1883 Kalina, Suriname

Friedrich Carel Hisgen, Portrait de groupe de Kalina et Lokono à l’Exposition universelle (1883), Collection Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, no. RP-F-1994-12-1.

Tout comme l’exhibition de Galibi à Paris, l’exhibition de vingt-quatre Surinamais lors de l’Exposition coloniale et commerciale internationale á Amsterdam était une initiative privée. Parmi eux, treize Kalina, dont trois femmes. Dans sa contribution à Eigen Haard, George Zimmerman (1839-1928) a rapporté que le succès de Lagrange en 1882 avait inspiré cette exhibition humaine. 1
Le 15 avril 1883, deux semaines avant l’ouverture de l’exposition, le journal West Indiër a publié une lettre anonyme de remerciements aux directeurs de la « Société d’Exploitation Surinamaise », JE Muller et CM de Leeuw. Le contributeur était heureux que plusieurs milliers de visiteurs à Amsterdam aient pu prendre note des « sauvages et semi-sauvages ». À leur tour, ils sont entrés en contact avec le « monde civilisé et savant. Un pas sera fait vers une civilisation lente, graduelle mais sûre! » 2

Charles Rochussen, Portrait d’un Alenka-ka-ma debout, Kolleté, (11 ans) assis dans un hamac et Awarahena (six ans), Collection Wereldmuseum – NMvW, Rotterdam, no.. WM-28801-1 et WM-28801-2.

Quelques jours après l’ouverture le 1er mai, l’Algemeen Handelsblad s’est demandé si des radiateurs pouvaient être placés dans le cirque car le groupe souffrait visiblement du froid, ils « frissonnaient, bien qu’ils soient encore enveloppés dans des couvertures de laine ». Le journaliste du Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad a déterminé que les femmes qui appartenaient aux soi-disant « types créoles » ont réussi à résister au froid glacial. Cependant, leurs regards et gestes avaient révélé qu’elles « appartenaient à une classe de femmes non mentionnée ». Son souci était donc pour les « peaux rouges » :
[…] Des êtres raisonnables, descendants d’une race ancienne et fière, des gens de mouvements égaux, de besoins égaux, de souhaits égaux comme nous […]. Il est vrai que s’ils meurent, cela économisera le coût du voyage de retour. Nous n’avions pas pensé à cela; cela peut être un motif valable pour les laisser geler! 3

Nieuws van den Dag a publié une série en trois parties sur les groupes exhibés, sous les titres « Indiens », « nègres des plantations » et « bushinengués ». Les articles avaient le ton des traités ethnologiques; les détails physiques, la répartition des rôles entre les hommes et les femmes, l’industrie et les coutumes sociales ont été discutés en détail. Compte tenu des Caraïbes, le journal a conclu :
Ils s’isolent de toutes les questions sociales, pour que leurs facultés mentales ne se développent pas. En tout cas, peu d’avenir est à prévoir pour les Indiens, quel que soit le potentiel qu’ils possèdent. 4

Friedrich Carel Hisgen, Jacqueline Ricket (sur une chaise) et Wilhelmina van Eede (assise par terre) devant une « cabane de plantation» , lors de l’exhibition humaine à Amsterdam, 1883. Collection Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, no. RP-F-1994-12-67.

Peut-être parce que les Kalina étaient considérés comme un groupe qui n’aurait aucune part dans l’avenir de la colonie, ils ont reçu moins d’attention que les autres groupes. Nieuws van den dag a notaient qu’aucune des populations n’a pu «sortir la colonie tombée de son déclin et de la ramener à la prospérité». 5
Les anciens esclaves ont été accusés d’avoir sapé l’économie des plantations. Les soi-disant «nègres des plantations» étaient désormais mieux lotis que les agriculteurs ou les ouvriers néerlandais, mais ils déménageaient en ville «en raison de leur aversion pour le travail régulier». 6
Le même verdict a été exprimé à propos du « bushinengué» : […]il passe sa vie dans la paresse et l’oisiveté et ne prend la hache que lorsque la nécessité l’exige». Il n’était pas défendable pour le journal que des ouvriers agricoles sous contrat aient été amenés d’Asie au Suriname, alors que le pays « a sa propre population forte dans les hauts plateaux ». 7

Portrait de Kojo A Slen Gri, Marron du Suriname, lors de l’exhibition humaine à Amsterdam, 1883. Collection Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, no. BI-F-B0659-2.

Les trois articles de Nieuws van den Dag ne contiennent pas de nom d’auteur. En juin 1883, le même journal a publié un article de Frederik van Eeden, alors directeur du Colonial Museum de Haarlem. Dans sa description de l’exposition coloniale, Van Eeden a également abordé le thème du déclin économique au Suriname, qui avait commencé après l’abolition de l’esclavage. Van Eeden a parlé du déclin des plantations et des coûts élevés associés à l’approvisionnement des « indigènes chinois ou indiens de l’Est (Coolies) ». Le directeur du musée a appelé les « jeunes fils des Pays-Bas » non seulement à avoir un œil sur les possessions de l’Est, mais aussi à tourner leur regard vers l’Ouest, étant donné les nombreuses opportunités d’y faire fortune. Pour garder les deux colonies comme « notre héritage légitime », il semblait d’une grande importance que les Néerlandais s’installent au Suriname :

Le nègre est un « humain », mais pas tout à fait comme nous. Il est enfantin, insouciant, imprévisible, toujours impressionné par le moment; il a certainement besoin d’autorité, de direction , plus paternel et sérieux, mieux c’est. Il est paresseux de nature, et s’il est forcé de travailler par une légère contrainte et peut continuer à vivre avec sa famille sans soucis, il est beaucoup plus heureux que s’il était traité à égalité avec l’Européen.8


1882 « Galibis » , Guyane française

Jules Chéret, Jardin zoölogique d’acclimatation: Indiens Galibis (1882). Collection Bibliothèque Nationale de France, ark:/12148/btv1b9015494k

