Beaten, tortured, and whipped. Living on the edge while dangling off a cliff. Only these Africans could ever express the suffering and gruesome nights they faced. In regards to the colonization of lands originally inhabited by people of color, finding the line that distinguishes the benefits from the misfortunes of white Europeans and the people they colonized, is more complex than simply the victor and the defeated. In theory, Europe’s conquest of the new world was intended to have been a movement that would elevate not only the European countries but also the nations they would infiltrate. Only through this discourse were these “maternal countries” able to legitimize the various systems of oppression. Colonialism seemed to have a clear beneficiary but after closer examination in this game, no winner would be identified. Colonialism breed the internalization of pseudo-humanism in both the the colonizer and the colonized. During the establishment of colonization, the moral base of the colonizer was disassembled and sold for wealth. While the colonized were massacred and exploited which undermined the futures of their economies and national development. In this paper I take you on a conquest to explore the effects of colonization on the ingenious people of Africa, particularly Democratic Republic of Congo; as well as the European colonizers.
Europe and Africa had established a relationship centuries before Europe’s intrusion of the continent for its goods. European countries were competing for power and wealth. According to W.E.B Du Bois’s article “Worlds of Color”, European countries like Belgium, France and England were looking to maintain and engage the the competitive market for manufactured goods throughout western civilization. In order to execute this, European countries pursued cheap labor and the lush natural resources of countries closer to the equator were the best places to ensure monitory gain. They yearned for expansion. They needed more land to control. There answers lied in colonialism. Colonialism by definition is the practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country by occupying the land with settlers and exploiting it economically. In Aime Cesaire’s Discourse of Colonialism, he exclaims what it is not “... neither evangelization, philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law”. Cesaire makes these point because during and after colonization, these claims were made to justify the actions of the European countries. The story was that these countries were taking scientific expeditions, wanted to convert the heathens and educate them. By making these powers seem innocent or oblivious to the evils they would sow these myths to cover it up.
In King Leopold’s Ghost, King Leopold II was a primary example of Du Bois’s claim. Because of his strong desires to enter the new world’s competitive market, he used deception of his parliament to gain access to Africa to satisfy the greed that was beginning to build up within himself. From inception the entire project would breed brutality and violation of African people. Colonization would “awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred and moral relativism ...” (Cesaire 35) . Leopold hired Henry Morton Stanley who decimated villages and had over one hundred men die just while he was exploring the Congo. Stanley treated the people like animals. He would kill them if they refused servitude. The sacrifice of people’s lives seemed like a fair exchange for the quarter million dollars he would receive yearly during his five year contract. It is amusing to think that he nor the people who employed him had not taken into consideration that while extending their civilization they were forever destroying establishments that already were there and held of importance.
Cited: Césaire, Aimé. Discourse on Colonialism. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000. Print.
Du Bois, W.E.B. Worlds of Color. Spelman College. 2013
Lovelace, Earl. Bango. Spelman College. 2013
King Leopold’s Ghost
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