Thirty years after achieving its "independence," the African nation of Zaire is once more in a state of chaos. Fearing civil war, Belgium has dispatched soldiers to evacuate its nationals.
Would that Belgium had always shown such solicitude for all the inhabitants of its erstwhile colony, formerly known as the Belgian Congo. Belgium's colonial legacy is just about the scariest in the whole house of horrors. To use one example, in the early 1900s, when Belgians were systematically plundering the vast and rich area, indigenous Africans were impressed into a form of slavery to do the grunt work of stripping their land for the benefit of the European occupiers. As a form of "discipline," when an African worker failed to produce his quota of plunder, the Belgian bosses would chop off a hand. If the worker still failed to produce his quota with only one hand, they would cut off the other hand and send the worthless worker back to the jungle. When high muckety-mucks from Belgium visited the colony, the colonial gauleiters, to demonstrate how well they were doing their jobs, would show the visitors basketfuls of human hands that had been smoked in order to preserve them in the hot and humid climate.