Hope Versus Greed: Congo’s History
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, formerly the Belgian Congo, formerly Congo Free State, formerly Kingdom of Kongo, has a volatile history based on greed. The Congo has the opportunity to be the richest country on the African continent, yet it is nearly the poorest in the world due to the greedy battle for its natural resources. One source calculates that Congo has nearly twenty-four trillion dollars in untapped mineral deposits in its soil. Rich is diamonds, coltan, aluminum, uranium, and gold, this poor country is regularly pillaged of its treasures by foreign interests and its own corrupt politicians.
The Congo’s known history can be traced back to the late 1300’s when proud Congolese kings reigned with exclusive power. These kingdoms were extremely well organized, with kings being elected by a group of governors, and occasionally Portuguese officials. This extensive system was supported by an intricate web of civil servants. (www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-colonial_history_of_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo)
Several other notable kingdoms, like the Luba Kingdom and the Kuba Federation added their unique contributions to Congo’s history. The Luba’s based their governance on sacred kingship and rule by council. The Kuba Federation was so remote that it was able to avoid the horrors of both the European and Arab slave trades. An African-American missionary, named William Sheppard, was the first outsider to gain the trust of the Kuba Federation leaders.
But the history of the Congo turned deeply disturbing under the rule of King Leopold of Belgium. Looking for an opportunity to colonize like his other European comrades, he turned his eyes towards the Congo in the late 1800’s. His colonial ambitions were thinly veiled under his African International Association mandates: ending slavery, bringing religion, and offering the Congolese the benefits of modern life. (www.britannica.com/place/Democratic-Republic-of-the-Congo/History) But Leopold’s experiment was a massive failure. Some would claim Leopold as the first murderous “dictator” of the twentieth century, although he never stepped foot in the Congo personally. During the years of his cruel ownership of the Congo as his personal garden, Congo’s population decreased from 22 million to 11 million. Nearly half the country was eliminated through cruel practices that forced the people to work on rubber plantations.
Global outcries at the atrocities in Congo, shared by clerks and missionaries, forced Belgium to remove power from Leopold and place under the management of their country, making the country The Belgian Congo. So where does hope enter this dismal tale? Is it safe to say that hope arose from the light of the gospel? Faithful missionaries from around the globe poured in to Congo to share the gospel of Jesus. The good news of eternal life changed the destiny of the population. As a whole, the Congolese love Jesus and their hope of eternal life! And there is hope yet for Congo’s future.
Jeremiah 17:7 shares, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” During a future earthly kingdom, where justice reigns from the throne of Jesus, the treasures of the Congo will have the opportunity to save the world. In Revelation, verses proclaim: “And the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.” (Revelation 21:24-25) Under the tutelage of the King of kings, the resources in the Congo can be used to bring peace and prosperity, not only to Africa, but also to the world.
So, the history of this great nation and proud people groups has a grand and glorious future. One where equity and justice will manage those minerals for good and not for greed. In the end hope wins over the greed of the nations. And that hope has a name-JESUS.