The Republic of Congo, also known as Middle Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, and Congo (but not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, which was also at one time known as the Republic of the Congo), is a former French colony of west-central Africa. It shares common borders with Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government installed in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The capital is Brazzaville. The Republic of Congo is one of Africa’s oil rich states, however its economic potential is hampered by the current ongoing civil war.
In 1876 a vast zone in central Africa was ‘allocated’ to the ‘International African Association’. With this act, the kingdom of the Kongo and other central African territory effectively became the private estate of the Belgian King, Leopold II. So began the oppressive colonial history of corruption, bribery and theft on a scale unprecedented in Africa. Reports by missionaries there on Belgian rubber planters’ treatment of labourers were initially not believed. The Belgian Foreign Office eventually sent Roger Casement to investigate the situation. He discovered that workers were treated like wild animals. Most of them were not paid, and if they did not meet their production quotas they would be either tortured or killed. Soldiers would collect baskets of hands to prove that they were carrying out their instructions, and not wasting ammunition. Ears, too were often cut off. There were also huge sums of money that went unaccounted. It was not until 1908 that the Belgian government took over the colony in an attempt to stop this kind of abuse. However, although the administration did improve, wages remained very low, even after the discovery of copper, gold, diamonds and cobalt. The Belgian plunder continued. Some road, rail and town development occurred, but the Congolese themselves were hardly better off than when colonized by Leopold II.
From the 50s when the a critical mass toward independence developed across Africa (as epitomized in Nkrumah’s speech) the Belgians initially decided it would be best to follow a slow road to independence – it was thought a period of about thirty years should be allowed. The Congo experienced a very stable period from 1945 to 1957, and for this reason leaders were unaware of the problems developing under the surface. The publication of the 30-year independence plan, which stated that the development of a ruling elite in the Congo was a generation behind that of the British and French colonies, made the situation worse. In 1959 there were riots in Leopoldville (later to become Kinshasa), and the Belgians panicked and withdrew from the Congo in less than eighteen months. By 1960 the area was already independent, with very few educated or trained people.
The freedom movement in the Congo was initially led by Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba attended Nkrumah’s All African Peoples’ Conference in Accra in December 1958, which encouraged his becoming radical. Nkrumah assured Lumumba that he had the support of the rest of Africa in his fight for independence, and Lumumba returned to the Congo with confidence and new methods (bit vague) learnt from Nkrumah. He gave moving speeches, got the support of the masses and during the unrest called for strikes. He was very successful as a result of the poverty and living and working conditions of those living in the Congo. During 1959 the situation in the Congo changed, and the Belgians realized that they would not be able to maintain indefinitely. The United Nations also put pressure on them to reconsider their position in Africa.
The situation in the Congo became increasing unstable as conflict developed in Rwanda- Burundi, as the Batutsi tried to keep the social position they had been given over the Bahutu under Belgian and German rule. The Belgians switched their support to the Bahutu, which resulted in the murder of many Batutsi as the Belgians lost further control. During the crisis Congolese leaders were called to discussions in Ostend, Belgium where it was promised that no more foreign soldiers would be sent to the Congo, and that it would become independent under a central government.
Kikongo belongs to the Bantu language family.
According to Malcolm Guthrie, Kikongo is in the language group H10, the Kongo languages. Other languages in the same group include Bembe (H11). Ethnologue 16 counts Ndingi (H14) and Mboka (H15) as dialects of Kongo, though it acknowledges they may be distinct languages.
According to Bastin, Coupez and Man’s classification (Tervuren) which is more recent and precise than that of Guthrie on Kikongo, the language has the following dialects:
- Kikongo group H16
- Southern Kikongo H16a
- Central Kikongo H16b
- Yombe H16c
- Fiote H16d
- Western Kikongo H16d
- Bwende H16e
- Lari H16f
- Eastern Kikongo H16g
- Southeastern Kikongo H16h
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been known in the past as, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Zaire, before returning to its current name the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At the time of independence from Belgium, the country was named the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its neighbour the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville. With the promulgation of the Luluabourg Constitution on 1 August 1964, the country became the DRC, but was renamed to Zaire (a past name for the Congo River) on 27 October 1971 by President Mobutu Sese Seko as part of his Authenticité initiative.
