When reading the book entitled King Leopold’s Ghost by author Adam Hochschild, there are many themes to which the book plays an interest to. King Leopold II of Belgium had an interest in the greed that colonialism brought the prospect for power and fame, and lastly the desire for slavery through the means of racism. In doing so, the book also explains the necessity for human rights and a type of moral care for not only Africa but the world as a whole.
Now what must be said is that King Leopold was not the first European ruler to carve out his own area in Africa, Congo in particular for King Leopold II, for either monetary reasons or power-hungry control. The British and French had been there long ago, doing just that. The distinction though, with King Leopold II, is that he was a ruthless leader who desired the profits that could be made off of slave labor in Africa. His intentions were true at first, maybe. He called for a way to help civilize the Africans and open up free-trade for the world and for Africa. In addition, he also called for a type of “paternal” care for the people of Africa, regardless of race. It was seen as a philanthropic endeavor to help the people of the Congo to civilize by the use of legitimate trade. So we first see that the aspirations of this King of Belgium, on paper, where just and true. The story would become quite different as the ruthless king would start to harvest the precious materials of palm oil and rubber from Africa’s earth.
King Leopold was not alone in this venture as well. He employed the services and help of Morgan Stanley to travel to Africa and sign treaties with various kings and rulers of Africa to gain their territory. The book does a good job of telling the lust that King Leopold II had for Africa through one of his letters. This, coupled with lobbyists in both Europe and America, gained him favorable consideration for his cause in Africa. For he was seen as a “civilizer” of the Congo valley and that he would be a benefactor to the people of the Congo was considered.
There is also this sense of racism that pervaded King Leopold in his dealings with the Africans. He also used it as a justification to use the Africans for slave labor. He felt they were lazy for the fact that they didn’t want to be under forced-labor for European interests. King Leopold thought it was ok though because he was doing the noble cause of protecting the native people of the Congo from the Arab slave traders who were still operating in Africa. This seems almost as if King Leopold was a mob boss who would hit up different businesses, in this instance a country, and tell them to pay for protection.
Although, they weren’t paying with money but their blood, sweat, and tears. King Leopold II made a substantial amount of wealth off of the use of ivory being sold in European markets. This was due to the use of ivory for furniture, billiards, piano keys, etc… The collection of ivory was important for the state for Belgium,...