2.27 Heart of Africa Mission

August 26, 2012

More on the down side of Mission work with C. T. Studd in the Congo.  Hayes says he declined an offer to lead armed rebellion against the Belgians in the north of the Congo.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Hayes other two criticism of C. T Studd’s missionary practice carry considerably more weight – perhaps even for those who share Studd’s evangelical Christian fervor.

On March 24,1914, slightly more than a month after his arrival at the Heart of Africa Mission, Hayes writes:  “Quarreling with Studd again.  The Belgians, having cleaned the country of ivory and rubber, products easily negotiable, seek some other method of exploiting the natives under their hand.  They have secured the permission of the various signatory powers who presented them this vast territory the right to tax the natives.”  Though he describes the tax as exploitation, he can manufacture a rationale for it:  “Now one can understand the Congolese contributing to the government who gives them protection against an aggressor and the plague.”  Perhaps Europeans medicines helped the Africans, and the Belgians, commanding native troops, did protect the Congolese from slave raids from the north as would any prudent colonialist.  Furthermore, it is likely that Hayes was ignorant of the extent of the Belgian genocide already perpetrated in the Congo by 1914.

But, even granting Hayes’ rationale for the Belgians imposing the tax, he knows that outright fraud ought to be recognized and loudly denounced by any representative of Christ.  “As the natives are all illiterate they cannot read the date on these tags the Belgians hang about every male neck to act as a receipt for tax paid, so they have gone back five years or more, collecting taxes on the men who were mere boys then, on others who were not in the Congo , but in French and British territories.”  Studd sent several of the Azande workmen to pay the five franc tax “a month’s pay for a laborer” and predictably, “They returned with medals reading 1909 instead of 1914.”  In March Hayes writes, “I kicked, but Studd forbade me to speak of it again.”

Hayes recorded a second confrontation with Studd about the tax tags on August 13, 1914 using considerably stronger language:  “Studd’s asinine ways came to the surface again this morning.  He is a born cad his broad skull base shows this.  It is about the tax graft.”  Hayes does not elaborate on his own conversations with the native workers, only Studd’s response.  As with the harangue Hayes received in March for criticizing Studd’s under-payment of the Mangbettu house builders: “Again he lines up the men, telling them he is boss, to never obey anything I tell them unless sanctioned by him.”  While his hard-won authority with the men falls to pieces a second time, “Both Studd and Buxton agree the tax robbery… is unjust.  Yet for expediency’s sake they condone this abuse, to make themselves solid with the Belgians.”  A British missionary speaking out against worldly injustices in Belgian territory would undoubtedly have jeopardized his work of saving souls.

Renzi “Paramount Chief of the Azande”

Hayes next diary entry concerning the tax medals, from November 1914, concerns native resistance.  “Renzi, paramount chief of the Azandes, is encamped near here.  Rumor has it he is planning war against the Belgians.”  Hayes remarks that “but for [Renzi] it is unlikely Belgium would have the foothold she has in this territory now.”  As a younger man Renzi had thrown his Azande warriors to the side of Belgian commander Louis Chaltin against forces of the Mahdi the at the battle of Rejaf when “the Dervishes had almost beaten the Belgian force.”  Now, as Hayes doctors “a dry ulcer afflicting [Renzi’s] leg from knee to ankle,” Renzi chats of “dickering with the British officers in the Sudan, offering to clear all the Belgians out of the country and install the British instead.”  Renzi makes no idle offer to the British:  “The Belgians are afraid of him.  He has 12,000 warriors ready to attack at a moment’s notice.  Renzi’s complaint is these new taxes dated back for years…”  Who knows what reception Renzi might have gotten had the British and Blegians not recently allied against the Germans at the outbreak of World War I?

And finally on December 9,1914, Renzi thanks Hayes for healing his leg with the offer of ten wives, but as to war, “Renzi  will not commit himself, but his sub chiefs are outspoken.  They say if I will lead them they will wipe out the Belgians at Niangara and let the English occupy the land.”  Declining leadership of a rebellion, the ten wives, and struggling to communicate the intricacies of the nascent war in Europe, “I tell them the three allied powers [France, Britain, and Belgium] will combine to crush them, that they had best keep the peace and remain as they are.”  A Belgian officer tells Hayes that “every [native] soldier in the Niangara barracks would go with Renzi if the latter rebelled.”

Those whose souls C. T. Studd would save find the tax fraud so onerous they contemplate armed rebellion against the Belgians – and Studd remains silently complicit.  One assumes that had rebellion erupted, Studd, Buxton, and Perkins (given his refusal of the proffered “position as prime minister at Renzi’s court”)  would have been among the first non-Africans killed.

Hayes third specific condemnation of Studd concerns booze.  Little surprise it’s his most forceful.

