century, the European powers had begun to establish colonies across Africa.
At the same time, DR Congo’s social and economic deterioration has transformed the composition of its migration flows to extra-African destinations—with greater outflows of women, the less educated, and refugees and asylum seekers, particularly since the 1990s.
Following the 1885 Berlin Conference in which European states carved up Africa into colonial territories, the Congo Free State was founded as a personal colony of Belgian King Leopold II.
While Leopold had argued for the humanitarian influence of Belgian rule, the Congo Free State was not intended as a populating colony, rather as one of resource extraction for its rich supplies of rubber, minerals, and oil.
Consequently, caryatid figures that support chiefs' stools generally depict female ancestors.
This Luba sculptural tradition was designed to identify and glorify the king, chiefs, and titled officials who constituted the complex hierarchy of leadership within the Luba empire.
Protracted economic slumps and violent crises have profoundly affected Congolese migration trends.