2.32 Heart of Africa Mission

September 30, 2012

Hayes Perkins commenting on the lives of African women reveals much about his compassion, his sense of moral rectitude, his naiveté, his iron resolve, and his inability to address continent-wide, world-wide, colonial abuses.  However one values Hayes’ observations on this subject, at least he quotes directly the voice of one African woman speaking for herself.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Of course the Beligian officers left Niangara for the war fronts in Kamerun and German East Africa leading columns of African soldiers. Askaris recruited on both sides of the conflict bore the brunt of the fighting over European colonial boundaries throughout WWI.

Askaris in German East Africa
photo by Walther Dobbertin

Hayes writes that the Belgians kept a large well-trained askari contingent stationed at Niangara prior to the outbreak of the war fearing an uprising of the Azandes:  “Renzi, Mopoie and Bukoyo, to say nothing of Akengai, all have several thousands of warriors behind them, and all they lack is arms to drive the Belgians out of the northern Congo.”   With German artillery and machine guns posing a more immediate threat than native uprising, the Belgians immediately rushed the trained Niangaran troops to the front replacing them with newly enlisted men to keep the native chiefs in hand.

Photographs from the period show the askaris fully equipped with modern weapons.  Hayes does not record their payment except to note that the Belgians gave each soldier a wife – all of  whom were abandoned, often with children, when their soldiers marched off to the front to fight for a Belgian Government that took no official concern for the providence of their wives and children.

Initially, Jenssen-Tusch, commander of the Niangara station, whom Hayes describes as “a kind hearted Dane,” donated 10 centimes food allowance to each woman daily.  Jenssen-Tusch’s charity didn’t last long; by September 25 his fund was exhausted “and the girls are wandering about the country in bands, purchasing their living in the only way they know how.”

Zande Woman with Child
Photo by Richard Buchta circa 1880

By September, 1914, Hayes was fluent enough in Bangala to ask some of the women if they hadn’t some other recourse.  He translates one woman’s bitter reply:  “Musungu, we were taken from our homes against our wills and given to this soldier.  He has gone away, and we have no garden, no home, no place where we may find a living.  The men who belonged to us have been taken away.  If we return home (which we may not, it is very far) we will but be made slaves what else can we do?”

Hayes writes, “I cannot answer their queries.”

Studd, Buxton, and the Heart of Africa Mission are significant by omission in Hayes’ account of this abandonment of the military wives.  Perhaps even with the best of intentions, the scope of the disruption would have overwhelmed the young mission’s scant resources –  Hayes accounts more than 800 women forced into prostitution at Niangara and “It is so in every post in the Congo.”  If the missionaries bear no blame, Hayes delivers a scathing summary of the colonial government’s response:  “Little do the Belgians care, for there are always more women when these are gone, more where they are going, so why worry?”

Hairdressing among Mangbetu Women
Photo Eliot Elifoson 1970

In late November Hayes enters another note concerning these abandoned wives of the askaris who “waylay” him at the post “everywhere I turn.”  What could he do?  The women knew that he would not help them in the commercial manner to which they’ve been forced.  What could he say?  “It is futile to tell them what they should do, what they need is bread.”  He muses with resignation that “gradually they will be absorbed into the general population, as wives to newly enlisted askaris or taken up by chiefs and into the general body of the Mangbettu and Azande peoples.”

As a 36-year-old celibate American man who lived in northern Belgian Congo less than a year, Hayes Perkins may not be best qualified to comment on the lives of the local African women. Nevertheless, his last lengthy passage on women before leaving the Congo concerns the newly arrived Belgian officers who had accompanied the missionary reinforcements arriving at the Heart of Africa in December of 1914.  Askaris were sent to find “jewels for the haremlike (sic) at Niangara, for this is the Belgian way.”  Hayes observes that as long as her beauty lasts a woman will be kept as a Belgian plaything.  But time wears her down or her officer leaves with empty promises of return.  She then becomes wife to an African soldier or house boy; eventually falls to field labor; then to begging when too weak to to work.  “Then she dies, and a few of her sisters bewail her passing.  She is a thousand times better off dead.  Being a woman is hell in Africa.”

