June 30 marks the 60th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) independence from Belgium.
This year’s milestone comes some 15 months after the DRC experienced its first peaceful transfer of power in its turbulent post-colonial history.
The vast, mineral-rich country has long been exploited for its resources, including through the period of direct Belgian rule and under King Leopold II of Belgium, who held it as his personal dominion from 1885 to 1908.
Leopold’s exploitative reign is seen by many historians as one of the most brutal in the history of European colonialism, with millions of Congolese killed and maimed during his rule. Earlier this month, as protests against racism swept the world in the wake of the United States police killing of George Floyd, a 150-year-old statue of Leopold in Antwerp was removed after being targeted by activists.
To mark the DRC’s 60th independence anniversary, Al Jazeera spoke to Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, a prominent scholar on African politics and author of The Congo from Leopold to Kabila, to discuss the impact of colonial rule on DRC, recent political developments in the country and what might come next.