Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Worth A Read

The Far Outliers blog is currently posting lots of excerpts on some of the African unpleasantnesses of the last 20-odd years.

I think I'd take issue with this, though - from Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, by Jason Stearns (Public Affairs, 2011), Kindle Loc. 130-146:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a vast country, the size of western Europe and home to sixty million people. For decades it was known for its rich geology, which includes large reserves of cobalt, copper, and diamonds, and for the extravagance of its dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, but not for violence or depravity.

As I understood the history, it was only when Mobutu pretty much cornered the market in violence that the Congo was peaceful. In the period between independence and military coup, it was the basket-case it's been ever since.


Anonymous said...

It wasn't particularly peaceful as a colony.

While it was the King of Belgium's personal fiefdom it inspired Heart of Darkness and that exploitation abated rather than ceased, when it transitioned to becoming a Belgium colony proper. It was only in the latter days of the Belgium Congo that a measure of stability returned.

Anonymous said...

There was a sweet Mobutu/Solomon Burke mash-up on 'All watched over by machines of loving grace' on Monday.