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Belgium set to overhaul links to African colonial past

11:27 24/02/2014

Belgium’s controversial colonial African history is about to be revisited as work to modernise the country’s Museum for Central Africa will soon get underway. The museum located on Turveren in Brussels closed its doors in December for extensive renovations that will continue until 2017. Belgium will spend up to 66 million euros to not only give the museum a fresh face, but to change the way the country’s colonial experience is presented. Many of the exhibits still portray African people in a way that offends many, including a plaque at the entrance, which reads: “Belgium brings civilisation to the Congo.” 

Museum officials are tasked with deciding which exhibits should remain, and which ones should go. Although the past cannot be erased, the museum plans to provide visitors with an improved educational tour of the history of Belgium in the Congo, including its independence. However, despite efforts to shed light on a brutal past, a dark cloud remains over Belgium’s history during the period, which saw millions lose their lives. The organisers hope that the revamped museum will help many Belgians better understand the past. 

Written by Andrew King