Bata LoBagola

Bata LoBagola

Bata Kindai Amgoza ibn LoBagola (1877 – 1947) was an early 20th 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,cite book |last=Lindfors |first=Bernth |title=Africans on Stage: Studies in Ethnological Show Business |publisher=Indiana University Press |date=1999 |isbn=0253212456] 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; an African Savage's Own Story

LoBagola published some articles in "Scribner's Magazine" in 1929 and the publishers A.A. Knopf decided to produce a book version to be titled "LoBagola; an African Savage's Own Story", in an attempt to capitalise upon the then-current vogue for "exotic customs" of "places untouched by Europe". [cite book |last=Hutchinson |first=George |title=In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line |publisher=Harvard University Press |date=2006 |pages=pp. 349-350 |isbn=0674021800 ] 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.


LoBagola died in Attica Prison in 1947, with eighteen months of his current sentence remaining, of a pulmonary edema. He was buried in the prison cemetery.


*cite book |last=ibn LoBagola| first=Bata Kindai Amgoza |title=LoBagola; an African Savage's Own Story |publisher=A.A. Knopf |date=1970 |isbn=0674021800
*citation |title=Man Without A Country |newspaper=Time |date=1930-03-24 |url=,9171,738932,00.html |accessdate=2008-02-04

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