The word Zaire is from a Portuguese adaptation of a Kikongo word nzere (“river”), a truncation ofnzadi o nzere (“river swallowing rivers”). The river was known as Zaire during the 16th and 17th centuries; Congo seems to have replaced Zaire gradually in English usage during the 18th century, and Congo is the preferred English name in 19th-century literature, although references to Zaire as the name used by the natives (i.e. derived from Portuguese usage) remained common.
In 1992, the Sovereign National Conference voted to change the name of the country to the “Democratic Republic of the Congo”, but the change was not put into practice. The country’s name was restored by President Laurent-Désiré Kabila following the fall of Mobutu in 1997.
The area now known as the DRC was populated as early as 90,000 years ago, as shown by the 1988 discovery of the Semliki harpoon at Katanda, one of the oldest barbed harpoons ever found, believed to have been used to catch giant river catfish.
Some historians believe Bantu peoples began settling in the extreme northwest of Central Africa at the beginning of the 5th century and then gradually started to expand southward. Their propagation was accelerated by the transition from Stone Age to Iron Age techniques. The people living in the south and southwest were mostly San Bushmen and hunter-gatherer groups, whose technology involved only minimal use of metal technologies. The development of metal tools during this time period revolutionized agriculture and animal husbandry. This led to the displacement of the hunter-gatherer groups in the east and southeast. The 10th century marked the final expansion of the Bantu in West-Central Africa. Rising populations soon made possible intricate local, regional and foreign commercial networks that traded mostly in salt, iron and copper.
There are some similarities between the people of Congo, South African Bantu regions and Egypt.
Let’s look at the Jesuits who travelled the world evangelising/Christianizing people.
Above we read “Kongo was the earliest Bantu language which was committed to writing in Latin characters and had the earliest dictionary of any Bantu language. A catechism was produced under the authority of Diogo Gomes, a Jesuit born in Kongo of Portuguese parents in 1557,”
Jesuit history in Africa can be easily divided into three main periods. The first period goes back to the earliest Jesuit missions in Africa, which began in the former Kingdom of the Kongo (1390–1857) and in Morocco in 1548 and lasted until the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portuguese dominions in 1759. Although this period encompasses minor missions like that in Cape Verde, which lasted from 1604 to 1642,1 I shall focus only on the major ones in the Kingdom of the Kongo, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, which have been studied by several historians. The second period extends from the first return to Africa after the 1814 restoration of the order to the end of World War II in 1945. After the restoration, Jesuits entered Madagascar as early as in 1832. However, since no lasting ministry was established on the island before 1861, the inaugural mission of the second period is appropriately that of French Jesuits in Algeria, which began in 1840. The period’s large missions are those in Madagascar, Southern Africa, and the Congo region, whose historiography will be considered at length below. Its smaller missions in Fernando Pó (now Bioko, part of Equatorial Guinea) and Egypt will not be discussed. Although they are a part of the second-period history, Jesuit presence in Fernando Pó between 1845 and 1859 is just being discovered,2 whereas Jesuit presence in Egypt has always been studied in the context of the Middle East.3 The closing date for the second period—the end of World War II—is based purely on the enormous increase of Jesuit activity on the continent after the war. Although other authors have considered the decade of political independence in Africa (1960s) to be the tail end of the second period,4 we observe significant increase of Jesuit activity in Africa even earlier. The third period extends from World War II to the present and is marked by the multiplication and spread of Jesuit works beyond the three major missions of the second period—Madagascar, the Zambezi region,5 and the Congo region—to other parts of the continent.
Unlike the first Zambezi Mission, pre-suppression Jesuit work in the present-day Congo–Angola region received greater attention after the restoration. In his history of the Society in the Portuguese Assistancy, Rodrigues included an extensive chapter on the missions in Angola and Mazagão (now El Jadida, Morocco).17 The chapter is essentially an account of Jesuit involvement in the evangelization and civilization of the inhabitants of an inhospitable area, which fits well into standard European narratives about Africa before World War II. However, the chapter stands out as a good narrative of the mission’s basic events and more prominent personalities and, as such, serves as a primary source material or at least a pointer to the existence of such material. Another useful summary of the same events and of the role played by the Jesuits in the primary evangelization of Angola is found in Manuel Nunes Gabriel’s (1912–96) Os jesuítas.18 In this little book, as in several other places,19 much is appreciated about the extent and depth of Jesuit work in this part of Africa. The book shows, for example, that, unlike in Mozambique, the Jesuits in Angola made an effort to translate the faith into a cultural language that would be understood by their indigenous hearers. Himself a former archbishop of Luanda, Manuel Gabriel remains faithful to harmless ecclesiastical history and, as one reviewer of another work of his puts it, provides “a conventional narrative to show how, if not why, Angola has become one of the most Christianized countries in Africa.”20
The Society of Jesus (S.J. – from Latin: Societas Iesu) is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church which originated in sixteenth-century Spain. The members are called Jesuits.The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. Jesuits work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities, and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.