And then, four days later, lest a reader get a simplified impression of Hayes’ complex relationship to women, he writes:  “Mangbettu ladies have been making one last tremendous effort to seduce me, even to slipping into my room at night naked. …  Sometime I hate women. …  As a boy I believed them to be the emblem of all that was pure and good.  I believe many are now, but most are filled with dissimulation.”

All this just as Miss Flangham, whom Hayes believes “has been sent here by Studd’s order as a helpmate for me,” arrives to bolster the mission work at Niangara.  Hayes sees “a spoiled kiddy of 28 … accustomed to servants, [who] requires a party to wait on her.”

Time to flee this place.

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2.30 Heart of Africa Mission

September 16, 2012

When left alone by Studd and Buxton to mediate between Azande and Mangbettu at the mission, Hayes tries a more pragmatic approach than that of  the “two apostles”:  digging a well for fresh water, then a fence into the river to protect those going to the river from crocodiles – and of course cultivating the gardens to share the largesse.  Nevertheless, when a fist and spear fight breaks out between twenty burly Mangbettu and Hayes backed by somewhat fewer Azandes, a reader marvels again that Hayes survived his adventures.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Just before Studd and Buxton left on their first trip looking for new mission sites south and west of Niangara, Hayes wrote, referring to the three hour morning and evening evangelical exhortations Buxton lead, ” ‘services’ continue and these have driven the workmen into my arms.  Now they realize who is their friend, and if I was alone I could win the confidence of the people about us.  They half trust me now…”

Trust or no, Europeans give the orders at this station in central Africa.  In June, the middle of the rainy season, the Welle River rose high enough to overflow the station’s spring.  When Hayes directed the men to start digging a well on higher ground hoping to intersect the underground watercourse before its outlet at the spring, “The men don’t like the job, say finding water in such a manner is impossible.”  But Studd didn’t contravene Hayes’ order, so the men grumbled and kept digging.

As the rising river fouled their fresh water source, the accompanying turbidity increased the danger from crocodiles who, Hayes explained, can’t see their natural prey in the muddy waters, so stalk humans “with infinite cunning and patience.”  Hayes blames the “shiftless Belgians” for four deaths from crocodiles on the riverbank at Niangara in the week of June 8, 1914.  Following a design he saw the British build on the Nile, Hayes and his men constructed a protective fence extending into the water.  Rather than build such a fence of their own to protect the residents at Niangara, the Belgians “send long lines of chained prisoners here to carry water to the town,”  leaving those who seek water from the river at Naingara to their unprotected chances.

The crocodiles took a fifth victim, not attributed to the Belgians, that same week.  Hayes called him “Poor old Tikima, a genial Mangbettu.”  Seized by a crocodile while setting a fish trap, Tikima grabbed for the side of his canoe.  “…It was a long time before he weakened and was dragged under, so the attacking crocodile must have been small.”

Mangbetu musician, early twentieth century

Right after Studd and Buxton left, the well-diggers hit water “and now my men are proudly proclaiming their magic to the natives of the surrounding country, how they found water beneath the earth.”

While the Azande workmen boasted, the Mangbettus came to Hayes making “friendly approach.”  They say they can see “that these two men (Studd and Buxton) treat me as rotten as they have them (the mangbettus).”  The Mangbettus bring their daughters offered as temporary wives in a show of good faith.  “If a normal man said these girls were not a temptation he would be a liar.…  I might if inclined have a harem here that would make that of Brigham Young look like a second rate affair…”

But enough of that – “the garden is maturing, the palms are hanging full of yellow fruit, my recently planted fruit trees, the many bananas and plantains and pineapple re growing.  This alone makes me happy.”

