Located people and their needs, he and his council

Located on the continent of Africa there are two nations that
border the Central Congo River. These nations are called The Democratic
Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) and The Republic of Congo
(Congo-Brazzaville). It should be noted that the Congo-Kinshasa was colonized
by the Belgian empire and is located southeast of the Central Congo River and
that the Congo-Brazzaville located north of the river, was colonized by the
French Empire during the colonization era. The Congo that is essential to this
research is that of the Belgian Empire, Congo-Kinshasa. The Belgian Empire at
the time, was under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium, who began
colonizing the country, beginning in the late 19th century. Leopold’s interest
in the nation was that of greed and selfishness. King Leopold was driven to find
some imperial territory for himself (Cleary). He was overrun with the idea of
imperialist expansion and ambition. The king began preparing actions that would
take place to fulfil his plan. During the course of study it was shown that
Leopold’s behavior towards the young colony was brutal. He treated the citizens
of the country inhumanely. He took advantage of their lands, natural resources,
and labor. Leopold administered the Congo in a notoriously brutal manner, using
it to augment his own personal wealth.  The Congo’s wealth, which included
its numerous rubber trees, was brutally extracted using what was basically
slave labor (Achberger). The Belgian King displayed ignorance of the people and
their needs, he and his council covered their acts with ideas of missionary
trips and bringing modernity to the people. Leopold’s intentions for the young
nation was never to truly see it succeed nor develop it as a vassal, but
essentially an opportunity to advance himself, thus leading to brutal
consequences for the nation with decades to follow. Leopold’s quote in which he
stated, “I do
not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent
African cake” breathes light on his mentality and beginning of a historical
tragedy. The atrocious acts of
King Leopold lead to the devastating effects on Congo-Kinshasa that had many
repercussions, for not only the development of a country but also the soul of a
nation. The Belgian Colonization of the
Democratic Republic of Congo led to failure in education, loss of heritage, and
development in a nation, through the use of brutal force, dominance, as well as
economic exploitation.

Before being able to fully examine the postcolonial effects of
brutality on a nation; in depth background and study on the leader of such
campaign was needed. Thus causing a frenzy on the background into the King of
Belgium. King Leopold II of Belgium reigned from 1886 to 1909 as the King of
the Belgians. He was born on April 9, 1835 in the Brussels, Belgium. He died on
17 of December, 1909 in Laeken, City of Brussels, Belgium. He died not too long
after his power over the young colony was retracted, due to his lack of concern
and behavior in the development of the country. Leopold’s actions in the colony
was so terrible that it is said, “His crimes were worse than even the most
barbarous dictators of the 20th century.” The Belgian gain and power over the
Congo basin, occurred during the Berlin Conference. The Berlin Conference was a
meeting that occurred in 1884 to 1885. It formalized and divided the major
European powers in Africa. This granted the Congo River Basin to King Leopold.
Although the difference in this distribution of power, was that instead of
power being vested in the Belgium Government it was bestowed upon King Leopold
himself. This made the vassal personal property to the King of Belgium. The
nation formerly known as Congo-Kinshasa was then changed to the “Congo Free
State”. Thusly meaning that any ruling upon the nation came directly from that
of Leopold. This would prove devastating to the nation, due to the fact that
there was no form of reformation or laws in place to protect the humanity of
the people. Ironically the name “The Congo Free State” given to the nation by
its overlord fell short, as King Leopold began his exploration and exploitation
of the country. Another organization to note is the International African
Society. This council of people were put together by that of King Leopold in
order to organize and finance exploration of the continent. Under the blessing
of the Catholic Church the king began sending his agents beginning in the
rainforest of the Congo. Although another factor that came forth before any
analysis could take place on King Leopold’s actions and impact on the nation.
This factor was that of a group known as the Force Publique (Public Force).
Force Publique was a colonial army, created largely from local Africans and a
handful of Belgian officers in order to marshal labor, quell revolts, and
enforce the collection of rubber and ivory (Peterson). These organizations and
factors were some of the key elements that played a role in the fate of the
Congo Free State and the soul of the nation.

