Fort Shinkakasa

Posted on March 26, 2021 / 129
Listing Type : Coastal Fort
Location : Africa Other

Fort Shinkakasa is included because it is one of the few examples of a ‘European style’ coastal fortifications built in West Africa at the end of the 19th Century.

Fort Shinkakasa (Boma) was built between 1891 and 1893 on the south bank of the River Congo to protect Boma, the capital of the Free State of Congo.  The ‘German style’ fort is unusual in Africa.   The design of the actual fort is attributed to Commander Wangermée a protégée of General Brialmont of Belgoium. The dry moat and parts of the walls were excavated from solid rock on the top of a hill.  Most of the raw materials for construction had to be imported from Europe, including the bricks, cement and aggregate.  In essence the fort is an enclosed structure to protect the coastal defence battery from land attack.

The Fort had a central traverse with a tower covering the entrance.  There were two wing batteries, each with four 16 cm L / 35 model 1889 Krupp guns.  At the end of each wing there is a turret mounting a 10cm (12cm later?) Howitzers.  See plan in images.

The Fort is now believed to be abandoned, although it has been used as a prison.  Six of the 16cm are believed to be lying in the old dry moat.  Two of the guns were moved in 1914 to Albertville by the Germans.  They were intended to counter Allied (British) advances in East Africa.

This Fort is unique and was built by the Belgium King who then controlled the Free State of Congo.  This was in effect a fiefdom owned by King Leopoldo II of Belgium between 1877 and 1908. In 1908 the Belgian State took over control of the Belgian Congo, which acquired in independence in 1960. The Free State of Congo included most of the present-day Democratic Republic Congo.

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Much on the information here has been from secondary and vintage post cards, sources include:

By https://forum.pages14-18.com/viewtopic.php?t=52399. The fighters & the history of the Great War, Bernard Plumier.

By http://www.congoforum.be/upldocs/Shinkakasa%201900.pdf, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1708265

By http://www.congoforum.be/upldocs/Shinkakasa%201900.pdf, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1708063

The following book, which is still available from some sources,  covers Fort Shinkakasa.

L’Artillerie et les Fortifications du Congo belge et le Fort de Shinkakasa 1885-1960, Lothaire, Roger & Vernier, Franck. Editions du Patrimoine Militaire in French.

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