Excerpt of a letter from Reverend Joseph Clark, a missionary, to Roger Casement, a British diplomat- The full letter explains the problem of depopulation and particularly goes on at length about the “war making” in the Congo.



Rev. J. Clark to Mr. Roger Casement
Ikoko Station, Lake Mantumba, Upper Congo, August 3, 1903

The population of the country then was not large, but there were numerous villages with an active people…they had good huts, large plantations of plantains [similar to bananas] and manioc [root used in cooking], and they were evidently rich, for their women were nearly all ornamented with brass anklets, bracelets, and neck rings, and other ornaments.

The following is a list of towns or villages with which I was well acquainted, and I give what I believe was their population in the year 1893 and at the present time. These figures are very carefully estimated.

Town
1893
1903
Remarks
Botunu
500
80

Bosende
600
---

Ngombe
500
40
These are not in the old village but near it.
Irebu
3,000
60
Now a State camp with hundreds of soldiers & women.
Bokaka
500
30

Lobwaka
200
30

Boboko
300
35

Mwenge
150
30

Boongo
250
50

Ituta
300
60

Ikenze
320
20

Ngero
2,500
300
In several small clusters of huts.
Mwebe
700
75

Ikoko
2,500
800
Including fishing camps.
This list can be extended to double this number of villages, and in every case there has been a great decrease in the population. This has been, to a very great extent, caused by the extreme measures resorted to by officers of the State, and the freedom enjoyed by the soldiers to do just as they pleased…



Questions
  1. Estimate by what percentage (on average) the villages decreased in population, according to Reverend Clark.
  2. Draw a bar or line graph to illustrate the population decrease of the above towns.
  3. What did Rev. Clark think was the cause of the decrease in population?
  4. Why do you think Rev. Clark wrote to the Governor-General? What might he have wanted?
  5. Compare and contrast this source with the previous letter by Rev. Whitehead.
  6. Do you think that this letter and the previous one are accurate and representative of the Congo in the late 1800s and early 1900s? Why or why not?