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History Of The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). By: Jabor Al-Kuwari 8C. Pre-Colonization Period:.

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History Of The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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pre colonization period
Pre-Colonization Period:

Earlyhistory of Congocovers most of the Congo River basin occupied today by the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Angola's Cabinda province and northern Angola. The current territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo was occupied by humans in the Paleolithic from at least 80,000 years ago. There were waves of Bantu migrations from 2000 BC to 500 AD moving into the basin from the northwest and covers the pre-colonial states absorbed or overthrown by the colonial powers. The Bantu migrations added to and displaced the indigenous Pygmy populations into the southern regions of the modern Congo states. The Bantu imported agriculture and iron-working techniques from West Africa into the area, as well as establishing the Bantu language family as the primary set of tongues for the Congolese. Subsequent migrations from the Darfur and Kordofan regions of Sudan into the north of Congo, as well as East Africans migrating into the eastern Congo, added to the mix of ethnic groups.

purpose of colonization
Purpose of Colonization:

King Leopold II (Picture shown below) wanted Belgium to have colonies across the world like Britain, and France. He planned to colonize it for 30 years, until they tricked the superpowers, by invading large parts of central Africa including Congo. It was his only option out of all the countries in the world. He saw it as a great land, like parent-child relationship. King Leopold II was interested in profits, and didn’t care about human rights. At that time, Belgium was in a financial crisis, their debt was over 110% of the GDP. The solution to that problem was to colonize Congo, because of it’s enrichment of natural resources such as gold, diamond, tin, copper etc. It attracted foreign investment in Belgium and it’s colonies.

events during colonization
Events During Colonization:
  • Congo Free State (1885-1908):
  • Congo Free State was created in the 1885 as the private holding of a group of European investors headed by Leopold II, king of the Belgians. It was a union between Belgium and Congo. The king’s attention was drawn to the region during Morton Stanley’s exploration of the Congo River in 1874–77. Leopold extended his military control over the interior in the early 1890s. The Belgians occupied the are called Katanga, which was rich in resources. Later rebellions were repressed. Rebellious actions by the Congolese created a harsh responses from Leopold’s private army, the Force Publique (an African army who supported Belgian troops), who burned the villages and slaughtered the families of rebels. This wasn’t only served as a punishment and a method to further terrorize the Congolese. Brutality was widespread in mines and on plantations. The truth about Leopold’s brutal regime eventually spread. In 1908 the Congo Free State was abolished and replaced by the Belgian Congo.
events during colonization1
Events During Colonization:
  • Belgian Congo (1908-1960):
  • Belgian Congo was ruled by Belgium from 1908 until 1960. It was established when the Belgian parliament voted to annex (take over) Congo. The Belgians treated the Africans like animals. Many countries invested in Congo after WWI. Large plantations and livestock farms were developed. Many resources were mined in Congo, which became a source for uranium in WWII. Many infrastructures were built upon the Africans. African resistance challenged the colonial regime from the beginning. The Africans rebelled in 1919, and the uprising was suppressed in 1923. A law was passed by the Belgian parliament allowing the African to work between 4-7 years, before they retire. The first Congolese political party, the Congo National Movement, was launched in 1958 by Patrice Lumumba and other Congolese leaders. In January 1959, riots broke out in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) after a rally was held calling for the independence of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of Congo became an independent republic on June 30, 1960.
effects on the congolese people
Effects on The Congolese People:
  • When Belgium annexed Congo in 1908, the number of Belgians residing in Congo increased by over 200% in under 25 years. The names of towns and cities has changed in Congo, during colonization period. For example, Kinshasa changed to Leopoldville, Bunagana was changed to Werts-Clois, and Boma was changed to Secre. The Congolese people have lost their identity. They couldn’t speak their language, or instead they would be executed. The Belgians decided to call the Congolese by Belgian names. The population of Congolese has decreased from 20 million to 8 million between 1908 and 1920. Many farmland has been destroyed by the Belgians. The Congolese people didn’t have control over their resources, so the Belgians controlled everything. The majority of them live in poverty, and till this day. The black students weren’t allowed to study Congolese history in school, but were forced into Europeans schools. The forced laborers had many diseases while they were working, such as sleeping sickness, lung inflection, and asthma. They never got any medical help by the Belgians. It was basically like apartheid, that happened in South Africa.
modern day congo
Modern Day Congo:
  • Before colonization, they used to speak 200 different indigenous languages, including Swahili, Kikongo, Lunda, Lilawa etc. Now the main languages of the country is French and Dutch, the languages of Belgium. The indigenous languages are still spoken. The flag of the country changed from dark blue with a star to the current flag shown below. 60% of the country’s population are Christians, 35% of the people have their own indigenous beliefs, and 5% other religions. The population of the country is about 39 million people. Congolese people would perform a musical theatre called Le Grande Kalle, originated in Belgium. Cinema became popular in Congo, after the colonization, and they watch Belgian movies like “La Vie Est Belle”. The motto of the Democratic Republic of Congo in “Strength through Unity” in French like the motto of Belgium. The currency of the country is Congolese franc, named after the Belgian franc, currency used in Belgium before Euros.
  • 1. "Belgian Congo (historical Region, Africa)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013.
  • 2. "Congo Free State (historical State, Africa)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
  • 3. "5Belgian_Policies." 5Belgian_Policies. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2013.
  • 4. "Interesting Facts & Information: Tourism, Travel, Culture, Language, Business, People. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013
  • 5. "HyperWar: 'The Belgian Congo at War'" HyperWar: 'The Belgian Congo at War' N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2013.