The Story of Ota Benga

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Gelin_

The Story of Ota Benga

Post by Gelin_ » Fri Dec 10, 2004 11:33 am

Ota Benga: The Pygmy put on display in a zoo

by Ken Ham, Carl Wieland and Don Batten

First published in One Blood

Chapter 10

One of the most fascinating historical accounts about the effects of Darwinism is the story of Ota Benga, a Pygmy who was put on display in an American zoo as an example of an inferior race.1 The incident clearly reveals the racism of Darwinism and the extent to which the theory gripped the hearts and minds of scientists and journalists in the early 1900s. As humans move away from this time in history, we can more objectively look back at the horrors that Darwinism has brought to society, of which this story is one poignant example.

Read the article at:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creatio ... p?vPrint=1

gelin

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Post by admin » Fri Dec 10, 2004 3:06 pm

Gelin, this is simply an EXTRAORDINARY story (think about it, 20th century America!!) but EXTRAORDINARILY TWISTED as well. We don't need to blame neither Darwin nor the Theory of Evolution for that one, man! Put the blame where it truly belongs... on an extraordinarily racist judeo-christian society! I had not heard of that "unbelievable" story before, and I am glad that you brought it to the forum. In fact, I am going to take the liberty to republish it here in full, for educational reasons and forum discussion, as is currently defined by the Fair Use Act concerning reproduction of electronic materials, giving full credits and explicit access to the source of the story, of course. But it is equally important that I register my full indignation not only at the racism described in the story but the twisted attempt to blame it all on science. The Theory of Evolution has nothing to do with the treatment given to Ota Benga. As far as I can tell, this is related by a pathetic bunch of Christian revisionists who are vainly trying to wash their hands of their culpability (or that of their parents) in this sordid affair, just like Pontius Pilate did before in letting the bloodthirsty crowd carry on with their orgiastic killing of Jesus-Christ.

[quote]Ota Benga
The man who was put on display in the zoo!
by Jerry Bergman

Summary
One of the most fascinating stories about the effects of evolution on human relations is the story of Ota Benga, a pygmy who was put on display in a zoo as an example of an evolutionarily inferior race. The incident clearly reveals the racism of evolutionary theory and the extent to which the theory gripped the hearts and minds of scientists.

<center>* * * * * * * * * * * *</center>
The man who was put on display in a zoo was brought from the Belgian Congo in 1904 by noted African explorer Samuel Verner. The man, a pygmy named Ota Benga (or ‘Bi', which meant ‘friend' in his language), was soon ‘presented by Verner to the Bronx Zoo director, William Hornaday'. (1)

The pygmy was born in 1881 in Africa. When put in the zoo, he was 150 centimetres (4 feet 11 inches) tall, about 23 years old, and weighed a mere 47 kilos (103 pounds). Often referred to as a boy, he had been actually married twice—his first wife had been kidnapped by a hostile tribe, and his second had died from a poisonous snake bite. (2)

He was first displayed at the 1904 St Louis World's Fair, and was exhibited with other pygmies as ‘emblematic savages' along with other ‘strange people' in the anthropology wing. This first stop in America was influenced by what some have called ‘Darwinism, Barnumism, and racism.' (3)

Ota Benga later ended up at the Bronx Zoo, where he was put on display in the monkey house. Although zoo director Hornaday insisted he was merely offering an ‘intriguing exhibit' for the public's edification, he ‘apparently saw no difference between a wild beast and the little Black man; for the first time in any American zoo, a human being was displayed in a cage. Benga was given cage-mates to keep him company in his captivity—a parrot and an Orangutan named Dohong'. (4)

Persuaded by Darwin's theory
The factors motivating Verner to bring Ota Benga to the United States were complex, but he was evidently much influenced by the theory of Charles Darwin—which led to the division of humankind into contrived races. (5)

A contemporary account stated that Benga was ‘not much taller than the orangoutan [sic] … their heads are much alike, and both grin in the same way when pleased'.

Benga had come over from Africa with a ‘fine young chimpanzee', which Mr Verner also deposited ‘in the ape collection at the Primates House'. (7) Hornaday's enthusiasm for his new exhibit was reflected in an article he wrote for the zoological society's bulletin, which began as follows:

[quote]‘On September 9, a genuine African Pygmy, belonging to the sub-race commonly miscalled “the dwarfs,” … Ota Benga is a well-developed little man, with a good head, bright eyes and a pleasing countenance. He is not hairy, and is not covered by the “downy fell” described by some explorers … He is happiest when at work, making something with his hands.' (8)[/quote]

He then tells about how he obtained him from Verner, who ‘was specially interested in the Pygmies, having recently returned to their homes on the Kasai River the half dozen men and women of that race who were brought to this country by him for exhibition in the Department of Anthropology at the St Louis [World's Fair] Exposition.' (9)

