Africa’s Hitler? Something which a majority of you must be questioning after seeing the title of this blog. This name refers to the man who strategically manipulated the people of Congo and exhausted their population to the point where it would be fair to call it genocide. The man I am referring to is King Leopold II of Belgium, upon hearing this name it should cause a similar revulsion to that of hearing names like Hitler, Stalin or Mussolini as King Leopold is the man responsible for the loss of 10 million + Congolese lives. The purpose of this discussion is to highlight how such African tragedies are pushed to the back of history and are not deemed important enough to be acknowledged by the majority, compared to events such has the holocaust, Stalin’s purges and murder and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. King Leopold will be the main example I will use to forward this message clearly.
King Leopold always had ambitions on expanding his empire and wealth when he became King in 1875. When it came to the Partition of Africa or the ‘Scramble for Africa’, Berlin were able to gain full control of all of Congo and Leopold was very cunning in his business transactions under the International African society and was easily able to turn all of Congo into his own personal plantation/ concentration camp/ Christian ministry. Through the use of slave labour, the Congolese people had to extract their own valuable resources such as rubber for the benefit of King Leopold. This slave labour was enforced by having set amounts of resources being met, if not this led to body mutilations and other forms of punishment and if this wasn’t immoral enough, slave workers lives were at large risk as they would collect rubber from trees, sometimes leading to layers of rubber latex forming on their skin which resulted in losing their skin, flesh and hair. This system was intact for 30 years until Belgium finally packed up and left, leaving the Congo with exhausted and limited resources and nearly half the population wiped out.
Surely, just by observing numbers and suffering of the Congolese people, King Leopold was just as if not worse than people like Hitler. The only difference being that African lives were the main individuals being affected but why is this chunk of history forgotten? This now leads to my larger message, that African history is very much unappreciated and ignored greatly, relating back to when I mentioned ‘The scramble for Africa’ or the partition of Africa. This was ultimately what caused the divisions and borders set in the continent of Africa, however, many European countries were invited to this conference in splitting up various parts of Africa but there were no parties, groups or Countries from Africa that were invited to the conference to represent themselves. This was probably because the task set from the conference was to ensure that each European country that claimed possession over a part of Africa must bring civilisation, in the form of Christianity, and trade to each region that it would occupy. Also, a country’s claim to a territory was valid only if it informed the other European powers and established some occupying force on the ground – there was no concern about the people in Africa at all. The resort of this non-consensual division of Africa led not just to manipulation and corruption of Countries but lead to rival tribes within different areas of Africa to be enclosed in the same space, leading to more war and killings as a result of Europes lack of value for the people of Africa
One could assume the West tried to prevent this part of history from rising to prevent any sort of reparations being due but besides any reason one may conjure to find out why these parts of history are repressed, it is important to understand that the way Africa is today is the result of Europes greed for wealth and power by manipulating religion for their own benefit and immorally using power to oppress the people of Africa – Add that to the White man’s burden.