Rich Resources, Exploitation and Unrest: Congo Independence DayAug 15, 2020 09:57AM ● By Oga Africa
Happy Independence Day to the Democratic Republic of Congo from FunTimes Magazine. Today, August 15th, we celebrate the richness, struggles and global influence of the country known as the DRC or Congo.
The DRC is the second largest country in Africa. Its capital, Kinshasa, is the largest city in Central Africa. The national languages include Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili and Tshiluba, and the official language is French. Although there are over 250 ethnic groups in DRC, the Bantu tribe dominate in terms of population and sub tribes.
The native inhabitants of this country are said to be the Central African Foragers, or Congo Pygmies, who are hunter gatherers that are known for their short stature. In 1904, Ota Benga, a Congo Pygmy, was kidnapped. His wife and children were murdered by the Belgian army while he was hunting. When he returned to his village, he was captured by slave traders, taken to the United States and displayed as a part of a human zoo at the Bronx Zoo and an exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Expedition. He committed suicide in Virginia at age 33 in 1916.
The DRC’s lush soil gives birth to precious resources like gold, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, oil, gas and more. Between 1884 and 1914, when European nations decided Africa was for the taking and commenced the Scramble for Africa, the DRC’s resources made it a vulnerable target in the eyes of the Western world.
King Leopold II of Belgium was a devil to the DRC. As a colonizer, he gained control of the rich resources and forced natives to mine the land’s bearings, including rubber, ivory and minerals. Most of the developments in Belgium at the time were built off of the backs of Congolese labor. He and his colleagues would cut off the hands of men, women and children if they did not reach their quotas. He is responsible for killing over 10 million Congolese people.
Patrice Lumumba, the legendary Congolese politician, led the country to its independence in 1960. He strongly discouraged tribalism, and had hopes that gaining independence would promote economic, political and cultural advancement of the Congolese people. In 1961, Lumumba was assassinated by Belgian and American governments, with the aid of a Belgian execution squad and Congolese henchmen. The US used uranium from DRC to craft their first atomic bombs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Second Congo War, also known as the Great War of Africa, was sparked by the neighboring Rwandan genocide, and occurred from 1998 to 2003. By 1998, the legacy of this war left 4.5 million people dead due to starvation, disease and other inhumane conditions.
Now, under President Felix Tshisekedi, the country faces issues such as armed conflict, ethnic violence, Ebola and deforestation. This year alone, at least 1,315 people in the country have been killed by armed groups. Learn more about this issue here.