Congolese question Belgian king's visit

STORY: Belgium's King Philippe is expected to arrive in Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday (June 7) - his first visit to the former Belgian colony since the start of his reign in 2013.

To some in the capital Kinshasa like market seller Junior Bombi the question is: what's the point?

"I wish that our president would take care of what is important for the Congolese instead of creating useless expense by inviting the royal couple. We have important things to settle here like free education, teachers are not well paid, but the president prefers to invite the Belgian king, to do what? To loot us again?"

Millions of Congolese are estimated to have died between 1885 and 1908 after Belgium's King Leopold II declared the country his personal property.

Examples of cruelty from that period are widespread - ranging from soldiers collecting Congolese hands to people being put on show in Belgium at a "human zoo".

Congo was subsequently a Belgian colony for 52 years.

In 2020 King Philippe expressed deep regret for the "suffering and humiliation" inflicted on Congo during 75 years of Belgian rule.

Historian Antoine Roger Lokongo says he wants more from the king.

"As a Congolese, I can say 'welcome to the Democratic Republic of Congo your Majesty', but this time have the courage to say sorry to the Congolese people, the simple regret that you have expressed is not enough."

Congo achieved independence in 1960.

At the declaration of independence Belgium's King Baudouin praised the "genius" of Leopold II.

Independence leader and prime minister Patrice Lumumba's response excoriated Belgium's "regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation".

He was Congo's first democratically-elected prime minister.

A few months later he had been assassinated - a killing for which the Belgian government took partial responsibility in 2002.

A tooth was reportedly taken by a Belgian policeman who claimed in a BBC documentary to have dissolved much of Lumumba's body in acid, and burned the rest.

"If there is one thing very important that we expect, is him to bring back the remains of Patrice Emery Lumumba as promised. That is our expectation, our real expectation."

A ceremony to hand over the remains is scheduled for June in Brussels.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting