Out of Our Minds: Reason & Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa
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Drawing on travel accounts--most of them Belgian and German--published between 1878 and the start of World War I, Fabian describes encounters between European travelers and the Africans they met. He argues that the loss of control experienced by these early travelers actually served to enhance cross-cultural understanding, allowing the foreigners to make sense of strange facts and customs. Fabian's provocative findings contribute to a critique of narrowly scientific or rationalistic visions of ethnography, illuminating the relationship between travel and intercultural understanding, as well as between imperialism and ethnographic knowledge.
meteorologic observations found “that Pogge and Wissmann, already at the beginning of their journey, had got confused about the date. When he arrived in Tabora, Wissmann found that he was a day behind. Pogge, at one place in his diaries, called July 28 a Sunday, though it was de facto a Friday” (MAGD 4, no. 4 : 272n.). Paul Gierow, who accompanied Schütt on the German Congo Expedition, has an entry in his published diary, dated November 12, 1878, which indirectly expresses anxieties about
on Africans and expressed his ﬁndings in quasi-musicological terms. In his second note on the same barrel organ he tells us it does regular service at the station, providing holiday entertainment for the crew (on Fridays, following Islamic custom). For them I let the barrel organ be played. They squat around it, with the ecstatic expression of Javanese listening to the harmonies of the gamelan. The devotees of the hurdy-gurdy each take their turn cranking the instrument, which showers them with
Charisma, Cannabis, and Crossing Africa 155 us on the trail of what must be one of the strangest twists in the strange story of the exploration of central Africa. After his ﬁrst report, MAGD published a list of Schütt’s collection of birds, prepared by an ornithologist (MAGD, nos. 4–5 : 207–12), and his measurements of altitude in places east of Malange, with a positive comment by one of the journal’s editors, Dr. Richard Kiepert (MAGD 2, no. 1 : 11–17). Then nothing is heard of
German association. It is immediately obvious that the expedition will not be able to deal with the desired single ruler, at least not right away, and the caravan splits: Wissmann goes to Tshigenge (or Kingenge) on the eastern shore of the Kasai River; this chief’s claims to supremacy must have been convincing. Pogge crosses the Kasai and travels to the residence of Mukenge, who was soon to become the central ﬁgure. Unlike the Lunda, the Luba-speaking populations in the Kasai region had no recent
emanations they inhale with an expression of bliss and pure delight. Every inhalation makes the smoke go down deep into their throats and it is quite enjoyable to see them savor their suffering as immeasurable delight. Violent nausea is followed by formidable sneezing that lasts for a long time, all this prolonged by sharp little cries, savage and senseless, that announce every drag. Yet this troublesome pipe, inevitably disgusting, gives them one of their most cherished pleasures. Once again,