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2.26 Heart of Africa Mission

August 19, 2012

Astonishing.  Hayes is not moving.  He’d like to be gone from the Heart of Africa Mission but daily torrential rains prevent travel.  In this and the next post I’ll lay out his case against C.T. Studd – the reason Hayes wanted to leave.  In following posts I’ll describe his relationship with the African people among whom he lived and worked – the reason he loved his time at Niangara.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Hayes lasted ten months at the Heart of Africa Mission – a long time in one place for him, but fourteen months short of his intended commitment.  For most of 1914 he, Studd, and Buxton were the only non-Africans living at the mission; for two extended periods, Hayes took sole charge of the fledgling compound while Studd and Buxton hunted or traveled in search of new mission sites. The others at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1914 as listed with Hayes in Grubb’s appendix to Christ in Congo Forests:  Miss Chapman, Miss Flangham, Mr. Coles, and the Richardsons, (Bowers died at Yei before reaching the mission), arrived on December 21, three days before Hayes departed.

Hayes loved this part of Africa with all its adventures, but hated both Buxton and Studd.  The disgust for Buxton derived mostly from Buxton’s lockstep worship of Studd who styled himself “Bwana” of the mission.  (“Studd has proclaimed his native name shall be “Bwana”, Swahili for Master.  The term is unknown in Bangala.”)   Buxton wasn’t alone in admiring C. T. Studd.  Even today one finds no shortage of adulation directed toward Studd on the internet and in various biographies written by his admirers – though even the most ardent admit that Studd could be a difficult colleague.  Writing about Bowers, the would-be missionary who died en route to Niangara, Hayes says, “If he had lived and stayed on here, he would have become disillusioned and disgusted even as I am now, or else have succumbed to the general hero worship of this charlatan Studd.”  These seem to be the two polarized responses others had to C. T. Studd.    Granting Hayes was constitutionally averse to hero worship, neither was he given to unwarranted hatreds.  Hayes’ diary of his time at The Heart of Africa Mission lays out three general critiques of Studd’s missionary style that disqualify Studd from Hayes’ respect.

The first eight of the fifteen missionaries arriving at The Heart of Africa in 1916.
C. T.Studd’s daughter Edith, Alfred Buxtons future wife, appears top center.

First, Hayes, very much grounded in practical concerns of this world, followed his own rough-and-ready, golden-rule style of Christianity, so had little regard for Studd’s evangelical soul-saving fervor.  After one month at the mission Hayes wrote of Studd: “He is as arbitrary a man as I have ever seen.  There is no viewpoint but his own….”  Where other biographers of Studd have seen zeal for the Lord, Hayes perceives self-aggrandizement:  “These two men [Buxton and Studd] spend most of their time writing to London telling of their exploits, misrepresenting the country and in every way publicizing themselves to gain further fame.”

Studd permitted no boss at the mission other than Studd.  “Strangely, they [Buxton and Studd] realize I know my work.  I hear them talking after I have retired, and then Studd praises me, but he wants me to know he is boss, and wants every native in the country to know he is the big shot of the Heart of Africa Mission.”  So, for example, halfway through Hayes’ supervision of a house building project in April, Studd “calls the [Azande] men before him and harangues them, saying he is master, and that if he says build a house, I must build it, and if he says not, that goes too.  To not listen to what I have to say, but to always appeal to him.”  What other result could follow?  Hayes temporarily lost control of all discipline among the working men.

In addition to building, Hayes supervised care of the grounds and gardens he and the working men planted at the mission.  In June, Studd, furthering the soul-saving work of the mission, imposed another serious restriction on the practical work Hayes did housing and feeding them all:  “If the nightly two or three-hour discourses Buxton hands the workmen were not enough, now morning lectures of a theological nature have been instituted.  These last until ten A. M., the men’s eyes wandering in utter bewilderment.”  Buxton delivered the sermons in Bangala in which he and Hayes were fluent;  Studd had not learned the language.  “He [Buxton] endeavors to translate the Bible to them, old genealogies of Christ and other Bible characters, dry and dull to one conversant in English, let alone one who knows nothing of books or languages other than their own tribal dialects short on expressions and words for such theological discussions as Buxton puts forth.” In June, Hayes joked with the working men, whose jobs depended on attendance at the twice-daily sermons, that he might lose his job as well by interceding for them, “an answer that brings peals of laughter, for every man knows the strain between these two men and me.”  By September “I got up and walked out of the services when Studd tried to say a few words as to his being the big boss, I was only a small boy.”

Though shaking with fury, Studd dismissed the men and “calling Buxton, he began to pray God to cast out the silent devil troubling me.”  According to Hayes, their plan had been to domesticate Hayes by marriage to a “helpmate.”  He writes that this was to have been the role of the 28-year-old Miss Flangham, one of the missionaries arriving December 21,1914.  On meeting her just before his departure Hayes wrote, “I try to be courteous to her, but it is with an effort.  She is not to blame for it.”  (Miss Flangham married Mr. A. W. Davies, pictured top right above, who arrived at The Heart of Africa Mission in 1916.  The two remained at the mission until 1931.)

So, Hayes’ first indictment of Studd:  an autocratic leadership style,  an otherworldly fanaticism about soul saving, and a patronizing supercilious attitude.  Hayes encountered these characteristics in bosses all over the world.  They always caused him to move on, as he will when the Congo rainy season allows travel, but these alone cannot account for the bitter invective Hayes heaps on Studd, the famous cricketeer turned missionary.   The next chapter describes Hayes critique of C. T. Studd’s attitude to Belgian tax graft.


