Congo Free State

The First Batetela Rebellion, 1897-1899

A.) The Situation Preceding the Rebellion

The administration of the CONGO FREE STATE regarded the rebellion of 1895 of a unit of BATETELA warriors serving in the Public Force as overcome. In February 1897 a Congo Free State expedition force, to a third Batetelas, advanced into the Bahr-el-Ghazal region, when the Batetelas mutinied.

B.) The Cource of Events

The Batetelas murdered their officer and marched off southward. A Public Force unit under Baron Dhanis met them in battle, during which 500 Batetelas serving under Dhanis deserted, joining the mutineers. Dhanis had to retreat; the battle was a defeat.
The Batetelas advanced on Stanley Falls, destroying stations on their way; just before they reached Stanley Falls, they turned east. The Batetela then suffered from a smallpox epidemics; their camp near Lindi was attacked (July 15th 1897), many of them expelled onto British territory (Uganda). In January 1898 the Publc Force achieved decisive victories in battle at Simorane (Jan. 2nd), at the sources of the Lowa (Jan. 10th) and at Piani-Kikonda (Jan. 10th). The rebels broke up in small groups, the persecution of which went on until October 1899.

C.) Legacy

The Public Force did no longer depend on Batetela warriors, as they had proven unreliable. This was the last Batetela rebellion.

Batetelan Uprising in the Congo 1895, from Armed Conflict Events Data, sloppy
Wars of 1899, from The History Guy
DOCUMENTS Henry Wellington Wack, Mutinies of the Batetela Tribe, in : H.Q. Wack, The Story of the Congo Free State, N.Y. 1905 pp. 216-222
La Revolte des Arabises de l'expedition du Nil, 1897-1899, from Robert Cornevin, Histoire du Congo, Paris 1970, pp.156-157

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 17th 2004

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