chapter  1
44 Pages

The factory system

The history of the Lower Congo during the second half of the 19th century can be divided into two phases. The first, up to 1885, was characterized by factory-based trade along the coast and in the Congo estuary. The second, after 1885, was the outcome of direct colonization. Stanley's arrival in Banana in August 1879, with the expressed purpose of penetrating the Cataract area up to Malebo Pool, marks the transition between the two. Stanley was a man of the new era, not a trader but a colonizer. There is no structural continuity between the two phases. What happened in 1879 was not a consequence of historical processes in the Congo area itself but of processes in Europe and the world system.