Jameson Whiskey is one of the most famous and sold in the world, but on the name of the Scottish family who founded the company in Dublin in 1810, remains the shadow of the Jameson affair.
This is the name given to an episode still much debated today, according to which in 1888, during an expedition to Congo, the heir of the whiskey empire James Jameson bought an 11-year-old girl just to see her killed and eaten by a tribe of cannibals.
At that time, Africa was a territory that aroused much interest in the great European powers for its vast mineral resources. Death and violence were common, and often expeditions were organized by wealthy families to seek gold or precious stones or to find new lands to colonize.
Jameson was in Ribariba, Congo, with Tippu Tip, a Swahili Tanzanian slave trader and with the translator Assad Farran.
The Jameson Affair
The accusation of cannibalism against James Jameson was made by the translator Assad Farran, who accompanied Jameson to Congo during the expedition. Through an affidavit, Assad declared his version of the facts, which also appeared in the November 14, 1890 edition of The New York Times.
Assad Farran’s version
According to the translator, Jameson allegedly expressed a desire to see an act of cannibalism. Tippu Tip would consult with some tribal leaders and told Jameson to get a slave. Jameson chose a 10-year-old girl and paid six handkerchiefs to have her.
He then allegedly gave her as a gift to the members of the tribe who tied her to a pole and killed her with two stabs in the stomach. The child, according to the translator, seemed to know the fate that awaited her and would neither shout nor try to escape.
After killing her, the members of the tribe cut up and cook her body, while Jameson represented the scene in six drawings.
James Jameson’s version
Jameson’s denial was not long in coming, and according to the young heir, things would have gone differently. Shortly before his death he would write a letter in which he confessed how things really went, published by his wife in The New York Times.
Jameson claimed that Assan’s accusations were cruel, but that he had indeed witnessed a cannibal ritual.
According to Jameson, Tippu Tip took him to a tribe, which performed a curious tribal dance. The slave trader had told Jameson that the dance was usually followed by a cannibal ritual. The young heir took those words as a joke, but Tippu Tip asked him for 6 handkerchiefs to prove the opposite. James gave the merchant what he was asking for, thinking it was just a way to get a gift. However, shortly afterwards he would witness one of the most terrifying scenes he would ever witness.
To this day, no one knows what the truth is, and the shadow of the Jameson affair still hovers over the Scottish family.