The following picture is of the despicable King Leopold II of Belgium who only got involved in Africa because of the continent’s supposed financial viability. After the invention of the pneumatic tire, there was a large demand for rubber. The Congo that Leopold ruled over had a seemingly superfluous amount of rubber vines. Leopold created his own private army, the Force Publique, to make sure the natives made him filthy rich through their hard labor.
The task of collecting rubber was arduous work. Reasonably so, some natives of the Congo refused to partake in the labor. However, once they were whipped a few times with the chicotte (hippopotamus hide,) they eventually submitted.
Those who did not meet the quota for rubber had their hands chopped off.
The following picture is of Patrice Lumumba; he transcended the notion of tribalism and pledged to represent a unified Congo. Western interests wanted the Congo to be broken up into pieces; they wanted the Katanga to secede from the Congo because of its vast resources. Since the Western nations would not help Lumumba, he turns to the Soviet Union for financial assistance. For this, Lumumba is labeled a communist and troublemaker.
Worried that the Congo would become a communist country, as well as serving their own agendas, Belgium and the U.S. directly play a hand in the assassination of Lumumba by funding Katanga secessionists. With the backing of the United States government, Mobutu is able to launch a coup d’état and take office as dictator (a position he would hold for more than thirty years.) Further U.S. military aid helped Mobutu repel several attempts to overthrow him. Some of his political enemies he ordered to be tortured and killed. The United States gave him well over a billion dollars in civilian and military aid during the three decades of his rule.
Mobutu and his friends stole so much state revenue that the Congolese government ceased to function. When he ran out of money to pay the army and other state workers in 1993, he printed up a new kind of currency that shopkeepers would not accept so soldiers resorted to rioting, raping, looting (shops, government buildings, and private houses.) Hundreds of people were killed. For years, garbage was piled up in heaps… uncollected. Government support of schools and hospitals dwindled to almost nothing. Before Mobutu was overthrown in 1997, he had accumulated a total of 4 billion dollars. Skin color aside, Leopold II and Mobutu were much alike.
Citations: King Leopold II of Belgium: http://www.naval-history.net/WW1NavalStartPolitical.htm King Leopold the monster: http://www.almanach.be/search/n/HM%20King%20Leopold%20II%20(Dr%20Tibor%20M.%20Celler).jpg Leopold II: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leopold_ii_garter_knight.jpg Amputated Congolese youth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Amputated_Congolese_youth.jpg Congo hands: http://cncblog.congonewschannel.net/2009_08_01_archive.html Congo hands2: http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/category/horror/page/2/ Chicotte: https://eee.uci.edu/programs/humcore/images/Conrad/ Patrice Lumumba: http://www.cojeco.cz/index.php?id_desc=55082&s_lang=2&detail=1 Mobutu and Nixon: http://wpcontent.answers.com/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Mobutu_Nixon.gif Mobutu2: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2009/jun/08/gabon?picture=348534658 Mobutu3: http://rdc-kin.skyrock.com/694447885-MOBUTU-SESE-SEKO.html