During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, King Leopold II of Belgium ruled over the Congo Free State as his personal colony. Under his exploitative regime, the Congolese citizens suffered immensely.
King Leopold’s primary motive was to exploit the natural resources Congo was endowed with and extract as much wealth as possible from the country, particularly through the production of rubber.
To enforce his control and maximize profits, King Leopold imposed a reign of terror on the Congolese population. The Congolese individuals who failed to meet the demanding rubber production quotas set by the Belgian administration were subjected to severe inhumane and dreadful punishment.
Further, thousands of Congolese were subjected to executions, including public hangings, or had their hands amputated as a means of punishment. In other cases, children of parents who weren’t able to meet their task were murdered.
These cruel acts were carried out as a deterrent and as a means of maintaining control over the local population. The atrocities committed during this period have been well-documented and are considered as one of the darkest chapters in colonial history.
Missionaries played a complex role during this time, as some were complicit in the exploitative system, while others may have provided some level of humanitarian assistance. This served as a haunting reminder of the profound suffering endured by the Congolese people under King Leopold’s oppressive regime.