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THE CROWNíS COLONY 

OF HIGHER CONGO

By Falecius

 

This is not a full timeline, which will come another time: just some interesting proposals by now.

Britain recognized the borders of the Free State of Congo in August 1885. Leopold, king of Belgium, sent the map with the border his state ( factually, a Belgian colony, but the Belgians wanted nothing to do with it, and their megalomaniac King acted alone) to the foreign office, waiting for a response. He was cheating the British anyway. At that time European powers agreed African matters between themselves, at diplomatic level, and not necessarily a diplomat knew something of African geography. Salisbury remarked this ironically. The Leopoldís cheat was about Katanga. After Germany had recognized Congoís borders, he asked that to the French. The map he sent in Paris was different the one in Berlin. In the French version, Katanga, the higher part of Congo valley, was included in the Free State. France had no objection to this however, and nor Germany. Leopold sent a map with the Free State of Congo as the French had recognized itÖ not as the British had agreed to do so. Anyway at the foreign office nobody was expert enough about Congoís borderlines. A minor rank officer, believing that it was only a formal, and not political, act, answered OK to the Belgians. He hardly notice that Leopold had annexed twice the Great Britainís surface with a pencil and a map.

Letís imagine that in August 1885 an officer who had followed the Congo issue from the start was in London ( most of personnel was in holiday those daysÖ ;-)) and, seen the new Leopoldís map, advices to wait for the Minister return. Finally, Britain doesnít recognizes the Katanga as a part of Congo. Leopold perhaps expected this and was prepared to renounce. He had that area only in his fancies however. The Free State would have been smaller.

More important, in 1890, coming from the South, a group of armed white men takes possession of the Higher Congo territory by the name of the Her Majesty the Queen Victoria, Empress of India, for the South African Company and the de Beers Mines Incorporated. In synthesis, what in OTL is called Katanga would be the Northern Rhodesia in this timeline. The Belgian powerful Union MiniŤre wonít exist. The rich Katanga mines would be controlled by de Beers. Rhodes would be richer and more powerful, a new diamond race takes place in Higher Congo so that it would have a relatively huge white population. Lunda, the majority black ethnic in the area, oppose the White with more energy and are more violently repressed and expropriated, even if it is doubtful that they would suffer as under Leopoldís heel. So we have a third area, after South Africa and Rhodesia, where a racist white minority regime could be created. In such a case, the white would try, after the breakdown of the British Empire, a united Rhodesia, with the central area (OTL: Zambia) mostly composed by " Bantustans" . It is likely, anyway, that this white and racist Great Rhodesia would become independent as South Rhodesia did in OTL, openly revolting against the British Empire. Maybe also the Nyasaland would be a Rhodesian Bantustan. So we have, by 1965, a strong united white power in Southern and central Africa. Most of its borders are with Portuguese colonies, the rest with Tanzania and former Belgian Congo.

Without the Katanga, Congo wonít suffer the atrocities of a five years long civil war. Belgium would see no need to an intervention. Patrice Lumumba, is still president of the Congo and one of the most respected Third World leaders, but his government is slowly sliding towards a dictatorship. When the White Rhodesia appears to his southern border, he rightfully panics. He shouts that Congo could, and would, defeat the White men up to the Cape itself, but he knows he can hardly afford a defensive war.

Congo turns to the Soviet alliance, and starts to supply and host guerrilla against the regime of Rhodesia. I donít think this would last. A U.S. backed coup overthrows Lumumba before 1970, and Congo falls into the same terrible series of wars that he actually saw in OTL, just a little later, with Rhodesian intervention, in way quite similar to OTL Angola and Mozambique raided by the South Africans.

Mobutu will probably still become the dictator of the country, or maybe will Laurent Kabila. In any case Congo could be kept stable only with terror and police.

The black population of Rhodesia is revolting of its own, probably coordinating with MPLA in Angola, FRELIMO in Mozambique, SWAPO in Namibia and ANC in South Africa. So the entire confrontation between White ruling minority and black majority in Austral Africa becomes much violent and harder, at least until the Portuguese retreat in the mid seventies. I guess that a more powerful Rhodesia would be quite helpful in letting the opposition and pro-Western UNITA and RENAMO to get power respectively in Angola and Mozambique, so that the Soviet involvement in the area would be largely reduced in proportion to OTL. I donít think that Cuban troops could be sent in Angola as they did in OTL to support MPLA.

It lessens the confrontation between East and West in the eighties, but also spares the Soviet a waste of money in Southern Africa. Ian Smith, or whoever in his place, lasts longer in Rhodesia before the country splits into three or four independent black nations: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Katanga and maybe Malawi. Itís also possible that Barotseland becomes independent separately from the rest of Zambia. Eventually the most white populated area, Katanga, would keep a white government. As the struggle has been harsher, the whites flee massively to South Africa, where they provide massive arguments in favour of apartheid. De Klerk could be not elected if they are given, as it likely, citizenship and they will make a lot of propaganda. I donít think that apartheid could have been maintained very long after the end of the Cold War. Under Clinton, the US would have to keep a very firm stance on this issue and possibly reaching the point to have South Africa as their main enemy, thatís a really a better choice than Serbia and Iraq.

 

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