The story of Ota Benga
IN 1904, US missionary Phillips Verner was hired by St Louis World Fair to bring pygmies for its "ethnographic exhibition". One of the missionary's acquisition was Ota Benga, a Congolese. At St Louis, the crowds gawked and threw mud pies at the human exhibit.
Verner did take Benga back to Congo. But Benga expressed a desire to learn to read, prompting Verner to take him back to the US. On return Benga was sent to a New York Zoo, kept in an orangutan's cage and encouraged to play with the animal. Benga was making plans to free himself when World War I broke out. A return to Congo became impossible, and Benga became depressed. On March 20, 1916, at the age of 32, Ota Benga built a ceremonial fire and shot himself in the heart with a stolen pistol. The death certificate listed his name as Otto Bingo.
COURTESY: POPULARRESISTANCE .ORG
(Top) German animal trader Carl Hagenbeck's human zoo exhibiting Sudanese natives; (right) Ota Benga
at Bronx zoo in New York