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The Congo

The Congo " I do not want to risk...losing a fine chance to secure for ourselves a slice of this magnificent African cake. ” --Leopold II. Belgian Congo. Leopold II. Africa. Leopold II (1835 – 1909). King of the Belgians: 1865 – 1909 Family Connections

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The Congo

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  1. The Congo "I do not want to risk...losing a fine chance to secure for ourselves a slice of this magnificent African cake.”--Leopold II Belgian Congo

  2. Leopold II Africa

  3. Leopold II (1835 – 1909) • King of the Belgians: 1865 – 1909 • Family Connections • Mother: Louise d’Orleans, Princess of France • Wife: Marie Henriette Hapsburg, Archduchess of Austria • Sister: Carlota of Mexico, Empress of Mexico • 1st cousin: Queen Victoria Leopold, 1844

  4. Belgium • October 4, 1830: Belgian Revolution • Southern provinces declared independence from the Netherlands • Catholic, officially French-speaking and neutral • Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy • 1831: Leopold I • Elected “King of the Belgians” • House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Kevin P. Dincher

  5. Leopold II 1855: Became member of senate • Immediately began urging establishing Belgian colonies • Overseas colonies were the key to a country's greatness 1865: Became king • 1866: first of three unsuccessful attempts to acquire the Philippines from Spain Kevin P. Dincher

  6. Leopold II 1876: Convened the Brussels Geographic Conference • Proposed an international benevolent committee • “Propagation civilization among the peoples of Central Africa” (Congo) • Multi-national • Scientific • Humanitarian Leopold II and Marie Henriette Kevin P. Dincher

  7. Leopold II 1876-1878: International African Association (AIA) • Association InternationaleAfricaine • Private holding company disguised as an international scientific and philanthropic association • Leopold served as chairman twice • Primary Achievement • Convincing Belgian people and European countries that his interests in Africa were altruistic and humanitarian Kevin P. Dincher

  8. Leopold II 1878: Study Committee of the Upper Congo • Comité d'Études du Haut-Congo • Exploration • Scientific • Humanitarian • Commercial Kevin P. Dincher

  9. Leopold II • 1879: International Association of the Congo (IAC) • Association Internationale du Congo • International Congo Society • Humanitarian/philanthropic • Scientific • Commercial/economic • Official Stockholders • British/Dutch businessmen • Belgian Banker Kevin P. Dincher

  10. Leopold II • 1879: International Association of the Congo (IAC) • Henry Morton Stanley • Five-year contract • Establish bases in the Congo • Secure trade route for ivory market • Rubber and minerals Dr. Livingston, I presume? Kevin P. Dincher

  11. Henry Stanley … …a fearless newspaper reporter ready to do whatever it takes to get a story, regardless of any danger to his life! Kevin P. Dincher

  12. Leopold II 1881 – 1914: • Scramble for Africa • Race for Africa • Partition of Africa • 1870 • Europeans occupied about 10% of the continent • 1914: • only Ethiopia and Liberia were independent Kevin P. Dincher

  13. Leopold II • 1884-1885: Berlin Conference • Portuguese initiative • British support • Bismark’s work • Austria-Hungary • Belgium • Denmark • France • United Kingdom • Italy • Netherlands • Portugal • Russia • Spain • Sweden-Norway • Ottoman Empire • United States Kevin P. Dincher

  14. Leopold II • 1884-1885: Berlin Conference *Recognized the International Association of the Congo (IAC) as sovereign government Kevin P. Dincher

  15. Leopold II • 1884-1885: Berlin Conference • “Spheres of Influence” • Region over which a state or organization has a level of cultural, economic, military, or political exclusivity • An international prohibition of the slave trade throughout their respected spheres • "International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs" (Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness) Kevin P. Dincher

  16. Leopold II "I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake." King Leopold II 1885 • Resolution passed in Belgian Parliament • Transferred the IAC charter to “Congo Free State” • État indépendant du Congo • Leopold: Roi-Souverain • Person property - private colony • Established Force Publique (FP) Kevin P. Dincher

  17. Leopold II "I do not want to miss a good chance of getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake." King Leopold II 1885: Congo Free State • Leopold pledge to uphold Berlin Conference • Suppress East African slave trade • Promote humanitarian policies • Guarantee free trade within the colony • Impose no import duties for 20 yrs. • Encourage philanthropic and scientific enterprises Kevin P. Dincher

  18. Initial Occupation • 1885 The Berlin Conference approves King Leopold’s claim to “The Congo Free State” as his personal colony until 1908. • International investors supported his claim to Congo. • He established rule with his personal army and he also expected the Belgian army to assist. Info Source: ("Congo Free State,"). Picture: hbw2000.com

  19. Benefits To The Imperial Power • Ivory and rubber were the main exports. Both were collected through a system of slave labor controlled by Leopold’s agents. • The forest elephant population was depleted and the focused changed to rubber collection • Pneumatic tires drastically increases the demand for rubber. Picture: vietnambusiness.asia Info Source: ("Congo- the Brutal," n.d.).

