Order of the African Star, Knight (1951-1960)
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This Order was founded by King Leopold II by an unpublished decree on December 30, 1888. It was originally created as an Order of the Congo Free State, but was integrated into the national hierarchy of decorations in Belgium after the Congo Free State ceased to be a private domain of King Leopold II in 1908. The Order was discontinued on June 30, 1960 following the independence of the Congo in the same year.
The Order was conferred in recognition of services rendered to the Congo and to African civilization in general. It was rarely conferred prior to 1908 when it was the highest ranking order in the Congo Free State, and even less so after 1908. During WWI the Order was conferred upon military personnel who fought against German colonial troops. The Order was generally conferred upon high ranking officials, executives, bishops, and police officers.
A number of different clasps were awarded with the Order: a palm branch with the cypher of Albert I was awarded to military personnel for war merit in the First World War, a silver palm branch was awarded on medals conferred upon native troops for service in the First World War, a gold palm branch was awarded on medals conferred posthumously upon Non-Commissioned Officers who died in the First World War, a palm branch with the cypher of Leopold III was awarded to military personnel for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War, a palm branch (without any royal monogram) was awarded to military personnel for war merit in the Second World War or the Korean War, and a gold star was awarded to civilians for mention in official dispatches.
There are two versions of the Knight which differ in obverse inscription. The inscription of both versions translates to “Labour and Progress,” but appears on the first version in French and on the second version in French and Dutch. Both versions feature the royal cypher of Leopold II on the reverse.
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