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Boyamba Belgique: Or why a king should not lose his sword
A film by Dries Engels & Bart Van Peel
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On June 30, 1960, slightly over 50 years ago, the largest African colony Congo became independent of Belgium.

The day before, Wednesday, June 29th, around half past four in the afternoon, as the Belgian King Baudouin was being driven through Kinshasa, standing bolt upright next to the future president Kasavubu in a Cadillac convertible, he saluted the Belgian flag. At this very moment a young Congolese man steps from the crowd, steals the sabre of King Badouin from behind, and runs away. And photographer Robert Lebeck eternalizes the incident in a single shot.

In BOYAMBA BELGIQUE: OR WHY A KING SHOULD NOT LOSE HIS SWORD, this picture becomes a keyhole through which to peer at the decolonization of Africa. For the filmmakers embark on a search for the thief, meeting eyewitnesses, searching for archives, visiting villages, and digging into the meaning and symbolism of the act.

Until most good stories of hidden history, after false starts and misdirection about the person and meanings both, they do discover the real thief, and, why he did it.

"Illuminates the lost possibilities and the deferred dreams of the Congo and its people." —Journal on African Philosophy

"Highly Recommended. BOYAMBA BELGIQUE is taut and technically seamless, moving at a swift pace through dense thickets of Congolese history, while providing the viewer a valuable, panoramic glimpse of the nation's rich culture as it struggles to move beyond its troubled past." —Educational Media Reviews Online

“BOYAMBA BELGIQUE is a very clever and entertaining film. I do not know if the makers knew how far and deep the question of one fifty-year old act would take them, but it ends up leading them and us not only on a detective hunt but on an exploration of colonial politics and religious belief that sheds light on many aspects of traditional and contemporary African society. It is therefore a very successful film, one that students and the public would enjoy as well as one that teachers and scholars could use to their benefit.” —Anthropology Review Database

"Inspiring...It's a grand mystery, and interesting characters -- civil servants, village leaders, the self-proclaimed shaman, underpaid employees, descendents -- are encountered and speak their peace in pursuit of a solution." —Leonardo Digital Reviews

2011 Festival International du Film PanAfricain de Cannes
  

57 minutes / color
Release: 2011
Copyright: 2010
Sale: $390

Subject areas:
Africa, African Studies, Central Africa, Congo, Cultural Anthropology, History (World)

Related Titles:
Berlin 1885: The Division of Africa: The story of the first international conference on Africa, which established its division amongst the European powers, and created Congo as a personal possession of the Belgian king.

Mobutu: The definitive history and visual record of the rise and fall of Joseph Désiré Mobutu, ruler of Zaire (the Congo) for over 30 years.

Congo in Four Acts: A quartet of short films (on one dvd) that lay bare the reality of everyday life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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