posts 1 - 15 of 28
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 288

Reading: Excerpt from Adam Hochschild,Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost (1999), pp. 129ff, 158ff (Several of you read this book for your summer reading. Yay you! If you are one of those folks, take a look at these pages for a reminder; if you are not one of the summer reading folks, make sure you read all of this)


"The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much."


—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902)


I’d say Conrad’s quote is….an understatement (to say the least)? The British writer Joseph Conrad, who wrote the novel Heart of Darkness (it’s a complicated and not-uncontroversial novel and certainly a book that you all MUST read before you die, if you have not already read it for English) after traveling up the Kongo River in 1890, said about the people of Africa that yesterday’s “savages” were “tomorrow’s paragons of civilization.”


The people living in the Kongo were most certainly not savages. But their history was profoundly affected and, sadly, reshaped by western intervention. The Kingdom of Kongo was founded c. 1390 CE by KiKongo speaking people (Congo with a C is the result of Portuguese translation.). Most Congolese today speak one of the Bantu language variants. The kingdom reached its height in the mid-17th century but was most definitely affected by corruption, feuds among royal families, and the trade of people to be enslaved. Its center was originally the city of Mbanza, located in what today is (thanks to Portuguese colonial ambitions) Angola. Many members of the royal family and the nobility in Kongo converted to Christianity due to their interaction with Portuguese explorers and (later) missionaries. Kongolese involvement with the slave trade began with the Portuguese demands for slaves and the Kongolese king would use foreign-born (non-Kongolese) people to fulfill the Portuguese demands. Internal strife within the country—separatist groups from different royal families (such as the Soyo)--led to the royal family bartering slaves for foreign help in suppressing rebellions Ultimately the country split in two in the mid-1600s.


Over the course of that history and continuing today, the people of the Kongo created rich artistic and musical traditions; to look at some of this spectacular art, take a look here (and yes, it’s surprising that there’s a large collection of Congolese art sitting in …..Iowa!) as well as here (for more recent masks created by Congolese artists) and to listen to traditional Congolese music (which continues today), check this out.


When the British abolished the slave trade in the early 19th century, the Kingdom of Kongo had to rely on other exports and they turned to trade in ivory and rubber. Needless to say, this made the kingdom very attractive to nations looking to establish colonies to provide them with economic wealth through natural resources.


King Leopold of Belgium saw the continent as “this magnificent African cake.” The imperial ambitions of Europe were achieved by carving up this massive “African cake,” especially during the orgy-like division of the continent at the 1884-1885 Conference of Berlin. No doubt you touched on this at least a little bit—at least I hope that you did—in World History II/AP World.


So in your post, please consider these questions and respond thoughtfully:


  1. What possible justification can there be for colonial control over any nation?
  2. Are there benefits to colonialism? What does the colonialist nation in charge get from the “arrangement”? What does the colonized nation get from the arrangement?
  3. And is what is described in the reading from Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost indicative of the extremes of colonialism, the perils of colonialism, or the norm? (The more you are detailed here in your response, the more it’s clear that you got something meaningful out of this reading.)
  4. Finally, the broadest questions: In your view, what short- and long-term effects did the colonization of Africa have on the development of nations on the continent and their status today? And what responsibility, if any, do the colonizing nations have for their former colonial subjects and the nations that emerged after colonialism ended?

(And by the way, lest you think this is only an African issue, think about all the nations in Asia and the Middle East, not to mention Latin and South America that were once colonial subjects! And if you think about it, we, here in the US, were too.)


Please be sure to post on this in a timely fashion and be certain to reference specifics from class AND from Hochschild’s magisterial book.


Also, please be sure that at the close of your post, you (1) pose a question about this issue for the next reader AND (2) reply to the question posed by the person who posted before you did!



booksandcandles
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

The Conquest of the Earth... is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo

Colonialism is one of the things in this world that is completely wrong and can be extremely brutal, but is the main source of what we call progress in the world. I once had to do a debate about this, and I was assigned to the side that colonialism was justified and had many benefits. My main point was that any type of human interaction results in the exchange of ideas, language, cultures, and natural resources, which promotes social and economic progress in every group involved. I think that, for that reason, colonialism can be justified, but only to some extent. There are better ways to go about ruling a country than exploiting the people who were already there, and that happened in every instance of colonialism in history, that I know of, at least.

