I first became interested in the Congo while visiting relatives in Belgium who spoke with great pride their involvement in the colonization of the Congo. Some had served in the colony and described their "clever" ways to exploit the people and the country. Of course that started me on an adventure of learning all I could about that beautiful and great nation. What I learned burned me to the core. I wretched with the realization of what one group of people can inflict on another, and these were my blood lines. Watch in horror as the Congo story becomes known. It was hidden for far too long. Only the light of information can break that awful curse. There are many black African Denoo's in Africa and I wonder if we have common ancestors.
Joan, you've pique'd my interest! This history is new to me. Time to learn more. Thank you!
Sentient, an audio book is a good idea. I am trying to spare my eyes. The story is so horrific, I would have to take it in short bits. It is a story we should have learned in school. I am ashamed I didn't learn it from my family.
Read the book "King Leopold's Ghost or 500 Years of European Behavior."
"King Leopold's Ghost" is a must read for those who support colonialism, or for those who do not understand how evil human beings can be. The simple fact, well documented, that King Leopold instructed his missionaries and henchmen to cut off the hands and feet of children and wives when the men didn't bring in their quota. He was a brutal, disgusting, thug who read the bible and attended church and pronounced himself a christian. He followed the example of his god with no conscience or regret. That is where he found his moral compass. Many times I have been asked where I get my moral compass. A very important lesson we need to heed. When he was found out, there was a propaganda project that restored him to full acceptability by the courts of Europe. Talk about hypocrisy!
One more tragic album of King Leopold's Victims:
We have not learned these aspects of history, or politics, or religion. We need to know these stories, not because of the sensationalism, but because we can more easily be skeptical of the claims of people who either do not know history, have forgotten it, or delude themselves, or even deny facts of history.
Where is Howard Zinn when we need him? Are there younger Zinn's coming along?
History that records the facts of what happened and the rationale behind their attitudes and behaviors empowers us to make better decisions.
Leopold's henchmen were instructed to disable the right hand of children and wives of men who did not bring in their quota. At first, the henchmen shot a hole through the hand, but that became too expensive so they chopped off the right hand, and then a leg. I am tempted to make a sarcastic remark here, but this is too awful to play word games.
Only into the beginning of the book, but it begins with some uplifting history before starting into the difficult tale ahead.
One of the uplifting aspects is that individual activism, such as by George Washington Williams, (His letter to Leopold) - and Edmund Dene Morel ("In 1900, Morel put new life into the campaign against Congo misrule (begun a decade before by the American George Washington Williams) with a series of articles in the weekly magazine Speaker.) - and William Henry Sheppard, who with the help of Roger Casement, would form the Congo Reform Association (CRA), one of the world's first humanitarian organizations.
A paragraph from Williams' long letter: All the crimes perpetrated in the Congo have been done in your name, and you must answer at the bar of Public Sentiment for the misgovernment of a people, whose lives and fortunes were entrusted to you by the august Conference of Berlin, 1884—1 885. I now appeal to the Powers which committed this infant State to your Majesty’s charge, and to the great States which gave it international being; and whose majestic law you have scorned and trampled upon, to call and create an International Commission to investigate the charges herein preferred in the name of Humanity, Commerce, Constitutional Government and Christian Civilisation.
It's uplifting for me to see the story as part of the story of individual conscience and activism. There is much more for me to learn about this, just starting.
One frustration - Apparently there is some fictionalization in the book to make it more readable. I will describe more later, as to whether it's clear what is documented and what is dramatized.
Another description of the book, from wikipedia. I thought I had heard of it before.