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Africa Congo (Essay Sample)


describe in details the Congo region in Africa from the belgian occupation to present-day civil war.


Africa Congo
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Africa Congo
Belgium, a European country, gained its independence from the Netherlands in the year 1831. During this period, Belgium was under the rule of king Leopold 1. After thirty four years in power, Leopold one was succeeded by his son, who assumed the title Leopold the second. During this time, European countries were all competing for power and the need to colonize Africa arose. As European countries acquired colonies in Africa, Leopold the second was not left out. He sent Sir Henry’s expedition to explore the Congo region in 1876. The exploration led to the colonization of the Congo region. Though the region was many times larger than Western Europe, Leopold ruled and made the whole region his own entity. He subjected the natives to injustices and inhuman acts to respect and observe his orders. The Congolese were not considered while making decisions as they were seen to be incapable of nothing or less humans (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002).
Many Congolese lost their lives as they tried to resist the atrocities, hostility and brutal rule of Leopold. Those who were arrested were killed. Their heads, hands and legs were chopped off from the rest of their body and they bled to death. By the1890s, the British press started their exclusive investigation on King Leopold and brought to light his brutality against humanity. Even after this report was made public, there were no stiff measures that were taken against the king until late 1908 when he was forced to handover power to the Belgium state (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002).
Immediately Belgium assumed control from the dictator, slight changes were felt by the natives. Power shifted from the evil to the lesser evil. Schools were created; railways and airports were also constructed to facilitate easy transportation of crops and minerals. Though all this was evident in Congo, the lives of locals and whites were totally different. The natives had nothing to be proud of. They were disrespected, forced to work in plantations as slaves and did not have any right whatsoever as human beings. But on the contrary, their counterparts, the whites, enjoyed the best of everything that Congo could offer. They lived in paradise where everything was in abundance. Their children attended good schools, which were well equipped unlike the native ones, which were poorly equipped and sometimes there were no schools at all (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002).
Decisions concerning Congo came from Brussels, the capital city of Belgium. The natives were not involved in decision making concerning their country. They were neither directly nor indirectly involved in running the affairs of their own country. The inequities experienced by the natives made the Congolese elite to organize demonstrations to oppose the Belgium rule. They used the civil unrest to destabilize Belgium imperialists. These Congolese elite did not stop at anything short of freedom for the Africans and their nation at large (Nzongola-Ntalaja, 2002). They had suffered a lot in the hands of the whites and therefore, they wanted fundamental changes in governance. This suffering created a common problem to all Congolese. Therefore, a sense of nationalism emerged. They were willing to lose their lives for the sake of their country’s future. Their determination forced the Belgium rule to disintegrate hence paving way for the gaining of independence in the year 1960 and a young Congolese – Patrice Lumumba – became the first elected president. His tenure was characterized by chaos and uprisings here and there. Congolese were disappointed by Lumumba’s government as they expected things to change drastically hence resulting to chaos. This chaos and uprisings led to his assassination (Witte, 2001). After the assassination of Lumumba, a coup was staged and Mbutu, who was the military general by then, came into power. Every Congolese believed Mbutu would liberate their country from chaos and the increasing poverty. He promised to bring peace to the region and reduce the rebellious Katanga region by performing “ethnic cleansing” against the Kasai, the minority. As years progressed, Mbutu turned to be a dictator. He consolidated all the executive powers to himself. Congo sunk to the mud of poverty. Military servicemen and women were not paid, the cost of living became unbearable and the value of the Congo currency deteriorated. Normal Congolese citizens did not have access to affordable medical services and corruption was very rampant to the extent that civil servants who were not engaged in it became icons. Surprisingly, Mbutu did not care what was happening to the economy of the country since he was very busy grabbing public lands, transferring state money into his foreign accounts and many other malpractices in the government, which were performed for his own interests. A country that had seen its first steps toward development went to its knees begging for grants and aid from the developing and developed countries like France (Witte, 2001).
In 1997, rebellion leader, Laurent Kabila, capitalized on the inability of the government to pay salaries to its soldiers and staged a successful coup. He was in the bush for long. Every Congolese thought that their long suffering in the hands of Mbutu would end immediately. They were very optimistic of the new government but before it was fully operational, the Rwanda crisis spilt in as thousands of refugees crossed the boundary into Congo. Some of these refugees were political refugees who were still a threat to stability of the country. This created tension in this multiethnic country. This tension had been initiated by the Belgium rule, due to the application of a divide and rule policy (Witte, 2001). The recent governments have also employed the same tactics in order to survive. For instance, Mbutu attacked the rebellious Katanga region and performed ethnic cleansing so as to weaken his opponents. Since the coup, Congo had not regained its political stability making it hard for Kabila to deal with the upcoming rebellious groups within the country. These groups were funded by foreign organizations that benefited from the conflict as they were able to exploit the precious minerals deposits in Congo without undergoing legal and other hectic and costly procedures. The relationship between Congo’s neighbors worsened and therefore, Kabila could not have effectively managed the crisis in his country. By January 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated in his office by unknown gunmen. The assassination of Kabila escalated the already existing political tension in the republic. Every ethnic tribe had the interest to take over power by forming political groups and all tribes were ready to use all means possible to attain their goals. This political unrest created political, social and economical confusion all over the republic hence contributing to the economic downfall. The social system was heavily affected with all social structures like schools and hospitals being brought to a standstill (Clark, 2002).
In 2006, Joseph Kabila, the son of Laurent Kabila was popularly elected as the president of Democratic Republic of Congo (Clark, 2002). He was elected in office due to his strong will to fight corruption, eradicate poverty and offer prudent government to the people. These gave hope ...
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