3resentment within the local population.
Even though the system of forced labour had beenabolished and the right of the Congolese to own and work their lands had been restored, nocivil rights for the Congolese were thought necessary, and racial segregation was standardpractice. When independence came in 1960, there were fewer than 30 African universitygraduates. Of the 5,000 management-level positions in the civil service, only three werefilled by Africans.
Subsequent political developments in the neighbouring French and British colonies,forced Belgium in 1956 to permit the same political freedom in the Congo.
By late 1959the activities of these various political movements had matured to a point of demandingindependence, and the demands for immediate independence were reinforced by rallies andstrikes, many violent and bloody. This mayhem intimidated the Belgian masters andcreated a sense of urgency within the Belgian government that caused it to rethink itscolonial policy of a five-year transition to independence culminating in 1964. At theFebruary 1960 Round Table Conference in Brussels it was resolved to grant the Congo itsindependence in June, a mere four months hence. This lack of a Belgian appetite forviolence would drive Holden Roberto to believe that the same weakness existed in thePortuguese.In that short period the Belgian government attempted to overcome the enormousobstacles of accelerating the formation of a new Congolese government, a patentlyimpossible task. The seeds of immediate trouble began during the election campaign, inwhich candidates made wild promises, took the opportunity to vent long-repressed
, The River Congo
(New York: Harper & Row, 1977), 384.
King Leopold’s Ghost
(New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), 301.
(London: Robert Hale, 1991), 10.