On 15 August 1534, Ignatius of Loyola (born Íñigo López de Loyola), a Spaniard from the Basque city of Loyola, and six others mostly of Castilian origin, all students at the University of Paris, met in Montmartre outside Paris, in a crypt beneath the church of Saint Denis, nowSaint Pierre de Montmartre, to pronounce the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Ignatius’ six companions were:Francisco Xavier from Navarre (modern Spain), Alfonso Salmeron, Diego Laínez, Nicolás Bobadilla from Castile (modern Spain), Peter Faber from Savoy, and Simão Rodrigues from Portugal. The meeting has been commemorated in the Martyrium of Saint Denis, Montmartre. They called themselves theCompañía de Jesús, and also Amigos en El Señoror “Friends in the Lord”, because they felt “they were placed together by Christ.” The name “company” had echoes of the military (reflecting perhaps Ignatius’ background as Captain in the Spanish army) as well as of discipleship (the “companions” of Jesus). The Spanish “company” would be translated into Latin as societas like in socius, a partner or comrade. From this came “Society of Jesus” (SJ) by which they would be known more widely.
Religious orders established in the medieval era were named after particular men: Francis of Assisi (Franciscans), Domingo de Guzmán, later canonized as St Dominic (Dominicans); and Augustine of Hippo (Augustinians). Ignatius of Loyola and his followers appropriated the name of Jesus for their new order, provoking resentment by other religious who considered it presumptuous. The resentment was recorded by Jesuit José de Acosta of a conversation with the Archbishop of Santo Domingo. In the words of one historian: “The use of the name Jesus gave great offense. Both on the Continent and in England, it was denounced as blasphemous; petitions were sent to kings and to civil and ecclesiastical tribunals to have it changed; and even Pope Sixtus V had signed a Brief to do away with it.” But nothing came of all the opposition; there were already congregations named after the Trinity and as “God’s daughters”.
In 1537, the seven travelled to Italy to seek papal approval for their order. Pope Paul III gave them a commendation, and permitted them to be ordained priests. These initial steps led to the official founding in 1540.
They were ordained in Venice by the bishop of Arbe (24 June). They devoted themselves to preaching and charitable work in Italy. The Italian War of 1535-1538 renewed between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Venice, the Pope, and the Ottoman Empire, had rendered any journey toJerusalem impossible.
Again in 1540, they presented the project to Paul III. After months of dispute, a congregation ofcardinals reported favourably upon the Constitution presented, and Paul III confirmed the order through the bull Regimini militantis ecclesiae (“To the Government of the Church Militant”), on 27 September 1540. This is the founding document of the Society of Jesus as an official Catholic religious order. Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General. Paul III’s bull had limited the number of its members to sixty. This limitation was removed through the bull Exposcit debitum of Julius III in 1550.
The Spanish king Charles III (1759–88) expelled the Jesuits in 1767 from Spain and its territories. Within a few decades of the expulsion, most of what the Jesuits had accomplished was lost. The missions were mismanaged and abandoned by the Guaraní. Today, these ruins of a 160-year experiment have become a tourist attraction.
Jesuits in colonial Brazil
Jesuit in 18th century, Brazil
Tomé de Sousa, first Governor General of Brazil, brought the first group of Jesuits to the colony. The Jesuits were officially supported by the King, who instructed Tomé de Sousa to give them all the support needed to Christianize the indigenous peoples.
The first Jesuits, guided by Manuel da Nóbrega, Juan de Azpilcueta Navarro, Leonardo Nunes, and later José de Anchieta, established the first Jesuit missions in Salvador and in São Paulo dos Campos de Piratininga, the settlement that gave rise to the city of São Paulo. Nóbrega and Anchieta were instrumental in the defeat of the French colonists of France Antarctique by managing to pacify the Tamoio natives, who had previously fought the Portuguese. The Jesuits took part in the foundation of the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1565.
