Forced Labor In "King Leopold’s Ghost"

1408 words - 6 pages

Forced Labor in King Leopold’s Ghost

In King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, forced labor seems to be a recurring theme throughout the book. Forced labor would be non-existence or be very minimal if it wasn’t for colonialism. Google defines colonialism as an exploitation by a stronger country of weaker one; the use of the weaker country's resources to strengthen and enrich the stronger country. King’s Leopold’s Ghost, Belgium is known as the stronger country in search of a colony (Congo) for its own exploitation. Professor Landstreet defines forced labor as the most extreme form of slavery, work that people are compelled to do against their will and subjected to physical punishment if they don’t perform their work. In the following essay I will be discussing the social structure, ideologies and power relations in context with forced labor.

The scramble for Africa started from 1800s to the start of the First World War (1914). Prior to the 19th century, the rest of the world knew very little about Africa, the Dark Continent. Africa brought huge areas of lands under the control of Europeans. Colonies were created and forced labor was introduced to bring land and labor together. The main purpose of forced labor was to acquire raw materials, ivory and rubber, for processing in European industries. Leopold garnered public support at home by publicly announcing his intent to Christianize and modernize the Congolese population, all the while planning the forced labor of men, women, and children for the lucrative ivory and rubber business.

Forced labor was centered around the Force Publique. The Force Publique was created in 1885, when King Leopold II of Belgium, who held the Congo Free State as his private property, ordered his Secretary of the Interior to create a military and police force for the State. The Force Publique was the social structure of forced labor. The entire system was militarized and Force Publique personals were dispersed around Congo to enforce their power and will. AWS defines social structure as patters of social relationships that are relatively stable. These relationships may be among roles, groups, within a society. The relationships are guided by norms, and by shared meanings held by the people participating in the relationships. Force Publique existed in Congo until Congo got its independence from Belgium in 1960. It was a stable organization that created fear to the Congo by murder, mutilation, and hostage taking to force labor. The main purpose of the Force Publique was to enforce the rubber quotas and force labor. Equipped with a chicotte, a whip made of hippopotamus hide, the Force Publique were able to take and mistreat hostages. FQ were able to hold women’s hostage, which forced their husbands to gather wild rubber in the jungle and to meet strict rubber quotas. Communities that were uncooperative with the orders of the FQ often saw their villages burnt to the ground and soldiers took human hands as...

Find Another Essay On Forced Labor in "King Leopold’s Ghost"

King Leopold II and Belgian Imperialism

863 words - 3 pages King Leopold’s atrocity is an interesting account of how a jealous man could inflict some of the most disgusting forms of oppression upon his fellow members of the human race. When Leopold came to power in 1865, he was incredibly disappointed at Belgium’s lack of power in the imperial world. Every other western European nation by had this time had taken on colonies as part of their empire; and therefore had been acquiring incredible

The True Legacy of King Leopold II

1398 words - 6 pages process of forced labor spread to other surrounding colonies and many similar stories of cruelty can be found there. With such inhumane treatment being so widespread in the colony, it is hard to imagine that the Belgian people did not have at least some idea of what was going on. Belgium has continued to glorify King Leopold’s action in the Congo Free State despite knowledge of what really happened there under his rule. King Leopold was great

King Leopold II and the Congo Free State

743 words - 3 pages the indigenous tribes forced to labor under the Belgian government. King Leopold died on December 17, 1909 at Laeken, a small town near Brussels. After some seemingly ugly disputes with his daughters over the entitlement of his estate, the king died a respected and endeared monarch. His high public opinion was mainly attributed to the fact that he used the majority of the wealth acquired in the Congo on the public improvement of

A History of the Belgian Congo: A Colonial Paradox

1941 words - 8 pages waterway since there were no industrial roads to traverse the mountainous country (Hochschild 1998). Over the first decade of Leopold’s rule in the Congo, the king invested enormous sums of money to reap the rewards of the plentiful region (Gunther 1955). When Leopold had finished constructing his economic plans for his personal colony, the King looked to the indigenous people of the Congo to provide the labor force behind his grand economic venture

Horror and Tragedy in The Congo

4042 words - 16 pages II of the Belgians. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979 Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998. Kanza, Thomas. The Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba. Schenkham Publishing Company, Inc., 1979. Kaplan, Urving Zaire. First Printing:1979. Packham, Eric S. The U.N. Intervention in the Congo After Independence. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 1998.

