“ The Snake Leopold” The Belgian Congo Abuses Erika Grandstaff
<ul><li>On December 10, 1865, the King of Belgium died And “Long live the king,” the Belgians cried Leopold II stepped up to take the throne Promising happiness within their home He seemed benevolent, he seemed good He said he wanted to help Belgium as much as he could Oh, King, perhaps you did, with all your might But what about the Congo’s plight? </li></ul>King Leopold II
<ul><li>For Leopold was a snake, and lies he did speak His forked tongue flicked behind his white teeth Those in his colonies suffered a fate most severe A fate that cost many lives dear. As early on as 1876, Leopold sponsored a geographic conference To try to form a civilizing committee Bringing light to Congo’s darkened cities </li></ul>
<ul><li>And in 1878, the snake Leopold began To send out an exploring man Henry Stanley was his name And obtaining land was his game Stanley, who found Dr. Livingstone Was now employed to find land to own The Congo’s kings signed away their nations For a few trinkets, they lost their liberation </li></ul>Henry Stanley
<ul><li>Now King Leopold held in his palm A colony that was his personal kingdom His and his alone, he owned Given to him, not stolen or loaned But it truly began in the year 1884 When the Berlin Conference was called for Carving up Central Africa was the goal And Belgium took the Congo in full </li></ul>A map of the partition of Africa - the Belgian Congo is circled in red.
<ul><li>The snake Leopold promised civilization, He promised the slave trade’s abolition He promised safety to the Congolese But his forked tongue showed behind his teeth He formed a native army, the Force Publique Which drove out slave traders, but then brought a future bleak The native Congolese were oppressed and controlled And then the Belgian imperial machine really began to roll </li></ul>
<ul><li>A system of brutality was set into motion Where compliance was the only option Leopold wanted the rubber and ivory And he would exploit the Congo for years 23. Men were told to harvest the rubber While colonizers held hostage their kids and their lovers Men had rubber quotas to meet And if they did not, then they would be beat </li></ul>A Congolese man is whipped.
<ul><li>But the brutality did not end there, For lives would be ended without a care Leopold’s desire for rubber and riches Made the snake squeeze life out of his colonists Torture and starvation soon occurred On every man, woman, boy, and girl Every Congolese felt the teeth Of the snake Leopold and the lies he did speak </li></ul>It was not uncommon for soldiers in the Congo to cut off the hands of the Congolese.
<ul><li>And as the presence of rubber in jungles declined Men had to travel farther and farther to find They trekked for days upon days upon weeks Until they could not go on, for they were so weak With the invention of the inflatable tire The price of rubber rose even higher And the Congolese strained even more To hit the quotas they were shooting for </li></ul>A woman enjoys a bike ride.
<ul><li>Slavery and disease, whippings and tears Were how the Congolese passed their years While the dragon’s hoard of wealth did grow And the snake Leopold in his glee did crow All his promises came to nonexistence For the Congolese barely subsisted Rebellions were put down every time And slavery lived and did not decline </li></ul>This cartoon depicts the (literal) snake Leopold II squeezing the life out of an African; it shows how the greed of Leopold “strangled” the Congolese.
<ul><li>But the rest of the world was blissfully unaware Of the Congo and what happened there Though a few people tried to let the world know Leopold kept the truth locked up below Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness Which spoke of the Congo’s trade in all its harshness But the evils in the Congo continued to be And there seemed to be no hope for the Congolese </li></ul>The cover of Heart of Darkness.
<ul><li>Eventually, though the world discovered Leopold’s lies And oh, what they found was a genocide But Leopold still ordered all records to be burnt So the truth could never truly be learned In 1909, the snake Leopold died His forked tongue nevermore lied Some might have thought that terror was over But the Congo was still made to suffer </li></ul>
<ul><li>Slavery continued, and the Congolese were exploited Despite the human rights movement started to destroy it In 1960, the Congo was finally free But they still experienced tyranny Dictators came and dictators went Poverty and famine swept through as though Hell-sent Even today, the Congo is not fully recovered From what the snake Leopold caused them to suffer </li></ul>The brutal dictator Joseph Mobutu ruled his nation much like Leopold II did.
<ul><li>Though not genocide in the strictest sense All resistance was put down without a glance And between five and fifteen million Congolese died All because of that snake Leopold’s lies. </li></ul>
Sources <ul><li>"Belgian Congo." Genocide Studies Program . Yale University, n.d.. Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.yale.edu/gsp/colonial/belgian_congo/index.html>. </li></ul><ul><li>Hochschild, Adam. "King Leopold II and the Congo." eNotes . eNotes, n.d.. Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/king-leopold-ii-congo-reference/king-leopold-ii-congo>. </li></ul><ul><li>"King Léopold II." moreorless : heroes & killers of the 20th century . N.P., 11 Sep 2011. Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/leopold.html>. </li></ul><ul><li>Willem Tijssen. Henry Stanley . n.d.. Photograph. us-africa.orgWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://us-africa.tripod.com/linkS.html>. </li></ul><ul><li>Leopold ii garter knight.jpg . 2006. Photograph. WikipediaWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Leopold_ii_garter_knight.jpg>. </li></ul><ul><li>Map 3 (Africa Map) . n.d.. Map. modernworldhistory2009Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://modernworldhistory2009.wikispaces.com/Imperialism>. </li></ul><ul><li>Linley Sambourne. King Leopold II King of the Belgians Crushes the Belgian Congo. in the Rubber Coils . 1906. Photograph. art.comWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.art.com/products/p12373343-sa-i1740943/linley-sambourne-king-leopold-ii-king-of-the-belgians-crushes-the-belgian-congo-in-the-rubber-coils.htm>. </li></ul><ul><li>Vintage Bike Poster . n.d.. Graphic. etsy.comWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.etsy.com/listing/66121839/vintage-bike-poster-man-made-of-bike>. </li></ul><ul><li>amputated_congolese_youth.jpg . 2011. Photograph. congoconference2011Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://congoconference2011.wordpress.com/category/a-brief-history-of-the-congo/>. </li></ul><ul><li>Mobutu Sese Seko Died Today… Watch "Mobutu, King of Zaire" . 2011. Photograph. IndiewireWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/mobutu_sese_seko_died_today_watch_mobutu_king_of_zaire>. </li></ul><ul><li>chicotte.gif . 2011. Photograph. congoconference2011Web. 10 Feb 2012. <http://congoconference2011.wordpress.com/category/a-brief-history-of-the-congo/>. </li></ul><ul><li>Adam Hochschild. egch_02_img0157.jpg . n.d.. Photograph. eNotesWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/king-leopold-ii-congo-reference/king-leopold-ii-congo>. </li></ul><ul><li>Heart_of_Darkness.jpg . 2011. Graphic. WikipediaWeb. 10 Feb 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heart_of_Darkness.jpg>. </li></ul>