The Belgian Congo was the name carried by the territory of current the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) between the end of the State independent of Congo, personal possession of the king Léopold II of Belgium until the November 15th 1908, and the accession with Congolese independence occurred the June 30th 1960.
1890 - Years 1950In 1890, Léopold II had given like guarantees loan authorized by the Parliament the devolution of Congo to Belgium within 10 year. In 1895, when Léopold need again funds one discussed possible annexation once again but this-time-Ci Belgium was reticent. It is the international campaign conducted by the United Kingdom which forced Belgium to assume Congo. The Belgian administration which succeeded to him made very to erase the image of Léopold II as tyrant who massacred the populations to grow rich. Article 3 of the Colonial Charter of October 18th, 1908 prescribed that: “No one cannot be constrained to work for the account and with the profit of companies or private individuals”. To erase the image of rubber and the cut hands, the culture of cotton was developed and of the palm tree with oil and the gathering of wild rubber was replaced by the culture of plantations of Hévéas. The Congo Reform Association , association British which was at the origin of the countryside orchestrated against the State independent of Congo, decided to dissolve in 1913, while Congo delivered: 23000 tons of cotton in 1932 and: 127000 in 1939.
The Enseignement was set up by private Christian missions which financed their activities by the Agriculture or the Sylviculture of export (Legal settlement with the Vatican in 1906). For example, in 1948, approximately 99,6% of the structures of teaching were controlled by the Christian missions, 0,4% were held by private companies to train their future employees. In 1940, the rate of schooling of the children from 6 to 14 years was of 12% and in 1954 of 37%, which placed Congo at the time at the side of Italy but these statistics hide an enormous school waste: on twelve pupils at the elementary school, only one completes the cycle and of these, only 1 out of 6 reaches the secondary school. The missionaries were obviously neither pedagogs nor graduate graduates in letter or science but in theology: their objective was rather to form Catéchumène S. the missions were moreover held by Flemish priests, states-uniens or Scandinavians whose French was not the native tongue. The secondary education intended for the Congoleses was almost only centered on the studies professional or technical, it is not that starting from 1955 qu' one starts to develop the secondary schools (a comparison can be done with the Cameroun: in 1952, under the French mandate, there were already 8000 pupils in the secondary schools). At the time of independence, Congo however laid out of two universities cash 466 white and black students: the University Lovanium, founded in 1954, and the University of Elisabethville created in 1959. But apart from these universities, the racial segregation installation separated the white children and blacks which attended distinct schools. In many schools, the fact of speaking a Congolese language was proscribed at the secondary level, in the same way for the practice of Islam. At the primary education level, Belgian Congo was one of the only colonies of Africa where the local languages (Kikongo, Lingala, Tchiluba and Swahili) were taught, and this thanks to the missionaries. Who more is, the Congolese languages could be used in the popular music, which made it possible Congolese music industry to start at that time. Nevertheless the missions replaced the traditional system of education.
The medical infrastructures were installation by the companies for their personnel. The railroads were also with the hands of private contractors.
The control of the administration was dominated by the Belgium, without democratic body for the inhabitants. The Head of the State remained in all circumstances the King of the Belgians, but management day laborer was reserved for the General governor, employed as colonial administrator by the Belgian Parlement. Contrary to the situation in certain British and French colonies, the white colonists of Congo did not have any political rights.
Various restrictions assigned the Congoleses. In the cities built by the colonizers, the black populations were driven back in the suburbs, often organized in “indigenous cities”, while the downtown areas were reserved for the only White. The Blacks did not have the right to leave their dwelling of 21:00 to 4:00 the morning. They were used in fact only like labor to the colonist or for the colonial administration (servant, craftsmen, minors, cash clerk, mechanic, etc). The supermarkets all located at the centres town to them were prohibited access: one had just held a small window for them by which they could make their purchases. The coexistence between White and Blacks often resembled a Apartheid moderated by the many religious missions. The poor for the majority, the Blacks were often victims of police controls where they were to justify the possession of their money. The administration chose also certain Blacks and obliged them to work 120 days per annum free for it. The urbanization of Belgian Congo in fact was forced, since the authorities off-set the populations where they needed some. In the Police force, the Blacks could not exceed the rank of warrant officer. After the Second world war, several democratic reforms were introduced, but the ethnic complications between Congolese did not allow a good application of it.
