Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Leopoldville 1960 – Patrice Lumumba’s Residence

This photograph, taken of a villa on Boulevard Albert 1er across from the Leopoldville golf course in May 1948, was Patrice Lumumba’s residence in 1960 when he became Prime Minister of the independent Republic of the Congo.  Lumumba was allocated the house by virtue of his nomination in February 1960 to the College Exécutif, a six-member advisory committee of Congolese representatives to the Governor General.  Otherwise, even this late in the colonial period, an African could never have purchased a house in the European city. Lumumba was tapped to represent Kasai Province, though he had lived in Leopoldville since September 1957 (Jan. 17, 2016).
The villa on Blvd. Albert 1er, May 1948 (author coll.) 

Family photo in the garden. (Published in Jet Magazine, March 9, 1961)
After the Elections in May, Lumumba was designated to form the first government. Kasa-Vubu, representing the important Bakongo community in the capital (Jan. 13, 2019), threatened to boycott and a compromise was reached whereby Kasa-Vubu would be elected President by the Parliament. Jean Van Lierde, a friend and advisor to Lumumba, recalled waiting at the house on the Boulevard on June 23 for Kasa-Vubu’s three ABAKO nominees for the Premier’s expansive cabinet. Following the Independence festivities and transfer of sovereignty to the new nation, President Kasa-Vubu moved into the former Provincial Governor’s mansion on Mont Stanley (Jan. 28, 2019), while Lumumba had to wait until July 5 for Governor General Henri Cornelis to vacate the Governor General’s residence on Ave. Tilkens (Ave du Fleuve) (Sep. 12, 2011).  By this time, General Janssens’ neo-colonialist position had precipitated an army mutiny and plunged the new nation into the Cold War.
Lumumba gives a press conference in the residence, June 2, 1960 (author coll.)
Belgian actions to safeguard its citizens by militarily occupying key cities and airports provoked Kasa-Vubu and Lumumba to break relations with Belgium on July 14. Lumumba announced the country would call for Soviet support if Belgium did not withdraw. Meanwhile, the United Nations responded decisively to a separate request to send a peace-keeping force to the new country. Relations with the UN soured in August when the international body appeared to acquiesce to the secession of Katanga Province. Furthermore, relations between President Kasa-Vubu and Lumumba became strained as the Prime Minister expressed increasingly strident anti-imperialist positions while the President appeared influenced by strong messages from western Ambassadors.  Both Brussels and Washington approved plans to remove Lumumba. The conflict came to a head on September 5 when Kasa-Vubu went on Radio Leopoldville to dismiss Lumumba.  Shortly afterwards, Lumumba came on the radio dismissing the President. The following day, Kasa-Vubu’s Prime Minister designate, Joseph Ileo, issued a warrant for Lumumba’s arrest. The United Nations closed the radio and all airports in the country.
Ghanaian soldier at the radio station September 5, 1960 (author coll.)
According to the Loi Fondamentale, the constitutional framework drafted by the Belgians, Kasa-Vubu was in his rights as President. But Lumumba cried foul and secured a vote in his favor in both Houses of the National Assembly on September 8, and called upon the UN to reopen the radio and airports. The UN placed guards at Parliament, the President and Prime Minister’s residences. In the afternoon of September 11, a National Army (ANC) unit arrested Lumumba at his residence on Blvd. Albert, executing Ileo’s warrant.  He was taken to Camp Leopold II (now Kokolo), but released after two hours. The Premier toured the cité rallying his supporters, then drove to the radio station three blocks from his home.  A Ghanaian guard detail refused him access.  At that point, Lumumba decamped from the Prime Minister’s residence for his private one.  Mme. Lumumba was seen leaving the residence in a vehicle filled with the family’s luggage.
Ghanaian troops at the Prime Minister's Office. Lumumba on the balcony (arrow)
(author coll.)

Ghana troops reinforce positions at the radio station, September 1960 (author coll.)
Tensions remained high in the city, with neither side conceding and the UN’s stated position of neutrality appearing to favor the Kasa-Vubu faction. Ghanaian troops withdrew from the Radio station on September 13 when the new Minister of Information in the Ileo government arrived to take possession.  The following day, Colonel Mobutu announced on the radio he was neutralizing both factions until the end of the year – a coup d’état.  He created an interim government of technocrats -- the College of Commissioners -- comprised of the cream of Congo's few university graduates.

