Saturday, 17 November 2012

Antisemitism in the Jungle

From the 1823 book Universal Geography, entry on the Congo, specifically the then kingdom of Loango

A fact worthy the attention of travellers, is, that, according to Oldendorp, the kingdom of Loango contains black Jews, scattered throughout the country ; they are despised by the negroes, who do not even deign to eat with them ; they are occupied in trade, and keep the sabbath so strictly that they do not even converse on that day ; they have a separate burying ground, very far from any habitation. The tombs are constructed with masonry, and ornamented with Hebrew inscriptions ; the singularity of which excites the laughter of the negroes, who discern in them only serpents, lizards, and other reptiles. M. Ehrmann, finding it impossible to explain the origin of these Jews, doubts the reality of the fact ; Busching, however, Michaelis, and Zimmermann, do not hesitate to admit their existence ; Bruns considers them as descendants of the Falashes of Habesh, or Abyssinia ; and Sprengel wishes them to be considered as the descendants of Portuguese Jews, who, having quitted their country, are no longer afraid to profess openly the religion of their fathers. 

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