Category Archives: Development

Belgium colonial taboo

By the end of last year Africa Museum in outskirts of Brussels, Belgium, has terminated cooperation with a guide accused of “racist comments” during a tour with students, because of mentioning some positive sides of the colonial past.
He is no longer a guide at our museum,” the director of the Museum Guido Gryseels said while dealing with the allegations. “We have distanced ourselves from his statements.”

The guide, who has not been named, but referred in social media as Dirk, has made some unsuccessful attempts to present an objective from his point of view concept of Belgium’s colonialism of Africa, mentioning some positive elements of introduction of advantages of Western civilisation to Congo, which are an absolute taboo in Belgium modern cultural discourse.

During a recent tour of the Museum given to a group of history students from the University of Antwerp, one of their number, Hanane Llouh, alleged on Twitter and to Agence France Press (AFP),

The student Ms.Llouh wrote on her Twitter page that she was «furious and offended» by the guide interpretations of the past.

Gryseels said the guide, with whom he discussed the complaint, agreed to a “lack of judgement” in some of his comments portraying colonial history positively, but denied making outright racist statements.

We have stopped our collaboration with him,Gryseels said, adding: “He’s a freelancer so we can’t really fire him.”

However not everyone approved the draconian measures of the Museum administration against the ‘heretic‘ guide. The voices were raised against the disproportionate reaction, indicating that the guide Dirk did not twist any facts or figures. However his vision of Congo history was influenced by very personal souvenirs kept in his family. Apparently the stories of his grandmother residing there were preciosus to him, and he was pround of her, treating her African servant as a member of the family, eating all together at the table once a week in a patriarchal manner. Dirk called for more ‘nuanced‘ vision of colonial past, avoiding the trap generalisations, reproducing clichées. The guide also complained that while soliciting he was confronted with discirmination based on his skin color, but finally he was admitted for the job.

Hanane Llouh studies both history and fashion design in Antwerp, apparently she is also an activist, entering polemics with the prominent politician Filip Dewinter from Vlaams Belang party, who objects her imposing burkini swiming costume and the other attributes of Muslim culture onto Flemish lifestyle. “Follow your heart! If you choose a direction in which you always reluctantly dive behind the books, that will have a negative impact on your own well-being…” shares her thoughts student Llouh in an interview for University site, explaining her activism.

Apparently the heart of Ms.Llouh as compass is not accepted by everyone universally. Dewinter has been pointing at Llouh, while criticising wearing the veil in Univeristy of Antwerp (UA). “While women risk their lives in Iran to shed headscarves, Islam discrimination symbol is propagated here by UA! How cynical” he wrote. (Hanane Llouh on the image below in veil).

African Museum is one of five among Belgian establishments nominated for the ‘European Museum of the Year Award’, the European Museum Forum announced.

The Africa Museum has welcomed more than 350,000 visitors since it was re-opened in December 2019, according to BX1. Before the encounter with Antwerp University students. the expelled guide Dirk has conducted 70 groups, and neither of them complained about his narrative.

Sindika Dokolo repatriates African heritage

#IncarNations exhibition of African artefacts intends to break the established patterns, presenting African in its aesthetics magnitude, but regard it as a philosophy. The synergy between Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo (47) and South African artist Kendell Geers (51) produced a concept of appreciation  of continent’s cultural heritage bypassing traditional outlook. (Image above: Sindika Dokolo (right) and Nadia Yala Kisukidi, philosopher, BOZAR, October 4, 2019).

Three months event in Brussels prestigious cultural centre BOZAR has concluded with debates on the future of African art heritage, and its crucial role in nation building process, inspiring communities to evolve, moving away from colonial past, including break-away of imagination. (Image above: Chokwe Mask, Angola, #Incarnations, BOZAR)

Sindika Dokolo is convinced that in globalisation context, assembling African art and repatriating the artefacts to Africa is a significant part of the inter-African discussion on cultural heritage, restoring the unique role of African people in ensemble of nations.

Determined to shift away from “exoticism”  and detachment of the artefacts from the origins, Congolese Dokolo attempts to reconstruct African history  in its original purity of ante-Colonial era,  before Portuguese entered Congo.

Dokolo insists that African artefacts are more than objects, but crucial elements in inter-African debate on cultural heritage, restoring the forgotten chapter of African history, and projecting the unique profile of  African identity.

The Congolese collector underlines, that the very same pieces esteemed by Western art experts as masterpieces, are regarded by many Africans as expressions of “savagery” of ante-Colonial era, preferring to see them to be destroyed and forgotten. From this point of view the establishment of African art museums in Africa will help the complex process of learning to appreciate proper African heritage. But not only, because Dokolo is convinced art is the unique bridge that will empower Africans to  “love” themselves, and heal the scars left by savageries of Colonialism.

https://twitter.com/annavandensky/status/1180169457219653632?s=21

Image below: Sindika Dokolo in search of lost African art, #IncarNations exhibition


Russia African Summit in Sochi”

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov announced Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on 23-24 October 2019.

