Also at the unveiling ceremony were the Mayor of Elsene Christos Doulkeridis (Francophone green) and the First Minister of the Brussels-Capital Region Rudi Vervoort (Francophone socialist). Mr Doulkeridis said that the idea behind the plaque is to confirm for eternity the shared history and richness that Congo has brought to Elsene. A number of prominent members of the Congolese community in Belgium were also present at the ceremony.
On the plaque are the first four lines of the Congolese freedom song ‘Indépendance Cha Cha’ and the date on which the country became independent from Belgium, 30 June 1960.
In her speech the Prime Minister said that recognising the suffering of the Congolese people must be a first step. She added that the King’s decision to express “deep regret” at what had happened in Congo between 1885 and 1960 had been taken at the Belgian monarch’s “own initiative”.
"When the King speech using the word ‘I’ this is very important as he is speaking about his own emotions. But what he said is perfectly in line with what the government believes”, Ms Wilmès said.
She went on to stress that we should never forget our shared history as it is still visible today in all its diversity.
"We shouldn’t try and re-write history, but we should try and understand it. We will never be able to write a new chapter in our shared history without knowing about or recognising what happened in the past”, the Prime Minister concluded.