It was widely believed at this time, even by eminent scientists, that blacks were evolutionarily inferior to Caucasians, but caging one in a zoo produced much publicity. (10) In Bridges' words:

[quote]‘The Pygmy worked—or played—with the animals in a cage, naturally, and the spectacle of a black man in a cage gave a Times reporter the springboard for a story that worked up a storm of protest among Negro ministers in the city. Their indignation was made known to Mayor George B. McClellan, but he refused to take action.' (11)[/quote]

Some whites also became concerned about the ‘caged Negro'. According to one author, part of the concern was because the ‘men of the cloth feared … that the Benga exhibition might be used to prove the Darwinian theory of evolution'. (12) The objections were often vague, as in the words of The New York Times of September 9, 1906:

Pygmies rated low on ‘human scale'

‘The exhibition was that of a human being in a monkey cage. The human being happened to be a Bushman, one of a race that scientists do not rate high in the human scale, but to the average non-scientific person in the crowd of sightseers there was something about the display that was unpleasant … It is probably a good thing that Benga doesn't think very deeply. If he did it isn't likely that he was very proud of himself when he woke in the morning and found himself under the same roof with the orangoutangs [sic] and monkeys, for that is where he really is.'

Although a variety of opinions existed about the incident, it created many protests and the threat of legal action. So the zoo director finally acquiesced, and ‘allowed the pygmy out of his cage'. (13) Once let out, Ota Benga spent most of his days walking around the zoo grounds in a white suit, often with huge crowds following him, and returned to the monkey house only to sleep at night.

Being treated as a curiosity, mocked and made fun of by the visitors, eventually caused Benga to ‘hate being mobbed by curious tourists and mean children'. (14) Zoo director Hornaday, in a letter to Verner, revealed the problems that the situation had caused:

[quote]‘Of course we have not exhibited him (Benga) in the cage since the trouble began. Since dictating the above, we have had a great time with Ota Benga. He procured a carving knife from the feeding room of the Monkey House, and went around the Park flourishing it in a most alarming manner, and for a long time refused to give it up. Eventually it was taken away from him.

‘Shortly after that he went to the soda fountain near the Bird House, to get some soda, and because he was refused the soda he got into a great rage … This led to a great fracas. He fought like a tiger, and it took three men to get him back to the monkey house. He has struck a number of visitors, and has “raised Cain” generally.'[/quote]

Fired arrows at obnoxious gawkers

The pygmy later made a little bow and some arrows and began shooting at zoo visitors whom he found particularly obnoxious. ‘After he wounded a few gawkers, he had to leave the Zoological Park for good.' (15) The New York Times of September 18, 1906, described the problem:

‘There were 40,000 visitors to the park on Sunday. Nearly every man, woman and child of this crowd made for the monkey house to see the star attraction in the park—the wild man from Africa. They chased him about the grounds all day, howling, jeering, and yelling. Some of them poked him in the ribs, others tripped him up, all laughed at him.' (16)

Although Hornaday claimed he was ‘merely offering an interesting exhibit and that Benga was happy …', The Encyclopedia of Evolution notes that this statement ‘could not be confirmed' as there was no record of Benga's feelings. (17)

Ota Benga unfortunately left no written record of his thoughts about the affair. Thus the only side of the story we have is in Verner's voluminous records, the newspaper accounts, and the writings of Hornaday.

We are not lacking information about the incident—many articles survive on the case, and a 281-page book entitled The Pygmy in the Zoo was recently published about Ota's zoo experience by Phillip Verner Bradford, Verner's grandson.

‘Freak' label leads to suicide

After Ota Benga left the zoo, he was able to find sympathetic care at a succession of institutions and with several sympathetic individuals. But he was never able to shed his ‘freak' label. Employed in a tobacco factory in Lynchburg, Virginia, Ota Benga grew increasingly depressed, hostile, irrational, and forlorn. Concluding that he would never be able to return to his native land, in 1916 Benga committed suicide by shooting himself with a borrowed pistol.

The story of his suicide was published by Hornaday in a 1916 Zoological Bulletin. Even at this late date, Hornaday's evolution-inspired racist feelings clearly showed through. He even stated that ‘the young negro was brought to Lynchburg about six years ago, by some kindly disposed person, and was placed in the Virginia Theological Seminary and College here, where for several years he labored to demonstrate to his benefactors that he did not possess the power of learning; and some two or three years ago he quit the school and went to work as a laborer'. (18)

Hornaday then recounts that, after leaving college, Ota lived at a ‘colored home' near the school, earning his livelihood by working as a laborer in a tobacco factory. In Hornaday's words, the suicide was committed because ‘the burden became so heavy that the young negro secured a revolver belonging to the woman with whom he lived, went to the cow stable and there sent a bullet through his heart, ending his life.'

