In 2010, Bart Van Peel wrote and co-directed the congo-documentary Boyamba Belgique.
On June 30, 1960, the young Belgian King Baudouin was in Leopoldville (now Kinshasha) for a ceremony to transfer power to the Congolese after more than 50 years of colonial rule. As the procession headed up the crowded main boulevard, a Congolese man came up alongside the limousine from which Baudouin was saluting his troops, stole the King’s sword and ran off.
Captured in a now iconic photograph by Robert Lebeck, the image offers proof of a brilliant act of defiance by the colonized in the face of a last, ostentatious display of influence by the colonizer, symbolically taking power before it could be granted.
While the photograph captured the dramatic gesture the instant it occurred, what happened to the man and the sword in the aftermath of the event remained an enigma.
Traveling to the Congo 50 years later, the filmmakers Dries Engels & Bart Van Peel try and complete the story of Lebeck’s powerful image, and in searching for the whereabouts of the man and the sword, encounter along the way some of the legacies and consequences of the long shadow of colonial rule.
Producer: Serendipity Films
With support of: Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds (VAF), Canvas, RTBF