“Note of Information Taken in the Charge of Cutting Off the Boy I I’s Hand, Preferred to Mr. Casement by the People of E*”

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Inclosure 6 in No. 3.

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Note of Information taken in the Charge of Cutting off the boy I I’s hand, preferred to Mr. Casement by the People of E*.

AT village of E* in the C D* country, on left bank of E D*, tributary of the X* River.

Y Y, with many of the townsmen and a few women and children, also present.

A lad, about 14 or 15 years of age, I I by name, whose left hand had been cut off, the stump wrapped up in a rag, the wound being yet scarcely healed, appears, and, in answer to Consul’s question, charges a sentry named K K (placed in the town by the local agent of the La Lulanga Society to see that the people work rubber) with having done it.  This sentry is called, and after some delay appears with a cap-gun.

The following inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the loss of I I’s hand then takes place:—

The Consul, through W W, speaking in E F*, and X X repeating his utterances both in F G* to the sentry and in the local dialect to the others, asks I I, in the presence of the accused:

“Who cut off your hand?”

I I:  “The sentry there.”

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The sentry denies the charge (interrupting), and stating that his name is T T T and not K K.  Consul requests him to keep silence—that he can speak later.

Y Y is called and questioned by Consul through the interpreters.  After being exhorted to speak the truth without fear or favour, he states:

“The sentry before us cut off I I’s hand.”

Consul:  “Did you yourself witness the act?”

Answer:  “Yes.”

Several of the Headmen of the town called upon by the Consul to testify.

To the first of these, who gave his name as Z Z, Consul asked, pointing to I I’s mutilated wrist-bone:  “Who cut off this boy’s hand?”

Z Z (pointing to the sentry):  “That man did it.”

The second, who gave his name as A A A, asked by Consul:  “Who cut off this boy’s hand?”

Answers:  K K.”

The third, giving his name as B B B, asked by Consul:  “Who cut off this boy’s hand?”

Answers:  “This man here, the sentry.”

Z Z (re-questioned):  “Did you yourself see this sentry cut off this boy’s hand?”

Answer:  “Yes, I saw it.”

A A A (re-questioned):  “Did you yourself see this sentry cut off this boy’s hand?”

Answers:  “I should think so.  Did I not get this wound here” (pointing to a cut by the tendon Achilles on the left heel) “the same day, when running away in fright?  My own knife wounded me.  I let it fall when I ran away.”

Consul questions I I:  “How long ago was it your hand was cut off?”

Answer:  “He is not sure.”

Two fellow-villagers—young men, named C C C and D D D—step out and state that they remember.  The act occurred when the clay was being dug over at C D, when the slip-place for the steamers was begun.

E E E, of E*, another section of the village of R**, questioned by Consul:  “Did you see this lad’s hand cut off?”

Answer:  “Yes.  I did not actually see it being cut off.  I came up and saw the severed hand and the blood lying on the ground.  The people had run away in all directions.”

Consul asked interpreters to ask if there were others who had seen the crime and charged K K with it.

Nearly all those present, about forty persons, nearly all men, shouted out with one voice that it was K K who did it.

Consul:  “They are all sure it was K K here?”

Universal response:  “Yes; he did it.”

Consul asked the accused K K:  “Did you cut off this boy’s hand?”

This question was put in the plainest language, and repeated six times, with the request that a plain answer—“yes” or “no”—should be given.

The accused failed to answer the question, beginning to talk of other things not relevant to the question, such as that his name was T T and not K K and that the people of R** had done bad things to him.

He was told to confine himself to the question put to him, that he could talk of other things later, but that now it was his place to answer the questions put, just as simply and plainly as the others had answered.  He had heard those answers and the charge they levied against him, and he should answer the Consul’s questions in just the same way.

The accused continued to speak of irrelevant subjects, and refused or failed to give any answer to the question put to him.

After repeated attempts to obtain answer to the question:  “Did you or did you not cut off this boy I I’s hand?”

Consul states:  “You are charged with this crime.  You refuse to answer the questions I put to you plainly and straightforwardly as your accusers have done.  You have heard their accusation.  Your refusal to reply as you should reply—viz., yes or no—to a direct and simple question leaves me convinced that you cannot deny the charge.  You have heard what has been charged against you by all these people.  Since you decline to answer as they did, you may tell your story your own way.  I shall listen to it.”

Accused began to speak, but before his remarks could be translated to me through X X first, to whom he spoke direct, and then through W W, a young man stepped out of the crowd and interrupted.

There was noise and then the man spoke:—

He stated he was F F F of R**.  He had shot two antelopes, and he had brought two of their legs to this sentry as a gift.  The sentry refused to accept them, and tied his wife up.   The sentry said they were not a sufficient present for him, and he kept F F F’s wife tied up until he, F F F, paid him 1,000 brass rods for her release.

