By Guy Vanthemschetranslated by Lindsay Edwards. It is clear that there has been renewed interest in Belgian Congo since the end of the 20th century. Often, they are directed at the presence of monuments from the colonial period, which more or less explicitly defend Belgian activities in Congo.
On 15 NovemberBelgium assumed sovereignty over the territories comprising the Congo Free Stateofficially making the Belgian Congo a colony of Belgium. Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. King Leopold II of Belgium attempted to persuade the government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely uncharted Congo Basin.
In recent weeks the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, and before that the Belgian Congo, has been in the news: A brutal civil war, an horrendous AIDS epidemic, the assassination of its dictator, Laurent Kabila, and now a new President, Kabila's son Joseph, who is in Washington for talks with the Bush Administration. These events are usually described in the media without historic context. We in the West shrug in bemusement and wonder why these Africans can't get it together.
Despite having a constitution that enshrines equality between the sexes, the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC is home to some of the most extreme and brutal oppression of women. The author of this article recently visited the DRC where he found a country ravaged by imperialism and where the oppression of women was extremely acute. There can be no greater abuse of the rights of a woman than to make her the victim of sexual violence, so how do the epidemic proportions of this brutal practice square with the dazzlingly enlightened constitution of the DRC?
In the second half of the 19th century, representatives of European governments arrived at a conference in Berlin convened by the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck with the aim of creating or expanding European spheres of influence in Africa. This conference laid the groundwork for the now familiar geopolitical map of Africa. And the Belgians acquired the vast territory that is today the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Between andthere were between five and eight million victims of Leopold's personal rule, under a barbarous system of forced labour and systematic terror. When reading a reference by Mark Twain to these deaths, and the world-wide campaign against slavery in the Congo of which he was a part, Hochschild was surprised at his own ignorance. And why had I not heard of them?
Belgium and the Congo. Overview of the Belgian Colonisation of the Congo Between and The aim was to put an end to the absolutism of the Leopoldian state.
Jump to navigation. IT HAS often been said that Belgium has no official colonial doctrine, and that is true enough in the sense that there is none which is complete and systematic. Leopold II had no firm plans when he founded the Association Internationale Africaine innor yet in when he secured Stanley's services. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen then that in he would be recognized by all the Powers as "Sovereign of the Congo Free State.
Colonial rule in the Congo began in the late 19th century. King Leopold II of Belgium attempted to persuade the Belgian government to support colonial expansion around the then-largely unexplored Congo Basin. Their ambivalence resulted in Leopold's establishing a colony himself.
Some are traceable to the precolonial past, others to the era of colonial rule, and others still to the political convulsions that followed in the wake of independence. All, in one way or another, have left their imprint on Congolese societies. Before experiencing radical transformations in the colonial era, Congolese societies had already experienced major disruptions.