Tag Archives: DRC

Ghent removes Leopold II bust

Belgium city of Ghent removed a bust of King Leopold II from one of the city parks, in a symbolic gesture aligned with the celebration of 60 years of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former colony.

“This symbolic action is received as a relief by the Congolese community,” said Marie-Laure Mulayi . “Finally, we are being heard.” The student from African origin, she leads Umoja student union, devoted to multiculturalsm.

During the ceremony on Juin 31, testimonies were read by inhabitants of Ghent with African roots.

“Today is a very important day. But it is not the last day. This is the start of a process, not an end. The battle continues. We will continue to do our best and hopefully we will have a better world soon. ”

“Today we want to turn a black page in our history,” said ships Tine Heyse (Green party). After a minute of silence, the removal proceeded. After the statue was removed there was brief applause.

The bust was brought to a depot of the Ghent City Museum. It will be examined later to assess the damages made by vandals. The nameplate with the inscription “Leopold II, King of the Belgians” and the pedestal on which the statue stood will remain for the time being.

The time when the controversial statue was removed was kept secret. The City of Ghent did not wish to make it a public event, indicating that they were determined to respect social distancing and other sanitary norms in the situations of coronavirus pandemic.

The controversial statue has been damaged several times by vandals in recent weeks. On Juin 31 in the evening, the Belgicist association Pro Belgica made a final tribute to the statue.

There are different reaction of the removal, also those who think it is wrote to erase past. “Ghent capitulates. One criminal, Leopold II, is now replaced by another, who has been canonized: George Floyd. All under the guise of ‘the fight against racism and discrimination” writes on his Twitter micro blog Sam van Rooy, the Flemish politician and Member of Flemish parliament.

Belgium King appologies for Colonial past

Here is the letter that Belgium King Philippe sent to the Congolese president, Félix Tshisekedi, as part of the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sovereign expresses “deep regrets” there. (Translation from original in French):

On this sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I extend my warmest wishes to you and to the Congolese people.

This anniversary is an opportunity to renew our feelings of deep friendship and to rejoice in the intense cooperation that exists between our two countries in so many fields, and in particular in the medical field, which is mobilizing us during this pandemic period. The health crisis strikes us amidst other concerns. The privileged partnership between Belgium and Congo is an asset to face it. On this national holiday, I wish to reaffirm our commitment by your side.

To further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to speak of our long common history in all truth and serenity.

Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliation. I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is today rekindled by the discrimination still too present in our societies. I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified.

Global challenges demand that we look to the future in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. The fight for human dignity and for sustainable development requires joining forces. It is this ambition that I formulate for our two countries and for our two continents, African and European.

The current circumstances unfortunately do not allow me to go to your beautiful country, which I would love to know better. I hope I will have the opportunity soon. “

AU confirms Ebola outbreak

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has a new Ebola outbreak in the northeast province of the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on June 1 released a statement announcing the outbreak in Mbandaka, in Équateur province. According to the statement, six cases have been confirmed, with four deaths and two patients under medical care.

“It is likely more people will be identified with the disease as surveillance activities increase,” added the statement.

DRC: new Ebola case established

Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in the western province of Equateur, over 1,000 km away from the ongoing outbreak in the country’s east, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists on June 1.

The diagnosis presents a serious challenge to health authorities. In April, Congo was days from declaring the end of the second-largest Ebola epidemic on record when a new series of contaminations was confirmed in the east.

DRC escape of Ebola patient

The Democratic Republic of Congo was two days away from announcing the end of the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic when a new chain of infection was discovered on April 10, following more than seven weeks without a new case.

Since then, health authorities have sought to contain any renewed spread of infections.

But on April 18 a 28-year-old motorbike taxi-driver who had tested positive for Ebola ran away from the centre where he was being treated in the town of Beni.

“We are using all the options to get him out of the community,” said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for the WHO’s Ebola response operation. “We are expecting secondary cases from him.”

An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo may spread again after a patient escaped from a clinic, complicating efforts to contain the disease that has infected six people since last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 19.

DR Congo: Ebola new case

The Ebola patient has died in Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Aptil 10, indicating that the second worst outbreak of the disease in history is not over.

“A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.

As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.

“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”

The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.

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.

DR: Plane crash in Goma

At least 24 people perished in a passenger plane crashed into houses in Goma city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the officials confirmed. Nobody from 17 passengers and two members of the crew have survived the accident. The local rescue workers are evacuating injured and dead.

Local residents in Mapendo were among the victims.

The small aircraft went down in the Mapendo neighbourhood after “missing” its take-off from the city’s airport on November 24, North Kivu regional governor Nzanzu Kasivita said.

Kendell Geers ventures African mask philosophy

South African conceptual artist Kendell Geers presents African masks in unconventional way to evoke re-evaluation of cultural heritage of the continent, shifting from outdated perception of  “fetish” to artefact, and further to reading the profound philosophical meaning of the ritual objects.

Concluding the exhibition IncarNations (BOZAR, Brussels)  debates took place on contemporary vision of African cultural heritage, and imminent need to shift away from the Colonial era patterns of exoticism to genuine understanding of meaning of African culture. Passionate proponent of African art,  Kendell Geers calls for abandoning Eurocentric system of assessment of cultural heritage, and regarding historic artefacts with African eyes.

Kendell Geers presentations of African masterpieces stretches beyond Africa, pointing to their universal spiritual strength, fearlessly confronting the most sensitive issues of Colonial past, and problems of the present dialogues between East, West and Africa to ensure transformations leading to engagements, empowering Africans, and reconstructing their rich cultural heritage.

The artist reflects upon dramatic history of colonisation of Africa, suggesting “negative” overpowers “positive” in synergy of two continents, until Europeans keep their prejudices and fantasies, and desires rooted in the bygone era.

 

The exhibition IncarNations created by the artist Kendell Geers in co-operation with the Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo has challenged a traditional outlook on African culture, proposing Afrocentric perspective. It took place in Brussels Art Centre BOZAR from 

 

 

DRC: Second Ebola vaccine in view

Health authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) informed that they plan to introduce a second Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, to counter the second-worst outbreak of the deadly virus.

https://twitter.com/reutersafrica/status/1175372732596465664?s=21

The team overseeing Congo’s Ebola response did not reveal when exactly the J&J vaccine would be employed. It will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people since August 2018. Unlikely fhe J&J vaccine requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck product, which requires a single shot.

https://twitter.com/reutersafrica/status/1175372732596465664?s=21

According to the Congolese authorities, they will offer J&J vaccine to Congolese traders who cross into Rwanda and then to residents of the province neighbouring the epicentre of the outbreak to “create a corridor of immunised people”.

https://twitter.com/csis/status/1175121195013771264?s=21

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