Un article traduit dans le journal Suriname donne un aperçu du recrutement du groupe qui a été exhibé en 1882. René Langlois s’est rendu en Guyane pour le compte du Jardin d’Acclimatation pour réunir un groupe d’hommes, de femmes et d’enfants. Son texte parut initialement dans Le Clairon le 6 mai 1882, jour où il quitta Saint-Nazaire pour Paramaribo. Langlois a commencé son récit en disant que la direction du Jardin recherchait un groupe « au moins aussi inconnu » que les douze habitants de la Terre de Feu exposés en automne 1882. L’intérêt pour le groupe était si grand qu’ils « mobilisèrent tout Paris ». 1 Ce commentaire illustre des considérations du Jardin. Un des enfants appartenant au groupe « Fuégiens » est décédé lors de l’exhibition dans le parc. Quatre autres membres du groupe sont morts de la rougeole à Zurich. 2 Apparemment, cela n’a pas empêché la recherche d’un succès ultérieur.

Langlois est arrivé à Paramaribo et s’est rendu en Guyane en dix-huit jours: « un pays où ni les Européens ni même les colons ne pénètrent. … C’est par des dons d’armes à feu, de tissus, de verrerie et de toutes sortes de bagatelles que les indigènes décident de nous suivre. » 3 Langlois a également mentionné que tout le voyage a été financée par la Société des Mines d’or de la Guyane Hollandaise.En guise de contre-faveur, il cartographierait plus précisément le cours du fleuve Suriname. 4

Portrait du groupe exhibé à Paris, Collection Muséum National d’histoire naturelle, Fonds d’archives de la Société d’anthropologie, Paris, inv. SAP 155 (7) / 134.

« Sauvages »

Dans la suite des reportages de la presse française, le nom de Langlois n’apparaît plus, mais le marquis Gabriel de Lagrange, membre du conseil d’administration de la Société des Mines, est mentionné. Le quotidien La Charente a rapporté que Lagrange avait descendu le fleuve Sinnamary à la recherche d’Ahieramo, un leader très apprécié de tous les groupes guyanais et connu des autorités françaises sous le nom de Simon. Ahieramo s’est avéré mort, mais Lagrange a convaincu sa veuve, ses enfants et petits-enfants – un groupe de quatorze personnes. 5
Les journaux parlaient de Galibi, les sauvages. Le lendemain de l’arrivée du groupe, la Société d’Anthropologie a commencé par des mesures physiques. Dans les premières mesures, les anthropologues ont déterminé sur la base de la taille du crâne et des angles de vision que les gens étaient en fait originaires des Caraïbes.6 Le Rigolo a parlé d’un immense manque de civilisation:
« Les Galibis sont encore dans l’enfance de l’humanité et quand on considère ces êtres sans cultures, ses intelligences recherchent une idée morale n’eveille encore, ces hommes qui, au milieu de notre civilisation ressemblent à des bètes on est forcé de songer au nombre incalculable depuis longtemps qui ont été nécessaires à notre amélioration progressive. C’est de là que nous sommes partis, voici maintenant ce que nous sommes. Comment peut-on mieux prouver la perfectibilité humaine? » 7

La Science populaire : journal hebdomadaire illustré, (3 Août 1882) Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Collections numérisées, 2008-55563, ark:/12148/bpt6k5419068m

Campagne de journaux

Le ton des articles a changé après la fin de l’exhibition au Jardin d’Acclimatation. Le groupe serait exhibé d’août à octobre pour retourner à Paramaribo en bateau le 6 octobre 1882. Au lieu de cela, ils ont été transférés à Bordeaux, où ils ont été exhibés au Parc de l’Exposition. Le quotidien La France a dénoncé cette pratique sous le titre « La traite en France ». L’article de journal comprenait une lettre de l’interprète du groupe, La Paix. L’interprète s’est adressé au procureur de Paris dans sa lettre, précisant que Lagrange avait l’intention de montrer le groupe après Bordeaux à Marseille et peut-être organiser une tournée européenne. L’arrivée du froid fit craindre à La Paix pour la santé du groupe. Cependant, la Société des Mines l’avait convoqué de retourner pour la Guyane sans le groupe. 8

Pierre Petit, Indien Galibi, Portrait pris à l’occasion de l’exhibition d’un groupe de “Galibis” au Jardin d’Acclimatation au cours de l’été 1882, Collection Musée du quai Branly, Paris, PP0023761.1

Plusieurs journaux ont adopté le rapport de La France. 9 Le Petit Parisien a parlé d’une « question de l’humanité: « Les Galibis sont des sauvages; tres bien, mais encore devrions-nous exiger que ceux qui les exhibent ne fussent pas plus sauvages qu’eux! » 10 Le journal La Lanterne s’est exprimé plus vigoureusement: « Espérons que la justice française ne tolerera pas plus longtemps que l’esclavage s’épanouisse aussi impunement sur notre sol. » 11

Pour renforcer son plaidoyer, le quotidien La France a publié une lettre d’un ancien médecin d’un navire de la marine française qui avait passé dix ans en Guyane. Il avait rendu visite au groupe lors de l’exhibition au Jardin d’Acclimatation. Ici, ils s’étaient plaints de leur emprisonnement, car ils devaient rester à l’intérieur de leur enclos en dehors des heures où le public pouvait les voir. 12
Lagrangre a décidé le 6 novembre 1882 que le groupe reviendrait à leurs «forêts indigènes», « en grande partie due à la campagne que nous avons entreprise », selon l’éditeur de La France. 13

Du Maroni à la ville lumière

Aux Pays-Bas, l’exhibition humaine lors de l’Exposition coloniale et commerciale internationale (1883) est relativement bien connue. L’exhibition des « Surinamais » dans un chapiteau de cirque lors de l’exposition universelle d’Amsterdam, a été en partie inspirée par la présentation réussie de « Galibi » de Guyane française un an plus tôt, au Jardin d’Acclimatation à Paris. Dix ans plus tard, en 1892, un groupe de plus de trente Kalina était de nouveau exhibé ici. La mémoire de cette exhibition humaine est maintenue vivante dans la communauté de Kalina en Guyane française.

