The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library


by Mary Phemister

Our early Basenji breeding stock came either directly from Africa or indirectly from Africa via England. Dr. A.R.B. Richmond of Toronto, Canada, imported two pair from Miss Veronica Tudor-Williams of England in late 1937 and a few months earlier Mrs. Olga Rogers of New York brought in a young male, who we later named Phemister's Bois. By the early 1940's a number of Basenji owners were breeding from this original stock and such names as George Gilkey, Mary McWain, now Gannon, Forest N. Hali, and Mr. Phemister and myself were the nucleus of the early American Basenji breeders. Today, Mr. Phemister and I are the only members of this group still breeding Basenjis - and I might add - are just as interested and fascinated by the breed as ever.

Going back to our early females I must list Phemister's Congo, the little stowaway from Africa who we sent to Dr. Richmond's, Ch. Kwillo of the Congo for breeding. This produced three puppies, the first litter raised in America. Although there was very little knowledge of the background of any Basenji from Africa, the puppies were very close to one type - one personality - and the colorings and markings were much as of today. A year later Congo was bred to our own African, Phemister's Bois and again she had a litter just as even in type. We kept a male, registered later as Phemister's Barrie, and since we could not show in the breed ring, as the breed had not been accepted by the A.K.C., Mr. Phemister introduced the breed through the obedience ring. Within a very short period, Barrie had his C.D. and C.D.X. degrees.

One of our earliest Basenjis we purchased from Miss Tudor-Williams of England registered as Zinnia of the Congo. She too, won her C.D. degree and later her championship. I should add, Mr. Phemister never showed a Basenji in the obedience ring who did not pass - usually with very high scores. Zinnia produced such champions as Phemister's Melengo, Phemister's Simba, his brother, Phemister's Sandoa, Phemister's Golden Dawn,and Phemister's Debutante. Zinnia lived a long, happy life and we were delighted to have her breeder, Miss Tudor-Williams visit us. We were so proud to present to her the yearly trophy Zinnia M, won in obedience from our local all-breed club.

Another early import was from Dr. Richmond of Canada, young Juliana of Windrush, ( Windrush being Dr. Richmond's kennel name for those of you that like to trace old Basenji breeding stock). With the death of Dr. Richmond the name disappeared. Juliana did not have the desired length of leg but had many other qualities and did produce Ch. Phemister's Berecke, C. D. and Ch. Phemister's Kamante.

The first real sensational female throughout the country was Ch. Phemister's Melengo, who to this day would be hard to beat in the ring. She not only was a lovely specimen but was chuck full of personality, ( how I recall, while benched at an outdoor show and being fondled by a stranger, she quietly and unnoticed snipped off several buttons of her coat - all the time looking up at the lady in her endeared manner) - that was Melengo! Melengo and her mother, Ch. Zinnia of the Congo were shown in brace class several times and became the first Basenji brace to go Best in Show. I am wondering if any other female brace has won this high honor - now some twenty odd years later? Melengo produced the top winning Basenji in America for the years 1949 and 1950, Ch. Phemister's Maestro, his litter brother, Mr. Leo Shadic's, Ch. Phemister's Mainstay, and their litter sister, Ch. Phemister's Mayele. Melengo has a very special place in our hearts - never to be forgotten.

Not to be over-looked were several females who produced a few champions who later traveled throughout the country, namely, Phemister's Souvenir, who produced Ch. Phemister's Gold Charmer and Ch. Gainsway Caddy. Phemister's Black Charmer - a tri as one would suspect - with a number of tri and red and white progeny, including Ch. Phemister's Massumba. Phemister's Kolengo became famous as the dam of the great Ch. Phemister's Kedar, the pride of Cambria Kennels and his litter sister, Ch. Phemister's Kalon purchased by Mrs. Elsa Hubbard, also of California.

Zinder of Carmel, a daughter of our Kingolo's Kontender, was one of the truly great producers of her time - typical of the progeny that came from the great influencing Kindu, Kasenyi blood. Zinder's progeny was the foundation of many kennels. She produced Mrs. Elizabeth Shoemaker's Int. Ch. Phemister's Lustrous, Ch. Phemister's Binski,C.D.X., the first Basen ji of Mrs. Marianne Grybinski, Ch. Phemister's Ramses Rufus, Ch. Phemister's Zuzara of the Christian Jensens of Florida, Ch. Phemister's Playboy and Ch. Phemister's Queen of the Nile. This brings us up to the 60s so we will wait a few years to give a more general listing of modern breeding stock. New breeding stock has been brought into America from Africa, England, and other European countries and it is hoped that the progeny will be culled when necessary as carefully as it was in the early years. There should be no excusing any serious faults - if we could breed OUT the early faults of the breed, it should be far easier to breed even lesser faults from the quantity of stock available at this period in Basenji history.

Reprinted from
The Bi-Monthly Bulletin of The Basenji Club of America
Volume IV Number VI Nov.-Dec. 1969 p. 1
Copyright © 1969 BCOA, All Rights Reserved