Monday, December 27, 2004

Civilizing the Natives

A little about Congo


The territory has a long history of plunder. After the slave trade ended, ivory and rubber made it the bloodiest European colony in Africa, the real-life setting for Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." For 23 years, it was the private property of King Leopold II of Belgium, who made a huge fortune by turning most adult male Congolese into slaves to gather wild rubber. His private army worked hundreds of thousands of men to death and shot down 20 years of uprisings. Just as today, disease took the greatest toll, ravaging a traumatized, half-starving people, many of whom hid unsheltered in the rain forest. Demographers estimate that the population was cut by half - a loss of some 10 million people - during Leopold's rule and its immediate aftermath.

End quote.