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Msiri (c. 1830 - December 20, 1891) founded and ruled the Yeke Kingdom (also called the Garanganze or Garenganze kingdom) in south-east Katanga, DR Congo from about 1856 to 1891. His name is sometimes spelled 'M'Siri' in articles in French. Other variants are 'Mziri', 'Msidi', and 'Mushidi'; and his full name was Mwenda Msiri Ngelengwa Shitambi....[more]

The colonisation of Africa has a long history, the most famous phase being the European Scramble for Africa of the nineteenth century... [more]

The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa, was the proliferation of conflicting European claims to African territory during the New Imperialism period, between the 1880s and the First World War in 1914. The last 20 years of the nineteenth century saw the transition from ‘informal imperialism’ of control through military influence and economic dominance to that of direct rule.[1] Attempts to mediate imperial competition, such as the Berlin Conference (1884 - 1885) between Britain, France and Germany, failed to establish definitively the competing powers' claims...[more]

South-central Africa in 1880 showing the central position of Msiri’s Kingdom and the principal trade routes, with the approximate territories of Msiri’s main allies (names in yellow) and the European powers (names in orange) before borders were settled by the Berlin Conference. The east coast trade was controlled by the Sultan of Zanzibar. Areas of influence of other tribes and of France, Germany, not shown.

William Grant Stairs (July 1, 1863 – June 9, 1892) was a Canadian-British explorer, soldier, and adventurer who had a leading role in two of the most controversial expeditions in the history of the colonisation of Africa... [more]. Captain Stairs was appointed to the privately-funded Emin Pasha Relief Expedition led by Henry Morton Stanley, at the time the most celebrated living explorer of Africa.

The Stairs Expedition to Katanga of 1891-1892 led by Captain William Stairs was the winner in a race between two imperial powers to seize Katanga, a vast mineral-rich territory in Central Africa, which it achieved through the killing of an African king, Mwenda Msiri. This 'scramble for Katanga' was a prime example of the colonial Scramble for Africa, and one of the most dramatic incidents of that period. On one side of the race was the Congo Free State (CFS), Belgian King Leopold II's instrument for private colonisation in Central Africa. On the other was the company chartered by the British Government to make treaties with African chiefs, the British South Africa Company (BSAC) of Cecil Rhodes, who mixed a ruthless approach to gaining mineral concessions[1] with a vision for British imperialism spanning the continent. Caught between them, and attempting to play one off against the other, was Msiri, warrior-king of Garanganze or Katanga, a country not yet signed up to colonisation by a European power, and larger than California. [more]



Maria de Fonseca was the favourite wife of Msiri, the powerful warrior-king of Katanga, at the time when the Stairs Expedition arrived in 1891 to take possession of the territory for the Belgian King Leopold II, with or without Msiri's consent. Msiri typically cemented alliances with trading partners by marriage. Maria was the daughter of mixed Portuguese-African parents from Angola, and brother of Coimbra, the first trader to supply him with gunpowder from the west coast, the key to Msiri's power.

In 1891, Maria was about forty-five years old and Msiri, about sixty, and had been ruler of Katanga for thirty years. When treaty negotiations with Msiri reached stalemate, Christian de Bonchamps, third officer of the expedition, proposed capturing Msiri and holding him hostage. Msiri typically had 300 armed warriors at his stockade, but de Bonchamps had discovered that every night, he would leave with just a handful of guards to visit Maria at her compound nearly a kilometre away.

Captain Stairs rejected the idea of the ambush in favour of an ultimatum, and this led to a confrontation in which Captain Omer Bodson shot Msiri dead, and was himself fatally shot. Maria and Coimbra appear to have come to terms with this development, and took part in talks with Stairs on the acceptance by Msiri's successor of Leopold's sovereignty over Katanga. Coimbra returned to Angola but Maria remained in Katanga as she enjoyed her position at the king's court...[more]

The Marquis Christian de Bonchamps (1860—1919) was a French explorer in Africa and a colonial officer in the French Empire during the late 19th- early 20th century epoch known as the "Scramble for Africa", who played an important role in two of the more notorious incidents of the period... [more]
Omer Bodson (5 January 1856 — 20 December 1891) was the Belgian officer who shot and killed Msiri, King of Garanganze (Katanga) on 20 December 1891 at Bunkeya in what is now DR Congo. Bodson was then killed by one of Msiri's men... [more]

Joseph Moloney (1857-5 October 1896) was the Irish-born British medical officer on the 1891-92 Stairs Expedition which seized Katanga in Central Africa for the Belgian King Leopold II, killing its ruler, Msiri, in the process. Dr Moloney took charge of the expedition for a few weeks when its military officers were dead or incapacitated by illness, and wrote a popular account of it, With Captain Stairs to Katanga: Slavery and Subjugation in the Congo 1891-92, published in 1893... [more]

For the current only account of the incident of December 20, 1891, refer to Maloney's written account "With Captain Stairs to Katanga: Slavery and subjugation in the Congo 1891-92"



Mwami M'siri Ngelengwa Shitambi
1850 - 1891

Mwami Kalasa Mukanda-Bantu
1891 - 1910

Mwami Kitanika Mabumba Mushalila
1910 - 1940

Mwami Munongo Musamfya Ntanga
1940 - 1956

Mwami Antoine Muniongo Luhinda Shalo
1956 - 1976
Mwami Godefoid Munongo Shyombeka We Shalo
1976 - 1992
Mwami Christian Munongo M'siri Mwemera
1992 - 1997

Mwami Mwenda Bantu Godefroid Munongo Jr.
1998 - present