1908 - 1914
First World WarThe First World War was heavy direction for Belgian Congo, because Belgium was occupied and its government had been folded up in France. Belgian Congo led a military campaign against the German colonies to the Cameroun, in German Eastern Africa and was crowned success, in particular by a bright victory with Tabora. The August 15th 1914, the German troops based in Ruanda-Urundi bombarded the bordering cities of the lake Tanganyika. The August 22nd, a German ship opened fire on the port of Albertville (Kalemie now). In front of this aggression, the Belgian minister for the Renkin Colonies addressed a telegram to the General governor of Congo and to the Vice-governor of Katanga ordering “to take military measures to defend the Belgian territory… to take the Belgians alone or in co-operation with the allied troops”. Belgo-Congolese retorted on April 18th, 1916. The troops were directed mainly by the Tombeur general, colonel Molitor and colonel Olsen. They seized Kigali on May 6th, 1916. The German forces of Burundi ordered by the captain Von Languenn opposed a vigorous resistance but could not hold in front of the Belgian numerical superiority. June 6th, Usumbura fell under the belgo-Congolese forces ordered by Colonel Thomas. Kitega is taken on June 17th. Rwanda and Burundi were already occupied. There remained then the campaigns of Tanganyika (current Tanzania); the Molitor brigade seized Biharamuro thus, then of Mwanza. Colonel Moulaert occupied Karema. Walk on Tabora started then with three columns. July 29th, Kigoma and Ujiji were occupied. After several days of fierce combat, Tabora falls on September 19th, 1916. The British and belgo-Congolese forces were united then to occupy all Tanganyika from which the German General Von Lettow-Vorbeck opposed an extraordinary resistance. It went after the armistice of November 1918. Congo used some Hydravion S on the Lac Tanganyika to bombard ships and German installations. The Belgian administration nevertheless had mobilized 260.000 carriers to convey the military material. This military countryside, according to many demographers, deeply depopulated Congo (deaths with the face, soldiers famished, exhausted carriers, etc). After the war, Belgium obtained a mandate on the Ruanda-Urundi. A Belgian missionary remained in Congo describes the black company then as a company in which “the father is with the face, the mother grinds grain for the soldiers and the children bring food to the face”.
Kibanguism and KakismeThese two syncretistic movements are among the first forms of nationalism which are born in the years 1920 from the 20th century under the influence from the Protestant missionaries American and in opposition to colonial oppression (Paul Panda Farnana had previously worked).
The son of the usual Chief Simon Kimbangu, the ethnos group kongo, baptized at the 15 years age, would have had, one day after his baptism, a vision and predicts the independence of Congo and the reconstitution of the Kongo kingdom. He invented the term in Kikongo dipanda , “independence”. Its influence was increased by the rumor which said that he had cured patients by laying on of hands. Taking as a starting point the Christian religion, it took twelve Apôtre S. the colonial authorities reflect it in prison where it remained until his death in 1951. These friends and his family spread her message which had much success near the Kongos.
Simon Pierre Me Padi, of the ethnos group kwango and including/understanding the kikongo, founded the religion kakist claiming disciple of Simon Kimbangu. He developed a flag representing his sect on which one could read in kikwango Minsion amerika nzila ya me pulusu . Sought by the police force, it took refuge in French Congo where it transmitted its message to some André Matswa. Stopped by the French authorities, it was given to the Belgian authorities.
