Many of us don’t have exquisite handwriting and even sometimes struggle to get a decent writing style. But we all know beautiful handwriting is pleasant experience to all readers.
Prakriti Malla has the world most beautiful handwriting. She was a student in 8th standard in Nepal in 2017, when her paper was circulated in social media. This Nepali girl was unaware of the limelight her paper had gathered on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit accounts , much to the surprise of her parents and relatives. She writes like a designer font on the computer. With this, she has introduced calligraphy (the art of good writing) to a new level.
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The Nepali government officially announced that Prakriti’s signature is the most beautiful signature throughout the globe. It is rumored that she prepared two hours a day to practice her handwriting.
Not too ago long just 1904. In 1904, Ota Benga was kidnapped from Congo and taken to the US, where he was exhibited with monkeys. His appalling story reveals the roots of a racial prejudice that still haunts us.
The black clergymen who had been summoned to Harlem’s Mount Olivet Baptist Church for an emergency meeting on the morning of Monday 10 September 1906, arrived in a state of outrage. A day earlier, the New York Times had reported that a young African man – a so-called “pygmy” – had been put on display in the monkey house of the city’s largest zoo. Under the headline “Bushman Shares a Cage With Bronx Park Apes”, the paper reported that crowds of up to 500 people at a time had gathered around the cage to gawk at the diminutive Ota Benga – just under 5ft tall, weighing 103lb – while he preoccupied himself with a pet parrot, deftly shot his bow and arrow, or wove a mat and hammock from bundles of twine placed in the cage. Children giggled and hooted with delight while adults laughed, many uneasily, at the sight.
In anticipation of larger crowds after the publicity in the New York Times, Benga was moved from a smaller chimpanzee cage to one far larger, to make him more visible to spectators. He was also joined by an orangutan called Dohang. While crowds massed to leer at him, the boyish Benga, who was said to be 23 but appeared far younger, sat silently on a stool, staring – sometimes glaring – through the bars. The exhibition of a visibly shaken African with apes in the New York Zoological Gardens, four decades after the end of slavery in America, would highlight the precarious status of black people in the nation’s imperial city. It pitted the “coloured” ministers, and a few elite allies, against a wall of white indifference, as New York’s newspapers, scientists, public officials, and ordinary citizens revelled in the spectacle. By the end of September, more than 220,000 people had visited the zoo – twice as many as the same month one year earlier. Nearly all of them headed directly to the primate house to see Ota Benga. His captivity garnered national and global headlines – most of them inured to his plight. For the clergymen, the sight of one of their own housed with monkeys was startling evidence that in the eyes of their fellow Americans, their lives didn’t matter. On that Monday afternoon, a small group of ministers, led by the Reverend James H Gordon – then hailed by the Brooklyn Eagle as “one of the most eloquent Negroes in the country” – boarded a train to the zoological gardens, better known as the Bronx Zoo. At the gleaming white beaux-arts-style primate house, they spotted Ota Benga ambling within a cage, in the company of Dohang, the orangutan. A sign outside the cage read:
A portrait of Ota Benga taken in Congo. His sharp teeth were the result of tooth chipping, a practice that was popular among young men. Photograph: American Museum of Natural History The African Pygmy, Ota Benga Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches. Weight 103 pound. Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa, By Dr Samuel P Verner. Exhibited each afternoon during September The ministers’ attempts to communicate with Ota Benga failed but his palpable sadness and the sign stoked their indignation. “We are frank enough to say we do not like this exhibition of one of our own race with the monkeys,” Gordon fumed. “Our race, we think, is depressed enough, without exhibiting one of us with apes. We think we are worthy of being considered human beings, with souls.” William Temple Hornaday, the zoo’s founding director and curator, defended the exhibition on the grounds of science. “I am giving the exhibition purely as an ethnological exhibit,” he said. The display, he insisted, was in keeping with the practice of “human exhibitions” of Africans in Europe, breezily evoking the continent’s indisputable status as the world’s paragon of culture and civilisation. Unrepentant, Hornaday declared that the show would go on just as the sign said, “each afternoon during September” or until he was ordered to stop it by the Zoological Society. But Hornaday was not some rogue operator. As the nation’s foremost zoologist – and a close acquaintance of President Theodore Roosevelt – Hornaday had the full backing of two of the most influential members of the Zoological Society, both prominent figures in the city’s establishment. The first, Henry Fairfield Osborn, had played a lead role in the founding of the zoo and was one of the era’s most noted paleontologists. (He would later achieve fame for naming Tyrannosaurus rex.) The second, Madison Grant, was the secretary of the Zoological Society and a high-society lawyer from a prominent New York family. Grant had personally helped negotiate the arrangement to take Ota Benga. The clergymen had no success at the zoo, and left the park vowing to take up the matter the next day with the city’s mayor. But their complaint did catch the attention of the New York Times, whose editors were dismayed that anyone might protest against the display. “We do not quite understand all the emotion which others are expressing in the matter,” the paper said in an unsigned editorial. “Ota Benga, according to our information, is a normal specimen of his race or tribe, with a brain as much developed as are those of its other members. Whether they are held to be illustrations of arrested development, and really closer to the anthropoid apes than the other African savages, or whether they are viewed as the degenerate descendants of ordinary negroes, they are of equal interest to the student of ethnology, and can be studied with profit.” The editorial said it was absurd to imagine Benga’s suffering or humiliation. “Pygmies,” it continued, “are very low in the human scale, and the suggestion that Benga should be in a school instead of a cage ignores the high probability that school would be a place of torture to him … The idea that men are all much alike except as they have had or lacked opportunities for