The Story of the Congo Free State: Social, Political, and Economic Aspects of the Belgian System of Government in Central Africa

By Henry Wellington Wack | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE STATE AND INTERNATIONAL LAW

N view of the confused controversy that has prevailed between the friends and the enemies of the Congo Free State, concerning its legal foundation and its existence de facto before the Conference of the Powers which recognised its statehood at Berlin ( November 15, 1884-February 26, 1885), it seems pertinent at this point to examine the issue at some length.

For unknown centuries Central Africa had been peopled with many millions of savage, semi-savage, and barbarian black men, hidden from all civilising influence. Their social condition varied. Many were cannibals, some were living in a rude state of primitive tribal order, others were at incessant war with hostile tribes, all were living in the gloom of an interminable night of barbaric existence. Their only touch with the human family had been through the slave trade, of which they were the object and the victims. The white man knew of their lot in this respect many years before he listened attentively to an appeal for deliverance from the Arab marauders who enslaved them. The natural law of human solidarity had not as yet inspired civilised nations

Central Africa Reviewed

-64-

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