Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Belgium-Congolese Spring Prepared At Brussels Seafood Restaurant

The protests against Belgian diplomatic support for Kabila that took place in Ixelles have taken their toll on local bussinesses. Brahim Ammih, a fellow Dutch citizen living in Brussels, the owner of the small and friendly (priced!) seafood restaurant Poissonnerie Ammih explained how the usual clients stayed away during those weeks of unrest.

But since last week Ixelles seems back to normal again. Still, Belgian Congolese citizens are searching for ways to get their voice heard. Waving NVA flags could be the battle cry for Belgo-Congolese to finally demand their place in the public sphere and public debate in Belgian politics. How to move beyond the politics of appointing Belgo-Congolese individuals to co-opt the community. To reach out to society at large and to build bridges to other communities and minorities in the Belgian capital and Belgian society as a whole. Initiatives like Jambonews and, just recently started, Ingeta are signs of a larger movement.

The elections in Congo have led to lively debate on Congolese politics and Belgian diplomacy online. Together with @negmatic and other active new media users  from the diverse Brussels tweetosphere we decided to take this online discussion on politics, citizenship and activism OFFLINE AS WELL ll and met at this small seafood restaurant Poissonnerie Ammih on the outskirts of Matonge in Ixelles in the waning days of 2011. Dark cloudy skies outside, vivid debate and concern among the participants inside.

The political clout of Belgian Congolese is like Kamerhe's sleeping Elephant. Once it decides to get out of it's letargic sleep it could change the Belgian landscape for ever.  The "elections" in november have definetly changed something. The protests in the streets and the life debate among the Congolese diaspora in Brussels and beyond won't be the last we have heard from this new emerging force in Belgian politics.

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