City of Ghent removes bust of Leopold II from Zuidpark
Today, 30 June 2020, exactly 60 years after the independence of Congo, the City of Ghent removed the bust of Leopold II from Zuidpark. Pending further recommendations within the scope of the decolonisation project, the bust will be transferred to a warehouse of the Ghent city museum STAM.
Before the removal of the statue, several representatives of the African diaspora and civil society took the floor. The attending politicians chose to listen to what they had to say rather than speaking themselves.
'Removing statues does not erase history, it rectifies history and makes new history that rightly calls into question dominant narratives.'
'To those who claim we are importing an American problem, I say this and many other problems have been exported to America and the rest of the world since 1492.'
A clear signal
The City of Ghent decided a week ago that the bust would be removed and that the removal would take place in public. This decision was taken at the request of the decolonisation working group, which was set up last year with the purpose of developing a participative project relating to our country’s colonial past and the obvious impact of that past on the present. The City of Ghent now gives a clear signal that there is no more room for a bust of Leopold II in the Ghent public space. Leopold II is a symbol of a system based on racism, exploitation and violence.
'Today, 30 June 2020, we are gathered here to remove this bust from Zuidpark. This symbolic action comes as a relief for the Congolese community: “Finally our voice is heard.” With this gesture, the Ghent authorities prove that they acknowledge the pain of the African diaspora and are willing to actively participate in the construction of an inclusive city where the decolonisation of the streets is possible.'
The next steps
The decolonisation project will continue and will not be limited to a debate on colonial symbols. Other topics that will be discussed are the role of education, the importance of the fight against racism and discrimination and knowledge of our colonial history, as well as the employment policy of the City of Ghent and the city's role at the international level. A meeting will be held in September, followed by the presentation of a full report to the city council in November 2020, containing concrete recommendations.
'This is the first step in a long journey we have to make together.'
- Dirk Bogaert, spokesman councilwoman Tine Heyse, +32499 86 53 10, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Thomas Dierckens, spokesman mayor Mathias De Clercq, +32477 38 29 37, email email@example.com
- Laurens Teerlinck, spokesman councilwoman Astrid De Bruycker, +32484 68 12 59, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Els Yperman, International Relations Office, +32473 58 03 21, email email@example.com
Download PDFDownload PDF
About Stad Gent
Gent, de hoofdstad van Oost-Vlaanderen, biedt de zeldzame combinatie van de intimiteit van een compacte stad en de openheid van een metropool. Met meer dan 261.000 inwoners en 78.400 studenten is Gent de tweede grootste stad van Vlaanderen en de grootste studentenstad. Veelzijdig, historisch en eigentijds tegelijk. De Stad Gent stimuleert als lokale overheid zoveel mogelijk initiatief van haar burgers om zo te werken aan een open, solidaire, duurzame, wijze en kindvriendelijke stad. Meer info via www.stad.gent.