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A4
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:20 AM
Interesting history.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4332605.stm

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 09:31 AM
Belgians confront colonial past

By Angus Roxburgh
BBC News, Brussels
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/999999.gif

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40906000/jpg/_40906975_rubberharvest203.jpg Belgium's riches were built on the harvest of rubber

Belgians are finally learning the unvarnished truth about the brutalities of their colonial past - and they are queuing up to find out more.

An exhibition at the Royal Museum for Central Africa just outside Brussels, entitled Memory of Congo: The Colonial Era, has been attracting 2,000 visitors a day.

Congo, which is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, was Belgium's only African colony, and from 1885 to 1908 it was the personal possession of King Leopold II, who ran it like an enormous private business, plundering its rubber, ivory and minerals.

His police enforcers, the Force Publique, meted out cruel punishments on villages that failed to pay taxes or produce sufficient rubber.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/shared/img/o.gif http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/start_quote_rb.gif Now we are giving a balanced view... For many people this has come as an enormous shock http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/img/v3/end_quote_rb.gif


Guido Gryseels
Museum director

The exhibition includes photographs of children with limbs chopped off by the white colonisers.

Yet for years most Belgians knew little about this.

The museum director, Guido Gryseels, says many Belgian family histories include doctors, missionaries or nuns who went to the Congo, and until recently most grew up with the idea that Belgium did nothing but good in Africa.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40906000/jpg/_40906981_leopold203.jpg King Leopold II treated the Congo as his personal possession

"We had a one-sided view of our colonial past" says Mr Gryseels.

"There was a positive view that Belgium went to Africa to stop the slave trade and civilise the Africans.

"Now we are giving a balanced view, with all the pros and cons. For many people this has come as an enormous shock."

Rubber was the chief commodity extracted from Congo's jungles at a time when the world was desperate for it.

A contemporaneous cartoon on show in the exhibition depicts a Belgian "concierge" at a barred door marked "Congo", saying to an American client: "Never mind what goes on behind the door! Should you feel any remorse, rest assured I will give you as much rubber as you require to render your conscience 'elastic'!"

Enormous wealth

King Leopold finally sold his "Congo Free State" to the Belgian government in 1908, having looted it and slaughtered millions of its people (exactly how many is a matter of dispute).

He used the enormous wealth thus gained to build grand palaces and monuments - including the Africa Museum and neighbouring Colonial Palace.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40906000/jpg/_40906979_forcepublique203.jpg Belgian rule was enforced by Congo's Force Publique

An enormous statue of the long-bearded Leopold has been moved from its once prominent position in his museum to a discreet corner - all part of what Mr Gryseels calls a "revolutionary" reassessment of the king's role.

The impetus for the change came from the publication in 1998 of King Leopold's Ghost, a devastating account by US historian Adam Hochschild of what he called Belgium's "greed, terror and heroism in colonial Africa".

The exhibition does not accept Hochschild's claim that as many as 10 million died during Leopold's rule, but it no longer shies away from the atrocities the author described.

Mass education

The exhibition also chronicles the good work done by Belgian missionaries, who introduced health care and schools to the Congo.

Unlike the French and British colonial powers, the Belgians favoured mass education, in local languages, over educating an English or French-speaking elite.

Mr Gryseels says that despite a policy of racial segregation there was also a lively interchange of cultures between the colonisers and the natives.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/40906000/jpg/_40906977_classroom203.jpg Congolese children were taught in local languages

He concedes, though, that education only went so far - to the extent that even in 1960, when Congo finally gained its independence, there were only 27 Congolese with a university education, making it almost impossible to create a successful administration.

With no political class, the country fell into chaos and civil war.

Its first leader, Patrice Lumumba, was ousted within months and murdered, with Belgian and American complicity.

Belgium accepted responsibility and finally apologised for the assassination in 2002.

Belgium's collective amnesia about the unsavoury side of the country's rule in the Congo is strange, because the facts were well publicised a century ago.

The first claims of 10 million victims of Leopold's rule were made by Edmund Morel, a British shipping agent who in 1904 set up the Congo Reform Association.

Roger Casement, a British diplomat, also exposed the violence and forced labour he heard about from missionaries, while Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness described the brutality of the regime.

Very interesting indeed.:tape:

fifiricci
Mar 11th, 2005, 10:24 AM
Well every country with a colonial past needs to stand up and be counted in this regard, mine included. Also, just about every country on the planet has committed shameful deeds that it would rather forget.

At least Belgium is now finally standing up to be counted and I respect the Belgians for that. I can think of some countries that still refuse to face up to past atrocities and exploitation of indigenous populations (but wont name them here as I dont want to start a war!), so I dont think we should be too hard on the Belgians.

