It is not secret that the atrocities committed during the colonization of Africa have had ingrained outstanding effects on the people. Notably, the Belgium’s imposition onto the now Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has tarnished a great number of people and have left them to survive off resources that have been craved by other countries.
In the novel Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, the severity of postcolonialism is portrayed as an unfinished metal structure. The novel references actual people and events to affirm that the underlying racial and economic issues. One reference being Henry Morton Stanley, who is credited to have built the railroads (unfinished metal structure) under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium in 1908
“…the smallest capital of the world, barely comprising a bar, the famous Tram, and the station whose unfinished metal structure brought to mind the figure of Henrey Morton Stanley.” (15)
Up until 1960, The Congolese people were exploited through feverous force and had their native resources exported for the benefit of the Belgium empire, but even after gaining independence from colonial rule in 1960, the DRC was left in pieces and had set the stage for decade long struggles of power. Mujila demonstrates the effects of the aftermath by studying the behavior of the people of Tram 83.
“FIRST NIGHT AT TRAM 83: NIGHT OF DEBAUCHERY, NIGHT OF BOOZING, NIGHT OF BEGGARY, NIGHT OF PREMATURE EJACULATION, NIGHT OF SYPHILIS AND OTHER SEXUALLY TRAMSMITTED DISEASES, NIGHT OF PROSITIUTION, NIGHT OF GETTING BY…” (6)
While the feverish amounts of prostitutes, drunkards, and exploitive tourists may seem extreme in the novel, reality suggests that it isn’t far off. Last reported in 2011, the armed forces of the DRC were using over 30,000 child soldiers (Drumbl 2012). A 2013-2014 Demographic and Health survey found that nearly seventy-five percent of women felt it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife under the right circumstances (MPSMRM 2014). The BBC reports that more than 20% of the DRC’s mining revenue is being lost “due to corruption and mismanagement”; accounting for over 750 million dollars (BBC 2017).
The severity of the DRC underlying problems has caused an international distress for the country, yet as per the formula of neocolonialism, the outside forces that have sparked the instability do not feel compelled to help at the level of necessity.
Mujila’s highlighting of the DRC’s culture shows that the people who live in a place that has been defiled and left must adapt to the circumstances to survive. It’s unclear if the unfinished metal structure will continue to rust for the Congolese people or that the structure must be scrapped. Yet repairing a century of an exploited, forgotten people will not be an easy feat.
Drumbl, Mark A. Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy. N.p.: Oxford UP, 2012. Print.
Ministère de la Santé Publique (MSP) et ICF International Rep (Translated). (2013-2014). Print.
“Congo’s Mining Revenue ‘missing’ – Global Witness.” BBC News. BBC, 21 July 2017. Web.