A Trauma in Hiding: The Case of Jules Marchal
For the duration of his appointment as District Commissioner, first in the Belgian Congo (1948–1960), then in the independent nation of Congo/Zaire (1960–1967), Jules Marchal was not aware of the atrocities that were being committed against the population. It was not until the 1970s when he became Belgian Ambassador to West Africa, that he was confronted with ‘Congo’s dark history’. His case is poignant in that he never overcame the trauma of having worked as a District Commissioner in the Belgian Congo and being unaware of the ‘Congo atrocities’. He spent the years from 1975 to his death in 2003 researching and publishing the history of Belgian colonization of the Congo. In Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts: Colonial Exploitation in the Congo and in his multiple volume history of the Belgian presence in the Congo, he sought to expose the massacres and forced labour used as tools of subjugation.
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