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Education for the Congolese was a tactic used to diminish their
society and exploit their lands. King Leopold lacked to properly educate his
subjects. Lack of centralized education for the Congolese meant they remained
ignorant of the imminent fate upon them. In the Congo the citizens had no
identity to step into, causing the stagnant state of their country. With the
majority of their population dim to knowledge there could be no one to step up
and allow them to develop as other surrounding nations had. Given that the
Congo was the third largest country at the time on the continent, along with
their many ethnic groups and resources it would have given them grounds to
become a wealthy and powerful nation. Due to the heavy ties between religion
and education, the missionaries were charged with the power of education. In
the education system of the Congo the people were only taught basic principles
and were not permitted to higher education unless is pertained advancement in
the missionary field. Thus causing instability in the nation, for they lacked
the engineers, politicians, and doctors needed to advance a society. This
caused the question to arise: What were the missionaries’ concepts and
teachings to the Congolese? Under the rule of King Leopold II the missionaries
taught the value of being colonized. “Even so, most
missionaries could still only muster very little appreciation for the
traditional milieu”(Charles and Hulstaert). The missionaries’ had little concern for
the people’s customs, traditions, or former educational structure. The
missionaries teachings was not something that helped develop the people of the
Congo Free State, it caused them to become more dependent on the Belgians. The
missionaries taught the Congolese that they needed religion and they need a
colony. Forming a sort of Stockholm syndrome for the natives. A discussion was
carried out by Alphonse Cayen, a major in the Belgian military at the time he
stated (add a footnote), “In order to educate the nation, encourage
vocations, in short to form public opinion in a colonial regard, it is of
primary importance to organise colonial education in the schools of all levels
in an interesting and intuitive way.”This quote by Major Cayen better
develops the conceptualized idea of the Belgian nobles and their king. They
only sought after in the nation what would benefit them. The Humanitarian
facade that King Leopold placed was a ruse to bring down the young colony it
caused the nation to implode, as mentioned previously Leopold caused a
Stockholm syndrome to form by denying proper education and stripping the people
of their heritage. Diminishing their education and heritage made the Congolese
an easy task. It did not take much to break them down, for they were already
down.

 

 

 

 

The Congolese developed a Stockholm syndrome
that stripped them of their heritage and stability in their country causing a
stagnant nation. Prior to King Leopold’s exploration and colonization of the
Congo Free State the country was very rich in minerals and resources. Though
after Leopold’s footing in a country, which he never set foot in he managed to
strip a nation of their soul and cause a lasting effect of dependency. Years
and decades after Leopold’s touching on the country there are still effects of
dependency, economic failure, political instability, as well as lack of
educational developments. Why did this country feel that they needed the
Belgians? The Congolese people had become indoctrinated by the Belgians; they
were taught in their educational system as well as in their daily lives that
they were godless savages that needed the protection of the Belgian King, in
order to become a prosperous country. After reading and discovering the
behaviors of the Congolese people after the colonization era and brutal
mistreatment, it caused for questioning of what this behavior might stem from.
The Congolese people displayed direct signs of Stockholm syndrome. As explained
by Katherine Westcott, Stockholm syndrome is when, “The
hostages experience a powerful, primitive positive feeling towards their
captor. They are in denial that this is the person who put them in that
situation. In their mind, they think this is the person who is going to let
them live.” The Congolese believed that King Leopold was
the reason they were living. Despite the rampant murders of their people and
exploitation of their lands what more could they ask for, especially given the
fact that they were in the Darkness of Africa and King Leopold had come to
deliver their souls.

 

 

Leopold’s gruesome tactics of genocide and the
use Force Publique drained the Congo Free State of economic stability and
limited any chance of postcolonial success. With Leopold’s two decades in the
Congo Free State he managed to murder and estimated amount of ten million
people. The question came about how could one man cause all this harm? King
Leopold stole the soul of a nation. He placed their own people against them, as
previously mentioned, they were known as the Force Publique. The Force Publique
were sent to enforce the quotas set by their King, failure to meet quota meant
mutilation. This was a major mental crisis for the Congolese people. They were
forced to work on rubber plantations, hunt elephants for the ivory, mine
cobalt, and other sorts of resources, that would then be taken manufactured and
sold on the global market. Meanwhile the profits gain would be lost to them,
never to come back to their economy thus leaving them even more impoverished
than when they started. The economy of the nation was being drained from both
ends. Their lands were being raped and their labor force was diminished, with a
mounting death toll they could not stop. The Colonial mismanagement and
oppression led not only to the killing and maiming of native peoples, but also
to overwork, disease, starvation, and a host of other factors that all combined
in a massive loss of life.(Peterson).

 

Now given the idea that the people became
dependent to Leopold as well as fear for their lives, due to the Force Publique
they lost their soul and their heritage. The people began to conform to their
treacherous lives for nearly three decades. The country became stagnant because
they were not able to stand on their own. There was no culture aspect or anything
to believe in. The Congolese population had diminished rather quickly, it was
genocide carried out under the lie of a humanitarian effort. The Congolese
could not up rise or rebel.  Rebellions were put down
swiftly and violently, often by killing all those who refused to work. The bodies
of rebels were often displayed as a warning to others (Peterson). With the mass
genocide and Force Publique as a form civil law it affected the economy
greatly. The economy was impacted because they had less people in the labor
force compared to when they started and the mutilation of limbs put the people
at a disadvantage. But that was not where the situation peaked the extraction
of resources and the slave trade with in the nation also put a drain on the
economy.

