Belgian King Philippe has said his country’s colonial past in the Congo was rooted in racism as the monarch sought to undo the wrongdoing of his 20th-century predecessors.
For the first time since in Kinshasa Upon ascending the throne, King Philippe said his country took full responsibility for past misdeeds, but he did not apologize for the documented failures, including ethnic cleansing, looting and torture.
He did say, however, that the common history of the two countries should not be forgotten “in order to pass on a peaceful memory to the new generation”.
The colonial regime is based on “exploitation, domination, inequality, relationships, discrimination and racism.”
The Belgian sovereign reiterated his “sincere regret for the wounds of the past”.
The Belgian king’s speech was moving, some Congolese say, others ever but argue that King Philippe’s “regrets” are not enough. They said “Belgium should have apologized,” particularly for the executions during the reign of King Leopold II, who made Congo his private domain from 1885 to 1908 before the colony was handed over to Belgium.
< p>Some historians estimate that 10 million Congolese died or disappeared as a result of oppression during this period. Some Congolese had their hands and feet chopped off.
“We will never look to the future without apologies and reparations Belgium,” argued Francine Muyumba, a vocal Congolese politician in Kinshasa. She argued that Belgium had slowed down discussions on compensation.
“At the level of the Interparliamentary Union, we had agreed with Belgian parliamentarians to work together in this direction,” she said.
She was responding to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, who said the King’s speech closed a chapter of horror.
“We look to the future with strong desire , to work together and to go further enriches the human relations that exist between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the speech said.
The King’s trip was nonetheless historic for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Belgium. President Félix Tshisekedi and King Philippe expressed their desire for the two countries to start a new chapter in their history. On the occasion of the Belgian sovereign’s visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the two leaders delivered two speeches at the People’s Palace, the seat of the Congolese parliament.
It was the first address by a Belgian monarch to Congolese citizens, since the controversial one Speech by King Baudouin on June 30, 1960 on the occasion of Congo’s independence. King Philippe did not shrink from the painful colonial past, unlike President Tshisekedi, who said that the most important thing is the future and development.
“Our past is both glorious and sad. But this is about building something new, something constructive for both of our countries. It’s up to Belgium to know what it wants to do with its past. But we want to look to the future. Today there are climate problems. These are things we want to address rather than delving into the past and risking new and unnecessary tensions,” said the Congolese President.