The children colonial Belgium stole from African mothers

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Religion on 2021-03-12 16:12Z by Steven

The children colonial Belgium stole from African mothers

Al Jazeera

Annette Ekin
Brussels, Belgium

An archive photo showing children at Save, a key institution to which stolen mixed-race children were taken [Courtesy of]

Taken from their mothers in what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, decades on a group of mixed-race elderly people are fighting the Belgian state for recognition and reparations.

Monique Bitu Bingi, 71, has never forgotten how it happened.

It was 1953 when the white colonials came for her in Babadi, a village in the Kasai region of what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), then a Belgian colony. She was four, the child of a Black Congolese woman and a white Belgian colonial agent. Because she was mixed-race, she would be forced to leave her family and live at a Catholic mission. If she stayed, there would be repercussions: the men – farmers, hunters and protectors of the village – would be forcibly recruited into military duty and taken away. When the time came to leave, her mother was not there to say goodbye. She had left, unable to watch her daughter go.

Monique remembers travelling with her uncle, aunt and grandmother who carried her. She could tell something was wrong from her grandmother’s sadness. They walked west for about two days, crossed a river and slept in cabins used for drying cotton. When they reached Dimbelenge they hitched a ride northwest on a truck carrying the body of a woman who had died in childbirth. It was headed for Katende, in today’s Kasai Central province, where the St Vincent de Paul sisters’ mission was. Monique fell asleep. It must have been a Wednesday because weddings happened on Wednesdays and when she awoke outside the mission she saw a young Congolese couple, the bride dressed in white, and strangers everywhere. But her own family was gone. She remembers walking through the crowd, crying, until an older girl from the mission brought her inside to the others.

Among the countless abuses committed by the Belgian state during its colonial occupation of the Congo from 1908 to 1960, taking over from the exploitative and violent rule of King Leopold II which killed millions of Congolese, and its control from 1922 to 1962 under a League of Nations mandate in Ruanda-Urundi (today Rwanda and Burundi), is the little-known systematic abduction of biracial children from their maternal families…

Read the entire article here.

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Katanga’s forgotten people

Posted in Africa, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2015-02-12 02:32Z by Steven

Katanga’s forgotten people


Marlène Rabaud

Arnaud Zajtman

Like many mixed-race children in Congo, they were born of a Japanese father who came to work in the mines of Katanga in south-east of the country. Today, they accuse their fathers of wanting to kill them so as not to leave behind any traces when they returned to Japan. FRANCE 24 met these men and women seeking the recognition that has always been denied them.

Watch the video (00:10:51) here.

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Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic: Mulatto Devils and Multiracial Messiahs

Posted in Books, Canada, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, United Kingdom, United States on 2012-04-29 17:10Z by Steven

Sex and Race in the Black Atlantic: Mulatto Devils and Multiracial Messiahs

Routledge: Routledge Studies on African and Black Diaspora
204 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-415-87226-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-415-89391-6
eBook ISBN: 978-0-203-85736-6

Daniel R. McNeil, Associate Professor of History
Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

This is the first book to place the self-fashioning of mixed-race individuals in the context of a Black Atlantic. Drawing on a wide range of sources and a diverse cast of characters – from the diaries, letters, novels and plays of femme fatales in Congo and the United States to the advertisements, dissertations, oral histories and political speeches of Black Power activists in Canada and the United Kingdom – it gives particular attention to the construction of mixed-race femininity and masculinity during the twentieth century. Its broad scope and historical approach provides readers with a timely rejoinder to academics, artists, journalists and politicians who only use the mixed-race label to depict prophets or delinquents as “new” national icons for the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

  1. New People?
  2. An Individualistic Age?
  3. “Je suis métisse”
  4. “I. Am. A Light Grey Canadian.”
  5. “I’m Black. Not Mixed. Not Canadian. Not African. Just Black”
  6. “Yes, We’re All Individuals!” “I’m Not.”
  7. Conclusion
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Métis/Mulâtre, Mulato, Mulatto, Negro, Moreno, Mundele Kaki, Black,… The Wanderings and Meanderings of Identities

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Chapter, Media Archive on 2011-10-10 18:06Z by Steven

Métis/Mulâtre, Mulato, Mulatto, Negro, Moreno, Mundele Kaki, Black,… The Wanderings and Meanderings of Identities

Chapter in: Problematizing Blackness: Self Ethnographies by Black Immigrants to the United States
240 pages

Edited by

Jean Muteba Rahier, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African & African Diaspora Studies
Florida International University

Percey C. Hintzen, Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Chapter 6
pages 85-112

Jean Muteba Rahier, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African & African Diaspora Studies
Florida International University

I have no race except that which is forced upon me. I have no country except that to which I’m obliged to belong. I have no traditions. I’m free. I have only the future.

