Belgium apology for mixed-race kidnappings in colonial era

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion on 2019-04-05 17:56Z by Steven

Belgium apology for mixed-race kidnappings in colonial era

BBC News
2019-04-04

Audience members watch Mr Michel speak in parliament
Many mixed-race people were in parliament to watch Mr Michel apologise

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has apologised for the kidnapping of thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during colonial rule in Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda.

The “métis” children born to Belgian settlers and local women were forcibly taken to Belgium and fostered by Catholic orders and other institutions.

About 20,000 children are believed to have been affected.

Most fathers refused to acknowledge the paternity of their children.

The children were born in the 1940s and 1950s and taken to Belgium from 1959 until the independence of each of the three colonies.

Some of the children never received Belgian nationality and remained stateless.

Speaking in the Belgian parliament, Mr Michel said the country had breached the children’s basic human rights, seeing them as a threat to the colonial system.

It had, he said, stripped them of their identity, stigmatised them and split up siblings…

Read the entire article here.

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Belgian church apologizes for role in mistreating mixed-race people

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, Media Archive, Religion on 2017-04-29 01:38Z by Steven

Belgian church apologizes for role in mistreating mixed-race people

National Catholic Reporter
2017-04-28

Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service

Oxford, EnglandBelgium’s Catholic Church has apologized for its role in mistreating mixed-race people, who were born in colonial times to European fathers and African mothers and later taken away for adoption.

“The history of many metis, born of a Congolese, Rwandan or Burundian mother and a white father (serving) in one of these countries, is an obscure episode of Belgian colonization,” the bishops’ conference said in an April 26 statement.

“These children were long designated pejoratively as ‘mulattoes,’ while the colonial authorities, both civil and ecclesiastical, considered them a real problem. … We express regret for the part played in this by the Catholic Church.”

The statement was published after an official church apology was delivered by Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp during an April 25 symposium in the Belgian Senate

Read the entire article here.

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Going Silent: Augusta Chiwy (B. 1921)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Women on 2015-12-23 22:04Z by Steven

Going Silent: Augusta Chiwy (B. 1921)

The Lives They Lived (2015)
The New York Times Magazine
2015-12-16

Ruth Padawer, Adjunct Professor of Journalism
Columbia University, New York, New York


Augusta Chiwy as a nursing student, front row center, at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Leuven, Belgium, in 1943.
Credit: Photograph from Martin King

She saw so much and could say so little about it.

In late December 1944, as German bombs rained on the Belgian town Bastogne, an American Army surgeon named Jack Prior banged on the door of a local home, desperate for help. He had heard a nurse lived there. When a middle-aged gentleman cautiously opened the door, the surgeon asked if the man’s daughter could join him at the Army’s makeshift hospital close by.

Prior knew Augusta Chiwy was black — her father was Belgian, her mother Congolese — and he knew the American Army prohibited black nurses from treating its white soldiers. But he reasoned that volunteers weren’t bound by Army rules. And anyway, he needed help.

The situation at the hospital was dire. The only medics for the 50 or so wounded soldiers were Prior, a dentist and another volunteer nurse. The team had run out of morphine and bandages, and only one can of ether remained. Electricity and running water had been cut off by the Germans, who were quickly surrounding Bastogne. This was the Battle of the Bulge, one of the deadliest of the war

Read the entire article here.

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Augusta Chiwy, ‘Forgotten’ Wartime Nurse, Dies at 94

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive, Women on 2015-12-23 20:10Z by Steven

Augusta Chiwy, ‘Forgotten’ Wartime Nurse, Dies at 94

The New York Times
2015-08-25

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent


Augusta Chiwy was honored in 2011 for saving Americans during World War II. Credit Eric Lalmand/European Pressphoto Agency

Augusta Chiwy, a Belgian nurse whose unsung bravery in saving countless American soldiers wounded in the Battle of the Bulge was belatedly celebrated in 2011, died on Sunday near Brussels. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed by her biographer, Martin King.