Schweinfurth’s drawing of Azande Warriors circa 1874

Shortly after his initial cordial approach, Mombidi (a minor Mangbettu chief) came to Hayes demanding alcohol.  Hayes’ refusal resulted in the loss of all Mangbettu goodwill and a row about the Azande workmen on the Mangbettu side of the river.  Mombidi demanded the Azandes return to their own territory attempting to enforce his order with twenty men who entered Hayes’ house “and insulted me before my men.”  In the resulting scuffle, “I jabbed with a spear at their feet, cutting one severely.”  A melee broke out inside the house.  “There were not so many of us as of the Mangbettus, but we were on our own soil and they were the invaders.  I have a badly swelled hand, for Negro heads are solid.”

By mid July, 1914, Hayes and his Azande workers had made the mission station beautiful.  On a clear African morning, Hayes stood amid cultivated gardens beneath young palm trees gazing across the well-cleared shores to the Azande country on the other side of the Welle River listening to the incessant talking of the drums.  “They have a drum system as good as telegraph, sending messages five hundred miles in a day.”  Most native people understand the drums; a young boy listening can tell Hayes what a chief will be sending to market on Saturday and the characteristics of any European within three days of Niangara.

Much to Hayes’ dismay, the drums foretell the return of C. T. Studd and Alfred Buxton on August 1.


2.29 Heart of Africa Mission

September 9, 2012

The previous three segments, 2.26-2.28, summarize the year-long harangue Hayes directed toward Studd and Buxton while at the missionary station 3 km from Niangara.  The next few segments concern the diary entries for the same period focusing on Hayes observations of this part of Africa and its inhabitants.  The work he undertook to build a mission site and his interactions with the African residents, especially when Studd and Buxton are away, reveal by example, perhaps more clearly than any other portion of his diary, how Hayes believed missionary work, and colonization in general, ought to have been done.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Georg August Schweinfurth

Georg August Schweinfurth

Immediately on arrival at Niangara, March 1, 1914, Hayes records the local African political situation. The Welle River separates two antagonistic tribes: “the Azandes to the north, with the Mangettus south of the river.” He writes that the Mangbettu, “comprise several smaller tribes who were conquered and unified by a great chief named Munza some 70 or 80 years ago.” The German biologist Georg August Schweinfurth traveled through this region bringing the River Uele (Welle) to European attention in 1870; Hayes says that Munza was still living at the time and hosted Schweinfurth for “a considerable time.”  Schweinfurth wrote about cannibalism among the tribes he encountered – and Hayes confirms the practice:  “They eat men still if they can get away with it, but the various European powers frown on this unnatural feasting, though they wink at anything else.

Head binding from Christ in Congo Forests

By now the appearance of the natives cannot be shocking to Hayes, nevertheless he records what he sees: “Most of the people are cicatrized and tattooed. Woman have holes cut in their ears one may easily slip his thumb through. Many of the people have elongated skulls, this caused by binding the heads of young babies until the skull is as long as the rest of the child. We see them constantly, the child apparently in a comatose state, yet able to nurse.”

Though the Niangara station sat on the south side of the Welle River in Mangbettu territory, Hayes and his two British overseers preferred to hire Azande workers as laborers about the station, “for Mangbettus feel it a disgrace to work.”  Nevertheless, Hayes compliments the Mangbettus as “the most ingenious of all Africans I have thus far seen.”  On showing a Mangbettu crafter a chair for ten minutes “he will turn it about, fold and unfold it, observing it in every way.  He needs no further instruction, for he can remember every detail.  In a week he will return and sell you an even better imitation than the original….”  Hayes notes the Mangbettus well-built houses, murals, weavings, deck chairs, ornate stools, and  “marvelous, if crude musical instruments … on which they play real music.”  Disclosing much about his own definition of “work,” Hayes writes, “Yet these same men scorn work….”  Hence the missionaries bring Azandes to the south side of the river abrading the territorial prerogative of the Mangbettu.

Mangbetu Harp circa 1910 from The Beedle Museum

Hayes writes that in Schweinfurth’s day, Arab slave traders arrived at Munza’s kingdom traveling in the dry season by way of Bahr El Ghazal to stay through the rainy months gathering slaves and ivory – a coveted assignment because Munza bestowed “wives in abundance” on the traders since “Munza wanted the half caste Arabs in his tribe.”  This gives Hayes an opportunity to record the beauty of the Mangbettu women. “One can easily understand why the Arab slavers wished to remain behind in the Mangbettu country. These girls often have the figures like that of Venus De Milo… Their garb is the merest suggestion of a covering for their loins. They build great basket-like headgear atop their already elongated skulls to make their heads appear higher, and the effect of the flattened skull is rather pleasing.” As Hayes learns the language, the women ask “why be lonely” and “their menfolk urge me to accept one or more temporary wives.” Of course, Hayes politely declines.

Mangbettu coiffure circa 1930

Hayes gives no description of the Azande women, commenting instead on the jealousy of the men. All is fine should a chief bestow one or even several temporary wives on a European. But among the Azande, “there must be no fornication, especially adultery. Such offenses are severely punished by relatives of the woman.” The reader can infer from Hayes’ observations that the temptations were stronger than the deterrent: “It is an every-day sight to see some Azande with ears clipped close to his head, nose cut off or even fingers and thumbs lopped for playing fast and loose with some man’s wife or daughter.” He makes no comment about what might happen to a European transgressor.

By the end of May, despite the torrential rains every afternoon that swell the Welle to 200 meters width, Hayes has built several outhouses for fowls and cows, planted 1100 bananas and plantains, 1000 pineapples, and more than 200 fruit trees: mangoes, avocado pears, limes lemons, oranges, and custard apples.  “One can accomplish so much in a short time in a land like this, where all produce grows an inch, or two inches overnight.”

From the mission station three kilometers outside the town, every Saturday Hayes hears the women loudly “chaffing one another with their bargaining” as thousands gather at the Niangara market.  “I delight to attend this fair, and now, understanding the Bangala tongue well (three months after his arrival) can give backchat to the shriveled, but laughing old mammies who conduct the sales.  How they delight to bargain!”

If not for his companions at the mission, all would be well.  “The estate is in splendid shape…. Belgians visiting us are loud in vocalizing their admiration for it in so short a time, and if I can keep it like this I will have accomplished something anyway in Africa.”

Admiration for African crafting and their exotic customs that he pronounces beautiful, pride of accomplishment, a burgeoning garden – all this leaks around the diary’s nearly continuous disparagement of Studd, Buxton, and the Belgians who administer this region.  How nice to imagine Hayes laughing  with an old Mangbettu woman in a prosperous marketplace trying to get an extra couple eggs for his one franc instead of quarreling with a missionary.


2.28 Heart of Africa Mission

September 2, 2012

On giving his diary to my grandfather, Hayes Perkins instructed that it not be published until everyone mentioned therein had died.  Perkins’ candor concerning the misdeeds of powerful men, as recorded in this segment, undoubtedly informed that instruction.

February 21, 1914 – December 24, 1914

Buxton closed discussion of the tax medals with what seemed a repugnant bit of evangelical sophistry to Hayes:  “to do the lesser evil to gain the greater good.”

Hayes’ first mentions alcohol abuse at The Heart of Africa Mission on April 30, 1914, two months after his arrival there.  On that date Buxton informed Hayes that “I was unfit to leave a station alone with, so Studd could not go home at this time.  The reason is, I combat their liquor activities constantly, for if there be any sense of decency it should at least exclude drunkenness.”  Mombidi, who is Mangbettu chief of this region, demanded liquor from Hayes claiming he had already received liquor from Studd.  Even if Hayes suspected the veracity of Mombidi’s word, he knew from firsthand experience that Studd and Buxton, at the very least, tolerated drunkenness among the natives:  “Both these men sneered at me the first day I saw them for remarking at the sodden condition of the entire Mangbettu people.”  Hayes had arrived in the midst of the month-long orgy of dancing, singing, and drinking a sort of beer made from murru (a kind of millet) that ripens in the regional dry season.

