King Leopold II committed biggest African genocide in history
King Leopold II of Belgium is a name this isn’t well known amongst many people, but the sight of the man should cause similar revulsion to that of seeing Hitler, Mussolini, Mao or Stalin, as he committed the biggest African genocide in history killing over 10 million people in the Congo.
Most people never learned about Leopold in schools, which is understandable as he was covertly erased from school curriculums.
King Leopold II was part of the terrible history of colonialism, imperialism, and slavery of black people in Africa, but his actions clashed with social narratives taught in our schools today.
It doesn’t fit nicely into school curriculums where, paradoxically, it is towered above to make overtly racist statements.
However, it’s rather significant not to discuss a genocide perpetrated by European capitalist queens that killed over 10 million Congolese.
Belgium’s King Leopold II ran an own empire so vast and vicious, it rivaled– as well as exceeded– the criminal activities of even some of the worst totalitarians of the 20th century.
When Leopold II rose to the throne in 1865, he ruled with the sort of gentle hand that Belgians wanted from their king after the democratization of the nation in the wake of the multiple revolutions and reforms.
He had fantastic ambitions of constructing an overseas empire and was persuaded, like a lot of political leaders of his time, that a nation’s achievement was straight proportional to the resources it could draw out from those colonies.
He disguised his organization transactions as “humanitarian” and “clinical” efforts under the banner of the International African Society and utilized slave labor to extract Congolese resources and services.
His reign was implemented through work camps, body mutilations, abuse, executions, and his army.
The empire was referred to as the Congo Free State, and Leopold II stood as its undeniable servant-master.
For practically 30 years, rather than being a regular nest of a European federal government, Congo was administered as the property of Leopold II for his enrichment.
The world’s largest plantation, signing up at 76 times the size of Belgium, had abundant mineral and agricultural resources and lost nearly half of its population by the time the very first census counted just 10 million individuals living there in 1924.
Interestingly, when we find out about Africa in the United States, we discover a caricatured Egypt, the HIV epidemic, the surface level effects of the slave trade, and if you went to a great school perhaps something about South African Apartheid.
We also see lots of pictures of starving children on commercials, safaris on animal shows and we see photos of huge savannahs and deserts in films and motion pictures.
What we do not learn more about is the Great African War or Leopold’s Reign of Terror during the Congolese Genocide.
Leopold II turned Congo into his part-plantation, part-concentration camp, part-Christian ministry, and yet history cannot retell the lessons of his totalitarian endeavor.
It appears that when you eliminate ten million Africans– you aren’t called ‘Hitler’, your name never pertains to represent the living version of evil, and your photo does not produce worry, hatred, and grief– rather your crimes are merely swept under the historical rug and the victims of colonialism/imperialism stay forever voiceless.