Mobutu kept up the pressure.  On September 15, he announced the expulsion of Soviet and Czech embassies for distributing pro-Lumumba propaganda.  The next day, his troops arrested staff at the Prime Minister's residence and those at the administrative office on the street behind the Residence.  Lumumba left his private home and went into hiding, but on Sunday, September 18, returned to the official residence on the Congo River.  Ghanaian troops ensured his safety and screened journalists to an impromptu press conference.

Lumumba left the official residence several times over the next three weeks to rally supporters, but always returned to the safety of the Ghana guard detail.  The College of Commissioners fulminated about this, calling for an ANC guard at the Residence, for the electricity and water to be cut off, and for Mobutu to execute the arrest warrant.  Finally on October 12, Mobutu acted, deploying Congolese soldiers in an outer ring around the Ghanaians.  He reached an agreement with the UN that Lumumba would only be arrested if he left the Residence.
Ghanaian troops secure the perimeter of Lumumba's private residence (author coll.)

Col. Mobutu attempts to arrest Lumumba on October 11, 1960. The Ghanaian guard refused. 
(Author coll.)
On the night of November 27, in pouring rain, Lumumba slipped out of his residence, hidden on the floor of the back seat of his Chevrolet station wagon under the legs of the house workers.  Driving the workers home at night was a normal occurrence and the UN detail barely gave to car a look.  The ANC questioned the driver, who said he was also going to buy cigarettes, and would bring them back a carton, and they let him pass.  Lumumba rendezvoused with a number of supporters (including Pauline and son Roland, who had moved into the cité), and in a three-vehicle convoy set out for Stanleyville (Kisangani), 2000 kilometers to the northeast, where Lumumbists under Antoine Gizenga held power.  On December 1, Lumumba and his party were apprehended by Congolese security services near Mweka in Kasai Province.  His return to Leopoldville and subsequent transfer to and murder in Katanga is beyond the scope of this post, but can be consulted in detail in Ludo De Witte’s The Assassination of Lumumba (2001).
Lumumba in his car before confinement (The Africa Report, Sept. 18, 2020)

During years the family was in exile, Lumumba’s younger brother Louis was an influential player, elected as Governor of Sankuru Province in 1963 and named to the Board of Air Congo in 1968.  In 1971, however, he was accused of illegal diamond dealing.  The family retained possession of the house on the Boulevard, even while the children now and then appeared as members of the opposition to Mobutu in the diaspora. With Mobutu’s overthrow in May 1997 and Laurent Kabila’s advent as President, daughter Juliana Lumumba returned to Kinshasa as Minister of Culture and Arts in Kabila’s government.
The Lumumba residence in 2006 (author coll.)
In June 2013, the Matata Ponyo government released an RFP to rehabilitate the Lumumba residence and construct an annex for Mama Pauline Opango Lumumba.   Additional RFPs were issued following year in April and May, for further restoration of the residence and to build a guard house and upgrade the security wall around the property.  Pauline Opango Lumumba died in December 2014 and the family held a wake at the residence. Ownership of the property passed to Lumumba’s son, Roland.

Pauline Opango Lumumba's wake (Radio Okapi, Aug. 28, 2017)
In December 2018, “African Challenges” published an article by a Kinshasa correspondent arguing the house should become a museum. It cited the only “unique” historical relic was a white Ford Maverick up on blocks in the rear of the property.  Why, the author asked, wasn’t the state doing more to preserve such important artifacts of this National Hero?  The question of museum status (and public support) for the Lumumba residence, as well as that of Kasa-Vubu on Ave. Kasa-Vubu, are important issues for the country to address 60 years on, but the Maverick (which could be seen in the carport in 2006) was not the getaway car.  The Chevrolet station wagon has consistently been cited as the vehicle.  Ford did not introduce the Maverick until 1970.  
The Maverick on blocks outside the carport (African Challenges, Dec. 22, 2018)

A view of the Maverick in 2006 (author coll.)
The Lumumba residence occupies a prominent, easily accessible, location in Kinshasa and could be repurposed as a museum if the family agreed. As a tourist attraction for both national and foreign visitors, it has huge potential to tell Lumumba’s and the country’s story.

