One Hundred Years Of Darkness

Marcus Bleasdale’s disturbing photos eloquently present the latest chapter in the Congo’s catalogue of tragedies.

The Congo has always epitomised man’s inhumanity to man. King Leopold II of Belgium, responsible for perhaps as many as ten million dead during his commercial exploitation in the late 1800s, employed a very childish Christian solution to those natives not collecting their quota of rubber – he had their hands cut off. Many victims of the mutilations were photographed, and as Mark Twain remarked in 1905 while discussing the Congo reform movement’s use of photographs, “thank God for the camera, for the testimony of the light itself, which no mere man can contradict.” Today it is the multinational corporations that are doing the looting and Marcus continues in that great tradition of documenting their misdeeds for the historical record.

The ensuing questions that followed the projection centred on the task of alerting public opinion – a real problem since most of our publications are intent on embracing inanities. Readers are being persuaded to reject information for titillation. As Marcus has discovered, it is voluntary agencies that are providing the funding to enable the present crimes to be recorded. Perhaps this is the future for photojournalism – images for activists and perhaps a book for future generations.

One Hundred Years of Darkness:
A Photographic Journey into the Heart of Congo
Jon Swain (Foreword) and Marcus Bleasdale (Photographer)
List Price: £25.95
Members’ price: Signed copy £20