Friday, January 28

The President of the Congolese Senate welcomes the Belgian policy of restitution of looted property

(Belga) The President of the Congolese Senate, Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, welcomed the decision taken by Belgium to eventually return to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) all objects acquired “illegitimately” during the colonial period, mutual agreement between Brussels and Kinshasa.

However, he warned that additional funds would be necessary to ensure proper conservation of this heritage – for the time being mainly held by the AfricaMuseum / Royal Museum for Central Africa (MRAC) in Tervueren, a federal institution. “Impressive”, “a very good speech,” he told some Belgian journalists after listening, along with other Congolese officials, to the speech devoted to the restitution made by the Belgian Secretary of State for Science policy, Thomas Dermine, Wednesday at the National Museum of the DRC (MNRDC) in Kinshasa. “The return of our (objects of) art imposes an expense on us. We will have to face it and budget” the requests formulated by the Minister of Culture (currently Catherine Kathungu Furaha), added Mr. Bahati. He more generally welcomed the Belgian desire to return property looted during the colonial period (1908-1960), or, previously, during that of the Leopoldian Congo Free State (EIC), between 1885 and the resumption of this immense country by Belgium in 1908. “They (the Belgians) recognized that indeed there was damage that was caused. But we must know how to repair and it is good that we can turn this page” of the colonization, underlined Mr. Bahati, who is officially the second character of the Congolese state. (Belga)

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