Richard Wright

I was born in 1959, in what was then the Belgian Congo, of a Congolese colonized mother and a Belgian colonial father. I grew up in Belgium.

Belgian Explorations: My Father’s Congo

The Congo Free State (C.F.S.) was created as a private property of the Belgian King Leopold II in 1884–85 at the Berlin Conference and lasted until 1908. It was succeeded by the Belgian Congo, which lasted from 1908 until 1960, when the country gained its independence (see Vangroenweghe 1986; Ndaywel è Nziem 1998; Hochschild 1998). During the short history of colonial rule, the organization and implementation of the colonial enterprise were conducted almost exclusively by males. There was a contingent development of the institution of the ménagères, wherein African women and the male colonizers developed relationships of sexual intimacy. These relations occurred between female “housekeepers” (the ménagères) and the male colonizers whom they were serving. These relationships developed within the context of the absence of European women—an absence legitimized by their supposed biological unsuitability for the African tropical climate (Habig 1944, 10–11; Stoler 2002). The practice of sexual relations between the male colonizers and the colonized African women was universal and widespread, particularly outside the most important urban centers of Leopoldville, Elisabethville, and Stanleyville. Once in the Congo, many agents of the state and many employees of private colonial companies looked for the companionship of African women, who provided them with housekeeping, affection, and sexual favors. Usually, Belgian men kept their ménagères with them until the end of their tour of duty.

State employees and agents of private companies were contractually employed for a three-year term. They would normally leave at the end of the term, usually spending six months’ vacation in Belgium, after which they had the option of returning to the colony for another three-year tour of service. This could continue indefinitely.Upon their return to the colony, it was customary for them either to retain the same ménagères in their “employ” or to choose another from among the “available African women.” Sometimes, the ménagères would become pregnant. If she did, she was typically sent back to her village with a small “financial indemnity” and material compensation. Usually, the colonial agent would then choose a new, young African woman to replace her in his house and in his bed.

The number of children born out of the widespread practice of sexual intimacy forced the colonial administration and the Belgian Parliament to debate what they termed the problème des métis, “the mulatto problem.” The issue was the treatment of the mulatto offspring of these unions: whether they should endure the same status as the rest of the Congolese population or whether they should be considered an intermediate group above the latter but beneath the Europeans. Attempts at resolving the dilemma produced a series of contradictory policies, resulting in considerable ambiguity. This ambiguity came to characterize the lives of the growing population of métis throughout the entire colonial period (Jeurissen 1999; Stoler 2002). Usually, the status of the métis depended upon the degree of recognition and acknowledgment of parenthood by their fathers. Those who were not recognized were often abandoned by their mothers because of the ostracism that they faced when returning to their native villages. The abandoned children usually ended up living in Catholic and Protestant missionary boarding schools, which were created for this purpose.

Read the entire chapter here

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A Silenced History from Belgian Congo: A Mixed Race History

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Media Archive on 2010-11-15 00:59Z by Steven

A Silenced History from Belgian Congo: A Mixed Race History

Afro-Europe International Blog

Sibo Kano

The Bastards in Our Colony: Hidden Stories of Belgian Metis

You haven’t heard much from me lately. I was writing a book and it’s finally finished and published. The book I wrote together with Kathleen Ghequière traces back a history of Africa and Europe that has been ignored for too much time. Some of you know about the mixed race children of Australia thanks to movies such as ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ or even Baz Luhrmann’s latest ‘Australia’. But concerning Africa this history is unknown.

It seems as if the European colonizer didn’t have intimate relationships with the African colonized. But many children were born out of relations between white Europeans and black Africans during colonization. These children undermined the racial colonial order with their existence. These children have been hidden and their stories silenced. At least for the Belgian Congo this story is now unveiled and in this book the mixed race children of Belgium and Congo express their history freely…

Read the entire article here.

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