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The Congo

The Congo

Leo Zeilig | David Renton | David Seddon


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Since well before Henry Morgan Stanley's fabled encounter with David Livingstone on the shore on Lake Tanganyika in the late 19th century and his subsequent collaboration with King Leopold of Belgium in looting the country of its mineral wealth, the Congo's history has been one of collaboration by a minority with, and struggle by the majority against, Western intervention. Before the colonial period, there were military struggles against annexation. During Belgian rule, charismatic religious figures emerged, promising an end to white domination; copper miners struck for higher wages; and rural workers struggled for survival. During the second half of the 20th century, the Congo's efforts at disentanglement from Belgian rule, the murder of the nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba and the long dictatorship of General Mobutu culminated in one of the bloodiest wars the world has ever seen. At the start of a new millennium, this book argues that the West has plundered Africa to its own advantage and that unrestrained global capitalism threatens to remake the entire world, bringing violence and destruction in the name of profit. In this radical history, the authors show not only how the Congo represents and symbolises the continent's long history of subordination, but also how the determined struggle of its people has continued, against the odds, to provide the Congo and the rest of Africa with real hope for the future.
David Renton is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sunderland. Leo Zeilig is a a researcher at the Centre for Sociological Research at the University of Johannesburg. David Seddon is Professor of Politics & Sociology School of Development Studies, University of East Anglia.
'A book which must be read by those who believe that the marginalisation of Africa is the result of its backwardness, while it is in fact the very product of its integration in the global imperialist system.' Samir Amin ‘A brilliant guide to one of the modern world’s most atrocious cases of systematic eco-social destruction.’ Patrick Bond, University of KwaZulu Natal '...presents a history of the Congo since colonisation in the late 19th cenutry, focusing on the economic arguments for successive western interventions.' Ducan Bowie, Chartist 'Anyone wishing to comprehend the origins of Africa's seemingly endless problems is advised to get hold of a copy of this book.' Tribune

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
contents v
map vii
introduction 1
1: missionaries and traders 7
Livingstone and Stanley 16
‘The king with ten million murders on his soul' 21
Red rubber 25
Resistance 30
Who gained? 37
Further critics 38
The end of Léopold’s empire 45
2: miners and planters 49
Élisabethville 51
The church 56
The social wage 57
The limits of reform 58
Away from the cities 61
Early independence struggles 63
World War II 66
The demand for freedom 70
Preparing for power 76
3: rebels and generals\r 83
The passive revolution 84
The second war of independence 87
Resistance to secession 90
Tshombe’s fiefdom 92
The play of external forces 93
US strategy 95
The fall of Lumumba 97
Lumumba: icon of struggle 100
Mobutu makes his first move 101
Efforts to build a coalition 103
Descent into civil war 105
Rebellion or revolution? 107
Why the army? 109
The all-conquering warrior 111
Mobutu in power 114
4: the great dictator 116
The creation of Zaïre 117
From boom to bust 120
Mobutu’s first decade 126
Wars in Angola, wars in Shaba 129
Towards structural adjustment: the late 1970s 131
Capitalism and class formation under Mobutu 138
Support abroad, opposition within 140
5: the failed ‘transition’ 147
Economic collapse 149
The regime challenged from below 151
International changes and internal struggle 154
The march of hope 158
Resuming the ‘transition’ 164
Frustrated transition 168
6: speculators and thieves 172
Understanding the east 173
Refugees, the UN and Rwanda 175
The first rebellion 178
American interests 182
Kabila 184
Kabila in power 186
Intervention and the second war: the case of Zimbabwe 188
Uganda, Rwanda and the role of the military 191
Minerals and multinationals 194
Ituri, gold and multinational companies 196
Negotiations 201
The IMF, criminality and the partition of the Congo 203
conclusion 207
notes 213
introduction 213
one 213
two 217
three 220
four 222
five 224
six 227
conclusion 231
index 232