 

Belgian extraction of ivory, rubber, and cobalt
as well as the Atlantic Slave Trade further placed the Congo colony into an
economic downturn. The term economic downturn is used to describe the lowest
point of an economy. On a graph the economic downturn would be the trough of
the cycle. And this was the state that the Congo Free State was in, while the
King of Belgium personally became wealthier.  Every
district had quotas for producing ivory, gold, diamonds, rubber, and anything
else the land had to give up. Leopold II handpicked governors, each of whom he
gave dictatorial powers over their realms. Each official was paid entirely by
commission, and thus had great incentive to pillage the soil to the maximum of
his ability (Stockton). A discussion was held by David Kenneth a history writer
he explained, “King Leopold extracted ivory and rubber from
the Congo to use in the manufacture of goods in Belgium. These goods in turn
sold on the international market for a profit. The people who actually
performed the work in the Congo received none of these profits. Leopold
enriched himself at the expense of the Africans. Further ensuring the
impoverishment of the people, Leopold enacted laws preventing European traders
from paying Africans currency in exchange for rubber. Instead, Europeans could
only exchange other goods, in a barter system, to any Africans who might
somehow come into possession of rubber (Kenneth).” The Congolese were not able
to profit in any way from their hard work and labor, and going back to the
discussion by David Kenneth if the Africans were to come into any resources
they could not personally receive any monetary value. Money is an important
medium of exchange and is needed for the upturn in an economy. The Congolese
did not receive that privilege, the fact that they were only allowed to work on
a barter system means that anything they exchanged was essentially less
profitable than what they were giving. Nevertheless there was a greater problem
at hand for the people. Before the Belgians entered their country they were already
being hunted and captured by the Arabs east and sold in the Arabian Slave.
However, when King Leopold came to power he may have been able to stop the
Arabs from enslaving his people, but he began doing the same thing. He began
selling the Congolese people in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Leopold’s hypocritical rhetoric claimed he
wanted to develop the Congo to protect the natives from the Afro-Arab slave
traders who still operated in Kenya and Tanzania. Leopold
promised to build schools, homes, and to liberate the Congolese people from
Arab slave traders.  But under the rule of Leopold, very little was done
to improve the wellbeing (footnote needed) of the citizens, and instead a
regime was instituted that operated solely through force of might.  He was even funded by Britain
in 1883, to help stop this event that was occurring. Nevertheless the power of
wealth caused Leopold to fall deeper into his lies and essentially become a
hypocrite as he sold of his people to the new world and progressively became
wealthier in the process.

 

 

 

 

King Leopold’s actions in the Congo-Arab War
benefited the Congo people but led to further failure in their economy.
Although King Leopold was a disgraceful man, not only to himself but to an
entire nation, he did manage to end one thing in Africa even though it was done
out of selfishness. A war between the people of the Congo Free State and the
Arabs of the east broke out on November of 1892. The lead of the Arab group was
Sefu bin Hamid, the son of Tippu Tip. Fighting occurred in the eastern
Congo between 1892 and 1894. It was a proxy war, with most of the fighting
being done by native Congolese, who aligned themselves with either side or
sometimes switched sides. The causes of the war were mainly economic, since
Leopold and the Arabs were contending to gain control of the wealth of the
Congo. The war ended in January 1894 with a victory of Leopold’s Force
Publique. Initially King Leopold II collaborated with the Arabs but competition
over the control of ivory and Leopold II’s humanitarian pledges to the Berlin
Conference to end slavery, turned his stance to confrontational.(Georges
Nzongola-Ntalaja: The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History, 2002, ISBN 1842770535,
page 21) King Leopold managed to end Hamid’s slave trade in the Congo
but essentially the win barely benefited the people they were still being
tortured and brutalized they just had one less factor that was inflicting the
pain upon them. The impact of the Congo-
Arab War was essentially just another element in King Leopold’s colonization of
the people that was used to take advantage of their lands and resources. King
Leopold fought this proxy war to make sure he had no competition, meanwhile he
was stealing their resources and selling them with no profit for the people or
their economy. He single-handedly brought down a whole nation and an economy.

 

 

 

Overall
King Leopold’s reign in The Congo Free State was one of great tragedy and
infliction of pain for the people that inhabited these lands. King Leopold’s
rule became so know and unaccepted by the other major European Powers that he
was stripped of his title and lands conceding all power to the Belgian
Government in 1908, and the country’s name was changed to the Belgian Congo.
King Leopold had a negative effect on this country and there is no way to
disregard that. Never mind the fact that he ended the Arabian Slave trade with
in the country, ity then caused for the Congolese to be sold on a greater
field, which was the Atlantic Slave Trade. King Leopold’s rule war so atrocious
that the Congo Free State, commonly known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
still faces economical problem, educational rifts, and political corruption.
Leopold had a lasting effect on the country that is still existing in the
modern perspective of things nearly centuries after he was removed from power.
Through the extensive research and information gathered it could be stated that
Leopold’s reign in the Congo Free State had detrimental effects on the country.
The people lost everything they had and were treated worse than can be
described. The Belgian Colonization of the Congo under the rule of King Leopold
II of Belgium was impacted the country poorly, while he was able to build an
imperial force and gain millions of the backs of forced labor and brutality

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