  20. Leopold II • Exploitation of resources • Ivory, Rubber, Minerals • One of the greatest international scandals of the early 20th century • Forced/slave labor • Starvation • Disease • Torture/mutilation • Directly and indirectly eliminated 20% of the population • 10 to 13 million people A 1906 Punch cartoon depicting Leopold II as a rubber vine entangling a Congolese man Kevin P. Dincher

  21. Leopold II Kevin P. Dincher

  22. Treatment Of Indigenous People • 8-10 million people died as a result of Leopold’s policies. • They were enslaved • Families were kidnapped to force people to produce rubber. • Cut off peoples hands if they did not produce enough rubber. Info Source: ("Congo- the Brutal," n.d.). Picture: en.wikipedia.org

  23. "I have just returned from a journey inland to the village of Insongo Mboyo. The abject misery and utter abandon is positively indescribable. I was so moved, Your Excellency, by the people's stories that I took the liberty of promising them that in future you will only kill them for crimes they commit.“John Harris (Missionary) Kevin P. Dincher

  24. Leopold waged a skillful public relations campaign to promote his “Congo Free State” as an effort to stop the Arabs from running a slave trade in Africa. This, of course, was a ruse. Slave raids such as this one carried out by the kingdom of Dahomey in return for European muskets and money provided Leopold II with his “humanitarian” excuse for going into the Congo.

  25. The Congo Free State :“The Profit Imperative” • Leopold drove slave traders out and portrayed it as humanitarian act. • Reality: he did it to gain control of region. • Leopold paid his ‘agents’ in the Congo a percentage of profits, encouraging them to make the trade more and more profitable. • Also authorized the use of as much force as was deemed necessary.

  26. Role of Stanley in Congo • Leopold sent the famous explorer of Africa, Henry Morton Stanley, to negotiate treaties with the natives. • Native chiefs were offered trinkets or cloth if they would place an X on a document in foreign tongue.

  27. Role of Stanley in Congo • Stanley began to sign treaties with over 450 native chiefs from the Congo • As a result, Leopold gained rule of these lands given up by the chiefs • In 1885, after the Berlin Conference, Leopold was given personal rule over the newly declared Congo Free State • Leopold had what he wanted because other European powers recognized his hold over Congo

  28. Chiefs of Ngombi & Mafela, in return for "one piece of cloth per month to each of the undersigned chiefs, besides present of cloth in hand," they promised to "freely of their own accord, for themselves and their heirs and successors for ever...give up to the said Association the sovereignty and all sovereign and governing rights to all their territories...and to assist by labour or otherwise, any works, improvements or expeditions which the said Association shall cause at any time to be carried out in any part of these territories....All roads and waterways running through this country, the right of collecting tolls on the same, and all game, fishing, mining and forest rights, are to be the absolute property of the said Association.” --Treaty handing over land to Leopold II

  29. Harvesting Rubber

  30. The Congo Free State :“The Profit Imperative” • Colony not profitable in first few years. • Soon the idea of free trade was abandoned; natives could only trade with Leopold’s representatives, with 50% of profits going to Leopold himself. • Profit required cheap labor (gathering rubber is very labor intensive).

  31. Belgian soldiers enforcing rubber sap quotas

  32. Leopold’s Abuse of the Congo • Agents ‘encouraged’ young men to work by holding their wives and children captive until each man’s quota was met. • Many who resisted were killed on the spot. • Others were beaten with whips made from dried hippo hide with sharp edges. • 20 lashes resulted in unconsciousness • 100 lashes resulted in death.

