Théophile Wahis

Last updated
French pronunciation: [teofilwa.i] ; 27 April 1844–26 January 1921) was a Belgian soldier and colonial civil servant who served as Governor-General of the Congo Free State and, subsequently, the Belgian Congo for two terms between 1891 and 1912. He was the longest ruling of Belgian colonial governors. [1]

Contents

Career

Théophile Wahis was born in Menen in West Flanders, Belgium, on 27 April 1844 to a military family. [2] He entered the Belgian Army and studied at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels. [2] During the Franco-Mexican War (1864–67), Wahis volunteered for service in the Belgian Legion sent to Mexico to fight alongside French and Imperial Mexican Forces. [lower-alpha 1] Wahis served with distinction in Mexico, returning to the Belgian military in 1867 but was frustrated by the lack of promotion. [2] [1] Through General Alfred van der Smissen, the former commander of the Belgian Legion in Mexico, Wahis was introduced to King Leopold II as a possible candidate for the King's private venture in the Congo Free State. [2]

Poster proclaiming the Congo Free State's annexation by Belgium in November 1908 Proclamation on the founding of the Belgian Congo.JPG
Poster proclaiming the Congo Free State's annexation by Belgium in November 1908

In 1890-91, Wahis was posted to Boma as a senior civil servant in the Free State administration. His success in the role led to rapid promotion and, in 1892, he was designated the state's next Governor General, replacing Camille Janssen. [2] Wahis' military background had a strong influence on governance in the Free State and contributed to its increasingly harsh policies of rule. [2] [1] He clashed particularly with more liberal colonial figures, such as Félix Fuchs and Félicien Cattier, whose own backgrounds were as civilian lawyers. [2] According to historians Lewis H. Gann and Peter Duignan, Wahis' appointment "symbolized the increasingly exploitative nature of the Free State's administration" and the growing "Belgianization" of the colony's administration. [1]

Wahis was a strong defender of the Free State's public record in the international press. [2] For his services to the state, he received the honorary rank of Lieutenant General and the title of Baron in 1901. [2] After Belgium was forced by international pressure to annex the Free State in 1908, Wahis continued as Governor-General of the new Belgian Congo. [2] He resigned in 1912 and was succeeded by Fuchs. [2]

Retiring from colonial administration, Baron Wahis became a businessman with a position in a company in the Dutch East Indies and in the Congo's Compagnie du Katanga . He died in January 1921. [2] A street in Brussels and a street in Menen are named after him. [3]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Congo Free State</span> Territory in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908

The Congo Free State, also known as the Independent State of the Congo, was a large state and absolute monarchy in Central Africa from 1885 to 1908. It was privately owned by King Leopold II, the constitutional monarch of the Kingdom of Belgium. In legal terms, the two separate nations were in a personal union. The Congo Free State was not a part of, nor did it belong to Belgium. Leopold was able to seize the region by convincing other European states at the Berlin Conference on Africa that he was involved in humanitarian and philanthropic work and would not tax trade. Via the International Association of the Congo, he was able to lay claim to most of the Congo Basin. On 29 May 1885, after the closure of the Berlin Conference, the king announced that he planned to name his possessions "the Congo Free State", an appellation which was not yet used at the Berlin Conference and which officially replaced "International Association of the Congo" on 1 August 1885. The Free State was privately controlled by Leopold from Brussels; he never went there.

<i>Force Publique</i> Former gendarmerie and military force

The Force Publique was a gendarmerie and military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1877, through the period of Belgian colonial rule. The FP was retitled as the Congolese National Army or ANC in July 1960 after independence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Félix Fuchs</span> Belgian colonial civil servant and lawyer

Félix Alexandre Fuchs (1858–1928) was a Belgian colonial civil servant and lawyer who served as Governor-General of the Belgian Congo between 1912 and 1915.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Tombeur</span> Belgian Army general

Lieutenant General Charles Tombeur, 1st Baron of Tabora was a Belgian military officer and colonial civil servant. As well as holding several major administrative positions in the Belgian Congo, he is particularly known for his role as commander of the Belgian colonial military, the Force Publique, during the first years of World War I. His military career culminated in the capture of Tabora in German East Africa in September 1916.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Batetela rebellion</span> Rebellion in the Congo Free State

The Batetela rebellion was a series of three military mutinies and a subsequent low-level insurgency which was attributed to members of the Tetela ethnic group in the Congo Free State between 1895 and 1908.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Commemorative Medal of the Reign of King Leopold II</span> Belgian commemorative medal

The Commemorative Medal of the Reign of King Leopold II was a Belgian civilian and later military and police forces medal originally established on 21 July 1905 by royal decree to commemorate the 40th year of the reign of King Leopold II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Costermans</span>

Paul-Marie-Adolphe Costermans was a Belgian soldier and colonial civil servant. After a brief career in the Belgian Army, Costermans enlisted for service in the military of the Congo Free State, the Force Publique, in 1890 and later served in the colony's administration. During several periods of service in the colony, Costermans rose through the ranks. Between 1904 and his death in 1905, he held the position of Vice Governor-General of the Congo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Liebrechts</span> Belgian soldier, explorer and administrator

Charles Adolphe Marie Liebrechts was a Belgian soldier, explorer and administrator in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1892 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1891 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1899 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1897 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1895 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1896 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1900 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1903 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1905 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1908 in the Congo Free State.

The following lists events that happened during 1908 in the Belgian Congo.

References

  1. The Belgian Legion was not part of an official Belgian Army but a unit of volunteers sent to fight for Emperor Maximilian of Mexico whose wife, Charlotte, was the sister of the incumbent Belgian monarch Leopold II.

Citations

Bibliography

  • Gann, Lewis H.; Duignan, Peter (1979). The Rulers of Belgian Africa, 1884-1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN   9780691052779.
  • Plasman, Pierre-Luc (5 July 2012). "WAHIS, (Théophile)" (in French). Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences. Retrieved 5 November 2016.

Further reading

Théophile Wahis
Theophile Wahis.jpg
Portrait photo of Wahis, c.1908
Governor-General of the Belgian Congo
In office
15 November 1908 20 May 1912