The colony was an unknown territory and an unspoiled paradise for science. In the colony, the “young university graduates […] were able to further Belgian science more”, the Commission for the study of the labour issue in Belgian Congo stated. It was the World Fair of 1897 in Tervuren that awoke interest in African people and nature. One year later, Leopold II founded the Congo museum there, which was also a scientific institution. Missionary Fathers, state agents and colonialists greedily collected objects and data about the indigenous art, ethnology, fauna and flora. These were the heydays of biology, anthropology and geosciences such as geology, geography and cartography. Beside these disciplines, tropical medicine became one of the key Belgian competences. In 1906, Leopold II created the School of Tropical Diseases, today’s Institute of Tropical Medicine. In the field, doctors fought the sleeping sickness, malaria, leprosy and numerous other diseases.
- Profit motivations
- Benefits not for everyone