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Colonial Congo statue lasts a day

Published on 04/02/2005

4 February 2005

BRUSSELS – A grand statue of Belgium’s King Leopold II has been torn down in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) less than a day after it was re-erected.

The bronze figure of the king on horseback was removed in the 1970’s by Congo’s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

But on Wednesday evening it was re-erected on a roundabout in the country’s capital, Kinshasa.

“I have decided to put back all the monuments from the Congolese heritage. The colonial statues form part of those,” Culture Minister Christophe Muzungu told the press.

But on Thursday afternoon, the statue which weighs more than three tonnes was ripped down by the same workers who had erected it.

The authorities made no comment on what had happened to the statue which represented Belgium’s controversial colonial past.

King Leopold ruled the Congo basin from 1885 when he was given the territory at the Conference of Berlin as his “personal property”.

The king handed the Congo over to the Belgian state in 1908 and Belgium controlled it until Mobutu seized power in a coup in 1965.

King Leopold’s statue had been forgotten for about for 30 years until it was eventually placed in the Kinshasa museum.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news