Reviews - Comptes Rendus

Kongo, een voorgeschiedenis. Lucas Catherine. Epo, Berchem, 2017

  • Patrick Van Damme (Ghent University)


Lucas Catherine provides us with a brief history of pre-colonial Congo through a collection of tales and anecdotes from eight protagonists, all Belgians with the exception of Joseph Conrad, the writer, and Stanley, the journalist who once presumed he’d found Livingstone in the middle of the Congolese nowhere. The book’s bottom line is that even before colonialism extended its reach, the soon-to be colonised countries had histories, narratives that are seldom related. Through the observations and writings of early, pre-colonialist visitors, we become aware of the justi cations behind the expansion of in uence, how Congo was won, rst for King Leopold II, and then the Belgian state. We also get a whiff of the local avours, descriptions of culture and nature, and have to conclude together with the author that the capitalistic and paternalistic system (the latter com- ing with the missionaries and of cial administration) quickly led to the development of a system of racial exploitation. Catherine is quite adamant in his statements, but draws from a wealth of written sources to prove his point. An interesting read! 

How to Cite:

Van Damme, P., (2018) “Kongo, een voorgeschiedenis. Lucas Catherine. Epo, Berchem, 2017”, Afrika Focus 30(2). doi:

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Published on
01 Feb 2018
Peer Reviewed