Ms. Chiwy (pronounced CHEE-wee) was mentioned in passing only as “Anna,” a black nurse from Congo, in Stephen Ambrose’s book “Band of Brothers.” She was played by Rebecca Okot in an episode of the television series based on the book.

It took Mr. King, a British military historian, to trace her to a retirement home near Brussels, overcome a condition called selective mutism, which prevented her from speaking about her wartime experience, and finally identify her in a 2010 book published abroad titled “The Forgotten Nurse.” His TV documentary “Searching for Augusta: The Forgotten Angel of Bastogne” was released last year.

As a result of Mr. King’s efforts, 67 years after her battlefield heroism, Ms. Chiwy was awarded the Army’s Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service “for selfless service and bravery” and knighted by the king of Belgium


A book in 2010 about Ms. Chiwy’s experiences.

…Augusta Marie Chiwy was born on June 6, 1921, in a village near the Rwandan border that is now part of Burundi. Her father, Henri, was a veterinarian from Belgium. Her mother was Congolese.

Her father took her to Bastogne when she was 9. She planned on becoming a teacher, but when the war began she turned to nursing.

She married a Belgian soldier, Jacques Cornet, in 1950. They had two children, Alain and Christine, who survive her.

She later worked in a hospital treating patients with spinal injuries. She rarely spoke about her wartime experience…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Black and Belgian: Navigating Multiracial Identities in Ghent, Belguim

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-10-05 20:03Z by Steven

Black and Belgian: Navigating Multiracial Identities in Ghent, Belguim

Afropean: Adventures in Afro Europe
2014-10-01

Walter Thompson-Hernandez

Introduction

What does it mean to be Black and multiracial in Belgium? How does sub-Saharan African culture and experiences impact the lives of multiracial people or Afropeans in Belgium? How influential is the U.S. Black experience in the formation of an Afropean identity rooted in Belgian and African cultures? These were some of the questions that I pondered, seven weeks ago, at the outset of this project – eight weeks later, I am still grappling with them. This past summer, I arrived in Ghent, Belgium – a city with a population of 100,000 people, located forty-five miles northwest of Brussels – with hopes of understanding and delving into the multiracial experience of five people with parents from a sub-Saharan African country and the Flanders region in Belgium. Through interviews, observational data, photography, and other methods, I compiled valuable information regarding their stories.

Motives

I was drawn to Belgium for various reasons. As the son of an African American father and a first generation immigrant mother from Mexico, I have always been intrigued by the ways in which immigrant-origin populations impact the racial and social fabric of receiving sites. In attempting to construct my own multiethnic and multilingual identity, I have navigated, and often struggled, to understand my role in my family and community, and the subsequent reactions of my relatives – on both sides of the border, on both sides of my family tree. In Belgium, I found similar experiences with people who had at least one parent from an African country. The feelings of marginalization that I came across were all too familiar: ‘People didn’t know how to treat me’ and ‘I felt like I didn’t belong in either Belgium or Africa’ were some of the feelings that were expressed. Often, as I learned, my respondent’s relatives were faced with the challenges of conceptualizing both an African heritage and a Belgian identity. For many of these relatives, as I was told, the idea of a Belgian identity was already complicated by the French-Dutch language divide manifested in the Wallonia and Flanders regions in Belgium. ‘Identity in Belgium is already complicated,’ one person told me. ‘Are we French speaking or are we Dutch speaking? You add race and national origin to that and it really makes things interesting.’ As opposed to many societies around the world, many regions in Belgium, exercise – amidst contentious debate – a French and Dutch multilingual reality that, often, exacerbates identity formation for people of multiracial backgrounds, so that not only does an Afropean, in the spirit of W.E.B. Dubois, have to navigate a “double consciousness” of being European and African, but also split identities pertaining to language.

