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Genocideas a Controlling Tool
Genocideis the deliberate destruction of a certain group of people due totheir race, ethnicity or religion. It includes acts such as killingsuch members, torture, and prevention of procreation and forcefultransfer of any target group of members. Genocide has been used as astrategy to achieve control over such groups by certain tyrants so asto fulfill their own personal vendetta. The following paper examineshow genocide has over time been used as a controlling tool in Congoby King Leopoldas well as in Dominicaby Rafael Trujillo.These two are just some of the examples where genocide has been usedto control the subjects. It shows how genocide came into usepolitically to control certain sects of the community.
Oneof the major aspects that has defined respected leaders or famousreaders is their ability to have control over their subjects. The artto exercise authority among their subjects elevates them to eitherpositive influencing leaders, or negative influencing ones. Differentapproaches were deployed, and continue to be deployed in the modernworld by the leaders so as to gain political control over theirregions or over their subjects. Such approaches to their controlinclude establishment of regimes, as well as use of authoritarianforms of leadership, monarchies, and democracy. However, there arenegative approaches used to gain both political and social control ina region, such as genocide. Genocide is simply referred as thesystematic destruction of either all or part of a racial, national,ethnic, or a religious group. Some of the cases of genocide that arewell known include Holocaust,Rwandan Genocide, The Bosnian Caseamong others.
Thecontrol gained through genocide is mainly through the creation fearamong the subjects in target. Genocide exposes the group beingdestroyed to the cruelty in an attempt to make them to be submissive.As a result, fear ensures and becomes a culture among the group. Thetyrants use this fear to control the people in the group and forcethem to achieve certain goals.The killing of 8 million Africans byKingLeopoldsignify the extent of cruelty that created a culture of fear amongthe slaves. The leader’s characters were defined by the aspects ofgreed, search for heroism, and terror. In the book KingLeopold`s Ghost, byAdamHochschild,he has explored the historicalmevent in congo, increasing publicawareness of the actions and crimes commited by the king in congo,and also in the African states at large by the European colonialrulers.
Theslaves were forced to labor heavily without pay sometimes in therubber and ivory production industries. Leopold`s agents imposed highproduction targets to be reached by the slaves. Lack of meeting thistarget, led to inhumane treatment by the soldiers such as beatingsometimes to death, cutting of one’s hands and taking of one’sfamily hostage in the presence of other slaves. According toHochschild, these actions were part of the government`s deliberatepolicy which aimed at promoting fear and submission from the slaves.As a result, the remaining slaves were fearful and worked their bestto reach this placed targets so as to avoid the torture (Hochschild56). At the time KingLeopoldin congo, other greta powers were insearch of territories elsewhereto impact their control, KingLeopoldfrom Belgium, was carving his own private colony out of 100 km2 ofCentral African rainforest.
‘TheFarming of Bones’
Theculture of fear is also evident family of bones where PresidentRafael Trujillo ordered the killing of approximately 30 000 Haitianswho were unarmed. According to Danticat, Sebastien whom Amabelleloves and works in the field for the president is scarred from thetorture he gets in the field (Danticat 29). Amabelle compares workingin the cane fields to the farming of bones as it is life threateningto the workers (Danticat 64). Yves wishes she died in a car accidentor during the killings signifying the hard conditions. This shows thehow fear and torture is used by the oppressors to govern the peopleand as a result, they cooperate with the masters as a result to meettheir person goals and targets. The fear generated leads to the lackgroup mentality and people see themselves as individuals rather thanbelonging to a certain group. The lack of association with anothergroup is majorly due to the atrocities committed to such a group.This is an advantage to the oppressors as they easily gain controlsince it is easy to control an individual rather than a group. Theyalso do not have any protests against their decisions therefore theirrule is smooth.
Accordingto Danticat,the Haitians killed were unarmed and did not show any kind of protestto the regime of “whitening the country” by President Trujillo(Danticat 30). Amabella also remembers the death of her parentskilled by this regime, but still cannot do anything and so do theworkers who are tortured. This makes it easy for the rulers as nogroupings to fight their decisions, but rather people areindividualistic. The workers in the farm are oppressed by theirmasters and sometimes beaten to the point of death, yet they do notrevolt against them due to fear of being punished. This can termed asan oppressive method of leadership, or slavery, where subjects’rights aren’t observed.
Thecontrol is also gained through the demeaning of a certain group andgiving the ruler’s total power against a certain group to do withthem as he/she pleases. The controlled group is viewed as inferior tothe ruling group and the group believes so. Most of the members inthe group being controlled believe that they are useless andincomparable with their masters. This leads to them seeing theirlives as what their masters make of it and as a result of the lowself-esteem and hopelessness, the affected group are left with nooption but to serve the masters.
Accordingto Danticat, the black people are seen as inferior to the whitepeople. This leads to the decision to get rid of the black people andwhiten the country (Danticat 30). The inferiority of one race toanother is also evidenced by the way the slaves in Congo viewthemselves as property of King Leopold. Most of the slaves areAfricans with the Belgians being seen as superior and thereforecontrolling the Africans. The Africans believe that their lives areworth nothing and they will always live under the shadow of theirmasters. This makes them to easily follow their master’s orders andas a result they are easily controlled.
Genocideis only used as a controlling tool where political instability existswith no democracy at all. The lack of democracy where some peoplehave no right to leadership perpetuates the control exhibited over acertain group. The slaves in Congo have no right to decide who theirleader is. If they had any chance, they would not choose King Leopoldespecially due to the sufferings he caused them, but the lack ofdemocracy places them in the position of being led by a dictator.Such leaders who control a certain group using genocide see the stateas their personal property. There exists no government to control theactivities thus the control exhibited by use of genocide.
Genocideis used as a control strategy by controlling some basic commoditiessuch as food and wages. According to Hochschild, the slaves could bestarved with no food for days so as to promote their fear and hencework output. Payment could only be given to a certain percentage whoworked hard. This led to the slaves working hard in an attempt togain these basic human needs. The Haitians who worked in the canefields could also be starved from time to time if they did notperform well. This led to them working extra hard so as to get thesecommodities. The use of genocide as a control tool has a devastatingimpact to both the country and the target group.this has led to theportrayal of genocide as one of the worst crimes towards human. Oneof the major themes in the Dnticats novel, is the importance ofremembering the past and the loved ones. Through the novel, theauthor has expressed the suffering that people went through after theeruption of the 1937 Haiti massacre.
Inconclusion, genocide is used by the authoritative leaders to meettheir own personal interests at the expense of the others. It is acruel and inhumane way to reach certain goals by administrations anddictators. As a result, the world should embark on fighting such apractice at all cost to safeguard the dignity of every individual asthe Christian missionaries did play an essential role in Congo forthe leadership to be transferred to the Belgium state. Conflictsbetween various groups should be addressed early to lessen the riskof such control and the constitution should protect each and everyindividual from such control.
Danticat,Edwidge. Thefarming of bones: a novel.New York, NY: SoHo Press, Inc., 2013. 10-298 Print.
Hochschild,Adam. KingLeopold`s ghost a story of greed, terror, and heroism in ColonialAfrica.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. 9-219 Print.