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Belgium Renames Square After Patrice Lumumba In an Attempt to Address Its Colonial Past

But is the act alone enough to atone for Belgium's history of violence against Lumumba and the people of the Congo?

On Saturday, the Belgian government named a square after the late Congolese revolutionary Patrice Lumumba, who it helped overthrow in a bloody coup in 1961, just months after Lumumba was named the first prime minister of a newly liberated Congo. The leader would have been 93 today.

As reported in the New York Times, an area formerly known as Square du Bastion, located near the neighborhood of Matonge—home to one of the country's largest Congolese populations—was renamed Square Patrice Lumumba to mark the Congo's 58th independence day on June 30.


Close to 1,000 people were in attendance for the ceremony, including members of Lumumba's family.

The move is the European nation's latest attempt at reckoning with it's harrowing colonial past, which remains an open wound in the country. The Congo was the center of Belgium's colonial empire, as it was it's largest and most profitable colony. Widespread social, political and economic exploitation and mass killing took place under the grave rule of Belgium's King Leopold II, who maintained direct control of the central African nation until 1908, when he handed the colony over to the Belgian state.

The Congo finally gained its independence in 1960, with the widely embraced Lumumba as it's promising new leader, though he was in power for only two and a half months before he was overthrown and eventually executed in a Belgian-backed military coup d'état organized by Mobutu Sese Seko, the infamous military dictator who carried out his strikingly vicious rule over the country until 1997.

The mayor of Brussels told the New York Times that, for him, the renaming of the square is not a ploy to conceal or understate the country's legacy of colonialism in the Congo, but rather an attempt at forging a new relationship.

"By inaugurating this square, we're not repairing the past, we're not closing a chapter of history," he said. "Today, by inaugurating this square, we forget nothing."

"Today, in the heart of the Belgian capital, capital of 500 million Europeans, by inaugurating this Square Patrice Lumumba, we begin to write our common history," he added.

While some see the renaming of the square as a significant step, others are more interested in seeing Belgium make a more tangible effort towards providing reparations to the Congo. For many, the act alone is not enough to atone for Belgium's violent past against the people of the Congo.

14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

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Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

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Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

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