Colonization Of Congo

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Colonization of Congo

Colonization of Congo


Colonization of the Congo refers to the period from Henry Morton Stanley's first exploration of the Congo (1876) until its annexation as a personal possession of King Leopold II of Belgium (1885). The Congo River was the last part of the African continent to yield to European explorers. One by one the other great mysteries had been investigated: the coasts by Prince Henry the Navigator's Portuguese sailors in the 15th century; the Blue Nile by James Bruce in 1773; the remote upper Niger by Mungo Park in 1796; the vast Sahara by competitors Laing, Callié, and Clapperton in the 1820s; the fever-ridden mangroves of the lower Niger by the Lander Brothers in 1830; southern Africa and the Zambezi by Livingstone and John Clafton in the 1850s; the upper Nile by Burton, Speke, and Baker in a succession of expeditions between 1857 and 1868. Though the Congo had been one of the first to be attempted, it remained a mystery. The people of Congo are reminded every day of the atrocities that have resulted from previous European colonization. Most Congon countries are still filled with corruption, poverty and are basically in a state of chaos. European colonization has made a permanent impact on Congon culture and their way of life. Multiple reasons led to colonization, including discoveries of abundant natural resources, urge to spread religion, and overall their crave for (Pakenham 1991)power. All but two countries were colonized by Europeans, they were Liberia and Ethiopia. Ethiopia for religious purposes and Liberia because they had somewhat of a sufficient government already in place. Some of the immediate effects of European colonization were the groupings or separation of native Congon groups, extraction of raw materials, and exploitation for the slave trades. Congon colonies were often granted independence when the Europeans could not control or afford to handle the colonies; as a result the Congons were often left without any plans for establishing economic, social, or political stability.


Since the 15th century, European explorers had sailed into the broad Congo estuary, planning to fight their way up the falls and rapids that begin only 100 miles (160 km) inland, and then travel up the river to its unknown source. All failed. The rapids and falls, had they known it, extended for 220 miles (350 km) inland, and the terrain close by the river was impassable, and remains so to this day. Repeated attempts to travel overland were repulsed with heavy casualties. Accidents, conflicts with natives, and above all disease saw large and well-equipped expeditions got no further than 40 miles (60 km) or so past the western-most rapid, the legendary Cauldron of Hell.

Between 1880 and 1900, Congo went through a period of very fast colonisation by many of the major European powers. Interestingly, this was not because of Congo's being a particularly valuable commodity but, rather, because of events in Europe's social, political and economic environments. Established empires, notably Britain, Portugal and France, had already claimed for themselves ...
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