2.25. Heart of Africa Mission

August 12, 2012

This map is taken from Love at First Tooth: Family and Missionary Politics in East Africa and Congo 1913-1934 by Robin Johnson, dedicated to Elizabeth Ann Thompson Flinn who joined the heart of Africa Mission in 1915.  Niangara appears near the top of the map just south of the Sudan border.

February 21, 1914 – April 5, 1914

Personnel at Heart of Africa Mission Niangara, Congo as given in an appendix to Norman Grubb’s Christ in Congo Forests (1945)

1913 1914
Mr C T Studd 1913-31
Mr A B Buxton 1913-27
Mr H Perkins 1914-15
Miss Irene Flangham 1914-31 (Mrs Davies)
Miss L Chapman 1914-28 (Mrs Buck)
Mr S J Richardson 1914-20
Mrs S J Richardson 1914-20
Mr A J Bowers 1914-14
Mr E W Coles 1914-18

First impressions are so important.

Twenty-two year old Alfred Buxton had interrupted his medical studies to join C. T. Studd in foundingThe Heart of Africa Mission in 1913.  On meeting him, Hayes wrote: “Buxton is a tall, callow youth, apparently out of place in the bush.  It is easy to see he knows his position of family and breeding is superior to most folks, and this will not sit well with me.”  (Buxton married Studd’s daughter Edith in 1917, but broke with his father-in-law in the 1920’s to pursue his own missionary work in Ethiopia and Somalia.)

C. T. Studd Africa 1910

Fifty-four year old C. T. Studd had renounced his family fortune and his place as foremost cricketeer in England to pursue missionary work for fifteen years in China, beginning at age twenty-five, then six years in India and finally, against doctors advice, in the Congo basin.  On meeting him, Hayes wrote:  “Studd, so called pioneer and founder of this  mission is decidedly a self-centered man.  He is about five feet eight inches in height, of sallow complexion and has a thin beard and the dreamy eyes of a fanatic.  One could easily imagine them as the eyes of an opium eater.”  (Studd, a regular user of morphine in his last years,  continued his zealous missionary work until his death at 70 at Ibambi, Congo.  The Heart of Africa Mission Studd founded persists under the name Worldwide Evangelization for Christ (WEC).)

Buxton and Studd together receive this summary:  “Both [Studd] and Buxton are aware of a special dispensation from the Almighty to evangelize the world, beginning with the Dark Continent, and do not propose to let anything stand in their way doing it.”  On his second day at the “splendid” location for the Heart of Africa Mission, Hayes overheard Buxton asking Studd “whether I (Hayes) should not be relegated to a table by myself.”  Three white men alone in the jungle working out seating arrangements according to London class lines – Hayes doesn’t say what they decided, but the conversation alone told him where he had arrived.

Nevertheless, three days later Hayes wrote, “What’s the use grouching?  Do the best you can boy.”  In London he made a two-year unpaid commitment to the mission and says that upon arrival he threw every pound he had into the community chest as a gesture of good will.  Now he sets about building tables and chairs from slabs rejected from a Belgian sawing operation nearby and organizing his half-dozen Azande workmen to clearing the brush readying the ground for planting.  By now Hayes is competent to direct the workers in the Bangala language.  “Buxton criticizes all I do with all the wisdom gained in 22 years of pink tea fights, under the supervision of nurses and governesses and at school.  The practical experience I have learned in a life time about the world means nothing.”

On March 8, Hayes wrote:  “Studd has been disciplining me this week.  To do this he put me on two meals a day, one at seven in the morning, the other eight at night,  me working at hard labor in between.”  From eating bananas “or anything I could get to satisfy my hunger,” and sleeping on a camp bed with “six inches of water under it,”  lumbago sets in.  Hayes is sure he could cure himself using his own head but “Studd seemingly considers me a human guinea pig to experiment on.”

A week later, endeavoring to throw off the pain of lumbago, Hayes hiked to a nearby Mangbettu village to visit Bukinda, a small chief contracted by Studd to build a new house for the mission.  “I photographed Bukinda sitting in the midst of fourteen of his wives.  His village is scrupulously neat and clean.  the houses are decorated with designs of red, white and black … these colors stand up well, and are arranged in every sort of design, with some sort of attempt to paint men and animals, especially leopards and horses, as murals on the outer walls.”  (I know of none of Hayes’ photographs surviving.)

With Hayes not traveling, his diary becomes a little disjointed.  A paragraph or two on European explorers to the region:  Benjamin Gosling, who traveled with Boyd Alexander, lies buried at Niangara, Schweinfurth, a Russo-German explorer came through in 1870. –  Then a bit about the history of African rulers:  Munza, who was “a sort of Napoleon in his way, for he gathered all the small tribes into his empire and made them Mangbettus,” was also a notorious cannibal. – Comparisons between the local tribes with whom he lives:   The Mangbettus are ingenious crafters who make fine chairs, houses, and musical instruments; contrasted with the Azandes who “are willing to work at anything to advance themselves.”  Hayes will hire only Azandes “much to the dislike of the Mangbettus who own this side of the river.”  – But entries always returns to carping about Studd and Buxton:  Studd paid Bukinda 150 francs, about $30, for 75 men working six weeks to build his house.  Studd got a fine house; Hayes got the fallout from the unpaid workmen:  “Every one of them reproaches me, for I supervised the work.”

