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Written by Adam Hochschild, ‘King Leopold’s Ghost’ is a splendid book that reveals the atrocities of King Leopold II of Belgium. Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s ‘Hope of Darkness’, the historical piece of writing explores King Leopold’s greed, hunger, avidity and hankering for wealth and power. It discusses the efforts of the travelers, missionaries, idealists, diplomats and local villagers to stand against the ferocious regime of King Leopold and to bring the real circumstances of Congo under his reign to Europeans, Americans and to the rest of the world.
Stanley’s adventures in the Central Africa drew King Leopold’s attention towards the colony and he seized Congo in the 1880’s, exploiting the area for his private interests and personal gains. While he portrayed himself as a humanitarian, history defines him as a synonym to Stalin and Hitler. In the late 1880’s Edmund De Morel, agent of a British shipping company, realized that there was something unusual about the cargoes that came from the African colony and returned to it. The cargoes shipped valuable ivory and rubber from Congo but returned with soldiers and firearms that escalated the reality of slavery being brutally practiced in the colony. King Leopold severed the hands of hundreds of those who failed to meet the production objectives and severed heads so that nobody dares to resist his orders. The story remained a silenced one until George Washington Williams and William Sheppard came to Congo in the 1890’s and sailed the stories to the world, marking the first media exposure to King Leopold’s genocide. The investigation did not stop and was followed by Roger Casement’s testimony regarding the brutality and the pictures of Congolese slaves tied in chains and with their hands cut which further highlighted the internal affairs of Congo. The world finally knew that hidden behind the face of a philanthropist, was a man who brutally murdered humanity and executed one of the most barbaric genocides the world has ever witnessed. King Leopold abused the Congo area of Africa, for his personal interests and murdered 10 million people through direct slaughter, exhaustion and malnutrition.
The official documents and records burnt for a week before the long lasting rule of King Leopold came to an end, seemed like it took long for the stories of brutality and murder to hide from the face of Earth. Adam Hochschild painfully mentions the role of the world to bury the truth of Congo, after all it wasn’t the first and the only time. The world has a history of forgetting like they did about the 8 million people were killed under the French rule!
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