The City of Brussels has cancelled plans to hold an homage to King Leopold II on Thursday evening in front of the statue of the former Belgian king. Protest against the event was at the heart of the decision to cancel, due to the dubious role the king played in the colonial history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
According to Brussels alderman Geoffroy Coomans de Brachène, the event was considered a “bad idea” by a number of organisations, even though the purpose of the meeting was to highlight the “important urban accomplishments” of Leopold II in Brussels, writes brusselnieuws.be.
The city has since cancelled the homage that was to be held tomorrow in front of the equestrian statue at Place du Trône. The accompanying conference at City Hall, however, will go ahead as planned, to commemorate 150 years since Belgium’s second king took the throne.
The homage has drawn a lot of criticism from the public, human rights organisations and politicians. Brussels MP Bruno De Lille called the event “morally reprehensible”, and likened it to “laughing at the suffering of the genocide victims and their families.”
While King Leopold II may well have left a significant mark on the urban landscape in Brussels, including the Justice Palace and Park Cinquantenaire, he is better known as the man responsible for the brutal regime of the Congo Free State at the end of the 19th century, one of the most exploitative colonial regimes in modern history, which cost as many as 10 million lives.
Letter from one of the most evil King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883
Reverends, Fathers and Dear Compatriots:
The task that is given to fulfill is very delicate
and requires much tact. You will go certainly to evangelize, but your evangelization must inspire
above all Belgium interests. Your principal objective in our mission in the Congo is never to teach
the niggers to know God, this they know already. They speak and submit to a Mungu, one Nzambi,
one Nzakomba, and what else I don’t know. They know that to kill, to sleep with someone else’s
wife, to lie and to insult is bad. Have courage to admit it; you are not going to teach them what they
know already. Your essential role is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which
means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be the best to protect your interests in
that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from
the richness that is plenty [in their underground. To avoid that, they get interested in it, and make
you murderous]competition and dream one day to overthrow you.
Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your
followers to love poverty, like “Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heaven” and, “It’s
very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” You have to detach from them and make
them disrespect everything which gives courage to affront us. I make reference to their Mystic
System and their war fetish – warfare protection – which they pretend not to want to abandon, and
you must do everything in your power to make it disappear.
Your action will be directed essentially to the younger ones, for they won’t revolt when the
recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent’s teachings. The children have to learn
to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul. You must singularly insist
on their total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to
read and not to reason. There, dear patriots, are some of the principles that you must apply. You will
find many other books, which will be given to you at the end of this conference. Evangelize the
niggers so that they stay forever in submission to the white colonialists, so they never revolt against
the restraints they are undergoing. Recite every day – “Happy are those who are weeping because
the kingdom of God is for them.”
Letter from King Leopold II of Belgium to Colonial Missionaries, 1883 2
Convert always the blacks by using the whip. Keep their women in nine months of
submission to work freely for us. Force them to pay you in sign of recognition-goats, chicken or
eggs-every time you visit their villages. And make sure that niggers never become rich. Sing every
day that it’s impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday mass.
Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres. Institute a confessional
system, which allows you to be good detectives denouncing any black that has a different
consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker. Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to
adore only ours. Never present a chair to a black that comes to visit you. Don’t give him more than
one cigarette. Never invite him for dinner even if he gives you a chicken every time you arrive at
“The above speech which shows the real intention of the Christian missionary journey in
Africa was exposed to the world by Mr. Moukouani Muikwani Bukoko, born in the Congo in 1915,
and who in 1935 while working in the Congo, bought a second hand Bible from a Belgian priest
who forgot the speech in the Bible. – Dr. Chiedozie Okoro