OPINION: The violence consuming eastern Congo shows the bloody cost of energy transition – by Blaise Ndala (Globe and Mail – March 11, 2023)


Blaise Ndala is the author of the new novel, In the Belly of the Congo. This essay was translated from the French by Pablo Strauss.

One day in August, 1908, not long before the colony known as the “Congo Free State” was ceded to Belgium, a young aide-de-camp of King Leopold II named Gustave Stinglhamber made his way toward the wing in the Palace of Laeken where a friend of his worked.

Nearly a quarter-century earlier, the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 had granted the Belgian monarch control, in a personal capacity, of a newly formed colony 80 times the size of Belgium. As the two friends approached a window, Stinglhamber sat down on a radiator – only to leap back up. It was boiling hot. A custodian was summoned to explain.

“My apologies. We are burning the state archives.” Author Adam Hochschild reports that it took eight straight days to reduce the archives of the Congo Free State to ashes. “I will give them ‘my’ Congo,” the King told Stinglhamber, “but they have no right to know what I did there.”

Some hundred years later, in May, 2008, the multinationals Barrick Gold Corp. and Banro Corp. filed a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against the small Montreal publisher Écosociété and the three authors of a French-language non-fiction book, Noir Canada: pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique (Black Canada: Plunder, Corruption and Criminality in Africa).

For the rest of this column: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-violence-consuming-eastern-congo-shows-the-bloody-cost-of-energy/