Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Est. April 5, 2002
July 30, 2020 - Issue 829

We will be on our annual hiatus in August
and return September 3rd

Bookmark and Share
This page can be shared

From the Congo to the US:
The Many Hands and Black Bodies
Sacrificed to the Building of Monuments
White Supremacy

"With a wave of a capitalist’s wand, it’s one big coating
of white supremacy flowing freely over the African savanna,
desert, villages, cities. Over the minds of the African people.
But not all. Always, not all."

But I’ve been getting in ‘good trouble,’ necessary trouble ever since.

-John Lewis

“Wizards well versed in treachery and black magic came from the south and forced the people from the land.”

These wizards are indeed superior in their cunning. They know how to chew gum and walk at the same time. So, while capturing the minds and hearts of grandmothers, the warriors push through the land, chasing people away as they further their progression.

And then, with land and resources in tow, the wizards decide to enslave the displaced.

“The white wizards had no use for women and children.” So many, forced to abandon their farms, begin walking. And walking. The grandmother is one of the women and her young son is by her side. There are rumors about “holy” wizards. The grandmother is in search of saviors.

So begins the family legend so entangled with the wizards.

Unfortunately, the grandmother didn’t understand how it was a lie in order to command her submission and that of her son and that of her grandchildren to the white wizards.

The grandmother’s story is an old one. It’s the legend of a rising son.

The son, then nine years old, is educated “in their wizardry,” after the grandmother begged and begged, the wizards accepted “him for life in their world.”

Please! And then the magic: the grandmother is captivated by the “holy” wizards. She sees the wizards in her son. She sees the wizards when he’s able to enjoy prosperity and respect from the people who are without. She sees in her son instead of light, darkness. His daughter certainly did when, after struggling to reach him, attempts suicide. She began to see in herself her father’s darkness and wanted to exterminate it.

And so the wizards, the “holy” wizards, that is, supplanted the “conquerors” ones wherever they could and the people sought comfort from the conquerors with the “holy” ones. In grandmother’s story, the suffering isn’t minimized, no. But the “message was clear: endure and obey. For there is no other way.”

Luckily for the young female narrator of Nervous Conditions the wizards, the “holy” wizards, aren’t so opaque. Or so different from the “conquerors,” their kin in kind.

Grandmother’s story, no more than any other Western “romantic story,” is as violent as the conquerors, for how could the generations of conquerors have achieved so much without a narrative? The granddaughter doesn’t buy it! Sometimes that happens too!

Was the grandmother lying?

Stanley is a murderer. His reliance on violence in the service of his needs - for example, his need to acquisition food as he travels in the heat of the Congo’s jungle - results in the murder, writes Sven Lindqvist, Swedish historian of literature, of “defenseless people on their way to market.” Many are shot dead, “unarmed men” because Stanley was in need of canoes.

Talk about Black lives not mattering one bit!

In order to reach his destination and fulfill his dream of “saving” yet another human, as he did Livingstone, he becomes a murderer. He leaves “heaps of corpses in his wake.” Just like the wizards over in what becomes Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). With a wave of a capitalist’s wand, it’s one big coating of white supremacy flowing freely over the African savanna, desert, villages, cities. Over the minds of the African people.

But not all. Always, not all.

In the Congo, Stanley has a boy bearer hanged for “desertion.” The pleas of the people surrounding the boy bounce off Stanley’s tin heart. “Relentless” in his pursuit of Stanley’s dream, he’s fulfilling Europe’s dream of conquering Africa. So “he could not afford, he thought, to show the slightest sign of weakness now.” The first Africans arriving on these US shores would have been familiar with Stanley. All the Stanleys of the Western world.

George Floyd knew one, for sure.

And I have to say here - this isn’t the Stanley, of the Stanley and Livingston team, taught to me by the white nuns in grammar school. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was taught that the team consisted of two good guys and loyal, no-deserting African helpers. The Africans were happy to be civilized. All of Africa welcomed the saviors. No one said anything about the murdering of Africans. Even a white man was happy to swing on African trees.

Deliberately, Stanley puts “himself in a situation in which killing was the only way out,” writes Lindqvist. Stanley is Joseph Conrad’s model for Kurtz, the white man in the “heart of darkness.” Or rather, is he, Stanley/Kurtz, the “heart of darkness” in Africa?

Conrad travels to Stanley’s Africa, arriving at Stanleyville. The writer would have read Stanley’s In Darkest Africa published in 1890. However, as Lindqvist suggests, “during his eight months in Africa, Conrad found that reality differed glaringly from the grandiose speeches he had heard before his departure.”

So on his return to London the following year, Conrad, writes Lindqvist is “disillusioned.”

No wonder there’s no one to be saved in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, except for Kurtz. But who can save Kurtz? “The monster is Kurtz… who resembles Stanley,” writes Lindqvist.

“When Marlow lies to Kurtz’s “intended” at the end of Conrad’s story, he not only does what Stanley himself did, but also what official Britain and the general public were doing while Conrad was writing the story. They were lying.”

And then Congo became known as Belgium’s King Léopold II’s Congo. But that, too, was a lie.


This past June, 2020, the current king of Belgium, King Philippe, was watching on his television as streets in the US filled with Americans, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and white. They were chanting, Black lives matter! Black lives matter!

Contrary to Trump’s depiction of African countries, the people in the Republic of the Congo have televisions too. And the people of the Congo know their lives matter, too!

So King Philippe “regrets” what happened in the Congo under King Léopold’s brutal regime. No apology. Just regrets.

Ten million people murdered!

