Lobagola: An African Savage's Own Story
Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola (1877-1947) was an early twentieth century American impostor and entertainer who presented an exoticized identity as a native of Africa, when in reality he was born Joseph Howard Lee in Baltimore, Maryland. Despite an impoverished start in life and a lack of education, and a series of scandalous arrests related to homosexual activities, mainly involving underage individuals, LoBagola maintained a long and colorful career posing as an African 'savage,' during which he delivered lectures to many institutions and conducted public debates. LoBagola published some articles in Scribner's Magazine in 1929 and the publishers A.A. Knopf decided to produce this book version, in an attempt to capitalise upon the then-current vogue for 'exotic customs' of 'places untouched by Europe.' Knopf made much of LoBagola being a 'savage' from a region of Africa supposedly never visited by white people, though LoBagola described himself as a 'Black Jew,' claiming that he was descended from people who had fled the Holy Land following the destruction of Herod's Temple. The book was virtually unedited and came across as a picaresque pseudo-biography, studded with LoBagola's observations of 'West African' ways and his adventures in many lands.