The success of the Jesuits in converting the indigenous peoples is linked to their efforts to understand the native cultures, especially their languages. The first grammar of the Tupi language was compiled by José de Anchieta and printed in Coimbra in 1595. The Jesuits often gathered the aborigines in communities (the Jesuit Reductions) where the natives worked for the community and were evangelised.
The Jesuits had frequent disputes with other colonists who wanted to enslave the natives. The action of the Jesuits saved many natives from being enslaved by Europeans, but also disturbed their ancestral way of life and inadvertently helped spread infectious diseases against which the aborigines had no natural defenses. Slave labor and trade were essential for the economy of Brazil and other American colonies, and the Jesuits usually did not object to the enslavement of African peoples, but rather critiqued the conditions of slavery.
My ancestry DNA shows I am 22% Cameroon Congo 10% Bantu 2% Iberian Pennisula. I am related to some Perez & Fernandez just to add some reality to this history. It was these same Spanish & Portuguese Jews and missionary slave masters that fled into Africa and then Jamaica and America fleeing persecution from the Spanish King at the hand of his Queen. The queen demanded the expulsion of all jews (who were mainly black at the time) from Spain. Some of these people were forced to covert to Catholism by the Vaitican Roman church/empire or face death.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KINGDOM OF KONGO
The Kingdom of Kongo was composed of 6 provinces: Mpemba, Mbata, Nsundi, Mpangu, Mbemba and Soyo, plus 4 vassal Kingdoms: Loango, Cacongo and Ngoye, at the North of the N’Zari river, and Ndongo, at the South of the Congo river.
The Kongo Nation and Kingdom
By John Henrik Clarke link to full post
The people and nations of Central Africa have no records of their ancient and medieval history like the “Tarikh es Sudan” or the “Tarikh el Fettach” of the Western Sudan (West Africa). The early travelers to these areas are mostly unknown. In spite of the forest as an obstacle to the formation of empires comparable to those of the Western Sudan, notable kingdoms did rise in this part of Africa and some of them did achieve a high degree of civilization.
The Kongo Valley became the gathering place of various branches of the people we now know as Bantu. When the history of Central Africa is finally written, it will be a history of invasions and migrations. According to one account, between two and three thousand years ago a group of tribes began to move out of the region south or southwest of Lake Chad.
Sometime during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the center of Africa became crowded with pastoral tribes who needed more land for their larger flocks and herds. This condition started another migration that lasted for more than a hundred years. Tribes with the prefix Ba to their names spread far to the west into the Congo basin and southward through the central plains. The Nechuana and Basuto were among these tribes. Tribes with the prefix Ama—great warriors like the Ama-Xosa and Ama-Zulu—passed down the eastern side.
In the meantime some of the more stable tribes in the Congo region were bringing notable kingdoms into being. The Kingdom of Loango extended from Cape Lopez (Libreville) to near the Kongo; and the Kongo Empire was mentioned by Europeans historians as early as the fourteenth century. The Chief of Loango, Mani-Kongo, extended his Kingdom as far as the Kasai and Upper Zambesi Rivers. This Kingdom had been in existence for centuries when the Portuguese arrived in the fifteenth century. They spoke admiringly of its capital, Sette-Camo, which they called San Salvador. The Kingdom of Kongo dates back to the fourteenth century. At the height of its power it extended over modern Angola, as far east as the Kasai and Upper Zambesi Rivers.
Further inland the Kingdom of Ansika was comprised of the people of the Bateke and Bayoka, whose artistic talents were very remarkable. Near the center of the Kongo was the Bakuba Kingdom (or Bushongo), still noted for its unity, the excellence of its administration, its art, its craftsmanship and the beauty of its fabrics.
South of the Congo basin the whole Bechuana territory formed a vast state which actually ruled for a long time over the Basutos, the Zulus, the Hottentots and the Bushmen, including in a single empire the greater part of the black population of Southern and Central Africa. This was the era of Bushongo grandeur; the people we now know as Balubas.
Only the Bushongo culture kept its records and transmitted them almost intact to modern research. The Bakubas are an ancient people whose power and influence once extended over most of the Kongo. Their history can be traced to the fifth century. For many centuries the Bakubas have had a highly organized social system, an impressive artistic tradition and a secular form of government that expressed the will of the people through a democratic political system. Today, as for many generations in the past, the court of a Bakuba Chief is ruled by a protocol as rigid and complicated as that of Versailles under Louis XIV.