European Imperialism in Africa

1547 words - 6 pages Free State, Pg 13). His army was just as brutal as he and killed many Africans for no apparent reason. In King Leopold’s Ghost, there is a satirical comic of him standing in a pile of African heads, although it is not far from the truth. One of King Leopold’s men decorated his garden with severed African heads as one would do with garden gnomes. King Leopold and many others used these brutal tactics to gain control of the African regions of their

Heart of Darkness

1714 words - 7 pages providing free labor through persecution and coercion. Owing to its location in the jungle and its distance from civilization, the happenings in the region could not be known outside. Consequently, Leopold’s agents exploited the natives in the most horrendous ways. The inauspicious company that engages Marlow is a representation of king Leopold’s exploitation of Africa. His operatives are heartless wonderers in search for riches and this is evident

The Atrocities of the Congo

2648 words - 11 pages for Colonies." World History: The Modern World. Boston Mass.: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007. 292-94. Gondola, Ch. Didier. The History of Congo. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. Hochschild, Adam. "The Wood That Weeps." King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. 162-66. James, Andre C. "The Butcher of Congo: King Leopold II of Belgium." - Andre C James. Digital Journal, 4 Apr

The True Nature of King Leopold's Congo

3894 words - 16 pages ). The Royal Museum for Central Africa changed after the publication of King Leopold’s Ghost by adding an exhibit about colonial Congo; noticeably absent was any mention or evidence regarding the forced-labor system (Hochschild, 312-313). Today, the Congo is a desperately war-torn land with no one legitimate government, but instead ruled by multiple competing militias; “mass rapes by HIV-infected troops, schools and hospitals looted, ten-year old

King Hamlet's Ambiguous Ghost

2480 words - 10 pages forced to turn to Shakespeare's other plays for suggestions as to how he represented these phenomena” (Greg 395). W.W. Greg is simply claiming that trends in Shakespeare’s writings in the past logically must take the same form in the character of Hamlet’s ghost. This method of thinking simply does not hold up when examined critically, mainly due to the fact that there were multiple witnesses to the ghost, and thus, the claim that Hamlet’s ghost

Justified Violence in the Belgian Congo

1343 words - 5 pages Powers did not feel that Leopold’s International Association of the Congo was a government organization; therefore it was not officially represented at Berlin. Henry Morton Stanley was a figurehead of King Leopold II, speaking of his previous expeditions to the Congo, and negotiating diplomatic agreements with countries such as Britain in Leopold’s name. This included threatening to sell Leopold’s portion of land to the French. The result was

Similar Essays

Forced Labor In China Essay

1854 words - 8 pages “No family should have to depend on the labor of its children to put food on the table and no person should be forced to work in captivity” (Hilda Solis-Department of Labor). Labour is more than just physically being forced to do a job but also being enslaved to the person in which you are working for. Bondage, arbitrarily, low wages for harsh work, or any fashion of mandated daily grind is the sole aspect that article 23 of the Universal

Forced Labor And Sex Traficking In Thailand

1852 words - 7 pages Thailand: According to the Department of State, “Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Victims from neighboring countries, such as China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, and Fiji migrate willingly to Thailand for various reasons, including fleeing conditions of poverty” (TIPR, 2013, p. 358). The countries that people are fleeing from are known for their poor living

King Leopold's Ghost: Greed, Terror, And Heroism In Colonial Africa

1084 words - 4 pages The historical book King Leopold's Ghost written by Adam Hochschild is well-known for depicting the horrific atrocities conducted by King Leopold II. He enslaved the Congolese in order to import rubber, ivory, and other valuable goods. The slaves were abused or killed, while others died of foreign diseases. While the Congolese population plummeted, King Leopold's fortune increased incredibly. During his reign, millions of Congolese

The Absence Of Morality In King Leopold's Ghost And In The Congo Today

1301 words - 5 pages the name Andre Kasongo Ilunga for trade minister. The problem, government officials later acknowledged, was that there was no such man." Here we see a government leader pulled a dirty trick to remain in power over the Congo, much like the dirty tricks pulled by the Belgians to maintain power over the tribes in the Congo when they were colonizing the land.We see through Adam Hoschild's book, King Leopold's Ghost, and Joseph Gettelman's article