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Congo Free State - System of Government

The territory granted to the Congo State, from Banana to Stanley Falls, has been divided into four sections or divisions. Each division contains one or more stations or bases of supplies, with small garrisons at each station, to protect caravans and insure order. Each division has a chief or political agent, and the stations have chiefs, with, usually one or more assistants, consisting of a second in command, a commercial agent in charge of stores, and in some cases other white men for general duty. At the head quarters of each division there are usually white carpenters and blacksmiths, and on the navigable portions of the river one or more engineers for the steamers. The officials are all under Administrator-General, who in turn receives his instructions from the committee at Brussels.

The first division of the territory extends from Banana, on the north bank, to Manyanga. In this division there are now but three stations, via, Banana, Vivi, and Isanghila. Vivi is the headquarters of the State and the first division. In the absence of the Administrator-General the chief of the first division acts for him.

The second division includes the territory on the south bank, from Noki (90 miles from the sea) to the Inkissi River. The second division are the stations of Matade, Lukungo, and Manyanga South. The headquarters area Lukungo.

The third division is from the Inkissi River to the head of Stanley Pool. The stations are Leopoldville and Kinchassa; headquarters are at Leopoldville.

The fourth division includes all the territory from the head of Stanley Pool to Stanley Falls, and includes the stations at Kwamouth, Bolobo, Equatorville, Bangala, and Stanley Falls. There is no particular headquarters for the fourth division, the reserve stores being stowed at Leopoldville.

On account of the dangerous approaches to Vivi it was proposed to move that station farther down the river, and for the same reason Leopoldville is to be moved above Kinchassa, on Stanley Pool. By May, 1885, the stations at M’Poso, M’Bauza Mateke Voonda, Manyanga North, Lutété, Kimpoko, Lukelela, and N’Gombe have been abandoned, chiefly from want of material for garrison duty.

The agents were of different nationalities – English, Belgians, Germans, Swedes, Italians, and Dutch. Of these the English, Belgian, and Swedes predominated.

The agents were obliged to sign a binding contract for three years’ service. The salaries range from $250 to $2,500 per annum. They pledge themselves not to correspond with the press, nor to divulge to any one matters concerning the State. All ivory or curios collected must be turned over to the authorities. They pledge themselves not to leave the State nor to enter into other employ until after the expiration of their contract, the penalty being forfeiture of double salary.

The Senate reserves the right to discharge the agent at the expiration of one year, in case the Administrator-General reported him incompetent. The medical officers have authority to send any agent home on medical certificate whenever it may be considered necessary. The expenses of travel from Brussels to Vivi and return are borne by the State, 6 [pounds] sterling being allowed for extra expenses.

Experience has taught the executive committee that as long as the nationalities among the agents are so nearly equal in representation, as the English, Belgian, and Swedish now are, there will be constant bickerings and jealousies, which naturally obstruct the advancement of the work of the State; and it was decided to officer the State with Belgians, retaining only such of the other nationalities as have been proved themselves especially adapted for the work.

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Page last modified: 27-05-2015 19:33:10 ZULU