About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

State of Failure: Congo & co


Introduction

The countries of DR Congo, Burundi and Rwanda are Belgium’s former colonies. Apart from literally being goldmines, they are also paradises for biologists, anthropologists and doomsayers. Each year, new measurements are made of how deep humanity can sink amid chopped-off limbs, mass rape, genocide, greed and condescending Western indifference. In these lands, people still appreciate the true value of life.




Natural liches

A large part of the DR Congo is covered by rainforests. In the west and north, the Congo River forms a natural political border, though it’s not like foreigners need a lot of discouragement from visiting the country. In the east, several mass grave sites are mined for gold, silver and coltan. Rwanda and Burundi are hilly, which has given Rwanda its nickname, “the country of a thousand hills”.


From new low to new low, all the way down
The phantom limb of the opera: by playing off the UK, Germany and France against each other, Leopold II gets personal control over the Congo area in 1884. Although he never visits the enormous region himself, it soon becomes a nesting spot for psychopaths, priests of questionable spiritual merit, and racists.

White man who shits his pants: after Leopold’s death in 1908, the Belgian state takes over Congo, and adds Rwanda and Burundi to them in 1919. In both nations, Belgians perfect the Germans’ system of racial classification, mostly based on racism and bullshit. In the ‘50s, king Baudouin visits the colonies under great public interest. The locals name him “bwana kitoko”, which means “white man who shits his pants”.

From Zaire to Congo: after a volatile period, Congo becomes independent in 1960. Peace returns only after Patrice Lumumba is dead and Mobutu Sese Seko reforms the country into a kleptocracy. Mobutu will pride himself on the fact that his country will be among the 5 last in every possible world ranking and celebrates this by renaming the country Zaire. His regime falls in 1997, injuring its prostate. This is the dawn of the Kabila age. The land is called Congo again, with ‘Democratic Republic of’ added in front – each citizen now has a right to free AIDS, sexual torture and euthanasia.

Rumble in the jungle: before the end of the Mobutu regime, Rwanda becomes the stage of a vicious genocide in 1992. About a million people die, mostly Tutsis, Twa and moderate Hutus. The UN promptly responds by politely asking the Rwandan militias to consider not killing people. The militias ignore the question, which results in a sternly worded letter from the UN.

Chinese democracy: today, the area is still tense and volatile. As the West’s influence in Africa wanes, that of China is rising. Akin to the racist ‘white man’s burden’ from a century ago, the ‘yellow man’s burden’ is simply to ensure profits for Chinese companies while turning a blind eye to the horrible human rights records of many African countries.


Belgian micro-colonies
Benidorm
To end on a somewhat lighter note, Belgium’s international presence was not limited to Africa. Benidorm is to Belgium what Gibraltar is to the UK. Today, it is mostly a dumping ground for old people, and it is expected the Belgian government will hand over Benidorm to Spain once the last person there has died (ca. 2030).

Comacina

In the middle of the Como Lake in Italy, there’s a small island named Comacina, which was a present to King Albert I from Italy. The King didn’t much like olives and wasn’t too thrilled about the hot weather, so he gave the island back in 1920. This would turn out to be a costly mistake: he was killed by a mafia commando in 1934 while mountaineering.

The Princess Elisabeth base

Antarctica has the Princess Elisabeth base, where scientists test the effect of long polar winters on the libido of Dixie Dansercour. The famed polar explorer would like to rename the base ‘The Penguin House’ and has requested ‘snow bunnies’ to come visit him – to no avail.

Baarle-Hertog

In the Dutch province North-Brabant, there’s the Belgian exclave of Baarle-Hertog, which in turn encompasses a Dutch exclave within its borders. This unique construction became the blueprint for Swaziland and Lesotho.

Both Baarles offer the worst of both worlds: potted fish in béchamel sauce, wilted fries from a wall machine, and liquorice that tastes like mayonnaise.

Pattaya

In his search for compensation for the size of his small country, Leopold II also explored the Far East. Eventually, he chose Pattaya, a seaside town in Thailand that, corresponding to Ostend, would later get the lovely nickname ‘the Child Whore of Seaside Towns’. Its current governor, Lou Depryck of the political party Hollywood Bananas, continues this fine tradition to this day.