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Central Station & Leo II's startup called the Congo

King Leopold II, our second king of Belgium became king in 1865. Around these times monarchies in Western Europe were losing power and as Leopold, let’s call him Leo from now on, once said to a collegue king: “There is really nothing left for us kings except money!”.

On a rainy day Leo had read a report that mineral resources of the Congo Basin could return great profits. Leo always dreamed about having his very own startup (Yup, even back then everybody wanted to be an entrepreneur). After some brainstorming he called it: "The International African Society", an international scientific and pilanthropic association, although he had other plans in mind.

He had read about Stanley, an avid backpacker who had travelled through Africa in the past years and knew Africa out of his thumb. He was the right man for the job. "Stanley", he said, "You smart, you loyal, you grateful, go buy yourself a trip to the Congo". Stanley was looking for a sponsor to pay his travels. This was his queue. Stanley was sent to Congo and it didn't take long and Stanley made some deals with the local chiefs.

In the meantime Leo went hustling and lobbying to make his dream come true. Eventually around 1884 on an international conference about European colonization in Africa he made it. He  was the first man in history to get his very own African state, 76 times larger than Belgium!

Now let the hustling begin. #wethebest

Leo made his first money by exploiting ivory but this didn’t make enough money in the end. At the end of 1800’s the global demand of rubber was booming. Leo thought by himself: “I changed ... a lot! Fuck this anthropological shit, let's do some real hustling!”.

From then on the enslavery, exploitation, killing and mutilations (by cutting of hands) began.
Estimately there were about 10 million Congolose killed during the rule of Leo.
If commiting a genocide he was an olympic sport he would be standing on stage next to Stalin and Hitler. Not too bad, hé? 

But he made huge profits and being the good king he was, he built loads of monuments and statues in Belgium. Even our very own Central Station. You can still find his initials and some African relics (the lions) in- and outside the building.


2018 Antwerpen

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