“It is incredibly sad,” the director of the Africa Museum, Guido Gryseels, said to Bruzz. “This memorial plaque was inaugurated by people from the Congolese community itself. The record must show that we respect the victims of the colonization. This vandalism is exceptionally unfortunate,” he added.
The original plaque was inaugurated in December 2018 to commemorate the seven Congolese people who died at the World Exhibition of 1897. King Leopold II had summoned 267 Congolese people to ‘exhibit’ in the zoo, who had to re-enact life in the Congo before colonisation according to the imagination of the coloniser.
The museum immediately filed a complaint after the vandalism, “but we fear that not much will come of it,” said communication officer Kristien Opstaele to Bruzz. “There is quite a lot of vandalism in the park around the museum. We do not know if this is just more of the usual vandalism, or if this is a targeted attack on the message of the memorial plaque,” she added.
Meanwhile, the museum is working on a replacement for the plaque. “From the start, it was intended that this memorial plaque would become part of a series in collaboration with the municipality of Tervuren. The entire series will be inaugurated at the commemoration of Congo’s independence on 30 June. The new memorial plaque will also be there by then,” she added.