"Here is my people's future. Every child, if he grows strong, if he grows wise, someday he will make a future for my people... An African man in his Africa."
Barthélemy Boganda was the first Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, autonomous territory. The first ordained Ubangi priest and a pivotal figure in the history of the Central African Republic (first Ubangi elected to serve in the French National Assembly), he helped to pave the way toward their eventual independence from France, but was killed in a mysterious plane crash before the Central African Republic achieved full nationhood.
Biography[edit | edit source]
In December 1916, Barthélemy Boganda was orphaned as a young boy in an Ubangi village when the rest of the village had been wiped out by smallpox. He was discovered near the corpse of an older man by Sergeant Barthélèmy when the Belgian expedition searched the village on their way across the Congo toward Cape Lopez.
Though Major Boucher ordered that the boy be left behind as a potential smallpox carrier, Sergeant Barthélèmy secretly had the boy brought along with the expedition, having him travel with the bearers. Later, when Remy Baudouin and Henry Defense discovered his presence in the sergeant's tent, they received a lesson on the African view of colonialism and the war from the sergeant.
Despite the boy appearing healthy, Boucher was insistent that the boy would be left behind as a health risk. Sgt. Barthélèmy confronted Boucher and risked his own life to protect the boy, and the other Force Publique troops also resisted, forcing Defense to mutiny as well in defense of the boy. Boucher backed down when Defense drew his pistol on the major, and Barthélèmy was spared from being shot.
The orphan, under Barthélèmy's care, provided some much needed joy on the expedition, and helped to decorate the Christmas tree while under a tent in the rain on Christmas Eve.
When the expedition hired the Collette for traveling downriver, Barthélèmy took a turn at the tiller, teaching the boy how to steer the craft, much to the dismay of the riverboat captain, Zachariah Sloat. When the ship came under attack by separatist rebels, Barthélèmy was shot in the chest while attempting to reach the tiller after the steerer had been shot. With no one else able to reach the tiller, Barthélèmy got his ward to take control of the ship and steer it to safety away from the rebels on the shore. Seriously wounded, Barthélèmy knew his time was limited, and taught the orphan to grow up strong and wise, and make his people proud.
When the expedition reached Port-Gentil, the boy was examined by a French doctor at a hospital who pronounced him healthy, though a little malnourished. When Defense took the boy to see his friend, Barthélèmy, it was too late - Barthélèmy had died. Nuns came to the bedside and since one of them spoke Ubangi, Defense relayed Barthélèmy's instructions again to the boy - to not be afraid, grow up strong and wise. The nuns asked for the boy's name, and Defense provided the boy with the name Barthélèmy after his deceased friend. Defense, Baudouin and several of the remaining soldiers bid farewell to the boy and turned him over to the nuns to raise.
Sometime later, Jones wrote to the boy, and told him of the sergeant and his hopes for the future.
In 1992, Indiana Jones revealed this story to a fellow patient waiting in a hospital waiting room with the lesson that one never knows who a child, even one born into an unfavorable situation, might become - the boy was raised by missionaries, got an education and grew up to become Barthélemy Boganda, the father of his country.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
The real Barthélemy Boganda was not orphaned until the 1920's after his mother was beaten to death. He was adopted by Catholic missionaries and was given the name "Barthelemy," after one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "German East Africa, December 1916" → Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life