Congo. A history

Based on hundreds of oral history interviews

There is hardly a more troubled nation at the beginning of the twenty-first century than Congo, the giant country in the heart of Africa, bursting with resources indispensable in our modern age – as well as horrific conflicts. How could Belgium’s former, relatively peaceful colony, independent since 1960, change so much?”


David Van Reybrouck describes the bewildering history of Congo, from well before the arrival of the explorer Stanley to the influence of China in the last decade and the recent economic crisis. Van Reybrouck draws not only on rare archival material and groundbreaking research, but above all on hundreds of oral history interviews he conducted with Congolese people. His eyewitnesses range from centenarians to child soldiers, from rebel leaders to smugglers, from ministers to cassava sellers. Their stories the author has integrated into his great history.


More information on the book and David van Reybrouck can be found here

30 years after the Bijlmer plane crash – Commemoration in generations

October 4, 2022 marks exactly thirty years since a Boeing 747 of airline El Al crashed into the Groeneveen and Klein-Kruitberg flats in Amsterdam’s Bijlmermeer. A devastating event that many people still carry with them today. The exhibition reflects the feelings that Amsterdammers have about the disaster. How do they remember it? And how do different generations process this trauma?


Opening September 25, 2022, this small exhibition is part of the Collecting the City project. This project sees the Amsterdam Museum “collecting” and presenting the stories and objects of today’s city together with communities, individuals and institutions from Amsterdam.


More info about the exposition


House of Hiv

From August 19 to September 9, 2022, House of HIV launched an exhibition on 40 years of community initiatives in the Netherlands. Divided over a number of locations in Amsterdam, rooms were filled with personal stories from the various HIV-affected communities.

From 2020 onwards, House of Hiv has been researching and interviewing the histories of affected HIV communities. The challenge was to create an inclusive exhibition. Where they would make the invisible visible.


House of Hiv is a house under construction and a starting point in archiving and documenting the histories of the Dutch HIV community.


More information can be found on the website


The Reconstruction of My Life

For the development and production of the exhibition, the Ongekend Bijzonder team worked closely with the Central Library.

Fifteen life stories of Rotterdam residents who once had to flee. Fifteen stories that show how they rebuilt their lives in Rotterdam. Ferdows Kazemi adapted the stories from Ongekend Bijzonder, Mladen Pikulić made the portraits. And Harry Hoek of the Central Library Rotterdam designed the exhibition, inspired by the ideas of Enzo Mari.

The exhibition introduces us to the history of fifteen Rotterdam citizens, to objects that are dear to them and to their perception of Rotterdam. The emphasis of the stories is on the reconstruction of their lives in Rotterdam, each story expressed in about 400 words. Of course, we would be doing the storytellers a disservice if we were to claim that their stories can be summarised in such a limited number of words. We only lift a tip of the veil here. The complete interviews, together with all interviewees in Rotterdam, can be found at the Stadsarchief Rotterdam and DANS.

For all portraits, go to ongekendbijzonder

Rotterdam Celebrates the City!

The exhibition linked up with Rotterdam viert de Stad! a manifestation about 75 years of reconstruction. The exhibition could be seen in the Central Library in Rotterdam from 12 May to 10 June 2016. An excellent opportunity to involve new Rotterdam residents. In the review RvdS writes: The exhibition attracted over 200,000 visitors!


The exhibition was accompanied by the publication“De wederopbouw van mijn leven” and a online magazine.

The fact that my story is now reflected in this exhibition means that, after 35 years, I feel for the first time like a real Rotterdammer


Rotterdam is my home, offers me opportunities and appreciates my artistic presence. It is a city with a lot of potential in which to grow. I am looking for space to grow. And space for growth is not something you get for free, you have to make an effort. That is the least you can do for the city that is your home and gives you peace and quiet. You create space not only for yourself, but also for the people around you. This increases the quality of your life and that of others.


Juan Heinsohn Huala met zijn dochter Lisa en Hortensia Bussi, weduwe van Salvador Allende, bij het onthullen van het Salvador Allende-monument in Rotterdam, 1992

Juan Heinsohn Huala with his daughter Lisa and Hortensia Bussi, widow of Salvador Allende, at the unveiling of the Salvador Allende monument in Rotterdam, 1992