A man from the Congo River

Jouko Aaltonen
53 minutes


The documentary explores the little known story of Nordic machinists working on the river boats on the Congo River. Professionals were hired on lucrative salaries from Finland and Sweden and they had to give an oath of fidelity to the King of Belgium. Sailors from the North met a new reality in the heart of the Black Africa where the colonial economy was based on slavery and forced labour. In private letters home we can follow how the men from the egalitarian North gradually change, adapting to the racist system. A concrete personal tool and symbol of the regime was a whip made of the skin of a hippopotamus. First terrified by the brutality of the white oppressors, Nordic sailors soon learned to use the whip themselves. The film adds an interesting chapter to the history of colonialism in Africa. It is important to tell this unknown colonial story about the moral choices of an individual.

Samu Heikkilä
Producer / Production company: 
ILLUME OY, Helsinki
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