By the middle of April Hayes writes “I am considering leaving this place when the next dry season comes.  No one could make it in the rains.”  As the roster above indicates, Hayes lasted at The Heart of Africa well into 1915 but not without considerable conflict with, “These two men [who] spend most of their time writing to London telling of their exploits, misrepresenting the country and in every way publicizing themselves to gain further fame.”


2.24 Aba to Niangara

August 5, 2012

Two Maps so you can see why Hayes has arrived at a place called The Heart of Africa Mission.  If you zoom in on the one showing the Welle river, you can see enormous stretches of white water.

February 8, 1914 – February 21, 1914

With fresh porters, Hayes made good time on the 50 miles between Aba and Faradje:  “I did it in three days. good time in Africa with heavy loads.”  This is lion country:  lots of tracks, lots of spoor, lots of roaring, but the porters laugh mimicking the lion’s roaring.  “This morning I was far behind the men, and a lioness emerged from the grass and sat on her haunches beside the road, looking like nothing more than a great Dane dog.    I stopped and returned her stare, and after a time she galloped away.”  The porters tell Hayes none of the lions in this area are man-eaters.

The great excitement for the Europeans at Faradje concerns an American elephant hunter named Pickering.  The Belgian officers at the post invited him to a friendly game of chemin de fer.  When Pickering learned that they had “combined against him,” first he shot the flagpole with his elephant gun.  Getting no results from that display, he shot toward the door of the station, “and after a few shots they hurriedly tossed out his goods, money boxes, ivory and all.”  Another pair of American elephant hunters, Pierce and Rogers, illegally shot an elephant in British territory and fled into Belgian territory where an over-zealous askari mortally wounded Rogers in the hip.  Hayes believes the British government paid Rogers’ family $60,000 compensation as they had no jurisdiction in the Belgian Congo.

At the tumble down Catholic mission at Faradje missionaries teach their faith.  “Naturally the people are wishful to add another god to their already numerous collection, especially one recognized by the superior musungus.”  Hayes notes that “musungu” has two meanings for the the natives of this area:  it denotes any white but also all strong intoxicants.  He writes, “I wonder if there be any connection between these two?”  (A friend just returned from Uganda says she was called “mzungu” there; “azungu” in Malawi.)

On February 10, 1914, his thirty-sixth birthday, Hayes records a travelogue of where he’d been on this date in previous years:  “The last one was in Southampton, and I had little thought of being in the middle of Africa.  The ones preceding were in Sydney, the Woodlark Islands, in New Guinea, Ellice Islands, NorthBend Oregon; at Little River, California; in Nigeria, at Seattle, and so on.  One shifts about.”

After two hard days march with “a wild turbulent crew” of new porters who also mock the lions – and Hayes’ fear of the wild roaring – the caravan arrived at “a vast wooded plain, with forest galleries on every stream” where the natives beg Hayes to shoot the marauding “mbongos” (elephants).  Based on the spoor, he estimates hundreds maraud in the vicinity but declines to shoot any – perhaps not properly armed.  He notes, however, “Ivory is the chief export of this country, but the white hunters will soon exterminate the herds if left to shoot as they are doing now.”

Areas infested by tsetse fly 1998

We know from his notes that Hayes received at least one bite from a tsetse fly: “These insects are scarcely equal to an American or Australian horsefly in size. They alight without bing noticed, and have driven their proboscis deep before one realizes their presence.  The bite is as painful as a red hot needle.”  Like any European traveler in central Africa in 1914, Hayes necessarily adopted a certain stochastic resignation:  “As few flies are infected with the germ of sleeping sickness, it is improbable any untoward happening will take place.”  He never subsequently reported suffering sleeping sickness.

If he wasn’t particularly afraid of tsetse fly, Hayes’ approach to the Heart of Africa Mission and C. T. Studd filled him with foreboding:  “I am drawing near my journey’s end and don’t like it.  There is an insistent warning of evil to come that will not be denied.… This always happens when I fall into hard places.”  In the center of the African continent what could one do with such a premonition but press on?

150 miles from Aba, after nine days “actual marching time,” Hayes and the safari arrived at the station at Dungu where the the Dungu and Kibali Rivers merge to form “the Welle, or Uele, as called by the Belgians.  Later on the river becomes the Makua, then the Oubangui of the French, or plain Ubangi of the British.  It is the great northern tributary of the Congo, and has a course of more than 2,000 miles.”  This is territory of the Azanedes; “They are a warlike people, hate the Belgians and would drive the latter out if they could.”

On a windy hill “above the fever” on the north bank of the Dungu River, two white representatives of the Africa Inland Mission direct construction of a new mission station.  “These men have recently been associated with Mr. Studd.”  They say Studd quarreled with the American, Charles Hurlburt, who heads the Africa Inland Mission and “suggest I will find Mr. Studd difficult to get along with.  This adds to my fears of strife to come, but it is too late now to remedy matters.”

