Herzekiah Andrew Shanu

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Herzekiah Andrew Shanu
Born 1858
Died 1905
Known for Photography
The Nine Kings of Boma, Congo Free State, c. 1890, halftoneFrom Le Congo Illustré, 1, 19 (1892), 149

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. However in 1884, he entered the colonial service of the Congo Free State as a clerk, rising to the rank of district sub-commissioner. 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. [1]


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.[1]


  • 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. ^ a b Hochschild, Adam: King Leopold's Ghost, Houghton Mifflin, 1999. ISBN 978-0-618-00190-3

External links[edit]