The years of brutality afflicted on the Congolese - all the displacement of its people and the confiscation of land and resources - all of this violence - and then the lie, the cover up - and only a “regret”?

Yes, it was regrettable! It was like a one-two punch of fascism and capitalism in that from 1908 to 1960 the infamous Léopold controlled the country’s people and its resources as a means of preserving what the wizard brought to Africa - white supremacy. For who owns the wealth of the Congo?

King Philippe writes that the violence and brutality so honored buy the Europeans as a necessity in the Congo weighs “still on our collective memory.”

Whose collective memory?

He concludes, “I would like to express my deepest regrets for the wounds of the past, the pain of today, which is rekindled by the discrimination all too present in our society.”

As The Guardian notes, “the looting of the Congo has never stopped.” According to Martin Fayulu, a member of the “respected opposition” in the Republic of the Congo (DRC), the resources have been stolen. “Our people remain in misery; we are ruled by dictators and the thieves. The international powers say they need to be pragmatic. And look where we are.”

The legacy of the brutal regime is that the Congo was in “deep poverty [and suffering from] widespread violence, and disease, despite its natural wealth.” The death of George Floyd “has rekindled anti-racism protests in Belgium.” The protesters want an end to lies and the grand blanketing narrative that conceals the structurally chiseled white supremacy on chips running our computers in the West. The protests are prompting the federal parliament to establish a “‘truth and reconciliation’ commission to ‘come clean’ about the country’s colonial past.”

In the meantime, the statues of Léopold are coming down with the bare hands of the Congolese.

“Mistah Kurtz - he dead.” Not quite.


And Sven Lindqvist is a traveler of sorts to Africa too. From Stockholm University, he travels through what was Léopold’s Congo, “in a searching examination of Europe’s dark history in Africa and the origins of genocide.” The result is his non-fiction account of the horror of European conquest in “Exterminate All the Brutes.”

Neither Stanley nor Conrad is far out of his vision. In fact, he follows them, hearing the echoing voice of the priest, Father Bihler, who was “convinced that the blacks had to be exterminated,” writes Lindqvist. The “holy” wizard didn’t see anything wrong in the pogrom of extermination.

In my Catholic school education, the nuns and priest talked about civilization in Africa. Here, in the US, on the Southside of Chicago, we Black children were being civilized, too.

Civilizing the brutes like Conrad’s Kurtz. But Léopold didn’t seem to bother, for the mission of the priest, Bihler, was to see to the extermination of the “whole people” over the age of fourteen years old, according to a letter from Lord Grey to his wife. Conrad’s Kurtz, writes Lindqvist, takes up the task.

Narrative matter. Culture teaches.

Conrad is writing Heart of Darkness while Kipling was writing, “The White Man’s Burden.” Kurtz is surrounded in “a cloud of Kiplingesque rhetoric.” Cultural inheritance, passed down as education. And it’s all lies.

Kurtz takes up the tasks - ”exterminate all the brutes.”

“Mistah Kurtz - he dead.” Not true!

For Léopold, the Black people didn’t matter, but rubber and ivory did!

“King Léopold II of Belgium,” Walter Rodney once wrote, “made at least $20 million from rubber and ivory.” He continues, “it’s no wonder that the total wealth produced in the Congo in any given year during the colonial period, more than one-third went out in the form of profits for big business and salaries for their expatriate staffs.”

“The Portuguese and Belgian colonial regimes were the most brazen in directly rounding up Africans to go and work for private capitalists under conditions equivalent to slavery.”

Even Europeans disapproved of King Léopold’s brutality. His anti-slavery rhetoric “introduced into Congo forced labor and modern slavery.”

Léopold’s regime tortured and murdered. And maimed.

As Lindqvist explains, the Belgians talked about the chicotte - a “raw hippo hide that for whatever reasoning needed to be used on humans, adults and children, Black lives. And another brute, true brute, an E. J. Glave, wrote about how it takes just a few blows to “bring on blood.”

How do we exterminate this mentality? This mindset?

The Congolese “yells abominably; then quiets down and is a mere groaning, quivering body till the operation is over.”

Women and children beaten, too.

A hundred blows from the chicotte either kills or breaks the spirit.

The looting is so much easier then, isn’t it?

Léopold likes for the hands to be cut off. The Congolese are “requisitioned for labor, rubber and ivory…” “without payment,” of course.

Refusing isn’t an option. Refusing leads to the burning down of villages and the murdering of children. And the cutting off of hands.

Lindqvist wonders, how many hands provided the profits that built the monuments of Léopold and to Léopold? “The Arcades du Cinquantenaire, the Palais de Laeken, the Châteaud’ Ardennes. “Few people today remember how many amputated hands these monuments cost.”

These severed hands, writes Lindqvist, represent the “Belgian idea of the most effectual methods of promoting the civilization of the Congo.”

How the cover up lingers to normalize the looting of the Congo!

But the Congolese today, their young generations today, aren’t buying the lying narrative the wizards “conquerors” or “holy.”


The British Empire, with too many “skeletons” in its cupboard, did little to interfere with Léopold in the Congo. The British Empire, with its expansionist campaign, was at its peak, writes Lindqvist, when Germany thought to create Lebensraum in 1897.

Hitler looked to the British Empire. And then in the 20th Century, Hitler looked to the US - to the imperialist American Empire and its violence at home against Blacks, Indigenous, and Latinx and its violence against people of color around the world.

Because back home, in 1889, already there’s another George lynched. George Meadows at Pratt Mines in Jefferson County, Alabama.

So the Struggle continues. Everywhere. Black lives Matter! Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels and BC.
Bookmark and Share
This page can be shared




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers