monstrous

Casement saw much more brutality on the part of other white men in Africa. It is hard to tell whether there was a particular moral turning point for him, as there would be for E. D. Morel when he made his discoveries in Antwerp and Brussels. One such moment for Casement may have been in 1887, when he traveled up the Congo River on a steamboat that also carried a Force Publique officer named Guillaume Van Kerckhoven. Van Kerckhoven was a hot-headed, notoriously aggressive commander with a rakish grin and waxed-tip mustache, one of those whose expeditions even the Congo’s governor general called “a hurricane which passed through the countryside leaving nothing but devastation behind it.” Casement listened, aghast, as Van Kerckhoven cheerfully explained how he paid his black soldiers “5 brass rods (2 ½ d.) per human head they brought him during the course of any military operations he conducted. He said it was to stimulate their prowess in the face of the enemy.”

King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild

 

king leopold's ghost

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