Congolese artefacts kept in Belgian Museum must be returned, said DRC President
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Congolese artefacts kept in Belgian Museum must be returned, said DRC President

The Africa Museum currently hosts about 120,000 African artefacts from the colonial period today. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Congolese artefacts displayed in the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa should be returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to President Felix Tshisekedi.

Speaking at the inauguration of the new National Heritage Museum in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa on Saturday, 23 November, President Tshisekedi noted that while said artefacts should be returned, they should be done so gradually as to preserve the items in good conditions.

“Congo’s heritage must return one day, but this must happen in an organised way,” said Tshisekedi, according to VRT.

The National Heritage Museum, funded by the South Korean International Cooperation Agency, currently hosts 400 exhibits from all around the country that portray life and culture in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials have expressed their hope to extend their collection to include items taken to Europe during the colonial period, according to BBC.

Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa, also known as the Africa Museum, reopened in 2018 in Tervuren after undergoing a major renovation. It currently houses about 120,000 African artefacts from the colonial period.

In response to experts asking for the return of exhibits, Guido Gryseels, the Director of Africa Museum, agreed to discuss said requests “if the legitimate owner comes forward.”

Although the Africa Museum identifies the new National Heritage Museum as a partner on its website, no official restitution requests have been made by the Congolese government.

Sheila Uría Veliz
The Brussels Times