National Geographic : 1956 Aug
Salatwi -- / Ake Iro-f X406 i.^^rt^1 Africa's Steaming Heart: Untamed Animal Kingdom The Weeks Expedition collected mammals and birds in Chad and Ubangi-Shari-French Equatorial Africa-and in French-adminis tered Cameroons. This region once yielded slaves by the ship load; few Europeans penetrated the interior until the 1800's. 258 200 tva "ua r -" iirl est oue -" exped.iti dib ed. 7W WEEKS EXPEDITION 100 STATUTE MILES Route of Expedition - © National GeographicMap Drawn by Gilbert H. Emerson and Victor J. - -j -'~ )20 20o <Seegal Kelley Kelley head she wore a calabash shaped like a foot ball helmet. Her lips, distended by large wooden disks, were so heavy that she had to support them with her hands. From between the disks protruded a pipe. La Parisienne seemed rather bored by her visitors. I tried to arouse her interest with my Polaroid Land camera, the kind that delivers a finished print in one minute. First I snapped her picture. Then I waved my hands over the camera and mumbled a few words to convey a hint of "white magic." Finally I opened the back of the camera, peeled off the print, and proudly handed it to La Parisienne. She looked at it glumly and handed it back. "So what?" seemed to be her reaction. Then she gargled sullenly. "She wants a hundred francs for posing," said the French official, translating. "Ubangis" Named by Ringling Circus Later I learned the reason for La Pari sienne's ennui, and also something about a triumph of press agentry through which these strangely disfigured women became known to most of the world as "Ubangis." In the 1930's La Parisienne was one of a platter-lipped bevy imported into the United States by the late John Ringling, then head of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Ringling felt that the group needed a colorful name that circus fans could pronounce, spell, and remember. Doual, Cameroons 00 Atlantic There is no evidence that Ringling knew the women actually were members of the Sara tribe of Chad. If he had known, pre sumably he would have rejected this label as "not circus." Ringling's publicity chief, Roland Butler, found the name. Studying a map of French Equatorial Africa, Butler had come upon Ubangi-Shari (the region) and the Ubangi River. The single word Ubangi, he felt, had everything; it rolled sonorously off the tongue and was easy to spell; in its very sound and look it seemed to carry some of the wild mystery of the once "Dark Conti nent." Soon the country saw a spate of vividly illustrated newspaper stories, advertisements, and posters proclaiming the Big Top's newest sensation: "Monster-mouthed Ubangi savages -the world's most weird living humans!" IndianOcean 40 <*' ">.