“We need a transparent committee for the return of African property”

Wednesday, 05 December 2018 16:20
The President of the feminine anti-racist watch committee, Bamko-Cran, Mireille-Thseusi Robert on Tuesday called for the creation of a joint and transparent committee for the return of African ill-acquired cultural property and human remains from colonization.
Her request was voiced in relation to the reopening, next Saturday, of the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, under the name of the AfricaMuseum.

Mireille-Thseusi Robert lamented, “The reflection platform around decolonization and the return of property of which Bamko-Cran is involved in, wished through this press conference, to provide an update on a meeting about the return of ill-acquired African cultural property, which took place last week with Zuhal Demir, Secretary of State for Scientific Policy (of the New Flemish Alliance). We wanted to know if, as she had said, she had implemented a committee for the return of such property. During this meeting, we noted that this committee was not comprised of an experience base from several different fields, and that its members were exclusively civil servants from federal museums.”

Ms Robert went on, “No African or member of the African diaspora is on this committee, nor indeed are members of civil society. Besides our request for the return of ill-acquired pieces, we are asking for a joint and transparent committee to be set up, the development of a schedule and a specific mission revolving around the production of an inventory, and a proposal for how to implement the return of such property.”

The desired items for return relate as much to cultural property as human remains and colonial records. Amongst the latter are in particular geological maps. Mireille-Thseusi Robert further lamented, “The maps of mineral resources in the Congo are still in Belgium and the Congo has none. This is a jealously guarded legacy of colonization which, if revealed, would enable us to know where to excavate to find mineral resources.”

Oscar Schneider
The Brussels Times
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