Tag Archives: Rwanda

Africa-Europe Forum in Vienna

Vienna, Austria. At Africa-Europe Forum, hosted jointly by the Austrian Presidency of the EU, notably by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and the Chairman of the African Union for 2018, President Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated Europe’s ambition for a true and fair partnership among equals between Africa and Europe. President Juncker presented the first results of the Africa–Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, just three months after its launch. The Alliance aims to deepen the economic and trade relations between the two continents, in order to create sustainable jobs and growth.

“Europe and Africa share a long history and a bright future. This is why I proposed a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, to help attract both European and African investment and create 10 million jobs in Africa over the next five years. Translating words into action, we have already taken a series of measures to bring our ambitions to life”  European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

The president is accompanied to the high-level Forum by vice-president Andrus Ansip, Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan and Commissioner for Digital Economy Mariya Gabriel.

The Africa-Europe Alliance, announced by president Juncker in his 2018 State of the Union Address, focuses on four key areas. Three months on, work is already well underway in each.

The EU External Investment Plan aims to raise significant sustainable investments in Africa and European neighbourhood countries by 2020. From the €44 billion announced, programmes already in the pipeline will mobilise €37.1 billion of investments.

New projects were announced today:

  • An EU guarantee (NASIRA Risk-Sharing Facility), the first of its kind under the EU External Investment Plan, will use worth €75 million of EU funds to leverage up to €750 million of investments for entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the EU’s southern neighbourhood. Alone this is expected to create 800,000 jobs and benefit those who usually struggle to access affordable loans, such as small and medium sized enterprises, internally displaced people, refugees, returnees, women and young people.
  • A new Agri-Business Capital fund worth €45 million will support smallholder agriculture by increasing access to finance for individual smallholder farmers. It is expected to attract more than €200 million in investments and benefit as many as 700,000 households in rural areas.
  • To support the EU’s southern neighbourhood, a programme worth €61.1 million will supportsolar power plants in Morocco and €46.8 million will be invested in depolluting the Kitchener Drain in the Nile Delta region in Egypt.

African Museum “half-celebration”

In spite of the €66 million investment into the renovation of the Africa Museum, and five years of intense reconstruction, for the representatives of Congolese diaspora the re-opening of a new concept institution is just a “half-celebration“, because the  in de-colonisation process should go “much further“.

Developing a new concept of Belgium Africa Museum its leadership invited  Africans themselves from the countries of the continent, and from diaspora to share their narrative, creating a genuine and meaningful platform for the debate, a work in process to reflect the continuous evolution of societies, and cultures towards each other, marking a clear break with the Colonial Palace Museum from the times of King Leopold II.

With this Museum Africa receives the place it merits – Africa existed before the colonization” – Billy Calonji from Congolese diaspora commented, reflecting on complex shared history of Belgium and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (VIDEO below in French language).

Through decades the Museum has been experiencing a fundamental cultural evolution, moving from West-centered vision of Africa to modern concept of a multi-polar world, and multi-cultural societies. From once upon a time a Colonial Palace with Royal collections of artifacts of Belgium kings it reshaped itself into modern fascinating platform for communications between people, cultures, and  civilizations.

Among precious experiences and metamorphosis of the Museum special place close to the  heart of Africans is kept for the ceremony of commemoration honoring the seven Congolese who did not survive the climate and perished being brought by the King Leopold II for the Universal Exhibition of 1897. A group of  267 Congolese was “imported” to stay in practiced in those days “human zoo”, re-creating life of Bantu tribes in Free State of Congo for the expo visitors.

On the sidelines of the reopening of the Africa Museum scheduled for this Saturday, December 8, a commemorative service has been held at noon in front of the seven graves lined up along the Saint-Jean Church, Tervuren. A week earlier a commemorative plate was installed in the Museum parc  to engrave the memory of those Congolese in a symbolic gesture to mark the place of the exhibition village. “We asked them for pardon, and we hope that the direction the Museum takes, is the way they could have wished”, Mr.Calonji continued.

However the shadows of the past are not able to overwhelm the vibrant future ahead of the Museum as a platform for debate, culture, and African studies which  are assessed as the positive elements by Billy Calonji, who holds in high esteem African diaspora efforts, actively participating in creating a new concept of African Museum, but nevertheless the work should continue even further.

During the renovation works the Museum has developed close relationships with members of African diaspora in Belgium in pursue of a new mindset: a synergy in cooperation within modern multicultural Belgium society, and beyond.

