News

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.

Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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Music
(Youtube)

The 5 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Fireboy DML, Juls, Adekunle Gold and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases 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.

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Film
Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty.

Michaela Coel Joins the 'Black Panther' Sequel Cast

The upcoming film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is shaping up.

The sequel to the Oscar-winning Black Panther is only due to debut in July of 2022, but the production is well on its way.

The latest news out of the camp is that Michaela Coel, of I May Destroy You and Chewing Gum fame, has officially joined the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Her character details are still under wraps but according to Variety, Coel has already joined director Ryan Coogler at Atlanta's Pinewood Studios, where production started in late June.

Coel joins original cast members Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong'o, Florence Kasumba, and Angela Bassett all reprising their roles. Following the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, Marvel reportedly chose not to recast the role of T'Challa.

Read: How Michaela Coel's 'I May Destroy You' Makes Space For Black Creators

"It's clearly very emotional without Chad," Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige mentions. "But everyone is also very excited to bring the world of Wakanda back to the public and back to the fans. We're going to do it in a way that would make Chad proud."

Michaela Coel's highly-lauded 2020 series I May Destroy You — which she wrote, directed, produced and stared in — received four Emmy nominations.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is scheduled for wide release on July 8, 2022.

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Meet Duro Arts, the Man Behind Your Favorite Afrobeats Album Covers

We talk to the Lagos-based digital artist about his work with Olamide, Phyno, Falz and more.