Ota Benga – African Pygmy Tribesman Kept in Zoo

Ota Benga - With Chimpanzee

Ota Benga had his family murdered and was then taken to the US to be ritually humiliated. I must remember never to complain about my shitty job ever again.

Back in the bad old days people weren’t quite so racially aware as they are today (in the most part), and most people didn’t even get the National Geographic channel. So anyone of a non-western persuasion wasn’t necessarily treated with much/any respect. Thank the Lordy we’ve moved on (in the most part). Here is a tale of sadness about an African tribesman called Ota Benga who was given a shit life by whitey.

In the late 1800’s the Belgian Force Publique were busying themselves with thieving from and murdering the tribes of the Belgian Congo. After all the Belgians were white, so the African’s shit should have been their shit in the first place right?? The hero of this story –  Ota Benga – had been out hunting, and managed to kill an elephant, he returned to his village, all chuffed about how hard he was. But what he found when he arrived was not the hero’s welcome he had expected. His wife and children had been murdered and mutilated along with the rest of his people. He himself was sold in to slavery. This is him with some of his buddies (second from the left).

Ota Benga - With Tribe - CongoIn 1904 an explorer named Samuel Verner who was collecting “specimens” (i.e. humans), found Ota, this 23 year old, 4′ 11″ man, in the slave market and was impressed by his pointed, whittled down teeth. He bought him for the princely sum of some salt and cloth and took him back to America to be shown in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Ota had little choice, and little to stay in Africa for so went with him.

After the fair Verner took him back to his homeland where he quickly remarried, this time his wife died of a snake bite. He was not a lucky fella. People of other tribes now distrusted him due to his connection with the white guys and so he opted to go back to America with Verner. Once again the poor chap didn’t really have much of a choice, rejected by his peers and soon to be ridiculed by Westerners.

Ota Benga Smile 1

Pages: 1 2


To Top