getting an education of books is now far out of date.” In the sober opinion of progressive men of science, Benga’s exhibition on the hallowed grounds of the New York Zoological Gardens was not mere entertainment – it was educational. They believed Benga belonged to an inferior species; putting him on display in the zoo promoted the highest ideals of modern civilisation. This view had, after all, been espoused by generations of leading intellectuals. Louis Agassiz, the Harvard professor of geology and zoology, who at the time of his death in 1873 was arguably America’s most venerated scientist, had insisted for more than two decades that blacks were a separate species, a “degraded and degenerate race”. Two years before Ota Benga arrived in New York, Daniel Brinton, a professor of linguistics and archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, had used his farewell address as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to attack claims that education and opportunity accounted for varying levels of achievement among the races. “The black, the brown, and the red races differ anatomically so much from the white, especially in their splanchnic organs, that even with equal cerebral capacity they never could rival its results by equal efforts,” he said. The dominant force of these ideas – embedded in science, history, government policies, and popular culture – would render Benga’s discomfort and humiliation in a monkey-house cage incomprehensible to the vast majority of those who witnessed it. That it could have occurred in America’s most cosmopolitan city in the 20th century would seem enough cause for astonishment. But what appears on the surface to be a saga of one man’s degradation – a shameful spectacle – is, on closer inspection, the story of an era, of science, of elite men and institutions, and of racial ideologies that still endure today. Worse yet, Benga left no written account of his own life – and others have since filled the gap with denials, conspiratorial silence, half-truths, and even flagrant deception. But it is possible to return to the archives – to letters, anthropological field notes, and contemporaneous accounts – and to reconstruct the real circumstances by which Ota Benga, before the age of adulthood, was stolen from his home in central Africa and brought to New York City for the amusement, and education, of its residents. Samuel P Verner, the self-styled African explorer who took Benga from Congo, told a New York Times reporter that neither he nor the park would profit from the exhibition. “The public,” he insisted, “is the only beneficiary.” Verner further claimed that Benga was there of his own volition: “He is absolutely free … The only restriction that is put upon him is to prevent him from getting away from the keepers. That is done for his own safety.
Samuel P Verner with two boys from the Batetela tribe in Congo in 1902 Photograph: Doubleday “If Ota Benga is in a cage,” he reasoned, “he is only there to look after the animals. If there is a notice on the cage, it is only put there to avoid answering the many questions that are asked about him.” Verner said that he regretted if any feelings had been hurt – but his only concession was to assure the reporter, in an apparent nod to Christian sensitivities, that care would be taken not to exhibit Benga on Sundays. Hornaday was so pleased by the attendance figures at the zoo that he quietly began making plans to keep Benga on display through the autumn, and possibly until the following spring. For his part, he told reporters that Benga had been put in the primate house “because that’s the most comfortable place we could find for him”. In response to such claims, Reverend Gordon publicly offered to house Benga at his own orphanage for black children . But he would first have to secure Benga’s release. On Wednesday morning, the ministers headed to city hall to meet New York’s erudite mayor, George Brinton McClellan, who also served as an ex-officio member of the Zoological Society. The clergymen had planned to appeal for Benga’s immediate release, but they did not get past the reception area; the mayor’s secretary said he was too busy to meet them. “Certainly the mayor, the executive head of the city, may put a stop to an indecent exhibit,” Gordon complained to a reporter. The ministers were told to see Madison Grant, the secretary of the Zoological Society, but at his Wall Street law office, he was similarly unhelpful. He told them that Benga would be at the zoo for only a short time, and that Verner would soon take him to Europe. When Gordon returned to the zoo that afternoon, he found Benga, with a guinea pig, in a cage surrounded by several hundred spectators. “The crowd seemed to annoy the dwarf,” the New York Times reported in an article published the following day. By this point, Gordon had sought the assistance of Wilford H Smith, who had recently been the first black lawyer to successfully argue a case before the US supreme court. After consulting with the city’s attorney, Smith agreed to appeal to a court for Benga’s release – and John Henry E Millholland, a wealthy white New Yorker who had founded the Constitution League to protest against the disenfranchisement of blacks in the south, agreed to finance the case. The combination of Smith’s stature, Milholland’s financial backing, and the threat of a lawsuit undoubtedly got the attention of the Zoological Society’s officials. Hornaday’s response, however, was minimal: on the advice of Osborn, he quietly removed the sign outside Benga’s cage. But spectators continued to flock to the monkey house, hoping to steal a glimpse of the “pygmy”. The story of Ota Benga’s captivity at the Bronx Zoo began in 1903, when Verner – an avowed white supremacist from a prominent South Carolina family – heard about plans for the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis. The fair’s organisers hoped to celebrate American imperialism, and map human progress “from the dark prime to the highest enlightenment, from savagery to civic organisation, from egoism to altruism”. William John McGee – the president of the newly formed American Anthropological Association, who had been hired to head the fair’s ethnology department – issued a call for African “pygmies”, who were believed to represent the lowest rung on the evolutionary scale. Verner wrote to McGee to offer his services. Four years earlier, Verner had brought a large collection of ethnological material to the Smithsonian Museum – as well as two boys from the “Batetela cannibal tribe”, whom Verner had taken from Congo and offered to the museum as models. (Neither ever returned home.) Since then, Verner told McGee, he had written extensively on scientific matters in Africa, noting his articles on “pygmies” published in the Spectator and the Atlantic Monthly. Verner added that he was a personal friend of the Belgian king, Leopold