Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

Decolonisation: Etterbeek will add context to controversial street names and monuments

15:42 07/10/2023

The Brussels neighbourhood of Etterbeek will be adding an explanation and context to local street names, statues and other monuments with a colonial background.

The move comes in the wake of broader efforts towards the decolonisation of public spaces, meaning a re-evaluation of public property that honours or otherwise pays homage to people who were responsible for the atrocities that took place under colonialism.

Some favour complete removal of such property and changing names where applicable - for example, the rechristening of the Leopold II Tunnel to the Annie Cordy Tunnel. Others believe that putting up signs or placards that add context and explanation is a better route.

In doing the latter, Etterbeek is following the advice of a committee composed of residents and politicians, which spent 18 months debating the divisive issue.

In addition to adding context to public property with a colonial connection, Etterbeek will organise an event each year that centres around colonisation and decolonisation.

“That event should be organised with art academies, associations and schools,” said Etterbeek’s mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR).

A group of experts who are "as neutral as possible" will provide context for individual sites with the goal of finishing before the local elections in October 2024.

Written by Helen Lyons