Tag Archives: DRC

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

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.

EU Juncker meets Congo President Tshisekedi

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker received the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi. They have discussed the necessary reforms programme, and the fight against Ebola.

In July the EU has contributed a further €30 million in humanitarian funding for Ebola response in efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The second deadliest Ebola outbreak on record has claimed so far more than 1,700 lives in a country already facing a dire humanitarian situation. The funding announcement brought total EU humanitarian aid to fight against Ebola to €47 million since 2018, when the current outbreak was declared.

In September 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.

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 undernutrition, 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.

Ebola patient passed away in Uganda

The nine-year-old girl  from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), , who was tested positive this week for the Ebola virus in Uganda, died on August 30 morning. (Image: illustration).

“She died around 8 AM this morning,Yusuf Baseka, director of health services for Kasese District, southwestern Uganda told AFP. The child was in isolation in a health center in Bwera, in the same district of Kasese. The body of the girl “is being repatriated” in the DRC, with his mother who accompanied her daughter’s  remains, he said.

“I want to reassure all Ugandans and non-Ugandans that we have the full capacity to control Ebola. Stay calm and vigilant,” tweeted Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng before the announcement of the girl’s death. She is the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda to die.

In June, three family members diagnosed in Uganda, after contracting the disease in the DRC, died. Two died on Ugandan soil and the third in the DRC after being repatriated. In late July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Uganda free from Ebola, with no other cases reported in the meantime.

The contaminated girl arrived at the Mpondwe crossing point on the DRC-Uganda border this week to seek medical help in Bwera, according to the Ugandan Ministry of Health. In Mpondwe, where Uganda has sanitary controls in place, medical teams have noted that Ebola-like symptoms include fever, generalized weakness, rash and unexplained blood loss in the mouth. , according to the same source.

Blood tests confirmed that she was “Ebola positive“. The Ministry pointed out that since it had been controlled at the border, it had not come into contact with anyone in Uganda.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever, highly contagious, causes the death of between 25% and 90% of patients, according to the WHO. There is no commercialized treatment or vaccine, but several leads are being tested. It is spread through direct contact with blood, body secretions (sweat, stool, etc.), through sexual intercourse and through the improper handling of contaminated cadavers.

A total of 2,006 people died of Ebola in the DRC in a year, and Ugandan authorities, who fear the virus is spreading in their country, have taken strict preventive measures. Nearly 18,000 people cross the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda daily, according to Ugandan government statistics.

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