Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The DRC, Past and Present

There is the general idea floating around that the DRC, and most African countries are somewhere between impoverished, stagnant puddles of misery and outright hellholes.  That was the extent of Yuliya and I's understanding of issues facing the DRC, with the vague awareness that it was all somehow related to colonialism. 

As a result of this ignorance, we've been working hard to educate ourselves as to what exactly went on there in the last century.  It turns out that as the First Nations of North America didn't invent scalping, the Congolese were not the innovators of the tortures which they suffered either.  What shocked us was that while social issues involving First Nations are rooted in a 400 year history, the Congo really began it's colonial history in the 1870s.

We started with this video.  It's pretty dark, but will certainly put the brutality of the current conflicts in perspective.  I've visited Belgium, specifically many of the sites shown in the video which were built by Leopold II. It turns my stomach now to think of the human cost that went into the grandeur, and that there are still people defending the excess.  Not exactly in the same class as sweatshop t-shirts.  It was an eye-opener for us, and sobering to say the least.

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