The forgotten drama of the mixed race of the Belgian colonies
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Until June 2020, everyone in Belgium was unaware of their existence. They had, indeed, never said anything about their tragic fate. Until these septuagenarians decide to meet a lawyer and tell her about their fate, that of mixed-race people born in Congo to a black mother and a white father.
Thursday, October 14, Simone Ngalula, Léa Tavares, Monique Bitu Bingi, Noëlle Verbeken and Marie-José Loshi will take a new step, with the hope that a civil court in Brussels will recognize that the Belgian state is guilty of crimes against humanity by taking them away from their mother, declaring them born of an unknown father, then depriving them of everything, including a real identity and a nationality. Colonial law, unwritten but in force since the beginning of the twentiethe century, in principle prohibited whites in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi from having a child with a black woman, on pain of expulsion.
“God created men, white or black; it is the devil who created the half-breeds ” : this is one of the things Simone and her four comrades learned as young children who were supposed to represent a threat to colonial power, the white race and social peace. Like other children, they were therefore automatically placed in Belgian religious congregations in the Congo, in order, it was also said, to avoid them “A destiny of negroes”.
The five little girls were sent to Katende, Kasai, sometimes hundreds of kilometers from their birthplace. Barely fed, deprived of soap and toilet paper, without shoes and blankets, they would also become a cheap labor force for the religious in charge of their evangelization.
They were then literally abandoned at the time of the country’s independence in 1960: the United Nations forces arrived in their institution but only evacuated the Belgian priests and nuns. The five little girls stayed there with about fifty others, forced to fend for themselves in the bush to survive. Until rebel soldiers arrive and assault them. The half-breeds were also the butt of black hostility.
Little girls were also taught that the Belgian state was their real “daddy” and the queen, their “godmother”. When they arrived in Belgium, most of them in the 1970s, they wrote to Queen Fabiola, the wife of King Baudouin. The services of the royal palace told them that they had to register with the social assistance services. As for “papa”, the State, which they finally resolved to assign, he is preparing, through his lawyers, to ask them for proof that he would have committed faults, even crimes. The rules and practices of the time cannot be read in the light of the conceptions and sensibilities of the modern period, will argue the defenders of the Belgian state.
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