In terms of what the two parties involved receive from the "arrangement," the colonizers gain access to natural resources, ports and modes of transportation, labor, and trade coming into and out of the country. Basically, they get money. The colonized supposedly get (European) language and culture, ways of life, and the benefits of living under a global superpower. They also get exploited for their labor, land, and sometimes even themselves. In Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost, it shows how colonized peoples in the Congo were exploited for their labor, and how they had to work their own land to provide resources for the state -- meaning the king himself. This exploitation of labor was slavery, and as a Congo state official notes in his memoirs, they would be chained together to do menial tasks in their own country: "A file of poor devils, chained by the neck, carried my trunks and boxes toward the deck." Many colonial powers referred to their presence in other countries as helping the people there become "civilized."

The colonization of Africa caused there to be revolts everywhere, against the colonial powers themselves, and then against the leaders that emerged after they left. They left the countries they previously occupied in various states of disarray, leaving natives to clean up the mess that the colonizers made. I think that since they claimed responsibility over these countries when it benefited them, they should have to take accountability and claim some responsibility in actually helping them later on. Though I do agree that they've done well enough without it.

My question to the next person is this: Do you think that colonial powers had the right to take control of other nations?

OverthinkingEnigma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

"The Conquest of the Earth...is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo"

In my opinion, there isn’t any proper justification for colonial control over any nation. Colonialism is frequently driven by a nation’s personal desires, hopes, and goals, leaving little room for consideration of the opinion of the targeted nation. These motivations seem harmless at first, especially when they were supported by a wide population, as seen through Europe’s hopes of spreading Christianity to African nations, therefore ‘justifying’ their colonial takeover. Motivations such as religion were considered harmless and a righteous cause, considering a majority of Christians in the 18th-19th century agreed that conversion would benefit Africa when in reality, they had no right to decide what was best for these nations. At its core, colonialism in countries by European powers was driven by greed, social Darwinism, and pride. There was no need to strip a nation of its resources and people nor take advantage of their prior conflicts/condition. There are causes for the colonization of a nation, but there is no true justification for it.

Moreover, the consequences of colonialism greatly outweigh its benefits. Colonialism has led to vast amounts of acculturation as well as some economic growth, but only to the benefit of one nation--the colonizer. Once the colonizing nation has gained political and social control over an area/nation, they have access to the people and their labor, resources, and service. Economic gain was the main drive for colonization, thus colonized nations were frequently drained of their food, minerals, and goods which also stimulated trade. Although such trade would involve both colonists and some merchants from the colonized nation, the economic benefits of colonization were solely reserved for colonizers. Moreover, colonization has also led to the violation of several human rights as seen through the degradation and occasional enslavement of native peoples. The citizens of colonized countries are often exploited for their labor and military service as the colonizer inflicts fear tactics and acts of violence in order to back colonized countries into a corner. However, colonizers often decide to ‘repair’ the colonized nation so that it may be to its full economic potential; in other words, colonizers more often than not, decide to ‘invest’ into these nations. These ‘investments’ would often be in the form of industrializing the colonized nation and ‘improving’ specific aspects of their society such as transportation. Most often than not, the ‘benefits’ the colonized nation received were rooted in the colonizer’s desire for increased profit. Furthermore, despite the few materialistic ‘benefits’ a colonized nation might receive, the social, political, and economic degradation they would undergo would leave scars.

