thehistoryofthecongo

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Manage series 2850807
By Peter Teddington. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) enjoys vast deposits of precious minerals and metals. Diamonds are found in the south and center of the country and the land holds 80% of the world’s Coltan, needed in all our mobile phones. It should be one of the richest countries on Earth, but it is not. This Podcast explores why, from the very beginning. A new podcast will be released each Monday every two weeks, the website is https://www.thehistoryofthecongo.com Starting in prehistoric times, we talk through the topography and the Bantu migrations. We meet the famous empires of Central Africa. Firstly we meet the The Kingdom of the Kongo which posted diplomats throughout Europe and whose Kings corresponded with the superpowers of the day, and with the Vatican. This Kingdom was able to ally with International forces and militarily confront the initial European expansions. We are introduced to the Luba peoples who developed the Bulopwe system of government which spread through central Africa and sat as the bedrock for the adjacent Lunda Empire. We see these Kingdoms, and other peoples meeting with the European powers and explorers as Europe wanted to complete its map of Central Africa. Here the peoples and the country were wrapped up in the eddies of 19th and 20th century international politics. The Congolese voice in these is under-represented and the Congo was the catalyst for the colonial expansion of the late 19th Century and, at the behest of a new Superpower, the USA, became the personal property of one man. The borders were created through opportunistic expansion, geo-political negotiation and a Belgo-Arab war in central Africa. The DRC borders were never drawn up with reference to the people, the legacy of which still sits with us today. Under a Belgian King, the horrors the people were subjected to were the catalyst for a vast human rights movement spreading throughout Britain and America. Celebrities such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain helped force the Belgian King to cede the country to the Belgian State. The people living there experienced a unique development and supported the allies in World War 1. In World War 2 the Congo provided the Uranium for the Manhattan project and became an arena for spies in which the Allies and the Nazis vied for sole use of this in the as yet finished Atomic Bomb. All this against the backdrop of conflicted loyalties between some of the Belgian elite who sympathized with the Nazi cause and were willing, all too easily, to accept the Nazi Victory over the free world. After the allied victory the Congolese had shared the conflict with their European rulers, had seen their value, and a new confidence was born. Congolese music and culture flourished, and the colony achieved new highs in living standards. But in the winds of change decolonization spread rapidly throughout Africa. The Belgians struggled with the pace of change and panicking at unrest and conflicts in the rest if the continent effectively gave 6 months’ notice of exit after 52 years. The Congolese were independent without the history of rule of the country as a whole. Tribal loyalties challenged unity and the country was embroiled in the Cold War with its democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, murdered in a murky agreement concocted in the global geopolitics and the desires of one region which had an eye on independence. This ushered in Mobutu, one of infamous dictators of post colonial Africa, who implemented a Kleptocratic form of governance which led to a fragile state. As the cold war ended and the support of the USA subsided the DRC unraveled and was weakened to external pressures. In the 1990’s the repercussions of the Rwandan genocide spread through the region and was a catalyst for the Central African War, fought largely in the Congo by rebel groups and neighboring states, in which 5 million people died. Regions of the country unwittingly hosted refuges and the fighting but a new President emerged after his predecessor and father was gunned down. He managed to gain the trust of the international community to help slow the hemorrhaging of the countries wealth to its neighbors. The country now stands as a cultural powerhouse through music and fashion, and the people watch as their government negotiates foreign aid from the West and development opportunities with the new superpower – China. With a young and rapidly growing population, a new sense of confidence, and still recovering from continuing conflict in the East the DRC stands looking at an uncertain future. The world has been involved in the countries past and will be in the future. But to understand this, and to start to make a difference, we must look at the road that got the DRC where it is today. Starting New Year 2021 this podcast will travel through this journey. Episodes will be released each fortnight starting January, after an initial burst of releases to provide the bedrock. Join us as we go follow a unique and hidden story. Welcome to the History of the Congo.

15 episodes