The partnerships with national museum in Rwanda, Musée des civilisations noires in Senegal, the national museum of Congo in Kinshasa, and in Lubumbashi have been developed.

A little bit of patience is needed, while waiting for the opening of the Museum in Kinshasa in Congo” said Mr.Calonji, refereing to the scheduled for the end of 2019 event, awaited by lovers of African art and culture, expecting to bring the dialogue between civilizations to a next stage.

In its engagement to overcome the notorious legacy of Belgium  colonial past, hundreds of artifacts were returned to Africa: to the Institute of National Museums of Congo in Kinshasa, and to the National Museum of Rwanda in Butare, but the work will go on the Director of the Museum Guido Gryseels confirmed. The digitisation of a significant  parts of archive has been undertaken to hand in the originals to Rwanda Museum.

We acknowledge that the moral ownership of the objects is with Africans themselves” said Mr.Gryseels  to international press at the preview visit.

 

 

Belgium Africa Museum opening

After five years of €66 million large-scale renovation Belgium Royal Museum of Central Africa opens its door on December 9th, under a new name, and with a new concept: it closes the chapter of the Colonial Palace of the epoch of King Leopold II, and moves on to Africa’s present and future.

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“…Our new permanent exhibition aims to depict the image of modern Africa, looking into the future, without overlooking the shared common past” said Guido Gryseels, the Museum Director, whose ambition is to provide a platform for debate, the meeting space, the exhibition place, the scientific laboratory, and the documentation center. (Image below: Guido Gryseels interviewed).

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We hope to become a real meeting place and centre for dialogue for people who have keen interest in Africa”, Mr. Gryseels added.

At present the Museum works together with diasporas, and builds partnerships with African museums in Rwanda, the Musée des Civilisations noires in Senegal, the national Museum of Congo, and the National Museum of Lubumbashi. There are expectations to have exchanges with a new museum in Kinshasa,  which will open the its doors in the end of 2019. (Image below: the Rotunda, African Museum, Belgium).

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The Museum has experienced a dramatic cultural evolution from Colonial past to a modern vibrant multicultural universe, introducing voices and opinions of Africans in various forms along the exhibitions, telling their own narratives. Furthermore, the new type of engagement is foreseen for recruitment of staff from African origin to ensure the diversity of employees.

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However the Director underlines, that the current state of the establishment under his leadership is “work in process“, a new beginning, a rebirth of a fascinating space, an ‘African island‘ in the middle of Belgium: 120 000 ethnographic artifacts, 10 000 animals, 8 000 music instruments, three kilometers of archive, 205 hectare site, with only one percent of treasures at display!

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African Museum, Tervuren, Belgium

http://www.africamuseum.be

 

Rwanda murderer of Belgium peacekeepers asks for asylum

Former Rwandan Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, sentenced in 2007 by the Brussels Court to twenty years in prison for his participation in the killings of the ten Belgian peacekeepers on April 7, 1994 in Kigali, has served his sentence. After his release from prison, he seeks asylum in Belgium, said the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken.

The former officer of the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) is in a closed center “for a return,” said Theo Francken (N-VA) on Twitter. The release of Bernard Ntuyahaga had been revealed earlier in the week. But the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRA), which has to decide on a possible asylum application, refused to communicate on the subject on grounds of privacy.

Theo Francken confirmed that Mr. Ntuyahaga had made an asylum claim, adding that he was in a closed center “for a return“, but without specifying whether it is Rwanda. The Secretary of State reacted to a tweet from Vlaams Belang (opposition) who claimed to be the first to reveal this situation and asked Mr Francken and the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens (CD & V), to show responsibility. “This murderer in no way deserves a second chance,” added the far-right party.

“Let him go to Rwanda. We’ll see what will happen,” said Beatrice Bassinne, the widow of Corporal Bassinne, who was assassinated in Rwanda in 1994. she is against granting Bernard Ntuyahaga a political asylum in Belgium. Her husband was hacked to death with machete along with the other victims of genocide.

Africa’ $3 trillion free-trade zone

African leaders agreed to form a $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, but its two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, declined to join.

The African Union launched talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by number of participating states, aiming to increase intra-regional trade, which constitutes 15% of Africa’s total commerce.

Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months. It were no explanations of South Africa and Nigeria decision to restrain from joining the project. However South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is reflecting upon creating of pan-African currency.

The project needed a minimum of 22 countries signing up to get off the ground and Kagame said the aim number of members is reached. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau declared as participants of the free-trade zone.

“What is at stake is the dignity and well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs,” Kagame declared.