CAN WE TALK ABOUT PATERNALISM?

However, the Belgian system had its peculiarities, which led it to be described as "paternalistic". Belgium having inherited the Congo almost against its will, from a King accused of exploiting his African subjects in an outrageous manner, wanted at all costs to put an end to this bad trial and escape the reproaches addressed to the previous management. It had, moreover, no imperial vocation, preferred to trade rather than to dominate, and, rather than bidding, to attract sympathies conducive to its business and its good international reputation. Dominated by a Catholic bourgeoisie, for her, the cardinal virtues were honesty, family, a good education of children and sound business conduct. When she took over the succession from her King, she felt that she had invested herself with a kind of guardianship: she had to educate her "wards" by giving equal opportunities to all - managing their wealth on their behalf while waiting for them to be able to do so themselves - guaranteeing the primacy of their interests within their country, and being able to reap the fruits of this good management abroad without remorse.

 

The education system should, therefore, make it a priority to ensure access to basic education for all, before gradually opening middle and higher education institutions to the most deserving students in this first cycle. The application of this egalitarian and democratic principle was, however, subject to innumerable exceptions imposed by the "civilizing mission": it was necessary, from the beginning of colonization, to train priests, schoolteachers, medical, technical and administrative staff. The Congo, in addition to general primary education - the most important in Africa - was therefore soon equipped with innumerable seminaries, teacher training colleges, professional schools, medical colleges, and administrative schools. From the fusion of the most advanced came the three Universities. This empirical process was therefore not guided by the elitist bias of other colonial systems, which favored the training of a political and cultural elite acquired from the colonizer, to the detriment of mass education.

 

The management of the assets of the colonized, considered as dependents under guardianship, implied that the product of the management of their wealth - the riches of their soil - should be returned to them in full. Companies were therefore required to "repatriate" the shipment value of exports. They could only benefit from the added value provided by external operations generated by Congolese products: international marketing, sea and air transport, and the processing of raw materials into finished products. However, with regard to this last point, companies were strongly urged to ensure the maximum amount of processing on the spot. Another corollary of asset management was the separation of budgets: no taxes, no revenues.