Depression of the years 1930With Congo, Belgium obtains not very expensive raw materials. The colonial administration recruits workers forced for the plantations and the mines and imposes even in 1926 the general conscription. The colonial administration negotiated with the various Congolese dignitaries for qu `they their provide men as workers (10 francs per capita). The political leaders got rid in general of people whom they did not love in their communities. The workers were taken along until in the mines or they worked for 10 to 15 francs per month. More: 44000 workers “were imported” of Angola and Rhodesia of North to enlarge the rows. Many workers died of Fièvre to ticks, of Grippe, Pneumonie, exhaustion or of crumbling, so much so that this system which succeeded the exactions léopoldiennes and with the First World War was likely to depopulate many areas. The authorities will try to solve the crisis by imposing restrictions on forced recruitments (for example, the decree of 1933 limited indeed to 60 days the duration of the forced labor in the plantations), and also particularly in Katanga by imposing in the mining cities a permanent and stable working force, i.e. to transform the villagers into townsmen. The stock exchange crash of 1929 with Wall Street was the beginning of a world economic deceleration. The demand for raw materials of industries crumbled and the price of the raw materials also: the price of groundnut passed from 1,25 franc to 25 centimes. The Congolese economy, more turned towards export than any other African country, was all the more vulnerable at the time of this crisis which Belgium is also a large exporter because of its small interior market. In Katanga, employment fell of 70% and of many forced workers were taken back in their villages. The economic depression of the Thirties thus made it possible Congolese to escape the forced labor.
Second world war and rise of nationalismThe second world war started in 1939, quickly Belgium was overcome by the German troops, on May 28th, 1939, the King Léopold III capitulates and is made prisoner. The Belgian colonists however refuse Nazi suzerainty, and make alliance with the United Kingdom. Congo passes then in the sterling area, while Belgium sinks in misery (chomâge, deflation, shortage). Congo was now directed de facto by London.
The anti-colonial protest (at the soldiers, the peasants and the “advanced ones”) redoubled because the effort of Congolese war of the populations was heavy. The colonial administration resorted to the forced labor in the plantations of hévéas to provide rubber for the tires of the vehicles of the allies. The Congolese soldiers ordered by Belgian officers took part in the combat in Ethiopia against fascistic Italy, Egypt against the German army and Burma against the Japanese. Belgium occupied by the Nazis, collaborator and the western world, after the Second world war, had lost much prestige in their eyes. In 1940 political Bakongos crénnt them mouvemnt l´ABAKO. In 1941, serious disorders took place with Elizabethville. In 1944, the insurrrection of the ethnos group kumu took place. The Karamushi adjudant proclaimed even in February 1944 the end of the mbula matari (the colonial state). In March 1944, of the revolts took place with Masisi, of the strikes and the riots November 25th and 26th 1945 with Matadi. The same year are create d´important daily like, the Voice of the Congolese , the Cross of Congo (subtitle the Newspaper of advanced Congolese). In 1944 in Luluabourg of the intellectuals a proclamation for the recognition and of the specific rights for the advanced had indeed published (African having finished ten years of schooling). Appear two then movement, l´un violent one of the workman, peasants and peaceful soldier and l´autre of the intellectuals.
September 2nd, 1945 Japan capitulates, Seconde´Guerre world is finished, the allies gained. L´Europe is devastated, l´Europe Western is rebuilt thanks to the American credit, c´est thus the United States which directs l´Europe and thus also, their colonies. Opposed to colonialism American could have given l´indépendance to the Congolese populations, nevertheless Washington is savagely opposed to any Communist regime and knows that the private property n exist not in the African culture. Thus Washington prefers to keep a Belgian colonial capacity, time qu´un liberal African movement appears.