Dans « Zoos humains. Au temps des exhibitions humaines » (2004), l’auteur Gérard Collomb traite des exhibitions de Kalina de 1882 et 1892. Cependant, il se concentre principalement sur la dimension éthique de l’utilisation des portraits anthropométriques réalisés lors d’exhibitions humaines. 1

Wijngaarde (2000), Bloembergen (2001), Schuurmans (2013) et De Vos (2018) ont rédigé des analyses approfondies de l’exhibition humaine à Amsterdam.2 Les travaux de ces auteurs montrent que les Surinamais ont été mis en scène comme « primitifs », justifiant à la fois l’expansion coloniale néerlandaise et la mission civilisatrice .

Dans trois articles de blog, je suis le travail de Wijngaarde, Schuurmans et De Vos et j’essaie de le compléter avec des articles de la presse écrite. Les citations montrent comment la hiérarchie raciale s’est exprimée. Le libellé de l’époque est répréhensible aujourd’hui; les fragments ici servent d’illustration du monde de la pensée d’où proviennent les exhibitions humaines.

ca. 1880 Kru and ‘Krumanos’

Nineteenth-century European trading factories in Congo and Angola depended on African labour for different tasks. Examples are the Kru, also called Kru-men, and the Krumanos. Both names sound alike, but there was an important difference. The Kru took up paid employment, whereas the Krumanos were forced into labour.

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a man from the Kru coast, ca. 1880, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-97 .

Frost explains Kru was the name given by Europeans to inhabitants of communities along the coastline of present-day eastern Liberia. Their highly developed skills in fishing and canoe faring proved and advantage in their interaction with the Europeans. It is believed the development of their maritime skills in the eighteenth century led Kru to be employed on slave ships to the America’s. After Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1808, Kru took up employment on naval ships of the West Africa Squadron; the blockade against illegal ships intent on carrying Africans into slavery in the America’s.1

Frost writes the mobility of the Liberian Kru increased in the nineteenth century when formerly enslaved people from the United States of America were settled in Liberia, under the auspices of the American Colonisation Society. These so-called Settler Liberians competed with the Kru in trade and land acquisition. Kru men migrated to the coastal cities, where European trading companies were expanding their business. Kru became employed as agricultural labourers. palm oil ships, as shoremen, and construction workers 2

‘Factory slaves’

William Holman Bentley (1855-1905) of the Baptist Missionary Society wrote:

‘When we reached to Congo in 1879 all the labour of the trading factories was performed by slaves. […] ‘Kru boys, from the Kru coast about Libera, were the labourers on the coast steamers and factories higher up the coast: so to throw dust in the eyes of those who would make inquiries, the factory slaves about the Congo were called Krumanos. The average price of a Krumano was £ 5.

[…] I have often seen these factory slaves working in chains, four to six chained together by a ring on the neck. Sometimes there might be among the chain-gangs a rowdy slave or two in the chain for punishment; but as a rule, they would be ordinary Krumanos, new or not trusted, kept in the chains to prevent their flight.3

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of Krumanos, ca. 1870, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A274-86.

The word ‘Krumanos’ in the description of the photograph by Jose Augusto da Cunha Moraes might mean the men were unfree labourers. According to Vos, European trading companies used local networks to obtain so-called servicais, or enslaved labourers. They were bought or hired from local chiefs, who supplied them to serve for a short or indefinite time. 4 Besides, small numbers of slaves from the interior were a part of ivory caravans to the coast, where they were sold by African middlemen.
Vos cites a report of Onno Zwier van Sandick, (1861-1881), an employee for the Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging, when he points out the unfree Krumanos received remuneration: they were paid in so-called ‘longs’ (a textile measuring unit of six yards)). They earned two to three longs a month, Vos states this was a reasonable salary compared to Kru ((four longs), canoe men (three longs), female servants (four to six longs) or linguisters (eight to ten longs). 5
Zwiers van Sandick explained the reasoning behind the payment of the Krumanos. They were at all times at the disposal of the Afrikaanse Handelsvereeniging, whereas Kru could be employed for a maximum of sixteen months. Zwiers van Sandick ruled out employing other free African labourers: ‘a free negro doesn’t think of working as soon as he has had enough to eat.’ 6
Vos includes a citation from the British consul Hopkins about the Krumanos of the Dutch Afrikaansche Handelsvereniging, who in 1877 held about 150 slaves.

‘[…] these people are so well treated that, to all intents and purpose, they are free, and they are never sold or exchanged; in fact, it is their boast that they are the children of the Dutch house.’ 7

José Augusto. da Cunha Moraes, Factory of the Afrikaansche Handels Vereeniging seen from the water, in Chissambo (Cabinda, Angola) ca 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr.A274-28

However, from the report of Zwier van Sandick, a somewhat different picture emerges. He travelled May 1879 to November 1880 from the headfactory in Banana to smaller factories. The factory in Banana owned fifty slaves, Zwier van Sandick described they were bought at the coast, for about 30 longs, and shipped to Banana. Some ship captains were hesitant to take the Krumanos on board, out of fear for inspections by the British West Africa Squadron. As a solution each Krumano received a contract, the words ‘paid in Banana’ was a code for the AHV these were in fact ‘factory slaves’.
After arrival, Krumanos were immediately chained in a neck collar or libámbo. Zwier van Sandick recalled how the resistance of Krumanos to be chained was forcibly repressed.

‘In October 1879 I witnessed how one continuously yelled: senhór landaáz, grácia-grácia (Sir Dutchman, mercy, mercy). Whereupon the supervisor ordered to lash him into silence – which happened. Completely bloodied he lay numb and had stopped yelling.’

