The State Archives is the main repository in Belgium of archives related to the colonial era.
Indeed, it preserves the archives produced by the Ministry of Colonies and its legal successors, including the archives of the administrations of Belgian Congo (1908-1960) and Ruanda-Urundi (1919-1962). It is customary to denominate these records with the collective name “Africa Archives”. These public records were thuspartly produced in Belgium while others were created in the colony and later moved to Belgium. When these countries gained independence (1960-1962), the Belgian authorities decided to transfer parts of the public archives from Belgian Congo and the territories of Burundi and Rwanda to Belgium in order to preserve them there.
The State Archives also keep archives of private individuals (for example of Jules Renkin and Théodore Heyse) and of companies that did business in the colonial regions (among which UMHK or Compagnie du Congo pour le commerce et l’industrie).
The multiple relocations of archives from both public and private entities have hampered access to this shared cultural heritage for many African researchers and citizens interested in the records. The State Archives is therefore working towards remedying this imbalance and towards decolonising the treatment of these records both in intellectual and ethical terms. Due to the circumstances of their creation, these archives about the colonial era indeed constitute a common cultural heritage to Belgium, Burundi, Congo and Rwanda, and their respective citizens.