9. The Entire Population Was Enslaved
When King Leopold got the legal right to take control of the Congo, he started bleeding it dry for profits. Stanley had reported temples of ivory, and people had found caches of rubber there. So Leopold was determined to make it profitable. He turned two-thirds of the country into his own private land. The people there were forced to work for him.
At first, these people were given a penny per pound of rubber, but Leopold soon stopped even giving them pennies. Instead, he called harvesting rubber a tax that every person who lived on the land was required to pay. These people had no idea that their land had been sold, and now they were being forced into labor to live on it.
Their quotas were huge. The average person had to work 20 days per month just to meet his rubber quota, and they weren’t paid for it. They would have to meet their quotas first. Then, when they had spare time left over, they could work to feed their families.