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The bay was the site of an 1879 expedition led by Henry Morton Stanley to explore all of the Congo Basin. Shortly afterward, in 1881, Stanley established a trading post in the area, calling it Leopoldville, in honour of the sponsor of the expedition, Leopold II of Belgium. That post developed into modern-day Kinshasa.
The bay was used as a first port to the city. It owes its name to that of a local tribal chief, De Swata Ngaliema, who worked with Stanley.
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