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Slave Trader Tippu Tip Was King Leopold II Choice for Governor

During the mid-1870s, Tippu Tip was widely recognized as the most dominant figure among the Zanzibari slave traders. It is worth noting that King Leopold II was highly interested in his leadership abilities and even sought to appoint him as the governor of the then-Congo Free State, which is now known as the Republic of Congo.

Zanzibari slave traders

Slave Trader Tippu Tip Was King Leopold II Choice for Governor Over the Congo Free State

Tippu Tip, a renowned Zanzibari slave trader, was considered by King Leopold II to become the governor of the notorious Congo Free State. In the mid-1870s, the most notable figure in Zanzibari trading was Tippu Tip, also known as Hamed bin Muhammed el Murjebi. When he ventured into the Congo Free State, he established his headquarters in Kasongo.

Tippu Tip held a position of immense wealth and influence throughout East and Central Africa. He commanded vast networks engaged in ivory, slave, and rubber trade, forming strategic alliances. During that period, the Congo Free State, under King Leopold II's reign, was keen on exploiting the region's resources, particularly slaves, rubber, and ivory. 

King Leopold II of Belgium was known for his brutal exploitation of the Congo Free State during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, resulting in widespread suffering and loss of life. Tippu Tip's significant role in the slave and ivory trade made him a desirable ally for King Leopold II.

While Tippu Tip did interact with European powers, including agents of King Leopold II, there's no historical evidence confirming that he explicitly accepted the role of governor within the Congo Free State. Interestingly, King Leopold systematically destroyed many of the Free State's records before the Belgian takeover, preserving only a handful in Brussels and other locations.

Tippu Tip's collaboration with the Free State stemmed from the weakening authority of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Recognizing European strength, the Sultan sought trade goods and weapons in exchange for ivory and slaves. Tippu Tip, the most influential Zanzibari slave trader, capitalized on this opportunity to collaborate with the Congo Free State.

Tippu Tip's calculated decision to ally with the Free State was rooted in King Leopold II's ambition to control the resource-rich Congo Basin. Tippu Tip saw this as a chance to maintain economic and political dominance while partnering with a formidable European entity.

King Leopold II employed military force and diplomacy to establish dominance in the Congo Basin. In Tippu Tip's case, he received privileges and influence in exchange for supporting the Free State's objectives.

Tippu Tip's influence extended across substantial portions of the Congo Basin. He retained control over specific territories through his collaboration with the Free State while aligning himself with a powerful colonial force. This arrangement served the interests of both Tippu Tip and the expansionist goals of King Leopold II and the Congo Free State.


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