In the last Live Book Club, artist Laura Nsengiyumva will engage in conversation with two readers. This time she has chosen Mireille Tsheusi Robert and Eline Mestdagh to join her at the table. You may know Robert as an author on racism and an activist. Mestdagh is an academic researcher who analyses the role of history in the struggles of the sub-Saharan African diaspora living in Belgium. The starting point for this conversation is the book "Pietpraat", edited by Bambi Ceuppens.
The same debate comes up in Belgium and in the Netherlands every year: Should ‘Zwarte Piet’ be banned? The figure of Saint Nicholas’ servant is discussed annually but validation of this character casts a shadow on the oldest tradition for children. In this book, Bambi Ceuppens has gathered various authors to feed the social debate: historians and activists such as Dalila Hermans, Heleen Debeuckelaere, Mireille Tsheusi Robert and the inviting artist Laura Nsengiyumva, with the "Legend of Queen Nikkolah". Together they answer the following questions creatively and scientifically: why is this figure internationally criticized? In what sense is it racist and how did it become such an emotional subject? The book was published in 2018 in the midst of the controversy about the Royal Museum of Central Africa, and has failed to echo the voices of the authors. This book club is a chance to start the annual celebration afresh with their valuable contributions.