Commentaries

February 2006

WHY BELGIUM AND THE U.S. DON'T WANT YOU TO SEE "CONGO: WHITE KING, RED RUBBER, BLACK DEATH"
by Elombe Brath


El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, more popularly known as Malcolm X, once pointed out that,"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research." Perhaps history is the main reason that Belgium does not want you see the BBC documentary "Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death." And that goes for U.S. foreign policymakers, media moguls, and corporate leaders who believe that becoming wealthy by the exploitation of Africa's natural resources, including its most precious profit making resource – the African people, should not be revisited and become a topic for discussion.

Why not? Well, for one thing, the history of European pillage and genocide, primarily the Belgians with the blessings of the United States, in the Congo during the 19th century, caused them much shame and embarrassment. If you are one of the lucky ones who have had the opportunity to see the Jack Bates documentary then you would clearly understand why who engaged in the heinous crimes against humanity that this film indicts have plenty to be ashamed about and would rather that the abominable treatment of man against man documents be forgotten and not now become a cold case that should be subjected to reinvestigation with the intention of seeking justice to those who had been robbed and murdered by a systematic pattern that continues to this very day.

Although "Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death" first aired on a BBC broadcast in 2003, shocking people all over Europe, it has only had three public screening since that time in the U.S., all which have been thanks to ArtMattan Productions, the company run by the husband and wife team of Reinaldo Barbarosa Spech and Diarah N'Bow-Spech, of Cuban and Senegalese background, respectively, who have presented the African Diaspora Film Festival for the last 10 years, and have had difficulty to present additional showings of this explosive and revelatory film. The general consensus is that this film is a truthful expose of the horrors of King Leopold II's 23 brutal rule of the Congo as his private estate, courtesy of the western European great powers during the Berlin Conference held during November 1884-February 1885.

The mandate of the Berlin Conference was to divide the African continent among Europeans, ostensibly to protect Africans from Arab slavery and bring Black people into Christianity, with promises of assimilation into civilization. But there was an underlining theme that they sought to deliberate the "carving up of Africa into their respective spheres of influence, partitioning each territory into colonies which were to be governed by European settlers who in turn were under their particular governments in Europe. As quite as it was kept, however, the U.S. was, in a sense, the overseer of an international criminal enterprise – giving the final official formalization of the "scramble for Africa" colonization process the blessings of the administration of Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States (1885-1889; 1893-1897 respectively.)

While Belgium has denounced "Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death" as a "tendentious diatribe", claiming that Leopold was "depicted as the moral forebear of Adolf Hitler", with his cruder, less sophisticated and non-mechanized means, Hitler's genocidal Nazi holocaust paled both in the numbers of people killed and the length of their being subjected to such inhumane treatment with that of King Leopold II. And what

Leopold established as a pattern in the Congo that made him Hitler's immoral forebear in what continued throughout Africa's colonization period was the laying the background to the causal factors of the carnage that we are witnessing today in many African nations that have been undergoing destabilization programs by foreign intrigue and for the same express reasons which occurred during the 19th century – to control and extract Africa's precious resources, utilizing dirt cheap compensation to African workers as the general means for essentially forced production.