The ties between citizens of former colonial countries and their former masters continue to wax strong, albeit with due reservations held. The narrative of an immigrant is, and has always been, once an immigrant forever an immigrant, even with legal papers. The immigrant tag and all its connotations (some negative) has however not stopped many Africans from holding positions of leadership or representing the countries they adopted in various sporting disciplines. Pierre Kompany, the father of Belgian and Manchester City footballer Vincent Kompany, is the latest African to make history, becoming Belgium’s first Black Mayor. Kompany received 1,327 votes in Gashoren municipality, in the north-west of Brussels.
Kompany (71), a Mechanical Engineer who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo received many congratulatory messages including a heartwarming one from his son Vincent who took to Instagram to congratulate his father. Vincent wrote: “Just for the guys abroad, he is the first black mayor in Belgium. It’s never happened before, it’s historical, congratulations to my dad.” The Manchester City captain who was alongside with his brother, Francois, in the video captioned the video: “History! We are so proud of you dad. Came over from the DR Congo, as a refugee, in 1975. Now gained the trust of your local community becoming the first ever black elected mayor in Belgium! It was long overdue but it’s progress. Massive congrats!”
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History! We are so proud of you dad. Came over from the DR Congo, as a refugee, in 1975. Now gained the trust of your local community becoming the first ever black elected mayor in Belgium! It was long over due but it’s progress. Massive congrats! #Belgium #Brussels #Ganshoren ✊🏾
Early this year, Belgium renamed the former Square du Bastion to Patrice Lumumba Square. The renaming of the square came as part of the apology to Congo for the assassination of Lumumba. The public gesture has however not done much to reduce the racism Black people face in Belgium, and neither has it reduced the pain of the memory of atrocities Belgium committed in Congo.
The election of Kompany, though historic, is not in stark contrast to other positions Black people have held in White majority spaces, and his election could act as a symbolic and significant step to address racism in the country. The general expectation that living conditions of Black people will significantly change for the better when a Black person occupies a political office has been proven to be false. When Barack Obama was President of the United States, many Black people expected that radical changes would be made to address issues affecting Black people such as, systemic racism, police brutality, poor schools, poverty among others but for many, the changes were far from satisfactory.