II, who controlled Congo Free State, and had promised any assistance required in the “diplomatic mission”. In a deal finalised in October 1903, Verner was commissioned as a “special agent” by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company, charged with conducting an expedition into the African interior to obtain anthropological material and offer “certain natives the opportunity of attending the Exposition in person”. The exacting list called for the retrieval from Congo of “one pygmy patriarch or chief. One adult woman, preferably his wife. Two infants, of women in the expedition,” and “four more pygmies, preferably adult but young, but including a priestess and a priest, or medicine doctors, preferably old.” McGee stipulated that Verner must secure the voluntary attendance of the delegation and return them safely to their homes and obtain all permissions and the support of King Leopold II. A total of $8,500 was allocated, including $500 for Verner’s compensation and an additional $1,500 set aside for unforeseen contingencies. Verner proposed taking a navy warship or gunboat to Congo to “greatly lighten enferences” – a proposition that apparently failed to alarm the fair’s officials. Instead, he received official letters of recommendation signed by McGee as president of the American Anthropological Association and acting president of the National Geographic Society. For good measure, Verner secured a letter addressed to Leopold from John Hay, the US secretary of state. In late November 1903, Special Agent Verner set sail from New York harbour. By early December, he had arrived in London – just as the British consul Roger Casement was returning to the city to file his report investigating atrocities against Congo natives. Verner had stopped to outfit himself with tropical and hunting equipment: he would ship at least 80 cases of supplies – including rifles and ammunition – to Congo. En route to Africa, Verner wrote to McGee to announce that King Leopold was “so much interested” that he would attend the fair himself, and assured McGee that the cooperation of the so-called pygmies was even more likely now that he had acquired “a more considerable equipment than I at first contemplated,” an apparent reference to the military supplies he had purchased in London. Verner reiterated that he had, in a previous letter to McGee, “covered the ground of what I thought wise in the event of a non-assent of the pygmies”; however, that letter has not been located. McGee replied: “As you are now placed, you are a law unto yourself and I have implicit confidence in the competence of the court.” The letter implicitly sanctioned whatever was necessary for Verner to do to carry out his mission. A week later, Verner reported his first triumph. “The first pygmy has been secured!” he exclaimed on March 20 1904, the day Ota Benga’s life would radically change. Verner told McGee that Ota Benga was obtained from a village where he had been held captive, at a remote site in the forest “twelve days march from any white settlement”. And while it is possible that Verner went alone into a remote location in search of his prey, the area, Bassongo, was the site of a well-known slave market and government post where human trafficking was pervasive. Later, retelling the tale of Benga’s capture in a Harper’s Weekly article, Verner said that when he found Benga, he was held captive by the Bashilele, who he claimed were cannibals. “He was delighted to come with us,” wrote Verner, “for he was many miles from his people, and the Bashilele were not easy masters.” However, he told the Columbus Dispatch that he was waiting for a ship to come in when he ventured a short distance and spotted Ota Benga, along with a few members of his tribe. In this contradictory retelling, he said he made arrangements with a chief to take Benga with him. “He was willing and even anxious to go with me, for the memory of his awful escape from the hungry cannibals had not been forgotten by him.” In yet another account, he wrote that Benga had been captured in war by enemies of his tribe who were in turn defeated by government troops, who then held Benga. Benga elected to travel with Verner on learning that he “wanted to employ pygmies”. The circumstances of their encounter would continue to change in the telling over the years. The only consistent themes were the alleged threat of cannibals and Verner’s role as Benga’s saviour. But even without knowing the specific details of their meeting, we can safely assume that Benga was hunted down by Verner. The British consul Roger Casement’s recent inquiry in Congo had confirmed many earlier reports of mass atrocities under Leopold’s rule, including widespread enslavement, murder, and mutilation. Men came to Casement with missing hands, as the African American missionary William Sheppard and others had previously documented. Some claimed that they had been castrated or otherwise mutilated by government soldiers and sometimes by white state officials. The widespread and wanton practice of mutilation “is amply proved by the Kodak”, said Casement who submitted photographs of at least two dozen mutilated victims. Most observers during this period noted the common sight of Congolese chained by their necks and forced to work for the state. While Benga’s personal experience in Congo was not recorded, the incursions deeper into the forest for rubber and ivory would, for his forest-dwelling people, mean greater exposure and vulnerability to state abuses. Casement’s report was submitted to the British crown around the time Benga and Verner met. The report brought overnight fame to Casement, and international scrutiny to Leopold, who set up a commission comprising a Swiss jurist, a Belgian appellate judge, and a Belgian baron, to investigate the allegations. But none of the revelations would spare Benga who was now securely in Verner’s net. After obtaining Benga, Verner advised McGee to send a statement to the prominent daily, weekly, and monthly publications to spread the news of his expedition. On 21 March, Verner wrote to McGee to report that he, accompanied by a state official “of eminence and responsibility”, had descended on a village. They obtained another “pygmy” who had been temporarily placed in a local mission. McGee praised Verner’s efforts. “The more I have reflected on the distances and other difficulties you have had to overcome, the more have I been impressed with the clearness of your foresight and the soundness of your plans,” he wrote. McGee reported that plans for the fair were proceeding well. The University of Chicago’s Professor Frederick Starr had arrived with nine indigenous Ainu people from Japan. The Patagonians were on a boat from Liverpool, and 300 natives “including Igorottes and Negrito pygmies” had arrived the preceding Monday. Four hundred more were en route from San Francisco. But the African “pygmies” – a term once associated with monkeys – were to be the signal attraction, and with the fair a month away and Verner a month behind his deadline, McGee cared only that Verner complete his mission successfully. “I make but a single plea,” McGee wrote, “get the Pygmies.” To that Verner responded: “We are not going to fail unless death comes.” In April, Verner wrote to McGee to report hostilities between state troops and the Congolese people that had compounded the difficulties he was having persuading any forest dwellers to return with him. Verner later recalled that the old men shook their heads gravely, the women howled through the night, and the medicine men “violently opposed” his scheme to take some of their people to America. Yet Verner claims he changed their minds by simply supplying salt – which traders and company officials paid the Congolese for their goods and which Verner claimed was more valuable than gold. Somehow, the armed and determined Verner won over a boy he called Malengu, then another called Lanunu, then Shumbu and Bomushubba. He later said more than 20 males in all promised to accompany him, but more than half of them “subsequently gave way to their fears”. Most of the “Batwa” ran away “but we succeeded in keeping some to their promise.” On the morning of 11 May, Verner, accompanied by Ota Benga and a band of eight other young males of undetermined ages, boarded a steamer for the long journey down the Kasai River to Leopoldville and the mouth of the Congo. The delegation arrived in New Orleans on 25 June. According to the ship’s passenger list, the youngest boy, Bomushubba, was only 12, followed by Lumbaugu, who was said to be 14. “Otabenga” – the name Verner used privately with Benga – was said to be 17 – significantly younger than Verner would later claim. Although the delegation had arrived nearly two months late and fell far short of the goal – not one woman, infant, or elderly medicine man was among them – Verner’s African visitors were giddily greeted in St Louis. “African Pygmies for the World’s Fair” was the headline in the St Louis Post-Dispatch on 26 June. Soon, the newspapers would mock the exhibited Africans with one offensive headline after another: “Pygmies Demand a Monkey Diet: Gentlemen from South Africa at the Fair Likely to Prove Troublesome in Matter of Food” and “Pygmies Scorn Cash; Demand Watermelons”. Verner himself did not arrive in St Louis with his coveted acquisitions. Instead, he disembarked in New Orleans on a stretcher and was transported to a sanatorium. Some people suspected sunstroke. Casement, who happened to be on the same ship heading to America, observed that many thought Verner was “cracked”. McGee dispatched someone to escort Benga and Verner’s other captured “pygmies” from New Orleans to St Louis. A short time later, Verner was back on the scene, writing articles about his adventures in Congo. In one account, beneath the headline: “An Untold Chapter of My Adventures While Hunting Pygmies in Africa,” a large portrait of a triumphant Verner, wearing a suit and bow tie, appears alongside pictures of his captives, including Benga, whom he claimed to have obtained for $5 worth of goods. In another published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, he claimed Ota Benga was a cannibal – “the only genuine cannibal in America today”. On the fairgrounds the delegation was pinched, prodded and poked while their pet parrots and monkeys were taunted and burned with cigars. As the temperatures dropped, they were also subjected to the frigid fairgrounds without adequate clothing or shelter. Behind the scenes, they were measured, photographed and plaster casts were taken for busts. Now, two years later, having been deposited by Verner in New York, Benga was once again subjected to the raucous clamour of spectators and a callous disregard for his humanity. Hornaday, ever the showman, eagerly fielded requests for photographs and interviews from around the US and the world. On Thursday 13 September, the New York Times published a letter written by one Dr MS Gabriel, who said he had seen Benga at the zoo and found the objections to the exhibit “absurd”. While the ministers protested about Benga’s presence in a cage, it was, on the contrary, “a vast room, a sort of balcony in the open air”, which allowed visitors to observe the African guest “while breathing the fresh air”. Benga’s childlike ways and broken English were pleasing, Gabriel continued, “and the visitors find him the best of good fellows”. It was a pity, he said, that Hornaday did not give lectures related to such exhibits. “This would emphasise the scientific character of the service, enhance immeasurably the usefulness of the Zoological Park to our public in general, and help our clergymen to familiarise themselves with the scientific point of view so absolutely foreign to many of them.” Hornaday saved the clippings and proudly shared them with his friend, the paleontologist Osborn.
“The enclosed clippings are excellent,” Osborn replied. “Benga is certainly making his way successfully as a sensation.” By Sunday 16 September, a week after his debut, Benga was no longer in the cage, but roamed the park under the watchful eye of park rangers. That day a record 40,000 people visited the zoo. Wherever Benga went, hordes followed in hot pursuit. The rowdy crowd chased Benga, and when he was cornered, some people poked him in the ribs or tripped him, while others merely laughed at the sight of a frightened “pygmy”. In self-defence, Benga struck several visitors, and it took three men to get him back to the monkey house. Hornaday wrote to Verner on Monday 17 September, to complain. “I regret to say that Ota Benga has become quite unmanageable,” he said. “He has been so fully exploited in the newspapers, and so much in the public eye, it is quite inadvisable for us to punish him; for should we do so, we would immediately be accused of cruelty, coercion, etc., etc. I am sure you will appreciate this point.” Hornaday complained that “the boy does quite as he pleases, and it is utterly impossible to control him”. He expressed dismay that Benga threatened to bite the keepers whenever they tried to bring him back to the monkey house.Hornaday’s star attraction was turning into a liability. “I see no way out of the dilemma,” he wrote, “but for him to be taken away.” That Friday, a crowd invaded the park and pursued Benga as he walked through the woods. Across the country, newspaper headlines revelled in Benga’s plight. The Chicago Tribune joined the banter under the headline: “Tiny Savage Sees New York; Sneers”. Three thousand miles away, the Los Angeles Times covered the sensation on Sunday 23 September, under the headline: “Genuine Pigymy Is Ota Banga: Can Talk with Orangoutang in New York.” William Temple Hornaday, the zoologist and found- ing director of the Bronx Zoo, where Ota Benga was exhibited.
