This is a tale of horror and tragedy in the Congo, beginning with the brutal and exploitative regime of King Leopold II of Belgium, and culminating with the downfall of one of Africa’s most influential figures, Patrice Lumumba. The Congo is but one example of the greater phenomenon of European occupation of Africa. The legacy of this period gives rise to persistent problems in the Congo and throughout Africa. Understanding the roots and causes of this event, as focused through the lense of the Congo, is the subject of this paper.
Primarily this paper will investigate the massacre of more than 10 million the Congolese by Leopold from 1885 and 1908. Although this is a massacre on the scale of the Jewish Holocaust dimensions, which began only thirty years later, little is told today about the injustices that took place. This event is not discussed within the standard litany of our world’s horrors because it exemplifies the worst of European colonial expansion into Africa.
The Belgians, under the rule of Leopold, assumed control over the Congo, and exploited its resources and its inhabitants for material gain. Leopold instituted a virtual slave labor system that used the Congolese as tools to extract wild rubber, ivory, and other natural resources from the Congo for the benefit of private enterprises owned or controlled by Leopold. He exploited the vulnerability of the Africans, in an effort to amass enormous wealth and fortune. The question investigated here is whether the European’s reactionary self-proclaimed superiority complex over those who are darker, provided the impetus for the massacre. The investigation will also show that colonization was simply the byproduct of the entrenched European racism, and that it is used today to justify the actions of not only Belgium in the Congo, but European nations throughout Africa on the basis of a theory of cultural Darwinism premised upon the idea of “might makes right” and the “ends justify the means”.
The European Presence in Africa
Since as early as the fifteenth century and continuing to the present day, European colonies have always viewed Africa as an economic object with a wealth of resources waiting to be extracted and exploited through colonization or by what ever means necessary. The recent history (500 years) of the world justifies the conclusion that Europeans have always sought to assert superiority over people of darker pigmented complexions (all of who just happen to be non-Europeans) by the free and unrestrained assertion of their will and authority, unfettered by any moral constraints on human conduct. As a substitute for any notion of a “humane” code of conduct, the European psychology operated a regime based upon the principles and practices used to control and domesticate lower forms of animal life. In the beginning, the slave trade was the main attraction of these European nations because they saw a law filled with cheap labor and always felt...