  33. Women kept hostage to force their husbands to go and gather rubber. Rubber was harvested by climbing the rubber tree, tapping into it and letting the sap run all over the slave’s body, where it would congeal. Later he would peel the rubber off his body, taking any body hair with it. Rubber harvesters were given impossible quotas to fill each month. In addition to enduring the hardships of gathering rubber in the jungle, many of them were killed by wild animals. Belgian Congo

  34. "The station chief selects the victims....Trembling, haggard, they lie face down on the ground...two of their companions, sometimes four, seize them by the feet and hands, and remove their cotton drawers....Each time that the torturer lifts up the chicotte, a reddish stripe appears on the skin of the pitiful victims, who, however firmly held, gasp in frightful contortions....At the first blows the unhappy victims let out horrible cries which soon become faint groans....In a refinement of evil, some officers, and I've witnessed this, demand that when the sufferer gets up, panting, he must graciously give the military salute.” -- Stanislas Lefranc, Belgian prosecutor Belgian Congo The chicotte, a particularly vicious type of whip made from rhinoceros hide.

  35. Punishing “Lazy” Workers

  36. Belgian Congo Two victims (l.) who lost their hands, one because his wrists were tied too tightly, the other because company militia cut it off to claim him as killed and get a reward. Below, a father looks at the severed hand and foot of his daughter

  37. Mutilated People in the Congo Free State

  38. The men in this photo are holding human hands. sun.menloschool.org

  39. Investigation • Brutalities were brought to the attention of the world by the many Catholic missionaries who had moved to the region, along with various explorers. • Reports included appointed officials outright murdering those who could not pay their taxes and then cutting off and drying their right hands to keep a tally of those who could not pay. • Our people were forced to turn to cannibalism and murder to survive.

  40. Investigation • The only food to be found was that off of our brothers' bodies, the only solace for our barbarity was hope that one day, Leopold would pay for his crimes. • Finally, the Belgian Government decided to do something about these atrocities and turn the Congo Free State into a protectorate of the Belgian Government. It will soon be renamed the Belgian Congo and be remanded into the hands of parliament.

  41. 5-8 Million Victims! (50% of Popul.) It is blood-curdling to see them (the soldiers) returning with the hands of the slain, and to find the hands of young children amongst the bigger ones evidencing their bravery...The rubber from this district has cost hundreds of lives, and the scenes I have witnessed, while unable to help the oppressed, have been almost enough to make me wish I were dead... This rubber traffic is steeped in blood, and if the natives were to rise and sweep every white person on the Upper Congo into eternity, there would still be left a fearful balance to their credit. -- Belgian Official

  42. Leopold’s Abuse of the Congo • Revolt broke out. Leopold sent troops into villages to exterminate the young men. • To make sure bullets weren’t wasted, soldiers were expected to return with the severed right hands of those they killed. • Soldiers who couldn’t meet quotas or spent bullets hunting would cut hands off of living women and children. Between 1895-1908 an estimated 8-10 million people died due to murder, mistreatment and starvation.

  43. The “Hand” Tax • Hands cut off as proof of killing or punishment: received payment for hands and “proved” that supervisors were not “wasting” bullets on game hunting

  44. Leopold’s men then proceeded to rape the land of its riches, especially ivory and rubber, ruthlessly using forced labor to get the job done. "It was most interesting, lying in the bush, watching the natives quietly at their day's work. Some women ...were making banana flour by pounding up dried bananas. Men we could see building huts and engaged in other work, boys & girls running about, singing.... I opened the game by shooting one chap through the chest. He fell like a stone....Immediately a volley was poured into the village.” "Six shots & four deaths were sufficient to quiet the mocking.”--Henry Stanley

  45. Belgium’s Stranglehold on the Congo

  46. Leopold’s Conscience??

  47. Negative press about what the Belgians were doing in the Congo The Belgian King Leopold II says to the USA " I'll give you enough rubber to make you an elastic conscience"  http://www.flickr.com/photos/41766098@N03/3965951238/

  48. The First Modern Genocide? From 1885-1908 the Congolese population declines by one-half to 10 million due to 1) murder 2) starvation/exhaustion 3) disease 4) low birth rate An estimated 10 million people died during this time

  49. Public pressure eventually forced Leopold to sell the Congo Free State to the Belgian government. It became The Belgian Congo in 1908 The Belgian Government ended the worst of the atrocities, but still controlled the fate of the African natives “For their own good.” The African natives were never consulted about their future Effect on the Congo: The Human Rights Movement

  50. Imperial Power Removed In Congo • In 1908 the Congo was surrendered by King Leopold II to Belgium. • It was renamed the Belgium Congo. • Working conditions were harsh but the Belgium rule improved them significantly. • People began to demand self rule. • The Belgium government agreed to give their political power to the people because they were so confident that they would later regain control. • The Belgium Government was wrong, on June 30,1960, Congo gained their independence. • Joseph Kasavubu and Patrick Lumumba were the new president and prime minister of the Belgium Congo.

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