The story of Ota Benga is one of the many tragic fruits of evolutionism. But it is one which contains a lesson in helping us to realize the importance of the Christian teaching that all men are brothers, all descendants of Adam and Eve. If all Christians had stood up for creation at the outset of the Ota Benga incident, this horror story of evolutionary racism might have been averted.


References
Carl Sifak
is, ‘Benga. Ota: The Zoo Man', in American Eccentrics, Facts on File, New York, 1984, p. 253.
William Bridges, Gathering of Animals: An Unconventional History of the New York Zoological Society, Harper and Row, New York, 1974.
Phillip V. Bradford and Harvey Blume, Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo, St Martins, 1992, 304 pp.
Same as Ref. 1.
Russ Rymer, ‘Darwinism, Bamumism and Racism', The New York Times Book Review, September 6, 1992, p. 3.
Same as Ref. 3, p. 181.
Wiliam T. Hornaday, ‘An African Pygmy', Zoological Society Bulletin, No. 23, October, 1906, pp. 301-302.
ibid.
ibid.
Same as Ref. 3.
Same as Ref. 2, p. 224.
Same as Ref. I.
ibid.
Richard Milner, The Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search For Its Origins, Facts of File, Inc., New York, 1990, p. 42.
ibid.
Same as Ref. 3, p. 269.
Same as Ref. 14.
William T. Hornaday, ‘Suicide of Ota Benga, the African Pygmy', Zoological Society Bulletin, Vol. XIX, No. 3, May 1916, p. 1356.


------------------------------------------------------------
Available online at:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/creatio ... abenga.asp
COPYRIGHT © 2004 Answers in Genesis[/quote]

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Fri Dec 10, 2004 5:20 pm

Guy,

As you know I didn't write the article. But we can always agree on THE FACTS reported in the paper, and have different views about the author's ideas and interpretations. As you say, I am glad you reproduce it here for discussions in the forum. I can bring more of the same kind of unbelievable stuff.....

There is a lot to be done my friend....

gelin

Post by » Fri Dec 10, 2004 10:01 pm

Gelin,

Bring more... It's good to know that kind of stuff. It humbles. It opens the eyes as to the progress of mankind (or lack of) over the centuries or millenia. It makes us think harder about which way humanism and spirituality should be leading us.

Guy

Caroline

Post by Caroline » Sat Dec 11, 2004 10:02 am

I agree that neither Darwin or evolutionary theory should be blamed for the horrendous acts of racism like this. I believe it was the *misapplication* of evolutionary theory that allowed people to nurture racist ideas like the ones they call "evolutionary racism" in this account.

The saddest thing about this story is that it's not over. The most encouraging thing is that there are people like the ones on this forum who continue to fight for justice and will do so jouk yo pa kapab anko.

I remember hearing a poem or proverb that goes something like:

Fe tout bon ou kapab
Tout tan ou kapab
tout kote ou kapab
tout jan ou kapab....

jouk tan ou pa kapap anko....

Does anybody remember this poem? I'd like to have the correct version....

Respe,

Caroline

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Post by Jonas » Sat Dec 11, 2004 4:33 pm

"The horror story of evolutionnary racism"?
"The theory of Charles Darwin -which led to the division of humankind into contrived races"

These people from "Creation Magazine" can not refute the theory of evolution consequently, they dig up a story about a pygmy, in an anecdoctical way.

The theory of Darwin does not lead to the division of humankind into contrived races, on the contrary.

Most modern evolutionnists are of the agreement that we are all descended from the continent of Africa, and mankind has not left the Continent than until recently, between 50000 to 70000 years ago.

A forensic anthropologist of the university UPSALA in the Netherlands, has even put the time of the migration, between 52000 and 55000 years.

He used "mitochondrial DNA" to draw this conclusion.

In 1904, the science of Evolution was in its infancy, given that Darwin had published "The Origin of Species" in 1859, less than 50 y
ears before.

The important find of the Leaky Family, in the OLDUVAI GORGE in KENYA, which advanced by leaps and bounds the Theory, wasn't made until the 40s and 50s.

More importantly the DNA Helix was discovered in 1953.
This discovery has solidified the idea that there is but one race:THE HUMAN RACE.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Mon Dec 13, 2004 10:57 am

[quote]"These people from "Creation Magazine" can not refute the theory of evolution consequently, they dig up a story about a pygmy</B>, in an anecdoctical way.[/quote]
What's your take on the story itself....?

[quote]The theory of Darwin does not lead to the division of humankind into contrived races, on the contrary.[/quote]
Are you sure about that?

gelin

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Post by Jonas » Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:59 pm

Gelin,

The notion of "race" is a sociological construct,not a biological one.

