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Lecture | CMGI Brown Bag Seminar

Exploiting the Portuguese and Belgian African Empires: The case of the Afrikaansche Handels-Vereeniging (AHV) (1857-1879)

Tuesday 16 November 2021
CMGI Brown Bag Seminars 2021-2022
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
2.60 (Conference Room)

Following the demise of Elmina, Dutch merchants moved southwards and started trading in present-day Liberia and, eventually, in Portuguese Angola and the area which would later become the Congo Free State under Leopold II. In 1857, Henry Kerdijk and Lodewijk Pincoffs, two Rotterdam merchants, bought a factory in the town of Ambriz in northern Angola, trading in palm oil and other commodities, before also opening factories north of the Congo River.

This paper analyses how Kerdijk and Pincoffs and their firm, the Afrikaansche Handels-Vereeniging (AHV), negotiated with the European colonial powers in the area (Portugal and the nascent Congo Free State) to further their goals, before the (in)famous accounting fraud of Pincoffs came to light in 1879. This paper therefore places the AHV in a broader inter-imperial framework, focusing on the ways in which the companies exploited forced labour and natural resources in South-West Africa.

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