According to Zwier van Sandick these cruelties were persistent in the factories where he was stationed. In case a Krumano died, the costs were debited to the headfactory in Banana.
In the early 1900s, coastal factories would acquire enslaved labourers and traded them illegally or as contract workers.8

ca. 1880 ‘Linguister’

In the period 1870-1890 José Augusto da Cunha Moraes photographed  European trading posts along the coastline of Congo and Angola. The Dutch National Museum of World Cultures holds several of these images in its collection.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes , Portrait of a mafuka or linguister with his family, ca. 1880. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-39.

Companies like the Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels Vennootschap (NAHV) built premises, so-called ‘factories’, on plots of land that belonged to local rulers. In return, the companies were obliged to pay for the use of the land. Furthermore, local rulers provided each factory with a representative, or ‘mafuka’.  The mafuka, called ‘linguisters’ by the Europeans, were men of distinct families with in-depth knowledge of local law, politics, and the network of African traders. They negotiated prices between the trading companies and the African traders who brought agricultural produce; thus they were crucial for the profitability of European trade.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes , Portrait of a mafuka or linguister, ca. 1880. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A45-38.

All trading companies depended on African labour for an array of tasks, these workers were managed by the linguister. 1 Men and women from the coastal region Cabinda in particular were recruited as canoe men, cooks, carpenters, and domestic servants. Appreciated by European trading agents, the Dutch NAHV-employee Onno Zwier van Sandick described the men and women from this region as ‘relatively developed’ and ‘with potential to be civilized’, claiming they learned their skills of British and Portuguese ships who patrolled the Congolese coast to prevent illegal transatlantic slave shipments.2.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Man and woman from Cabinda, ca. 1870-1889. Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum, id.nr. WMR-902005

1857 – 1868 Kerdijk & Pincoffs

Photographs of José Augusto da Cunha Moraes (1855-1933, in several Dutch museum collections, provide visual information about a Dutch trading firm with settlements along the coastline of Angola and Congo, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Kerdijk & Pincoffs, and its successor ‘Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging’ (African Trade Association) would come to dominate trade in a region that struggled with the troubled transition from the slave trade to forms of indentured labour.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Office of the Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging , located at the Largo Tristao da Cunha, Luanda, Angola, ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A274-6.

Legitimate trade

In 1849 Henry Kerdijk and Lodewijk Pincoffs founded a firm that traded in indigo and madder. Located in the port Rotterdam, shipping was another branch of the company, which gained in importance following the stagnation of the dye trade in the 1850s. 1 In 1857 Kerdijk & Pincoffs bought the British trading company Horsfall & Co. in the village Ambriz, northern Angola.
Together with the firms Tobin & Co. and Hatton & Cookson, Horsfall was one of the three firms from Liverpool in Ambriz. Historians assume these company premises functioned as barracoons for enslaved Africans up to 1807 – when the United Kingdom prohibited the transatlantic slave trade. 2 After 1807 the nature of their business changed to so-called ‘legitimate commerce’ or ‘legitimate trade’: European manufactures, predominantly cotton pieces, weapons and spirits, were traded against African raw materials, notably palm oil, gum copal and ivory. 3

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, porters of an ivory caravan, Luanda, Angola ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A45-51.

Ambriz

In 1836 Portugal outlawed the transatlantic slave trade. Nevertheless, the number of illegal shipments of African captives sharply increased between 1830-1865. Whereas Luanda had been the most important port of embarcation in Central Africa during the slave trade, Portuguese-Brazilian merchants and slave smugglers from Spain and Cuba relocated further north to the port Ambriz.4 Slave trading firms from Rio de Janeiro organized shipments of enslaved Africans to Brazil, when these were abolished in 1850 they concentrated on Cuba.5

Johann Moritz Rugendas, Newly enslaved Africans, Viagem Pitoresca Atravé do Brasil (1835) (Editora da Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1989). Source: Biblioteca Digital Curt Nimeundajú,
https://flic.kr/p/25K8W9D

The illegal slave trade and the legitimate trading companies were connected. In theory, the trading companies strictly limited their activities to lawful barter trade. In reality, the clientele of Cuban and Brazilian middlemen provided the trading companies with cash payments. These slave smugglers bartered the purchased European goods for enslaved men, women and children from the African interior. 6 In the first year in Angola, Kerdijk & Pincoffs started trade with Portuguese slave dealers in Ponta da Lenha. 7

Christiano Junior, Enslaved African man, born in Cabinda (right) and enslaved African man, born in Angola (left), 1864, Rio de Janeiro. Collection Museu Historicó Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Source: Google Arts and Culture

Advertisements found in the database Delpher show the first shipment of Kerdijk & Pincoffs arrived in May 1858 in Rotterdam from Luanda, the administrative center of the Portuguese.8 Within a year of opening a factory in Ambriz, Kerdijk & Pincoffs followed British traders to nearby Kisembo, in order to avoid the high Portuguese custom dues in Ambriz.9

Advertisement for the auction in Rotterdam of goods from the first shipment of Kerdijk & Pincoffs from Luanda: dye, gum, wax and 246 elephant tusks. Nieuwe Rotterdamse Courant (May 5, 1858).

‘Free emigrants’

In 1860 Kerdijk & Pincoffs opened a factory in Banana, along the Loango coast of Congo. The factory was adjacent to the trading company of Victor and Louis Régis, from Marseille. In the early 1830s, Régis began trading in Senegal, and expanded southwards to Sierra Leone and Angola. In 1841 the French state granted the company permission to open a trading post in Dahomey at Whyda, in the ruins of a fort that had functioned as a depot for enslaved Africans. 10
Régis became pivotal in a scheme of the French government to procure human labour for the colonies in the Caribbean. In 1831 France ended the slave trade and signed a convention with the British against human trafficking. This convention expired in 1856, which opened the way for France to contract Régis to recruit and transport African labourers for Guadeloupe and Martinique. 11

Lt. Henry Hand, A French Free immgrant on his way to the barracoon of M. Regis.
Source: “Enslaved Africans Sold to French, 1858”, Slavery Images: A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora, accessed July 27, 2020.
http://slaveryimages.org/s/slaveryimages/item/408

Between 1857-1863 Régis purchased enslaved people from African authorities, declared them free and signed them to indentured labour contracts. The French ‘redeemed’ enslaved Africans mostly in Boma, one of the former centers of the Atlantic slave trade, but housed the so-called ‘free emigrants’ (émigrés libres) in newly built factories in Banana and Loango. In each factory up to fourteen hundred people could be housed.12 The French considered the redemptions as ‘an act of humanity’, yet the mortality on the early voyages was high. At the end of the scheme, Regís had carried around seventeen thousand people to the Caribbean colonies, their properties in Banana were sold to neighbouring Kerdijk & Pincoffs. 13

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Factory ‘Rotterdam’ at Banana, at the mound of the Congo-river, 1884. Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum, id.nr. WMR-902009.

