King Leopolds Ghost

King Leopold’s Ghost King Leopold’s Ghost tells a story of the Belgian King Leopold II and his misrule of an African colony, named (at the time) the Congo Free State. It is a wild and unpleasant story of a man’s capacity for evil and the peculiar manifestation of it. In telling this story, Hochschild does a wonderful job of giving detailed descriptions, especially of the colorful individuals involved, both good and bad.

His analysis of the situation is very solid, starting with the movement when the Congolese hero (Morel) finds out a very terrible fact and moving on through his (Morel) analysis and actions, all the while telling the story of a treacherous monster. Set in the palaces and boardrooms of Europe and in the villages of central Africa, it tells the story of the tragedy that took place during Leopold’s so called rule, a tragedy that is so familiar to African-Americans, being told of our African brothers residing in the homeland. This horror story is just in fact that, a horror story, giving and revealing the utter most secrets of the respected King Leopold.Allow me to take you on a journey, pointing out the King’s determination and, reasoning for what he’d done and the scars he left deep within the heart of the Congo. In the introduction I stated that Morel was the character that I considered to be the hero of this story, now the main question behind that would be, why? Along with, Who is Morel? His complete name was Edmund Dene Morel; he was a young clerk who worked for a Liverpool based firm where his duties were to supervise the unloading and reloading of the ships arriving in Antwerp, Belgium. As Morel watched the shipments arrive he noticed something, a great amount of ivory and rubber were being transported into Belgium but nothing was being taken out, as the book states: There is no trade going on here.

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Little or nothing is being exchanged for the rubber and ivorywith almost no goods being sent to Africa to pay for them, he realizes that there can be only one explanation for their source: slave labor. (p.2) With his newfound revelation at hand Morel does not sit still.

Demonstrating that he refused to turn a blind eye to what fortune had allowed him to see, he soon becomes active with his newfound knowledge. Soon afterward Morel devoted his life to stopping slavery in the Congo. From the early 1900’s until after the death of Leopold in 1909, Morel, having become a radical human rights campaigner, used the information smuggled out of the Congo by missionaries and Leopold’s employees, to set up the Congo Reform Association (CRA) and mount a campaign that won the support of prominent politicians and churchmen, both in Britain and in the United States. Among these supporters was the highly respected Joseph Conrad (author of Heart of Darkness).

So what about this Mr.King Leopold? As of now you must understand that he has done something far worse than inhabit slave labor and import ivory and rubber to have caused such a controversy across the world? Simply, Leopold wanted a colony, any colony to give his position some leverage; he felt that by owning more than just his small country, that he’d somehow be validated as a King. Since he’d noticed the world flying by him quickly with new developments and technological advancements, not to mention anyone who was anyone owned a piece of the colonialism pie, Leopold just had to have his piece. Leopold feeling squeezed out by the British, French Empires, and the rising power of Germany, studied forms of colonialism from the Dutch East Indies, to the British possession in Indian and Africa. Leopold’s regime, despite his studies, differed from those of those of his fellow colonialists. Leopold schemed to build himself a forced labor camp on a massive expanse of central Africa and was quite smooth with pulling all of this off. Through methods of bribery, chicanery, brute force and almost supernatural sense of cunning, Leopold had acquired an enormous private colony in Africa and gotten the rest of the worked to accept his claim as legally binding. In 1884 Leopold gained recognition for the Congo by making a web of bilateral agreements at the Berlin conference in February 1885.

The aim of the conference was proclaimed to be abolishing the [Arab] slave trade, establishing peace among the chiefs and procuring them just and impartial arbitration.And of course because this was Leopold’s excellent idea he was granted custody of the Congo, to bring civilization to the ignorant savages of Africa. Amount its aims, he convinced the US, Germany and Britain, that not only would he combat the Arabian slave trade but he would also establish Christian outpost on a heathen continent. Soon after Leopold gained possession of the Congo the horror began Leopold’s main crime consisted of impressing as many Congolese as possible into forced labor and requiring them to turn in quotas of rubber and ivory, with hideous consequences, including mutilation if they failed. One might ask, what would drive a man of such great respect and admiration to inflict that degree of pain on others? The answer in my opinion remains simple, it was all about all about the Benjamin’s baby. I won’t even ask this next question, but to answer it, getting away with this type of scheme was very well thought out.

The text plainly states that, Unlike other great predators of history Leopold never saw a drop of blood spilt in anger.He never set foot in the Congo. There is something very modern about that too, as there is about the bomber pilot in the stratosphere, above the clouds, who never hears screams or sees shattered homes or torn flesh. (p.

4) Personally I can’t help but analyze the parallel that Hochschild makes between Leopold and the bomber pilot. I do agree on one hand, but the only difference was that Leopold unlike the pilot did see the broken bones and torn flesh, hence the hands he had brought to him. There are photographs of men , women and children whose hands had been chopped off the text also stated that not only were the hands and heads being cut off but noses and ears as well.(p.165) Having already est …