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Congo, Kinshasa protest and revolt

Ayokunle Olumuyiwa Omobowale

Subject History » Political History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Central Africa » Congo

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, rebellion, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00400.x


Congo had been in contact with Europe, especially the Portuguese, as far back as the fifteenth century, but it remained an independent kingdom until it officially came under French and Belgian rule in 1885. At that point the Congo, which was 80 times the size of Belgium and extended over 9,000,000 square miles, came under the rule of the Belgian king, Leopold II. Christened Congo Free State, the territory was treated as a private estate of the king until it was taken over by the Belgian parliament for direct administration after the atrocities committed by officials of the king, which generated widespread international and domestic criticism. Due to the Belgians' particularly brutal and oppressive rule in the Congo, major popular protest did not emerge until late in the 1950s. From the beginning of its colonial administration in the Congo, the Belgian government had a policy that favored the provision of amenities and possible reform of the ways of life of the local population without exposing them to ideas that would encourage agitation for “liberty or self-determination” ( Hallet 1974 : 454). Thus, though primary and secondary education in the local languages were emphasized, the Congolese were not allowed to proceed to university education in Belgium, where they could have been exposed to liberal thought, until 1952, and independent newspapers were not allowed until 1957. Of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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