Years ago, in Rome,
roaming the Porta Portese flea market, I happened to
flip through an old pictures album at a stall. It was
a real suprise to discover that it was a set of faded sepia pictures. Small
sized, some with captions in our language, regarding
the former Belgian Congo from the year 1900 to 1912.
Taken, in all likelyhood, by an Italian national that
worked there in the past under the payroll of Leopold and the Belgian
colonial administration later.
Intrigued and fascinated,
I bought the album.
Subseguently, my enquiries
about the identity of the fotographer and the European characters
represented yielded no result. Unfortunately,
apart from the dates and names of some places written
directly on some of the pictures, I came to a dead
There are representations
of places, of Africans, of Europeans and only one
image of objects of worship. Some images are dramatic
at first glance: forced labor, a burning village and
an African chief destined to be hanged for having fomented a rebellion
against colonial dominance.
photograph shows two Arabs who were part of the expedition organized by
Henry Stanley and Verney Lovett Cameron that took place in the last quarter
of the 19th century.
I am pleased to present
them to you as I re-discovered them, hoping that someone can identify the
places and characters of such a distant past and a
Congo disappeared overtime for good. A Congo with
faded memories. A Congo that
is now a "Phantom", precisely.
Luigi Armani, Diciotto mesi al Congo,
Eduardo Baccari, Il
Congo, Roma, 1908;
Arnaldo Cipolla, Dal Congo (Lettere al
padre), Milano, 1909;
Ottone Del Grande, Il Congo, vita usi e
costumi, Milano 1903;
Maurizio Piscicelli, Nel Paese
dei Bango-Bango, Napoli, 1910?;
Verso l’Elila (affluente del Congo).
Note di viaggio di Ernesto Cordella - capitano
search of the "Phantom Congo"
offer to all lovers of Africa, a game/research based on these images.
Reading the written report on some of the pictures,
can you identify in which locations they refer to exactly and to which
regions and people of the Congo (Former Belgian congo/Ex
is or was the location of the Shinka Tchhopo River?
Which region was inhabited by the Basongola? ... And
the Topoke, famous for their long shaped coins?
picture also shows an image of objects. To which population do they belong
us your feedback through the