Sharing Past and Future: Strengthening African-European Connections

In conjunction with the reopening of the museum in 2018, the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) and the Egmont-Royal Institute for International Relations organised the conference Sharing Past and Future: Strengthening African-European Connections. The aim of the conference was to look back at the past and rethink future relations between Africans and Europeans. The proceedings of this conference are now available in open access.


Topics that are more relevant than ever

African-European connections today are at a crossroads and under critical scrutiny. Calls are being made for the restitution of African cultural objects housed by European museums yet acquired during colonial times. Movements such as Black Lives Matter remind us of the direct connection between colonialism and racism, mobilising thousands of people against systemic forms of racism in European societies. In academia, a vibrant debate is forcing universities to finally decolonise their educational programmes and research collaborations.

Conscious of the need to reflect on how to revise our reading of the past and redesign future African-European connections, the Royal Museum for Central Africa and Egmont-Royal Institute for International Relations organised a conference in September 2018 titled Sharing Past and Future: Strengthening African-European Connections.

The conference offered a forum to over 50 African and European academics, activists, artists, politicians and other stakeholders, who critically reflected on how Africans and Europeans can cooperate in a shared and sustainable way. 

Conference proceedings now available in open access

The RMCA and the Egmont Institute have published the proceedings of this conference in open access.

The eclectic nature of the contributions by some of these participants, as presented in this volume, shows that prominent voices agree to disagree about the modalities of restitution, the politics of memory, the legacy of colonialism, and the nature of future African-European connections.

While there are no clear-cut answers or solutions to the challenges identified and reconfirmed during the conference, each contribution should be considered an invitation and stimulus to scrutinise existing African-European connections, and to contribute to a true decolonisation and redrafting of these ties on the basis of equity, respect and solidarity.

The texts in this publications are in French or in English.



  • Introduction, Colin Hendrickx and Koen Vlassenroot
  • Opening speech, Guido Gryseels
  • Une méthode de partage du passé, Jean-François Bayart
  • L'UNESCO et la question du retour et de la restitution des biens culturels, Lazare Eloundou Assomo
  • Partager le passé et l’avenir : renforcer les liens entre l’Afrique et l’Europe, Abdoul Latif Coulibaly
  • L’Europe : un long passé devant nous, ou bien un futur sans cesse renouvelé? Margarida Calafate Ribeiro
  • Aux sources du nationalisme congolais, Bob Kabamba
  • Accessing archives – Belgium, Karel Velle
  • Accessing archives – Shared responsibilities, Ellen Ndeshi Namhila
  • Congo history – Congo protest, Herbert F. Weiss
  • CONTESTATIONS POLITIQUES EN RDC. Hier, c’était le Blanc qui me faisait peur, aujourd’hui, c’est le président, Jean Omasombo Tshonda
  • How to strengthen African scholarly expertise, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja
  • L’artivisme comme pouvoir de création et de résilience, Gia Abrassart
  • Renforcer le lien entre l’Afrique et l’Europe, Ganza Buroko
  • La gestion du patrimoine africain en Europe, Hamady Bocoum
  • Dealing with claims for Nazi-looted art and colonial objects, Jos van Beurden
  • Introductory remarks to the panel, The Hon. Alexander De Croo
  • Connecting societies and exploring sustainable forms of (cooperative) development, Bogdan Vanden Berghe
  • L’avenir empoisonné des relations Afrique-Europe, Fred Bauma
  • Refashioning futures: renewing Africa-Europe engagement, Yusuf Serunkuma Kajura
  • Coopération : oser le nécessaire équilibre, Smockey Bombara
  • Partager le passé, connexion dans le futur. Raconteuse d’histoires, An Ansoms
  • Retranscription de l’allocution du ministre Didier Reynders en clôture de la conférence

The Egmont Institute also conducted short video interviews with Andrew Mwenda, Pascal Blanchard, Bob Kabamba, Gia Abrassart, Louise O Fresco, Fred Bauma, Smokey Bambara and Paul Simon Handy.