With the settlement in Banana as the centre of the commercial activities, Kerdijk & Pincoffs expanded further in the Angolan region Cabinda. In 1868 Kerdijk & Pincofss became a limited company under the name of Afrikaansche Handelsvereeniging (African Trading Association – AHV). By 1871 the company had opened thirty-three factories in Angola and Congo, in 1877 this had risen to forty-four. 14 In 1879, after a financial scandal, the company continued as ‘Nieuwe Afrikaansche Handels Vennootschap’ and traded in Africa until 1982.

Further reading & listening

ca. 1870-1889 ‘Serviçais’

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Two Angolese men carrying a European man in a hammock, ca. 1870-1889, Collection Nederlands Fotomuseum. Rotterdam, id.nr. WMR-902002.

A studio portrait by José Augusto da Cunha Moraes in the collection of the Nederlands Fotomuseum (Dutch Photomuseum) shows two Angolese men carrying a European man in a hammock, locally known as a maxilla. Pictured in Angola at the end of the nineteenth century, the two men were in all probability unfree labourers, or so-called ‘servants’ (serviçais).

Drawing on an extensive range of sources, social historian Roquinaldo Ferreira showed that in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Luanda, the economy was entirely dependent on the enslaved population. They performed a wide array of activities, ranging from menial labour to specialized tasks as carpenter, sailor, blacksmith, and brickmaker. In Luanda, enslaved women and men could be rented out by their owners, or temporarily perform paid jobs. On the streets of Luanda, it was a common sight to see European settles being carried around in a hammock by a myriad of enslaved men.1

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, European man in Luanda, Angola, ca. 1970-1915, Collection Rijkmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-W-1975.

Throughout the nineteenth century, consecutive legislative measures led to the Portuguese prohibition of the transatlantic slave trade in 1836 and culminated, in 1869, in the abolition of slavery in the Portuguese African territories. In the words of Angolan historian Maria da Conceição Neto, abolition in Angola was belated and ‘neither immediate nor complete’.2
The decree of 1869 determined that those with the legal status of ‘slaves’ (escravos) were to gain their freedom and become ‘libertos’ before April 1878. However, in 1875 Portuguese legislators annulled the status of libertos and supplanted this with the legal category of ‘servants’ (serviçais).3

Clarence-Smith explained the economic foundations of slavery remained unaltered in Angola until the second decade of the twentieth century. Firstly, every ‘servant’ (serviçal) had to sign a five-year contract with the slaveholder who ‘freed’ him. Although cash wage payments to serviçais were mandatory, the salaries were continuously reduced. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for slaveholders to solely pay in paper bonds, which could only be used in the stores they owned.
A second mechanism was formally illegal. At the end of the initial five-year contract, it was prolonged for another five years, mostly by means of intimidation and corruption. The colonial administration was heavily involved in the third mechanism: the ‘subcontracting’ of serviçais for financial compensation. This led to a continuation of the buying and selling of human beings as if they were commodities.4

Clarence-Smith insists slavery continued in an economic sense, whereas in a legal sense the status of ‘serviçal’ ensured fundamental rights to life and property.5 In the same vein, Conceição Neto acknowledges the effects of the era slave trade were prolonged through colonial policies, yet she insists historians should carefully distinguish between the different types of unfree labour.6

ca. 1870 ‘Angolenses’

The Rijksmuseum and The National Museum of World Cultures (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen – NMvW) in The Netherlands together hold over more than two hundred photographs by José Augusto da Cunha Moraes (1855-1933) in their collection. His father opened a photography studio in São Paolo de Loanda (now: Luanda) in 1863, and J.A. da Cunha Moraes became a professional photographer in the 1870s. By the 1880s he had produced over four hundred photographs. According to historian Jill Dias (1944-2008), his individual portraits were exceptional, for they captured the social contrasts in the capital of colonial Angola.1

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, View of Luanda (ca. 1876-1886), Collection Rijksmuseum, id.nr. RP-F-2001-7-683-1.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, inhabitants of the coastal town Loanda were divided into two categories: civilized and uncivilized.2 White Europeans constituted the elite of society, among them were landlords, traders and slave owners. 3 A minority were free Portuguese settlers, the majority came to Angola as convicts (degredados). Since early modern times Portugal had practiced degredo: the limiting or degrading of the legal status of convicts by means of forced exile.4 The exiles served a practical purpose: 97% of Portuguese migrants choose Brazil as their new home. The African colonies were no less important in the Portuguese self-perception as an imperial nation. Forced colonization provided the necessary manpower to make the overseas territories profitable. 5

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, portrait of two women, one dressed in Angolan panos the other in a European dress, ca. 1870. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. A274-56.

Since Portuguese settlers and degredados were almost exclusively male, they formed families with local women. Their mixed race descendants were included in the Loandan elite of ‘civilized peope’. 6 These Euro-Africans acquired positions in education, in the army, clergy and public offices of the colonial administration – although their main economic occupation remained trade, including slave trade. 7

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, portrait of a Luso-African woman in Loanda belonging to the Gamboa family, ca. 1880, Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RV-A45-52.

