- Opinions from Africa -


Hvid pibe copy

Mayday Press has a lot of old photographs from Congo. Strangely enough many of them have naked people somewhere in the frame. This picture is no exception. The white man is from Denmark.
Unknown to most people Scandinavians played a huge and very important part in the colonisation of what became The Free State Congo, État indépendant du Congo.
It was owned by King Leopold the Second of Belgium. Literally owned by him as a personal business venture. It's the darkest chapter in the dark book about white supremacy in Africa. During Leopolds time as CEO half the population lost their lives due to what Stanley Kubrick later called ultra violence.

Also disease and the very extreme measures used to punish people, cutting off their hands if they did not collect enough rubber for the King, played a huge factor.
The Scandinavians, particularly Danes and Swedes, were a crucial part of the whole business concept. Leopold did not want to use employees from competitors on the continent. Denmark and Sweden had no colonies at that time, the Germans, British, French, the Dutch, Portugese, Spaniards could not work for him. Guess why

On top of that Danes are born sailors as are the Swedes. Leopold needed seamen to navigate the 20.000 kilometers of rivers that Congo has.
Leopold also managed to recruit plenty of dismayed officers from the Danish army who lost a big chunk of Denmark in the war with the Germany in 1864. Suddenly they could get a very well paid job in Africa. Some of them were in charge of areas the size of Denmark. Small kings from a small country in the big, dark Africa.

And we could continue...

What a story.

Mayday Press has a lot of stories and historic photos in our library.

PS If you have not read 'The Heart of Darkness' yet. Do it! Written by Joseph Conrad who worked on the river. He was Polish, by the way.

blog comments powered by Disqus