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Belgians in the Congo

Page history last edited by Congo 12 years, 2 months ago


How it Started

     In 1959, the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo was fighting for it's independence. Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba created a political party called the Mouvement National Congolais or Congolese National Movement (MNC). Belgium then decided to start a program to bring the Congo to independence, starting with local elections for a political party. The MNC did not believe this claim, thinking a plan to put Belgians in office, and therefore continue Belgium's control of the Congo. A riot broke out in Stanleyville. Thirty people died in the riot, and Lumumba was imprisoned for instigating it. The MNC decided finally to enter the elections, and ended up winning 90% of the votes. In 1960, Belgium held a conference in their capitol, Brussels, to discuss political changes in the Congo. The MNC refused to go without Lumumba, so he was freed from jail for the conference. At the conference, a date for independence was set: June 30, 1960. Governmental elections would be held in May. Lumumba seized control of the Congo on June 23, despite efforts to stop him. On June 30, 1960, Lumumba gave a speech to King Baudouin of Belgium talking about their find for independence "of tears, fire and blood", and he insulted the Belgian Congo's "regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation"[1]. Later at the official lunch, he delivered a more placating speech, saying "At the moment when the Congo reaches independence, the whole Government wishes to pay solemn homage to the King of the Belgians and to the noble people he represents for the work done here over three quarters of a century. For I would not wish my feelings to be wrongly interpreted."[2]


      Joseph Mobutu                      Patrice Lumumba                     Joseph Kasavubu               Moise Tshombe


Chaos Reigns

     A few days later, several army units rebelled, led by Colonel Joseph Mobotu, later Mobotu Sese Seko, because of objections to their Belgian army commander. Moise Tshombe took advantage of this chaos and proclaimed that his province, Katanga, was seceding from the Congo. Belgian troops arrived, presumably to protect other Belgians in the disorder, but they landed primarily in Katanga and sustained the secessionist regime. Lumumba appealed to the United Nations for help. He also appealed to the Soviet Union and other outside forces to help, as well as several other free African states, whom he asked to convene in Leopoldville and provide backup. The U.N. began helping on July 14. Lumumba had given Belgium two days to leave the Congo, or hewould summon the help of the Soviet Union. According to Lumumba, in order "to meet fully their tasks," the UN was obligated to "provide military assistance" to reinforce these threats, seeing as his own army was in disarray since several units mutinied. Lumumba also wanted them to subdue Katanga with their military forces. However, the UN refused, saying that the issues with Katanga were "internal Congolese matter(s)"[3] and action on the UN's part was therefore against Article Two of the UN Charter. Shortly after, President Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba from his position as prime minister. However, the legalities of this move were questioned, and there were many other groups vying for his position of power. In the end, Mobotu got control and eventually reached a working agreement with Kasavubu. In August the U.N. recognized the legitimacy of the issue and sent help. Several planes' worth of a soldiers arrived to bring an end to the Katanga secession and help reorganize the Congo in other ways. In November, Lumumba fled to Leopoldville, where he still had some power, but was caught and arrested by Kasavubu troops before he got far. Lumumba was brought to Katanga where he was murdered in January 1961. His death caused a massive scandal throughout Africa. Even his enemies called him heroic. 


                                              Cyrille Adoula                                            Pierre Mulele


The End is Nigh

      The February after Lumumba's death, the UN was authorized to use force to end the crisis. They held many conferences to stabilize the Congo. Their first course of action was to reunite Katanga with the Congo. They offered to form federal states out of the Congo provinces, but Tshombe refused, saying he wanted more independence than that. In April, Tshombe was imprisoned for critizing Kasavubu, but was released after pledging to reunite Katanga with the Congo. In August, Cyrille Adoula was chosen to replace Lumumba as prime minister. By the end of August, it was clear that Tshombe was not really going to reunite Katanga with the Congo. The UN then began a series of operations to reunite them. They tried force, arresting almost everyone, taking strategic positions in Katanga, and finally attacking the political and military infrastructure. They were finally successful, and the Katanga secession ended in January 1963. Around this time, a rebel group called "Simba," led by Pierre Mulele, started trouble. Tshombe made headway against them, but needed the support of the United States and Belgium to finally get them to retreat in November 1964. The Crisis ended when Joseph Mobutu seized power once again and ruled as a dictator for three decades.



  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congo_Crisis

Comments (5)

cola wars said

at 4:37 pm on Sep 23, 2010

That was an interesting article. I never knew that Belgium controled Congo and that they had too fight for their freedom. Good job.

Congo said

at 5:07 pm on Sep 23, 2010

Thanks. Yes, Belgium controlled the Congo for years until the Congo decided to fight for independence. Ironically, three times after gaining independence the Congo called out to Belgium for help.

Congo said

at 5:09 pm on Sep 23, 2010

Mr. Ley, I just edited my article because I realized the pictures and their captions were not aligned properly and anyone trying to look at the pictures would be very confused. I completely forgot that you hadn't finished chekcing all of them and this would make it considered late.

Mr. Ley said

at 8:08 am on Sep 24, 2010

Don't Worry about it.

Edsel said

at 5:10 pm on Sep 23, 2010

I didn't know that Belgium took over Congo, especially for numerous years. It was very interesting to learn about, great job.

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