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King Leopold’s Ghost Essay


King Leopold’s Ghost is a history book authored by Adam Hochschild where he explores how King Leopold II of Belgium exploited Congo Free State in 1885-1908. The main reason why Hochschild wrote the book was to make people aware of the European power’s crimes in Congo. King Leopold’s Ghost gives an account of a cruel, heartless and cunning king who raided Congo and took away the lives of the people and economic resources in the nation.

It also describes those brave men who rebelled against the king such as the missionaries, young idealists and travelers. Many European powers wanted to own up Africa and Asia in 19th century. King Leopold II of Belgium decided to make attempts to join imperial leaders in their quest to obtain Africa and Asia.

He managed to seize Congo River and its surrounding. He then conducted genocidal raid of Congo whereby he looted rubber, maltreat Congolese people and reduced the population by elimination ten million citizens. King Leopold however considered himself as a great humanitarian for all these evil actions.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Mark Twain and many other people joined forces to expose King Leopold’s bad deeds in Congo. This eventually led to the formation of Human Rights Movement. This paper mainly reflects on how colonization undermined Congolese society and why this was a natural result of late 19th century imperialism.

Many countries which were colonized by European powers were greatly undermined. The European powers used excessive force to obtain what they wanted from the nations they had conquered and the people. They subjected their colonies to forced labor, brutal killed them, destroyed their properties and sold them out to slavery.

Congo Free State is just an example of those African and Asian countries that were undermined by colonization. This therefore means that what happened to Congolese society was a typical and natural result of late 19th century imperialism which was practiced in many nations such as Assyrian Empire, Roman Empire, Japan, Chinese Empire, Persian Empire, Greece, Ottoman Empire and Byzantine Empire. King Leopold II was just like other imperialist who glorified in evil actions.

King Leopold II of Belgium considered himself as a great humanitarian for genocidal raid of Congo whereby he looted rubber, maltreat Congolese people and reduced the population by elimination ten million citizens. Imperialism was a controversial aspect whereby imperialists justified their actions.

They believed that they acted on a rational ground by doing their work best since they considered themselves to be highest in social efficiency. Imperial powers believed that the world and the people in it should be developed and governed by those who had the highest social efficiency and they saw themselves to possess that power to govern the world based on the best way they knew.

King Leopold of Belgium is among the most powerful imperialists to have lived. In his book, King Leopold’s Ghost, Hochschild described King Leopard as a greedy monster and huffy person who was determined at a tender age to own African colony and make them his subject to be able to acquire the wealth in the country.

After taking over Congo Free State, Leopold decided to make profits out of ivory in Congo by destroying the lives of many elephants in the nation. Leopold actually exploited all the ivory in Congo Free State. The expansion of international gold and rubber market forced Leopold change his plans of extracting ivory since it was no longer valuable as gold and rubber.

Leopold began to force Congolese people into the forest to collect rubber. When he felt unsatisfied by the work that the villagers were doing in the forest, Leopold ordered his soldiers to whip the people which left a large number of people dead. The soldiers used humans to test whether their bullets were working.

The native people were the main victims of King Leopold II. They lost their own land and freedom to Leopold. Leopold used force and harsh methods to accumulate rubber. He cheated the native people that he was going to bring them Christian charity, European civilization and ethics in work. Leopold took away children and women hostage while men were forced to make quotas.

The women were held in chains while waiting for their husbands to bring back the right amount of rubber as demanded by Leopold. Those who faltered were either killed or tortured by the soldiers. The hands of slaves were severed to put in a basket to act as a proof of murder which Leopold glorified in.

Imperialized mainly glorified in causing others pain and forcing them to obey him. King Leopold liked the fact that he was terrorizing and controlling a huge population. This was however stranger since the imperialists claimed that they were civilized yet they treated human beings in a different way.

Leopold considered faster way of murdering the natives in Congo since he was sure that the wild rubber in the nation will ultimately be taken by those who worked in the rubber plantations to gain profit. Leopold joined together with other people to stem forces in Congo and eventually managed to destroy the nation.

Leopold had mastered traditional African ways of oppression and brigandage that he used to achieve what he wanted from the natives. He also had vicious experience with different techniques used to inflict pain on people which will eventually make them surrender to his requests. Leopold also used machine guns, steamboats and railways in his quest for Africa. The slaves were used to transport the rubber to the railhead or to the river.

Leopold was a wild man both outside and inside his palace. His unmatched political strategy and his cunning tactics enabled him to keep United States away from Congo such that they were not able investigate what was taking place in the country. Leopold continued to enjoy the protection he got from United States in spite of the fact that they were against slavery, colonial and opposed republican principals.

The European nations did not involve much in Congo which was astonishing given that imperialism and prejudice was much widespread in the country. Leopold however continued to slaughter Congolese people and exploit those in the West. There were however some brave men who decided to object Leopold way of ruling in Congo.

They include George Washington Williams, Roger Casement, E.D. Morel and William Sheppard. They helped in bringing factual occurrences in Congo that was hidden to the public especially to United States. They spoke about the human abuse that was taking place in Congo under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium.

In conclusion, the book King Leopold’s Ghost is an account of a cruel, heartless and cunning King Leopold II of Belgium who raided Congo and took away the lives of the people and economic resources in the nation. It also describes those brave men who rebelled against the king such as the missionaries, young idealists and travelers. This paper has reflected on how colonization undermined Congolese society.

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