James S. Jameson was the great-great-grandson of John Jameson, the founder of the famed Irish Whiskey company, and as such was heir to the family fortune.
Like many rich heirs of the era, Jameson considered himself something of an adventurer, and would tag along on the expeditions of more accomplished explorers.
The end of the 19th century was a time of unimaginable cruelty in Africa as the nations of Europe sought to divide it into imperialist states. Millions of Africans were killed by the conquering forces from the north as white men pillaged the land for its vast natural resources, gold, and diamonds. Expeditions were sent to the heart of the “dark continent” hoping to uncover treasures.
One such excursion featured the wealthy James Jameson, heir to the whiskey empire.
According to an affidavit by Assad Farran, a Syrian translator on the expedition to the Congo, Jameson expressed an interest in witnessing cannibalism in 1888. He was advised to purchase a slave girl, which he picked up for the bargain price of six handkerchiefs. Jameson gave the 10-year-old girl as a gift to cannibals. She was lashed to a tree and stabbed to death, then hacked apart and devoured. Meanwhile, Jameson stood by, making a series of rough sketches of the incident.
The girl was tied to a tree,” said Farran,
“the natives sharpened their knives the while. One of them then stabbed her twice in the belly.”
In Jameson’s own diary he then wrote, “Three men then ran forward, and began to cut up the body of the girl; finally her head was cut off, and not a particle remained, each man taking his piece away down the river to wash it.”
Later, he would render a series of illustrations and display them to others in the group. In describing them, Farran said “There were six of them, all neatly done. The first sketch was of the girl as she was led to the tree. The second showed her stabbed, with the blood gushing from the wounds. The third showed her dissected. The fourth, fifth, and sixth showed men carrying off various parts of her body.”
Jameson died shortly thereafter, but not before writing a rebuttal of the incident. Although he claimed that he was present for an incident of cannibalism, he claimed he was averse to it. He even corroborated the point about the handkerchiefs, although instead of payment, he claimed that they were given to prove the cannibals would actually go through with it. The rebuttal seems rather flimsy in retrospect, and as other members of the group would testify to Jameson’s rather execrable character, he likely operated with sinister intent.
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