  • African Challenges, Dec. 22, 2018. “Devoir de mémoire: ce qui reste du héros national Patrice Lumumba à Kinshasa”
  • De Witte, Ludo, 2001. The Assassination of Lumumba, Verso.
  • Radio Okapi, Dec. 12, 2014.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Leopoldville 1918 – “La Grippe Espagnole”

I recently heard a piece on U.S. National Public Radio about Brian Melican's article in the New Statesman entitled, “A tale of three cities: the places transformed by pandemics across history(Melican, Apr. 20, 2020). His research examined the plague in Marseille in 1720, cholera in Hamburg in 1892, and Spanish Influenza in Ostersund, Sweden in 1918.  In this time of Covid-19, I wondered how Kinshasa fared during the Spanish Flu, or “Grippe Espagnole”, epidemic in November 1918.
Kinshasa circa 1918 - the central business district (now Ave. de la Nation)
Leopoldville, and Kinshasa, (the two were separate and distinct polities at this time), were coming out of four years of world war, which had negatively impacted the economy.  In fact, the outbreak reached Stanley Pool the day after word of the Armistice in Europe.   Although Congolese Force Publique troops had defeated the Germans in their colonies of Kamerun in 1914 (Aug. 3, 2014) and Tanganika in 1916, the War continued to be a significant burden for the Congo. German submarine activity in the South Atlantic had curtailed imports, and more importantly, suppressed exports upon which the colonial economy depended.
Kinshasa in 1919
In mid-November 1918, the first cases of Spanish Flu were reported in Leopoldville.  While the contagion is acknowledged to have come from ships originating in Europe calling at the port cities of Boma and Matadi, the virus was simultaneously spreading to up-river communities in the east of the colony, particularly from the mining cities of Katanga, which were infected via the railroad from South Africa.  As early as October 16, 1918, the Vice Governor General of Katanga issued an Ordonnance providing measures to take to contain the “Spanish Influenza” virus.
The public market in Kinshasa, located opposite the current Poste Centrale on Blvd du 30 Juin.  
Note railway line to Leopoldville in upper left provided the right-of-way for the future Boulevard.

The virus quickly spread in Kinshasa, then Leopoldville and across the river to Brazzaville.  In its centenary history, the Catholic church recorded that 250 Congolese died in Kinshasa, 150 in Kintambo (Leopoldville) and 500 in Brazzaville.  Catholic missionaries could only provide hot water as treatment for victims.  The British Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) reported that hundreds died, 3000 fled back to their home villages, spreading the contagion.  The Congolese population of Leopoldville was estimated about 5,000 at this time.
The port at Kinshasa
The American Baptist mission in Kintambo saw students in its preparatory primary school scattered by the influenza in November, although classes did resume by January. Dr. Catherine Mabie, writing about the impact on the mission’s  hinterland around Leopoldville noted:

“Spanish influenza found its way into the river and despite all quarantine regulations has spread like August grass fires over the entire country.  The hungry, ill-nourished native fell easy prey to its ravages. Many villages have been decimated.  Some have lost more heavily even to a fifth or fourth of their population. Station day and boarding schools have been closed and pupils returned to their towns, but January finds the plague well-nigh spent and schools reassembling”.

By the beginning of 1919, the epidemic had reached Stanleyville from the Katanga while the strain originating in Leopoldville had infected Congo River communities as far upstream as Bumba, 250 kilometers downstream from Stanleyville.
The original hospital for Congolese in Leopoldville.  Now known as l'Hôpital du Rive.
The government imposed strict limitations on travel and transportation between cities and rural areas. Shipping on the river was suspended for three weeks.  This had a knock-on effect on other economic activity and the food supply chain for Congolese workers in the city failed. Only direct intervention by local authorities prevented famine.  Schools closed.  Death among prison inmates was particularly high. Medical facilities were rudimentary. The only hospital serving Congolese was located in Leopoldville on a site just above the rapids (now known as l'Hôpital du Rive, above), and its 100-bed capacity was stretched to more than 300. In addition, a small dispensary was located in Kinshasa (Nov. 26, 2012).
Quarantine facilities for tuberculosis patients
In a letter to the Tribune Congolaise in April 1919 after epidemic had subsided, a Kinshasa resident reported there were:

