"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


le 30 Juin

Happy 50th Independence Day to the Democratic Republic of Congo! The last fifty years have not brought all that for which the country's people hope or deserve, but we hope for brighter days to come.


Anonymous Nicolas said...

Hi Texas,

I was quite surprised to see talk on Belgian (Flemish to be precise) news programs and in at least one newspaper (I've not looked at other ones) highlighting positive aspects of colonisation, or at least positive aspects as perceived by people in Congo. Some journalists are claiming that when they speak to ordinary Congolese people they are quite positive about Belgium and about the Belgian king, and to some extent even think that things were better under colonial rule, because they hear stories from their (grand)parents about free education and health care, decent infrastructure,... I suspect at least to some extent this is a misreading of history, and that they're downplaying the many negative aspects, but - if you have a minute - I would be interested to hear what you think (i.e. is the view really that positive?).

Descendants of Belgian colonisers as well are arguing that now the country is a shambles and it wasn't under colonial rule, and that the few things that work (or used to work) in the DRC were set up by colonisers. One person (granted, he's a TV chef :-)) went as far as saying that Belgium shouldn't apologise to the DRC for colonialism but that the DRC should apologise to Belgium, because they kicked out the Belgians and made them gave up their farms etc. I'm not particularly informed on any of this, but this all strikes me as a bit too easy and revisionistic (if that's even a word), so I'd be happy to hear your more informed thoughts on this. I guess the main question here is whether there’s anything positive about the legacy of colonialism that would warrant this view?


Wednesday, June 30, 2010 4:25:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

Nicolas, judging from the positive references to "cooperation with Belgium" that were made at the events in Goma today, I think there is some nostalgia. I'd venture as you allude that the nostalgia is not so much for the era of colonialism, but for a time when everything worked and life wasn't so hard. Keep in mind that life expectancy here is very low, so there aren't that many people still around who actually remember what colonialism was like, how the Belgians limited educational opportunities for almost all Congolese, etc. It's easier to be nostalgic for something you never experienced.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 10:16:00 AM

Anonymous Savina said...

It should maybe also be added that in general welfare systems can work quite well in authocratic and even colonial regimes, but that does not make these governments any less illegitimate, illegal and oppressive of the population and their rights overall.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 11:41:00 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home