Reading “King Leopold’s ghost” on the DRC’S 50th anniversary

Every once in a while I get a feeling that I am reading a book at a particularly apt time – sometimes consciously, but more often by chance? or is it?

I started reading Adam Hochschild’s account of early colonial rule in the Democratic Rrepublic of the Congo (DRC), King Leopold’s ghost, earlier this month – June 2010 – mainly because it was a choice for the DRC on the Great African Reads group on the goodreads website.  Actually it was meant to have been read and discussed in  in March and April 2010, but somehow I didn’t clue onto the fact that my workplace library had a copy until it was a little on the late side.  But you can never be too late with a book, so here I am a little more than half way through.

And then I realised, through listening to the radio – faithful BBC World Service, I will admit – that this week, and indeed today, 30 June is the 5oth anniversary of the independence of the DRC from its colonial power, Belgium.

So somehow it feels all the more appropriate to being in the middle of reading Hochschild’s well-written but chilling account of what happened more than a hundred years ago in this ill-fated country, which to this day continues to bear the scars of its heritage, and create new ones, as the BBC’s correspondent in Kinshasa points out.

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