Publisher: African Studies Association

The Continuing Process of Decolonization In The Congo: Fifty Years Later

David Newbury
KEYWORDS: The Continuing Process of Decolonization in the Congo: Fifty Years Later


While independence negotiations in the Congo were succinct, decolonization was a long and tortuous process. Indeed, in some respects it continues today, at least in the eyes of many people in eastern Congo, who feel that the formal demands of the colonial state are reflected in the informal impositions of the current state—and of neighboring states. Certainly many Congolese today feel that they have no adequate state structure to address their collective needs as a people, or to represent them on an international stage, or even to protect them from invasion, extraction, and occupation. Lacking effective state structures to protect their interests is not new: the colonial state in the Congo was marked by its intrusive presence in mobilizing labor, requiring crop production, and imposing taxes, among many other demands. But the character of life in the Congo today does not reflect anyone's vision of what independence would bring. At best, the last fifty years can be seen as a process of an aborted decolonization, and in some ways the violence now present in the Congo can be seen as the result of the unfulfilled aspirations of decolonization—or as the deferred violence of a decolonization gone awry (see Newbury 2009).

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