An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

23. Post-Belgian Congo

Belgium ran its Congo colony as a frankly commercial affair, taking pride both in the efficiency of the big companies (with state participation) which dominated the economy, especially in mineral-rich Katanga (32), and in the suppression of politics. Neither whites nor Africans had votes.

In 1957 the first voting for municipal councils revealed both nationalist and separatist forces. The best organized party to emerge was Joseph Kasavubu's Abako (24). In 1959, after rioting in Leopoldville, Belgium hastily launched reforms. Pressure mounted, and in January 1960 Belgium promised full independence by June 30th. Meanwhile internal rifts appeared. In Kasai in 1959 the (Bene-) Lulua attacked the (Ba-)Luba; Moise Tshombe, provincial premier of Katanga, encouraged by mining companies, sought autonomy for his province (32). While many parties represented tribal or local interests, among those who wanted a centralized state the foremost was Patrice Lumumba (himself one of the (Ba-)Tetela from Kasai settled in Orientale province). In elections held just before independence, his Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) won 33 seats out of 137 ( Abako won 12). Kasavubu failed to collect a parliamentary majority. Lumumba succeeded, forming a large and very divided ministry that included both centralists and federalists. Kasavubu accepted the presidency.

A few days after independence, the Force Publique mutinied. Five- sixths of the 115,000 Belgians and other Europeans fled from the ensuing violence, and administration and economic life largely collapsed. Belgium rushed in white troops to restore order, while Tshombe declared Katanga independent and ran it with Belgian help. Lumumba and Kasavubu appealed to the United Nations for military aid against Belgium. The Security Council authorized aid and called for withdrawal of Belgium's troops. The UN secretary- general, Dag Hammarskjöld, backed by the UN's African members, organized an international force, predominantly African (F). Belgium withdrew most of its troops, except from Katanga, where Tshombe defied the UN; but in August Hammarskjöld personally led UN troops into Katanga, and the Belgian forces left. Tshombe, however, hired white mercenaries, as did Kalonji's break- away 'mining state' in south Kasai (32).

In September 1960 Lumumba and Kasavubu finally split, the central government broke down completely, and the army chief, Mobutu, seized power; later he came to terms with Kasavubu.

-92-

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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