Heart of Darkness

The photos show the first and the present rulers of Congo ( DRC), namely King Leopold II of Belgium and President Joseph Kabila. Whatever failures President Kabila has made during his time as president, they are small compared with the atrocities that took place under King Leopold. The colonial rule of Congo may be considered to have been of the absolute worst kind. Even after independence this legacy has continued hitting the Congolese population. In a way, even Kabila might be considered a victim of the colonial rule.

On March 12, six persons working for a UN mission were kidnapped in Ngombe Kasai region in southern DRC. On March 27, three bodies were found in a mass grave, one of those the young Swedish woman, Zaida Catalán, who was there to investigate a massacre allegedly committed by soldiers of the Congolese government. However gruesome, this murder is regretfully just one of millions of killings in DRC after independence, killings caused by bad rule and greed.

Certainly the present government has a responsibility for what is going on in the country, but the main responsibility still lies with the former colonial rulers and the deeds and omissions of the International community after independence. First of all, the odds from the beginning for a country, as big as Western Europe, with bad infrastructure and a poorly educated and unified population, were not good. During the Congo crisis between 1960 and 1965 there were actions in different parts for independence, but in the end these attemps were struck down and the borders are still as in colonial times. Many of the interferences during this period were intiatives from abroad, partly caused by economic interests and partly as part of the Cold War.

Whether a division of the country under those circumstances would have been beneficial, can be doubted, but surely the country is too big and too divided to be ruled as it is now. The country also has a rapidly growing population. The Total Fertility Rate is 6.5, No. 3 in the World, and the prognosis is that the population will grow from today’s 80 millions to 214 millions in 2050. Friend of order will of course say that this is not much on a surface as big as Western Europe, but taken into account the troubles there already are, it is to fear that the present troubles may increase proportionally with population increase.

It was only after World War II that we Europeans learned that cooperation is better than war. However, if this cooperation had been forced upon us, we would still be fighting each other. How can we then expect the different parts of DRC just to submit to a state they have been forced into? Only if the country gets a constitution with extensive self-rule for the different parts, there may be a hope that the situation will not continue deteriorating.

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