The special Chamber committee that is looking into Belgium’s colonial past “should visit Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi and organize hearings there as well.” This is what Tracy Tansia of 11.11.11. said in the Chamber on Monday. According to Tansia, the commission should listen to the Congolese themselves. “Otherwise, it will remain a Belgian story,” it sounded.
The Special Parliamentary Committee on the Congo-Colonial Past, also known as the Congo Committee, is holding a series of hearings. On Monday, there was a ‘listening session’ with Suzanne Monkassa, chairperson of the Platform of Women from the Congolese Diaspora, and Tracy Tansia, herself of Congolese descent and working in Congo, at 11.11.11. (11.11.11 is the coalition of NGOs, unions, movements, and various solidarity groups in Flanders).
According to Tansia, the report delivered by the experts, a report of almost 700 pages, must be “vulgarized” and made more accessible. For example, according to her, it must be clearly explained why one cannot speak of “the positive things of colonization.” “Colonization was a bad system. Period. There are people who did positive things during colonization, but the system itself was racist and violent,” Tansia said.
According to Tansia, the discussion of reparation and reconciliation should also not be narrowed down to reparations. “Recovery is much more than money. It is about acknowledging colonization as a wrong system. That, along with apologies, is an important step toward recovery. So reparation is much more than a sum of money in the account of Congolese politicians” Tansia argues.
But before those steps can be taken, Tansia believes it is important to listen to the Congolese themselves, both organizations and individuals. And that is why the commission should also travel to Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi to hold hearings there. “Otherwise, it will remain a Belgian story,” believes Tansia.
Only by listening to the Congolese themselves, according to Tansia, can the commission members gain a deeper understanding of the impact of colonization, which was not only territorial colonization, but also “a colonization of the spirit.”