Belgium Memorial monument, Tervuren park

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Gert Lucas

About this spot
The title, "The Congo I Presume," parodies the words of Henry Morton Stanley when meeting David Livingstone: "Dr Livingstone I presume?"
The sculpture group is set up in a water feature, the whole refers to the African village that was set up on the water during the exhibition of 1897.
The images in the water feature evoke this Congolese village, where both exotic animals and "exotic" people were exhibited in a "human zoo".
The game of stone blocks refers to the nickname of Leopold II as "King Builder". The elephant and the lion symbolize the beautiful and powerful Congolese nature with its treasured underground. Eight flamingos symbolize the Congolese diaspora as a migration bird. In the middle of this nature evocation: the bust of Leopold II, owner of the Congo Free State and for the Congolese: the undisputed "father of the fatherland".
At the back of the bust: a peacock with gracefully spread feathers, an unmistakable reference to man's vanity, megalomania, and pride.
The elephant looks away from the bust, symbolically distancing itself from the ivory theft with which Leopold II has shamelessly enriched himself.
The lion, the so-called king of animals, also looks ostentatiously in the other direction.
Three African warriors in beautiful costumes are lined up as submissive soldiers, "exhibited" as three personal trophies from the king.
Striking: these tough warriors have chopped feet: a clear reference to the less beautiful story of the colonization.
This sculpture group is the only anti-colonial statue in our country and can therefore be considered unique.

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Contributors

Gert Lucas Curator

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