William Temple Hornaday, the zoologist and founding director of Bronx Zoo, where Ota Benga was exhibited. Photograph: Wildlife Conservation Society Another self-described “African explorer”, John F Vane-Tempest, published an article in the New York Times, disputing the zoo’s classification of Benga as a “pygmy”. Under the headline “What Is Ota Benga?” Vane-Tempest said that on the basis of his experience, Benga was actually a southern African Hottentot, and claimed to have conducted a conversation with Benga “in the tongue of the Hottentots”. According to Vane-Tempest, Benga had professed great satisfaction with his captivity. “He liked the white man’s country, where he was treated as a King, had a cozy room, a splendid room in a palace full of monkeys, and enjoyed all the comforts of home except a few wives.” This preposterous account was nevertheless presented as a straightforward news story. In this midst of this free-for-all, Reverend Matthew Gilbert, of Mount Olivet Baptist Church, wrote to the New York Times to report that the spectacle of Benga’s captivity had ignited the outrage of African-Americans across the US. “Only prejudice against the negro race made such a thing possible in this country,” Gilbert said. “I have had occasion to travel abroad, and I am confident that such a thing would not have been tolerated a day in any other civilised country.” He enclosed a sober statement from a committee of the Ministers’ Union of Charlotte, North Carolina, that read: “We regard the actors or authorities in this most reprehensible conduct as offering an unpardonable insult to humanity, and especially to the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But others were not so sure. The Minneapolis Journal published a photograph of Benga holding a monkey, and claimed, “He is about as near an approach to the missing link as any human species yet found.” On 26 September, with protests mounting, the city controller’s office sent an official to investigate a report that the zookeepers were accepting payments to permit visitors to enter Benga’s sleeping quarters. The unnamed inspector visited Benga, whom he found clad in a khaki suit and a soft gray cap. He noted Benga’s “boyish appearance” and described him as an African native who park visitors believed was “some sort of a wild man who can understand monkey talk.” He concluded: “Without attempting to discuss the intellectual accomplishments or demerits of the gentleman, it may be stated that to the unscientific mind this native of Darkest Africa does not materially differ in outward appearance at least from some of the natives of darkest New York.” He also was sceptical about claims that Benga’s intellect was stunted and that he could understand the chattering monkeys. He said that he would be more convinced of Benga’s arrested development if Benga did not speak some English, and said that if Benga could understand the monkeys, “he kept the secret well to himself.” The tide had begun to turn against Hornaday and the zoo. Heated objections had begun to appear even in the pages of the New York Times. Even worse, Benga was now mounting increased resistance. When handlers tried to return him to the cage, he would bite, kick and fight his way free. On at least one occasion he threatened caretakers with a knife he had somehow got hold of. Hornaday was also unsettled by the unruly mobs that chased and taunted Ota Benga. Exasperated, Hornaday attempted to reach Verner, who had inexplicably left the city. “The boy must either leave here immediately or be confined, Hornaday said in a letter to Verner. “Without you, he is a very unruly savage.” But as much as much as he wished to unload Benga, Hornaday refused to release him to Gordon’s orphanage unless Gordon promised to return him to Verner upon his return to New York. Gordon would not agree. In the meantime, controversy swirled around the zoo as protests picked up steam around the country. Even white southerners leapt at the opportunity to mock New Yorkers for the unseemly display – “A Northern Outrage,” in the words of one Louisiana newspaper, which added: “Yes, in the sacred city of New York where almost daily mobs find exciting sport in chasing negroes through the streets without much being said about it.” Finally, on the afternoon of Friday 28 September, 20 days after he first went on display – Benga quietly left the zoo, escorted by the man who had captured him. His departure would be as calm and contained as his debut was frenetic and flamboyant. Apparently no reporters were alerted to witness Benga’s farewell. He was taken to the Howard Coloured Orphan Asylum, in Brooklyn’s Weeksville neighbourhood – the finely appointed orphanage run by Gordon, in the city’s largest and most affluent African-American community. “He looks like a rather dwarfed colored boy of unusual amiability and curiosity,” Gordon said. “Now our plan is this: We are going to treat him as a visitor. We have given him a room to himself, where he can smoke if he chooses.” Gordon said Benga had already learned a surprising number of English words and would soon be able to express himself.
James Gordon led the protests against Ota Benga’s exhibition and captivity in the monkey house. Photograph: Anne Spencer House and Garden Museum “This,” he asserted, “will be the beginning of his education.” In January 1910, Ota Benga was sent to Lynchburg, Virginia – a city of nearly 30,000 people, with electric streetcars, sumptuous mansions, sycamore trees and soaring hills. As Gordon had promised when Benga first came into his care, he was sent to the Lynchburg Theological Seminary and College, a school noted for its all-black faculty and staff, which prided itself on its fierce autonomy from the white American Baptist Home Mission. At the time, many white patrons of black education insisted that blacks only receive an industrial education, but Lynchburg Theological continued to offer its students liberal arts courses. Benga lived in a rambling yellow house across the road from the school with Mary Hayes Allen, the widow of the former president of the seminary, and her seven children . Benga, usually barefoot, often led a band of neighborhood boys to the forest to teach them the ways of a hunter: how to make bows from vines, hunt wild turkeys and squirrels, and trap small animals. In his scrappy English, Benga often regaled the boys with stories of his adventures hunting elephants – “Big, big”, he would say, with outstretched arms – and recounted how he celebrated a kill with a triumphant hunting song. In Benga they found an open and patient teacher, and a companion who uninhibitedly relived memories of a lost and longed-for life. Benga, in turn, had found a surrogate home and family, and would learn their customs and the contours of their binding blackness. In their sermons and spirituals, he surely recognised a familiar sorrow. Still, they did not know the piercing rupture of captivity – the eternity of alienation that many of their forebears had known, which Benga himself now knew. While they were burdened and disdained in America, it was the land they had tilled and spilled blood on, the land where they created life and buried their dead. For all the rejection, they were home. Benga had only memories, and no one but he could know what form they took. Was his sleep troubled by nightmares of being stalked by mobs, or being caged? Was he haunted by visions of murdered loved ones, or of starving, tortured, and chained Congolese? Some nights, beneath a star-speckled sky, the boys recalled, they would watch Benga build a fire, and dance and sing around it. They were enraptured as he circled the flames, hopping and singing as if they were not there. They were no older than 10, too young to grasp the poignancy of the ancient ritual. But as he, and they, grew older, something changed. By 1916, Benga had lost interest in their excursions to hunt and fish, and no longer seemed so eager a friend to the neighbourhood children. Many had noticed his darkening disposition, his all-consuming longing to go home. For hours he would sit alone in silence under a tree. Some of his young companions would recall, decades later, a song he used to sing, which he had learned at the Theological Seminary: “I believe I’ll go home / Lordy, won’t you help me.” In the late afternoon of 19 March 1916, the boys watched as Benga gathered wood to build a fire in the field. As the fire rose to a brilliant flame, Benga danced around it while chanting and moaning. The boys had seen his ritual before, but this time they detected a profound sorrow: he seemed eerily distant, as vacant as a ghost. That night, as they slept, Ota Benga stole into a battered grey shed across the road from his home. Before daybreak, he picked up a gun that he had hidden there, and fired a single bullet through his own heart.
