find out how they came through the troubles after Independence, but it was like dropping pebbles off the edge of the earth.


The riverboat sailed at midnight and there was a last minute rush of people European and African to get aboard.

The next day, the open decks of the Third Class boats were spread with drying fish and the stench was so awful that the Europeans spent a great deal of time one the prow of the first barge, upwind of the fish, instead of lounging besides their cars. But most of the sunlit hours were too hot to go out there and so the stink had to be endured.

The barge tops were classless territory, shared by the natives and the Europeans, and both groups amused themselves by noting the peculiarities of the other as we sailed through vast stretches of swamp, broad miles of flat, barren land, and finally hills that looked rather like Wales, on our way down the great Congo River to Leopoldville.


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Patrice Lumumba was the arch fiend in the Belgians’ pantheon of black political devils. They said he was a raving madman, and they also said he was diabolically clever, but he was the most important man in the Congo, so I would have to go far up the Congo River, deep into Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, to seek the truth about this man Lumumba.

CLICK TO ENLARGE TO FULL IMAGES

PATRICE LUMUMBA, THE CONGO, AND ALL OF AFRICA: CONTENTS
articles and commentaries by D'Lynn Waldron DR D'LYNN WALDRON AUTHOR PAGE

Lumumba, the assassinated first Prime Minister of the Congo.

D'Lynn Waldron's newspaper headline stories and photographs, plus related documents from 1960, with a commentary by D'Lynn Waldron written in 2001. The subjects covered on this web site include Lumumba in Stanleyville and his real attitude towards America and Russia, and the secret cannibal war in the Kasai fostered by the Belgian government to sabotage the upcoming independence, which D'Lynn Waldron exposed.

PART 1- LUMUMBA IN STANLEYVILLE AT THE TIME OF THE ELECTIONS

D'Lynn Waldron was the only correspondent in Stanleyville and her newspaper stories contain both historically accurate information as written by D'Lynn Waldron, and also the disinformation put in by the newspaper publisher back in America. Her 2001 commentary points out the disinformation.

........Lumumba in Stanleyville- D'Lynn Waldron's 1960 headline story

........D'Lynn Waldron's commentary on this written in 2001

........Lumumba's telegram regarding troops being brought in, etc.

........D'Lynn Waldron's commentary on her time in the Congo written in 2001

........Lumumba's typed statements on his policies for the Congo with D'Lynn Waldron's handwritten questions

........Patrice Lumumba's statements on his policies for the Congo in D'Lynn Waldron's handwritten interview notes

........Lumumba's statements about the Belgian Admin and General Janssens in Stanleyville (document is a VERY large file!)

........Cable with Lumumba's statements sent by D'Lynn Waldron and not published by Scripps-Howard Newspapers

........Messages carried between Lumumba and General Janssens by D'Lynn Waldron with Lumumba's handwritten comments

.......D'Lynn Waldron's report on conflict between General Jannsens and Patrice Lumumba

.......Refusals of Belgian Administration to transmit D'Lynn Waldron's press cables about Lumumba

.......TIME Magazine's slanders of Patrice Lumumba May 1960

......D'Lynn Waldron's cable to American Consulate in Uganda about hitch hiking out of Congo through Ruanda Urundi

........A GALLERY OF PICTURES OF PATRICE LUMUMBA

........OLD PICTURE MAP OF THE MAJOR TRIBES OF THE PRE-COLONIAL CONGO

.......Tribal war in Luluabourg, Belgian Congo D'Lynn Waldron

........Response to a reader asking why Lumumba was assassinated

.......Raoul Peck's movie "Lumumba" a discussion by D'Lynn Waldron

.......Ludo De Witt's book "The Assassination of Lumumba" a brief review by D'Lynn Waldron

MAP IS A VERY LARGE JPEG

THE TRIBAL WAR IN THE KASAI FOSTERED BY BELGIUM BEFORE INDEPENDENCE TO CREATE CHAOS ALLOWING THEM TO TAKE BACK THE CONGO'S MINERAL-RICH AREAS OF KATANGA AND THE KASAI.

.........The Tribal War In Luluabourg- D'Lynn Waldron's 1960 headline story

.........Kasai section of D'Lynn Waldron's book "Secret in the Heart of Darkness"

........Henry N. Taylor killed filling in for D'Lynn Waldron in Luluabourg the Congo

D'LYNN WALDRON'S PHOTOS AND SKETCHES OF AFRICA

.........Sketch of man in the interior on the Congo River

.........Photograph of a mountain village in Rwanda

.........A Gallery of African Children

D'LYNN WALDRON IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ESCAPE FROM THE SECRET POLICE

........ D'Lynn Waldron arrives in South Africa

.........D'Lynn Waldron escapes the secret police in South Africa

THE BEST SUMMARY OF THE HISTORY OF THE CONGO I HAVE FOUND IS IN A PREFACING TO A VERY DETAILED, ILLUSTRATED ARTICLE BY AVIATION HISTORIAN ROBERT CRAIG JOHNSON ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT USED BY THE UN AND OTHERS DURING THE INDEPENDENCE PERIOD http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v2/v2n3/congo.html