The Congo Past And Present
Congo; Past and Present
From the 1800’s to present day the Congo has changed substantially, and today still continues to change. The French, and Belgium both had a substantial effect as to how the Congo has ended up today. People such as David Livingston, H.M. Stanley, Leopold II, and Joseph Conrad all had their own influences towards the Congo whether it is negative or positive. Under these three locations and the different people the Congo has experienced changes in imperialism, colonialism, trade, the coming of missionaries, atrocities, ivory, and native populations.
Leopold II is known for being the sole founder and owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken by him (“Leopold II of Belgium”). He is solely responsible for the killing of thousands of Congolese people, the main point in time in which he did this was that of when he tried to extract rubber and ivory thus requiring forced labour, which is “employment against their will by the threat of destitution, detention, violence (including death), or other extreme hardship to themselves, or to members of their families” (“Forced Labour”). The mineral sources that Leopold found in the Congo were also of great importance in his decision of getting them any way that he could. Leopold would have his men go to cities and hold people hostage until his rubber quota or ivory quotas were met thus giving him what he wanted. He was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people yet his good deeds cover up his bad deeds, which is idiotic. He should not be remembered for being the owner of the Congo Free State; he should also be remembered for causing the genocide of many Congolese people.
After Leopold had relinquished the Congo the Belgium government still governed a substantial amount in the Congo (” Afterward…”). After years of the Belgium government running the Congo they eventually wanted to turn it into a free Congolese republic. After this was done they were left to see what would happen if they were left alone. “This was created in 1960, following a period of intense civil war. Civil war has continued, in some form or another, up to the present day, with no stable government since.” Till this day there are still attacks of mass genocide occurring in places all over the world such as in the Congo. If other countries do not band together to help them they will soon reach the point of extinction, they will reach the level where no amount of help will do them any good.
Christian missionaries played a large role in the Congo during the 1800’s. They tried raising education level, literacy levels, and the improvement of hospitals. With all the help that the missionaries provided the Africans still did not get educated more than primary level until the 1950’s (“The Belgian Congo”). After the 1950s that is when two universities were opened in the Congo thus giving those who pleased the opportunity to have an education and rid themselves from the life that they had been accustomed to. It is a very good thing that schools were opened in that area of the world. With the addition of an education system it gives them the ability to be able to better themselves and reach levels that they themselves never thought that they had the potential to reach.
H.M Stanley played a large role in the growing of the dominance over the Congo. He was invited by Leopold II to help head another expedition, little did he know that he would soon be responsible for a genocide that would later take place in the Congo. He helped gain land by persuading chiefs to grant their land to the Belgium king. With the help of Stanley Leopold was able to achieve his goal and take over and rule the Congo. Stanley went into the Congo not knowing what kinds of things he was going to find, he found paths and land that was to the liking of Leopold the II thus giving him an excuse to come to the Congo. Stanley is somewhat responsible to the genocide continuing there today solely because he is one of the reasons that Leopold came there in the first place. Stanley went to the Congo for one reason but his life quickly sent him on another path and he changed the lives of thousands of Congolese people.
Joseph Conrad had a dream of visiting Africa and finally it was achieved in 1889, hoping to gain incite on a different civilization he quickly realized that he had arrived at a place where atrocities such as those are hoped to no longer be in existence, yet as a society it is known that there are still genocides going on all around the world. After witnessing what he did he wrote a novel titled “Heart of Darkness” which exemplified the acts of genocide and all the horrible things that he witnessed while he was in the Congo. In “Heart of Darkness” the plot of the novel consists of that which happens in the Congo. Though certain places are never specifically mentioned in the novel it is more than certain to assume that those are the places the ones he is talking about (“Joseph Conrad”).
“Since 1994, the Congo has been wrought by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees fleeing the Rwandan Genocide” (“Conflict and transition (1996 – present”)). In 1999 a cease-fire was signed in order to stop all the fighting and genocide going on in the Congo. Although there was a cease-fire signed the civil war still continued. Since then this battle has been the bloodiest since World War II, 4 million people have died over the time and it is a fear that many more are destined to die if the war continues. In 2006 the Congo held its first multi party election since their independence in 1960. Millions of people have died because of stupid reasons, there have been civil wars raging on for years over idiotic reasons.
As of current times the economy has the potential of doing amazing things, yet it is not because of the circumstances followed in the Congo. After the 1980’s the economy has slowly been becoming more and more bleak, their values are slowly diminishing. The first and second Congo wars have largely decreased the economy value and caused damage not only economically but physically as well to the Congo. The two Congo wars have also increased external debt, and have resulted in the deaths of millions, famine, and disease of perhaps 3.8 million people. Foreign business is also now afraid to do any form of business with the Congo because there is no certainty that there is any form of success guaranteed, while the wars and while the Congo stays the way that it is the economy is going to feel the impact substantially (“Economy”).
Malnutrition effects two thirds of the population in the Congo, the conditions have improved starting in the year 2002, with removal of thousands of troops from the Congo (“Economy”). The removal of troops improving the current situation expresses the idea that troops do not always tend to work for the better of all situations. A clear situation is that of our current situation in Iraq if we continue at this rate, it will not be long before we are the power causing a genocide of another people solely because we think it is for the better of the other nation.
The culture of the Congo reflects heavily on the fact that there are many difference kinds of ethnic groups in the Congo. “Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First and Second Congo Wars” (“Culture”).
Many of the countries 60 million inhabitants are mainly rural. The culture in the Congo coincides with that of many common culture, they have not evolved much so they tend to stay mainly rural as most civilizations do when they just follow what has been their way of life for years. They tend to not want to change because they fear change and why go with what one fears, when they can just follow in the steps of those before them.
The Congo has many different aspects in its own world that tends to affect everyone not only around it but also everyone. We are daily reminded of the genocide that is still to this day going on, not only in the Congo, but also in Darfur. There are genocides occurring all over the world and we have the technology to try to stop them yet we are to self-involved to care. There have been people that have caused many of the different aspects of the Congo to unfold. Leopold II is largely responsible for the death of many of the Congolese people. H.M. Stanley also plays a large role. An aspect of life that we must take into consideration is that many events that can occur in life are not always planned. When Stanley explored the Congo he did not know that his discovery would soon lead to the genocide and the civil war that caused the death of millions of people. While there are people who affect the Congo for the worst, there are also people who affect it for the better. Missionaries that go to the Congo that try to help are doing all in their power in order to help. They went to the lengths of building schools in order for the people the better themselves, (“Economy”)
The Congo is in a depression and at this rate before we know it, the Congo will be no more, it will be nothing but a memory of what the human race is capable of. The destructible force of the human race will be expressed once again. As it has in wars, as it has in genocides such as the holocaust and Darfur. The only force on this planet that can make some sort of change is us, we have to be the ones willing to change our life style and try to do whatever we can to help those that are less fortunate than us and living in places where they have no choice of mind or no choice of being, all they do is under that of the people they fear.
(Accessed <4 November 2007>)
(Accessed <4 November 2007>)
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< And Afterward...> << http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A4429064>>
(Accessed 4 November 2007)
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