Hayes had one last brief idyll before reaching Niangara and the Heart of Africa Mission.  “The Chef De Poste gave me a large canoe and a crew of Bakango boatman, so for two days we have been poling down the Welle.”  For the most part the men “dawdle and sing songs of the river.”  But approaching a stretch of wild water they put Hayes off to walk the shore, “saying they would be held responsible if a white man was lost, whereas nothing would happen if it was merely one of themselves.”  The reader gets the distinct impression that Hayes would rather have been aboard:  “These wild Bakangos stripped themselves of their scant clothing and drove the canoe into the white water.  Every man was crouched and yelling his best.  All knew their work, for with poles they warded off every rock thrust up through the surge of foam, kept their craft headed into the main channel and finally out into the boiling maelstrom and on into quiet water below… Triumphant yells rose high when they floated again in safety.”  (Welch, Conley, and Dimock cite Perkins as conversant with Buzz Holmstrom about African whitewater (incorrectly asserting Perkins made a small fortune mining in Africa) in The Doing of the Thing: The brief Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom.)

One more day watching crocodiles, hippos, and spur-winged geese while the boatmen loaf and sing before pulling into Niangara to be met by Buxton and Studd.


2.22 Rejaf to Loka

July 22, 2012

Finally!  On caravan, with porters, creaking ox carts, askaris with rifles, rumors of Lions, tsetse fly, sleeping sickness… – Hayes is living the image of Africa formed when he was ten years old hearing stories of Livingstone, Stanley, and Emin Pasha on the banks of the Coquille River in Oregon.

The terrain map shows Hayes approaching the African continental divide about to enter the drainage of the Congo River.

January 24,1914 – January 30, 1914

On his last night steaming up the Nile Hayes wrote:  “Eighteen days from Khartoum, every one of them filled with vivid interest.  I have lived more in these past eighteen days than in a year in a sawmill at Eureka or in Oregon.”

During these glorious eighteen days he had to provision for himself.  “It has been largely dates bought before leaving Khartoum.  Also fruits picked from some sort of tree on the Nile plains below the Sobat, these a strong laxative, even for Arabs, who warned me.”  Never mind that – “Now for the bush in its fullness. I am glad to see it, eager to learn what lies beyond.”

For the first time Hayes writes of traveling with porters.  He makes no mention of who pays the men or how much, but he roundly criticizes “the Bimbashi or major commanding the post [who] would not permit me to divide my large boxes into small loads fit for porters up to the Congo, this being against regulations.”  From reading Hayes’ diary thus far, one feels certain the thought of a bribe to the Bimbashi never entered his mind.  “I was entwined in the mazes of red tape until there was no escape, almost had to stay here for two weeks because of some slip in further red tape at Khartoum,” where authorities had neglected to certify him free of sleeping sickness.

Among several letters sent from Studd and Buxton, who are “350 miles west of this place” at Niangara, Hayes received “a small Bangala vocabulary, more than welcome, for I know not one word.”

Alfred Buxton

Charles Thomas Studd

Hayes’ apparent readiness to cool his heels for two weeks in sleeping sickness quarantine while learning the bits of Bangala Buxton had sent called the bimbashi’s bluff:  “Castle-Smith, the bimbashi, said the Khartoum officials were to blame for the lack of proper credentials, so passed me through the quarantine and I am encamped at the first rest house a few miles west of Rejaf.”  Once “All English speaking people are behind me now,” what does one say in Bangala to the caretaker of a Sudanese rest house after hiking all day through the bush?  Hayes tries:  “Ngai alingi kosumba koko.” (Hayes’ quote)  Without comment the master of the house brought a small chicken.  Very pleased with himself, Hayes next asked “Piastre boni?” and paid “Moko” (one) for his dinner.   “This gives me great encouragement, for these meaningless words set down here are a medium of communication between me and these people.  I will not forget that expression, and will learn many more as I proceed.”

Castle-Smith relented on the quarantine but not on redistribution of the loads.  “My porters are old men and mere boys.  One of my loads weighs 67 pounds, too much for a strong man.”  In fact, “All of them are heavy and I may not open one to lighten their burdens.”  Hayes is in charge – “As the lone European, I have the papers for the caravan” – maybe he thought distribution of loads would be checked at a subsequent rest house.  Though Hayes never described the full extent of his caravan, it included several wagons “drawn by bullocks, two to each cart.  A man leads each team, another by his side with a gun.”  Hayes writes that he’ll endeavor to put the 67 pound overloaded pack onto one of the carts.  Also walking with the caravan “is a comely Bari girl” – more to be said about this “temporary wife… billed as ‘Mr. Grogan’s servant,'” later.