Likewise, Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost is indicative of the extremes and perils of colonialism. Leopold’s horrid treatment and exploitation of the Congo is one of the prime showcases of colonizers’ custom of enslaving an entire nation and peoples with little to no empathy. A prime example of this extreme treatment was the enslavement of Africans coupled with their horrifying conditions/punishments. As white officials began to settle into the Congo and venture out to collect ivory, construct posts, settle rebellions, etc, they forced Africans--of all ages--to carry their cargo. The conditions of these long journeys were sickening, as stated by Hochschild, ““A file of poor devils (7-9 year olds), chained by the neck carried my trunks and boxes toward the dock.” A Congo state official notes matter-of-factly in his memoirs… “There were about a hundred of them, trembling and fearful before the overseer, who strolled by whirling a whip…how many were skeletons dried up like mummies, their skin worn out…No matter, they were all up to the job.” The lack of empathy from white officials is clearly evident in this quote as the official assumes the African children were willing to be starved, abused, and exploited for their labor. Additionally, these journeys were perilous as the death rate of cargo carriers was extremely high; this can be seen through the eerie outcome of District Commissioner Paul Mearinel’s conscription of 300 porters in 1891 to a port 600 miles away, in which no one returned. Along with the exploitation of labor, horrendous and unnecessary punishments were routinely conducted by colonizers--a vital tactic used by colonizers to assert dominance and fear. A common punishment was the severe whipping of Africans, called chicotte, which was administered by both white settlers and other Africans. Chicottes were, more often than not, governed by emotion, injured pride, and racism/social Darwinism as stated by Leopold’s justification for his treatment of the Congo’s inhabitants, “In dealing with a race composed of cannibals for thousands of years it is necessary to use methods which will best shake their idleness and make them realize the sanctity of work.” Hochschild also mentions a specific incident in which a white official ordered that every African servant boy in a village be given 20 lashes because he had caught a group of them laughing at him. It’s important to keep in mind that only a few lashes could render someone unconscious, let alone a child; this quick resort to punishment exhibits the dehumanization of the Congo’s inhabitants as Leopold brought in social Darwinism and racism into his colonies. Furthermore, the colonization of the Congo created an utterly inhumane environment only catered towards white men, more specifically, King Leopold.

The effects of King Leopold’s hold on the Congo had several different effects on Africa such as rebellions and tense interrelations between nations within the continent. Force Publique rebellions were precursors of anticolonial guerilla wars that had shaken central and southern Africa in the 1960s. Villages, tribes, and nations banded together to take revenge against the white settlers by destroying ports, houses, and killing/kidnapping white officials; some rebellions were successful and had put the Congo officials into a tight corner, however, this victory was short-lived. Leopold would send out military aid to squash these rebellions and they were ultimately successful. Additionally, King Leopold intensified the prior divides between nations/tribes as he frequently utilized the strategy of siding with an enemy tribe to gain their support and aid as his control swept over the Congo. This relationship between the colonizer and the colonized can also be seen through merchants, specifically slave traders, and white Congo officials. Such relationships developed deep divides within the African continent as Africans were pitted against each other at the hands of King Leopold. Furthermore, the colonization of the Congo was one of the various colonial takeovers of a region in the African continent by the European powers. Colonization had killed millions of Africans, scarred various communities, depleted natural resources, and established a sense of white dominance; therefore, reparations from colonizing nations are their responsibility. First and foremost, the colonizing nations’ should make their past treatment of their former colonial subjects public as well as edit history textbooks so that they reflect an accurate retelling of their actions. I understand that such major action will not happen overnight if at all, but it’s the first step of meeting proper reparations for these formerly colonized nations.


My question to the next reader is: What are other possible examples of appropriate reparations for former colonial subjects from colonizing nations? Is such reparations possible in today's political climate?

OverthinkingEnigma
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by booksandcandles on February 03, 2022 10:29

Colonialism is one of the things in this world that is completely wrong and can be extremely brutal, but is the main source of what we call progress in the world. I once had to do a debate about this, and I was assigned to the side that colonialism was justified and had many benefits. My main point was that any type of human interaction results in the exchange of ideas, language, cultures, and natural resources, which promotes social and economic progress in every group involved. I think that, for that reason, colonialism can be justified, but only to some extent. There are better ways to go about ruling a country than exploiting the people who were already there, and that happened in every instance of colonialism in history, that I know of, at least.

In terms of what the two parties involved receive from the "arrangement," the colonizers gain access to natural resources, ports and modes of transportation, labor, and trade coming into and out of the country. Basically, they get money. The colonized supposedly get (European) language and culture, ways of life, and the benefits of living under a global superpower. They also get exploited for their labor, land, and sometimes even themselves. In Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost, it shows how colonized peoples in the Congo were exploited for their labor, and how they had to work their own land to provide resources for the state -- meaning the king himself. This exploitation of labor was slavery, and as a Congo state official notes in his memoirs, they would be chained together to do menial tasks in their own country: "A file of poor devils, chained by the neck, carried my trunks and boxes toward the deck." Many colonial powers referred to their presence in other countries as helping the people there become "civilized."

The colonization of Africa caused there to be revolts everywhere, against the colonial powers themselves, and then against the leaders that emerged after they left. They left the countries they previously occupied in various states of disarray, leaving natives to clean up the mess that the colonizers made. I think that since they claimed responsibility over these countries when it benefited them, they should have to take accountability and claim some responsibility in actually helping them later on. Though I do agree that they've done well enough without it.

