Visit of Belgium’s King Philippe on Wednesday personally presented a traditional mask that had been looted during DRC’s troubled colonial era.
King Philippe, on Tuesday on his first visit to what was once Africa’s largest Belgians arrived in the Kinshasa colony who had not even been born when the mask was looted. But his visit was confronted with what his predecessor monarch King Leopold had done to the Congo, including plundering and plundering the country’s resources.
At the National Museum in Kinshasa, he promised a “chapter” on relations between the both countries and presented a mask to President Felix Tshisekedi in a ceremony attended by Belgian and Congolese government officials.
The mask had been looted and stacked away by a Belgian researcher in Brussels more than 70 years ago. It was kept in a museum in Tervueren, Belgium.
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The symbolic handover of the Suku mask could mark reinstatement signal from Belgium to his former colony. This may show other artefacts, including traditional musical instruments and oratorio objects, from Congo during its colonization by Belgium when it was originally known as the Independent State of Congo (1885-1908) and Belgian Congo (1908-1960).
The locals used the mask in healing and protection rituals, according to King Philippe, who studies political science himself.
“Mr. President, it is my pleasure to officially present this mask to you. On the occasion of our visit to the National Museum, I wanted to give you an exceptional example so that the Congolese can discover and admire it,” said the monarch in Kinshasa.
“It is an art object Made in Congo and collected more than 70 years ago years ago by a researcher at the Tervuren Museum. It marks the symbolic beginning of strengthening cultural and museum cooperation between the Kingdom of Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
Belgium, which also colonized neighboring Rwanda and Burundi, has been accused of infiltrating the Democratic Republic of the Congo during its exploitation having plundered years of colonialism. But offers to return stolen items may be followed by demands for more. Belgium had already pledged to return the tooth of former Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was assassinated shortly after the country’s independence.
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For Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre De Croo, “the return of cultural assets acquired during the colonial period is part of the new chapter that Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are opening. This new chapter is one of dialogue, respect and equality.”
According to Belgium, 35,000 historical objects kept in the Tervueren Museum could gradually be returned to the Congo. This could be a long process. However, some experts estimate that “1,500 to 2,000 objects could be returned immediately because they stem from acts that were already illegal during the colonial era”. Stool: Bunyoro wants his seat of power back
Mr. Alexandre De Croo handed over a list of these objects to his Congolese counterpart Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde in February this year.
On the occasion of King’s visit Philippe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Belgium and the Congo signed agreements in the field of culture that provide for cooperation between the National Museum in Kinshasa and that in Tervueren in Belgium.