Over the years, several historians and skeptics have subsequently debated the arrival of religion in Africa. Even though there is a school of thought that claims its existence has been in Africa since the beginning of time, accounts and sketches of history have testified to the position that Abrahamic and Islamic religion was brought into our society.
A name that has been often trapped in obscurity and darkness in the context of the sordid past of colonialism was Belgium’s, King Leopold II. King Leopold II is not much of a popularized personality in African history. We’ve heard of Adolf Hitler, Stalin, and other fearful warlords – not Leopold II.
The Congo was under the concept of international knowledge that it was the personal property of the Belgian King. What was known as the Congo Free State, Leopold ran the Congo mainly on the premise of extraction. The natives were under the command of Leopold’s representatives who acted more rigidly and cruelly. They were victims of forced labor, amputations, maiming, and killings. King Leopold’s administration was responsible for the death of more than 10 million Africans. Thus, we now know the monstrous persona of the erstwhile Belgian ruler.
Though dabbled in ambivalence, there is a purported 1882 letter King Leopold sent to Christian missionaries serving in the Congo. It is noteworthy to cite that there has never been any negation towards the validity of this letter.
The letter captures a message admonishing the missionaries to materialize Christianity for the benefit of the white man. Coincidentally, however, the letter is so contemporary that it synchronizes with the very arguments many Pro-African scholars have forwarded.
Here is King Leopold’s letter to the missionaries: “Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots: The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi, one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know.
They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from the richness that is plenty [in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make you murderous] competition and dream one day to overthrow you.
Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, “It’s very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” You have to detach from them and make them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic System and their war fetish – warfare protection – which they pretend not to want to abandon, and you must do everything in your power to make it disappear. Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings.
The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul. You must singularly insist on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to read and not to reason. There, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply. You will find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference. Evangelize the niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists, so they never revolt against the restraints they are undergoing. Recite every day – “Happy are those who are weeping because the kingdom of God is for them.”
Convert always the blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of submission to work freely for us. Force them to pay you in sign of recognition-goats, chicken or eggs-every time you visit their villages. And make sure that niggers never become rich. Sing every day that it’s impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass. Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres. Institute a confessional system, which allows you to be good detectives denouncing any black that has a different consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker. Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours. Never present a chair to a black that comes to visit you. Don’t give him more than one cigarette. Never invite him for dinner even if he gives you a chicken every time you arrive at his house.”