Dias stated Da Cunha Moraes preserved the image of this elite, 8 but didn’t include any examples. Hitherto I haven’t been able to find other secondary literature on this subject that provides photographs from the end of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately somewhat speculative, I wonder whether some of the photographs in the collection of the NMvW are portraits of women belonging to the Luso-African elite. In some of the captions of the NMvW it is explicitly mentioned the women are of mixed descent. One description (RV-A45-52) contains the family name of the sitter: Gamboa.

Experts emphasize that the Loandan elite of the nineteenth century was culturally and racially mixed.9 The category of the ‘civilized’ included Africans of different ethnic groups, who were educated, Christian, cosmopolitan, possessed assets, capital and dressed in a European manner. It might not be impossible that Da Cunha Moraes portrayed African families of the Europeanized elite of his city, who designated themselves as ‘filhos da terra‘, ‘filhos do país‘, (sons of the country) or ‘Angolenses‘.

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a couple from Loanda, ca. 1870. The woman is wearing Angolese panos, the man is dressed in a European suit and shoes. The appropriate object on the table in the studio was a boat. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RVA274-67.

Around the turn of the century, social relations in Angola transformed, leading to the subordination of the ‘filhos da terra’. Portuguese planters and administrators who failed to achieve economic and social development ascribed this to the ‘inherent barbarism’ of Africans. In their perspective, modernizing Angola equaled increasing the white population. As a consequence, the white population of Angola tripled between 1900-1930. Furthermore, a new, racially differentiated wage system was established, along with a limit for the number of Africans that could be employed in the civil service. Hence, being white became a prerequisite for positions of authority in the colonial administration. 10. By 1920 the Euro-African elite had been excluded from the administration of the colony and public life. 11

José Augusto da Cunha Moraes, Portrait of a mother and daughter, ca. 1870. The girl is holding a missal in her hand and wearing shoes, an important marker of ‘civilization’. Collection Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, id.nr. RVA274-64.

1858-1949 Monument Cawnpore

De collectie van het Rijksmuseum omvat een drietal foto’s van Samuel Bourne waarop een rivieroever en een gedenkteken centraal lijken te staan. Bourne maakte de foto’s in 1865 om plaatsen van herinnering in Cawnpore (nu: Kanupur) vast te leggen. Hier werden in de beginfase van Indiase Opstand (1857-1858) gewelddadig Britse mannen, vrouwen en kinderen gedood.

Soldaat uit de East India Company Bengal Army. De Indiase soldaten stonden bekend als sipahi, door de Britten sepoy genoemd. Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. NG-2010-48.

De Indiase Opstand (1857-1858)was gericht tegen het gezag van de Britse East India Company (EIC). Tegen 1850 opereerde de EIC niet langer als een handelscompagnie, maar richtte het zich volledig op het civiel en militair bestuur van India.1 De opstand begon in mei 1857 in het kantonnement Meerut (in Noord-India) en werd bijna een jaar later neergeslagen; na de overkomst van 35,000 manschappen uit Groot-Brittannië. 2
In de geschiedschrijving is de Opstand tot in de twintigste eeuw aangeduid als de ‘sepoy muiterij’. Het leger van de EIC leunde vanaf de achttiende eeuw sterk op Indiase sipahi (soldaten) in hun oorlogsvoering tegen de Fransen en Indiase vorsten.3 De muiterij in Meerut zou zij voortgekomen uit de weerzin van zowel Hindoeïstische als Islamitische soldaten in het Bengaals leger van de EIC tegen het gebruik van dierlijk vet voor de kogels van de nieuw ingevoerde Enfield geweren. 4

Historicus Biswamoy Pati (1956-2017) kenschetste in zijn inleiding op een bundel over de Indiase Opstand, het centraal stellen van de muiterij van de sepoys, als een ‘typisch koloniaal perspectief.’ 5 De voorstelling dat één groep in opstand kwam en dit beperkt bleef tot Noord-India, was immers gunstig voor de koloniale machthebber. Roy haalde in zijn introductie studies aan waaruit bleek dat brede lagen van de bevolking in 1857 in verzet kwamen; van grootgrondbezitters die zich keerden tegen belastinghervormingen tot landbouwers en adivasi (inheemse gemeenschappen). Daarbij strekten opstanden van uiteenlopende groepen zich uit over geheel India, tot in het uiterste zuiden. Bovendien was de uitbarsting in 1857 een voortzetting van hevig verzet sinds de eerste helft van de negentiende eeuw tegen de toenemende macht van de East India Company.6
Pati noemde als element van het koloniaal perspectief de nadruk op de ‘barbaarse aard’ van de opstandelingen. 7 Dit aspect trad op de voorgrond in de herinneringspolitiek rondom de gebeurtenissen in Cawnpore.

Samuel Bourne, De Satti Chaura Ghat, Cawnpore. Oever van de rivier Ganges waar Britse mannen werden gedood. (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F80455

Waterput

Een van de noordelijke steden waar de bevolking en soldaten in opstand kwamen was Cawnpore. Indiase handelaren en geldschieters die gefortuneerd waren door zaken te doen met de Britten, werden tot doelwit. Britse burgers en militairen zochten in juni 1857 hun toevlucht in versterkte barakken aan de zuidelijke rand van de stand. Na drie weken van beschietingen garandeerde de lokale leider van de Opstand, Nana Sahib, de groep een veilige overtocht met vier boten over de rivier Ganges. Echter, op het moment dat de Britten bij de rivieroever Satti Chaura Ghat aan boord gingen, werden zij door de opstandelingen onder vuur genomen. Mannen die dit overleefden werden alsnog in de rivier, of later aan land, ter door gebracht.
De vrouwen en kinderen werden naar een afgelegen villa in Cawnpore gebracht. Rebellerende soldaten weigerden hen te doden. Deze daad werd verricht door ingehuurde slagers, die de meer dan tweehonderd lichamen achterlieten in een waterput.8
In zijn beschrijving van de gebeurtenissen merkt Mukherjee op dat geweld een ‘essentieel component was van de Britse aanwezigheid in India.’ De Opstand doorbrak het geweldsmonopolie van de Britten, met gewelddadigheden van Indiërs die tot dan toe ongekend waren. 9

Herinneringspolitiek

Samuel Bourne, beeld van de Angel of Resurrection, gebouwd op de waterput met de lichamen van tweehonderd gedode vrouwen, afgeschermd door een muur in gotische stijl (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F80449.