Here a young man giving his name as G G G stepped into the ring and accused the sentry of having robbed him openly of two ducks and a dog.  They were taken from him for no reason save that the sentry wanted them and took them by force.

Consul again turned to the sentry and invited him to tell his story, and to give his answer to the charge against him in his own way.  Consul enjoined silence on all, and not to interrupt the sentry.

K K stated that he did not take G G G’s ducks.  The father of G G G gave him a duck.   (All laughed.)  It is true that F F F killed two antelopes and gave him the two legs as a gift but he did not tie up his wife or require money for her release.

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Consul:  “That is all right.  That finishes the ducks and the antelopes’ legs; but now I want to hear about I I’s hand.  Tell me what you know about I I’s hand being cut off.”

K K again evaded the question.

Consul:  “Tell him this.  He is put here by his master in this town, is he not? This is his town.  Now, does he say he does not know what goes on here where he lives?”

The sentry states:  “It is true that this is his town, but he knows nothing about I I’s hand being cut off.  Perhaps it was the first sentry here before he came, who was a very bad man and cut people’s hands off.  That sentry has gone away—it was he who cut hands off, not himself.   He does not know anything of it.”

Consul:  “What was the name then of this bad sentry, your predecessor, who cut people’s hands off?  You know it?”

The sentry gives no direct answer, and the question is repeated.  He then gives a statement about several sentries, naming three, as predecessors of himself here at R**.

Here a man named H H H jumped up, interrupting, and asserted that those three sentries did not reside at R**, but had been stationed in his own town—his, H H H’s, town.

Consul (to the sentry):  “How long have you been in this town?”

Answer:  “Five months.”

Consul:  “You are quite sure?”

Answer:  “Five months.”

Consul:  “Do you, then, know this boy I I?  Have you seen him before?”

Answer:  “I do not know him at all.”

Here the entire auditory roared with laughter, and expressions of admiration at the sentry’s lying powers were given vent to.

The sentry, continuing, stated that possibly I I comes from H H H’s town.  Anyhow, he (the sentry) does not know I I; he does not know him at all.

Here F F F stepped out and said he was full brother of I I; they had lived here always.   Their father was U U U, now dead; their mother is also dead.

Consul (to the sentry):  “Then it is finished.  You know nothing of this matter.”

The sentry:  “It is finished.  I have told you all.  I know nothing of it.”

Here a man giving his name as I I I , of K K*, the neighbouring section of R**, came forward with his wife.

He stated that the other sentries in their town were not so bad, but that this man was a villain.

The sentry had tied up his wife—the woman he brought forward—and had made him pay 500 rods before she was released.  He had paid the money.

Here Consul asked I I how his hand had been cut off.  He and C C C and D D D stated that he had first been shot in the arm, and then when he fell down the sentry had cut his hand off.

Consul:  “Did you feel it being cut off?”

Answer:  “Yes, I felt it.”

This terminated the inquiry.  The Consul informed Y Y and the people present that he should report what he had seen and heard to the Congo Government, and that he should beg them to investigate the charge against the sentry, who deserved severe punishment for his illegal and cruel acts.  The things that the sentry was charged with doing were quite illegal, and if the Government of his country knew of such things being done, the perpetrators of such crimes would, in all cases, be punished.

(Signed)         Roger Casement,        

His Britannic Majesty’s Consul.  

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Item Details

Author(s) & contributor(s): Roger Casement; I I; W W; X X; Y Y; Z Z; A A A; B B B; E E E; Unnamed Villagers of E*; K K

Date(s): [1903]; 1904

Form & transmission history: Q&A with a series of unnamed individuals from the Congo Free State, as conveyed by two unnamed translators from the Congo Free State to a British government officer and as edited for and published among official British government documents.

Original publication details: In “Report on Visit to Interior of Congo State and on Condition of the Natives,” Correspondence and Report from His Majesty’s Consul at Boma Respecting the Administration of the Independent State of the Congo, Africa, 1:78-80. House of Commons. Accounts and Papers. London: Harrison and Sons for His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1904.

Digital edition & date: One More Voice, 2020

Critical editing & encoding: Caitlin Matheis, Adrian S. Wisnicki

Cite this digital edition (MLA): Casement, Roger; I I; W W; X X; Y Y; Z Z; A A A; B B B; E E E; Unnamed Villagers of E*; K K. “‘Note of Information Taken in the Charge of Cutting Off the Boy I I’s Hand, Preferred to Mr. Casement by the People of E*’” ([1903]; 1904). Caitlin Matheis, Adrian S. Wisnicki, eds. One More Voice, site launch edition, 2020, https://onemorevoice.org/html/transcriptions/liv_020060_TEI.html.

Rights: Critically-edited text copyright One More Voice. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

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