The King and the Kodak

The influence of technology on the second wave of imperialism.

The Second Wave of Imperialism: The Land Grab in Africa
– In 1870 roughly 80% of sub-Saharan Africa was living under indigenous rulers – by 1910 virtually all of it was European Colonies or white settler regimes. – It was the fastest land grab in history

Leopold II: Early Life
• Belgium founded in 1830
– Leopold I- father first monarch

• Leopold II was cousin of Queen Victoria. • Reigned 1865- 1909 • Believed that Belgium needed colonies to ensure its prosperity • Tried to buy the Philippines in 1875. • Knew Belgian People would not support his affairs, he worked as a individual.

Stated Rational:
• 1876: Leopold organizes a meeting in Brussels to discuss his plan:
– “to open to civilization the only part of our globe where Christianity has not yet penetrated and to pierce the darkness which envelops the whole population” – Fight Arab Slave traders

• 1877: Henry Morton Stanley
– “There are 40 million naked people on the other side of the rapids, and the cottonspinners of Manchester are waiting to clothe them... Birmingham's factories are glowing with the red metal that shall presently be made into ironwork in every fashion and shape for them... and the ministers of Christ are zealous to bring them, the poor benighted heathen, into the Christian fold.” – Hired by Leopold to explore and secure the Congo

Berlin Conference 1884
• Bismarck calls European powers for a conference which leads to the Scramble for Africa • Leopold is given complete control over the Congo Free State; in return he guarantees:
– – – – Free trade rights No monopolies No taxes and tariffs No restrictions on trade

The Congo Free State 1885
• 80 times the size of Belgium • All unoccupied land was made property of State • Organized Congo state to extract wealth from local populations
– Destroyed traditional economy – Forced natives to work only for the state or concessionaries. – Brass rods – currency for natives

Raw Materials
• • Ivory: Belgian Monopoly Rubber: 1887- The inflatable bicycle tire was invented and spawned, along with the car tire, a worldwide rubber boom.

Force Publique

• Leopold’s 19,000 man private army • Enforced Rubber Collection Laws • Compared to Hitler's SS for its brutality

The Missionaries
• Present in Congo from founding
– Part of Civilizing Native Populations

Protestant and Catholic Missionaries were stationed throughout the Congo and provided first-hand accounts of the atrocities Played a key companion to Morel and the Congo Reform Association.
– Impact of Lantern Lectures

Early Reform Efforts:
• George Washington Williams

• Leopold blunted criticism of Williams and missionaries through the formation of Commission for the Protection of Natives (1895) • Early missionaries were quiet on atrocities

Examples of ‘civilizing’ the native populations

Heart of Darkness
• • 1902 Joseph Conrad's novel Based on his 1890 trip to the Congo as a Boat Captain.
– Conrad saw some of the most shocking and depraved examples of human corruption he’d ever witnessed. He was disgusted by the ill treatment of the natives, the scrabble for loot, the terrible heat and the lack of water.

Marlow on Leopold’s colonialism:
– “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”

Government Action in Britain
• May 1903-  The House of Commons passed a resolution urging that Congo natives be governed with humanity.
– Sent Consul Roger Casement to report on the conditions in the Congo

Casement Report, 1903
• The single most important factor in exposing the atrocities in The Congo. • “I have returned from the Upper Congo today with convincing evidence of shocking misgovernment and wholesale oppression.” • “It is an extraordinary thing that the conscience of Europe which seventy years ago …put down the slave trade on humanitarian grounds tolerates the Congo state today.”

E.D. Morel
• • •
• •

Worked for Elder Dempster shipping line Company which is responsible for goods transport from Antwerp to Congo Published anonymous articles about the atrocities in the Congo - 1900 Quit shipping line in 1901 to focus exposing the barbarities in the Congo under Leopold II
Brought International concern over the reports of atrocities: 1st Human rights campaign of the 20th century

Became the arch nemesis of Leopold
– started his own publication, The West African Mail an illustrated weekly journal in 1903 as a forum on West and Central African Questions. – Red Rubber

Congo Reform Association
• 1904 - The CRA was born in England following return of Casement from the Congo. • Modeled on other movements including abolition:
– Deployed knowledge, observers with local experiences and photographs, to legitimate accusation of exploitation.

• Very successful in bringing publicly to the conditions in the Congo.

The War of Words
• Anti-Leopold:
– Mark Twain King Leopold’s Soliloquy 1905 –  E.D. Morel wrote Red Rubber: the Story of the Rubber Slave Trade Flourishing on the Congo in the year of Grace 1906 – Arthur Conan Doyle Le Crime Du Congo 1905

a sample of

Pro- Leopold:
– La Vérité sur le Congo journal 1904-1908 – Henry Wellington Wack The Story of the Congo Free State 1905

“The Incorruptible Kodak”

Armed with modern weapons and the chicotte — a bull whip made of hippopotamus hide — the Force Publique routinely took and tortured hostages (mostly women), flogged, and raped the natives.

The Force Publique took human hands as trophies on the orders of white officers to show that bullets hadn't been wasted. Some of the victims lived.

Two youths of the Equator district. The hands of Mola, seated, have been destroyed by gangrene after being tied too tightly by soldier. The right hand of Yoka, standing, was cut off by soldiers wanting to claim him as killed.

“The baskets of severed hands, set down at the feet of the European post commanders, became the symbol of the Congo Free State…”

Hands collected

In practice, soldiers sometimes "cheated" by simply cutting off the hand and leaving the victim to live or die. More than a few survivors later said that they had lived through a massacre by acting dead, not moving even when their hand was severed, and waiting till the soldiers left before seeking help.

•How did technology influence the Congo Reform Moment? •What message are these images intended to show? •How do they make you feel?

The End….
• 1908  
– King Leopold II turned the Congo over to Belgium for 150m francs

• 1909
– Leopold II dies, booed at his funeral parade. – “The most hated man in Europe”

• Belgium takes over the colony… but does native life change?
– Move from wild rubber to plantations. – Taxation

Legacies of Imperialism
case study:
• Belgian Rule 1909- 1960 • Patrice Lumumba
– Freely elected Prime Minister (1960) – Assassinated Jan, 1961
• CIA involvement

a dramatic

• Mobutu Dictatorship
– 1960 – 1997 – Initiated first coup in September 1960 – Reign marked by Kleptocracy – Cold War Patron of the West – Destruction of the country – Overthrown in May 1997

Congo Today
• 4 million people have been killed since 1998 • Exploitation Continues:
– Gold, Diamonds

• During the 1990s the U.S. supplied more than $125 million in arms and training to 6 of the 7 states who have had troops fighting on several sides in Congo Civil War

• Leopold’s rule resulted in the death of an estimated 10 million Congolese between 1885 and 1908. • Reduced the population by ½ • Leopold II becomes one of the richest men in Europe
– lack of male heir

• Profits estimated at 1.1 billion in today's dollars. • Leopold II is held in high esteem in his home country
– The great forgetting? – Overshadowed by the two world wars?

Classroom Questions:
• How did the guiding forces of nationalism, technology and business interests drive the second wave of Imperialism? • How did technology influence the Congo and its reform efforts? • What effect do you think Nationalism played in the Congo? • Do you think Leopold’s rule of Congo influenced its later history?

Public Perceptions in the Media: