Slave Barracoon, Congo, 1880s

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Image Reference

E.J. Glave, The Slave-Trade in the Congo Basin. By one of Stanley's pioneer officers. Illustrated after sketches from life by the author (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1889-1890), vol. 39, pp. 824-838. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, "Slave -Shed"; shows several captive Africans, including women and children; African guard holds spear. Glave lived in the Congo for six years, 1883-1889, and provides a vivid account of slaving activities in the Congo river basin. The illustration shown here is described as follows: "Captives . . . are hobbled with roughly hewn logs which chafe their limbs to open sores; sometimes a whole tree presses its weight on their bodies while their necks are penned into the natural prong formed by its branching limbs. Others sit from day to day with their legs and arms maintained in a fixed position by rudely constructed stocks, and each slave is secured to the roof-posts by a cord knotted to a cane ring which either encircles his neck or is intertwined with his woolly hair. Many die of pure starvation, as the owners give them barely enough food to exist upon . . . . After suffering this captivity for a short time they become mere skeletons. All ages, of both sexes, are to be seen: mothers with their babes; young men and women; boys and girls; and even babies who cannot yet walk . . . . One seldom sees either old men or old women; they are all killed in the raids" (Glave, pp. 830-31). This image was reproduced in Thomas W. Knox, The Boy Travellers on the Congo (New York, 1887). A variant of this illustration, captioned "for sale" appears in Glave's book "In Savage Africa" (New York, 1892), p. 201). (Katherine Prior brought Glave's account to our attention.)