After selling their lands, the original inhabitants of these African colonies were forced to pay taxes. Since they had no money, they were forced to pay by other means, most notably forced labour.
The explorer who colonized French Equatorial Africa claimed to serve the “uncivilized” peoples, but realized too late that he had made a fatal mistake.
In a report published by the French newspaper “Le Nouvel Observateur” (L’Obs), the writer François Renard said that we can understand the true face of colonialism and the illusions it planted by highlighting the life story of the explorer and traveler Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza.
Born in 1852 into a wealthy Italian family, de Brazza traveled to France to attend the Naval School. De Brazza was interested in Central Africa, which was then unknown. For centuries, the Europeans did not know about the brown continent except for the coasts where they established trading centers and ports that ensured the prosperity of the slave trade and the acquisition of wealth and the search for new markets and natural resources.
Missionaries imbued with the values of the Enlightenment era
Initially, de Brazza presented himself as a merciful European explorer, freeing black slaves after they touched the French flag, respecting peoples and abhorring bloodshed. After his first expedition between 1875 and 1878 along the Ogwe River, to find a route to the mighty Congo River, de Brazza undertook another crucial mission between 1879 and 1882.
De Brazza succeeded in signing a protection treaty with a man named Makoko, the leader of the Teke people (who lives in the Congo and Gabon), but Makoko was actually just a local ruler hoping to do some trade with these wealthy whites. Makoko gave the Europeans a small village located on the bank of Lake Stanley, the great reservoir of the river, which he named “Brazzaville” (the capital of the Congo).
Thanks to this treaty, the whites could build a colony for themselves in those lands. In that era, the Republican left was the only faction that supported colonialism with the motive of spreading “civilization”, and on the pretext that it was “the duty of the superior dynasties” to educate the “lower races”, in the words of the French politician Jules Ferry, who was a French minister (born in 1832 and died in 1832). In 1893) he was known by saying that “the saying of the French Revolution ‘liberty, equality, brotherhood’ is not suitable for all peoples; colonialism must exercise guardianship over primitive peoples.”
At that time, France had abandoned the lands of Alsace and Lorraine (currently French regions) in favor of Germany, specifically in 1871. Nationalist Paul Deruledi commented on this by saying, “I have lost two sisters (he means Alsace and Lorraine) and you are offering me 20 Negroes.”
The right discouraged France from joining the Central African Exploration Race, especially since all its competitors in the region (the English and Portugal) were advocating the same “noble principles” such as the abolition of slavery and the abolition of horrific cannibals, and they were soon joined by the Germans.
Horror referral system
In 1883, France had a new colony, French Equatorial Africa (a federation of 4 regions in Central Africa established in 1910, and it extended from the Congo River to the Sahara, and included regions that make up the countries of Central Africa, Chad, Congo and Gabon).
De Brazza was its first commissioner-general. De Brazza tried to realize his civilized dream, but this explorer turned out to be pathetic and chaotic, a thousand ideas come to his mind a minute without being able to implement any of them. Colonialism paved the way for the collapse of traditional (tribal) structures.
And since the French authorities no longer wanted to finance the colonization of these far-flung lands, which did not bring them any profit, they handed them over to private personalities and companies.
Big corporations could get annual subsidies in return for running these entire remote colonies and benefiting from their resources and their people. On the other side of the Congo, in the state of King Leopold II (the second king of Belgium who ruled between 1865 and 1909), this nightmare reached its climax with this treaty causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands – and perhaps millions of people – during the reign of the king, who is described as one of the most prominent perpetrators of massacres in the modern history.
Forced labor and hostage taking
After selling their lands, the original inhabitants of these colonies were forced to pay taxes. Since they had no money, they were forced to pay by other means, most notably forced labour. They knew in such miserable conditions that men in entire villages had to flee far away to avoid that fate. The colonists had an effective way to bring them back by taking the women and children hostage.
But the horrific practices did not stop there; In Ubangi Shari, two colonial officials, one named God and the other Toki, dynamite a man in 1903; In an attempt to “rehabilitate these savages” who need civilization and make them “hear the voice of reason”! And they did it in the middle of a public square.
This scandal spread to France in February 1905, and de Brazza was retired. He had plenty of time to see what had happened to the indigenous people whom he believed had been placed under the protection of his country. No one knows whether de Brazza felt remorse for what he had done, but it is known that France honored him at his death with a solemn national funeral.