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Mot du président

A word from the president

The Royal Belgo-African Union, URBA-KBAU in short, is a non-profit association which makes it a point of honour to perpetuate the precious heritage that Belgians and Africans, from 1885 to the present day, have bequeathed to history thanks to their commitment to the development and prosperity of the continent, especially in Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. It aims to be the meeting point and fraternity between Belgians and Africans in order to develop and perpetuate the shared history, in a spirit of mutual respect and solidarity of destiny. Through its many activities, it aims to create dynamic relations between countries, to contribute to the rapprochement of their peoples through effective action against all forms of misinformation, to encourage writing and promote research related to the shared past, to explore, study and propose strategies for mutually beneficial cooperation. This is its purpose and culture.

Having succeeded the Royal Belgian Union for Overseas Countries (UROME), URBA-KBAU continues to defend the work accomplished by the joint efforts of Belgians and Africans in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi, by contributing to documenting in total objectivity all that has been achieved, under the conditions of each era

In accordance with the will of its distant founders, URBA-KBAU also continues to assume its role as a platform for all associations whose objective is to safeguard and revitalise the bonds forged in action by their members, as well as to inspire them and relay them to the authorities concerned.

It is not lost on anyone, especially not the press, that a counter-culture has emerged in recent decades. The privileged ties between Belgium and the African territories it used to administer have been thoroughly shaken. In its desire to stimulate cohesion and a common memory, URBA-KBAU fully assumes its role and does not shy away from the debate, on the one hand highlighting the common points and the cumulative advantages, and on the other hand assuming the shortcomings demonstrated by scientists.

Far from the prejudices and 'scientific truths' of the 19th century, URBA-KBAU welcomes the progress made by research and politics, which have finally established that all human beings are one family, rich in diversity, regardless of their origin or background. The United Nations formally endorsed this concept in the Durban Declaration of 8 September 2001.

Racism, wherever it comes from, should never have developed in our societies. It is an attempt to dominate and reject the other, a divisive factor and a profound attack on dignity.

URBA-KBAU advocates a zero tolerance of racism and wishes to actively encourage and contribute to uncovering and combating its new forms, not all of which have yet been documented or made punishable by law.

Belgium is a country fully open to the world. Despite all the colonisations it has had to undergo itself over the centuries and which it imposed for a time in Central Africa, it has kept its sense of hospitality and remains convinced of the richness that multicultural contributions mean for society.

Throughout the centuries, Belgium has benefited from diversity, which has always offered and continues to offer opportunities for increased prosperity where all skills can flourish and be valued, without discrimination.

An increasingly significant diaspora of Congolese, Rwandans and Burundians in Belgium offers URBA-KBAU the opportunity to inspire the rising generations, from the North as well as the South, and thus to refine the mutual understanding and the common view.

It is in this perspective that living together finds its meaning and that URBA-KBAU wishes to steer its action towards the future. In a globalised world, there is also every reason for URBA-KBAU to open up to other African countries. Belgium has been and is present, albeit less intensively, and is (re)known there too. This holds a potential that should be exploited, in view of the globalisation with a human face.

This ambitious programme can only be achieved with the commitment of everyone. URBA-KBAU is counting on it.

Thank you for your support!

Renier Nijskens

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