Defining Roles. Representations of Lumumba and his Independence Speech in Congolese and Belgian Literature

Colloquium | March 20 | 12:30-2 p.m. | 223 Moses Hall

 Lieselot De Taeye, Visiting Student Researcher, Institute of European Studies, PhD Candidate in Dutch Literature at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

 Center for African Studies

On June 30th 1960, Congo declared its independence from Belgium. In his speech at the ceremony, the Belgian King Baudouin applauded the work of his countrymen during the colonial period, calling his great-granduncle Leopold II, who was responsible for the death of approximately ten million Congolese people, a ‘genius’. Patrice Lumumba, the first Congolese Prime Minister, gave a now-famous speech in response. He denounced the atrocities that occurred under the Belgian rule and praised the Congolese struggle for freedom in the years leading up to 1960.

In her lecture, Lieselot De Taeye will discuss the roles Congolese and Belgian novelists have imagined for Lumumba: which characteristics have they ascribed to the young politician and how have they portrayed the consequences of his speech? By analysing and comparing the characterizational strategies these authors employed, she will examine how they dealt with their personal and national identities in their representations of this historical chapter.

Lieselot De Taeye (fellow of the Belgian American Educational Foundation) is a Belgian scholar in Dutch and Flemish Literature. Her PhD research focuses on the non-fictional writings that arose in neerlandophone literature in the context of the counterculture movement of the1960s. She currently works as a visiting scholar at the Institute of European Studies at UC Berkeley. The aim of her current research project is to compare fictional and factual representations of the events surrounding the Congolese Independence in Belgian and Congolese Literature.

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