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A Black Belgian Student Saw a White Fraternity as His Ticket. It Was His Death. | The New York Times

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A Black Belgian Student Saw a White Fraternity as His Ticket. It Was His Death. | The New York Times

Sanda Dia’s death after an initiation ritual was regarded as a tragic accident. Newly released videos and photos have made it a symbol of growing intolerance.

Matt Apuzzo & Steven Erlanger, The New York Times

GHENT, Belgium — Sanda Dia saw a fraternity as a doorway into a different life. The son of an immigrant factory worker, he was an ambitious 20-year-old Black student at one of Belgium’s most prestigious universities. The fraternity, Reuzegom, was home to the scions of Antwerp’s white elites.

Access to that rarefied world, he decided, was worth enduring the fraternity’s notoriously vicious hazing ritual.

He did not survive it.

After being forced alongside two other pledges to drink alcohol excessively, chug fish oil until he vomited, swallow live goldfish and stand outside in an ice-filled trench, Mr. Dia died in December 2018 of multiple organ failure. His death was seen as a tragic accident, an example of hazing gone wrong.


—  Credits & Context

Featured Image, Sanda Dia in a family photo. Joining the almost all-white club, he told his brother, meant that “when you leave school they will trust you a lot faster.”
Full article @ The New York Times
Leopold II of Belgium

Leopold II (DutchLeopold Lodewijk Filips Maria VictorFrenchLéopold Louis Philippe Marie VictorGermanLeopold Ludwig Philipp Maria Viktor; 9 April 1835 – 17 December 1909) was the second King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909 and, through his own efforts, the owner and absolute ruler of the Congo Free State from 1885 to 1908.

Leopold was the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State, a private project undertaken on his own behalf. He used Henry Morton Stanley to help him lay claim to the Congo, the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, the colonial nations of Europe authorized his claim by committing the Congo Free State to improving the lives of the native inhabitants. Leopold ignored these conditions and ran the Congo using the mercenary Force Publique for his personal gain. He extracted a fortune from the territory, initially by the collection of ivory, and after a rise in the price of natural rubber in the 1890s, by forced labour from the native population to harvest and process rubber.

Leopold’s administration of the Congo was characterised by atrocities, including torture and murder, resulting from notorious systematic brutality. The hands of men, women, and children were amputated when the quota of rubber was not met. Millions of the Congolese people died: modern estimates range from 1 million to 15 million deaths, with a consensus growing around 10 million. Colonial accounts placed much more stress on Leopold’s modernizing changes in the Congo.

These and other facts were established at the time by the 1904 Casement Report and by eyewitness testimony and on-site inspection by an international Commission of Inquiry. Some historians argue against this figure, citing the absence of reliable censuses, the enormous mortality of diseases such as smallpox or African trypanosomiasis, and the fact that there were only 175 administrative agents in charge of rubber exploitation. In 1908, the reports of deaths and abuse and pressure from the Congo Reform Association and other international groups induced the Belgian government to take over the administration of the Congo from Leopold as a new territory, Belgian Congo.

Source – Leopold II of Belgium (Updated: 04 October 2020) Wikipedia. Available at, (Accessed: 05 October 2020)