Dossier 96.1 (provisional inventory)

Under the impression of war mobilization and the war economy, social life in the Middle-Congo became once again characterized by violence and repression. This dossier allows reconstructing a number of exemplary themes that are relevant for this war experience. The variety of themes is wide: they include religious mobilization as reaction of the locals to the hardships of repression; the impact of ‘native’ garrisons causing instability in their immediate environment, partly through widespread sexual abuses against local women; or the importance of rumours, e.g. in the hopes for a US American takeover of the administration.

Documents are partly reports (with contribution by Congolese informants) and partly discussions within the administration, which refer to accusations of racisms and bad governance; observations on the behaviour of French and Belgian settlers abusing their Congolese labour force are part of this context, as are the strategies of (mis)use of penal labour practiced by the director of the Pointe-Noire prison. Reports also engage with the interpretation of forced labour by the Africans affected by such practices. The dossier shows the considerable degree of autonomy and capacity of reaction for the African populations, within flight movements but also within a flourishing contraband network leading into Cabinda (Portuguese Angola).

The nature and regional variety of the files seems to indicate that they come from the territorial archives of the Middle-Congo, thus from the services of the government of the colony, and later remained in Pointe-Noire after the transfer of the capital.