The Congo Crisis: an International Perspective Essay example

6247 Words Mar 7th, 2011 25 Pages
The Congo Crisis: An International Perspective

There is a need to take advantage of the change that has taken place in the Congo, however tragic that has been in its coming. – Paul Kagame
As the third largest country in Africa and blessed with a large endowment of natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo possesses great opportunity to develop itself into a successful nation. However, the great abuses of the Congo’s colonial rulers and the lack of central unity across its vast territory left the nascent republic to be taken advantage of by various forces, both inside and outside the country. From the first colonization of the area under King Léopold’s reign of terror as his personal colonial venture, to the Belgians
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With much of his personal fortune invested in the Free State, Léopold’s district administrators and mercenary enforcers were given authority to do anything to meet his unrealistically high rubber quotas, or pay the difference in the severed hands of the native workers. The Congo Free State, and in reality, King Léopold’s treatment of the native forced labor has been argued to have reduced the Congo’s population by half from 1885-1908. Léopold’s reign of terror in the country would prove economically unsustainable in the long run, but the spike of rubber prices in the 1890s made the king a huge fortune, none of which was used to develop the Congo or uplift its population as was the Congo Free State’s original intention. The development of competing rubber sources and the international outcry as news of the atrocities committed by the Free State were made public created one of the biggest scandals of the period and eventually forced King Léopold to cede control of the Congo to the reluctant Belgian government in 1908. The debacle of European rule in the Congo was regularly criticized and satire by European writers of the time, most famously Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.
The transfer of power to the Belgian Congo brought a reduction to the brutal exploitation and arbitrary violence…