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Barack Obama’s historical visit to Belgium: What does it mean to the people?

B OBAMAANTWERP, March 28, 2014 - Years back, before the inauguration of Barack Obama, as United States of America’s 44th president, if a clairvoyant would have told Belgium that a Black man in America would one day become president in that country, I believe Belgium would have said “It’s impossible that can never happen.”  The reason is simple and logical.

Belgium colonized Congo like other European countries, but the crime they committed against the Congolese and Africa in general, killing of fathers, mothers and maiming hundreds of children, rendering them handicap and the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, just because they lost the country after independence, didn’t only ruined and soiled the reputation of Belgium as a country, but also haunting them.


In regard to the Black man, what is common in Europe and other advanced countries is not common in Belgium. Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. In the year 2000, I had a dream that one day, I would see a black bus driver in Antwerp, and after five years, I saw one in the city. Today they have increased. I had a dream that one day, I would see a black policeman within Antwerp’s police force, and after six years in the city, I saw one, but haven’t seen a black police woman yet.

I had a dream that one day, I would see a black journalist, writing for the Belgian newspapers, unfortunately that dream hasn’t been fulfilled yet. I had a dream one day that, I would see a black journalist appearing on Belgium’s television, that dream is yet to be fulfilled. Now football has brought many blacks into teams, so things are improving. I have said this over and over that, Belgium, especially the Flemish, will give the Black man the recognition he deserves, when they first give that recognition and respect to the Walloons as their neighbour, because they are yet to accept them as neighbours to live in their community.

On Tuesday 3/25/14, amidst a strong entourage, president Obama arrived in Belgium, including 45 vehicles and three cargo planes. In advance security forces were deployed throughout Brussels, checking the sewers and the major hospitals, while American military helicopters were last week given the green light for over flights. Accompanied by Belgium's King Philippe and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, Obama toured the battlefield and laid a wreath at the American First World War cemetery.

What is the significance of Obama’s visit to Belgium generally? It’s interesting to read positive news and comments following the president’s visit to the country, but taking into consideration the crime Belgium committed in Africa and the way they view the Black man, I wonder if the reception given to Obama was genuine. In Obama’s case being president of one of the strongest nations, he needs that respect and cordial relationship.

Who can tell me more about Belgians, especially the Flemish, when over thirteen years, I am still doing research about the people, instead of getting addicted to their waffles and chocolate? I feel very happy to see Obama in Belgium while I am still living. I know many Africans were happy as well, because his visit means a lot to them. His visit wipes the tears of the underprivileged and the underestimated African.

At the same time his visit is a wakeup call for all Africans in Europe. I know what I have seen as an African in Antwerp. Writing this article and getting a media to publish it, makes me feel like a millionaire, because no Belgium print or online media would have published this article. I have tried it before, no media replied to my proposal and request, until the editor of Diplomatic Aspects Newspaper came to my aid.

He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. What they don’t want to read and have tried all their best to kill my desire as a writer is exactly what they shall read.


Written by Joel Savage/Diplomatic Aspects/Antwerp

Photo work of President Barack Obama by Joel Savage.

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