The city council of Ghent removed a bust of King Leopold II from the Zuidpark on Tuesday, exactly 60 years after Congo's liberation from Belgium.
While the mayor and aldermen remained aloof, representatives of the black community took the floor. "This symbolic action is received as a relief by the Congolese community,” said Marie-Laure Mulayi, chairman of Umoja Gent. “Finally, we are being heard."
"Removing statues does not erase history, it corrects and makes new history that rightly questions the dominant narratives,” said Mathieu Charles of Belgian Network for Black Lives before the statue’s removal.
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"To those who claim that we are importing an American problem," said stage poet Lindah Nyirenda, "I say that this and many other problems were exported to America and the rest of the world in 1492” when various European countries settled in colonies in the United States.
The decision to remove the bust was made a week ago, at the request of a working group on decolonisation, which has been examining the colonial past in Ghent since last year.
The statue is being transferred to a depot of STAM, the city museum, awaiting further recommendations in the context of the decolonisation plan.
The Brussels Times