The Basongo were very civil, as indeed all the tribes were who had been conquered by the Portuguese. The Basongo and Bangala are yet only partially subdued. The farther west we go from this, the less independent we find the black population, until we reach the vicinity of Loanda, where the free natives are nearly identical in their feelings toward the government with the slaves.
One of the tribes in the Kongo Valley is called the Bangala tribe. The men are tall and strong and fierce. They are always fighting with other tribes. This makes the other tribes very much afraid of them. The negroes of this tribe have a strange way of making friends with a white man. They will do him no harm if he is willing to be their "blood brother."
In the army, orders are given in French, but on the ships and in the stations, the native is commanded in a kind of jargon based on the Bangala dialect. The Danish captain of a Congo steamer thus as a rule, speaks, besides his own language, English, French and Bangala and can make himself understood in all.
I observed that the families in the Upper Kasai were much more numerous than elsewhere in the Congo. A Bangala or Batetela woman usually has one child and then goes out of the baby business. In the region dominated by the Forminiere it is no infrequent thing to see three or four children in a household.
In the south-east are various tribes of Bushmen. Another of these tribes, the Bangala, living on the west bank of the upper Kwango, must not be confounded with the Bangala of the middle Congo. In the Abunda is a considerable strain of Portuguese blood. The Ba-Lunda inhabit the Lunda district.
There used to be a large village and coffee plantation here, but it was not a success and has been abandoned. The Mission however, still remains as also a Wood Post where we stop for the night and try to believe that duck is turkey and mutton, roastbeef. We have now traversed the whole of the river which runs past the Bangala District.
He thinks the system of Government excellent, but that it is administered better in the Lower than the Upper Congo, because there are not enough officials in the latter. He is convinced the population has greatly decreased on the riverside of the Bangala District, and attributes it chiefly to Sleeping Sickness for he cannot say if emigration to the French Congo has been extensive or not.
The mechanician was a Finn and talked the native Bangala, and Anfossi spoke French. After chop, when we were all assembled on the upper deck, there would be the most extraordinary talks in four languages, or we would appoint one man to act as a clearing-house, and he would translate for the others.
The Bangala tribe are however, very savage and only a short time ago a trader was killed and his body cut up ready for eating when some troops arrived and rescued it. The Government therefore, sent a punitive expedition into the country. There are very few villages on the river, and no signs that there have ever been any, for the forest grows to the water's edge in an uninterrupted line.
My men offered all their ornaments, and I offered all my beads and shirts; but, though we had come to the village against our will, and the guides had also followed us contrary to our desire, and had even sent for the Bangala traders without our knowledge or consent, yet matters could not be arranged without our giving an ox and one of the tusks.