On the 60th anniversary of the DRC’s independence, King Philippe of Belgium wrote a letter to President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo by which he admitted that “to further strengthen our ties and develop an even more fruitful friendship, we must be able to talk about our long common history in all truth and serenity.”
Philippe is a descendent of Leopold II, who owned what was then referred to as Congo Free State between 1885 and 1908 and dominated its folks brutally, exploiting their labor and committing atrocities in opposition to them. Historians estimate that beneath Leopold’s rule, as many as 10 million folks died.
“Our history is made of common achievements but has also experienced painful episodes. At the time of the independent state of Congo, acts of violence and cruelty were committed, which still weigh on our collective memory,” the King wrote.
“The colonial period which followed also caused suffering and humiliation,” the letter provides, referring to the next 52 years of rule by the Belgian state till Congo’s independence and the formation of the DRC. Leopold had dominated the area personally till 1908.
“I would like to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past, the pain of which is now revived by the discrimination still too present in our societies,” he added.