Example of a treaty signed between Henry Morton Stanley (an explorer), as a representative of the International Africa Association (a front organization for King Leopold II), and the king and chiefs of Ngombi and Mafela- Stanley traveled through the Congo in the early 1880s in King Leopold’s employ to gain territory for him.

Henry M. Stanley, Commanding Expedition to the Upper Congo, acting in the name and on behalf of the International African Association, and the king and chiefs of Ngombi and Mafela, having met together in conference at South Manyanga, have, after deliberation, concluded the following treaty:
  • Art. I. The chiefs of Ngombi and Mafela recognize that it is highly desirable that the International African Association should, for the advancement of civilization and trade, be firmly established in their country. They, therefore now, freely of their own accord, for themselves and their heirs and successors [descendants] forever, do give up to the said Association the sovereignty [governing power] and all sovereign and governing rights to all their territories. They also promise to assist the said association in its work of governing and civilizing this country, and to use their influence with all the other inhabitants, with whose unanimous approval they make this treaty, to secure obedience to all laws made by the said association, and to assist by labor or otherwise, any works, improvements, or expeditions which the said association shall cause at any time to be carried out in any part of these territories.
  • Art. III ... All roads and waterways running through this country, the right of collecting tolls on the same, and all game, fishing, mining, and forest rights, are to be the absolute property of the said association, together with any unoccupied lands as may at any time hereafter be chosen.
  • The International African Association agree to pay to the chiefs . . the following articles of merchandise, namely, one piece of cloth per month to each of the undersigned chiefs . . .
  • The International African Association promises:
    1. To take from the natives of this ceded [given up] country no occupied or cultivated lands, except by mutual agreement.
    2. To promote to its utmost the prosperity of the said country.
    3. To protect its inhabitants from all oppression or foreign intrusion.

Agreed to, signed and witnessed,………(etc.)

  1. In the treaty, what did the African chiefs give up?
  2. What did the International African Association give the chiefs in return?
  3. What purpose would Stanley and Leopold have had in creating treaties like this?
  4. Do you think that the African chiefs understood what they were signing? Why or why not?
  5. Would you sign a treaty like this? Why or why not?
  6. In your opinion, is this treaty fair? Why or why not?