Samuel P Verner took Benga captive in Congo and brought him back to the United States. Photograph: University of South Carolina.
LIFE ON VENUS hopes were raised this week after astronomers detected that traces of pungent gas in the planet’s atmosphere may be coming from microbial life, but a Russian scientist went one step further.
Experts from the UK observed phosphine gas 30 miles up in Venus’ cloud s and have failed to identify a process other than life that could account for its presence. Traces of the rare molecule raises the possibility that life gained a foothold on Earth’s inner neighbour and remnants clung on in its atmosphere as global warming left the planet’s surface uninhabitable. Despite this, Russian scientist Leonid Ksanfomaliti published an article in the journal Solar System Research, sensationally claiming he had spotted “something living” on the surface of the planet. It came following photos taken by Venera-13 – a Soviet-era probe which touched down on Earth’s sister planet 40 years ago. The details of the mission were kept under wraps, as tensions with the US reached an all-time high, but Quest TV’s documentary “NASA’s Unexplained Files” revealed how they were later declassified. The series said: “A Soviet space probe reaches the hottest planet in the Solar System. “A lander packed with a payload of cameras and scientific instruments plunges more than 48km (30 miles) through clouds of sulphuric acid to reach the surface.
Life on Venus hopes have been raised (Image: GETTY/NASA)
Traces of microbes were found in the clouds of Venus (Image: ESO) “The probe sends back images that seem to show something moving on the surface. “In the Cold War era, the Soviets kept the findings of the probe a closely-guarded secret. “It takes three decades before a Russian scientist, Leonid Ksanfomaliti, reveals astonishing images from the archives.” In one image, the Venera-13 landing probe is seen parked on the rocky Venusian foreground, and an object shaped somewhat like a crab stands inches from the probe. In another, also taken by Venera-13, this crab-like object appears to be in a different location.
Dr Ksanfomaliti said the object was moving (Image: RUSSIAN SPACE INSTITUTE) Dr Ksanfomaliti said the images showed a scorpion-shaped body, a disc and a “black flap,” which apparently moved as the probe’s camera recorded the scene. He added in his paper: “Let’s boldly suggest that the objects’ morphological features would allow us to say that they are living.” But, Professor of Naval Science Christopher Orwell revealed how NASA experts came up with a more logical explanation. He said in 2019: “During the Seventies and Eighties, we knew very little about the Venera missions to Venus. “He’s reanalysing images and he notices something rather strange.
A bizarre object was spotted in the snaps (Image: QUEST)
The object was thought to be living on Venus (Image: QUEST) “He sees what looks like a disc, which seems to be moving. “NASA photo analysts upon reviewing the photos have concluded that it was actually probably the lens cap from the Venera camera.” Despite this, American astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi said finding life on Venus is not too unrealistic. He continued: “If you look at all of our space explorations, a lot has been focused on the Moon and Mars – Venus has been left behind. “But Venus might be the most interesting place to observe in the universe.
But NASA thinks it came after a lens cap fell off the probe (Image: QUEST)
Venus’ surface temperature reaches 450C (Image: GETTY) “If humans are going to survive in the future, we’re going to have to leave Earth. “We see in fossil records that from time-to-time much of Earth’s life gets wiped out. “The more planets we have the better.” The conditions on Venus are so harsh, many scientists believe the planet is dead. For two billion years, the planet was temperate and harboured an ocean, but now a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere blankets a near-waterless surface where temperatures top 450C.
The clouds in the sky are hardly inviting either – containing droplets of 90 percent sulphuric acid. Professor Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University and leader of the team who made the recent discovery, said: “It’s completely startling to say life could survive surrounded by so much sulphuric acid. “But all the geological and photochemical routes we can think of are far too underproductive to make the phosphine we see.” Prof Greaves observed Venus in 2017 with the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, and in 2019 with the Alma telescope in Chile, revealing the signature of phosphine in the upper cloud deck of Venus on both occasions.
A small Inuit village in Canada was known by fur trappers who would pass through it occasionally. In November 1930, a man named Joe Labelle walked into an Inuit village near the shore of Lake Anjikuni (or Angikuni), in the Kivalliq Region, Nunavut, Canada, and found himself perplexed. Lake Anjikuni is about 500 miles north of the village of Churchill, and Labelle, a fur trader, had visited the village many times before over the years… but this time he found it unnaturally quiet, and for good reason. Not a single person was to be found in the village, nor any animals — pets or wild.
According to the report that Labelle left with the Northwest Mounted Police, he had gone a few miles out of his way that day to visit friends in the village. Labelle had initially yelled a greeting from the edge of the village and gotten no reply, a situation that was already strange. He started to check the huts and found each empty, but in a strange way… some had pots of food still hanging above long cold fires; in one hut he found some sealskin clothing for a child that was being mended, the needle and thread still in it as if simply set aside. Rifles had been left behind in the huts, still standing by the doors. On the shore of the lake were three kayaks, including the village headman’s; they had been abandoned so long ago, that the action of the lake waves had torn them up in their owners’ absence.
Stranger still were the two discoveries made outside the village. On one side, and about 100 yards from the village, seven dead dogs were discovered, tied to some tree stumps. On the side of the village opposite the dogs, a stone cairn grave had been opened and the stones re-stacked into two piles… the body they had covered was gone. Later examination by experts called in by the mounties determined that the dogs had starved to death and that the village had probably been deserted two months previous to Labelle’s discovery, towards the start of Winter, a conclusion that was based on the type of berries found in the cooking pots. Simply put, the evidence seemed to say that the thirty inhabitants of the village had simply abandoned their homes at a moment’s notice and never came back. Where they went and why has never been determined.
