Charles Bulens
The Belgian army has made four glorious African campaigns, 1919
Royal Museum for Central Africa
Inv. HO.1981.1.148

The Belgian army has completed four glorious campaigns in Africa

Paper, quadrichrome print, 122 x 101 cm, collection KMMA HO.1981.1.148

This poster, issued in the first half of 1919 by the Comité de politique nationale and printed in Brussels by Charles Bulens, exemplifies the nationalistic propaganda strategy of this pressure group. With the aim of promoting a "greater Belgium", the Comité was founded by various Catholic, Liberal and Socialist figures in December 1918, in anticipation of the negotiations of the Paris Peace Conference. The group published large, brightly coloured maps to win public support for their vision and to pressure the political authorities to defend outsized territorial claims in Paris, both in Europe and in Africa. The Comité in fact demanded no less than the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Dutch Limburg, the Rhineland and German East Africa.

The map shows the borders between the various colonial empires, as well as the existing railway lines, with legend at the upper right. All of the coloured zones are associated with Belgium: yellow indicates the colony of the Belgian Congo, red represents the German colonies that have been occupied by the Belgian colonial troops together with their French and British allies. It also includes several notes about the role of the Belgian troops and the sites of battles (such as Tabora and Mahenge). The troop movements are not indicated on this map. It is clearly intended to show the distribution of land between the various colonial empires and the territories coveted by Belgium.

A text by the Comité de politique nationale covers the lower third of the poster. It describes the various military campaigns of the Force Publique in Africa. This includes that of Rhodesia, which is not named as such on the map. The campaigns are highlighted in order to legitimise the subsequent territorial claims, further supported by mention of the potential wealth in minerals and livestock in German East Africa, as well as the fact that the territory could be populated by Europeans.

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