Patrice Lumumba: national hero of Congolese independence
“Tribute to the national freedom fighters! »
“Long live independence and African unity! »
“Vive le Congo indépendant et souverain ! »”Long live the independent and sovereign Congo! »
Despite his very comfortable status as Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba had a noble heart, because he wanted more social justice and equity for each of his fellow citizens. He wanted everyone to receive fair remuneration for their work and for everyone to be able to fully enjoy the fundamental freedoms provided for in the Declaration of Human Rights. He could not resign himself to accepting an unjust colonialist oppression, which oppresses the people and prevents them from coming true. He could not accept that Congolese children could not take advantage of their own land for the benefit of settlers thirsty for their personal interests. Aware that death was waiting for him, he fought with strength, courage, honour and conviction for a dignified, free and independent Congo. That is why Patrice Lumumba has remained in collective memory, as a hero and leader of Congolese independence. Its history has passed through time and touched all the peoples of Africa. This article pays tribute to a brave man who left too early and who could have become the Congolese Nelson Mandela.
Birth and education.
Patrice Émery Lumumba was born on July 2, 1925 in Onalua (Katako-Kombe territory in Sankuru) in Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo).
He attended the Catholic Missionary School and then continued his studies in a Protestant school run by Swedes. Curious, brilliant and thirsty for history, he studied in depth the history of the French Revolution, the history of Haiti, the United States and Russia.
At the end of his studies, he began his career as an office employee in a mining company in South Kivu province until 1945. Then, he became a journalist and wrote for many newspapers in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and Stanleyville (Kisangani). In September 1954, he received his “registered” card, reserved by the Belgian administration for a few notable elements of the country.
The fight for independence.
It is sad that the Belgian colonial administration is hiding the wealth of their countries from the Congolese. He realizes that the Belgian Congo must obtain its independence in order to be able to enjoy the potential of raw materials, which are fundamental to the country’s global economy.
In 1955, he created the “APIC” association (Association of the colony’s indigenous personnel). In order to promote the independence of his country, Lumumba travelled to Belgium with several Congolese leaders to discuss the situation in their country.
In 1956, accused of embezzling funds from Stanleyville postal checking accounts, he was jailed for a year. Released in advance, he resumed his political activities and became the sales manager of a brewery.
In 1958, Patrice and other Congolese were invited to Belgium for the Brussels Universal Exhibition. The World Expo shows unflattering images of the Congolese people. Out of him and dissatisfied, he broke away from the Belgian liberals and joined a circle of anti-colonialists in Brussels.
On 5 October 1958, on his return from Belgium, he created the MNC (Congolese national movement) in Leopoldville. In this capacity, he participates in the Pan-African Conference in Accra. He took the opportunity to claim his country’s independence in front of more than 10,000 people.
The MNC and other pro-independence parties held a meeting in Stanleyville in October 1959. Tensions are created between the Belgians and Lumumba. They tried to stop Lumumba, but this action caused a riot that killed about 30 people. Finally, they managed to arrest him and on 21 January 1960, he was sentenced to 6 months in prison.
On 26 January 1960, Lumumba was released to participate in the round table between the Belgian authorities and Congolese independence fighters in Brussels.
A brief political career.
On June 23, 1960, the MNC and its allies won the elections. This is a great victory. Ba-kongo leader Joseph Kasavubu becomes President of the Republic and appoints ¨Patrice Lumumba as Prime Minister of the independent Congo. Why? Why? Because the new constitution assigns the position of prime minister to the candidate who has won the most votes. Lumumba, as Prime Minister, insists that his country be free economically and politically.
To everyone’s surprise, on 30 June 1960, Belgium granted the Belgian Congo independence. During the country’s independence ceremony, Patrice Lumumba delivered a memorable speech for the freedom and independence of the Congolese people. It speaks directly to the people and highlights the different struggles they fought for freedom and denounces the oppression of colonialism.
Patrice Lumumba’s thoughts and political program from the speech of June 30, 1960:
- The independence of Congo.
- It stressed the need for an indispensable struggle to put an end to slavery imposed by force.
- He wanted us to fight against 80 years of colonialist regime and oppression.
- More social justice for the people who suffered from “hard work, demanded in exchange for wages that did not allow us to eat, to dress or live decently, or to raise our children as loved ones. »
- It highlighted the suffering of the Congolese people who were victims of the “ironies, insults and blows that we had to endure morning, noon and evening, because we were negroes. »
- He was against the theft of the lands of the Congolese peoples in favour of an unjust law.
- He pointed out that the law was not the same for white and black people.
- He criticized the inequality of opportunity between blacks and whites through this quote: “We knew that in cities there were magnificent houses for whites and crumbling straw huts for blacks, that n Noir was not allowed in cinemas, restaurants or so-called European shops. »
- He was against unjustified murders: “Who will finally forget the shootings where so many of our brothers were shot and killed, the dungeons where those who no longer wanted to submit to a regime of oppression and exploitation were brutally thrown? »
- He wanted a country of peace, rich and prosperous. This is evident in his sentence: “We will work together to establish social justice and ensure that everyone receives fair remuneration for their work. We will show the world what black people can do when they work in freedom and we will make Congo the centre of influence for Africa as a whole. We will ensure that the land of our country truly benefits its children. »
- He wanted fair and noble laws for all. He said: “We will put an end to the oppression of free thought and ensure that all citizens fully enjoy the fundamental freedoms provided for in the Declaration of Human Rights. We will effectively eliminate all discrimination of any kind and give everyone the rightful place they deserve for their human dignity, work and dedication to their country. We will make our steps reign peace of guns and bayonets, but peace of hearts and good will. »
- He asked the people to forget the tribal quarrels that are exhausting.