My question to the next person is this: Do you think that colonial powers had the right to take control of other nations?

To answer your question, I think that colonial powers had no right to take control of other nations, but colonization in some aspects was inevitable. There were colonizing powers and majorities that felt that they were lacking in reputation, wealth, status, land, etc, consequently launching several acts of colonization. Nations have the right to their independence, resources, people, and so on--especially if the conditions of such things were well-off and humane. Colonial takeovers also threaten any sense of peace and inevitably lead to several social divides as power imbalances and shifts take place.

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

A big part of our country’s history is centered around colonization, and this is a huge yet irreversible problem. We cannot erase or change the past, so all of the consequences that colonization had cannot be changed, and there is no justification or excuse for past colonial control over nations. Colonization was a system where the colonizing country benefitted, in doing so exploiting its colonies.

The colonialist nations benefited massively from colonization because it gave them easy access to power, land, and wealth. Colonizing countries were less powerful in their home country, dealing with power struggles or family problems such as was the case with Leopold. Nevertheless, colonists such as Leopold went from hardship and struggle in their home country to omnipotence in colonies. In colonies, your status mattered less, and instead, white people ruled while black people were forced to serve. This is exactly why colonialist nations loved colonization– it served as a justification for racism. In their eyes, they were “dealing with a race composed of cannibals” and so it was “necessary to use methods which will best shake their idleness and make them realize the sanctity of work” (Leopold). Countries used notions regarding the inferiority of certain races (people of color) to justify colonization when in reality they were colonizing to acquire land and wealth. Colonists benefited economically, claiming that all “vacant land” was the property of the state without any definition of what qualified as “vacant land.” They, therefore, gained new territories, but more importantly, were able to use forced labor in the colonies to acquire more resources and wealth.

This forced labor was a central aspect to all colonies, helping in understanding the great extent to which the colonized were exploited and mistreated. As colonizers benefitted, they did so at the expense of those they were colonizing. People living within the colonized nations were forced into hard labor, specifically porters, which even young children had to participate in. Hochschild makes it clear that children weren’t spared the rigors of colonization such as in Leopold’s colonies. 7-9-year-old children were forced to carry up to 22 pounds and countless people living in colonized nations died. Already living in terrible conditions, if they didn’t follow through with the labor or do what the colonizers wanted, harsh punishments followed. The chicotte would take place, where Africans, often including children, were whipped. These punishments were brutal and emphasize the ways that the colonized were treated extremely harshly and unfairly. They were basically treated as enslaved people, forced to lead lives that colonizers such as Leopold wanted them to live and subject to extreme labor, living conditions, and punishment. Despite all these terrible consequences that the people living in colonized nations had to face, the colonizers continued to downplay the terrible treatment, using euphemisms when talking about colonization abroad.

This terrible treatment that colonizing nations tried to deny and write out of their history cannot be ignored. It is clear that this was unfair, and Hochschild reiterates the extremes and perils of colonization. Hochschild details the events and effects of Leopold’s rubber system on colonized villages in the Congo state. After Leopold realized that the Congo was a great source of rubber due to its equatorial rainforest area, he saw it as a solution to his debt problems. Extracting rubber from the Congo required a lot of labor, so villages in the Congo were forced to gather rubber. They required villages or individuals to turn in a certain amount of rubber, and if the quota wasn’t met, they kept hostages from the villages and cut off the hands of the colonized peoples. Therefore, the work and population of the colonized were tightly controlled, and if villages refused to participate in the rubber system, in many cases, everyone was shot. Therefore, the rubber system is a disturbing example of the extremes and perils of colonialism. Colonization wasn’t necessarily a change in government or a request to take over another nation, but a forced act against another group of people. The rubber system is one of many scenarios that exemplify the drastic and horrifying consequences of colonization. Whether the rubber system or other parts of the terrible process of colonization, this part of history had huge effects, both short and long term, on the colonized nations.

All of these different effects of colonization–the forced labor, cruel punishments, and stolen land–ruined the lives of everyone living in the colonized nations. These consequences, however, had not only a short but also a long-term effect on the colonized nations. Colonies in Africa, even after colonization, were hurt economically and politically by colonial rule. Colonization disturbs the economic and political structure of a nation; its people were producing wealth where more than half of the products were given to the colonizing nation, and whatever government they had was diminished and replaced by the colonizing leaders. Today, there are many African countries that still feel the brutal consequences of colonization. Therefore, past colonizing nations have a responsibility to attempt to make up for what they did in the past. So even though we cannot change the past, it is crucial to recognize mistakes and initiate change in the present. Hochschild indicated that the leaders of colonization such as Leopold refused to hear the perspective of Africans and acknowledge their voice. Throughout history, countries have failed to do this. Therefore, now, they must listen to African countries, respecting and acknowledging their history, ideas, and beliefs.

My question: Hochschild helps us understand the great extent to which colonization negatively affected the colonized nations. What are the ways that colonization affected our own lives today? How can you connect colonization in our past to something going on in the present related to current events?

watermelon2
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by OverthinkingEnigma on February 06, 2022 01:40

My question to the next reader is: What are other possible examples of appropriate reparations for former colonial subjects from colonizing nations? Is such reparations possible in today's political climate?

I agree that it is very important that colonizing nations accept responsibility, making their past treatment of colonial subjects public and editing history textbooks. I think, however, that colonizing nations need to not only make the history of these treatments public but also to recognize their wrongdoing and formerly apologize. It is one thing to recognize that something happened, but it is a completely different thing to recognize you did something wrong and initiate a direct apology. In addition to this, I think it is important that they listen to the opinions of those they colonized. Throughout colonization, the nations being colonized had little say in their own fates because no one listened to them or deemed their ideas and opinions worthy of respect. Therefore, it is important that countries change this narrative, learning to listen to and respect the nations they previously colonized.

cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

"The Conquest of the Earth...is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo"

In my opinion, there is no valid justification for colonialism because every motive for colonizing any nation has always been and will always be for the colonizing nation(s) personal benefit. However, whether or not they believe what they're doing is justified is different. Colonizing nations have used the argument that their religion says they have the right to take land for themselves, or they’ve used the argument that their government’s laws allow them to do so and those same laws should be applied in other nations. It could also be argued that colonialism is justified because some nations were living in desperate times and needed the resources that would come from colonization, although that is one I find difficult to comprehend considering bigger and more powerful nations typically colonize smaller and less powerful nations, though the argument could still be possible. Napoleon argued that his reason for colonizing the Congo was to bring civilization to the nation and that “making a profit was the farthest thing from his mind” (pg118). Which on the surface may sound good and oh so very helpful. But when you look deeper, you realize that he was assuming the people of the Congo needed to be civilized and needed his help, the savior complex that many many colonizers have. So in the end, any argument to justify colonization will most likely end in one nation wanting to benefit themselves no matter the cost.


You could argue that yes, there were and still are benefits to colonialism. Including the enhancement of civilization that most likely wouldn't have happened and if it did, would have taken much longer to happen, the development of government and politics across the world, and amalgamation. Although amalgamation was not always the case and colonialism typically results in assimilation. Essentially the benefits of colonialism all have to do with the forced blending cultures and ways of life of different nations. Of course these things didn't happen beautifully and we cannot go without acknowledging the pain and suffering that had to occur in order for these things to happen and for us to have them today. From the arrangement, the colonized nations get access to free labor, unlimited access to the colonized nation’s resources like the ports for example, and overall just a “simple” and effective way to bring in more money and help their economy thrive. While the colonized people are put through agonizing and horrendous conditions almost never seeing the result of their hard work.


I would say that what is written in Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost is, sadly, the norm of colonialism. Although what we read about in the book sounds, rightfully so, extremely brutal and extreme, this is in reality the case for every single act of colonialism in the world’s past and present. What I think makes the colonization of the Congo an extreme case however, is the “determination of those who resisted the king”. We do not typically hear of this happening when a smaller much weaker nation falls victim to colonialism, at least from what I have learned. I mentioned the savior complex earlier and I think this is an important thing to acknowledge because of how much we focus on the colonizers of these nations and not on those who were colonized. Colonialism affected the course of history, but so did the multiple rebellions of the colonized peoples, whether peaceful or not. These rebellions were the very rebellions that made it possible for other nations in Africa to stand up and have their voices heard. I’d argue that the rebellions had a greater effect on the world than the acts of the colonialists did and this is seen today. Although it may not be as extreme, people still protest and rally today in an effort to make their voices louder than those of the oppressors. So, essentially, although I acknowledge the importance of learning about and acknowledging the effects of colonialism, I think it’s equally as important, if not more important, to learn about and acknowledge the acts of the colonized people.


