On this day, in 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium officially began central Africa’s nightmare with the establishment of the Congo Free State as the king’s personal possession. From 1885 until 1908, resources were ripped from this part of Africa by people who are suspected of slaughtering 50% of the indigenous population. Those who weren’t killed suffered from starvation which resulted from the policies of Leopold II; this does not include those where tortured and imprisoned.
In 1908, Belgium annexed the Congo Free State as a colony. Things were slightly better for the indigenous people; lots of Europeans got rich.
In 1960, the Congo became independent becoming the Republic of Congo-Leopoldville. The government was too weak to withstand internal disputes and instabilities, continued involvement of Belgium, and, of course, Cold War interference by the USA and the Soviet Union. While nominally a unified country from 1960 to 1965, these forces resulted in nonstop military activity (aka war).
In 1965 Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power, again. He was involved in the 1960 … um … change in government. In 1971, Mobutu established the Republic of Zaire, a one-party totalitarian dictatorship. Mobutu’s government was propped up by the USA’s … um … pursuit of democracy in the rest of the world … um, yeah. Zaire collapsed in the 1990s in the aftermath of the Rwandan Genocide, which included eastern Zaire, the end of Cold War support, and unceasing ethnic violence (aka war).
In 1997, the government was reestablished as the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, and almost immediately was plunged into the Second Congo War. The First Congo War was in 1996 and was essentially to overflow of the Rwandan Genocide into Zaire. The Second Congo War supposedly ended in 2003, but the DRC has been constantly at war since 1996.
There is no end to this nightmare in sight.