African economies are currently striving to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development – efforts which must be supported by constant technological progress. Today’s global technological landscape is becoming increasingly digital, opening up new opportunities to overcome challenges facing Africa and the entire world, such as famine, inequality, illiteracy, and disease.

https://twitter.com/rf_osce/status/1171717560850665472?s=21

Digital technologies are changing approaches to communication, leading to more effective governance and increased access to government services. Technology is bringing together solutions across a range of sectors to form comprehensive projects, while creating a single value-added growth chain and an integral mechanism for strengthening human capital – something which is vital for young African economies.

https://twitter.com/mission_rf/status/1172025714931118080?s=21

What technological solutions could help countries in Africa to accelerate growth in prosperity? What should be the starting point for implementing information and communications technology? Which areas would give the greatest rewards? What needs to be done to train personnel for this new technological wave?

https://twitter.com/russiaun/status/1174443945805438976?s=21

Meghan starring as «part-time féminist»

Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, danced with a group of mentors who teach vulnerable youngsters from townships to swim and surf. However the international attention was attracted to their visit to South Africa’s oldest mosque – Auwal Mosque in Bo-Kaap in Cape Town – on September 24, the second day of their Africa tour. Meghan Markle stepped out of the car wearing headscarf and floor-length dress, disguised in Prophet worshiper. The couple were met by Imam Sheikh Ismail Londt and Muslim community leader Mohamed Groenwald.

The royals visited the Waves for Change project, which grew from a small surfing club started in Masiphumelele township in 2009, and which is intended to help young people from violent communities to develop trust and confidence through sports and recreation at Monwabisi beach .

UK media has interpreted Meghan Markle debut in scarf as a sign of respect to Muslim worshipers, reminding of Princess Diana appearance in headscarf at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1996. However they have completely omitted the evolution of the public perception of Islam of after 11/9.

The Muslim outfit of Meghan Markle in floor length dress and headscarf has also caused indignation of feminists, and all those who strive for gender equality in Muslim societies. Social media dubbed the Duchess as a “part-time feminist“, or “Royal feminist”.

https://twitter.com/bobbelvedere/status/1176548109205364737?s=21

EU €34.275M aid to Great Lakes region

This week the European Commission has announced €34.275 million in humanitarian funding to help the most vulnerable people in the Great Lakes region in Africa. The aid will mainly help address urgent humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of Congo and provide continued support to Burundian refugees in the region.

Food insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo is worsening the humanitarian situation. We are stepping up support, including in the eastern conflict-torn part of the country, affected by the Ebola epidemic. We also maintain our solidarity with Burundian refugees in the region. Our new aid package will provide emergency healthcare, improve hygiene conditions and access to clean water, provide protection, and give education to children caught in these crises,” said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and EU Ebola coordinator.

The bulk of the funding announced supports humanitarian measures in the Democratic Republic of Congo (€29.375 million) and refugees from Burundi in Tanzania and Rwanda (€4.3 million). The remaining €600,000 are allocated to UN agencies in Burundi and to help refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo in neighbouring Republic of Congo.

Africa’s Great Lakes region continues to face armed conflicts and insecurity, leading to forced displacements, food shortages and malnutrition, and recurrent outbreaks of epidemics and natural disasters. The funding announced today brings the overall amount of EU humanitarian aid in the Great Lakes region in 2019 to €69.74 million.

IMF agrees to bailout Congo Republic

International Monetary Fund (IMF) decision to bailout the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) this week is expected to allocate around $2 billion in funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Reuters news agency reports, referring to its sources.

Following two years of negotiations, the IMF’s executive board approved a three year programme worth nearly $449 million for Congo, an OPEC member suffering a setback by a 2014 crash in crude prices.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Alex Segura-Ubiergo visited Brazzaville to hold discussions toward a possible arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF). As a result the proposed ECF-supported program aims to help the Republic of Congo restore macroeconomic stability and achieve higher and more inclusive growth. In particular, the program seeks to restore debt sustainability and targets a wide range of reforms to improve governance, reduce corruption, and achieve greater transparency and efficiency in the management of public resources, especially in the oil sector.

FGM victims need psychological aid

African survivors of female genital mutilation (FGM) say they are in need of mental health aid, and urged governments and charities to provide support for dealing with long-term trauma.

Survivors and activists from across the continent attending a summit on FGM and child marriage in Senegal this week said mental health should have been on the agenda.

Common in 28 African countries, FGM is often seen as a rite of passage and justified for cultural or religious reasons but can cause chronic pain, infertility and even death.

FGM typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia and is practiced on girls from infancy to adolescence, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating about 200 million women and girls have undergone the procedure.

World leaders pledged to end the practice under a set of global goals agreed in 2015.

Cut at 18 against her will, 29-year-old Lekumoisa said she has never received any services to help with the trauma.

 

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