| 2 December 2022, Friday |

Belgian king returns mask to Congo in symbolic gesture of restitution

On his first visit to the former colony, Belgium’s King Philippe returned a traditional mask to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where many people are still upset by Belgium’s unwillingness to apologize for decades of ruthless control.

According to some estimates, up to 10 million Congolese died as a result of massacres, malnutrition, and illness during the first 23 years of Belgium’s reign, from 1885 to 1960, after King Leopold II claimed the Congo Free State as his personal dominion.

Philippe was the first Belgian politician to apologize for the “pain and disgrace” caused on Congo in 2020. However, he did not provide an apology, something some Congolese have demanded on his first visit since ascending to the throne in 2013.

  • Reuters