Tsetse Fly

On a “dry stage of six hours from Moongo (elegant) to Gangi (bamboo)” traveling by night to avoid the heat and the tsetse flies “that carry the dreaded sleeping sickness,” Hayes and his convoy dug clean water from the sands beside a dry khor and passed a rusting steam truck abandoned by the Belgians.  “Leopold did what he could to exploit this country of its easily negotiable riches before turning it over to the British, which had to be done at his death.  As porters were difficult to obtain, he sent in several of these gigantic machines.”  [Hayes correctly identifies Leopold as personally exploiting this region – the Congo colony was Leopold’s private property.  Hochschild cites scholars who estimate roughly half the population perished during Leopold’s Free State period between 1885 and 1909 – about 10 million people.  Not surprising that Hayes could find only children and old men as porters in 1914.]

Five days out from Rejaf approaching the continental divide between the drainage of the Nile and Congo rivers, the column passed out of territory where “elephants, a few rhinos, eland, topi, waterbuck and many more” hid from the noisy caravan in the scrub or dry grass into country “all granite ridges with great prophyritic (sic) dykes crosscutting the quartzite reefs striking across country.  The soil is very poor.”  The few people living in this region eat mainly “dhurra, a sort of millet that is very nourishing.  My men carry a  bag of dhurra flower, from which they make a ball of cooked dough each evening.”  Hayes says fowl cost only five cents American; he can also get soggy sweet potatoes and a little rice, “so I live well enough.”

At Loka “chief station on the way to Yei,” Hayes see the first running water since leaving Rejaf 64 miles previously.  He records the date as January 30, 1914 – so the caravan had been making a little better than 10 miles a day.  The officer in charge of the station at Loka, Captain Vandelaar, passed them through “without too much trouble,” but warned of lions on the trail ahead.  No sign of them but Hayes writes eloquently about the feel of traveling at night on watch for lions, on caravan, in the southern Sudan, in 1914:

“There is something barbaric about this hamrah, or caravan.  To see each askari with a lighted torch of close wrapped grass beside the man who leads two bullocks, the fire lighting up the long horns of the animals and shining on the gun barrels; to hear the creaking carts, the cries of the men and sometimes the sad wail of a hyena gives it a touch of Africa not understood otherwise.”


2.21 Kodok to Rejaf

July 15, 2012

Hayes steaming up the Nile enchanted by the wildlife visiting the adventurous places he’d read about as a boy.

Here is the map of the current episode, up the Nile through the Sudd

Here is the map of the journey from London so far.  November, December and January.  One more overland push to the mission at Niangara.

January 15,1914- January 24,1914

Shilluk, Sudan Photo from the book Hair in African Art and Culture, Sieber & Herreman, 2000, p. 16

“There are fewer people on the river now.”   But the few Hayes sees interest him greatly:  “Both the Dinkas and the Shillooks are quite naked.  Their only effort in the way of clothing is to mix cow dung with their hair, making a ring six inches wide resembling a hat brim.  From the distance it looks like nothing else than a low crowned hat. The bodies of every person is (sic) smeared with ashes of burned cow dung to keep off the mosquitoes.  It would require a strong-stomached mosquito to drive his beak into this mass.  It is said these people are more virtuous than those who wear clothing.”  A group of men, all over six-feet tall, stood crowded round a white woman “as she exhorted them” at the mission station at Lul with no apparent discomfiture on either side.

Missionaries fairly clog this part of the Nile in 1914:  Austrian fathers at Lul;  Two Australians and a New Zealander, “fitted ill” among the naked blacks; and a Canadian, Tidrick, denied permission by the British to start mission work in Darfour looking to catch on at the Presbyterian mission on the Sobat River.  After counting the missionaries, Hayes turns more enthusiastically to the birds:  “storks, crested cranes, bright colored kingfishers, plovers, Egyptian geese, spur-winged geese, ducks of several species, cormorants, vultures, marabout storks, kites, flycatchers, swallows, other birds I do not recognize.”

At the mouth of the Sobat River, 600 miles south of Khartoum, “A large number of soldiers disembarked there with their white officers enroute to beat back the shiftas, or raiders from Abyssinia who drive down to the Nile itself, taking slaves, cattle, ivory, shooting every elephant whether a tusker or not.  They are going to punish the raiding Nuers as well, for these refuse to permit the British to take cattle as tax for protection.”  In other passages of the diary Hayes speaks in support of a  more humane style of colonialism he observes practiced by the British in comparison with, say, the Belgians or Portuguese.  Still, one might wonder from whom the Nuers pay protection cattle when reading the next sentence: “This country is little tamed since British occupation.”

Shoebill or Whaleheaded stork, listed as “vulnerable” on the current conservation index

On January 19th, without mentioning specific details, Hayes clarifies the direction of his critique:  “War turns men into devils.  All humane instincts are subverted to those of murder and oppression.  So called civilized men turn into worse examples than these whom we term savages.  To show mercy, compassion is a sign of weakness among these men.”

That night the steamer stopped for wood to fuel the boilers at a camp of Dinkas who had recently been fighting the British “and in consequence are surly and reluctant to talk to the white men.”  After counting the soldiers, Hayes returns again more enthusiastically to the wildlife:  “Topi, waterbuck, elephants, hippo, crocodiles, even the rare Mrs. Grey’s waterbuck, tetel and a lot more I don’t know.”  Chasing the soldiers from his mind requires listing not just large animals but also the “strangest of all birds… the whale headed stork, called Abu Markub by the Arabs, which means slipper beak.”

