This thesis argues that King Leopold II, in his exploitation of the Congo, dealt the Congo a future of political, ethnic, and economic destabilization. At one time consisting of unified and advanced kingdoms, the Congo turned to one completely beleaguered by poverty and political oppression. Leopold acquired the Congo through unethical means and thus took the people's chances away at self-rule. He provided for no education or vocational training, which would stunt future Congolese leaders from making sound economic and political policies. Leopold also exploited the Congo with the help of concession companies, both of which used forced labor to extract valuable resources. Millions of Congolese died and the Congo itself became indebted through Belgian loans that were given with no assurance they could ever truly be paid back due to the crippled economy of the Congo. With the Congo now in crippling debt, the current president, Joseph Kabila, has little incentive to invest in reforms or public infrastructure, which stunts economic growth.1 For over a century the Congo has been ruled by exploitative and authoritarian regimes due to Leopold's initial acquisition. The colonization from Leopold lasted from 1885-1908, and then he sold it to his home country of Belgium who ruled the Congo from 1908 to 1960. Belgium helped prop up a dictator named Joseph Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko who ruled from 1965 to 1997. Afterwards he was overthrown by the Kabila family who has continued the exploitative rule and has made no significant efforts at democratization or reforms. Thus the ethnic conflicts, political oppression and economic woes that the Congo is facing today are inevitably linked to its Leopoldian past.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Johnson, Steven, "King Leopold II's Exploitation of the Congo From 1885 to 1908 and Its Consequences" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1642.