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TAMBO TAMBO

TAMBO TAMBO (c. 1863-24 Feb. 1884) was an Australian aborigine whose misplaced, mummified remains were returned to his homeland for burial 109 years after his death with a traveling circus troupe in Cleveland. His real name was Dianarah or Wangong, according to Australian anthropologist Roslyn Poignant, and he was probably kidnapped from Queensland in 1883 by Robert A. Cunningham, an agent for P.T. Barnum. Opening in San Francisco and then touring the East Coast, the company of 9 "Australian Boomerang Throwers" was booked by Frank Drew's Dime Museum at 189 Superior St. for the week of 25 Feb. 1884. Advertised as "ferocious, treacherous and uncivilized savages," they checked into the New England House at 6 p.m. on Sunday night. Tambo Tambo, however, described as a "mulatto of light color," had come down with a severe cold 3 weeks earlier in Baltimore and had to be carried to his room. By 11 p.m. he was dead of pneumonia. The Cleveland Herald saw him as "a victim to the mania for curiosity exhibitions which has raged in this country and Europe for the past ten years." His companions apparently were in the process of preparing his body for burial when they were interrupted by Cunningham, who had the corpse taken to the funeral establishment of Hogan & Harris. There it was embalmed but forgotten, as Hogan & Harris over the years was succeeded by C.J. Smith & Son on St. Clair Ave. Tambo turned up in 1993, when the C.J. Smith home was sold and his remains were turned over to the Cuyahoga County Coroner. Two of his descendants came to Cleveland to claim the body, which was returned to Australia for burial on 8 Dec. 1993.