The University explains that the “Patrice-Lumumba Amphitheater” will be opened in honor of the first prime minister of the independent Congo, who was assassinated on January 17, 1961. “Corporate murdere with the information and opinion of some of our countrymen and the Belgian government. We remember Lumumba as a defining figure of our colonial history, a symbol of freedom, equality and respect for human rights.”“says the university.
The University of Antwerp’s Middelheim campus has direct links to Belgium’s colonial past in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, chancellor Herman Van Goethem told the university’s website. “This campus was actually home to a high colony until 1962, where Belgian men received an elite education before leaving to lead the Belgian colonies. In addition, the university’s rector’s office is located in the main building of this former institution. The personnel administration department is housed in an annex that is a replica of the Belgian governor’s colonial house in Léopoldville, Kinshasa. To the right of the rectory there is also a small, completely forgotten monument erected to the memory of Antwerp Belgians who died in the Congo Free State before 1908. As Rector, I would like to discuss this legacy. more open and free. On March 31, the auditorium of the main colonial building will be solemnly baptized “Auditoire Patrice-Lumumba”.The rector of the University of Antwerp explains.
A symbol of freedom, equality and respect for human rights
The latter reminds that Patrice Lumumba was the prime minister of the independent Congo in 1960, before he was assassinated on January 17, 1961, 62 years ago. “This murder was committed with the participation of Belgians and with the full knowledge of the Belgian government.”Herman Van Goethem says. For him, Patrice Lumumba particularly condemned the recently created Belgian parliamentary commission at that time: “Colonial rule and exploitation, violence and atrocities, individual and collective violations of human rights during this period, as well as accompanying racism and discrimination.”
In the decades after his death, Herman Van Goethem continued, Patrice Lumumba somehow transcended himself and became a symbol of freedom, equality and respect for human rights.
“Through this ceremony, which will be held on March 31 with the participation of family members of the late Prime Minister Lumumba, the former official building of Belgium will be renamed after him for his actions. And everyone can think about the world we want… If symbolic actions are important, they are not enough to acknowledge our colonial past. Structural measures aimed at revising and, if necessary, modifying our mission and university culture are also necessary.said the rector.
According to him, the debate on decolonization is heated at the University of Antwerp, as everywhere. The basis of this debate, he said, is that it is not unusual for people of migrant background, whether from Africa or elsewhere, to face structural racism, prejudice and micro-aggressions, sometimes at the university itself.
“The debate about decolonization is first and foremost a debate about the world we want, the world we want to see born. This debate is also a debate about our past: the way we approach our history, indeed, reflects how we see our future.Herman Van Goethem explained.
Academic event and film about Lumumba
An academic event will be held before the opening. “The Matrix of Colonial Power” such as promoting Western science, knowledge and methods “Universal and abstract”.
During this academic event, it is explained that the University of Antwerp wants to explore this reflection as well as how it can be translated into practice in universities. “With two speakers and five panelists, we will reflect on colonial legacies in knowledge production and their impact on the (infra)structures of our universities. We will also discuss the possibilities of decolonizing our universities, creating space for new ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, not just creating new ontologies. universals »But “ many ». The estudents eforeigners prethey will feel their research on the paste colonialism and its futureecolonizede of‘universitye d‘Antwerp”, he added.
Earlier, on March 21, the Ayo student union will organize a screening of a film about Patrice Lumumba together with the University of Antwerp. The 2000 biopic follows the rise and fall of Patrice Lumumba and takes place in the months before and after Congo’s independence from Belgium in June 1960. After the screening of the film, discussions will be held in small groups. of students.