Origins of the Legend
The legend of the Lake Angikuni disappearances, as given above, comes directly from Frank Edwards’ 1959 book, Stranger Than Science. This is because Edwards’ version of the story – including the misspelling of the lake’s name as Anjikuni – is what almost every author after him has either repeated or expanded on. Popular versions now tend to include accounts of lights in the sky and other phenomena to imply the event had something to do with UFOs, which are new inventions. But Frank Edwards was not the first to write about the village. I suspect he got his story from FATE Magazine, though I have not been able to track down said possible source yet; but what I have found is a copy of a news report that was transmitted to papers by the NEA (Newspaper Enterprise Association) on November 26, 1930. The article, written by Emmett E. Kelleher, was entitled “Vanished Eskimo Tribe Gives North Mystery Stranger Than Fiction,” and was accompanied by the photos displayed above of the village, trapper Joe Labelle, and “a typical Eskimo family” like those that vanished. The story, as Kelleher states it, started when Joe Labelle arrived by canoe at the village. He beached the canoe about a hundred yards from the village and approached it shouting out greetings… but instead of a reply, all he met with were two “husky” dogs that were half-starved and that crawled towards him, “whining dolefully.” The bodies of an additional seven dogs were just laying around.
There were only six tents in the village, and Labelle began to investigate them. The article quotes Labelle: “I’ll admit that when I went in the first tent I was a little jumpy. Just looking around, I could see the place hadn’t known any human life for months, and I expected to find corpses inside. But there was nothing there but the personal belongings of a family. A couple of deer parkas (skin coats) were in one corner. Fish and deer bones were scattered about. There were a few pairs of boots, and an iron pot, greasy and black. Under one of the parkas, I found a rifle. It had been there so long it was all rusty.” In short, everything looked as if it had been left that way by people who fully expected to come back… but had not. Labelle found all the other tents in a similar state and was followed the whole time by the skeleton-thin dogs. He estimated that no one had been in the village for at least twelve months and that 25 men, women, and children in total had vanished. Spooked by the situation and wondering if the old Inuit legends about an evil spirit named Tornrark had any truth in them, Labelle wandered down to the nearby lakeshore. This is when he discovered the open grave. The cairn of stones had been removed from the grave and piled on one side; the cairn itself was empty. He had no way of estimating how long ago it had been done.
Labelle spent a few more hours in the village. He caught some fish in the lake, and gave these to the dogs, but left well before he might have to spend the night there. He could see no obvious reason why the Inuit would have left their lives behind. Over the rest of the season, Labelle asked about the residents of the village at each Inuit habitation he stopped at. No one knew what had happened but, in general, they all blamed the evil spirit Tornrark for the event. The Northwest Mounted Police had no better luck investigating the village and interviewing people… though some odd things were discovered that might have been related. In an Inuit village 150 miles north of the Lake Angikuni village, a ten-year Inuit boy that was not part of any of the local tribes had wandered in a few months earlier and been adopted by the group. But neither the boy nor the group were talking about this event beyond that, so his true origins remained a mystery. Another strange matter was that of an Inuit named Saumek, who was brought to a hospital on the Hudson Bay railway for treatment of frozen legs. Since he might know something about the village disappearance, a translator was found so he could be questioned; but it didn’t amount to much. Saumek mentioned Tornrark and refused to answer questions. The police then took the questionable approach of trying to get Saumek drunk to see if it would loosen his tongue… but the Inuit refused the drink offered by the translator because he didn’t like the taste of whisky. At the end of the newspaper article, Kelleher assures us that the police were still investigating. Thus ends the earliest version of the story of the Lake Angikuni disappearances I’ve found. No matter what the sources above say about the matter, I find I suspect the original story by Kelleher for one simple reason… if two dogs are starving, yet there are seven dead dogs nearby, then why exactly are the two dogs starving?
There is the list of top 10 wonders of the world which are the masterpiece of the skill and handwork of the people of that era. Today we become astonished to see these wonders, that in so remote ages without any modern technology and machine, how so great construction were made.
Top 10 Wonders Of The World.
The famous Roman Baths complex is a site of historical interest in Somerset. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. It’s a reconstruction of the previously destroyed baths. It was destroyed in the 6th century, reconstruction of the baths occurred over time with the last additions being done in the late 1800s. The Baths are a major tourist attraction of modern world. They receive more than one million visitors a year. It was featured on the 2005 TV program Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the West Country. Visitors can see the Baths and Museum but cannot enter the water.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
This tower was build first in Pisa, a city of Italy in August 14, 1173. It is known due to its inclinations towards right side. Till now it is stable and nothing happened to it instead of its tilt.
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy. This is one of the greatest architecture ever built in the history of Rome. The Colosseum was originally known as the Flavian Amphitheatre and is the largest amphitheater to have ever been built in the Roman Empire. It is a circular structure that occupies a site east of the Roman Forum. This Amphitheater was built to organize gladiator contests, dramas and games like hunting animals , constructing mock sea battle and the public could also view it in the open, and cheer their favorites. See also; 10 Eye-Popping Gorgeous Roman Theatres.
It was founded by the Maya civilization in 400 AD and it is located in the north central, north of Yucatan Peninsula now called Mexico. Chichen has a history that is 1500 years old and is located 75 miles from Merida. It is said to have been the main regional point for different ceremonies. During the earlier days & time, it was governed by priests. Chichen means “At the mouth of the well of Itza”. The word Chi stands for ‘mouth’, Chen for ‘well’ and Itza for ‘the Itza tribe’. The main belief is that people were thrown from the top as a sacrifice to make their god happy and the ones who could survive were the ones who were believed to be seers.
The masterpiece of construction, Hagia Sophia is a former Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Hagia Sophia is currently the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually. From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul. The Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the Blue Mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque
Machu Picchu is the pre Columbian, Inca empire site that is located almost 8,000 feet above the sea level. The site is located on a mountain ridge above the valley of Urubamba in Peru. The city is also called the “lost city of Incas”. Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest. Machu Picchu was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, it was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll. See also; 10 Most Iconic Places to Photograph in the World.
