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"Their captain, Katanga, is an honorable man—regardless of his more doubtful enterprises."

Simon Katanga was the captain of the smuggling freighter the Bantu Wind.


Katanga's father was an engineer aboard a Liberian ship, the Golden Sun, where Simon was introduced to the ways of the sea as a cabin steward. He eventually worked his way up to First Mate of the Bantu Wind, and took over control of the vessel when the previous captain was mortally wounded in a gunfight during a smuggling run.[1]

Katanga in 1936.

In 1936, Katanga was contacted by Sallah, who was seeking secret passage for his friends, Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood, and their cargo — the Ark of the Covenant, stolen from the Nazis. Katanga agreed to provide passage from Egypt across the Mediterranean, and loaded the cargo and passengers at night and set out, even giving up his quarters to Jones and Ravenwood.[2]

The next morning, somewhere between Egypt and Sicily, the Bantu Wind was ordered to stop by a surfaced German U-Boat. On the bridge, Katanga told an alerted Jones to hide. When his ship was boarded by René Belloq and his Nazi companions, Katanga surrendered to protect his ship and crew from the well-armed soldiers, and gave up the Ark. As a captured Ravenwood attempted to strike Dietrich, Katanga grabbed her and appealed to the Nazis to take the Ark but leave Marion with his crew, claiming that she had value where they were headed while Jones was dead and thrown overboard. Dietrich refused and seized Ravenwood, but Belloq took custody of her instead. Acting without defiance, Katanga allowed Ravenwood and the Ark to be turned over to the Nazis, even after being labeled a savage by Dietrich. As soon as the Nazis were back on their submarine, Katanga ordered his men to find Jones, still hidden on the ship. While watching the Germans depart, Katanga stood on the side of his ship when one of the pirates reported to him that Jones could not be found. Ordering his man to search again, the pirate looked across to the German U-Boat and pointed out Jones to Katanga, who saluted the archaeologist.[2]

Later that year, Katanga was reunited with Indy at the Panama City jail, where Katanga was being held on rum smuggling charges. Indy arranged for bail and chartered the Bantu Wind for an expedition to the Aleutian Islands, where Indy suspected to find an ancient Chinese temple, predating the Eskimos. At the temple, Katanga and Indy were confronted by a crew of pirates led by Emerelda Vasquez. Emerelda commandeered the Bantu Wind, stole the Chinese treasure and demolished the temple, leaving Indy, Katanga and the ship's crew for dead.[3] Katanga and Indy both manage to escape the island, to which eventually, Katanga's team was able to sneak aboard and assume control of Emerelda's submarine. At the end of the naval battle that ensued, Vasquez was dead and Katanga was once again captain of the Bantu Wind.[4]

Personality and traits[]

Captain Katanga was fond of smoking cigars and kept a stash of alcohol in his cabin. He was well-liked and respected by his crew, as it was only his order that prevented them from resisting the Nazis when they boarded the ship. He also kept a cool head and did not rise to insults, even when Dietrich racially abused him. He became a good friend of Indiana Jones, as demonstrated when he protected Jones from the Nazis by stating that he had killed the archaeologist because of him being of no value to him.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Captain Katanga was portrayed by George Harris in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In the film, Katanga wears the hat of a Yugoslav People's Navy officer. This is anachronistic to the 1936 setting, however, as the Yugoslav Navy was not formed until 1945.



Notes and references[]