If you take a DNA strand of an European, an Asian or an African, it is almost impossible to determine which is which.

One of the reasons is that mankind had left Africa just about 50 to 60000 years ago; in the evolutionnary time-scale, it's the blink of an eye. It's not enough time to have any mutation in any species.

Skin color, shape of the nose are superficialities, which are determined by environmental factors.

Gelin, if we stay in the domain of these superficialities, how many races are there?

What are the Ethiopians, with their aquiline noses, their thin lips and their "chocolate" skins?

The southern Africans have tendencies to be a little lighter(skin) than the central Africans, and there is only one reason for that: the temperature is a little more temperate in southern Africa than in Central Africa.

What about the southern europeans compared to the northern europeans?

Another thing: after "the migration" people in different aeras of of Europe, Africa and Asia were continuing to mingle.

For example, in the period of the "Dark Ages" European, there were thousands of African soldiers (muslims) in southern Europe. They were comingling with the southern Europeans.

What are then ,the Spaniards, the Portuguese and the Sicilians?

Even during Roman times, there were African (Black) soldiers in the roman Army. These guys didn't go back home.

Even in our America; there were a huge number of slaves in the Lima (Peru) region.

If you go to Peru nowadays,you'll find few blacks; they were just absorbed in the general population.

The same thing happened in Mexico, which had also a slave population.

Gelin, maybe you have an other notion of what a "race" is; I'd like to know, given I am always disposed to learn.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Mon Dec 13, 2004 5:57 pm

[quote]Gelin, The notion of "race" is a sociological construct,not a biological one.[/quote]
I am a creationist myself, and believe there is just one human race. However, both evolutionists and creationists have used the term race on the basis of these superficialities you just mentioned. Ota Benga is a case, but there are examples also from theologians.

gelin

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Post by Jonas » Mon Dec 13, 2004 7:17 pm

Gelin,

"1904" evolutionnists woud have mentionned "race", not contemporary ones.

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Tue Dec 14, 2004 9:45 am

Jonas,

The story of Ota Benga is just one example among so many...the concept is the same....

gelin

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Post by Jonas » Tue Dec 14, 2004 10:26 am

Gelin,

Your Bible has some cockamamie story about the sons of Cham (Am I right?), being cursed.

What does that say?
By the way, which Bible do you use?
The King James translation?
If you live in the English speaking world, that's probably the one you are using.
It would certainly help if you do some reading, about the process of that translation.

To conclude: there is a "fossil record" that strengthens the "Evolution Theory", where is the "fossil record" or whatever else to justify the "Creation Theory"?

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:00 am

[quote]Gelin, Your Bible has some cockamamie story about the sons of Cham (Am I right?), being cursed. What does that say?[/quote]
Yes, in Genesis it is said that Noah cursed one of his grandsons (through Ham). Noah didn't curse Ham himself apparently because God had just blessed Ham and his two brothers.

[quote]By the way, which Bible do you use? The King James translation? If you live in the English speaking world, that's probably the one you are using. It would certainly help if you do some reading, about the process of that translation.[/quote]

I use several English translations, the French Louis Segond and the Haitian bible (creole).

[quote]To conclude: there is a "fossil record" that strengthens the "Evolution Theory", where is the "fossil record" or whatever else to justify the "Creation Theory"?[/quote]

Are you kidding me? Bring it on... Actually, it's the fossil record itself that proves evolution (as generally understood) could not have taken place. In addition, evolution has NEVER been observed by anybody...

gelin

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Post by admin » Sat Jan 01, 2005 9:08 pm

[quote]Besides some other racist example of Darwin's theory, the Ota Benga story makes me wonder if Haitians who backstab other Haitians at work, at church, in offices or other places ever imagine how the white man sees us or think of us. [/quote]

Nekita, I don't understand the first part of your introductory sentence... well, I don't understand the second part either.

First, you say: "besides some other racist example of Darwin's theory". What do you mean?

Secondly, why would you think of connecting Ota Benga's story to Haitians who backstab other Haitians???

Are Haitians the only people to backstab each other? Now, I know that there is plenty of backstabbing that goes on in our community, and I do not condone it at all, but during the course of my career, I have also witnessed plenty of people of the "white man" variety backstab each other too. So, while I agree with you entirely that we should strive to eliminate certain characteristics that hold us back, I don't know why we have to "imagine how the white man sees us or thinks of us".

How many of those fundamentalists truly feel bad about Ota Benga? My feeling is that Ota Benga is still being exploited for all it's worth, even in death... and that's not something that we need to associate to our own feelings of guilt, because we had no part in the decision to dehumanize Ota Benga and Saartje Baartman, as vilely as they were dehumanized by truly shameless people.

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