White King, Red Rubber, Black Death: An Analysis of King Leopold’s Ghost
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Adam Hochschild's novel entitled, King Leopold's Ghost, is a lost historical tale beginning in 1885 continuing into 1908 about the enslavement of the Congo. The book tells of a selfish king named Leopold and his pursuit to find rubber for the production of cars and bicycles, as the Congo Free State had the world’s largest amount of wild rubber. He was determined to get as much rubber to Europe as he could, and as fast as possible. This was all done under an elaborate scheme hidden behind a “charitable" image, deceiving many countries. The novel shows the themes of the greed of colonialism, slavery and racism, desire for fame and power, as well as moral responsibility and human rights. In King Leopold's Ghost, Hochschild teaches the lesson of standing up for what we believe in. We cannot stand by and let corruptive behavior continue in front of our eyes. We must be strong enough and educated enough, to protect what we know is right.
Leopold was very sly in gaining and sustaining his control over the Congo. Leopold grew obsessed with the idea of how much profit the colonies could bring to Belgium. As Hochschild writes, “His drive for colonies, however, was shaped by a desire not only for money but for power” (39). This quote shows just how much Leopold hated being a king of a monarchy where his powers were limited. He loved having absolute power over the Congo. In the novel, Leopold also says that for him and Henry Morton Stanley, a British journalist and explorer of central Africa, “Africa was a chance to gain upward mobility towards wealth and glory” (63).
King Leopold and his allies’ had great power over the Congo, which he soon exploited for its large supply of rubber. As said in the King Leopold’s Ghost, “For Europ...
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...”. Though I do believe that this is a very interesting topic, and it is truly unfortunate that this is not a very well-known story. It is obvious to me that Hochschild has explored deeply into the matter at hand and wanted to do his part of standing up and being heroic by writing this information-packed novel on the genocide.
Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial
Africa. Boston: Mariner, 1999. Print.
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Rapando Murunga, Godwin. "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in
Colonial Africa." African Studies Quarterly: The Online Journal for African Studies 12th ser. 3.2 (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.