My question to the next person is: do you believe that colonialism was and always will be inevitable? Why or why not?

cnovav
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by watermelon2 on February 06, 2022 20:31

My question: Hochschild helps us understand the great extent to which colonization negatively affected the colonized nations. What are the ways that colonization affected our own lives today? How can you connect colonization in our past to something going on in the present related to current events?

As I spoke about in my own post, I do believe that colonialism affects our lives today. Specifically in how protesting and rallying has become such a common thing all over the world, but in the United States specifically. The people of the Congo united and led multiple rebellions against their colonizers, their oppressors, in an effort to make their voices louder. Although it's not always as extreme, this same exact thing is done today. Had these people not rebelled, I honestly do not think it would be possible for marginalized groups to fight agasint those marginalizing them.

red
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 17

We have seen again and again in history, Social Darwinism and eugenics have given white people the basis they needed from which to explain white supremacy and racism. There are a multitude of excuses that countries will go to in order to justify evil in their minds and with the economic and political benefits backing colonialism as well, there was no question of the morality of colonizing nations. White, western nations began to push the narrative of white supremist paternalistic views as justification for colonizing Africa, by “saving” the minorities from their “savage” ways by assimilating them into western standards or enslaving them.


The benefits of colonialist nations were often driven by economic wants of countries and access to natural resources that other countries often had access too. In the Middle East it was oil, in the Congo it was rubber, etc. The colonialists often exploit the resources and reap the economic benefits of both the harvesting and selling without having to go through a ‘middle man’. The colonized nations are often exploited, enslaved, and removed. There are no benefits to the colonized nation. The best term to describe the relationship between colonized and colonialist nations is parasitic, as colonialist nations leech off of the natural resources, the forced labor and the economic benefits colonized nations are overthrown, enslaved, and reap none of the economic benefits of their labor.


The norm of colonialism is ruthfully and sadly murder, slavery, and burning down villages just a few of the horrendous acts committed by the Belgians in the Congo. Colonialist nations all over Africa used the exact same tactics again and again, to what extent I don’t know, but to say that what happened in the Congo was the extreme would exempt other forms of colonialism as being somehow “better” when in reality all need to be held accountable. Even today we push aside the evidence of the horrors that were inflicted on the Congolese people and disregard Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a piece largely based on fiction when in reality it is grounded in the experiences and witness accounts of Conrad himself in the Congo.


Colonized nations are still suffering from the ramifications of colonialism. In an economic sense a lot of western nations owe a large part of their affluence to colonized nations and the resources, trade and production exploited in the process. It is said that 10 million Congolese people were murdered as a result of colonization, a number from which the population still suffers. The political state of colonized nations was dismantled and irrevocably set back in time, leaving colonized nations to years behind the colonialist powers. Neo-colonialism continues today through destabilizing countries in war, military efforts and other indirect forms of control.


No, I don’t believe colonialism is inevitable. We have seen in events like the Berlin Conference colonialism is a calculated and blatant disregard for humanity. In the present day I don’t believe colonialism is inevitable. An appreciation and respect for humanity facilitates respectful and equal relationships between nations. However, We have yet to reach this point.


What are the beginning steps to creating equal relationships between nations in your opinion?


pink12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

The Conquest of the Earth...is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo

There is no justification for colonial control over any nation. Just because one group may appear more dominant over another, there is no justification for taking colonial control. Society today is based on power and people or places who are seen as superior, are often given a greater opportunity at abusing that power. Everyone should be allowed to have their own cultural beliefs and practices, and no one should be allowed to take that away. Colonization is supposed to spread beliefs and cultures, but time after time it has shown that religions are forced onto each other and people are stripped away from their original culture.

Colonization does have benefits as it improves education, medicine, infrastructure, stability, and laws. Colonization helps improve a nation that may lack workers, supplies, or community. Often if one place lacked an important material, colonization would help fix this problem. If you are the one being colonized you may not face as many benefits. An individual may be forced to disregard their original language, culture, or practices and become forced to follow their new nation's beliefs since they have more control. For example, the people of Congo did not benefit from the colonization as King Leopold had control. He left them hungry and millions died from starvation or disease, yet the Congo thrived with more goods as they abused the native laborers.

In King Leopold's Ghost, it explains the true atrocities of colonization. King Leopold was expanding his nation as he privately owned the Congo. Leopold used his individual power to strip the country from its large amounts of wealth, especially from ivory and rubber. White colonizers were forced to whip those who they colonized but couldn't bring themselves to do it, so instead they would beat themselves. They faced enormous amounts of punishments that were inhumane because of the power that King Leopold held over them.

One of many of the long-lasting effects of the colonization of Africa is that a majority of Africa remains Catholic and English remains the primary language. Colonies in Africa, even after colonization, were affected by long-lasting effects. They were hurt politically and economically by colonial rule. Many African countries are still facing the detrimental effects of this today, so it is our job since we can't change the past, we need to better the future.

My question: Do you think it's possible for these nations to address the inhumane actions that they placed on individuals coming to their nations, and make up for it, moreover take responsibilty and fix those actions for the future.

user01135
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

"The Conquest of the Earth...is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo"

  1. What possible justification can there be for colonial control over any nation? I do not think that there is any rational justification for colonization. I think colonization is strictly fueled by greed. I think that the only people who will risk their lives just for more territory or money are incredibly greedy. I think that there is no need to colonize another city, but it is much more rational to just become allies with the people living there.
  2. Are there benefits to colonialism? What does the colonialist nation in charge get from the “arrangement”? What does the colonized nation get from the arrangement? I think there are definitely benefits to colonialism. I think some of the major benefits would be money, quality of life, and food and job security. The colonialist nation gains the majority of these benefits, including more land to rule. But the colonized nation, does not receive the same level of advancement. They are often enslaved or expelled. Colonizers are able to abuse their work and their land to make profit off of the colonization. This completely destroys the lives of the colonized.
  3. And is what is described in the reading from Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost indicative of the extremes of colonialism, the perils of colonialism, or the norm? (The more you are detailed here in your response, the more it’s clear that you got something meaningful out of this reading.) I think that King Leopold's Ghost portrayed the reality of colonialism. I think the detail of the abuse and treatment these people endured is typical of colonialism. I think the main difference in this case is the amount of resistance. Men who were told to whip others wouldn't follow orders, and faced consequences for it. These rebellions made it impossible for King Leopold to gain complete control, and gave others hope.
  4. Finally, the broadest questions: In your view, what short- and long-term effects did the colonization of Africa have on the development of nations on the continent and their status today? And what responsibility, if any, do the colonizing nations have for their former colonial subjects and the nations that emerged after colonialism ended? I think the biggest long term effect of the colonization of Africa is their native language. African countries that had been colonized still speak mainly English. They also are a majority Catholic because they were forced to be by their colonizers. The most prominent short term effect of the colonization of Africa would be the population size. Slaves were murdered for disobeying orders, and during revolts, which greatly decreased the population.

My question is what do you think would have happened if the colonization had not been so brutal. Do you think the countries could have become allies? Or do you think there still would have been a great amount of resistance and rebellion.

user01135
West Roxbury, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by pink12 on February 07, 2022 20:24

My question: Do you think it's possible for these nations to address the inhumane actions that they placed on individuals coming to their nations, and make up for it, moreover take responsibility and fix those actions for the future.

I do not think any amount of reparations could repair the damage that the colonizers created. I think these nations could definitely take responsibility for their actions but I do not think they can fix what they have done.

