Belgium's 1st black mayor says country must apologise for racist past

Belgium's 1st black mayor says country must apologise for racist past

- Belgium's first black mayor calls for the country to apologise for its racist past

- Pierre Kompany is the father of famous footballer Vincent Kompany

- He said an apology would go a long way to atone for the atrocities committed in his country of birth, the Democratic Republic of Congo

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Pierre Kompany is Belgium's first black mayor. The Congolese-born 72-year-old also happens to be the father of Vincent Kompany - the football star.

In an interview with AFP, he spoke about Belgium's need to address its past, particularly in light of the anti-racist protests spreading across the globe.

While different countries grapple with their racist pasts and symbols, such as symbols of slavery in America and Europe, Belgium's protests have revolved around its former king.

Leopold II reigned over Belgium between 1865 - 1909 and while he was on the throne, some of the worst atrocities committed by a colonial power happened in his territory of Belgium’s central African territory now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Historians estimate that as many as 10 million Congolese died as a result of the horrendous conditions imposed upon them.

Kompany believes the statues that celebrate Belgium's racist past should be placed in museums and should have been put there years ago before activists started defacing and demanding that the symbols fall.

“No one would go into a museum to smash them,” smiles Kompany, who was elected bourgmestre or mayor of the Brussels suburb of Ganshoren in 2018 and represents the centrist CDH party in the capital’s regional parliament.
“If the state makes an apology, that would already be a lot, but if the royal family were to do so as well, it would emerge all the greater for it,” Kompany says. previously reported that a statue of colonial Belgian king Leopold II had been removed from the city of Antwerp, Belgium.

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The statue was removed following Black Lives Matter protests in some countries in the world occasioned by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.

Under King Leopold II's reign, millions of people were murdered in the Congo Free State (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo).

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