In his history of the Heart of Africa Mission, Christ in Congo Forests,Norman Grubb, who married C. T. Studd’s daughter Pauline and came with her to the mission in 1919, writes that the station outside  Niangara was only intended as a staging ground for establishing missions deeper into the Ituri forest.  

Pauline (Studd) Grubb

Norman P. Grubb

Apparently the work of obtaining concessions in areas not already proselytized by Catholic priests pressed heavily enough on Studd and Buxton to overcome their fears of leaving the Niangara station alone in the hands of Hayes Perkins.  When the pair left on June 21, 1914, Mombidi immediately came round to Hayes demanding whiskey.  “He said he could see by the way they treated me I was of lower rank….  As he [Mombidi] was a chief and of equal rank with Studd and Buxton, then I was his inferior and must bring him gifts when they were absent.”   Hayes’ first responded incredulously, “It seemed so ridiculous I laughed, thinking he was jesting.”  But an hour later, Mombidi sent “six husky henchmen” with a demand for corn from Hayes’ garden.  He chased them off; they loosed a bull in his garden; the Azande gardeners chased the (bloody) bull back to Mombidi’s village; and Hayes “took the herdsman in hand, he being rather cheeky.”

By June 28, in an attempt to recover face with his tribesmen, Mombidi had forbidden any Mangbettu to bring any sort of food to the lone musungu (here meaning white man) at the mission.  For his part, Hayes ponders:  “I wonder if these two charlatans have been sweetening this old cannibal with booze to get a concession?  He [Mombidi] says so, as do his subjects.  When all Negroes agree on one thing, it is usually so.  I am inclined to believe it, but it is too unchristian for one to accept.”

Hayes writes that Studd and Buxton returned on August 1, 1914, “full of self praise of their achievements… in obtaining further concessions.”  They had taken the best native workers with them and now, “My men, whom they had with them on the trip, are cheeky and out of hand.  They too demand whiskey saying these two men who pose as missionaries freely gave them drink during the trip.”  These same men challenged Hayes later in the month as he tried to reassert control.  He quotes their reasoning: “You say that munsungu (whiskey) is bad for us.  These two men who are over you tell us it is good, and when we were at Wamba and Nala they gave us of it to drink freely.  We ourselves like it.  Whom shall we believe?”  This exchange prompted another of the assemblages by Studd at which the men were told to disregard anything Hayes said to them.

On October 6, 1914 Studd and Buxton left again in a great canoe with Bakango boatmen to take them to Bambili 160 miles down river.  To this point, Hayes could, with difficulty, dismiss the allegations of Mombidi and the other workmen as unfounded talk.  However on October 30 he writes of finding direct evidence “of this man’s utter perfidy and double dealing.”  In the absence of “the two apostles,” Hayes was entrusted with keys to every lock at the mission.  Ever since arriving he’d been short of tools and forbidden by Studd from opening several boxes prominently marked “Tools”.  So, in Studd’s absence, Hayes opened one of them – “not through inquisitiveness but to find perhaps a hammer or saw to aid in my work.  The first contained French cognac, the second Old Scoth Whiskey.  Now I see how Mombidi got his booze, how the boys acting as porters insisted liquor was given them.  There are seven of these cases, and at least two empty ones long ago noted.”

Hayes wrote a letter “resigning my commission,” counted his remaining 67 francs, and prepared to quit the mission rain or no.

