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Africa Expeditions



basenji scharz weiss kopf    basenji tri kopf    basenji rot weiss kopf    basenji brindle kopf



 Discovery of the Prototype Basenji


tesem Africa Dog Tjesem Kongo Terrier Prototype Dog Basenji




Napoleon started an Egypt campaign with the aim of cutting off England’s sea route to India. Among the expedition members were scientists, surveyors, cartographers, architects, writers, composers, painters and draftsmen. The results of the expedition were documented through texts and pictures in the many volumes of  Description de l'Égypte   that became the begin and basis of Egyptology.







The Rosetta stone became discovered. Its multilingual character made it possible to translate hieroglyphics.


British Museum London Rosetta Stone

"A valuable key to the decipherment of hieroglyphs, the inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree passed by a council of priests. It is one of a series that affirm the royal cult of the 13-year-old Ptolemy V on the first anniversary of his coronation."   





In Jean Francois Champillon and Thomas Young deciphered Hieroglyphs. Now it became possible to decode the documents of the   Pharaohs Age .


Hieroglyphs of Pharaoh Haremheb cartouche 18. Dynastv Hieroglyphs Alphabet


Hieroglyphen Vlg. Battenberg



 Tafel XVI-XVII Bilderwelten und Weltbilder der Pharaonen                   Philipp von Zabern Vlg   





In charge of an archeological expedition to Egypt  was Professor Niccola Ippolito Rosselini of the University in Pisa, Italy. Drawings of jackals, Basenji Type dogs and other unspecified dog breeds were produced. These drawings may be of some interest for Basenji owners.


Drawings of dogs in Ancient Egypt

Basenjis in Egypt?   Bilderwelten und Weltbilder der Pharaonen   Ph. von Zabern Vlg.



 Tomb Relief of Sarenput

Courtesy  picture Eva Zahradnik





 The First Report about Basenjis: The Africa explorer Prof. Dr. Georg August Schweinfurth  noticed some unusual dogs in the  Bahr-el-Ghasal  (Central Africa) area. They were used as hunting help by the Azande tribes: there he discovered Basenjis.


"Im Herzen von Afrika" 1874, by Prof. Dr. Georg August Schweinfurt. He wrote:


”The only domestic animals whom the Niamniam bother to raise are chickens and dogs. The latter belong to a small spitz-like race but with smooth and short fur and with big, always upright ears and a short, thin tail that is always curled up tail similar to piglets. Their color is a light leather yellow with a white collar on their neck. The small, pointed snout is sharply set off from the arched head. Their legs are quite long and straight and prove that this race has nothing to do with the dachshund-like dogs in the ancient Egyptian temple images. These Niamniam dogs also lack, like all other dog families of the Nile area, the rear claw of the hind legs. One hangs wooden bells on their necks, ostensibly to prevent them from getting lost in the prairie grasses. The animals strongly tend to obesity, just like their owners, who intentionally fatten them because the meat of these dogs is one of their preferred delicacies.”


July Issue of Dog Today Out of Africa



Azande Camp (Niam Niam) Basenjis in their natural environment

1871 Georg Schweinfurth   Im Herzen von Afrika


Fascinated by these dogs, Schweinfurth decided to bring a female back to Europe to present her as an unusual species. However, on the return trip to Europe, the dog, due to the Basenji’s love for freedom,  jumped to its death when she jumped out of a second floor window of a hotel in Alexandria. 


An interest in Basenji dogs was awakened in Europe. He wrote the first report about Basenjis (vide supra).


At the end of his travels, he also succeeded in solving an ages old ethnological problem by discovering the Akka pygmies. He was the first to bring, as a believable witness, knowledge of  pygmies   in Europe.






Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston (Africa Explorer) 1858 - 1927


H.H.Johnston, spent 1882 much time in an expedition from the mouth of the Congo to Bolobo, and  gave some interesting notes on the Congo dogs, which he described as prick-eared, with foxy head and smooth fawn colored coats. Of their characters he added, they have one admirable point in that they never bark, whilst the attachment between these pretty creatures and their African masters is deep and fully reciprocated.  

From the time of Ancient Egypt until the nineteenth century, Basenjis faded into complete obscurity, though it is obvious that deep in Central Africa, away from civilisation, they were valued and preserved. Then, arround the 1870, these unusual dogs began to be commented upon by explores of the Dark Continent, and were referred to by various names, usually depending upon the district in which they were found, such as Congo Terriers, Bongo-, Nyam Nyam-, and Zande dogs."




Africa Expeditions to the Basenjis

Import and  Breeding Start



The first Basenjis had been brought to England and were shown at the Crufts exhibition in London. There appears a sensational report about the first presentation of Basenjis as „Congo Terrier“ or „Khufu Dogs“ . They belonged to Mr. James Garrow, who later sold them, but they did not survive. For several reasons importing Basenjis was rarely successful. Most of them died during quarantine as a consequence of the vaccination.




In the 1930ers some Basenji imports to England were not very succesful. From the 1959 expedition,  Veronica Tudor-Williams   imported the worldwide famous Fula of the Congo. Fula became the most successful breeding female. In the book, "Fula from the Jungle", Miss Veronica Tudor-Williams describes her story. Veronica Tudor-Williams wrote an article (Journal of the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire, Nr. 54 ) on the Basenjis of Central Africa and called them a "living fossils". She wrote: "It would be a tragedy if these canines of such ancient lineage, having maintained their identity over numerous centuries, would now be lost to us forever as a consequence of expanding civilization".



Fula world famous Basenji female        V.Tudor-Williams


Photos with permission of Miss Veronica Tudor-Williams





An expedition took place to the pygmies at the Congo River. In the expedition report I discovered pictures of Basenjis.


Expedition zu den Pygmäen am Kongo   W. Uhl  Vlg. Pietsch





Picture Tamara Bolt from U.S.A. were made expeditions to Africa to improve the Basenji gene pool. There is a detailed report about the expeditions  "1987/88 Africa Stock Project".





 Journey to Benin 

 Interesting article about a journey to the Basenjis in Africa