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date: 04 April 2020

Benga, Ota locked

(b. 1881[?]; d. 21 March 1916),
  • Charles Orson Cook

Extract

African “Pygmy” who was put on display at the Bronx Zoo. In 1904, the white missionary Samuel Phillips Verner brought Ota Benga whose freedom he had purchased with a bribe to Belgian Congo officials and seven other Congolese Pygmies to the Saint Louis World s Fair as part of an ethnological exhibit of primitive peoples which included among others the Native American Apache chief Geronimo Verner s agreement with the World s Fair required him to bring several Africans and as much of their village intact as possible He actually brought fewer tribesmen than his contract required and many fewer artifacts but the exhibit was one of the most popular attractions at the fair The Africans were the objects of constant public attention and they also drew the interest of professional and academic ethnologists who measured the physical and mental characteristics of the Pygmies concluding that they were ...

A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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