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The Atrocities Of The Congo Essay

2648 words - 11 pages

When the word ‘genocide’ is mentioned, the Holocaust is almost always the first one to come to mind. It was one of the most horrible and inhumane events of mankind, but it wasn’t the deadliest or even most brutal genocide. While approximately six million Jews were murdered, an even more death-dealing incident took place forty-years earlier in what is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a span of twenty-five gruesome years, over ten-million Congolese were slaughtered and mutilated ("Congo Free State, 1885-1908"). In fact, the genocide is considered one of the worst in history because of the number of people massacred. Although this genocide is not as well known as more infamous ones such as the Holocaust, the Belgian-Congo genocide is still considered one of the deadliest.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in the central region of Africa. It emcompasses 2,344,858 square kilometers of land, about one-fourth the size of the United States. Most of the Congo is a low-lying plateau, with mountains in the east. Its warm and humid climate allows a variety of plants and shrubs, such as the rubber tree, to thrive. The Congo River Basin covers most of the country, forming lakes in various areas (“Democratic Republic of the Congo"). Rains are perennial and the rainy season lasts from April to October (Mukenge 5). In the summer, temperatures can reach nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The Congo also hosts over two hundred ethnic groups and languages (Dickovick 173). The majority of its citizens came during the Bantu migration. The Bantu originally lived in west Africa, and in 1000 BC, they migrated both east and south, towards the Congo region ("Bantu Migrations, 3000 B.C.—A.D. 1100"). Before colonization, there were many different systems of government. The social hierarchy included bands, lineages, chiefdoms, kingdoms, and empires (Mukenge 7-9).
In 1873, Henry Morton Stanley was employed by Britain. With funds from several newspapers in England, Stanley set off to Ujiji, Africa, in search of the missing world-renowned explorer Dr. Livingstone. After finding and rescuing Livingstone, the two men continued their explorations along the Congo River. However, Livingstone’s death in the swamps of Lake Beangweulu forced Stanley to travel alone again (Middleton). Stanley’s explorations gained him a lot of fame, which attracted the attention of Leopold II. Leopold ruled over the small country of Belgium, and yearned to find a colony to be ruled under his name. He eventually found and expressed interest in areas along the Congo region because of their abundance of resources. Earlier in 1876, Leopold set up the AIA (African International Association), which he used to try to gain influence in the Congo region. His main goal was to gain control of the ivory and rubber market in Africa by securing trade routes around the Congo region. He was also interested in the many mineral resources (tin, copper, varieties of precious gems) found around the...

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