His scant funding and the rains prevented Hayes from leaving for another two months.  In that time Buxton returned to Niangara traveling with the Reverend William Haas an American Baptist missionary with the Africa Inland Mission.  In a moment alone together, Haas asked Hayes why “I was discontented with this place and my companions.”  Hayes opened a case of scotch and poured a glass for Haas to smell – without drinking of course.  Haas then confessed that while traveling with Buxton at three meetings in the south “Buxton handed out liquor openly, saying there was nothing in the Bible against it, and that polygamy was not condemned in the Scriptures.”  Haas said he, “differed with them, and that is that.”  Haas’ inaction in the face of evident wrongdoing infuriated Hayes:  “Evidently Haas, like Buxton is willing to do the lesser evil that the greater good may come, so will compromise with these two advocates of a new faith which encompasses all the sins dear to the heart of man in this world and promises a haven of bliss on the other side of life in the skies.  They easily outdo Mohamed, who did at least adjure booze.”

Even after the 1914 contingent of new missionaries arrived on December 21, Hayes remained the sole voice raised against alcohol as a missionary technique practiced by Studd and Buxton at the Heart of Africa Mission.   Hayes denounced their practices to Richardson, one of the new arrivals and “the only real man among them.”  Richardson loudly confronted Buxton and applauded Hayes’ rejection of the 40 pounds Buxton offered “to carry me to the coast, which is of course hush money.”  Nevertheless, Grubb in Christ in Congo Forests records that Richardson and his wife stayed on at the mission until 1920.

So, the day before Christmas 1914, Hayes gathered up a group of porters and walked out of the Heart of Africa Mission a lone dissenter in both word and action.


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.


2.24 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.


2.17 San Diego to London

June 17, 2012

Kayann, Does the hip in the Velasquez painting remind you of Edward Weston?  Can that have been intentional?  Maybe that’s just what hips do.  His one appreciation of culture in London high society.

I’ve included two maps this week.  The first shows his travels in the last half of 1912 and all of 1913 – about eighteen months.

This second map gets him from San Diego to London by way of Canada and across the Atlantic.  Click the title if the maps do not appear.

October 8, 1913 – November 17, 1913

“This Place [San Diego] is the place I have been looking for all my life.  For some reason the boss seems to like me, and the place is permanent.  It will take something good to get me away from here. I am almost forgetting about Africa even.”

Standard Oil Fire, 26th and Schley, San Diego CA 1913

Marred only by the Standard Oil fire that Hayes says burned 250,000 gallons of gasoline and another 1,500,000 gallons of other oil on October 5, 1913, San Diego is a sleepy little town with soft, balmy air off the Pacific Ocean tempering the heat of the sun.  Sharing a room with Fred Sidler, Hayes cooks meals in a small kitchenette, sleeps well in the cool evening air, and watches a rising sun darken the blue of the sea caressed by the cool morning breeze.

And yet: “Somehow I have a premonition of disaster.  I don’t see what could happen in a place like San Diego, but there is a haunting, sub-conscious warning of evil to come that thrills me like an electric shock.  I wake in the night wondering; I am almost afraid.”

October 20, 1913, the day after writing the preceding paragraph, Hayes received a wire from London asking him to report to the board of the Heart of Africa Mission.  If the interview in London goes well, the board will send him to the Belgian Congo.  “Will I go? Of course.  Perhaps this telepathic warning I have had tells me to stay away.  But it is Africa, and to Africa I will go regardless of warnings and all else.”

Three weeks after arriving in “the place I have been looking for all my life,” Hayes departed San Diego for Los Angeles, arrived in time for breakfast with George Studd, delivered and evening address to “a small crowd … at the big mission hall in Los Angeles,”  and left for Chicago at 9:00 AM on the morning of October 28th carrying gifts for George’s brothers: C.T. Africa and and J.K. in London.

Arizona is desolate; Chicago “is so cosmopolitan I feel a stranger in my own country;” Montreal is so cold with no heat in the hotel Hayes must sit all day in the moving pictures to keep warm.  “It costs five cents all morning, five more until bedtime, with a bit of entertainment between naps.”