In 1946 Joseph Kasa-vubu of the ABAKO makes a speech on the right of the first occupant . The advanced of Léopoldville are authorized á s´organiser in general confederation of the indigenous trade unions. One estimates á little advanced meadows with 5609 the number d´ . Will follow l´abolition of the whip, for the clergy, graded police force and the auxiliaries of l administration. Vis-a-vis these nationalist movements Belgian l administration starts á to include/understand qu´il loses their colony. Belgium had ratified article 73 of the Charte of the United Nations, which preached the Autodétermination people. Both superpuissances of the time (E. - U. and Soviet Union) also militated in this direction. However, the Belgian professor Antoine Van Bilsen published, in 1955, an headed document Plan thirty years for the political emancipation for Belgian Africa . The diary preached a progressive emancipation of Congo over one 30 years period, duration that Van Bilsen judged adequate to create a intellectual elite which can take the place of the Belgian executives. The Belgian government and many “advanced” were skeptics compared to this plan, the ones because it implied to lose Congo in the long term, the others because this duration seemed to them too long. A group of “advanced” catholic accepted this plan in a proclamation published in a Congolese newspaper the African Conscience , the only divergences intervening in the importance of the Congolese participation during this 30 years period.
The glorious FiftiesDice the end of the second world war, Western Europe is rebuilt thanks to the Marshall plan, Congo must provide him the raw materials and after that for the war of Korea. From 1950 to 1958, the index of the wages of the Congolese worker passes from 100 to 237 for an increase in the cost of living of 20%. In same time, the white colonat is more prosperous than the inhabitants of metropolis, for example it imports refrigerators in hot line of the United States. With the end of the world wars a strong increase in population occurs, the population increases then by 2% per annum. The African populations, more occidentalized much than 40 years ago, accepts the paper money, gives up the small crosses or barter. For that they are ruent towards the cities to find work.
Many are then in Stanleyville, Elisabethville, Jadotville and especially Léopoldville the men come from province to seek a work and who, if they find some, return a large part of the wages to their family remained to the village.
The population growth starts to exceed the growth of the GDP and unemployment settles in the indigenous cities, district blacks, of the cities. The Bidonville S abound. Vis-a-vis that, Belgium sets up allowances unemployment, the Funds of the king. Following the war of Indo-China and with the creation of the French union in 1946, the Belgian professor Antoine Van Bilsen published, in 1955, an headed document Plan thirty years for the political emancipation for Belgian Africa . The diary preached a progressive emancipation of Congo over one 30 years period (Van Bilsen will say in 1980 at the time of the 20th birthday of independence to the RTBF that it was a call to a plan). The Congolese cardinal Malula wrote proclamation of " then; conscience africaine" as answer to Van Bilsen and accepted the independence planned for 1985. But the Kasa-vubu seminarist then wrote also his proclamation, " the proclamation of ABAKO " who claimed immediate independence. Vis-a-vis these events the Belgian administration then started to slowly prepare its colony towards independence. In 1954 was created the Lovanium university. As from 1955, one started to build laic secondary schools.
In 1955 king Baudouin (mwana kitoko, the beautiful child) achieves a voyage to Congo to alleviate Congolese nationalism. If the parties policy are authorized dice 1956 they are often sponsored by Belgian political parties, thus the friendly liberal one (Lumumba) and the friendly Socialist (A.Ngavulu). Lumumba will be detached from friendly liberal to turn to more socialist theses and will found the MNC. In 1957 Congolese can for the first time take part in the municipal elections. The black burgomasters have all of the Belgian advisers.
ABAKOThe association of ethnic origin ABAKO (or Association of Bakongo), directed by the future president Joseph Kasa-Vubu, decided to take its distances with the plan Van Bilsen. Partly because many “advanced” catholics who signed proclamation of the African Conscience did not form part of the Kongo ethnos group where the ABAKO gained its partisans, but also because the ABAKO preached more radical ideas, without progressive accession with independence, the ABAKO required the immediate accession of independence. The organization consolidated its establishment in Low-Congo and Léopoldville in the years which followed. Towards the beginning of 1959, Low-Congo escaped control from the Belgian authorities, the ABAKO preaching peaceful civil disobedience. The Belgian authorities prohibited the ABAKO on January 4th, 1959, which threw many Congolese in the street with Léopoldville, armed with stone, they attacked the white colonists, only one slogan Dipanda, dipanda (independence). The police force retorted by opening the making fire of the hundreds of ever dead recognized officially. The riots lasted from January 4th to 7th 1959. The newspapers spoke about 14 dead blacks and 9 killed colonists. January 12th, Kasa-Vubu was arrested and imprisoned for two months. January 20th king Baudouin announced the Belgian will to lead the populations Congolese to independence.
