Itís Time to Go After King Leopoldís Descendants for Reparations to Redress the Murders of Over 10 Million People

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Writers Group- Roxanna, Friday Alexander, Jack Crawford, Aunt Dot, Alexander Hillian, Andrew Jackson Brown, Len Hubbard, Sanford Jackson, Mallard Merriman, John Shavers, John Wesley, Hester Carter and Runoko Rashidi

The Way I See It - "Itís Time to Redress the 1884-1910 Murders in the Congo Ė 10-20 Million Dead"

By Jack Crawford

The "colonial" period in Africa officially started in 1884 when the European powers met in Berlin to decide who should get what piece of the continent. Unfortunately, the Africans were not represented. One major result of the Berlin Conference was that King Leopold II of Belgium was granted the Congo as his personal domain.

You always hear me say that things are very different from the way they appear. In 1890, Leopold II portrayed himself as a Christainizer, a civilizer, a great humanitarian, a benevolent wealthy person bringing improvement to the lives of uncivilized Africans. Nothing could have been further from the truth but since no one was looking, his lies became "truth." The reality was that African were being enslaved on a grand scale in their own lands by Leopoldís agents.

Leopold realized that rubber was the major commodity of the day. Remember. Car tires were just becoming popular. Congo had enormous stands of natural rubber trees. He knew it took about 20 years to grow rubber trees to the point where they were productive. Therefore, he could reap major profits from a virtual monopoly on the rubber market for the time it took competition to enter the market.

To accomplish this task King Leopold sent a mercenary army in to organize a slave state. They tried to enslave virtually everyone. Those who refused to cooperate were murdered. Africans were recruited to go out and hunt for men, women and children to work the rubber plantations. They were paid a bounty for each person they killed. They would chop off the right hand of the victim to evidence a killing. The idea was to terrorize the population so severely that everyone would work. The result was that a large portion of the population was enslaved. The remaining people ran to the interior. As a result, there was major inattention to crop production and there was mass starvation. Also, Leoplod took a page from Columbus: workers who did not produce their daily quota of raw rubber were maimed; hands and feet were chopped off.

Leopold made a killing: over a billion dollars it is estimated, a major fortune in that day. OK, my point:

Why is there no outcry for reparations? We periodically attack the reparations issue for slavery in general. Our enemies scoff at the issue as they claim they cannot trace who did what and that the victims are no longer around. Here is a cut and dried case: the royal family of Belgium owes the Congo: That stolen billion dollars from 100 years ago is worth at least $25 billion now.

Read "King Leopold's Ghost," by Adam Hocschild for more background on the this tragedy.

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