Belgium’s African museum hopes to redeem colonial past returning DRC loot
Brussels, Jul 24 (EFE).- Some pieces of Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa’s large collection are to be returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of a process to send back illegally obtained treasures from the former Belgian colony.
“In some African countries, like Congo, clearly a number of objects, that we have, have been looted and have been acquired by violence,” the museum director, Guido Gryseels, told Efe.
“So they don’t belong to Belgium,” he added. “(The government) said those objects that were clearly stolen or looted, they should immediately become the legal property of the Congolese government.”
Some 85% of the museum’s large African collection of nearly 128,000 pieces were taken from the DRC, including some 883 objects believed to be looted, according to estimations.
The origin of 35,000 pieces is to be determined through an investigation, while the rest was legally obtained.
The Congolese government will set the timetable for the return process and can even decide to keep them in Belgium, Gryseels said.
A shortage in human and technical capital in the African country could delay deliveries, he added.
Until the process gets underway, the museum launched an initiative to explain to visitors how every piece was obtained through a QR code. EFE