King Philippe’s ‘regret’ for Belgium’s brutal colonial past received mixed reactions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a letter the Monarch addressed to President Félix Tshisekedi on the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence, Philippe expressed unprecedented sorrow for the colonial acts that historians say led to the death of millions of Congolese.
On the streets of the capital Kinshasa, views were mixed. Anacelt Tshikunku, a taxi driver is among those that think there is more to be done.
“Let all those responsible for the instability in the DRC take the example of Belgium, a former colony that is asking us for forgiveness. They have asked forgiveness from the Congolese people, and all those who destabilise the Congolese people will one day ask forgiveness.”
While some welcome the initiative, others are demanding concrete reparations. Activist Rainbow Lumumba is one such: “A letter, yes, it’s not bad, but whether it’s from Belgium, I can’t care less. Especially since she’s still responsible for all the crimes against humanity committed in the DRC.”
Mukendi Alain is a Kinshasa resident: “If there was wrongdoing that happened in the colonial era, I think this is the time to right that wrong and make it right for the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Herve Diakiese, spokesman of a citizen’s movement called Congo Debout said the belated remorse can only be accepted after adequate reparations for the atrocities carried out in the Congo.
Belgium is contemplating setting up a parliamentary commission to investigate its colonial rule, which also extended over Rwanda and Burundi.