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King Leopold II Statue Removed by Belgian Authorities Amid Protests.

King Leopold II Statue Removed by Belgian Authorities Amid Protests


The statue of the colonialist, who murdered an estimated 10 million Congolese people during his rule, has been removed amid Black Lives Matter protests.

The BBC reports that Belgian authorities in Antwerp have removed the statue of King Leopold II from the city square, after it was reportedly vandalised amid the Black Lives Matter protests in the country. The statue has been removed with plans to restore it to its former condition, according to The Brussels Times. Often referred to as the "hidden holocaust", King Leopold II murdered an estimated 10 million Africans, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), during his colonial rule.

READ: African Writers Show Solidarity with Protesting Americans in Open Letter

Johan Vermant, spokesperson for Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever says that,"The statue has been vandalised and will be removed and temporarily housed in the sculpture collection of the Middelheim Museum, where it will be restored." Vermant goes on to add that, "Since the square where the statue stood will be redesigned in 2023, and there will be no room for it afterwards, it will probably remain part of the museum's collection."

Admittedly, the reparations owed to the DRC by Belgium, as is the case with many colonised African countries, are long overdue. Last year, the European country finally issued a formal apology to the DRC for kidnapping and deporting their mixed-race children, known as the métis, during the colonial era––an apology that only came after six decades.

The toppling of colonialist statues, on the other hand, is not a new phenomenon. Images and objects representing oppression have been the target of many uprisings and mass demonstrations. Back in 2015, South African students at the University of Cape Town toppled the statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes during what was collectively defined as the "Fallist Era".

The fight against systemic racism across the world continues. While racist police establishments are at the heart of the Black Lives Matter protests in America, and now several other countries, all racist establishments and the symbols that represent them are being thrust into the spotlight––they simply must fall.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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