King Leopold II in Africa

Jaden Aguon, Staff Writer

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  King Leopold II of Belgium aspired to take his small European country to Imperial greatness like the other European countries of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. He attempted to purchase the Philipine archipelago from Queen Isabel of Spain, but she was overthrown. However at this time, the race for Africa was starting up, making it a perfect time for an enterprise into the Heart of Darkness. However, unlike other European colonies, the Congo wasn’t a colony. It was Leopold II’s personal property. There is a long story of how he ended up with it, mainly with allying with chieftains, hiring mercenaries, and crossing an Arab slave trader named Tippu Tip, leaving him in complete control of the Congo and Rift Valley. After securing his property, he had every intention to completely exploit the resources and peoples of the area, effectively making it a gigantic plantation. He enforced quotas of ivory, gold, diamonds, and other natural resources on certain areas, his mercenaries were happy to enforce his entire will, and the governors had powers similar to a dictator in their respective regions. The battles with Tippu Tip and his Arab slavers already had an insane death-toll, and this is when the death-toll shots up to numbers similar to the Holocaust. They hunted elephants en masse for their ivory, completely devastating the local ecosystem, completely killing off all the elephants in the region. The governors raped the land, and used their slave workforce to completely devastated the natural resources of the land. This is a topic that should be discussed much more often.