Just after passing the mouth of the Sobat, Hayes writes, “We have entered the sudd.”  This 35,000 square mile swamp (Hayes’ estimate) in which the Nile flattens, choked with papyrus, effectively blocked “discovery of the source of the Nile” from the north for several thousand years.  Its rampant vegetation stopped the boats then its fetid climate killed the explorers trying to hack their way forward.  By 1914, Hayes sailed up a 450 mile (Hayes’ estimate) permanent navigable channel maintained by the British through the sudd.

Romolo Gessi

Upon breaking briefly out of “the never ending green of waving papyrus” on a lagoon at a village Hayes calls Gabeh Shambeh consisting of  “a few low huts with corrugated iron roofs” Hayes identifies the place as “the battle ground between the Arabs under Suleiman and Rabeh (sic) against the redoubtable Gessi Pasha, best soldier of all Gordon’s men.”  He reports that Gessi’s small force killed Suleiman [July 15, 1879] and drove Rabeh west where he “established a great empire about Lake Chad, ruling there until disestablished by the French.”

As the sudd thins, Hayes begins to see “the Bari, a people closely related to the Shillooks and Dinkas.  All are tall, all are naked, many have the reddish tinge of hair obtained by washing their kinky locks in cow urine.  Some of these people are 6 ft. 6 in., slender and small boned like the stork.”  He describes the Bari as “disgustingly dirty” and seems put off that they eat blood from the veins of their cows and “drink the milk and make butter, but all is highly impregnated with cow urine, which seems to give the flavor most desired by these epicures.”

At Bor, “a mission station on Dinka territory,” Hayes enters a wry assessment of the big game hunters aboard the steamer:  “We have seen more elephants, and the sight of these roused the bold thirsty sportsmen to the highest pitch of enthusiasm.  Guns have been so well polished and made ready for the coming debacle.”   The elephants “playful as children… gallop as they tear up trunkfuls of grass and toss these about or over their broad sway backs,” standing in the shade of mimosas, with storks on their backs, unprepared for the arrival of the “sportsmen.”

Crocodiles swarm the upper end of the sudd.  Hayes calls them “the terror of the river.”  The efficient British build fenced corrals at every village “where people may get water in safety and if so desired, bathe.”  Does one read admiration or derision in the following observation about how the natives address the crocodiles?  “The fatalism of these negroes is proverbial.  They are Pagans, not Moslems, too.  Thus they disregard the first rules of safety, saying if God wills they will be caught by a crocodile if that is their final destiny.”

Now entirely out of the sudd, Hayes “arrived at another old town of days long gone, Gondokorko, known to Speke and Baker, pioneers on the upper Nile.”  Speke and Baker had been central figures in the European search for the source of the Nile in the early 1860’s.  Speke’s famous telegram from Khartoum claiming “The Nile is settled”  was disputed by other  players (Richard Burton) because Speke had traveled overland from Lake Victoria to Gondokoro not following the course of the river, thus failing to conclusively establish continuity from the source.

John Hanning Speke

Sir Samuel White Baker

Rejaf is the end of the line for the steamer; “Rapids begin a little way above this town, continuing for more than a hundred miles.”  Hayes will have to walk west and south from here into the Congo.  In case readers had been wondering about his religious partialities:  “It is now fifteen years since the British recovered this country from the Dervishes. The entire sudan had been depopulated by these marauding slavers and in that time the former numerous populations have not recovered their former numbers.  In those days the people lived like wild beasts, hiding where they might to escape the slave raids.  Their women, their cattle were all taken if worth it, the men as burden bearers to carry away their own possessions.  This is within the teachings of Mohammed, yet people who have never come in contact with his disciples say such religion is equally good as that laid down by Jesus Christ.”  A particularly ironic assessment given that he’s headed into the Congo with its history of colonization by the Belgians (see King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild as a start) to the Heart of Africa mission where Hayes will meet a disciple of Christianity that he’ll come to describe as “the most hated man in Africa.”


2.20 Khartoum to Kodok: Steamer on the Nile

July 8, 2012

Hayes’ knowledge of the colonial history of the Nile was fairly well informed.  He remarks on historical battle sites.  The people, the wildlife, the feel of the place though are all new – he’s enthralled.

This first map shows Hayes’ progress down the Nile.

This second map shows the same path an a larger map of Africa.  He’s headed for the Congo.

January 5, 1914 (the manuscript says 1961, four years before Hayes’ death, which I understand to be when the diary was either typed or compiled.) –  January 15,1914

Although the Sudanese Sufi Sheik Muhammad Ahmad, known as the Mahdi, died in 1885 shortly after his armies overran British General Gordon and his troops at Khartoum, the Mahdist state persisted under the rule of Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, successor to the Mahdi, until defeated at Omdurman near Khartoum by the army of Field Marshal Herbert Kitchener in September of 1898.  In those years before movies and television,  serialized tabloid accounts of the exploits of Kitchener, the Mahdi, Gordon, Livingstone, Stanley, and other early European adventurers in Africa enthralled tabloid readers all over Europe and the United States so Hayes was conversant with these historical events at least in tabloid form.  He visited the tomb of the Mahdi, that had been “blasted to bits by Kitchener when he advanced to Omdurman after beating the Dervishes at Kerreri, 13 miles distant.”  Walking the battlefield at Kerreri 15 years after the battle, Hayes writes, “at Kerreri still lie whitened bones reminding one of the 16,000 men who died there and lay unburied.”