- He stressed the importance of respect for all individuals, regardless of the country they come from. Finally, I ask you to respect unconditionally the lives and property of your fellow citizens and foreigners living in our country. If the conduct of these foreigners leaves something to be desired, our justice will be quick to expel them from the territory of the Republic; if, on the other hand, their conduct is good, we must leave them in peace, because they too work for the prosperity of our country. »
Independence and political differences with Belgians and Western forces.
Dissatisfied that some of the army cadres remained Belgian, the black soldiers revolted, killing white officers and raping Belgian women. This caused the Belgian executives to flee.
The leader of independence, Lumumba, took the opportunity to affirm the Africanization of the army and doubled the soldiers’ salaries, in order to prevent the control of the Congolese government by the former colonial power.
Shocked, the Belgians sent troops to protect their nationals and their investments in minerals in Katanga and supported the secession of this region led by Moïse Kapenda Tshombé. Belgium supported Katanga’s independence and declared that it was no longer obliged to pay taxes or report to the central government in Leopoldville. Because, it should be pointed out that the Katanga region was strategic for the Belgians, because they were rich in deposits of copper, cobalt, uranium, gold and other minerals.
But, as usual, the United States also wanted to control the political situation and obtain the wealth of the Belgian Congo. He considered Lumumba as a “threat to peace and security in the world. “and wanted to fight against the rise of communism in this country. Thus, they decided to support the Belgian military intervention in Katanga in the name of world peace and stability.
Faced with deadly violence in his country, Lumumba asked the UN for help to ease tensions. But no one comes to his aid.
On September 4, 1960, in a climate of chaos, the President of the Belgian Congo, Joseph Kasa-Vubu, decided to dismiss Lumumba and the nationalist ministers by replacing him with Joseph Iléo. He refused to leave and supported by Parliament, President Joseph Kasa-Vubu was dismissed on charges of high treason. Patrice narrowly escaped death, because at the end of September, a CIA scientist, Dr Sidney Gottlieb, arrived in Congo with a “deadly biological substance” to kill him. The purpose of this virus was to cause him a deadly native disease. But, fortunately, nothing happened.
In total confusion, Mobutu took the opportunity to organize a coup d’état. He created the College of Commissioners General and placed Congolese leaders under house arrest.
Patrice Lumumba is under house arrest. But fearing for his life, he tried to flee to Stanleyville. But, he was arrested on December 2, 1960, by Lieutenant Christophe Yowane Lokele as he was passing the Sankuru to Mweka. Hit and molested, he was brought back to Mobutu’s troops.
Death and murder of a man of integrity.
On Mobutu’s orders, he was transferred to the Thysville military camp. On 17 January 1961, Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito were flown to Elisabethville. They are handed over to the local authorities in the hands of their enemy number one Moise Tshombe, chief of Katanga province.
Lumumba, Mpolo and Okito will be taken to a small house under military escort where they will be tied up and humiliated by Katangese leaders such as Moïse Tshombé, Munongo, Kimba, Kibwe, Kitenge but also the Belgians Gat and Vercheure. They were shot that very evening by soldiers under the command of a Belgian officer. Lumumba, died shot to death at the age of 36.
The next day, an operation will be carried out by Belgian secret agents to remove the remains of the victims, previously cut into pieces, in acid. Several of his supporters were executed in the days that followed, with the participation of Belgian soldiers or mercenaries.
Moise Tshombé then launched the rumour that Lumumba had been murdered by villagers. This triggered an insurrection among the peasant population, which took up arms under the direction of Pierre Mulele at the cry of “A Lumumba” or “Mulele Mai”: the peasants conquered nearly 70% of Congo before being crushed by Mobutu’s army.
After betraying him, Mobutu, out of pure hypocrisy, declared Patrice Lumumba as a national hero in 1966. The country mourns the death of this charismatic leader. The return from Egypt of his wife Pauline and her children was considered a national event. And on January 17, 1966, the day Lumumba died is a holiday in Congo-Kinshasa in honour of this man of integrity, who left too early.
The Western powers, the United States and Belgium all contributed to the death of this hero unlike any other. Their actions confirm that the independence leader was right to be wary of colonialist imperialism, because he is concerned only with their own interests, not the well-being of the oppressed.
In 2002, the Belgian government acknowledged its responsibility for Lumumba’s death: “Some members of the then Government… bear an irrefutable share of responsibility for the events that led to the death of Patrice Lumumba“.
Lumumba will forever remain as the hero of the independence of the Congolese people. He is the symbol of the anti-colonial struggle, a revolutionary and a political leader throughout Africa. He defended the values of independence and freedom for all of Africa. He is a convinced pan-Africanist who gave his life for the well-being of his people. The day of his death is honoured and remains a public holiday.
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