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剛果-海洋鐵路——沾滿鮮血的鐵軌(上)

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Books and Arts

文學與藝術

Book Review

書評

The Congo-Ocean Railway - Blood on the tracks

剛果-海洋鐵路——沾滿血跡的鐵軌

In the Forest of No Joy. By J.P. Daughton.

《失樂叢林》,作者J.P.道頓。

The statue of King Leopold II of Belgium that stands in sight of the royal palace in Brussels has been defaced dozens of times in recent years. Activists have painted its hands and eyes red as a reminder of the brutality that Leopold unleashed in the Congo Free State, a territory in central Africa, at the end of the 19th century. As many as 10m Congolese — or half of the population — might have perished as Europeans forced entire villages to collect rubber and ivory for export.

比利時國王利奧波德二世的雕像矗立在布魯塞爾皇宮附近,近年來已經被塗污了幾十次。激進分子將它的手和眼睛塗成紅色,來提醒人們19世紀末利奧波德在非洲中部的剛果自由邦犯下的暴行。由於歐洲人強迫整個村莊收集橡膠和象牙用於出口,可能曾導致多達1000萬剛果人(佔剛果人口的一半)死亡。

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Leopold’s exploitation of Congo was a scandal. In 1908, after years of campaigning by journalists, the Belgian state stripped the king of his private possession. The Belgian Congo joined other European colonies in Africa where wanton extraction was to be replaced by a supposedly civilising mission. Yet though less transparently murderous, the “benign” colonialism of elsewhere was often not that different from what happened under Leopold. A new book, “In the Forest of No Joy”, by J.P. Daughton, an American historian, exposes how forced labour in the French Congo (now the Republic of Congo), on the other side of the river from Leopold’s possession (now the Democratic Republic), led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Africans.

利奧波德對剛果的剝削是一樁醜聞。1908年,經過記者多年的抗爭,比利時政府剝奪了國王的私人財產。比屬剛果加入了其它歐洲在非洲的殖民地,在那裏,肆意剝削被冠上所謂文明使命的名號。然而,儘管表面上沒有顯得太兇殘,但其他地方的“温和”殖民主義通常與利奧波德統治時期的情況沒有太大不同。美國曆史學家J.P. 道頓的新書《失樂叢林》揭露了利奧波德領地(現在的剛果民主共和國)河對岸的法屬剛果(現剛果共和國),是如何通過強迫勞動致使數萬非洲人死亡的。

The book is a masterful, if relentlessly bleak, account of the construction of the Congo-Ocean Railway, a route designed to connect the central African interior to the Atlantic. What makes it so compelling is the divide it exposes between the often admirable intentions of colonial bureaucrats, who did genuinely think they were lifting Africans out of poverty, and the grim reality that they enabled. The application of “modern” government to conquered people could be almost as savage as plunder, Mr Daughton shows.

這本書是關於剛果-海洋鐵路(一條連接中非內陸和大西洋的路線)建設的大師之作,儘管描述得無情又冷酷。它之所以如此引人注目,是因為它暴露了殖民官僚大多令人欽佩的意圖和他們帶來的嚴酷現實之間的鴻溝。而殖民官僚們確實認為他們正在幫助非洲人擺脱貧困。道頓先生指出,運用“現代”政府征服人民幾乎就像掠奪一樣野蠻。

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bleak [bli:k]

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adj. 蕭瑟的,嚴寒的,陰鬱的

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relentlessly

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adv. 殘酷地,無情地

 
democratic [.demə'krætik]

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adj. 民主的,大眾的,平等的

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territory ['teritəri]

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n. 領土,版圖,領域,範圍

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population [.pɔpju'leiʃən]

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n. 人口 ,(全體)居民,人數

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ivory ['aivəri]

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n. 象牙,乳白色
adj. 象牙制的,

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statue ['stætju:]

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n. 塑像,雕像

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stripped [stript]

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adj. 剝去的 v. 剝奪(strip的過去分詞形式)

 
poverty ['pɔvəti]

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n. 貧困,貧乏

 
construction [kən'strʌkʃən]

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n. 建設,建造,結構,構造,建築物

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