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Belgium 75 years in Central Africa

In 1908, Congo Free State became a Belgian colony, but the international distrust and criticism towards the Belgian policy in Central Africa did not disappear at all. During the First World War, the Belgians gained some credit when they took a major part of German colonial territory. In the course of the peace negotiations, diplomat Pierre Orts managed to obtain the Mandate territories of Rwanda and Urundi in exchange for the Belgian war effort in Africa. The worldwide economic crisis that broke out during the interwar period also hit the colony. Belgian Congo again played a crucial role in the Second World War: it provided resources such as copper for the weapons manufacture and was largely implied in the supply of the Allied colonial armies. The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were built with uranium from the Congolese mines. After the Second World War, an old dream was awaken again: the creation of a model colony, including the construction of roads, the creation of a medical network and massive alphabetisation projects. These would be the heydays of the colonial economy and science. But the model colony turned out not to be a success story for everyone …