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HomeContentsThemes > Democratic Republic of the Congo - Zaire


Information requests
71.01   Improving content on countries
The Congo atrocities
71.02   The Congo Atrocities
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
Information requests 
71.01   Africa >  Improving content on countries 
We are seeking to extend the information and examples we can share on this country.
  • Earliest photographs
  • Key photographers and their studios
  • Major documentary photographic series
  • Significant historical events
  • Books, magazines and journals - including their covers
  • Photographic societies and associations - including outings and meetings
These points are indicative of topics that could be included on this page and if you have expertise you would like to share now is the time to get in touch.
If you are able to assist in any way it is appreciated.
The Congo atrocities 
71.02   Africa >  The Congo Atrocities 
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Henry Morton Stanley, lauded by the press as an heroic explorer, was hired in 1878 by King Leopold II under the guise of a charitable venture, the International African Society, to establish a colony in the Congo.[1] This was a move towards the establishment of the Congo Free State (1885) which King Leopold II ran as a personal business with extreme brutality. The worst atrocities were over the production of rubber that was a source of immense wealth to King Leopold II.[2]
A letter to The Times from a Baptist missionary told of the horror of the amputations and deaths caused because of the rubber quotas. The hands were cut and taken to the commissaire as proof that the penalties had been carried out:
These hands - the hands of men, women, and children - were placed in rows before the Commissary, who counted them to see that the soldiers had not wasted cartridges.
Millions died and vast numbers were mutilated in this colonial hell until 1908 when Leopold placed the region under Belgian government control. The Congo atrocities were one of the worst examples of commercial exploitation leading to inhumanity but they were certainly not alone. At around the same time the London-based Peruvian Amazon Company was using native slave labour to extract rubber from the Putumayo[3] region in South America with appalling brutality.[4] 

  1. Λ Adam Hochschild, 1998, King Leopold's Ghost: A story of greed, terror, and heroism in colonial Africa, (Pan Macmillan) 
  2. Λ For the Congo Atrocities - Kevin Grant, May 2001, ‘Christian Critics of Empire: Missionaries, Lantern Lectures, and the Congo Reform Campaign in Britain‘, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 27-58
    Contemporary accounts include - E. D. Morel, 1904, King Leopold's rule in Africa; Mark Twain, 1905, King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule, (Boston: The P. R. Warren Co.), Second edition 
  3. Λ A disputed territory at the time between Peru and Colombia. 
  4. Λ W.E. Hardenburg (ed.), 1913, The Putumayo - The Devil's Paradise: Travels in the Peruvian Amazon region and an account of the atrocities committed upon the Indians therein, (London: T. Fisher Unwin)
    (Available online, accessed: 6 May 2014)
    Photographs were included the reports and books that following Roger Casement's investigations of the atrocities.


HomeContents > Further research

General reading 
Fall, N'Gone et al., 2001, Photography in DRCongo, Kinshasa, (Paris: Revue Noire) isbn-10: 290957153X [Essays by Lye M. Yoka, Manda Tchebwa, Françoise Morimont and N'Goné Fall] [Δ
Grant, Kevin, 2001, May, ‘Christian Critics of Empire: Missionaries, Lantern Lectures, and the Congo Reform Campaign in Britain‘, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 92, no. 2, pp. 27-58 [Δ
Hendriks, Thomas, 2013, ‘Erotics of Sin: Promiscuity, Polygamy and Homo-Erotics in Missionary Photography from the Congolese Rainforest‘, Visual Anthropology, Special Issue: Records of the Subaltern in Colonial and Imperial Societies, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 355-382 [Δ
Thompson, T. Jack, 2002, October, ‘Light on the Dark Continent: The Photography of Alice Seely Harris and the Congo Atrocities of the Early Twentieth Century‘, International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 146-149 [Δ
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
Jean Depara 
Saint Leon, Pascal Martin & Pivin, Jean Loup, 2011, Jean Depara, (La Fábrica) isbn-10: 849284163X isbn-13: 978-8492841639 [Δ
Saint Leon, Pascal Martin & Pivin, Jean Loup, 2011, Jean Depara, Night & Day in Kinshasa, 1951-1975, (Revue Noire) isbn-10: 2909571653 isbn-13: 978-2909571652 [French and English] [Δ
Casimir Zagourski 
Loos, Pierre & Bassani, Ezio, 2001, Zagourski: Lost Africa, (Skira Editore) isbn-10: 8884910080 isbn-13: 978-8884910080 [Δ
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - 

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

Jean Depara  (1928-1997) • Casimir Zagourski  (1883-1941)
HomeGeographical regionsAfrica > Democratic Republic of the Congo - Zaire 
A wider gaze

HomeVisual indexes > Democratic Republic of the Congo - Zaire

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan -

ThumbnailJosé Agusto da Cunha Moraes: Africa Occidental Album Photographico 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailDemocratic Republic of the Congo - Zaire 
Refreshed: 19 January 2015, 00:58
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