“Very few deaths among the white population.  The scourge found a well-prepared fertile ground among the native population where death does its massive harvest; shall we ever know how many of these poor misérables died of this epidemic. The situation was already precarious in the light of the fact that famine was threatening certain regions like Middle Congo and Lower-Congo and Mayumbe.  Many Blacks died from these regions because, being underfed, they could not put up any resistance again: death!  They could be seen collapsing in the streets and dying at the very spots where they fell after long hours and hours of agony”. 
(Tribune Congolaise, April 17, 1919, cited in Sabakinu, 1984, translation in the original)
 Kinshasa cité, possibly Ndolo (Barumbu), note river on horizon.
In its annual presentation to the Belgian Chamber of Deputies in 1919, the Ministry of Colonies focused on the economic consequences of the epidemic -- citing nearly 3,000 tons of exports idled up river from the port at Kinshasa out of an annual shipment of 30,000 tons. The Chamber was also apprised that the expected shortfall in tax revenues in 1919 was also due to the pandemic. The report acknowledged that it was impossible to determine how many Congolese died across the colony because the Ministry only reported cases specifically treated in its medical facilities, which were primarily located in the European towns. However, 60% of those treated were flu cases, of which 4.8 % died, and the Ministry estimated that hundreds of thousands of Congolese perished.  Out of an estimated six million people in the colony, the death toll from the epidemic would be upwards of 300,000.  The New York Times, reporting from Brussels on April 24, 1919, cited estimates of as many as 500,000 deaths among Congolese.
Another view of the Kinshasa cité.
The colonial government public health system was already coping with on-going epidemics of sleeping sickness, infantile paralysis, cholera, small pox as well as influenza. Sleeping sickness was a major challenge, because it devastated the Congolese workforce necessary to keep the colonial economic machine going. The colonial health service had an extensive monitoring system in place, checking arrivals on river boats, and imposing quarantine.  By February 1919, the epidemic had eased in Kinshasa and Leopoldville.
Quarantine camp for Small Pox victims.
The influenza pandemic was transformational for Congolese urban dwellers. As the author of the report to the Chamber in 1918 observed, the higher salaries offered in cities did not compensate for inadequate housing, insufficient and mediocre food, exposure to accidents and risk of disease.  Belgian labor policy considered the Congolese to be lazy and therefore formal work was seen as a moral obligation and contributing to the colonial civilizing mission.  The virulent flu epidemic reinforced these apprehensions among Congolese, and the author argued, labor policy must increasingly be responsive to self-interest rather than relying on compulsion.
Another view of the Kinshasa business district (Now Ave. Isiro).

  • American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, 1919. Annual Report.
  • Baptist Missionary Society, 1919, Annual Report.
  • Belgium, Chambre des Représentants, « Rapport annuel sur l’activité de la colonie du Congo Belge présenté aux chambres législatives », 1918 & 1919
  • Cornet, René-Jules, 1971. Bwana Munganga, Academie Royale des Sciences d’Outremer.
  • L'Eglise Catholique au Zaire: un siècle de croissance (1880-1980), 1979. Edition du secrétariat de l’épiscopat. 
  • Sabakinu Kivilu, 1984. “Population and Health in Zaire during the Colonial Period from the End of the 19th Century to 1960”, Transafrican Journal of History, Vol. 13, pp. 92-109.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Leopoldville 1962 - "Le Twist a Leo" by Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango, legendary Cameroonian saxophonist, known for his fusion of rumba, jazz, funk and traditional music, died in Paris on March 24, 2020 of Covid-19.  Before he rose to fame on the African and international music scene in the late 1960s, he tried his hand in Kinshasa with Joseph Kabasele’s (Grand Kalle) African Jazz and then managing a nightclub with his own band.
Dibango's first hit was Soul Makossa in 1972
Born in Douala in 1933, his father arranged for him to go to France for secondary school in 1949.  He graduated in 1956, but did not pass the university entrance exam.  At that point, his father stopped sending him money, so he turned to his avocation for music, moving to Belgium where he ended up at a Brussels club called “Les Anges Noire”.  On the eve of Congo’s independence in 1960 he met Kabasele (composer of Independence Cha Cha) who persuaded him to return to Léopoldville with African Jazz in 1961.
By his own account, Dibango was enthralled with the Congolese capital:

