A powerful ally was enlisted in the form of a respected diplomat, Roger Casement, the first British consul to the Congo Free State. The Africans believed that these goods came not from the ship itself but from a hole that led into the ocean. Hands were cut off the dead and sometimes the living by government soldiers and agents to prove the number killed in order to receive the government bounty. As a college student, he spent a summer working on an anti-government newspaper in South Africa and subsequently worked briefly as a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1964. Failing to meet quotas was a capital offense. Leopold wanted Henry Morton Stanley, one of the most famous explorers of the era, to work for him in the Congo.
The discovery of rubber and its immense number of uses for an increasingly industrial society made it a valuable commodity that would make Leopold immensely rich. Despite the accounts of some truly savage atrocities, I ended up reading it in a couple of marathon sittings. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. France, most notably, sent a naval officer named Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza to take a strip of the northern shoreline. What was especially outrageous was that the takeover of the Congo was sold to world under the humanitarian guise of eradicating the slave trade and civilizing the savages with the light of Christianity.
Here's what he says - Looking back on this book after an interval of some years has reminded me of where I wish I could have done more. Could it be because he was killing black people? Early heroes of this sad tale include two black Americans. How many stories we have never, and can never hear. I think in a lot of cases like that, less would have been more. Excellent book, written in an engaging way. How can we not have known this horrible history? In the centuries following the discovery of the New World, the countries of Europe became very wealthy and powerful. He also ordered his Belgian administrators in the Congo to enslave African people, first as ivory hunters and porters, and later as rubber harvesters.
My favorite character in this story was Roger Casement. It was because of the dogged tireless work of a Belgian foreign minister that the documents and archives were finally opened and revealed I think this happened in the 80s , allowing the scope and depth of the crimes to be more fully understood and acknowledged. Better that we finally uncover the ugly truth and take its lesson: unbridled greed may be the ugliest, most unforgivable, most unnecessary sin of al This book begins with the assertion of evil. The cool thing is there is a counter to this, there are people who combatted this evil, often times at great peril to their own selves and reputations. Lord knows how many things I'm blinded to due to my own circumstances. A reminder of how delicate history is - like a hollow eggshell - how easily crushed.
These labor-intensive industries were serviced by slave labor, and the local peoples were forced to work through various means, including torture, imprisonment, maiming and terror. Due to the huge buzz of his first African expedition, both The New York Herald and a British newspaper agree to finance his trip across the entire African interior. By the late 19th century there was little land left for the taking except in Africa and it had become obvious that taking over independent lands was neither wise nor practical. By the end of King Leopold's tyrannical rule, the area's natural resources were exhausted and roughly half of its population had perished. The other bummer with this story, which Hochschild laments, is that there were few African natives from the Congo who left behind a written record of their experiences.
Leopold had the Catholic Church in his pocket. Once he got there, however, he was immediately shocked at how the white officers treated the Africans. Where are my failures and inconsistencies, where am I blind to truth and justice due to my cultural habits and upbringing? The Congo Free State was a handy microcosm of colonialism in its most extreme and polarised form: political control subsumed into corporate control, natural resources removed wholesale, local peoples dispossessed of their lands, their freedom, their lives. When Stanley was finished with his work and returned to Europe, he saw that the grab for Africa had begun. This trip did not go as smoothly, although it did end well for Stanley. Little in trade for the shipments of ivory and rubber was going to the Congo.
The math did not add up. Morel, who speaks fluent French, goes between Britain and Belgium to supervise cargo transportation from the Congo. Here you are free and not a mere slave of society. And yet, shockingly, one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century remains relatively unheard of. Finally, in 1960, the Congo gained independence. You know, when you invariably chose the side of the oppressor over the liberator, maybe it says something about your own preferences… This book should be compulsory reading. The distance consumers are from the location of the raw materials needed to fuel their thirst for ever more goodies—I count myself among the worst offenders, that new PalmPilot is really cool—permits the rape of the less fortunate to proceed behind a fog of marketing and public relations, that bane of the twentieth century that celebrates mendacity as its highest ethic.
How am I contributing to problems and how can I open my eyes and discover what I cannot currently see? The concept that the evil incarnate of the company agent, Kurz, was a fictional parable is dismissed by Hochschild, who comes up with several candidates for realistic models that Conrad could have met or learned of during his employment on a river steamer. Shortly afterwards, Leopold died, leaving his colonial properties to the Belgian government. For what was slavery in the American South, after all, but a system for transforming the labor of black bodies, via cotton plantations, into cloth? The book which I listened to as an audio is still a bit too long and spends too much time on narrow topics -- and engages in a bit of hagiography of E. Henry Morton Stanley, a complicated man and renowned explorer, ventured through much of that unknown during a descent of the Congo River. The answer to this is the same as to when asked if Holocaust was real. Leopold, it turned out, had ownership in many of the concessions in the French, German and Portuguese territories. Africans in adjacent states in equatorial Africa suffered similar fates driven by the rubber trade.
I look at this quote and can't help thinking about all the unrest in the world today. More important, chiefs signed over their land to Leopold, and they did so for almost nothing. While we strive to provide the most comprehensive notes for as many high school textbooks as possible, there are certainly going to be some that we miss. These men had harems, money, and status, something they could never achieve working as clerks or plumbers in Europe. It was one thirteenth of the African continent, more than seventy-six times the size of Belgium itself. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust.