Feb 9, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Belgian King tours DRC on the backdrop of ‘colonial wounds’

Belgian King Philippe and his wife, Queen Mathilde, arrived in the DRC’s capital, Kinshasa, on Tuesday afternoon for a visit that is of historical importance but also intended to ease some tension in relations between between the two countries.

The royal couple were welcomed at Ndjili International Airport by President Félix Tshisekedi and First Lady Denise Nyakeru, along with several other senior officials of the country.

The trip eventually matured after several shifts. The visit is at the invitation of the Congolese President, according to the Presidency in Kinshasa.

King Philippe’s trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also considered historic. Philippe, who has ruled Belgium since 2013, has never visited the Congo, Belgium’s former colony and perhaps the most significant territory the European country controlled in Africa.

Philippe was born in April 1960, just two months earlier Belgium granted independence to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then known as the Belgian Congo.

The era of colonialism by the Belgians has been documented with brutality, including mass killings and massive looting of the country’s resources and cultural artifacts. Some commentators and even Congolese politicians have called for a formal apology in the past. Other colonial rulers, such as the UK, have expressed “regret” over the past decade at the brutality inflicted on Kenya’s freedom fighters Mau Mau, for example, including a reparation package. The Germans also offered a range of social rehabilitation programs in Namibia for abuses committed against the local Herero.

Despite the dark colonial past, however, the Belgian monarch traveled to Kinshasa to herald a new era Relations between his country and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, acknowledging for the first time in history the “wounds” his country inflicted on the Congo during colonization.

In June 2020, the Belgian king had on Félix Tshisekedi wrote: “I would like to express my deepest regret for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is being revived today by the discrimination that still exists in our societies.”

On the occasion of his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo said the Belgian monarch is expected to deal with repairing the “wounds of the past”. His official program includes a speech at the People’s Palace, the seat of Parliament, on Wednesday. On Friday, King Philippe will deliver another speech to Congolese officials and students at the University of Lubumbashi in southern DRC.

The monarch will complete his stay in the DRC with a visit to the Institute of Tropical quit farming, and the Panzi General Hospital, where Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege treats women, mainly victims of sexual abuse, in Bukavu, South Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said that Belgium has already 250 million euros (267.8 million US dollars) provided to support the DRC in various sectors from next year to 2027.

“This amount will go to health, agriculture, rural development, institutional support, infrastructure, strengthening Women, energy production, among others,” Mr. Lutundula said Tuesday before the trip.