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

The Conquest of the Earth...is not a pretty thing: Colonizing the Kongo

  1. I do not think there is any sort of justification or explanation behind colonial control of a nation other than the unfortunate but real truth of countries desiring more power through the expansion of land. Although excuses among economically or politically "helping" nations through colonization are heard many times throughout history, the ultimate loss of self-identity, culture, and even language is much more detrimental than what most lands experienced prior to invasions. The Kikongo-speaking people are an example of this as the Portuguese translated their kingdom from Kongo to Congo. Additionally, throughout the 17th century, they were affected by corruption, feuds among royal families, and the trade of people to be enslaved. The Portuguese demands for slaves left the Kongo Kingdom to not only become weakened but also to lose any sort of liberation in their own land.
  2. The only beneficial side to colonialism are the colonizers; they are the ones who overall have the power of authority and can control the people of the land conquered. Once people are colonized, their freedom and rights are placed in the hands of someone else. Although the colonized nation may obtain access to agricultural developments or trade routes as a now unified group under one "leader", nevertheless, they virtually receive nothing as generational trauma, disease, and being culturally exploited deems all other "benefits" as superficial.
  3. Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost is indicative of the extremes of colonialism in today's standards, while it also depicts the normality when referencing society in the past. The description of only George Washington Williams identifying the obvious of "the soldiers of the Force Publique was, in effect, slaves" while they were under a system approved by white slave agents and the king is very telling; It entails the entire concept of colonizing a nation was beneficial as only the grand and "superior" nations who overtook these sensitive lands were heard while the actual people who had to subject to countries were silenced. The reading additionally allows for a perspective of extremities of "white rule" as Mulamba stated his happiness to finally be free and independent of colonialism.
  4. The short-term effects are ultimately the consequences of no longer having a colonized nation that can provide you with money or grand power for agricultural products or trade routes which results in a decrease in the population through starvation and disease, a crashing economy, and confusion over new authoritative power. The long-term effects that can still be seen today in Africa such as a loss of identity, heritage, and language stem from racism and stereotypes. Colonialism is overall completely detrimental for a nation to undergo and especially when former colonial subjects leave as people are left in ruins. It should be expected that previously colonized nations should be given an apology followed by repairments in their social and economic lifestyles whether that means access to sea routes or building a proficient education system.

Do you think colonization will continue for future generations if history such as the one described in Hochschild's book is not taught?

strawberry123
Chestnut Hill, MA, US
Posts: 28

Originally posted by user01135 on February 07, 2022 21:34

  1. What possible justification can there be for colonial control over any nation? I do not think that there is any rational justification for colonization. I think colonization is strictly fueled by greed. I think that the only people who will risk their lives just for more territory or money are incredibly greedy. I think that there is no need to colonize another city, but it is much more rational to just become allies with the people living there.
  2. Are there benefits to colonialism? What does the colonialist nation in charge get from the “arrangement”? What does the colonized nation get from the arrangement? I think there are definitely benefits to colonialism. I think some of the major benefits would be money, quality of life, and food and job security. The colonialist nation gains the majority of these benefits, including more land to rule. But the colonized nation, does not receive the same level of advancement. They are often enslaved or expelled. Colonizers are able to abuse their work and their land to make profit off of the colonization. This completely destroys the lives of the colonized.
  3. And is what is described in the reading from Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost indicative of the extremes of colonialism, the perils of colonialism, or the norm? (The more you are detailed here in your response, the more it’s clear that you got something meaningful out of this reading.) I think that King Leopold's Ghost portrayed the reality of colonialism. I think the detail of the abuse and treatment these people endured is typical of colonialism. I think the main difference in this case is the amount of resistance. Men who were told to whip others wouldn't follow orders, and faced consequences for it. These rebellions made it impossible for King Leopold to gain complete control, and gave others hope.
  4. Finally, the broadest questions: In your view, what short- and long-term effects did the colonization of Africa have on the development of nations on the continent and their status today? And what responsibility, if any, do the colonizing nations have for their former colonial subjects and the nations that emerged after colonialism ended? I think the biggest long term effect of the colonization of Africa is their native language. African countries that had been colonized still speak mainly English. They also are a majority Catholic because they were forced to be by their colonizers. The most prominent short term effect of the colonization of Africa would be the population size. Slaves were murdered for disobeying orders, and during revolts, which greatly decreased the population.

My question is what do you think would have happened if the colonization had not been so brutal. Do you think the countries could have become allies? Or do you think there still would have been a great amount of resistance and rebellion.

I do not think that even if the colonization had not been so brutal that they'd become allies as it is a known idea that people do not desire an authoritative power from else where no matter the circumstances. Take the 13 colonies and Great Britain for example, even though the main urge to become independent was much less severe than enslavement as the Kongo people endured, they still fought to become a separate nation.

pink12
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Originally posted by red on February 07, 2022 20:14

What are the beginning steps to creating equal relationships between nations in your opinion?

The beginning steps to creating equal relationships between nations would be having respect for one another and seeing each other as equals. If one nation assumes they have superiority that may get to them and they will treat the other nation unfairly and disrespectfully. We also need to see each other not as a threat but as a lending hand, and if we need something from one another, then to help the other group. Starting off with a basic of respect will greatly help form an equal relationship between nations.

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