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DR Congo re-erects Belgian statue

Harrock n roll
Moderator
#1 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 12:02
Following on from the BBC news story "DR Congo slams 'Tintin' minister", a new report:
DR Congo re-erects Belgian statue
jock123
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 15:39 · Edited by: jock123
It’s embarassing, but I don’t think I ever knew what a tyrranical ruler Leopold II was; I followed the link from the above page to this, and frankly the comparison with Hitler doesn’t seem like hyperbole. Wish I’d seen the programme that it related to.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#3 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 16:29
I didn't get to see the BBC4 show (White king, red rubber, black death) either. But I'm put off by the mention of “recontructions” and actors - I really think they're over-used in historical documentaries these days. I much prefer the “facts and footage” approach of docs like The Peoples Century, call me old-fashioned! Anyway, gripe over...

Back on topic - In the report an observer is quoted as saying "it's important for us to remember our past, like the Jewish people remember the Holocaust" and the culture minister adds a slightly different twist by saying that people should not just see the negative side of the king - they should also look at the positive aspects. I think I would agree with both these sentiments although I'm not sure erecting the statue outside the central station in Kinshasa is the appropriate place for it (admittedly I don't know the context of this). Perhaps putting it in something like a memorial park to the colonial era would have been better?
jock123
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 18:44
I got the impression that the “positive” thing the culture minister was talking about was that they finally got rid of Leopold: without knowing the bad, they couldn’t have the good, as it were.

I suppose that they have maybe put it back where it came from? Putting it back in a public place gives it a resonance with its history; putting it in a memorial garden might be seen to be a tribute to Leopold, which I’m not certain is the sentiment.

Pity it doesn’t say what the Belgians have made of this...
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 19:18 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Or perhaps the minister even meant positive in a cultural sense with regard to Belgian rule as a whole? I think it's a strange comment because the negative aspects massively outweigh the positive ones in my mind.

The report was mentioned on BBC world service throughout the day and it was reported that there was a crowd of people clapping as the statue was erected. Was this because they felt it was "important for us to remember our past" or even a sense of “nostagia” for the days of colonial rule, given the mess the country has been in to the present day?


Jock123 said: Putting it back in a public place gives it a resonance with its history; putting it in a memorial garden might be seen to be a tribute to Leopold, which I’m not certain is the sentiment.

I think the exact opposite Jock123! I was thinking that placing it in a memorial (perhaps I should have said remembrance) park with other relics of the colonial era would be a way of making it's historical context clearer. Something like the statue park in Budapest. I'm sure the Hungarians would've loved seeing statues of Lenin, et al put back in their original sites as a reminder of who was boss!
jock123
Moderator
#6 · Posted: 3 Feb 2005 21:40
H n R:
it was reported that there was a crowd of people clapping as the statue was erected. Was this because they felt it was "important for us to remember our past" or even a sense of “nostagia” for the days of colonial rule, given the mess the country has been in to the present day?

It just goes to show that you can’t second guess how people will react; it’s almost like that thing of hostages go through, the Stockholm Syndrome, of identifying with their captors.

I’m not sure that I don’t agree with you, Chris, that it wouldn’t have been better in a garden - I was just trying to think why they had done what they had done.

Anyway, there’s a lot of food for thought there...
rastapopoulos
Member
#7 · Posted: 4 Feb 2005 09:31
I never knew about It’s embarassing, but I don’t think I ever knew what a tyrranical ruler Leopold II was

Me neither. It sort of puts the whole 'Tintin in the Congo' controversy into perspective. 'Congo' was propaganda for the flailing Belgian colony. Tintin should have kept his nose out and stayed in his armchair for that adventure!
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#8 · Posted: 4 Feb 2005 21:27 · Edited by: Harrock n roll
Well, the whole thing appears to have been extremely shortlived:

Congo statue lasts a day

So maybe sense has prevailed...

*Further update*

According to this article the culture minster has said "That was just a trial to see if the concrete could support the weight." (Nice try minister!)

He also says "We are going to have a sort of public museum so people can see their history ... It's going to be an open space which school children can visit. We have a duty to remember."

Have they been reading our posts?!
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#9 · Posted: 12 Feb 2005 01:36
Sorry to drag this up yet again but I thought I should mention to anyone interested that a 10 minute report about the statue featured in todays BBC world service programme “Outlook”. The show can be heard for a week in realplayer. ( go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/outlook_peo.shtml and click on Friday's “listen to outlook” link. The report on the Leopold statue is about half-way through).

The Director of the Belgian African art museum who interviewed at the end of the report says the story has created a big debate in the media in Belgium. From what he said there appears to be an element of denial concerning the country's colonial past which still pervades today.
admin
Administrator
#10 · Posted: 12 Feb 2005 02:07 · Edited by: admin
Those who live in Australia and are interested in the documentary film mentioned by jock123 and Harrock n roll, will be pleased to know that "White King, Red Rubber, Black Death" will be shown on SBS on Wednesday, 16 February at 2030 (Tintinrulz and other South Australians, please check your TV guide for the correct screening time).

Extracted from my local TV guide:
"White King, Red Rubber, Black Death" details how, in the late 19th century, King Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo as his private labour camp.

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