"Five hundred miles downriver.... It'll cost you, sonny."―Zachariah Sloat[src]
Zachariah Sloat was the captain of a small riverboat, the Collette, who provided transportation for hire services along the Ogooué River in French Equatorial Africa (modern-day Gabon). While his boat flew under a French flag, his actual nationality and citizenship is unknown.
In late December 1916 or early January 1917, he was docked on the river at Franceville, when an expedition of Belgian and Congolese soldiers came out of the jungle, after trekking across the Congo from German East Africa. The Dutchman directed the unit's acting leader, Captain Henri Defense (Indiana Jones) to Sloat and his boat. Sloat agreed to take the expedition from Franceville to Port-Gentil and back to retrieve their supply of arms - for a fee.
Underway and headed downstream, Sloat reprimanded Sergeant Barthélèmy for allowing the Ubangi orphan to help steer the boat, and got one of the other Force Publique troops to take his place. At this time, the Collette came under attack of armed rebels on the shore, who shot the steersman. While Sloat took cover, Barthélèmy attempted to reach the tiller, but was also shot. He directed his young friend to take the helm, and the boy steered the boat away from the shore and out of harm's way. Sloat was astounded and grateful for the boy's actions.
As the boat neared Lambaréné, Sloat, at the tiller, told the expedition that the settlement was a hospital led by a crazy German, and watched as Defense argued with Major Boucher and Barthelemy about the wisdom of stopping at the hospital. By the time the boat reached Port-Gentil, Sloat had nodded off, but woke up when his passengers started cheering.
After the French forces helped load the arms shipment on the Collette, Defense began rigging the boat with explosives - an action that Sloat strongly disagreed with, but tolerated when Defense's men showed a little force. Sloat then cast off, starting the trip upriver. As the journey proceeded, Sloat began to fall ill to tropical diseases, along with many of the men on the expedition. Even getting Defense to stoke the furnace became a chore. Eventually, Sloat got seriously ill.
After the Collette was boarded by Joseph, Sloat was taken to recover in Albert Schweitzer's hospital at Lambaréné. After several days, Sloat had regained some of his energy though was still bedridden. While Defense, Schweitzer and Joseph went to the Pahouin village, Sloat managed to recover enough to walk. Sloat witnessed the Schweitzers being rounded up by Captain Rostand and the hospital patients leaving into the jungles after their doctor was taken. Presumably, Sloat gave Defense, Remy Baudouin, and the remaining expedition members (and their arms cargo) a ride back to Port-Gentil.
Behind the scenes
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "German East Africa, December 1916" → Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life (First appearance)
- The River of Death
- The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles – "Congo, January 1917" → Oganga, The Giver and Taker of Life
- German East Africa, December 1916 comic
- German East Africa, January 1917