“…the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky (and) seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.”
The connection between Europe and Africa is one of unrelieved cruelty and exploitation. Nowhere is that savagery more focused than in what became known as The Belgian Congo.
Created by King Leopold to support his personal treasury in the 1880’s, the Congo would yield between 3 and 10 million African dead on the Shoah of the rubber and ivory trade before the end of formal colonialism in the mid-20th century.
The incomprehensible horror of the Congo was chronicled as early as 1904 in a report by the Irish patriot Roger Casement to the British Consulate.
Adam Hochschild continued Casement’s work in his classic, King Leopold’s Ghost.
Craig Timberg and David Halperin follow the AIDS track through the rubber and ivory trade in Tinderbox. Great novelists have also explored the scarring of the spirit left on those who experienced the Congo.
In 1902 Joseph Conrad took readers down the Congo River in discovery of The Heart of Darkness.
110 years later Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa closed the circle with his haunting reverie on the haunted reveries of the last months of the life of Roger Casement in The Dream of the Celt.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”