“I dreamed of an Africa that looked like this.  She welcomed me – wealthy, flashy… The air was sensually moist. Money, sex, sorcery, and physical strength combined in this capital, which was creating its own language and building its own history.  At dusk, when candles and gas lamps were lit in the Cité– the black side of town – the crowds would surge, warm and talkative.  In the ngandas, the many open-air bars, women and men sat in front of the cases of beer that surrounded the stage. The great Kabasele and his African Jazz called forth the crowd’s madness – undulating bodies, hot glances, soft eyes, fast talk, and the hips of beautiful dancers held in their skin-tight wrappers.  Pale beers were gulped down between two plates of fish served with plantain or manioc – la dolce vita.” (Dibango, 1994:41)
Blvd. Albert in the late 1950s (author coll.)
He played with African Jazz in the Cité, but also picked up gigs in the former European district of Kalina with a Belgian band, “Juan les Pins”, led by a musician he’d known in Brussels. With Kabasele’s authorization, he played with “Juan les Pins” at the Auberge Petit Pont in September 1961 (Courier d’Afrique, Sep. 30-Oct. 1, 1961:2).  These were fascinating times, as the cold war played out on the streets of Léopoldville, Congolese politicians intrigued with and against each other, Europeans who fled in 1960 were returning (restarting economic outlets) and United Nations personnel with money to spend frequenting the bars and restaurants.
The Petit Pont Restaurant in the late '60s (author coll.)
Friction began to develop between Kabasele and the band, however.  Band members asked questions about his Belgian wife, Coco, and why he didn’t keep mistresses in the Cité.  The young Cameroonian had feet in both cultures and Kabasele picked up on this and suggested Dibango take over his night club on Ave. DeGaulle, the “Afro Negro”.  Ave DeGaulle was located in Kalina, but was a major shopping destination for Congolese, as well. This was a perfect solution for the couple – Coco ran the bar, ordered the food and paid the musicians, while he led the band.  Europeans and UN personnel looking for something different became regular patrons.  The ambiance of the Afro Negro and Léopoldville’s nightlife in this period was captured by Congolese Angolan photographer, Jean Depara (July 12, 2014).
Outside the Afro Negro Club (author coll.)
The Afro Negro Club in 1969 (Revue Noire)
The Afro Negro Club in 1969 (Revue Noire)
Afro Negro - at the bar (author coll.)
When Chubby Checker popularized the Twist on the Dick Clark Show in August, 1960, it wasn’t long before it reached Léopoldville.  Music aficionados were curious, but no records were available on the local market.  In 1962, Dibango composed one of his first recordings, “Twist a Leo” on the African Jazz label.
Link to YouTube
Twist A Leo

Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Oui mon corps balance
Dans un temps de twist

Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Oh, le Twist fait rage à Léopoldville
De Limete à Kalina
De la Cité á Parc Hembise
On danse le Twist, eh henh, à Léopoldville
De Lipopo à Kalina
De la Cité à la Pergola
On danse le Twist à Léopoldville

Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
J’ai perdu la tête
En dansant le Twist

De Limete à Kalina, Vie !
De la Cité au Royal
On danse le Twist
On ne se plaignent pas, ça va bien
Oh Oui

Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé
Ayé Ayé Ayé Ayé

Oui on a perdu la tête, j’ai perdu la tête

(Lyrics transcribed by Mwana Mboka)

The relationship with Kabasele remained problematic.  Dibango met aspiring banker, Dokolo Sanu (who would found the Bank of Kinshasa in 1969) who suggested he start a new club.  Dibango and Coco opened the “Tam Tam”.  By his account, the new venue was a success; down to earth but very popular.  However, in 1962, his parents persuaded him to move back to Cameroon, where he opened another “Tam Tam”.  The new venture in Cameroon closed as civil war engulfed the country and Dibango moved to Europe and super-stardom.

Sources :

Courier d’Afrique, Léopoldville (multiple issues)

Dibango, Manu, 1994. Three Kilos of Coffee : An Autobiography, University of Chicago Press.

