The move follows similar calls for compensation by the Democratic Republic of Congo after Belgian King Philippe in June offered his “deepest regrets” over his nation’s colonial past in the Congo. While the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. sparked some introspection about racism in the West, in sub-Saharan Africa much of the analysis has focused on the legacy of colonialism.
Burundi also wants Belgium and Germany to return archival material and objects stolen between 1899 and 1962, Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo told senators in the capital, Gitega, on Thursday. In 2018, the Senate appointed a panel including historians and anthropologists to investigate the impact of colonialism in the nation.
Much of Burundi’s present-day political challenges can be traced back to a decree by Belgian King Albert I to classify the population along three ethnic groups, according to Aloys Batungwanayo, a historian and doctoral researcher at the Lausanne University.
“It is this decree that has led to conflicts in Burundi and the region because some of the population was excluded from the ruling class because of the decree,” Batungwanayo said in the commercial hub Bujumbura on Friday.
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