Belgium Colonial Legacy in Africa

The goal is to investigate Belgian colonialism through the lens of their two distinct African colonies, Rwanda and the Congo. These two countries both faced a mass murder, and just so happened to be ruled by the same colonizer. How were Rwandan and Congolese people, government structures, and culture affected by Belgian colonialism, and what legacy of that colonialism remains today? Primary sources can be open letters, speeches, photographs, and personal narratives of people who lived through the Belgian colonization, and secondary sources such as documentaries and excerpts from textbooks or nonfiction books about Belgian colonialism, to explore this question. One aspect that we plan on focusing on is the fact that Belgium tends to be neglectful in the affairs of Rwanda and the Congo, unless those affairs were financially beneficial to Belgium. The Belgians in Rwanda also created the social structure with scientific racism between the two main ethnic groups of the country that directly led to the Rwandan genocide (the majority turned against the Belgian preferred minority). We want to explore how Belgium’s colonial policies and practices led to the stark differences between present-day Rwanda and Congo.  Some examples of sources are listed below. Bbc.com/news/world-europe-53017188 (LEOPOLD II and Belgium’s recognition of the DRC) bbc.com/news/business-48533964 (rubber in the DRC) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/705402.stm (Belgium’s apology to Rwanda) https://www.blackpast.org/global-african-history/primary-documents-global-african-history/george-washington-williams-open-letter-king-leopold-congo-1890/ (George Washington Williams letter) https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/09/bystanders-to-genocide/304571/. (history and background of the Rwandan genocide) “We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families” by Philip Gourevitch (Background and history of Rwandan genocide, colonialism’s impact on genocide)

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