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April 14th 2016


Colonialism and Congo
Throughout the mid and late 20th century The Democratic Republic of Congo has
experienced a great amount of political violence and severe economic mismanagement. After
gaining their independence the country was thrust into a period of conflict. Despite their efforts
the country was not able to truly overcome its early colonization. Prior to gaining its
independence The Congo Free State was personally owned by Leopold the second who used it as
a personal source for ivory and rubber. However imposed a massive terror regime on his people
including mass killings and forced labor which led to the end of his rule. In 1908 it became a
colony of Belgium known as The Belgian Congo until it gained its independence in 1960.
The early colonization of The Congo created a major impact that is still being felt in the
country today. For example early colonization of Africa meant that tribes were split amongst
European borders. Therefore when the time came for Congo to create their own country it was
full of people from people from various backgrounds. Even more important than that the country
was already severely crippled by an economy reliant on imported goods. Prior to colonization
technological and industrial development had occurred that would have led to a self sufficient
economy. However the model of colonialism was to profit from these nations which created to
make the European countries prosper while the African ones suffered. It is apparent that before
Congo became independent the country had already been crippled by colonization. Their past as
a Belgian Colony was a major part of the countries unstable state after gaining independence.
However probably the most crippling force of all was the systematic racism engrained into The
Congos history. The colonization of the colored man by the white man led to a culture of racism
that severely impacted Congos newfound government severely, ultimately leading to its demise.

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Shortly after gaining their independence the people of Congo elected Patrice Lumumba
as their first prime minister. One of his first major decisions was to raise pay for all government
employees except the army. This was due to the fact that the head of the Belgian army, Emile
Janssens, told the people of Congo the Belgian officers would not change their ways despite
Congos independence from Belgium. While Lumumba believed his decision to punish the army
into change would help unite the country it actually proved to have the opposite effect. Rebellion
quickly spread throughout the country leading to a major breakdown of law and order. The
country was overrun by gangs of soldiers and looters which caused a major uproar in the media
and as a result many Europeans fled the country. Due to the chaos he was dismissed from
government. He fought the action however a coup dtat led by Joseph Mobutu led Lumumba to
be placed under house arrest. He fled the country, but ultimately captured and tried. He was sent
to The State of Katanga after security breaches threatened his safety. However upon his arrival
he was brutally beaten by Belgian officers and ultimately executed. Many believe that Patrice
Lumumbas radical policies and inability to unite the country led to his demise. However in
reality it Lumumbas political actions actually had nothing to do with his decline. While he did
create major chaos with his protestation of the Belgian Army he was being fought by the Belgian
members of The Congo before he even began. In fact prior to Congo even choosing Prime
Minister many white citizens played a coup dtat if a black majority government took power.
This means that despite any political decisions Lumumba made many white nationalists were
already protesting against him. Although the situation is quite different they behaved much in the
way many republican members of our own country did after Obama was elected president in
2008. They vowed to vote against any law he tried to pass regardless of whether they agreed with
it or not in order to insure that he would not have a successful presidency. This blatant act of

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racism has led to a major divide in our own country just as it did in Congo during the 1960s.
Therefore while some believe it was Lumumbas actions that led to his demise I have to disagree.
Lumumba was destined to fail before he even began. He had no chance of creating a successful
government simply because the people with the true power didnt want him to.
This brings us back to the colonization of Africa and its effect on not only Congo, but the
world. The Scramble for Africa created a major sense of white imperialism and systematic
racism that still plagues our country today. The major part of Lumumbas decline was not his
political policies, but his perception by white citizens. In fact the coverage of Lumumba in the
New York Times was completely biased due to his association with the Soviet Union. After the
United States refused to aid him with his political campaign he turned to the Soviet Union for
support. This led to his assassination which many believe was carried out by the CIA. In order to
create a sense of hatred for Lumumba the United States media portrayed him in a negative and
hateful light. Much of this had to do with his possible association with the Soviet Union, but it
many ways it was a continuation of white colonization of African countries. Just as the colonists
thought it was acceptable to invade Africa, destroy its previous trade and cultures, and make it
their own. The United States believed it was appropriate to secretly overthrow a ruler that they
disagreed with. Although the circumstances were different the basic logic is the same. They are
continuing to perpetuate the idea that somehow white nations are superior and wiser than their
African counterparts. This leads us back to the culture of racism that colonization created. It was
the start of a long chain of events that have led white citizens to believe they have power over
their black counterparts regardless of the circumstances. It happened with Lumumba, now it is
happening with Obama, and it will continue to happen until we eradicate the systematic racism
the colonization of Africa created all those years ago.