In 1858, de opstand was nog in volle gang, werd het beeld van de ‘Engel der wederopstanding’ geplaatst, in 1863 werd het ommuurd door een achthoekig bouwwerk in gotische stijl. Vrijwel direct na de opening van het park werd het een vast onderdeel in de rondreis van hoogwaardigheidsbekleders én Britse toeristen. In 1875, toen de Prins van Wales Cawnpore het monument aandeed, trok het monument dagelijks bezoekers; tot het begin van de twintigse eeuw meer dan de Taj Mahal.
Auteur Heathorn schrijft dat de Indiase Opstand de symbolische afstand tussen de Britten en de Indiërs vergrootte: de moorden in Cawnpore zouden hun gedegeneerde, wilde en barbaarse aard tonen. De ‘Engel der opstanding’ fungeerde niet louter als gedenkplaats voor de onschuldige vrouwen en kinderen die het leven lieten; het was evenzeer een waarschuwing voor het alomtegenwoordige gevaar van een nieuwe rebellie.
Aanvankelijk diende dit ter rechtvaardiging van represailles gedurende de opstand 10 , zoals het in brand steken van dorpen in de nabije omgeving van Cawnpore waarbij de bewoners omkwamen. In juni 1857 werd krijgswetgeving aangenomen waardoor het leger burgers kon berechten. In de praktijk leidde dit tot ophanging op grote schaal van mannen die verdacht werden van muiterij. 11
Ideeën over het niet aflatend Indiase gevaar werden gereproduceerd door de toeristische ‘pelgrimage’ langs alle steden waar de Britten grote verliezen leden in de Opstand, de reisverslagen en historische werken én foto’s van commerciële fotografen als Bourne. Circulerende beelden van het park in Cawnpore vervulden zodoende een belangrijke rol in de Britse herinneringspolitiek. 12

Zijaanzicht van de engel, foto op frontispice van het werk, Indian Reminiscences van Colonel Samuel Dewé White, van 1845-1870 in het Bengaals leger. Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-2001-7-422-1.

Stoffage

De aanleg van het park en de gedenkplaats met de engel werden bekostigd met de opbrengsten van een speciale belasting (circa 30,000 pond) die de gehele bevolking van Cawnpore was opgelegd, als collectieve straf voor het uitblijven van verzet tegen de opstandelingen. Indiërs dienden een speciale vergunning aan te vragen om het park te mogen betreden. Deze werd hoogst zelden verleend en ook dan bleef het voor hen verboden om het bouwwerk met de engel te betreden. 13

Samuel Bourne, herinneringspark Cawnpore met de gotische muur op de achtergrond (1865). Collectie Rijksmuseum, inv.nr. RP-F-F00615.

Gezien het toegangsverbod voor Indiërs mag het opmerkelijk heten dat Bourne op bovenstaande foto drie Indiase mannen in het park liet poseren. Wilcock vermoedt dat Bourne drie dagers voor de camera plaatste, op gepaste afstand van het monument. In zijn analyse van de foto stelt Wilcock dat de drie mannen niet vastgelegd zijn als individuen, maar als belichaming van de native ofwel ‘inlander’. Wilcock ziet een ambivalentie in de foto: van de mannen gaat niet de geringste dreiging uit. Hij hanteert de term stoffage, afkomstig uit de schilderkunst, om de positie van de Indiërs te omschrijven. De drie mannen geven een indruk van de schaal van het monument en verlevendigen het geheel. De staande houding van de man in het midden harmonieert met de slanke bomen die ordelijk in het park geplant zijn, de zittende mannen weerspiegelen elkaars houding. Het beeld van ‘potentiële rebellen’ werd hier verdrongen door Britse opvattingen over de passieve, ‘indolente Indiërs.’ 14

2020 Gevangen in de beeldtaal

Professional magazine ‘Theatermaker’, May edition 2020.

The May edition of the Dutch professional magazine for the perfoming arts ‘Theatermaker’, features my article ‘Gevangen in de beeldtaal. Afrikaanse mensvertoningen in Nederland’ (‘Locked up in the imagery. Human exhibitions of Africans in The Netherlands’). Kindly I would like to thank Floortje Bakkeren for initiating this opportunity, Simon van den Berg for his patience and constructive feedback and editor Katharina Veraart.

Delpher Kranten – De Telegraaf (09-03-1893)

Scramble for Africa

In 2009, Bert Sliggers, at the time curator of the Teylers Museum Haarlem, was the first to compose an overview of human exhibitions in The Netherlands. Using posters in city archives and reports in print media, he counted 34 human displays in 46 cities during the years 1825-1913. More than a decade after Sliggers’ publication, online databases allow for an expansion of Sliggers initial overview. Thus far I traced 68 human exhibitions in 366 Dutch cities in the period 1809-1951, mainly through advertisements and reports in the database Delpher.
Almost half of the exhibited groups involved Africans, which is consistent with findings for human exhibitions worldwide. The peak of the human displays coincided exactly with the ‘Scramble for Africa’: between 1880 and 1914, the continent was colonized and divided among European powers.

Zoological garden

In Dutch newspapers the human exhibitions were announced as African villages and ‘ethnographic exhibitions’, implying a truthful representation and educative experience. However, these human exhibitions were first and foremost a construction based on European notions of Africa and therefore staged in minute detail. Stemming from social Darwinism was the persistent conviction that Africans were the most primitive humans on the evolutionary scale. They were perceived to be closer to the animal kingdom and, by extension, very far removed from the apex of human evolution: the Occidental ‘white race’. Consequently, zoological gardens were regarded as a most suitable environment for the exhibitions of Africans.

The zoological garden of The Hague was the location for human exhibitions. In 1889 Dutch journalists described the Angolese women and men that were exhibited by Louis Joseph Goddefroy as “charcoal black creatures with their ape- like movements”, the face of one of the women was compared to that of a gorilla, her baby son to an orangutan.

Roland de Bonaparte, ‘Village angolais”, un album de 36 phot. anthropologiques présenté à l’exposition universelle de 1889 à Paris’, Bibliothèque nationale de France, id.no. , SGE SG WE-330. Lupaca, 10 years old, was property of the Portuguese slave owner De Braga in Angola. Goddefroy traded the boy against a British Bull Dog revolver. Lupaca suffered from hunger edema.

Agency

Some of the people that were exhibited by Goddefroy were serviçais : the property of Portuguese slaveholders. In his memoirs, Goddefroy recounted he bought one of the men after he was imprisoned after he tried to escape. The Angolese exemplify one end of the spectrum: people who were forced, sometimes after kidnapping, to be displayed.

The other end of the spectrum comprises Africans who willingly chose to take part in the exhibitions. A case in point is Sam Emanuels from Sierra Leone. Since 1902 he was a member of the group ‘Mandigo Warriors’, Amsterdam was part of their tour in 1909.
Anne Dreesbach mentions in her dissertation that Emanuel became an organizer of human exhibitions himself. He defined himself as a professional actor and impresario for ‘ethnic villages’ and seemed to have created agency and opportunities for himself and the men, women, and children in his group. Nevertheless, I argue this agency was limited since Emanuel remained chained to deeply rooted European perceptions of Africans as inferior.

Bill , design and print Adolph Friedländer (1905), Theatre Collection Allard Pierson Museum. id.nr. TEY0010000808

As can be seen on the poster for Emanuels’ show. the women wear costumes with uncovered arms and open neck;  markers of  unrestrained sexuality. The woman in the foreground smiles seductively at the viewer. Moreover, she carelessly holds a spear in her hands, while young children learn to handle the weapons. The combat scenes, ‘martial exercises’ and ‘sacrificial dances’ in the human exhibitions arose from ideas about the innate compulsion to brutality of  Africans.

Circus

Bill, design Potter, print Paul Grasnick, Hans Stosch-Sarrasani (ca. 1920-1930), Theatre Collection Allard Pierson Museum. id.nr.TEY0010004288.

The overview of Sliggers ended with  the First World War, but in the 1920s elements of human exhibitions remained ingrained in popular culture. A poster from the Theatre Collection of the Allard Pierson Museum shows Hans Stosch-Sarrasani, a legend in the circus world. He is portrayed in the costume in which he, seated on an elephant, made a grand entrance into the arena. The turban, glittering jewellery and the decorations adorning his chest seem to be expressions of the exuberant imagination that made a visit to his circus such a colourful experience. German historians offer a different perspective. They interpret the inclusion of  elements of human exhibitions in circus acts as a ‘colonial fantasy’.

Cultural historian Marline Otte (1999) states that Sarrasani dressed as a maharaja because he considered himself the enlightened ruler of a circus empire of native Americans, Arabs and Bedouins, Ethiopians, Indians, Chinese and Japanese. The cultural stereotypes from the human exhibitions thus became interwoven with an ideology based on racial superiority.

Deutsche Afrika-Schau

Dutch collections contain photographs of the 1930 Dutch tour of ‘Capitain’ Alfred Scheider and ‘Dawudu’s’, a prelude to the interweaving of the core ideas of human exhibitions with national socialism.

Fotobureau Gazendam, Alfred Schneider Dawudu’s, Theatre Collection Allard Pierson Museum. id.nr.TEY001008807.

Schneider is still renowned for his lion acts, but since 1921 he was organizing human exhibitions, known in Germany as Völkerschauen. In 1930, the so-called ‘Dawudu’s’ were men who had served in the German military in the former African colonies, African-American Clarence Walton, and women of mixed Afro-German descent. His experience with Völkerschauen made Schneider, an early member of the NSDAP, eligible to briefly become the leader of the Deutsche Afrika-Schau in late 1936. The Deutsche Afrika-Schau was founded around 1934 by Afro-Germans to protect themselves against overt hostilities and racism after the NSDAP came to power.

According to historian Susann Lewerenz (2006), some of the Afro-Germans had worked in theatres and the variety circuit. Initially, they performed cabaret, acrobatics, and vocals in the Afrika-Schau from their own repertoire. Schneider removed their own artistic repertoire and situated the Schau in the familiar setting of an African village: on the one hand to portray perceptions of inferiority, and on the other as propaganda for German colonialism. The photographs in Dutch collections have not yet been included in publications about the Deutsche Afrika -Schau and are thus a visual source of the history of this specific human exhibition.

Sources

  • Dreesbach, Anne, Gezähmte Wilde: die Zurschaustellung ‘exotischer’ Menschen in Duitschland, 1870 – 1940 (Frankfurt 2005).
  • Van Laak, Dirk, ‘Der lange Schatten der ‘Tropensehnsucht’’, Tagesspiegel (05.01.2019) https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/deutscher-kolonialismus-der-lange-schatten-der-tropensehnsucht/23825568.html
  • Lewerenz, Susann , Die Deutsche Afrika-Schau (1935–1940). Rassismus, Kolonialrevisionismus und postkoloniale Auseinandersetzungen im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland, (Frankfurt am Main 2006).
  • Otte, Marline, ‘Sarrasani’s Theatre of the World: Monumental Circus Entertainment in Dresden, from Kaiserreich to Third Reich’, German History 17/ 4 (1999), 527 – 542.
  • Thode-Arora, Hilke, ‘From Samoa with love? Colonial power displays, commodities and state presents – contextualizing and exhibiting the Samoa collection in the Fünf Kontinente Museum, Munich’, in: Deutschen Museumsbund (ed.) Museumskunde band 81 1/16 (2016) 28-34.
  • Winkler, Dietmar, “Kapitän” Alfred Schneider : ein Sachse unter 100 Löwen : eine dokumentarische Biografie (Gransee 2014).