Secondly, in the age of European “Super Diversity” – a term coined by social scientists to describe the high rates of immigrant inflows to European nations – I was curious about the ways in which second generation children (the children of first-generation immigrants) were constructing their identities in the context of shifting racial and demographic landscapes. In the United States, interracial mixing is, often, romanticized and harmonized in the framework of multicultural ideas dating back to the 1970s. While once seen as a social and racial aberration, evidenced by anti-miscegenation laws and eugenics, multiracial children and families today have in many regions in the U.S. become a normative aspect of society. In Belgium, however, I learned of tacit and explicit “rules and regulations” for interracial mixing…

Read the entire article here.

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Ethnic Identity Problems and Prospects for the Twenty-first Century – Fourth Edition

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, South Africa, United States on 2013-07-13 22:27Z by Steven

Ethnic Identity Problems and Prospects for the Twenty-first Century – Fourth Edition

AltaMira Press
June 2006
436 pages
7 x 9 1/4
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-7591-0972-8
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-7591-0973-5

Edited by:

Lola Romanucci-Ross, Professor Emerita of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of California, San Diego

De George A. Vos (1922-2010), Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Takeyuki Tsuda, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Arizona State University

In this thoroughly revised fourth edition, with ten new chapters, the editors provide thought-provoking discussions on the importance of ethnicity in different cultural and social contexts. The authors focus especially on changing ethnic and national identities, on migration and ethnic minorities, on ethnic ascription versus self-definitions, and on shifting ethnic identities and political control. The international group of scholars examines ethnic identities, conflicts and accommodations around the globe, in Africa (including Zaire and South Africa), Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, the United States, Thailand, and the former Yugoslavia. It will serve as an excellent text for courses in race & ethnic relations, and anthropology and ethnic studies.

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Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation

Posted in Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States, Women on 2011-11-04 20:46Z by Steven

Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation

Harvard University Press
February 2012
288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
17 halftones, 1 line illustration, 1 map
Hardcover ISBN 9780674047747

Rebecca J. Scott, Charles Gibson Distinguished University Professor of History and Professor of Law
University of Michigan

Jean M. Hébrard, Historian and Visiting Professor
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris)
University of Michigan

Around 1785, a woman was taken from her home in Senegambia and sent to Saint-Domingue in the Caribbean. Those who enslaved her there named her Rosalie. Her later efforts to escape slavery were the beginning of a family’s quest, across five generations and three continents, for lives of dignity and equality. Freedom Papers sets the saga of Rosalie and her descendants against the background of three great antiracist struggles of the nineteenth century: the Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution of 1848, and the Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States.

Freed during the Haitian Revolution, Rosalie and her daughter Elisabeth fled to Cuba in 1803. A few years later, Elisabeth departed for New Orleans, where she married a carpenter, Jacques Tinchant. In the 1830s, with tension rising against free persons of color, they left for France. Subsequent generations of Tinchants fought in the Union Army, argued for equal rights at Louisiana’s state constitutional convention, and created a transatlantic tobacco network that turned their Creole past into a commercial asset. Yet the fragility of freedom and security became clear when, a century later, Rosalie’s great-great-granddaughter Marie-José was arrested by Nazi forces occupying Belgium.

Freedom Papers follows the Tinchants as each generation tries to use the power and legitimacy of documents to help secure freedom and respect. The strategies they used to overcome the constraints of slavery, war, and colonialism suggest the contours of the lives of people of color across the Atlantic world during this turbulent epoch.

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Métis/Mulâtre, Mulato, Mulatto, Negro, Moreno, Mundele Kaki, Black,… The Wanderings and Meanderings of Identities

Posted in Africa, Autobiography, Books, Chapter, Media Archive on 2011-10-10 18:06Z by Steven

Métis/Mulâtre, Mulato, Mulatto, Negro, Moreno, Mundele Kaki, Black,… The Wanderings and Meanderings of Identities

Chapter in: Problematizing Blackness: Self Ethnographies by Black Immigrants to the United States
Routledge
2003-09-30
240 pages

Edited by

Jean Muteba Rahier, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African & African Diaspora Studies
Florida International University

Percey C. Hintzen, Professor of African American Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Chapter 6
pages 85-112

Jean Muteba Rahier, Associate Professor of Anthropology and African & African Diaspora Studies
Florida International University

I have no race except that which is forced upon me. I have no country except that to which I’m obliged to belong. I have no traditions. I’m free. I have only the future.

