Tintin in the Congo is the sequel to Tintin in the Land of the Soviets and the second Tintin book in the series. The book is 62 pages long, and was released in 1931. Although the book has come under criticism for its racist portrayal of the Congolese people and for its portrayal of big game hunting and the mass slaughter of African wildlife, it was quite popular, and was followed a year later by Tintin in America.
Tintin and Snowy travel to the Belgian Congo, where they are welcomed by a cheering crowd of natives. Acquiring the services of a native boy, Coco, to assist him in his travels, Tintin has to rescue Snowy from being eaten by a crocodile prior to recognising a stowaway who had been aboard the ship that had brought them to the continent. The stowaway attempts to kill Tintin, but he is saved by several monkeys throwing coconuts down from a tree, knocking the villain unconscious. He then finds that Snowy has been kidnapped by one of the monkeys, but manages rescues him.The following day, Tintin, Snowy, and Coco crash their car into a train, which the reporter subsequently manages to fix and then tows to the Ba Baoro'm peoples village, where he is greeted by the king and accompanies him on a hunt the next day. During this, Tintin is knocked unconscious by a lion, but is rescued by Snowy, who bites off its tail. After gaining the admiration of the natives, the Ba Baoro'm witch-doctor Muganga becomes envious and, with the help of the stowaway, plots to accuse Tintin of destroying the tribe's sacred idol. Imprisoned by the villagers, he is rescued by Coco and then shows them footage of Muganga conspiring with the stowaway to destroy the idol, something which incenses them. Tintin goes on to become a hero in the village, with one local woman bowing down to him and stating "White man very great! Has good spirits… White mister is big juju man!" Angered, Muganga starts a war between the Ba Baoro'm and their neighbours, the M'Hatuvu people, whose king leads the attack on the Ba Baoro'm village. Meanwhile Tintin was saved by crocodiles by a Catholic Missionary Priest who sheltered Tintin at his mission. Tintin manages to outwit both the Ba Baoro'm and the M'Hatuvu people, subsequently halt their hostilities and they come to admire Tintin for this. Muganga and the stowaway then plot to kill Tintin by making it look like a leopard kill, but again Tintin survives, even saving Muganga from being killed by a boa, for which Muganga pleads mercy and ends his hostilities. The stowaway attempts to capture Tintin again, eventually succeeding disguised as a Catholic missionary. In the ensuing fight above a waterfall, the stowaway falls into the water and is eaten alive by crocodiles. After reading a letter that the stowaway had in his pocket, Tintin finds that a figure known only as A.C. has ordered that he be killed. Capturing a criminal who was trying to rendezvous with the now dead stowaway, Tintin learns that it is the American gangster Al Capone who has ordered his death. Capone had "decided to increase his fortune by controlling diamond production in Africa", and feared that Tintin might be investigating his plans.With the aid of the Belgian colonial police, Tintin subsequently arrests the rest of the diamond smuggling gang. When he was filming a savannah documentary days after the gang is captured, he killed a buffalo which charged after him, unfortunately causing the buffalo's family and friends to charge after them. Fortunately, two pilots onboard a custom-build plane saved them, unfortunately leaving behind Tintin's filming equipments, which was later found by a boy possibly from the M'Hatuvu.
- This adventure was apparently told to the Sheik Patrash Pasha, because he has a portrait of this adventure in "Cigars of the Pharaoh".
- Al Capone would eventually return and make his only physical appearance in Tintin's next adventure "Tintin in America".
- This comic book featured the first appearance of Quick & Flupke in the series (although only as a cameo appearance), who eventually return with a cameo appearance again in "The Shooting Star". Also, this two characters later get their own comic book series, entitled Quick & Flupke.
- Al Capone (mentioned)
- King M'Hatuvu
- Missionary Priest
- Jimmy MacDuff
- Hergé (cameo appearance)
NOTE: This was NOT the only Tintin comic album that Hergè made a cameo appearance in. Hergè would later make cameo appearances in all the episodes of the 1991-92 TV Series The Adventures of Tintin, based on 21 of his Tintin comic albums.
- Belgian Congo
- Catholic Mission
- Le Petit Vingtième
- Ba Baoro'm
- "In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Hergé reflects the colonial attitudes of the time... he depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period - an interpretation that some of today's readers may find offensive."
- —Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner
Tintin in the Congo has been criticized for its racial stereotypes of African peoples and promotion/glorification of European colonialism. There was a large public outcry in many countries in 2007 regarding the above, just two years after the book was released in its most modern version.
At the end 20th century and the early years of the 21st, Tintin in the Congo came under criticism for its depiction of Congolese people, with several campaigners and writers characterising the work as racist due to its stereotypical portrayal of the Congolese as infantile and stupid. Michael Farr highlighted that such accusations against the book only came about decades after its original publication because it was only following the collapse of European colonial rule in Africa during the 1950s, 60s and 70s that the average western attitude towards Africans changed, becoming less patronising and, in Farr's words, "racist".
Tintinologist Harry Thompson argued that Tintin in the Congo should be viewed in the context of European society in the 1930s and 40s, and that Hergé had not written the book to be "deliberately racist", but merely reflected the average Belgian view of Congolese people at the time, one which was more "patronising" than malevolently racist. Similarly, Tintinologist Jean-Marie Apostolidès maintained that Hergé was not intentionally racist, but that he portrayed the Congolese as being like children, displaying friendliness, naivety, cowardice, and laziness.
Likewise the book received complaints for the large presence of hunting and animal cruelty within. Tintin in the Congo shows Tintin taking part in "the wholesale and gratuitous slaughter" of animals by shooting several antelope, an ape to wear its skin, injuring an elephant, stoning a buffalo, and (in early editions) killing the elephant and harvesting its tusks, and slaying a rhinoceros with dynamite. Big game hunting was popular among whites in Africa during the 1930s, and Tintin reflects this trend during his adventure. Hergé would in later years feel guilty about this, becoming an opponent of blood sports, and by the time he had written Cigars of the Pharaoh several years later, he made Tintin meet and befriend a herd of elephants living in the Indian jungle, a far cry from the destruction wrought in his African adventure.
In the UK, the book is currently only sold in the 'adults or mature section' (away from the other volumes) with a wrapper noting the 'racial' attitudes of the book.
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