Cabinet 9: Africa
René J. Cornet, La Bataille du Rail. Bruxelles: Éditions L. Cuypers, 1947.
The explorer Henry Stanley stated that without a railway Congo isnt worth a penny. As one who was fixed on the main chance, he realised that a railway was crucial to the development of the Congo region, especially with trade potentials of rubber, ivory, and minerals. This evocative image on the front of Rene J Cornets La Bataille du Rail (1947) conjures up the realities of rail construction from Matadi, an important harbour town, to Stanley Pool, near Brazzaville. Construction of the Chemin de Fer Congo line started in 1890. The work was hard, and when completed in 1898, it had cost the lives of many. Webber would have been interested to learn that in 2007 the Chinese government initiated a proposal to refurbish hundreds of kilometres of rail in Congo.