Independence Day in DR Congo Date in the current year: June 30, 2024

Independence Day in DR Congo June 30 is Independence Day in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a public holiday that commemorates the day when the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

The first Europeans to arrive in the area now known as DR Congo were the Portuguese. Until their arrival in the late 15th century, the Kingdom of Kongo was one of the dominant forces in the region. From the 14th to the mid-19th century, it was mostly an independent state.

After Belgium received its independence from the Netherlands in 1830, King Leopold I tentatively supported several proposals to acquire overseas territories. His successor, King Leopold II, was in favor of colonial expansion because he thought that it would be beneficial for his nation’s international power and prestige. When the Belgian government refused to support his ambitions, Leopold decided to create a state in the Congo Basin under his own personal rule.

In 1885, Leopold achieved international recognition for the Congo Free State. Although it was ostensibly founded to develop the area and uplift the local people, in fact Leopold II’s Free State exploited local natural resources (minerals, rubber, ivory). The atrocities committed by Free State officials against the indigenous population eventually led to an international scandal, and the Belgian government came under diplomatic pressure to take official control of the Congo Free State.

In October 1908, the Belgian Parliament supported the annexation of the Congo as a Belgian colony. A month later, the Belgian government took over the administration, and the Belgian Congo officially became a Belgian colony.

The Belgian administration provided for a dual legal system, recognizing both European courts and indigenous courts. The latter, however, had restricted powers and were essentially controlled by the colonial administration. The Belgian administration permitted no political activity whatsoever and maintained public order with the help of a locally recruited army under Belgian command.

After World War II, the world’s colonial system began to collapse, and pro-independence movements began to emerge. Following a series of negotiations between Congolese political activists and the Belgian government, general elections took place in the Belgian Congo. On June 30, 1960, the country gained independence from Belgium with Patrice Lumumba as its Prime Minister and Joseph Kasa-Vubu as its President. Originally named the Republic of the Congo (or Congo-Léopoldville), the country received its present-day name in 1997.

In recent years, the scale of Independence Day celebrations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has significantly decreased. It is mainly caused by the challenges the country and its citizens face on a daily basis, such as famine, disease, civil unrest, and human rights violations, including child labor and violence against women. Since the proclamation of DR Congo’s independence in 1960, the country has been ruled by consecutive undemocratic governments, so many citizens struggle to believe that independence truly exists.

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