King Leopold II of Belgium He owned the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa

Take a look at this picture Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him But you should have When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in your stomach as when you read about Mussolini or Hitler or see one of their pictures he killed over 10 million people in the Congo His name is King Leopold II of Belgium He owned the Congo during his reign as the constitutional monarch of Belgium After several failed colonial attempts in Asia and Africa he settled on the Congo He bought it and enslaved its people turning the entire country into his own personal slave plantation He disguised his business transactions as philanthropic and scientific efforts under the banner of the International African Society He used their enslaved labor to extract Congolese resources and services His reign was enforced through work camps, body mutilations, executions, torture and his private army Most of us aren’t taught about him in school We don’t hear about him in the media He is not part of the widely repeated narrative of oppression (which includes things like the Holocaust during World War II) He is part of a long history of colonialism, imperialism, slavery and genocide in Africa that would clash with the social construction of the white supremacist narrative in our schools It doesn’t fit neatly into a capitalist curriculum Making overtly racist remarks is (sometimes) frowned upon in polite society but it’s quite fine not to talk about genocides in Africa perpetrated by European capitalist monarchs And There Is a Wikipedia page called Genocides in History The Congolese Genocide isn’t included The Congo is mentioned though What’s now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo is listed in reference to the Second Congo War (also called Africa World War and the Great War of Africa) where both sides of the multinational conflict hunted down Bambenga and ate them Cannibalism and slavery are horrendous evils which must be entered into history and talked about for sure but I couldn’t help thinking whose interests were served when the only mention of the Congo on the page was in reference to multi-national incidents where a tiny minority of people were eating each other (completely devoid of the conditions which created the conflict no less) Stories which support the white supremacist narrative about the sub humanness of people in Africa are allowed to be entered into the records of history The white guy who turned the Congo into his own personal part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry and killed 10 to 15 million Congolese people in the process doesn’t make the cut and Leopold was just one part of thousands of things that helped construct white supremacy as both an ideological narrative and material reality Of course I don’t want to pretend that in the Congo he was the source of all evil He had generals and foot soldiers and managers who did his bidding and enforced his laws It was a system But that doesn’t negate the need to talk about the individuals who are symbolic of the system But we don’t even get that And since it isn’t talked about, what capitalism did to Africa all the privileges that rich white people gained from the Congolese genocide are hidden The victims of imperialism are made like they usually are invisible


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