Turning over Belgian colonial archives wins the day

Royal Museum for Central Africa. Net.

It was quite an eventful week; when the whole world’s attention and leadership was in New York, it was definitely not a good time for President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

He was in the glare of the world’s scrutiny for possible sexual misconduct in his youth that has now come to haunt him.

At the same time, many Burundian leaders were calling people names simply because the UN voted in favour of extending the mandate of a commission of inquiry into possible human rights abuse in that country.

The decision was final and no amount of assaults in social media would turn back the clock.

But away from all that gloom; good news landed in Kigali with the announcement that Belgium was ready to turn over archives related to the colonial period, which make up a huge chunk of what is displayed in the Central African Museum located in Tervuren.

The Museum is home to many artifacts and documents carted away by missionaries and colonial administrators from Rwanda, Burundi and present day DR Congo, though there is no mention that the other two countries will be part of the deal.

The archives have been an insatiable source for researchers and academics and now they will find a fitting home as Rwanda is in the process of building a modern state-of-the-art national archives edifice.

What the government now needs to do is strike a similar deal with Germany who were the first colonial administrator after the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa. Africa has a lot to tell, but it should not do so only after peeking into a former colonial master’s cupboard.

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