Henry Wellington Wack
The Story of the Congo Free State
New York & London : Putnam 1905
Chapter XXII : The State's Administration (pp.228-231)
To provide a just and equitable process for giving effect to the civil laws of a savage country requires an administrant force of exceptional powers,
of rare patience, and of wide sympathies. Highly civilised communities largely govern themselves by the aggregate contribution and example of all
orderly persons. The very momentum of their civilisation and the habits and tendencies of all cultured people conduce to the observance of law
and the tranquility of the social life to which the law applies. Rules of State and municipal procedure for the government of European countries have,
by use and the experience of time, long ago attained to an automatic operation. The social phenomena of all civilised communities are well
established, and they form part of a large body of academic theory called social science. The development of human society has it's constitution
and it's philosophy, yet those who are charged, by a duty arising from exceptional circumstances, to apply social and political principles to savage
tribes distantly situated from all civilising contact with human beings of superior attainment, are charged with a task of unknown and multiform difficulty.
The characteristic thoroughness with which the Belgians have established their administrative machinery in the Congo Free State is apparent in the
latest report (July, 1904) of Vice-Governor General Fuchs, the acting head of that Government. Monsieur Fuchs has had twenty years' experience in
Central Africa. He is, perhaps, the best-qualified living colonial official dealing with the black races of the African Continent. The great progress of the
country he governs, and the moral and material betterment of the tribes which thrive under his liberal rule, are astonishingly revealed in the report
from which the following quotations are made :
The development of the State administration is attested in a general way by the ever-increasing number of Posts of different kinds that are in
operation in it's territories.
Thus there are at the present time 233 Posts and Stations, all of them under the command of white men, scattered over the 14 districts.
The European staff attached to the services of the districts mentioned is distributed as follows :
Organic Staff Service of Justice Administrative Service Medical Service Service of Public Works
Service of Agriculture Service of Finance The Public Force Service of the Marine Various
294 57 115 27 92 89 74 490 166 20
The number of blacks attached to the different services of the districts is about 20,000 men.
I here render justice to the zeal and devotion of the servants of the State; besides Belgians, who form the great majority, they also comprise Italians,
Swiss, Scandinavians, Germans, English, etc., according to the following order :
Belgians, 898; Italians, 197; Swiss, 89; Swedes, 86; Danes, 34; Norwegians, 22: Finns, 19; English, 16; Dutch, 9; Russians, 5; French, 4; Austrians, 3;
Americans, 2; Turks, 2; Luxemburgers, 2; Portuguese, 2; Greeks, 1; Spaniards, 1; Cubans, 1; total 1424.
To whatever nationality they belong they vie with each other in the ardour with which they perform their numerous duties. All are penetrated with the
greatness of their role in the heart of savagery, and impelled by the noblest emulation compete in the gradual realisation of our civilising work.
Numerous are the testimonies that I have collected during my last official tour of their fruitful activity exercising itself in all directions, of their protecting
benevolence with regard to the natives; and these testimonies emanate from missionaries, from learned men, from travellers, and even from persons
inclined rather to criticise than to praise our works.
In order that this staff may become more experienced, by acquiring progressively a knowledge of the country, it's resources and inhabitants, it has
been particularly recommended to the agents composing it that they should learn the native dialects. Knowledge of the local idioms is, indeed,
indispensable to the European who seeks to enter into direct relations with the blacks - to study their manners and customs, and by that means take
account of the measures to employ fot the introduction and development of our ideas of civilisation.
The judicial statistics show the vigilance and impartiality with which the Parquet (Public Ministry corresponding to our Public Prosecutor) inquires into
breaches of the law, no matter who their authors may be, and aims at allowing no offence to remain unpunished. If some faults have been committed
by our agents, the guilty have been prosecuted conformably to the law. The attention of the members of the service besides has been frequently
called to the consequences which would result for them from transgressing the laws and instructions of the Government. In order to ensure their
faithful and complete execution, the Government has just again added to the staff of superior officials new State Inspectors.
This page is part of World History at KMLA Last revised on February 14th 2002