Taj Mahal of Agra
It was constructed by famous Mughal ruler Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is regarded as the best example of Mughal architecture and is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India”. It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts more than 3 million visitors a year. In 2007 it was declared one of the top 10 Wonders of the World. See also; 10 Interesting Facts About Taj Mahal.
Cristo Redentor Statue
It is largest Art Deco statue in the world and the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world. A symbol of Christianity across the world, the statue has also become a cultural icon of both Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, and is listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931.
It is an archeological city of Jorden that is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. Established during 312 BCE as the capital city of the Arab Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan. It lies on the slope of Jebel al-Madhbah in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. Petra was named amongst the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. It is Jordan’s most-visited tourist attraction and one of the “Places to See Before You Die”.
The Great Wall of China
Considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China was constructed 7th century BC. It is a series of fortification built to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
“Valley of Love” – Lost Wonder of the World. Lost Wonders of the World, The “Valley of Love” was built by a mystery race that inhabited what is now a remote part of Ireland. This ancient valley is one of the lost wonders of the earth. Valley of love is a mile wide and high. Many controversies revolves around it. It is believed that the valley remained hidden from the eyes of world for many centuries and was built by a mysterious race that now lives in a remote area of Ireland. This valley is more than 3000 years older than the pyramids of Egypt. The only intact structure in this valley referred as ‘ Memorial of joy ’ is awe-inspiring. This fantastic stone structure has an equally flabbergasted interior which is fully functional to this day. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only ancient world wonder that still exists in today modern world
Have you ever been told, “If you have nothing to say, then don’t say anything at all?” Well, that statement plays correctly when it comes to the digital era. Over the years, Social media platforms have grown to become one of the most dependable livelihoods for people worldwide. What you say or how you present yourself in your online profile might determine whether the employer will hire or dismiss you. When looking for a job opportunity, there are certain things you should avoid posting.
1. Innapropriate pictures.
Pictures speak a thousand words, and what you post says a lot about the kind of person that you are. Posting inappropriate photos only send a negative message about your personality, especially when seeking employment. Most employers want to know the kind of person they’ll be working with, and social media has made it easy. Always ensure you maintain a clean profile; you never know when a potential employer would come along.
Are you the cranky critic who doesn’t shy off from abusive and offensive remarks? The open-minded person who comments in almost all subjects from politics to religion? As someone with a professional career, you might want to tone down. Nobody wants to hire the know-it-all and who comes off as a rude person. Exercise discretion when posting or commenting on social media. Your prospective employer or current manager could be reading.
3. Complaining about your boss or company.
The worst thing you can do is airing negative comments about the company you work for, for the world to see. Even if you think your posts are safe from the boss, another employee could see everything you’ve posted. Always watch what you post since that one comment might not cost you the current job, but haunt you while looking for another one.
4. Sharing the latest job offers.
It’s natural for someone to get excited when they land a job offer, but be careful of what you post or sometimes don’t post until the offer becomes official. According to a Mashable.com report, a woman once got a job offer and posted saying, “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.” The company saw the post, and she got fired before her first day.
5. Pseudo names.
The only thing you’ll tell a potential employer when using pseudo names on social media is that you are not a genuine person. It also seems unprofessional, thus, putting off the employer before they even call you for that interview. Using your real name shows you are authentic and have nothing to hide.
A moving story of an American passenger pigeon(Ectopistes migratorius)
ON THE FIRST of september 1914, 100+ years ago,Martha died at the Cincinnati Zoo (USA).
She was the last of her species, American Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius).
This species was still present in large numbers throughout the North American continent during the 19th century. Estimates of the flocks added up to billions of individuals. It was an elegant bird, forty centimeters long, thin and agile. It ate fruits,seeds, and insects.
The passenger pigeon nested in incredible colonies gathering millions of birds over a few square kilometers. When they arrived in an area, they formed clouds several kilometers long which obscured the sun, darkened the sun, darkened the sky and immersed observers almost into the night. They settled on all possible perches and tree branches, sometimes causing whole tree to crash. Some surveys counted more than two billion birds that gathered to migrate together at the same place.
In 1830, Jean Jacques Audubon, the famous American naturalist, while watching the arrival of migratory flight said:
” The sky was literally filled with pigeons, the noonday was obscured as by an eclipse; droppings rained like snowflakes melting. Pigeons continued to arrive in numbers still important for three consecutive days……”
These migratory pigeons were indestructible. Yet they were easy prey because it was so easy to shoot them at random in the sky. Machine-like guns were developed specifically to “harvest” them and competition arranged to see who could shoot the most pigeons. One had to shoot at least 30,000. Some burned the trees to take more at night, and then came the nets.
The Passenger pigeon declined – its strength (the ability to live in countless troops) was its weakness (their inability to live alone). By the end of the 19th century, there were virtually no migratory birds left – only rare ones in captivity.
It was never possible to raise the passenger pigeon in the solitude of a cage.
Martha was the last to remain. In her cage, at the Zoo, in Cincinnati, USA, she was the only survivor of billions of birds slaughtered for no reason in a few decades.
Chimpanzees are our closest relatives and very intelligent.
A research team found that chimpanzees avoided foraging in bushes close to cultivated fields and prefer mature primary forest. This shows that the chimpanzees may be aware of the risks of foraging too close to people.
But the team also found that the chimpanzees did not avoid foraging close to unsurfaced roads or paths where vehicles or people may be present. The risks related to roads and paths may be less than cultivated fields where humans are more likely to chase away, injured or kill the chimpanzees.
The findings could help to increase our understanding of how human activities and development affect chimpanzees behaviour and habitat use.
The research team was led by PhD candidate Nicola Bryson-Morrison studying at the Durell institute of conservation and Ecology (DICE) research centre. The research was conducted in Bossou,Guinea,West Africa.