Kwaku Akyeampong Michael, Henry Louis Gates and Steven J. Niven, 2012. Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Leopoldville 1923 – Place de la Poste

On July 21, 1923, the elite of Kinshasa, African and European, gathered to inaugurate a bust of King Albert 1er at the Place de la Poste. Only 3 weeks earlier, a Royal Decree established Leopoldville-Kinshasa as the new capital of the colony, transferring that honor from the port city of Boma (Jan. 17, 2012). Since the colonial government’s decision in 1910 to transfer the port from its location above the rapids at Leopoldville to Kinshasa, seven kilometers upstream, the latter center had been developing rapidly as a commercial alternative to Leopoldville’s administrative role (Mar. 13, 2011). The spatial requirements of this burgeoning city necessitated a more ordered land use plan, which was prepared in 1917 by newly arrived architect, Gaston Boghemans. The plan incorporated existing streets, rail lines and land use with grand diagonal boulevards intersecting to create prominent public places. The map also included the Congolese “cité”, which was growing to the south as rapidly as the European township.
Before the ceremony (The Albert bust under wraps between the two warehouses upper right) (Author coll.) 
Bogheman's map of Kinshasa 1917 (Cocatrix)
The new statue of the King faced the Place de la Poste at the end of Avenue Militaire, created in 1892 when Lt. Richard blew up a grove of baobabs to create an army camp (Apr. 12, 2016). The bust depicted the King in his uniform and helmet as commander of Belgian forces at the Yser River during World War I.  The sculptor is unidentified, but the bust resembles several erected in Belgium at this time.
The Albert bust after unveiling. Bogheman's Post Office upper left (author coll.)
The Albert bust on Ave. Militaire (author coll.)
A bust of King Albert in Chimay, Belgium (wikimedia)
To the north across Ave Militaire was the new Post Office, also designed by Boghemans (Aug. 5, 2011), which gave the Place its name.  Built in neo-classical Beaux Arts style, it set new standards of construction in brick with concrete moldings that were nonetheless adapted to the local climate and existing construction expertise. Continuing in clockwise fashion around the Place was the Sedec commercial building, a brick V-shaped structure formed by intersection of Avenues Rubens and Beernaert. Sedec (Société d’Entreprises Commerciales au Congo) was the retail arm of the Lever Brothers palm oil company (Oct. 8, 2017).
The Post Office with Sedec building on right (author coll.)
Place de la Post in the 1930s. Sedec building in center (author coll.)
On the opposite side of Ave Beernaert was the two-story fabricated metal building of the Congo Trading Company of Antwerp, a firm that dated back to the Congo Free State administration. In December 1914 after five years collecting bird specimens in the interior, James Chapin, a young ornithologist with the American Museum of Natural History, returned to Kinshasa and took a room there (Mar. 13, 2011). At the time the Albert monument was inaugurated, Congo Trading had gone out of business and the property acquired as the Kinshasa headquarters of the Katanga-based Foncière Immobilière Colonial (Fonico).  In the mid-1930s the building housed the Amicale Francaise, the social center of the French community in Leopoldville.
The Congo Trading building. Note pousse-pousse at the curb by the stairs (author coll.)
The Congo Trading building, looking down Ave des Manguiers (author coll.)
Between Ave des Manguiers (the continuation of Ave. Militaire) and Ave de la Douane was a single-story arcaded building which became the Righini Bar.  Paolo Righini also owned the Garage Mayo across the street. Righini provided taxis and rental cars and offered direct phone lines from the Hotel Cosmopolite in Leopoldville, the Wathelet Guest House in Ndolo and the Hotel Metropole in Kalina to ensure prompt response for those requesting his services. At the outset of World War II, Righini was among several Italians interned and his bar taken over by Arthur Hardy (June 28, 2011).
The Righini bar and Garage Mayo in the 1930s (author coll.)
Anchoring the southwest corner of Ave Beernaert and Militaire was the two-story commercial building and adjacent warehouses of the “L’Africaine Banque d’Etudes et d’Entreprises Coloniales”. Established in 1898 during the rubber boom, the firm was declining in the 1920s and closed its Congo operations.  The property was acquired by the African and Eastern Trade Corporation, another firm in the Lever Brothers empire, created in 1919 from a merger of some branches of Lever’s West African firms.  In Congo, the company took over the venerable Hatton and Cookson of Liverpool. The building was originally exposed brick, like the Sedec building across the Place, but later plastered and painted white.