Richard Wright

I was born in 1959, in what was then the Belgian Congo, of a Congolese colonized mother and a Belgian colonial father. I grew up in Belgium.

Belgian Explorations: My Father’s Congo

The Congo Free State (C.F.S.) was created as a private property of the Belgian King Leopold II in 1884–85 at the Berlin Conference and lasted until 1908. It was succeeded by the Belgian Congo, which lasted from 1908 until 1960, when the country gained its independence (see Vangroenweghe 1986; Ndaywel è Nziem 1998; Hochschild 1998). During the short history of colonial rule, the organization and implementation of the colonial enterprise were conducted almost exclusively by males. There was a contingent development of the institution of the ménagères, wherein African women and the male colonizers developed relationships of sexual intimacy. These relations occurred between female “housekeepers” (the ménagères) and the male colonizers whom they were serving. These relationships developed within the context of the absence of European women—an absence legitimized by their supposed biological unsuitability for the African tropical climate (Habig 1944, 10–11; Stoler 2002). The practice of sexual relations between the male colonizers and the colonized African women was universal and widespread, particularly outside the most important urban centers of Leopoldville, Elisabethville, and Stanleyville. Once in the Congo, many agents of the state and many employees of private colonial companies looked for the companionship of African women, who provided them with housekeeping, affection, and sexual favors. Usually, Belgian men kept their ménagères with them until the end of their tour of duty.

State employees and agents of private companies were contractually employed for a three-year term. They would normally leave at the end of the term, usually spending six months’ vacation in Belgium, after which they had the option of returning to the colony for another three-year tour of service. This could continue indefinitely.Upon their return to the colony, it was customary for them either to retain the same ménagères in their “employ” or to choose another from among the “available African women.” Sometimes, the ménagères would become pregnant. If she did, she was typically sent back to her village with a small “financial indemnity” and material compensation. Usually, the colonial agent would then choose a new, young African woman to replace her in his house and in his bed.

The number of children born out of the widespread practice of sexual intimacy forced the colonial administration and the Belgian Parliament to debate what they termed the problème des métis, “the mulatto problem.” The issue was the treatment of the mulatto offspring of these unions: whether they should endure the same status as the rest of the Congolese population or whether they should be considered an intermediate group above the latter but beneath the Europeans. Attempts at resolving the dilemma produced a series of contradictory policies, resulting in considerable ambiguity. This ambiguity came to characterize the lives of the growing population of métis throughout the entire colonial period (Jeurissen 1999; Stoler 2002). Usually, the status of the métis depended upon the degree of recognition and acknowledgment of parenthood by their fathers. Those who were not recognized were often abandoned by their mothers because of the ostracism that they faced when returning to their native villages. The abandoned children usually ended up living in Catholic and Protestant missionary boarding schools, which were created for this purpose.

Read the entire chapter here

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A Silenced History from Belgian Congo: A Mixed Race History

Posted in Africa, Articles, History, Media Archive on 2010-11-15 00:59Z by Steven

A Silenced History from Belgian Congo: A Mixed Race History

Afro-Europe International Blog
2010-06-15

Sibo Kano

The Bastards in Our Colony: Hidden Stories of Belgian Metis

You haven’t heard much from me lately. I was writing a book and it’s finally finished and published. The book I wrote together with Kathleen Ghequière traces back a history of Africa and Europe that has been ignored for too much time. Some of you know about the mixed race children of Australia thanks to movies such as ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ or even Baz Luhrmann’s latest ‘Australia’. But concerning Africa this history is unknown.

It seems as if the European colonizer didn’t have intimate relationships with the African colonized. But many children were born out of relations between white Europeans and black Africans during colonization. These children undermined the racial colonial order with their existence. These children have been hidden and their stories silenced. At least for the Belgian Congo this story is now unveiled and in this book the mixed race children of Belgium and Congo express their history freely…

Read the entire article here.

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