In the presence of daughter Juliana, the University of Antwerp renamed the historic lecture hall on Campus Middelheim to the Patrice Lumumba lecture hall on 31 March. ‘This symbolic naming is a commitment to the future for our university’, Rector Herman Van Goethem said. Juliana Lumumba reacted emotionally.
Heavy with history
The historic lecture hall on Campus Middelheim is a place heavy with history: in this lecture hall the former Colonial College awarded its diplomas every year between 1920 and 1962. Here Belgian men received an elite education to subsequently ‘govern’ the colonies.
An olive branch
‘Renaming this hall to the Patrice Lumumba lecture hall is symbolically very important, of course’, Rector Herman Van Goethem explains. ‘As the first prime minister of independent Congo, Lumumba fought for equal social and political rights. He was murdered in 1962, with complicity of the Belgian government.’
I think what the University of Antwerp does is prudent: it gives all students a task – the duty to never forget the past.
Juliana, the daughter of Patrice Lumumba, was a speaker at the ceremony. At times emotional, she said people will look at colonisation with a different perspective from now on. ‘Today is a happy day, I am proud. This lecture hall will become a symbol of everything my father stood for: the fight against prejudice, against racism, discrimination and xenophobia. I think what the University of Antwerp does is prudent: it gives all students a task – the duty to never forget the past.’