Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 September 2019
In the days after Congo crossed the threshold to independence from Belgian colonial rule, a crisis erupted that quickly consumed the world’s attention. On Thursday 30 June 1960, demonstrations in the capital Leopoldville marred the celebrations of the country’s newfound statehood. These initial disturbances were controlled by the Force Publique – an at times baleful security organisation that had held sway over the local population since its creation in the late nineteenth century by the despotic Belgian King Leopold II. The following Monday, the situation deteriorated. Disgruntled Congolese troops in the Force Publique mutinied against their remaining Belgian officers and dragged the entire country into a state of chaos.