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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.

Photo: Courtesy of Saphir Niakadie

Meet Four Women Pushing Ivorian Art Forward Through Photography

These young and emerging female photographers from Côte d'Ivoire are shaking up Abidjan's art scene.

There's been a tremendous amount of awe-inspiring art coming from the African continent lately. Photography is no exception. It is one of the most powerful tools used in changing the way in which the West perceives Africa and its diaspora and perhaps the reason why contemporary photography is thriving.

The female gaze is paramount to the way in which the aforementioned visual stories are told and the female photographers here are using their camera lenses to give us glimpses of lands, peoples, histories, and futures unknown. Their individual experiences and perspectives are widening the scope of what is believed to be Côte d'Ivoire. Within the country's capital, Abidjan, there's a creative scene that seems to have sprawled up out of nowhere yet is so rich in its offerings.

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Interview
Photo courtesy of Darey.

Meet Nigeria’s All-Female Bikers Club, Featured In Darey's Latest Video

Darey collaborates with all-female bike riders to reimagine a pandemic-free world in the new video for "Jojo."

In 2017, when Jeminat Olumegbon, an events manager in Lagos, set up the Female Bikers initiative (FBi) with her friend, Nnenna Samuila, the objective for the organisation was to facilitate some form of education for Nigerian women. "A bunch of us, bike riders, came together because we knew when we ride we draw attention to ourselves so we used that as a form of communication starter, especially in rural areas," Olumegbon, code-named Speed Diva, tells OkayAfrica via a phone call. In the three years since the initiative has been in operation, it has started a number of programs aimed at confronting socio-cultural barriers set against women in Nigeria but none is more resonant than the group's campaign against breast and cervical cancer.

"We found out that a lot of women die of breast and cervical cancer in Nigeria and they shouldn't be dying because there are preventive measures but lack of knowledge is what is really killing us," Olumegbon says. According to Nigeria's Cancer Control Plan, breast and cervical cancer are the most prevalent forms of cancer in Nigeria, disproportionately affecting women. And the Female Bikers initiative, a scion of D'Angels Motorcycle Club, Nigeria's first all-female bikers club, is working hard to get women tested early.

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(Youtube)

Watch Wizkid’s New Music Video For ‘Smile’ Featuring H.E.R.

The Nigerian star dedicated the new video to his three sons: Bolu, Ayo and Zion Balogun.

Nigerian musical heavyweight Wizkid released his latest track today. The song, titled "Smile," features Grammy award winning US singer/songwriter H.E.R.

The track coos sounds of unconditional love and the things we do for it. It features Wizkid and H.E.R. going in over an infectious beat.

This comes as Wizkid fans await the release of his delayed fourth album, Made in Lagos. We're sure they'll be more excited than ever after getting this new single.

"Smile" follows Wizkid's latest release Soundman Vol. 1 EP, which came out late last year and featured the likes of Chronixx, DJ Tunez and more.

Listen to Wizkid and H.E.R.'s "Smile" below.

Update: Watch the newly released music video for "Smile" below. The Nigerian star dedicated this new Meji Alabi-directed music video to his three sons: Bolu, Ayo and Zion Balogun.

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Interview: Sam Soko is the Kenyan Director Behind Sundance Hit, 'Softie'

We meet filmmaker Sam Soko who has made a stirring documentary about the Kenyan protest leader Boniface Mwangi