College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

8-2010

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

History

Keywords

Congo, Nocolonialism, Decolonization, Central Intelligence Agency, Patrice Lumumba

Abstract

This work argues that the predatory policies of Western powers, especially the United States, in regards to the decolonization and subsequent neocolonial stranglehold of Congo created a situation in which any nationalistic, truly independent-minded government would be stifled and ultimately fail—a failure documented and exacerbated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. With the added pressure of a poorly-educated elite class of leaders and military and diplomatic intervention surrounding Congo’s independence in the summer of 1960, questions emerge as to the level of success any new, indigenous government could achieve. These policies of intervention, often clandestine, by foreign powers constitute a visible trend, with slight variances, in all stages of Congolese political and economic development since 1960. This work contributes to the field of Congo studies by demonstrating the aforementioned paradigm. It argues that Belgian decolonization policies and Western intervention during the first days of Patrice Lumumba’s ascension to power crippled his ability to unify the myriad ethnic groups within Congo, ultimately leading to a push for federalism, and eventually, the secession of the Katanga and Kasai regions. This secession—which was financially and militarily backed by the Belgian and American governments and private mining interests—led to the elimination of Lumumba’s unification efforts, the horrific end to his life, and the rise of Joseph Mobutu’s Western-friendly, three-decade reign of Congolese exploitation as well as the pilfering of Congo’s abundant natural resources. The selfish, Western decolonization policies that Lumumba’s regime failed to prevent manifested in the form of Mobutu’s neocolonial dictatorship and still impair Congolese independence today.

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