Tooth of Slain Congolese Leader Returned by Belgium

Photo: AP [via The Washington Post]

The Facts

  • In an official ceremony at Egmont Palace in Belgium's capital on Mon., Belgian authorities returned the tooth of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba. The tooth was returned to his family 61 years after his murder.

  • The return of the relic took place after Belgium's King Philippe earlier this month made his first visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where he expressed his "deepest regrets" for his nation's abuses in the former colony.

The Spin

Narrative A

To this day, Lumumba remains a symbol of hope to many in Congo of what the country could have become after its independence. This long-overdue act of return is vital for national healing from Belgium's unacceptable neocolonial atrocities and brutal imperial rule.

Narrative B

The return of this relic marks a hopeful improvement in diplomatic relations between Belgium and the Congo. The ceremony was part of a process for Brussels to confront its bloody past in Africa and express its regrets for the wounds of the past, paving the way for a more harmonious future for the two nations.

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