At the top of the Bakuba hierarchy is the royal court composed of six dignitaries responsible for cabinet-like matters such as military affairs, justice and administration. At one time there were in the royal entourage 143 other functionaries, including a master of the hunt, a master storyteller and a keeper of oral traditions. In the sixteenth century the Bakubas ruled over a great African empire. The memory of their glorious past is recalled in the tribe with historical exactitude. They can name the reigns of their kings for the past 235 years. The loyalty of the people to these rulers is expressed in a series of royal portrait-statues dating from the reign of Shamba Bolongongo, the greatest and best known of the Bakuba kings.
In the Bakuba system of government the king was above all a symbol, rather like the Mikado in the eyes of the Japanese. His ministers, the Kolomos, paid him great respect in public, even if they were his known enemies. In private they made no pretense of subservience. If the king wanted to see his ministers he had to go to their houses or meet them on neutral ground. The ordinary members of the tribe had representatives at the court on a political and professional basis. Some of these officials represented geographical areas, trades and professions. The weavers, the blacksmiths, the boat-builders, the net-makers, the musicians and the dancers all had their representatives at court. There was even a special representative of the fathers of twins. The representative of the sculptors was held in highest esteem. The Bakuba sculptors are considered to be the finest in Africa.
Shamba Bolongongo was a peaceful sovereign. He prohibited the use of the shongo, a throwing knife, the traditional weapon of the Bushongo. This wise African king used to say: “Kill neither man, woman nor child. Are they not the children of Chembe (God), and have they not the right to live?” Shamba likewise brought to his people some of the agreeable pastimes that alleviate the tediousness of life. The reign of Shamba Bolongongo was really the “Golden Age” of the Bushongo people of the Southern Kongo. After abolishing the cruder aspects of African warfare, Shamba Bolongongo introduced raffia weaving and other arts of peace. According to the legends of the Bushongo people, their history as a state goes back fifteen centuries. Legends notwithstanding, their magnificent sculpture and other artistic accomplishments are unmistakable, the embodiment of a long and fruitful social experience reflecting the life of a people who have been associated with a higher form of culture for more than a thousand years.
Early in the twentieth century when the European writer, Emil Torday, was traveling through the Kongo collecting material for his book On the Trail of the Bushongo, he found the Bakuba elders still singing the praises of Shamba Bolongonog. They also repeated the list of their kings, a list of one hundred twenty names, going back to the godlike King who founded their nation. From these Bakuba elders, Emil Torday learned of Bo Kama Bomanchala, the great King who reigned after Shamba Bolongongo. The elders recalled the most memorable event that had occurred during his reign. On March 30, 1680, there was a total eclipse of the sun, passing exactly over Bushongo.
Jose Fernandez, one of the first European explorers to visit Central Africa, went there in 1445. Any number of subsequent expeditions were carried out by such men as Diego Borges, Vincente Annes, Rebello de Araca, Francisco Baretto and Dom Christovao da Gama. The parts of Africa visited, explored and discovered by these men included the Kingdom of the Kongo, Timbuktu, the East Coast of Africa, Nubia, the Kingdom of N’Gola (Angola), Abyssinia and the Lake Tsana region.
Much of the history and civilization of Central Africa and East Africa was revealed by the study made by the Portuguese African explorer Duarte Lopez in his book History of the Kingdom of Kongo. Duarte Lopez went to the Congo in 1578 and stayed for many years.
According to Lopez, the Kingdom of the Kongo at the time measured 1,685 miles. The King, still reliving his past glory, styled himself Dom Alvarez, King of Kongo, and of Abundo, and of Natama, and of Quizama, and of N’Gola, and of Angri, and of Cacongo, and of the seven Kingdoms of Congere Amolza, and of the Pangelungos, and the Lord of the River Zaire (Kongo) and of the Anzigiros, and of Anziqvara, and of Doanga, etc. He also tells us that the Kingdom of N’Gola (Angola) was at one time a vassal state of the Kongo.
At the time of Lopez’s twelve years stay in the country, the Kingdom of the Congo was divided into six provinces. The province of Bamba was the military stronghold of the kingdom, and was capable of putting 400,000 well-disciplined men in the field.
The rich gold mines at Sofala (now a port of Mozambique) attracted the Portuguese to the East Coast of Africa. They used intermarriage with the Africans as a means of gaining favor and pushing into the interior of Africa. In turn, the Africans gradually lost their anti-Christian hostilities and gave in to being converted to Christianity. And thus Christianity was introduced into the Kongo before 1491. The Mani Sogno was the first Kongo nobleman to embrace the Christian faith. The Moslems, coming into the Congo from the East Coast, prevailed upon the Africans to resist being converted to Christianity, telling them that Christianity was a subtle method used by the Portuguese to take over their country. This warning notwithstanding, Christianity continued to spread in the Kongo.
In 1513, Henrique, son of Dom Affonso, then King of the Congo, was sent to Lisbon and to Rome to study theology. In 1520, Pope Leo X appointed Henrique Bishop of Utica and Vicar-apostolic of the Congo. Unfortunately, Henrique died before he could return to the Congo. He was Rome’s first Central African bishop. The royal archives of Portugal still hold the records reflecting the ceremonial respect that was paid to this Christian son of an African king and queen.
In the years that followed, Portuguese evangelization of the Congo continued. The Holy See received ambassadors from and sent legates to the Congo. In 1561, Father Dom Goncalo da Silvera baptized the Emperor of the Court of Monomotapa.
The peaceful relations between the Africans and the Portuguese were eventually disrupted by the rising European lust for slaves and gold. It was from N’Gola (Angola) and the Kongo that the Portuguese New World was to derive its greatest source of slaves. In 1647, Salvador Correia of Brazil organized an expedition of fifteen ships for the purpose of reconquering Angola, which had been under Dutch rule for eight years. This event might be considered go be one of the earliest political interventions of the New World in the Affairs of the Old.
Portuguese domination founded on the dire necessities of the slave trade persisted in Angola. After a period of relative splendor, the Christian Kingdom of the Congo began to weaken and was practically destroyed by European fortune hunters, pseudo-missionaries and other kinds of free-booters. By 1688, the entire Congo region was in chaos. By the end of the seventeenth century European priests had declared open war on the non-Christian population of the Kongo. They were attempting to dominate Congolese courts and had ordered the execution of Congolese ancestral priests and indigenous doctors. Now the Congolese Christians were pathetic pawns of the hands of unscrupulous European priests, soldiers, merchants and other renegade pretenders, mere parish priests from Europe were ordering Congolese kings from their thrones.
Soon treachery, robbery and executions compounded the chaos in the Kongo. Violence became the order of the day as various assortments of European mercenaries vied for control of this rich area of Africa. In the ensuing struggle many of the Christian churches built by the Portuguese were destroyed. The Dutch, still feeling the humiliation of the decline of their influence in N’Gola (Angola), came into the Congo and systematically removed all traces of the once prevailing Portuguese power.
By 1820 Arab slave traders had penetrated the Kongo from Zanzibar and through Tanganyika. Soon after their arrival their slave raids were decimating the population. The European rediscovery of the Kongo and neighboring territories began in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1858, two Englishmen, Burton and Spoke, discovered Lakes Tanganyka and Victoria, approaching them from the shores of the Indian Ocean. The Scotch Protestant missionary, Livingstone, explored the regions of the big lakes and in 1871, Livingstone and Stanley met on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. From 1874 to 1877, Henry Morton Stanley crossed Africa from east to west and discovered the Kongo River.
In the meantime, King Leopold II of Belgium focused his attention on Central Africa and in 1876 founded the Association International Africaine. In 1878, King Leopold commissioned Stanley to establish connection between the Congo River and the ocean in the non-navigable part of the river. From 1879 to 1885, a handful of Belgian officers sent by the King set up posts along the Kongo River. They were followed by Catholic and Protestant missionaries.
King Leopold’s undertakings gave rise to competition and greed. Other European nations had designs on the Kongo. The King’s diplomatic successes at the Berlin Conference of 1884 settled this matter. The members of the Conference marked out spheres of influence in Africa and determined boundaries that are still in existence. The Kongo Free State came into being. The Belgian parliament agreed that Leopold should have “exclusive” personal ownership of the Kongo. The United States was the first power to ratify the arrangement, largely through the efforts of General Henry S. Stanford, who was American minister to Brussels at the time.
And thus began the tragedy of Belgian rule in the Kongo.