Herzekiah Andrew Shanu

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Herzekiah Andrew Shanu
Nine Kings.jpg
The Nine Kings of Boma, Congo Free State, c. 1890, halftone. A photograph by Shanu published in Le Congo illustré 1/19 (1892), 149.
Born 1858
Died 1905
Known for Photography

Herzekiah Andrew Shanu (1858–1905) was an African photographer noted for his involvement in the campaign against inhumane abuses in the Congo Free State.

Early years[edit]

He was a Yoruba man, originally from Lagos in what is now Nigeria. He initially became a school teacher. He was educated at the Church Missionary Society Grammar School, and later in the Training Institute for Teachers, at the end of which he graduated as a teacher. For a few years, he taught at a Lagos Primary School.[1][2] However, in 1884, he entered the colonial service of the Congo Free State as a clerk, rising to the rank of district sub-commissioner and a French-English translator in the office of the governor-general in Boma.[3] Establishing himself at Boma, then the capital, he opened a general store and photographic studio. In 1894, he traveled to Antwerp to attend the Exposition Internationale d'Anvers. Some of his photographs were published in Le Congo illustré. In 1900 he demonstrated his loyalty to the Free Congo State by supporting the authorities during a mutiny by the Force Publique.[4]


In 1903 Shanu supplied Roger Casement with information concerning the abuse of West African workers in the Congo, who in turn referred him to E. D. Morel. Morel and Shanu corresponded for several years; Shanu forwarding, among other things, trial transcripts of trials against low-ranking Congo Free State officials which proved to be very revealing. While trying to acquire information from the police chief of Boma, Shanu was found out and as a consequence beleaguered by state officials. After it was discovered that Shanu had provided the Congo Reform Association with evidence of atrocities in the Congo, government employees were ordered to boycott his businesses. He suffered bankruptcy and took his own life in July 1905.[4]


  • Christraud M. Geary, In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885–1960. London: Philip Wilson for Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, pp. 104–106.
  • "Kinshasa Photographers, 1870 to 2000", Revue Noire, 2001. ISBN 2-909571-53-X.
  1. ^ Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (2013). The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People's History. Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-780-3294-06. 
  2. ^ N'Goné Fall; Lyé Mudaba Yoka (2001). Kinshasa photographies (in French). 36. Revue noire (University of Michigan). p. 22. 
  3. ^ Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja (2001). Africa and the continuing challenge of the Congo. 4. Centre for Advanced Social Science (CASS). p. 9. ISBN 978-9-783-4797-60. 
  4. ^ a b Hochschild, Adam: King Leopold's Ghost, Houghton Mifflin, 1999. ISBN 978-0-618-00190-3

External links[edit]