Belgian performer to cycle to Congo dressed as King Leopold II to ‘ask forgiveness’
Share article:
Share article:

Belgian performer to cycle to Congo dressed as King Leopold II to ‘ask forgiveness’

Geert Beullens, known for his impersonations of Flemish nationalist Bart De Weever, will impersonate King Leopold II and cycle to Congo "for forgiveness." Credit: BDW Facebook/Wikimedia Commons

A Belgian performer known for impersonating Flemish nationalist leader Bart De Wever will embark on a months-long cycling trip to Congo, this time impersonating King Leopold II, to ask forgiveness for colonisation.

Performer Geert Beullens intends to make his journey into a documentary series as well as squeeze a theatre performance and a photo series out of it, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

Beullens, who often impersonates the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) leader and Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever, will this time dress up as Belgium’s coloniser monarch King Leopold II.

Leopold II declared himself sole owner and ruler of the Congo Free State in the late 1800s, extracting resources from the colonised territory for his personal gain.

“For a long time, I wonder if it would matter if the Belgians said sorry,” Beullens told the Flemish daily. “And since the royal family never officially apologised, I will just do it.”

The cycling trip is expected to last for around eight months and will see Beullens set off from a brasserie in southern Antwerp named Entrepôt du Congo at the start of 2021.

“According to experienced cyclists, I should calculate half a year, but I have given myself two months’ more time,” the performer said.

His journey will see him arrive in the capital Kinshasa, in a trip with which he aims to offer a different approach to the issue of colonisation, which remains a thorny subject in Belgium.

“I want to show that colonialism can also be approached in a different way, from a humorous perspective,” Beullens told Het Nieuwsblad.

Belgium’s rule over the Congo is infamous due to the extensive accounts and records of forced labour and systemic brutality which characterised it, with millions estimated to have died as a result of the country’s colonial occupation.

It remains unclear which form Beullens’ apology will take once he completes his months-long trip, which he also said would offer him a chance to go back to his hometown.

“Once in Congo, I want to visit some important places of colonisation,” he said. “My hometown is also on the schedule because I have not been there since my youth.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgium adopts national plan to combat gender-based violence
Belgium has adopted a National Action plan for the Fight against Gender-Based Violence, which includes more than 200 measures and unites all levels ...
Antwerp cancels Christmas market and New Year’s Eve fireworks
The city of Antwerp has joined other cities including Leuven and Ghent by announcing it is cancelling this year's Christmas market, the end-of-year ...
Pharmaceutical companies looking into vaccines against new variant
Pharmaceutical companies have sprung into action to look into vaccine protection against the new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, ...
Belgium imposes entry ban on travellers from southern Africa
Belgium is introducing an entry ban for travellers from several countries in the south of Africa following concerns about a new variant (B.1.1.529) ...
What Ursula did next
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES • Weekly analysis and untold stories
Nightclub closures, limiting contacts: These rules come into force today
Just over one week after its last meeting, Belgium's Consultative Committee on Friday once again announced a set of new measures to curb the rising ...
Almost 3,500 Covid-19 patients in hospitals as new cases continue to skyrocket
The number of new coronavirus cases in Belgium is continuing to rise, and with it the number of Covid-19 patients who are hospitalised as a result of ...
ECDC issues threat assessment about new COVID-19 variant, WHO designates it as a variant of concern
Preliminary data on the risks of the new COVID variant of concern is high, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said late ...
EU decides to activate emergency brake against new COVID-variant but stops short of flight ban
The new COVID variant detected in South Africa has put the EU on alert and prompted the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to ...
Cheat Sheet: New Rules, Quiet December Nights
It's been a while since we've had measures complicated enough to deserve a cheat sheet, but less than a week after Belgium rolled out new measures, ...
Belgium records highest number of new cases since start of pandemic
An average of 16,762 infections per day is now recorded in Belgium, with an absolute record of more than 25,000 infections in one day last Monday, ...
Brexit: trade and travel disrupted as French fishermen blockade ports and Eurotunnel
On Friday, the national committee for the French fishing industry has coordinated a blockade of three French ports as well as lorries bearing freight ...