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Published on December 28th, 2012

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Crisis in Belgian Congo (Vintage Newsreel – 1960)

Violence and chaos in the Congo. Barely 11 days after official independence from Belgium, Congolese troops begin a wave of attacks and looting throughout the fare flung sectors of the former colony. Meanwhile in Belgium and African countries bordering on the Congo, refugees are pouring in with harrowing tales of violence and of hasty flight.

At least 10 Europeans were reported killed in a weekend of violence of armed clashes in the key cities of Elisabethville and Leopoldville. At the request of Congolese officials, Belgian paratroops were recalled to quell the native army’s mutiny and reign of terror. A harshened awakening to reality from golden dreams of independence.

The 24,000 strong Force Publique consists almost entirely of illiterate and poorly paid indigenous troops, with an officer corps made up entirely by white Europeans.

The Congolese troops had other ideas about the meaning of independence. The mutiny first started only four days after independence, on July 4, 1960, in the camp outside Leopoldville. The rebels used machetes on their white officers and broke into the armory. On day eight, all 1000+ Belgian officers were removed from their positions, and replaced with Congolese. With or without an Africanized officer corps, the soldiers are running amok throughout the Congo, and panic-stricken whites are fleeing in all directions. Numerous European targets have been attacked.

The flight of officers has left the army totally uncontrolled, and the new country has no effective instrument to control the territory. The new government has decided to make an attempt to conciliate the soldiers, and has renamed the army Armée Nationale Congolaise.

On July 10, the Belgian Government decided to take action, and started the transport of 10,000 troops into the Congo. Will this constitute an attempt to, once again, make the Congo Belgian?

 

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