The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library



PHIL CARROLL, who had observed the bark-
less dogs of central Africa on many a jour-
ney through steaming jungle as a agent for
the great zoological gardens, wrote that
the Basenji " is about the size of a terrier,
has beautiful, short, shiny-brown hair, a
little white on its chest, and its tail is like
a pig's tail in that it is wrapped like a
doughnut." Thinking that their unusual
and attractive characteristics would appeal
most certainly to U. S. dog-lovers, he
secured for his next trip to the United
States, 11 specimens that he considered
typical of their race. He was not aware
that a Basenji fancy was already in its
toddling stage in the Western Hemisphere.
The year was 1941.
Mr. Carroll kept his dogs in Brazzaville,
French Congo. Unfortunately for future
Basenjidom, seven escaped in a kennel
upset shortly before sailing time. Of the
four that crossed the Atlantic, a mature
bitch and a handsome young male would
eventually have a great influence on the
Basenji breed in the civilized world. Their
traveling companions were eight baby go-
rillas. Dogs and apes were the best of
friends. Two of the gorillas were the
famous Makoto and Oka, that would soon
make their home in the Bronx Park Zoo.
Four others were bound for St. Louis and
two for San Diego.
The bitch was known as Libra and the
young dog as Congo (not to be identified
with another African registered as Phemis-
ter's Congo) and as such they were entered
"For Exhibition Only" at the Westminster
K. C. Show in 1942. A short time after
their arrival, the little foreigners had posed
for a painting by James Montgomery
Flagg, which was later featured on a poster
of the period.
Ironically, none of the Basenji fanciers
who saw them wanted them. It was felt
that, even if they are authentic, they
were not typical of the larger, rangier and
flashier Basenjis that had come into Eng-
land several years before and whose prog-
eny were now being exported to the United
States and Canada. The dog, for instance,
was only 14 inches in height and was con-
sidered absurdly square for he was also
only 14 inches long.
Unwanted in the East, the two small
immigrants were shipped to an animal

top of page

farm in California, where they were ac-
quired by Mrs. John Taaffe. Mrs. Taaffe
registered the male as Kindu, naming him
after a town in east central Belgian Congo,
and the bitch, Kasenyi for a Lake Kivu
port in Ruanda-Urandi. However, neither
place was within 1,500 miles of the actual
habitat of these two Africans.
Until February 1958 nobody in the
Basenji Club of America had ever been
sure of the general area in which Basenjis
of this type were to be found.
For Libra, that became Kasenyi, and
Congo, that became Kindu, were not from
the Belgian Congo at all but from the
deep interior of the French Congo—actu-
ally from the gorilla country beyond
Makoua Station, which at that time was
"the last outpost." Here Basenjis had gone
wild or had always been wild, the usual
bond between dog and man (even primi-
tive man) being tenuous indeed. If one
wanted a hunting dog, he simply went
into the forest, obtained a pup and trained
it, and considerable training was required
inasmuch as these dogs were omnivorous,
a major part of their diet being tropical
fruit. Nevertheless, they made excellent
hunting dogs.
Mrs. Taaffe sent Kindu back to New
York in 1945 to compete at Westminster,
where he placed first in the Miscellaneous
Class under Alva Rosenberg. He was later
entered in four California shows, going
best of breed at each one. At Vallejo, in
July 1945, he was placed second in Group
by Derek G. Rayne, a courageous man
ten years ahead of his time. Though
Kasenyi whelped several litters by Kindu,
only four of her pups were used to per-
petuate her contribution to the breed.
Her son and daughter, Kingolo and
Kasenyo, were to be the foundation stock
of Forest Hall's Basenji kennel. Kingolo
would have a very successful career, be-
coming a champion, going BB for two
successive years at Westminster and, siring
a long line of champions on both sides of
the Atlantic, would spend a happy old
age with Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Williams at
the Syngefield Kennels in Ireland.
It was not till February 1958 that Mr.
Carroll learned that his dogs had become
an important part of the Basenji founda-
tion stock. He had never heard of Am. Ch.
Kingolo. He did not even know who Kindu
and Kasenyi were until I identified them
as the Basenjis that he had brought from
Africa 17 years before.—Walter Philo,
1035 Second Ave., New York City 17.


Article reprinted from
Pure-Bred Dogs: American Kennel Club Gazette
Volume 76 Number 3 March 1959 pp. 47-48
Copyright © 1959 AKC, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.

Goto Kindu Page

Goto
Kindu Page

Goto Kasenyi Page

Goto
Kasenyi Page