M. Jean Bolikango, newly-appointed Assistant Commissioner General, Information, for the Belgian Congo --- first African?
M. Jean Bolikango, newly-appointed Assistant Commissioner General, Information, for the Belgian Congo --- first African to be given an important post under the country's political reforms --- received an enthusiastic welcome July 25 on arrival at Leopoldville airport, to take up his new duties.
Native dancers performed as M. Bolikango and his wife stepped from the plane to acknowledge the cheering crowds and Mme Bolikango was presented with a feathered hat.
M. Bolikango's appointment marks the start of the Africanisation of the Congo's Civil Service. This measure was advocated recently by the Minister, M. Maurice Van Hemelrijck, reaffirming the Government's determination to carry out reforms outlined in January this year --- following riots in the Congo capital of Leopoldville.
A bill for the protection of the interests of Belgian Civil servants will be introduced in Parliament in September. Announcing this, M. Van Hemelrijck said it would be dangerous to form an African Government at present -- but the Civil Service should be Africanized as quickly as possible. Capable Africans should be appointed to higher rankers of the administration and to companies in which there was State participation.
Rioting broke out in Leopoldville Jan 5-6, flared up by an independence-seeking political movement. A month later --- after many deaths on both sides, King Baudouin of the Belgians, offered the Africans rapid steps to independence.
M. Bolikango (50) born in Leopoldville, set up an office of Information for the Belgian Congo last year and provided documents for the use of the Congolese people.
Political causes of the January riots included "lack of information services" and influences abroad. This undoubtedly will be M. Bolikango's first mission.
Among several distinctions he is Chief President of L'Adapes and the Bangala Federation., He is author of "Mondjeni-Mobe" (The Brave One) - a book awarded the literary prize by the Concours de la Foire Internationale de Gand.