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Belgium Has Apologized to its Former African Colonies for Kidnapping their Mixed-Race Children

It's taken six decades for Rwanda, Congo and Burundi to receive this apology.

Almost six decades after Burundi, Congo and Rwanda gained independence following eight decades of colonization, Belgium has issued an apology to the Central African countries, according to the New York Times. The apology was delivered by Prime Minister Charles Michel during a plenary session of Parliament today.


During Belgium's colonial rule almost a century ago, the country kidnapped and deported children who were born to mixed-race couples. These children, known as the métis, were later forcefully adopted and most were never able to contact their biological families again. Families and entire communities across three different African countries were torn apart with irreparable repercussions still felt even today.

The family of a Congolese man by the name of Assumani Budagwa, now in his mid-sixties, was affected by Belgian's actions during that time and co-authored a resolution which urged the current Belgium government to acknowledge and apologize for its injustices against mixed-race children in the three African countries. The resolution was adopted last year into Parliament.

Speaking in the Parliamentary plenary session today, Prime Minister Charles Michel said:

"In the name of the federal government, I present our apologies to the métis stemming from the Belgian colonial era and to their families for the injustices and the suffering inflicted upon them. I also wish to express our compassion with the African mothers, from which the children were taken."

Last year, the Catholic Church apologized for their role in mistreating the métis saying, "It took till last year for this issue to be raised and the church wishes to apologize for the whole of society, not just for itself."

As one can imagine, there are many individuals in Congo as well as Belgium who are still without official birth certificates and also desire to trace back their roots and family history. The resolution by Budagwa included this reality and demanded that the Belgian government assist these individuals.

The acknowledgement is perhaps a concrete first step in addressing the numerous brutalities committed by the West during their colonial rule. However, the spokesperson for the Burundian Presidency, J.C. Karerwa Ndenzako, said the following on social media:

"Excellency Prime Minister @CharlesMichel, Apologizing over children snatched from their African mothers is not enough. The vileness of these acts is part and parcel of a far broader history. #Belgium should dialogue with #Burundi, #Rwanda & #DRC."
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Listen to 10 Great Songs From Johnny Clegg

Here are some of the best songs to remember South Africa's son of the soil.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that South African musician, Johnny Clegg, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Understandably, heartfelt tributes have been pouring in ever since. Long before it was cool (or even legal) to be in close proximity to blackness and anything attached to it in South Africa, Clegg, a white man, was doing just that. That is exactly why he was given the endearing title of South Africa's "son of the soil."

Growing up during Apartheid, Clegg was taught how to speak the Zulu language by a domestic worker named Charlie Mzila. In his teenage years, his appreciation for the Zulu culture continued and he soon learnt the traditional dance styles known as isishameni and also learnt how to play the Maskandi guitar. Clegg's music was a beacon of light during a very dark time in South Africa's history and his songs about Nelson Mandela (at a time where songs were banned for merely mentioning the name of the late statesman and other key struggle activists) brought the country together.

It is irrefutable that a music giant has fallen. However, Clegg leaves behind a wealth of music featuring other great South African artists and groups such as Zakwe, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Juluka/Suvuka, among several others. His music undeniably brought South Africans and people all around the world together.

We've picked ten of our favorite songs from the late musician's discography in honor of a life that was lived to the fullest.

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Stonebwoy in "Tuff Seed"

The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Stonebwoy, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tiwa Savage x Zlatan, Africa Express, Juls x Mr Eazi and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Beyoncé Wore These 2 African Designers in Her Music Video for 'Spirit'

Queen Bey continues to include and give a nod to African talent in her visuals.

As we draw even closer to Disney's The Lion King opening in theaters this week, Beyoncé continues to lead the way with her new music video for "Spirit"—the first single off of the film's album she produced and curated, The Lion King: The Gift.

Shot in the Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, Beyoncé and her legion of beautiful dancers are one with nature and its various elements as she beckons us to be brave and hear the calling of spirit. As we noted when she announced the album, the track opens with a call and response in Swahili that translates to "Long live the king": Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme—uishi kwa.

Keeping our eyes peeled for African influences in the music video, it's evident that is seen in the choreography. We even spotted our extended fam with the afrobeats moves—the AVO Boys: Stephen Ojo and Caleb Bonney—as two of her dancers in the video.

Beyoncé continues to also give a nod to African talent through the looks she donned in "Spirit" styled by her mainstay, Zerina Akers.

Take a look at the two African designers she wore in the video below.

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