Belgium, without imperialist ambition, had no colonial vocation. It had taken over the Congo in 1908 in response to the recommendations of a commission of inquiry commissioned by its King, Leopold II, also sovereign of the Independent State of the Congo, whose existence was disputed by the great colonial powers of the time. As proof of its selflessness, Belgium wanted to finance itself, despite a budgetary situation often much worse than that of Congo, the Ministry of the Colonies and all its metropolitan expenses.


At times, one could have the illusion that his management of the Congo benefited Belgium. Its presence in Africa had enabled it to develop apparently considerable maritime, commercial and industrial activities, to assert in the World an influence out of proportion with its small size and to acquire expertise in overseas affairs which was considered with respect: its The colony had the reputation of being the best managed, precisely because it was managed according to its own interests. But after independence was granted, the illusion was quickly dispelled. Lightened by its colonial charge, Belgium experienced a real economic boom, while its ex-colony sank into unrest, tribal wars, and ever-increasing deficits.


Human relations were not governed, as is too often asserted, by a mentality peculiar to the colonialists, but rather reflected the opinion which prevailed throughout colonial Europe since the 14th century and the discovery so-called "primitive" peoples. Even the European elites believed in unison that there were more or less "civilized" human "races" and that it was up to those who were the most to develop the others so that all were ultimately equal. In the name of this potential equality between men, all the goods of the earth had to be accessible to all, no people could reserve the exclusiveness of those who were on its soil, and it belonged to the ablest, it is that is to say the most "civilized", to "highlight" and preside over the sharing, according to the laws of the market.