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Belgium Says – “We are sorry for abducting-mixed race children during colonial era”

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Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel has formally apologized for the country’s kidnapping of mixed race children from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda during the colonial era, adding that the country would do more to fight discrimination, racism and xenophobia.

The children, born born to mixed race couples in the 1940s and 50s, were forcibly abducted from their mothers and brought to Belgium where they were fostered by the Catholic Church and other institutions.

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

 

On behalf of the federal government, I apologize to the mixed race people with roots in Belgian colonization and to their families for the injustice and suffering they went through. I also wish to express all our compassion for the African mothers whose children were torn away from them.

“On behalf of the federal government, I apologize to the mixed race people with roots in Belgian colonization and to their families for the injustice and suffering they went through. I also wish to express all our compassion for the African mothers whose children were torn away from them,” said Belgian Prime minister, Charles Michel.

About 20,000 children are believed to have been affected. Most fathers refused to acknowledge the paternity of their children.

“By setting up a system of targeted segregation against mixed race people and their families in Belgian colonial Africa, the Belgian state acted contrary to respect for fundamental human rights. That is why, on behalf of the federal government, I recognize the targeted segregation of which mixed race people were victims under the colonial administration of the Belgian Congo, Rwanda and Burundi until 1962 and in the wake of decolonization, as well as forced kidnappings,” Charles Michel added.

Some of the children never received Belgian nationality and remained stateless. Two years ago, the Catholic Church apologised for its role in the scandal.

Last year, Belgian MPs called on the government to help the affected children find their biological parents and also gain Belgian nationality.

24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Zimbawe’s doctor goes missing after masterminding strike

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Fearless Zimbabwe’s minister of health has called on the government to address insecurity lapses that has lead to the disappearance Peter Magombeyi, the head of a doctor’s union, who disappeared on Saturday.

Fears are rising over the fate of Zimbabwe medical doctor Dr Peter Magombeyi after he sent a message to say he had been abducted in that country by unknown persons – apparently for demanding a “living wage”.

An AFP report earlier on Sunday quoted the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) as saying Magombeyi had not been heard from since he sent a WhatsApp message on Saturday night saying he had been “kidnapped by three men”.

Zimbabwe doctors, who earn a miserly equivalent of about R3 000 are on strike to press for better wages, equipment and medicines in state hospitals.

The ZHDA has reportedly accused state security forces of abducting the doctor because of his role in organising work stoppages.

This week some doctors said the death of deposed Robert Mugabe, 95, in a Singapore hospital on 6 September was an indication of how bad health services in Zimbabwe

“Dr Magombeyi’s crime is only to ask for a living wage for his profession. This is a reflection of the troubles born out of refusal to implement Political Reforms.”

The Zimbabwe government led by Emmerson Mnangagwa has not publicly commented on the doctor’s disappearance

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