Lord Nelson
Mar 11th, 2005, 11:41 AM
When one thinks colonial power, one tends to think of Britain, France, Beligian and other European powers. Turkey is almost never mentioned though it too was one. Arabs not only colonized countries they also converted their people to their faiths and customs (nothing wrong with that). N. Sudan today is arabized. Russia of course was a colonial power too. One has to see which colonies did better than others. On the whole I would say that the British colonies did better after independance than lets say French/ Belgian colonies. Belgium had one of the worst administrations of Rwanda, Burundi & Congo. But what can one expect from a small country which probably did not have the means to admin. efficiently the country.

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 12:00 PM
Well every country with a colonial past needs to stand up and be counted in this regard, mine included. Also, just about every country on the planet has committed shameful deeds that it would rather forget.

At least Belgium is now finally standing up to be counted and I respect the Belgians for that. I can think of some countries that still refuse to face up to past atrocities and exploitation of indigenous populations (but wont name them here as I dont want to start a war!), so I dont think we should be too hard on the Belgians.

Well considering the shape they left Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, and Uganda in, they ought to be doing a hell of a lot more than acknowledgement.

Josh
Mar 11th, 2005, 12:41 PM
Well considering the shape they left Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, and Uganda in, they ought to be doing a hell of a lot more than acknowledgement.

Uganda? :shrug:

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 01:01 PM
Burundi ;)

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 01:33 PM
Yes, sorry, Burundi. :worship:

rand
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:23 PM
Well considering the shape they left Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, and Uganda in, they ought to be doing a hell of a lot more than acknowledgement.
you mean like the US-citizens should do with the native americans?

Nabalonge
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:36 PM
I am truly surprised their history was not acknowledged fully before this time. But just as the this is coming out for the Belgians, I wish the US would do the same. It can be so maddening at times not to have a past acknowledged as if it didn't exist. I guess that's all I have to say really. The past is the past sometimes and I'm more concerned over what my own people are doing to their countrymen and women in present day Congo.

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:14 PM
you mean like the US-citizens should do with the native americans?

Exactly. :yeah:

But Native Americans have at least been acknowledged and reparations are made for those who are of Native American lineage.

Not to say that thats much, but do the Belgians do anything similar with their former colonies?

All I know of Belgian intervention in the region was during the Rwanda genocide where those Belgian peacekeepers were slaughtered and the remaining Belgian contingent in the UN force was immediately sent home because the Belgian people couldn't bear the deaths of approximately 10 soldiers. Funny, I wonder how many Africans died under Belgian rule, and the Belgians couldn't take the deaths of 10 or so soldiers. They stomached the 750,000+ massacred Tutsis though in the ensuing genocide pretty well though.

Josh
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:28 PM
Exactly. :yeah:

But Native Americans have at least been acknowledged and reparations are made for those who are of Native American lineage.

Not to say that thats much, but do the Belgians do anything similar with their former colonies?

All I know of Belgian intervention in the region was during the Rwanda genocide where those Belgian peacekeepers were slaughtered and the remaining Belgian contingent in the UN force was immediately sent home because the Belgian people couldn't bear the deaths of approximately 10 soldiers. Funny, I wonder how many Africans died under Belgian rule, and the Belgians couldn't take the deaths of 10 or so soldiers. They stomached the 750,000+ massacred Tutsis though in the ensuing genocide pretty well though.


To be honest, the entire UN knew what was going to happen but they just turned the other way. It wasn't just Belgium, the whole world turned a blind eye on Rwanda.

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:31 PM
Exactly. :yeah:

But Native Americans have at least been acknowledged and reparations are made for those who are of Native American lineage.

Not to say that thats much, but do the Belgians do anything similar with their former colonies?

All I know of Belgian intervention in the region was during the Rwanda genocide where those Belgian peacekeepers were slaughtered and the remaining Belgian contingent in the UN force was immediately sent home because the Belgian people couldn't bear the deaths of approximately 10 soldiers. Funny, I wonder how many Africans died under Belgian rule, and the Belgians couldn't take the deaths of 10 or so soldiers. They stomached the 750,000+ massacred Tutsis though in the ensuing genocide pretty well though.
I wonder how many died since the Belgians have left and total anarchy reigns!

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:44 PM
deaths of 10 or so soldiers


That was under incompetent Canadian U.N. command leaving the Belgians alone to be butchered :(

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:44 PM
To be honest, the entire UN knew what was going to happen but they just turned the other way. It wasn't just Belgium, the whole world turned a blind eye on Rwanda.

Fair enough.

I just feel that since Rwanda was Belgium's colony, and most of the enmity between the Hutus and the Tutsis was aggravated by Belgian race policies while it was running Rwanda, the Belgians should have stepped in and put up more of a fight, at least for the women and children. So in my eyes, they bear more blame than anyone othe than the perpetrators themselves.

