(posting on behalf of Michael)
The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the most dramatic histories of any country. In distant prehistory, it was populated by African pygmies, a dwarf people who represent the second oldest branch of the human species. It then became, in this order:
- An area populated by the agricultural Bantu peoples, after the Bantu expansion displaced older populations;
- A Christian Kongo Kingdom, which grew rich and powerful through the slave trade–first with Arabs, then with Europeans;
- The personal property of the Belgian King Leopold II, who turned the Congo into a rubber-collecting labor camp, and whose policies of enforcing rubber quotas by burning villages and cutting off hands caused the deaths of millions of people;
- An official Belgian colony with massive Belgian investment, strong economic growth, and effective health policies, turning the Belgian Congo into one of the richest, healthiest, and most educated colonies in the world by 1960, surpassing even many European countries in some metrics;
- An independent post-colonial Congo state plagued by autocracy, instability, disease, extreme poverty, genocide, and war, including the Second Congo War–the deadliest conflict since WWII, killing millions of people across multiple African countries.
Today, the DRC is simultaneously one of the world’s richest and poorest countries. It sits atop trillions of dollars of precious minerals, but has one of the world’s lowest GDPs per capita and worst qualities of life. But if Congo history teaches us anything, it’s that the roller coaster will not stop here, and that it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
So, let’s talk about the Congo. Please watch this YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSGb7DOSPVE), and let’s gather Wednesday at 6 pm in Behavioral Biology Building B101 .
Michael’s awesome presentation