King Leopold Of Belgium: The Scramble Of The Congo

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King Leopold of Belgium was unhappy with his native land and the role he played within his kingdom, as other European powers grew their colonial empires all over the globe, King Leopold sought out for his own. When searching, King Leopold had explorer Henry Morton Stanley look for land, in which he would claim the region known as the Congo. Due to the Belgium government and people caring very little about the Congo, the region would become the Kings personal colony. Much how King Leopold eagerly searched for land, Davidson’s film describes the time period known as the “scramble of Africa” were European countries were claiming as much land in Africa as they could. The Berlin Congress in 1884 was a European compromise in the “slicing” up of African…show more content…
In Hochschild book, he describes how although Leopold never stepped foot in Congo, he exploited the region for its ivory and rubber, while oppressing the natives to forced labor for his own personal gain. In addition he used and army of mercenaries to force the indigenous people into slavery to work mines, extract ivory, hardwoods, or on rubber plantations. While King Leopold exploited ivory, rubber, mining, and hardwoods, other European powers exploited their colonies raw materials. Davidson highlights how raw materials were made into finished products and sold back to colonies for profits. The Senegalese (colonized by French) economy was focused on exporting cash crops to France, while in Kenya (colonized by British) Africans worked on tea and coffee plantations. The farmers of Mozambique (colonized by Portugal) were forced to grow cotton for export to Portugal. In addition, they were forced to sell large amounts at low prices, which lead to a shortage of crops in Mozambique, thus more famines would be seen under colonial rule. Overall, you can see the similarities in how European powers exploited the African Continent for their own…show more content…
Hochschild describes, during that time King Leopold portrayed himself as a humanitarian to the world. Eventually a shipping agent known as Edmund Morel, came across the evidence of Leopold’s atrocities, and investigated the situation. Morel than called out the injustices of King Leopold, and launched an international Congo reform movement in a mission to publicize it to the world in the years to follow. Morel would gain support from notable figures, such as, Booker T. Washington, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mark Twain, to which King Leopold tried to discredit through failed public relations campaigns. Thus, Leopold was stripped of the Congo, which became a colony of Belgium and saw the end of some of the worst imaginable abuses. Davidson would note similar human rights movements as well. When Ethiopia fell, many argued it was the beginning of African nationalism. It was thought that the Africans felt a need to take action and break free. Common people within the colonies saw many of the problems with European colonialism. Political unrest was beginning to grow more and more, and pressure for a more liberal government was taking place, to the point of demanding a democracy. Mass resistance began to occur more, for example the Gold Coast workers demanded higher wages and refused to produce and
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