King Leopold II formed the Congo Free State in 1884 at the Berlin Conference. King Leopold’s goal was to extract as much and as many resources from the CFS as he could. Leopold formed the Force Publique to stop the arab slave trade in upper congo but in actuality the Force Publique was used to maximize production from the workers. The Force Publique was made up of belgian soldiers and mercenaries. Locals were recruited to help the Force Publique.
Local chiefs supplied workers to rubber farms. Workers were often paid little to nothing. Some chiefs rebelled by ambushing army units, burning down rubber farms, and fleeing into the wilderness to escape working. To suppress these rebellions the Force Publique would burn down villages, and followed rebels into the forest. Rebels found would be shot and killed. The Force Publique cut off the hands of their victims to prove they did not waste their bullets. Soldiers who missed or wasted ammunition would cut off the hands of living people to make up their quota.
Eventually a man named E D Morel while working at a british shipping company noticed many commodities were being exported from the CFS but only guns for the Force Publique were being shipped to Congo. Nothing needed to fuel a colony was being exported to the CFS. E D Morel resigned and devoted time to bring awareness to issues in the CFS. In 1903 E D Morel convinced the british government to look into human rights abuses in the CFS. The british government instructed Roger Casement, the british consul in the CFS, to tour the territory and report his findings. What Roger Casement found impacted him so much that in 1904 he formed the Congo Reform Association with E D Morel. The Congo Reform Association pushed political powers to investigate human rights abuses in the CFS. In 1908 to avoid international pressure King Leopold II sold the CFS to the Belgian Parliament. The Belgian Parliament renamed the region to Belgian Congo.
In a transition period between Leopold and the Belgian Parliament, Congo was ruled by companies. Ruling companies created monopolies and were the only companies Congolese could sell rubber to. Rubber was needed to pay taxes which would be forcefully collected by hired congolese mercenaries.
King Leopold’s rule had very little administration and the atrocities committed by Leopold’s rule gave locals an animosity towards the west. The Charte Coloniale was one of the first administrative acts instituted by Belgium Parliament. The Charte Coloniale was a colonial constitution drafted by religious orthodox men. Many of these men also owned large shares in companies with interests in the Belgian Congo. The constitution treated Africans as children and said they had no place in governing. Belgium did understand though that local chiefs would be needed to keep people obedient. Belgium used the chiefs to influence the...