The horrors of rubber exploitation by the Belgians in the Congo
Congolese harvest rubber.PHOTO: Wikipedia
Leopold II, King of the Belgians, an immense player in the riches of the Congo; ivory first, then rubber. This operating system caused millions of deaths and cripples at the turn of the 20e century. Blaise Ndala, lawyer and author of In the belly of the Congo, tells this dark side of the history of the African continent.
In 1878, Leopold II asked the explorer Henry Morton Stanley to open counters all along the Congo River. In 1885, the king finally obtained a colony, thus forming the independent state of the Congo. He avails himself first of a humanitarian mission, but quickly, he seizes all the riches.
” It is really in the logic of a businessman, an entrepreneur, a commercial logic in itself. “
The boom in the automotive industry
This emerging industry discovered the virtues of rubber in the manufacture of resistant and flexible tires. The rubber plantations of Asia are not supplying automobile factories with material quickly enough. The Belgian king then imposed forced labor on the indigenous Congolese to process rubber. The abuses begin. The Congolese who do not know the production quotas are executed and mutilated or their families are taken hostage.
These atrocities are revealed by missionaries William Sheppard and especially by Alice Seeley Harris; his photos of these atrocities lead to the first campaign of protest against the Belgian presence in the Congo. In 1903, the British diplomat Roger Casemant concluded in a report that the abuses were very real.
” The powers of the Berlin Act, Germany, France and the others, will push Leopold II to give up this colony. “
In 1908, the Belgian Parliament adopted the transfer of the independent state of the Congo from the hands of Leopold II to Belgium, leading to the birth of the Belgian Congo.
During this interview, Blaise Ndala says that the Belgian royalty expressed regret 100 years later, and reveals the number of dead killed, even if it is a vast estimate.