Ausonia (1), Cunard line

On November 1st, Hayes sailed out of Montreal aboard the Ausonia, a cargo boat that carried passengers in “knockdown berths.”  Such boats are always full of immigrants on the westward trip, but the Ausonia sails east only half full of a few Russians retiring home to their slums with an “ample competence” earned in Canada and many “British who have failed in the new country.”  As the river widened at Lac St. Pierre the Ausonia stuck in the low water, “then we hauled off and we are on our way again, a howling blizzard behind us.  The men who broke the way into the wilderness of the St. Lawrence were made of sterner stuff than I am.”  Hard to imagine anyone made of sterner stuff than Hayes, but he says “I am getting all the hardships I want as a passenger on the Ausonia.”

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec

At Quebec, only a few passengers aboard the Ausonia “braved the howling gale to look at the city from the deck. The Chateau Frontenac looms high above its neighbor buildings from its vantage point on the bluffs.”  Labrador “is an icy desolation”;  Newfoundland “almost as cheerless as Labrador.”  Waves jumping the forecastle froze “the anchors, forward rigging and rails all [into] a sheet of ice.”  Passing out the Strait of Belle Isle Hayes saw a green and blue iceberg so large it had hills and valleys:  “150 feet in height, covering two or three square miles in extent.”  Leaving the shelter of Canada, the Ausonia’s crew secures the deck in preparation for heavy weather(!)

November 7 1913:  For three straight days a blinding gale rolled the ship on high irregular swells with seasick passengers huddled together for warmth “and on every hand could be heard wails of fear lest the ship be lost.”

But on the 9th, the sun broke forth, the passengers forgot their woes and some even broke out a gambling table in the cabin directly beneath the sign reading “Gabling Forbidden.”  Hayes’ berth mate lost $100 using a surefire winning scheme but Hayes eschewed the table worrying more about the larger gamble of his return to Africa:  “I usually get the bad place, and wonder if this will be an exception.  I hope to accept the result, whatever it may be, with equanimity.”

The Ausonia docked at Plymouth where passengers transferred to trains arriving in London on November 12th.  To economize, Hayes took a room in Edgeware Road, “a slightly dingy part of town.”  But was transferred to the Wilton “not far from the House of Parliament and from Buckingham Palace,” after meeting with James Ingram and Martin J. Sutton, “who are heads of the mission that proposes to anticipate Islam in Africa.”

Priscilla (Stewart) Studd

From the Wilton, Hayes launched straight into the whirl of England’s aristocracy.  First he met with “Mrs. C.T. Studd” and her four daughters (two unmarried) at their home near Crystal Palace.  Hayes writes: “We had the usual pink tea fight, and later came another at the Wingfields at Ashley Gardens in Westminster.”  (I wonder if a reader familiar with the phrase “pink tea fight” might send a definition.)  Feeling very much at sea “among these grandees,” Hayes allows his name to be hyphenated:  “I am now Mr. Hayes-Perkins.  This adds infinitely more tone than to be just common Hayes Perkins, as I used to be.”  At these fêtesHayes can manage English men, but the “primped and bedizened dowagers who stare at one through double barreled lorgnettes give me the creeps” – though “they do have some handsome daughters.”

Venus, Diego Velázquez

The following day Hayes escaped to the Natural History Museum at South Kensington.  “This is more in my line, for I love animals, and saw many, including rare ones now extinct.”  For some culture, he revisited Mme. Tussaud’s wax museum (no longer the wonderland it was for Hayes the 21 year old boy, but “it is still good”) and the National Art Gallery where Velasquez’ Venus slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson alone caught his attention:  the rest “might have been beer chromes as priceless art in my eyes.”

Hayes will be in London high society for another month.  The “handsome daughters” make the time bearable and he attends to at least one practical matter as tantalizing to me, his first cousin thrice removed, as any recorded in his diary:  “This afternoon I was at the Army & Navy Stores taking a course of instruction in photography, for the board wants some pictures of inner Africa.”

Anyone have an idea where those pictures taken for the mission board might have ended up?  I’d like to see them too.