King Leopold II of Belgium is a complete and utter tyrannical devilish psychopathic bastard!
The trail of pain and destruction he left in Congo (Africa) is simply unfathomable. However, the greatest disgrace is that there is hardly any mention of him nor his crimes in our history books.
Yet he sits alongside Hitler and Mussolini as one of the most destructive human beings to have ever existed.
This is a man who is responsible for the murder of over 10million+ Africans in the Congo. A man who made scores of children into orphans, ripped families apart and left countless innocent people maimed and disabled.
Congo to this day is still trying to recover from the scars of Leopold.
So we have to ask ourselves, why are there not countless Hollywood films depicting this man and his genocidal crimes, much like how Hitler is frequently featured in films?… Where are the history books that heavily feature Leopold?… Where are the countless memorials across the world for the victims of his crimes or a national day in Belgium dedicated to their memory?…
” When the victims are African, the world conveniently forgets.”
On a personal level…
In 2017, I felt angry and sick to my stomach with the fact that this man’s injustice is forgotten. I wanted this not to be the case, I wanted the victims of Leopold’s crimes to be permanently remembered in one form or the other.
I felt art was one of the best tools I could utilize to help create this. I wanted to create artworks that will last and serve as a reminder of Leopold’s crimes but somehow also be art that showed the resilience, grace and strength of Africans.
Artwork that celebrated the courage and dignity we have even in the face of atrocity.
An additional reason for my creating this art series was because on a personal level, I had suffered a serious form of racism that year. The kind of pugnacious and abhorrent form of racism that could have upturned my life (and not in a good way).
You see one of the problems with racism is that most people picture silly name calling and quiet slights as the main forms of racism. Yet what is not often discussed is the truly vile and evil form that has the potential to damage lives.
Now my situation was nowhere as bad as anything faced in the Congo, but it had me thinking about the potency of racism and how it was the underlining fuel behind Leopold’s hideous crimes.
I wondered how the people of Congo had gone from living a peaceful life to having their world shattered overnight by racism. How many lives had been lost to the odious effects of it.
We as humanity cannot continue to grant this evil permission to exist within our systems or psyches.
We cannot also exalt figures such as King Leopold II of Belgium and have their crimes hidden from humanity. Its sickening that after Leopold’s death and transfer of his private colony to Belgium, a policy of the “great forgetting” was implemented.
Many Belgians today fondly remember Leopold II as the ‘Builder King‘ for his extensive public works project in Belgium.
In Ostend (Belgium), the beach promenade has a 1931 sculptural monument dedicated to Leopold II, showing him and the Congolese together.
We must not make tyrants into our collective heroes. We must not paint the victims out of history. It is for this reason that I chose to paint the victims back into our history.
To serve as a reminder that humanity must never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity.