Déclaration De Dépendance de la Belgique au Zaire BIWA

Karel SchoetensJef Lambrecht



Collection: M HKA, Antwerpen - Schenking Samarkand, 2019.

Poster for the declaration

Jef Lambrecht was a journalist renowned as one of Belgium’s foremost experts in the current affairs of the Middle-East. Together with Karel Schoetens, Lambrecht founded the artistic project the Belgian Institute for World Affairs (B.I.W.A.) in 1982, as a way to reflect on the peculiarity of Belgium, including its relations to the rest of the world. In 1989, during the ongoing crisis between Belgium and its former colony Zaire (its former colony Congo and now Democratic Republic of Congo) concerning the waiving of debt, B.I.W.A. organised the action Declaration of Dependence, which declared unilaterally that Belgium was a dependent of its former colony Zaire. Beginning as a ritualistic action on the Linkeroever (Left Bank) of Antwerp, the artists made their declaration in the pouring rain in front of a minimal crowd. They then visited the consulate of Zaire to deliver the declaration, but who ultimately declined it. The story nonetheless caused a small media storm, and questions were even raised in parliament. The event elevated to the level of a minor diplomatic incident, with Zaire’s president Mobutu stating press freedom in Belgium was out of control.

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