|Francis, Baron Dhanis|
London, United Kingdom
|Died||13 November 1909
|Other names||Francis Dhanis|
|Known for||1892-1894 war in the Eastern Congo|
Francis, Baron Dhanis (1861–1909) was a Belgian civil servant born in London in 1861, the son of a Belgian merchant and of an Irish woman named Maher. He spent the first fourteen years of his life at Greenock, where he received his early education. The name Dhanis is reputedly a variation of D'Anvers.
After completing his education at the École Militaire he entered the Belgian army, joining the regiment of grenadiers, in which he rose to the rank of major. As soon as he reached the rank of lieutenant he volunteered for service in the Congo Free State of King Leopold II of Belgium, and in 1887 he went out for a first term. He did so well in founding new stations north of the Congo that, when the government decided to put an end to the Arab domination on the Upper Congo, he was selected to command the chief expedition sent against the slave dealers in the war in the Eastern Congo.
The campaign began in April 1892, and it was not brought to a successful conclusion until January 1894. The story of this war has been told in detail by Dr. Sydney Hinde, who took part in it, in his book The Fall of the Congo Arabs. The principal achievements of the campaign were the capture in succession of the three Arab strongholds at Nyangwe, Kasongo and Kabambari. For his services Dhanis was awarded the rank of baron, and in 1895 was made vice-governor of the Congo Free State.
In 1896 he was given command of an expedition to the Upper Nile. His troops, largely composed of the Batetela tribes who had only been recently enlisted, and who had been irritated by the execution of some of their chiefs for indulging their cannibal proclivities, mutinied and murdered many of their white officers in what has become known as the Batetela Rebellion. Dhanis found himself confronted with a more formidable adversary than even the Arabs in these well-armed and half-disciplined mercenaries. During two years (1897-1898) he was constantly engaged in a life-and-death struggle with them. Eventually he succeeded in breaking up the several bands formed from his mutinous soldiers. Although the incidents of the Batetela operations were less striking than those of the Arab war, many students of both think that the Belgian leader displayed the greater ability and fortitude in bringing them to a successful resolution. In 1899 Baron Dhanis returned to Belgium with the honorary rank of vice governor-general. He died in Brussels on the 13th of November 1909.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Timeline of Congo
- Dhanis, Francis, baron, La campagne arabe., Bulletin de la Société royale de Géographie d'Anvers, vol. 30, 1906, pp. 58-63