Kitchener of Khartoum

Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi

In 1914, the region was still heavily militarized: “there are 14,000 black Sudanese troops garrisoned here, for the Arabs may find a new prophet and rise overnight. There are five hundred white troops as a leaven to head these blacks.… There are many Egyptian officers, this a salve to Egypt, who pays the bills here while crafty Britain collects.”

The tomb of the Mahdi has since been rebuilt:

Tomb of the Mahdi 1906

Tomb of the Mahdi 2004

After visiting the tomb of the Mahdi, Hayes toured an eight acre prayer ground of the Khalifa surrounded by a great wall. Without mentioning any source for his information, he relates that in the heyday of Mahdism worshipers were well guarded on entering the compound five times daily for prayers “and those who reneged were soon found out and punished. Twenty-five lashes for the first offense, perhaps eighty for the second. After that anything might happen.” Smoking brought eighty lashes; drinking intoxicating liquor even more.

Originally captioned “Salatin” a caricature of Rudolph Carl von Slatin from Vanity Fair June, 1899

But all that is over now, put to right by the British Kitchener whom Hayes saw at the head of a parade “welcomed enthusiastically” through the streets of Khartoum on January 5, 1914. The erect unsmiling Kitchener rode alone; “Slatin Pasha, an Austrian who is a high official here, made himself scarce on Kitchener’s arrival.… Slatin was prisoner for many years during Dervish occupation.  An unscrupulous man, he readily turned from Christianity to Mohammedanism, even accepting circumcision.”  Both local and international press slurred Slatin and Kitchener “has no use for him, and he knows it.”

On January 8, after sticking in the muddy shallows off Omdurman, Hayes and five barges pulled by a steamer got under way for one of the most exhilarating voyages of his life:  up the Blue Nile to the terminus of navigation at  Rejaf.  He writes long passages almost every day savoring everything he sees.

At first the shores are “flat and arid” inhabited by Baggara Arabs: women covered head to foot “in uniform dress of dark blue cotton” and men wearing cotton “once white.”  These people tend “vast numbers of sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, horses, and camels.”   Above Kosti, “the timber is getting more dense, and the flat roofed huts are giving way to more conical thatch design.”  At Kosti the town gaily prepares for their visit from Kitchener for, “He seems popular, even among the Dervishes he conquered.”

First class on the steamer houses officers of the British Army: big game hunters.  “There are a few Egyptian and Turkish officers in second class with me.  They are friendly, but don’t care for the British rule.  Not that the latter are bad rulers, but their presence is resented by the subject race.”  When the steamer founders in low water Hayes jumps ashore trying to photograph some Baggara herdsmen, “but they are sullen and unhelpful.”  Perhaps they direct the same sentiment at Hayes as the Egyptian and Turkish show the British.

For the first 200 miles below Khartoum the party on the steamer saw no crocodiles, but as the Baggara territory gave way to Shillooks (sic) and Dinkas, both crocodiles and hippos appear in abundance.  Hippos are protected but it’s open season on the crocodiles for the British Army officers:  one named Ferguson “is a splendid shot, seldom missing his target and sometimes stopping a crocodile dead on the sand.”

Most readers 100 years later are probably familiar with the iconic National Geographic photographs of indigenous African people from the early 20th Century; Hayes gives a firsthand description:  “The Shillooks live on the western shore of the river, while the Dinkas have the east bank.  Both tribes abjure clothing.  All are tall and slender to attenuation.  They stand on one leg, the opposite foot place sharply against the knee of  the supporting leg.  Other than a spear they carry nothing.”  These men wade deep into the waters of the Nile to protect their thirsty cattle from crocodiles.  Through kites darting in and out of the smoke of grass fires they’ve set burning away from the riverbank, “We see their villages far back beyond the high flood mark from the river, conical grass topped huts of little worth.”

Photo by Captain Edward Albert McKenna 1914-1915

A little farther up the Nile, “A continuous forest fronts on the river now all along the river… There are trees resembling oaks, and borassus palms are frequent being near the river always.”  At night, all five barges towed by the steamer scatter in the current to be collected every morning continuing up river.  “Now crocodiles are everywhere there is sand to crawl out on.  A continuous bombardment from the steamer makes them hurry for deep water.”  Hippos pose a familiar danger to native men paddling ambatch, “a sort of cross between a tree and grass,” canoes about the luxurious islands dotting the stream of the river.  One member of a “vast school” of hippos wedged beneath one of the barges.  “He took the entire fleet of barges in his efforts to escape, and when he did get clear he left the river and disappeared in the bush.”

About 400 miles south of Khartoum up the Nile Hayes writes perhaps the happiest entry ever made in his diary:  “There is a sameness about the scenery, but I love it.  I wish this river was longer than it is.”