An Outpost of Progress Infobox

The colonization of Central Africa didn’t set in until the very end of the nineteenth century, when ‘the scramble for Africa’ – the race of European powers to divide the continent among themselves – received underneath means: In 1870 European international locations owned only 10% of Africa, by 1900 it was 90%. For a very long time entry to the huge territories within the Congo River basin was thought-about inconceivable because of the impenetrable forests and the impassable rapids of the river itself, which served as a barrier to European exploitation.

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The adventurer and journalist Henry Morton Stanley gained the interest and support of the Belgian King Leopold II for his expeditions into the Congo basin ‘to prove that the Congo natives had been susceptible of civilization and that the Congo basin was rich enough to repay exploitation’. In the name of Leopold II he appropriated land and labour for the king’s newly based ‘Association Internationale du Congo’. Leopold’s declare to the Congo was acknowledged at the International Africa Conference in Berlin in 1884–1885, presided over by Bismarck.

The Congo Free State, as it was sarcastically called, was confirmed because the non-public property of King Leopold II in return for ensures of neutrality, free commerce and opposition to slavery. The Congo Free State, 1900 next to nothing, aside from small quantities of cloth, beads or brass rods. The rubber growth began within the mid-1890s as a outcome of increasing industrial demand from Europe. While the rubber trade made a fortune for Leopold II, it led to the acute brutalization of the local inhabitants.

Under Leopold’s possession roughly 10 million Congolese died as a consequence of exploitation and disease.

To implement the rubber quotas, the Force Publique (FP) was known as in. The FP was a military, however its purpose was not to defend the country, however to terrorize the inhabitants, which it did by chopping off the limbs of the natives; this practice was disturbingly widespread. When news of those atrocities reached Europe, there was a public outcry; the British parliament asked Roger Casement to make an inquiry into the state of affairs within the country. The result of his enquiry was the famous Congo Report (1904). Casement had been a British diplomat in the Congo, where he met Conrad and whose Heart of Darkness (1899) had deeply influenced him.

In 1903 Conrad wrote to Casement saying, ‘there exists in Africa a Congo State, created by the act of European powers, the place ruthless, systematic cruelty in the path of the blacks is the idea of the administration’. Conrad’s novel additionally contributed to a widespread data of the colonial abuses and crimes happening in Africa. In 1908 Leopold II was pressured to promote the Congo Free State to the Belgian government, which annexed it as a Belgian colony until its independence in 1960, when it was named Zaire. Its historical past since then has not been a lot happier. Following the secessionist Katanga Civil War, the country was brutalized underneath the dictatorship of President Mobutu. In 1997, when Mobutu was overthrown by the insurgent chief Laurent Kabila, the nation was renamed The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Torn between ethnic strife and civil wars, involving refugees from Rwanda and Burundi and displacements from Sudan, the country remains to be unstable. Biographical features Ivory and rubber had been the principle sources of income for King Leopold’s firm and its brokers: they and their African auxiliaries seized all of the ivory that could probably be discovered, buying tusks from villages for a pittance, or just confiscating them.

They were engaged on a lucrative commission construction imposed by the King in 1890, of which the African elephant hunters obtained 26 As captain of a steamship, Joseph Conrad travelled up the Congo River to Central Africa and the heart of the Congo in 1890, after which went on an overland observe to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). As we know from his diaries and letters, which he wrote in English, he was deeply concerned with the greed of Belgian (and different European) retailers, the abuses of colonial powers and atrocities dedicated by white managers and their black auxiliaries, always in the name of a missionary and rogressive spirit to ‘enlighten the darkish continent’. But he also met with what he considered cannibalism, and was confused Notes for the Teachers by the natives’ drums and ‘wild savagery’. His choice to resign from his publish as captain was as much brought on by his unwell health as by his want to turn out to be a writer. It has been said that ‘Africa killed Conrad the sailor and strengthened Conrad the writer’. In his intensive writings (over forty works of fiction of various length) the themes of journey and the pursuit of material and idealistic objectives in addition to isolation, ambition and failure may be stated to be drawn from his own experiences.

Conrad: An Outpost of Progress

His deep-rooted scepticism of imperialism could be linked to his Polish background: born into a nation which had vanished from the map after being annexed by Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1795, and right into a family which had opposed Russian oppression and been exiled to Ukraine, Conrad had good reason to query the right of stronger powers to impose their wills on smaller nations.

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