Congo Cult

W. Reininger

The explorer Hermann von Wissmann (1853-1905), visited the Baloubas, a Bantu tribe of the Belgian Congo, as well as the tribes subject to them. He relates that in 1888 Kalamba-Moukenge, the Balouba chief, in order to strengthen the kingdom that he had founded by conquest, and to link together in one cult the diverse subjugated tribes, had the ancient fetishes burned publicly, and replaced the worship of these idols with a new ritual which consisted essentially in the smoking of hashish.

On all important occasions such as holidays, or the conclusion of a treaty or alliance, the Balouba smoke hemp in gourds which may be as much as one meter in circumference. In addition, the men gather each evening in the main square where they solemnly smoke hemp together. But hemp is also used for punishment. The delinquent is compelled to smoke a particularly strong portion until he loses consciousness. The subjects of Kalamba began to smoke hemp with such passion that they ended by calling themselves 'bena-Riamba' (sons of hemp), after the name which this plant has in their language.

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