Belgian Congo Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to learn about Belgian colonialism in the Congo. They will expand upon this by creating their own political cartoons dealing with these themes.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Contextualize Belgian imperialism of the Congo within the Scramble for Africa
  • Analyze the impacts of colonialism upon Congo peoples


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Copies of the quiz
  • Slideshow of political cartoons (optional)
  • Selections of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness


  • Start class by reviewing the concept of European colonialism in Africa.
    • What were European powers doing in Africa? What were the objectives of African colonialism? How did Europeans see the people of Africa? How did they treat them?
  • Begin the video lesson History of the Belgian Congo: Imperialism, Genocide & Atrocities. Pause lesson at 1:32 and discuss this information as a class.
    • What did the Belgian government want with Africa? How did they gain control of the Congo?
    • What say did the people of the Congo have in the Berlin Conference? How do you think they felt about the arrival of the Flemish imperialists?
  • Resume video, and pause at 4:10 to discuss.
    • How did the Flemish government seem to view the people of the Congo? What role did they play in Belgian imperialism? What was their purpose and relationship to the empire?
    • Why do you think people of the Congo tolerated the quota system or joined the force publique? What motivations did they have to be cooperative with the Belgian forces that occupied the region? What motivations did they have to rebel?
    • What does the experience of Congo peoples in this time tell us about the attitudes of late 19th/early 20th-century European colonialism? How do you think Europeans justified this kind of abuse?
  • Resume and complete video. Discuss this information as a class.
    • Leopold II argued moral reasons for colonization of the Congo. What were they? Why didn't this justification seem to work?
    • What role did mass media and communication technologies play in forcing reforms in the Congo? Why do you think public opinion, particularly of foreigners like Americans and the British, mattered to Ferdinand II? How do you think people in the Congo felt about these changes?
  • You may test student understanding with the quiz.
  • Review the answers as a group.

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