The MNCIn parallel the Congolese National movement constituted (which was officially made up only in 1956). The MNC was directed by the charismatic future Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and preached the creation of a single national territory after independence. The movement was quickly structured in four sections related to four provinces (of six what exists). In 1959, a scission intervened, precipitated by Albert Kalonji and other executives of the MNC wishing a policy more moderate than that preached by Lumumba. This group was quickly called Congolese-Kalonji National movement. In spite of the divergences in the party, the faction gauchist of Lumbumba (called Congolese-Lumumba National movement) and the MNC as a whole had succeeded in being essential like most important and the most influential party of Belgian Congo. Belgium saw of an evil eye the rise of Lumumba and its left-wing ideas, and saw a threat for its economic interests there on the territory. The MNC however clearly gained the first elections in Congo and forced the Belgians to appoint Lumumba Prime Minister.
ConakatThe Confederation of Associations of Katanga (Conakat), directed by Brace Tshombé. Being defined as “authentic Katangais”, the militants of the Conakat came primarily from the ethnos groups Lunda Yeke and Basongye of the South Katanga, known for their enmities with regard to the immigrants Luba of the Kasaï, for the majority employed in the mines. The decisive victory gained by these “foreigners” with the communal elections of 1957 still sharpened the aggressiveness of the leaders of Conakat towards the immigrants of Kasaï, while supporting the bringings together with the colonists and the “Katangais authentic”.
Another threat was dawning for Conakat in the north of Katanga, not on behalf of Lubas immigrants, but of Lubas historically present in North-Katanga. Directed by Jason Sendwe, they created their own political movement, the Association of Baluba of Katanga (Balubakat), which was united quickly with the branch lumumbist of the MNC. In spite of affinities between the two groups, Lubas of Kasaï followed the movement of the Fédération of Kasaï (Fédéka), near to the MNC-Kalonji. Consequently, alliance between Balubakat and MNC-Lumumba, including/understanding number of Lulua S, had only few chances to find an echo at Fédéka. The divergences between Lubas of Katanga and Kasaï profited directly in Conakat and their european partners.
1959 and 1960: with great steps towards independenceAfter the riots of Léopoldville and the imprisonment of Kasa-Vubu, 1959 saw the legalization of the Congolese political parties, followed by general elections for all the country. The electoral activity which followed made it possible to make emerge three principal political tendencies: a coalition of federalists nationalize, made up of six parties or organizations, of which the ABAKO and the MNC-Kalonji, the MNC-Lumumba and finally the strong man of Katanga, Moïse Tshombe, conscious of the economic vitality of its province and the financial interests of the mining Union (following the example interest of Kalonji for the diamond-like industry of Kasaï). In 1960, the roundtable of Brussels was decided, and was held from January 20th to February 20th. The Congolese and Belgian representatives are reflected agreement on the principle of national elections in the current of the year. The shortly after the roundtable the transfers of funds towards L `Europe became extensive such as the Congolese politicians showed Belgium of " to empty the caisse" before independence. Violent riots politico-ethnic burst before the elections in Katanga, Kasai and Léopoldville. The elections proceeded in May (legislative and provincial elections) and transfer the victory of the parties “extremists” (Céréa 10 seats, PSA-Gizenga 13, MNC 74, total of the sièges=137 seats) (importance of the ABAKO) and decided on a new compromise on the level of the executive: Joseph Kasa-Vubu was elected president by the Parliament and Lumumba was indicated Prime Minister.
- List of the Ministers of Belgian Congo
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