Visnews filmed the aftermath of violent rioting in Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo, Jan 5-6.
Visnews filmed the aftermath of violent rioting in Leopoldville, capital of the Belgian Congo, Jan 5-6. African sectors of the city show a picture of large scale destruction after rioting natives, urged on by the independence-seeking political movement "Abako" wrecked shops, schools, post-offices, and burned vehicles, causing damage totalling millions of francs. Widespread looting took place in the confusion. Forty-two Africans were killed, and some 300, including the Abako leader M. Joseph Kasabuvu were arrested.
Rioting started Jan 5 and continued throughout the next day. Until that date the Belgian Congo had been considered a "quiet colony". The trouble was the result of rising uneasiness among the African population, which through it's political movement "Abako" (Association de Bas-Kongo) has repeatedly demanded independence for the country. The Abako, set up as a cultural movement in 1950, has become the natives' main political party under the leadership of the outstanding African politician Joseph Kasabuvu, mayor of the Leopoldville suburb Dendale. After the breakdown of negotiations between the Belgian Government and the Abako about a gradual approach to self-government Kasabuvu declared on Boxing Day that nothing short of complete independence would be acceptable to the Africans. After a month of tension the Abako used a political meeting which had been forbidden by the Government to start a revolt. Seasonal unemployment among the natives helped the movement to rally the native population.
The authorities have arrested Kasabuvu, and proclaimed martial law throughout the country. The Belgian Department Parliament, - in a special session - has decided to send an All-Party delegation to the Congo to investigate the situation. Belgian paratroopers have been sent to the Congo to reinforce the locally available troops and police. Local observers fear that the Jan riots may well mark the beginning of a period of further violence.