I mean c'mon, France does more for Congo-Kinshasa peacekeeping-wise than Belgium, and that was Belgium's colony.

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:45 PM
Groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen groen

:haha: :tape:

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:46 PM
Fair enough.

I just feel that since Rwanda was Belgium's colony, and most of the enmity between the Hutus and the Tutsis was aggravated by Belgian race policies while it was running Rwanda, the Belgians should have stepped in and put up more of a fight, at least for the women and children. So in my eyes, they bear more blame than anyone othe than the perpetrators themselves.

I mean c'mon, France does more for Congo-Kinshasa peacekeeping-wise than Belgium, and that was Belgium's colony.
Like in Côte d'Ivoir :confused:

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:46 PM
deaths of 10 or so soldiers


That was under incompetent Canadian U.N. command leaving the Belgians alone to be butchered :(

Very unfortunate. Although I wonder how many Africans were buchered uder Belgium's rule in Rwanda/Congo-Kinshasa?

How many little African children had their limbs hacked off by Belgian imperialists?

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:48 PM
Like in Côte d'Ivoir :confused:

LOL, is that your tactic to defend Belgium's government? Shift blame? Point the finger?

Not to take responsibility?:tape:

-Ph51-
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:52 PM
LOL, is that your tactic to defend Belgium's government? Shift blame? Point the finger?

Not to take responsibility?:tape:
That's what you're doing by talking about France ;)

Listen to what older natives in Congo say...."It was better when the Belgians were there"

Svennovitch
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:54 PM
LOL, is that your tactic to defend Belgium's government? Shift blame? Point the finger?

Not to take responsibility?:tape:

Isn't that exactly what you are doing? Just pointing us the finger?

Like France has such a clean record of colonies :tape:

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:57 PM
That's what you're doing by talking about France ;)

Listen to what older natives in Congo say...."It was better when the Belgians were there"

I was just offering an example, maybe it was a bad one. France is no perfect, either. :p

But some Russians say it was better before Gorbachev's reforms...:tape:
Some Chinese say it was better under Mao...:tape:

Depends on who you ask. ;)

Stamp Paid
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:59 PM
Isn't that exactly what you are doing? Just pointing us the finger?

Like France has such a clean record of colonies :tape:

I was just offering an example, maybe it was a bad one. France is not perfect, either.

And don't misunderstand me - I don't dislike Belgians. I love the nice ones like Kimmie. :p

Lord Nelson
Mar 11th, 2005, 06:27 PM
It was not just Belgium's fault, the locals are also to blame and I'm not just referring to Mobutu. Patrice Lumumba was a Socialist and if he was in power he would not have done a better job. Just look at other Socialist charismatic leaders from developing nations leaders such as Kenyatta, Nehru, Mugabe etc..Compare this to Thailand, Taiwan, Botswana, Chile (thanks to Pinochet) and so on. What I'm trying to say is that African culture is very tribalistic and Europeans did not try and integrate Africans like Turks and Arabs did with Africans. Legend says that the Belgians divided Rwandans into Tutsis and Hutus. I have a tough time believing this. I always try and be careful what I read.

VSFan1 aka Joshua L.
Mar 12th, 2005, 01:58 PM
The impetus for the change came from the publication in 1998 of King Leopold's Ghost, a devastating account by US historian Adam Hochschild of what he called Belgium's "greed, terror and heroism in colonial Africa".


I highly encourage everyone who has posted in this thread to read this book and get a better idea about what went on in Colonial Africa. It's sad for Belgium, because it seems they are the ones at fault, but ALL CIVILIZED NATIONS that were colonial powers are at fault for these atrocities - it just so happens that the this book about the Congo best highlights what exactly went on in Colonial Africa. :sad:

Halardfan
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:24 AM
There was an incredibly revealing documentary on this area on the BBC last night...I must to confess that prior to seeing it was was almost entirely ignorant of Belgium's colonial past, and knew near nothing about Leopold...

According to the documentary, under Leopold II, the system in the Congo treated the native people as less than animals, it was all about the ruthless pursuit of profit, and all manner of inhuman forms of "persuassion" where used to maximize the output of rubber...the choping off of hands was routine, as was torture and the mass burning of villages...all of this well into the 20th century.

What was sick, was how Leopold dared to paint himself as this benevolent figure, somehow trying to "civilise" the native population.

What are the mainstream attitudes to this villain in modern Belguim? With the blood of milliions on his hands, I don't think there should be grand statues to this man.

Again, this is not meant to single out Belgium alone, goodness knows Britain and many other European countries did appaling crimes in Africa, on a more widespread scale...I think its about us all facing us to the horrors of our nations pasts, and using that knowledge to push harder to d what we can to make Africa's future better, to be the benevolent force we only pretended to be in centuries past.