James S. Jameson, great (or great-great) grandson of John Jameson, the founder of the Jameson Irish Whiskey empire in 1780, allegedly once purchased a 10-year-old slave girl for the price of six handkerchiefs so that he could watch and sketch her being eaten by a tribe of cannibals in Africa.
Jameson and his entourage, including a slave trader named Tippu Tip (a.k.a. Tippoo) found themselves on the notorious Emin Pasha Relief Expedition in the heart of Africa in the year 1888. It was one of the last major expeditions in crossing Africa, notorious for the many men lost during the trip (including Jameson from fever) which was led by Sir Henry Morton Stanley (who was also charged with finding Dr. Livingstone).
The gentleman were in Ribaruba (a.k.a. Ribakiba), in what is today Lokandu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was a stop along the Lualaba River ivory and slave trade route.
Farran, who was Tippu Tip’s translator, alleged that Jameson had expressed a curiosity of the practice of cannibalism to him. Farran told Tippu who spoke to the chiefs of the town. It was concluded that Jameson was to pay six handkerchiefs to purchase a slave. Jameson allegedly forked over six handkerchiefs and a few minutes later some men brought over a 10-year-old girl. The chiefs then led Jameson, his entourage, and the girl to a native hut, where the man who brought the girl told the natives:
“This is a present from a white man, who wishes to see her eaten.”
The little girl was then tied to a tree as cannibals sharpened knives nearby. Allegedly, she looked around for help as the cannibals surrounded her, but never screamed. She was stabbed twice in the abdomen and bled out. The cannibals then proceeded to slice meat from her and take apart her body for eating.
Assad claimed that Jameson watched and made six sketches of the ordeal, starting with the girl being led away, being stabbed, and several of her being ripped apart. Assad said that Jameson then finished the sketches in watercolor later in his tent, then “Jameson showed these and many other sketches to all the chiefs.”
Jameson Defends Himself
Jameson contested the incident in 1890 with a letter he wrote as he was dying in Africa — he sent the letter, which he wrote on Aug. 3, 1888, to Sir William McMackinnon which later made it to his wife to be published in the New York TImes on Nov. 15, 1890. It was a strange coincidence that he wrote the letter, highlighting little details of the incident, around the same time Farran recorded the affidavit (which was also published in the New York Times on Nov. 14 1890).
Jameson claims that Tippu told him he would witness cannibalism after a tribal dance, but Jameson “flatly declared that it was impossible that this could happen.” Tippu then asked him for six handkerchiefs of cloth to purchase the girl and prove Jameson wrong. James Jameson then claimed that the incident happened too quick to sketch out then and that he was too shocked to sketch even if he wanted to, nor did he have anything to sketch with anyways. He did, however, make some sketches in his tent later that night. He then went on to include more details, “signed by witnesses as promised,” and set to discredit Assan with fraud in camel dealings and corruption with Belgian officers.
Did Jameson really develop a thing for watching cannibals eat little girls? All we can say is that with Irish whiskey, anything is possible. This has been an episode of Shady Company Histories.