Congolese Prime Minister to pay respects in Colwyn Bay

An African Prime Minister intends to visit Colwyn Bay later this year.

Bruno Tshibala, of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, will pay respects at the gravesides of the “Congo Boys” at the Llanelian Road cemetery in Old Colwyn.

The announcement was made at the Second International Symposium on Black History last week by Congolese journalist Norbert Mbu-Mputu during his talk on the history of the Congo Training Institute at Colwyn Bay which was established by the baptist missionary Reverend William Hughes in 1891.

While in the Congo, Rev Hughes met with fellow Welshman and explorer Henry Morton Stanley and on his return established the institute which gave young African children a place where they could learn a trade and follow the Christian faith before returning to their own country. At its peak it had 60 students and boasted King Leopold of Belgium as its patron.

Mr Mbu-Mputu, said: “We have a special shared history with Colwyn Bay in the Congo, and it is very important to Mr Tshibala to share in the story.”

He attended the symposium with a Congolese delegation as part of Black History Month 2017 to discuss some of the more positive shared history between Africa, the Caribbean and Wales.

Mr Mbu-Mputu added: “We cannot understand why such an amazing story about Mr Hughes isn’t as important to you as it is to us in the Congo.

“Like many people from my country I always have somewhere to sleep when I visit Colwyn Bay. It’s amazing to me.”

The symposium, held at the Bay of Colwyn Council Chamber, was opened with a presentation of a citation – originally presented to the Mr Hughes on the eve of his proposed third visit to Africa in 1917 – to the Mayor of the Bay of Colwyn, Cllr Jeff Pearson, by his descendants great-granddaughter Jean Williams and great-grand niece Nan Hughes.

Jean Williams said: “I was very close to my grandfather who refused to talk about his father because of a libel case my great-grandfather lost, which led to the demise of the Congo Institute and tarnished its legacy.

“Not a lot of people in Colwyn Bay remember his work. But having met the Congolese people directly affected by the school and to find out how they view the history absolutely amazes me. It’s all coming to life again now.”