A view south on Ave Beernaert. African and Eastern building on right (author coll.)
Bogheman’s original plan anticipated a major plaza at the west end of Ave. Militaire, on an axis with Place Leopold, the beginning of the road to Leopoldville, whereas the Place de la Poste was not even detailed.  In July 1924, an obelisk monument to aviators killed in a crash landing at Leopoldville 1921 was inaugurated and Aves Militaire and Manguiers were renamed Avenue des Aviateurs (Feb. 24, 2012). With its divided roadway and  angled parking at the center, the avenue remained a premier commercial location into the Independence period.
The Albert monument with Monument des Aviateurs on right (author coll.) 
What happened to the Albert bust?  Unlike the colonial statuary taken down throughout the country in 1971 (July 5, 2011), this one had been removed by the late colonial period. In June 1939, a monumental complex honoring the late King was erected in front of the Gare at the beginning of a Boulevard that would lead to Leopoldville along the old railway line (Jan. 23, 2011). Was the bust relocated to another provincial location at that time?   There were at least four identical or similar ones in Elisabethville (Lubumbashi) and Jadotville (Likasi) in Katanga, another in Matadi and one in Stanleyville (Kisangani).
This bust of Albert in the city park in Elisabethville dates from 1925 (author coll.)
In Stanleyville, the bust was located in the heart of the commercial district (author coll.)
In Matadi the Albert bust was located in the square next to the Hotel Metropole (r.) (author coll.)
Inaugurating the Albert monument in Jadotville in the 1940s.  Was the Leopoldville bust relocated there? (author coll.)
In the 1950s the Post Office became the Musée de la Vie Indigene after the main Post Office moved to a new building Boulevard Albert in 1954 (Feb. 20, 2011). In the late 1960s, it was demolished to make way for the Bank Belge d’Afrique’s seven-story headquarters building. The Belgian owners withdrew in 1988 and it became the Banque Congolaise, which folded in January 2011 following allegations of money laundering.  In a startling repurposing, the building became the not-so-secret headquarters of the security service, the Agence National de Renseignements (ANR). The ANR closed half of Ave des Aviateurs and part of Ave de la Nation in a further truncating of the Avenue started up the street in the 2000s by the US Embassy and Monusco.
The old Post Office as the Musee de la Vie Indigene in 1961 (H.Foreman, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee digital coll.)
Place de la Poste in the 1950s (author coll.)
The ANR building in 2016 (l.), AMI building (center). (author coll.)
The Sedec building was acquired by a South Asian importer called Union Africaine de Commerce (UAC), established in 1975 selling high end furniture and appliances. The Sedec building was likely acquired in the mid-1980s when Unilever was divesting its Zairian holdings.  The name UAC harked back to the United Africa Company, part of the Unilever empire of which Sedec was a part.

The Fonico building was demolished sometime in the late 1930s and in the late 1940s the corner location was chosen for the new headquarters of the Agence Maritime International, the colonial shipping agency. 
UAC building center left, AMI building right.  Ave Equateur was under reconstruction when photo taken (author coll.)
The Righini Bar, later the Hardy Bar, then the Café Rubbens, and which was the best source of ice cream in the 1950s, reopened as the Belgian Cultural Center, the Centre Wallonie de Bruxelles, in the 2005.
The Centre Wallonie de Bruxelles. (author coll.)
The Garage Mayo was demolished in the years leading up to Independence.  In the 1960s, a 4-story building was erected which became one of the agencies of the parastatal insurance company, SONAS.
The SONAS building. (author coll.)
The African and Eastern building was acquired by Lebanese owners of City Market, about the same time UAC acquired the Sedec property. The classical lines of the original building are covered in panels to suggest cohesion of several buildings patched together.
City Market facing Ave Equateur (author coll.)

Cocatrix Anne-Laure, 2013. Atlas Archives, Boulevard du 30 juin Kinshasa:

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Digital Photo Archive (