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‘The values that we share’: Pierre Kompany publishes autobiography

16:51 26/11/2019

It’s been a busy week for Ganshoren mayor Pierre Kompany (cdH), and it’s only Tuesday. He has both presented his new autobiography and announced that he has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

The biography Du Congo à Ganshoren: Un destin incroyable (From Congo to Ganshoren: An Unbelievable Destiny), published in French and Dutch, is the story of Kompany’s journey to Belgium as a political refugee.

Kompany (pictured) was born in 1947 into a political family in Bukavu. As a student, he showed his solidarity during a commemoration of the 1969 protests against the Mobutu regime, was arrested for it and spent more than a year in a forced labour camp.

Shortly after his release, he fled to Belgium, where he settled in Brussels, finished his engineering studies and married. He and his wife, Jocelyn Fraselle – a former government union leader – had three children. One of them – Vincent – would grow up to be one of his generation’s greatest footballers.

First black mayor

Last year, Kompany became Belgium’s first black mayor. He worked his way up to the post, first as a city councillor and then as a member of the Brussels parliament.

All three of his children have contributed a foreword to the book and are central in his story. “The message is that you should always stick by each other,” he told Bruzz. “Family is incredibly important.”

On the evening talk show De Afspraak, he announced that he would be receiving an honorary doctorate next spring from VUB. Though he speaks French, he is receiving the honour from a Dutch-speaking university, he pointed out. “People can understand each other on the basis of the values that they share,” he said, “without having to seek out the differences.”

Photo: Nils Quintelier/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw