the world at the begining of the 20th century

Topics: Colonialism, British Empire, Congo Pages: 2 (709 words) Published: October 13, 2013

Reasons for colonization in the Congo. In the late 1870s, King Leopold of Belgium decided that he wanted to join in on the manipulation of Africa, as he didn’t want to miss out on any opportunities that Africa had to offer. Initially, his main aim was to exploit the rewarding ivory market in Central Africa by establishing a secure trade route between the Upper and Lower Congo. The province was known to be rich in other cargos as well, such as mineral resources. When rubber was invented in the “industrialized world”, the horrific exploitation of the Congo began. Bicycles became a craze in Europe, which lead to the invention of the motorcar; this increased the needs for rubber. Leopold knew that rubber trees needed cultivation and once the plantations in Latin America and Asia had matured, the price of rubber would drop dramatically. The best source of rubber in the meantime was the trees of the Congo forest. By the mid-1890s rubber extraction was become the colony’s most profitable industry.

The impact of new imperialism on rubber plantations in the Congo. New imperialism had a major detrimental impact on not only the plantations in the Congo but the Congolese people. In order for the rubber to be gathered, workers were sent to the forests to climb trees and slit open the vines containing the rubber sap. The sap had to be dried to create a rubber form, this was done by spreading the sap on their body and pulling it off, this was an extremely painful experience. These workers were put under long days in strenuous conditions, but were paid in cloth, beads or salt. The European soldiers held the children and wives of the men hostage until they returned with the quota of rubber. Any non-coorporation or failure to reach their quota resulted in their village being burnt down, children killed and cutting off their hands. Scholar Adam Jones comments on this treatment, “The result was one of the most brutal and...
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