Entre 1874 et 1876, le bush, au centre du continent africain, est encore pour les Européens une terre mystérieuse dans laquelle seuls des aventuriers se rendent. Video, Santa explains what a Covid Christmas looks like, The poet, the queen and 120-year-old chocolate. .css-po6dm6-ItalicText{font-style:italic;}Additional reporting by Eve Webster in Brussels, .css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link{color:inherit;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited{color:#696969;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link:hover,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited:hover,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link:focus,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited:focus{color:#B80000;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:link::after,.css-1hlxxic-PromoLink:visited::after{content:'';position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;z-index:2;}EU-UK on verge of Brexit trade deal announcement. .css-q4by3k-IconContainer{display:none;height:1em;width:1em;vertical-align:-0.125em;margin-right:0.25em;}playSanta explains what a Covid Christmas looks like. there were "positive aspects" to colonisation, Democratic Republic of Congo country profile, called on Belgium to apologise for atrocities, apologise for the kidnapping of thousands of mixed-race children. We will support companies and residents who may be affected by the new street names in the future.”, A century after millions died in Congo, attitudes (and street names) are changing. In 2019, the cities of Kortrijk and Dendermonde renamed their Leopold II streets, with Kortrijk council describing the king as a "mass murderer". Last week thousands in the country of 11 million joined solidarity protests about the killing of .css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link{color:#3F3F42;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{color:#696969;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{font-weight:bolder;border-bottom:1px solid #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{border-bottom-color:currentcolor;border-bottom-width:2px;color:#B80000;}@supports (text-underline-offset:0.25em){.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited{border-bottom:none;-webkit-text-decoration:underline #BABABA;text-decoration:underline #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-underline-offset:0.25em;}.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-yidnqd-InlineLink:visited:focus{-webkit-text-decoration-color:currentcolor;text-decoration-color:currentcolor;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:2px;text-decoration-thickness:2px;color:#B80000;}}US black man George Floyd in police custody. Last modified on Sat 23 Nov 2019 18.40 GMT. King Leopold II of Belgium (1835–1909) ruled for over 40 years. .css-1xgx53b-Link{font-family:ReithSans,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:700;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;color:#FFFFFF;}.css-1xgx53b-Link:hover,.css-1xgx53b-Link:focus{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}Read about our approach to external linking. Leopold II ruled Congo Free State as a personal fiefdom. This was like stumbling across a gold mine. In a TV debate this week, a former president of the Free University of Brussels, Hervé Hasquin, argued there were "positive aspects" to colonisation, listing the health system, infrastructure, and primary education he said Belgium brought to Central Africa. Video, The poet, the queen and 120-year-old chocolate, Did that octopus just punch a fish? Jeroen Robbe, of the anti-racism group the Labo vzw said too many municipal leaders were still failing to show moral leadership: “The fact they are taking this so lightly indicates a blind spot that we have in our own history. Last week a statue of Leopold II in the city of Antwerp was set on fire, before authorities took it down. "Everyone is waking up from a sleep, it's a reckoning with the past," explains Debora Kayembe, a Congolese human rights lawyer who has lived in Belgium. In the last years of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, King Leopold II of Belgium ruled the Congo Free State with a tyranny that was peculiarly brutal even by the cruel and deeply racist standards of European colonialism in Africa. How was King Leopold II viewed by … "Leopold II certainly does not deserve a statue in the public domain," agrees Bambi Ceuppens, scientific commissioner at the Africa Museum. As part of a belated reckoning with its colonial history, museums are showcasing sins that were previously overlooked, the tone of history books in school is shifting and, in a development unthinkable until recently, cities have started to remove street signs commemorating Leopold II and openly denounce his legacy. The remnants of these events still haunt the congo to this day. He managed the throne after the death of his father, Leopold I. This empire was known as the Congo Free State and Leopold II stood as its undisputed slave master. Colonization of the Congo. Charles Michel, prime minister at the time, declined. But taking the monument away does not solve the problem of racism, she believes, while creating one museum devoted to the statues would not be useful either. Yet debate over his legacy has remained muted in Belgium, where hundreds of roads are named after the king along with memorials dedicated to his memory and glory. Colonial administrators also kidnapped orphaned children from communities and transported them to "child colonies" to work or train as soldiers. “Not a priority? Many classrooms still have Hergé's famous cartoon book Tintin in the Congo, with its depictions of black people now commonly accepted as extremely racist. Colonization of the Congo refers to the period of Henry Morton Stanley's first exploration of the Congo (1876) until its annexation as a personal possession of King Leopold II of Belgium (1885). Last week it was announced Ben Affleck would be producing and directing the film inspired by Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost. "When I walk in a city that in every corner glorifies racism and colonialism, it tells me that me and my history are not valid," she explains from the capital. The negative effects of the congo were mainly experienced by the Congolese. Congolese amputees, pictured about 1900. He ran the country – now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo – as a personal fiefdom, looting ivory and rubber and murdering millions before the international community stepped in to demand he bequeath the country to the Belgian state. While some municipalities are holding out, the reappraisal offers further evidence of a sea change in how the colonial history is viewed. In Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo, Leopold II's statues were moved to the National Museum. 1. Activists say an important step towards acknowledging the past was made last year when Brussels named a square in honour of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the DRC, who was assassinated in 1961 with the connivance of the Belgian government. From 1885 to 1908, a period known as Congo Free State, acts of violence and cruelty were committed, something Leopold pleaded forgiveness for. VideoSanta explains what a Covid Christmas looks like, playThe poet, the queen and 120-year-old chocolate. Belgium took over the colony in 1908 and it was not until 1960 that the Republic of the Congo was established, after a fight for independence. They belonged to his five-year-old daughter, who was later killed when her village did not produce sufficient rubber. EU-UK on verge of Brexit trade deal announcement, Santa explains what a Covid Christmas looks like. Estimates suggest more than 50% died there. In one, a man sits on a low platform looking at a dismembered small foot and small hand. A petition calling on the city for its removal has reached 74,000 signatures. © 2020 BBC. In 2018, the United Nations called on the Belgian government to apologize for the crimes committed during its colonization and to … King Leopold the II’s colonisation of the Congo resulted in labour forced upon the natives, blackmail, abuse and eradication of tradition. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. He called it Congo Free State. 1 Early European exploration 2 Stanley's exploration 3 Prelude to conquest 4 See also The Congo River was the last part of the African continent to yield to European explorers. Although he played a significant role in the development of the modern Belgian state, he was also responsible for widespread atrocities committed under his rule against his colonial subjects. La colonisation du Congo s'opéra durant la période comprise entre la première exploration du Congo-Kinshasa par Henry Morton Stanley (1867) jusqu'à l'annexion du pays par la prise de possession par le roi Léopold II de Belgique (1885). Standing close by, one visitor said, "I didn't know anything about Leopold II until I heard about the statues defaced down town". Joëlle Sambi Nzeba, a Belgian-Congolese poet and spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, says the statues tell her she is "less than a regular Belgian". BBC Culture: The TV shows that helped us through 2020. They were beaten and tortured in order to quickly extract as much rubber from the region as possible. Earlier this year a UN working group concluded in its preliminary report that, nearly six decades after the newly named DRC gained independence from Belgium, many of the country’s institutions remained racist and the state needed to apologise for the sins of its past as a step towards reform. Leopold II and the Colonization of Africa: Leopold II of Belgium lived from 1835 to 1909 and reigned as King of Belgium from 1865 until his death. Belgium's education minister announced this week that secondary schools would teach colonial history from next year. At the time, there was a huge demand for natural rubber in order to make tires, but there was a very small supply. VideoThe poet, the queen and 120-year-old chocolate, Five families; five very unusual Christmases, Catwalk icon Stella Tennant's career in pictures. Last year a UN working group called on Belgium to apologise for atrocities committed during the colonial era. … Belgium made at least $20 million for rubber and ivor y. In return European leaders, gathered at the Berlin Conference, granted him 2m sq km (770,000 sq miles) to forge a personal colony where he was free to do as he liked. He was born under the original name of Louis Philippe Marie Victor in Brussels. He promised a humanitarian and philanthropic mission that would improve the lives of Africans. Leopold’s men eventually discovered that the rainforest had a plentiful supply of rubber trees. .css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}Inside the palatial walls of Belgium's Africa Museum stand statues of Leopold II - each one a monument to the king whose rule killed as many as 10 million Africans. For almost 30 years, rather than being a regular colony of a European government the way South Africa or the Spanish Sahara were, Congo was administered as the private property of this one man for his personal enrichment. He did however apologise for the kidnapping of thousands of mixed-race children, known as métis, from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda in the 1940s and 1950s. Leopold did not start genocide. Now, under pressure from a growing movement that believes Belgium needs to confront its past, attitudes in the corridors of power are starting to change. Read about our approach to external linking. He attributes colonial crimes to the king himself, rather than the Belgian people or state. It would be "really significant for Congolese people, especially those whose families perished," she explains. The colonization of Belgium was only for Belgium’s and King Leopold’s interest and the people of Congo were treated as material objects and dehumanized.