Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


African Studies Seminar: Congolese Independence, Shared Memories

31 October 2019, 12:30 pm–2:00 pm

Georges Senga

The UCL African Studies Seminar welcomes Gabriella Nugent (UCL History of Art) for the third seminar of this autumn term: ‘'Congolese Independence, Shared Memories: Rethinking the Legacy of Patrice Lumumba from Lubumbashi'. Seminars will take place every other Thursday this term.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Hélène Neveu Kringelbach


IAS Forum
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

This lecture will explore the legacy of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo who was assassinated in 1961, through the Congolese artist Georges Senga’s series of photographic diptychs, Une vie après la mort (2012). For the series, Senga collaborated with Kayembe Kilobo, an elderly schoolteacher in Lubumbashi whose clothing, lifestyle and opinions had been self-consciously styled on Lumumba since the 1950s. In the photographs, the artist re-staged scenes of the young Lumumba from archival images and documents situated on the left-side of the diptych through the elderly schoolteacher. I argue that Une vie après la mort complicates the story of forgetting around Lumumba constructed within Belgium, the official rhetoric of Mobutu-era Congo, and by scholars in the 1990s. I juxtapose colonial and postcolonial authoritative accounts with popular on the ground experience, and, in doing so, I align Senga’s series with urban art forms in Congo. By foregrounding visual and material culture, this paper challenges the way in which independence movements are chronicled through singular heroes. Senga’s Une vie après la mort turns our attention to the people who lived in hope of the liberated state.

All welcome. Please note that there may be photography and/or audio recording at some events and that admission is on a first come first served basis. Please follow this FAQ link for more information. All our events are free but you can support the IAS here.

This seminar series is convened by the African Studies Research Centre/IAS:

View the full Autumn seminar programme

Image: Georges Senga, Une vie après la mort, 2012

About the Speaker

Gabriella Nugent is PhD candidate in History of Art at University College London. Her research explores the legacy of Belgian colonialism in contemporary lens-based art on, of and from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Current and forthcoming publications include African Arts, Oxford Art Journal and Object. She is a Teaching Fellow in History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS. She also teaches at UCL in the History of Art Department and Slade School of Fine Art.