Patrice Lumumba

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Person.png Patrice Lumumba   Sourcewatch WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(politician)
Patrice Lumumba and Dag Hammarskjold.jpg
Patrice Lumumba and Dag Hammarskjöld at UN headquarters in July 1960
BornÉlias Okit'Asombo
2 July 1925
Katakokombe, Belgian Congo
Died17 January 1961 (Age 35)
Élisabethville, Katanga
Victim of • abduction
• torture
• assassination
Interest ofLarry Devlin
PartyCongolese National Movement
SubpagePatrice Lumumba/Assassination
The first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, abducted, tortured and murdered. Foreign intelligence service involvement is strongly suspected.

Employment.png Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo

In office
24 June 1960 - 14 September 1960

Patrice Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960.[1][2][3] Within twelve weeks, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo crisis because of his opposition to the Belgian-backed secession of the mineral-rich Katanga province.[4]

Patrice Lumumba was subsequently imprisoned and tortured by the secessionist Katangan authorities under Joseph-Desiré Mobutu, and executed by firing squad on 17 January 1961. The United States (via the Central Intelligence Agency) long denied involvement[5][6][7] but the UK government was implicated in April 2013 by Lord Lea of Crondall's public claim that fellow peer and former MI6 officer Daphne Park had admitted to him shortly before she died in March 2010 that Britain was involved in Patrice Lumumba's assassination.[8]

Early life and career

Lumumba was born to a farmer, François Tolenga Otetshima, and his wife, Julienne Wamato Lomendja, in Onalua in the Katakokombe region of the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo.[9] and asombó ('cursed or bewitched people who will die quickly').[10]

Raised in a Catholic family, he was educated at a Protestant primary school, a Catholic missionary school, and finally the government post office training school, passing the one-year course with distinction. He subsequently worked in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) and Stanleyville (now Kisangani) as a postal clerk and as a travelling beer salesman. In 1951, he married Pauline Opangu. In 1955, Lumumba became regional head of the Cercles of Stanleyville and joined the Liberal Party of Belgium, where he worked on editing and distributing party literature. After traveling on a three-week study tour in Belgium, he was arrested in 1955 on charges of embezzlement. His two-year sentence was commuted to twelve months after it was confirmed by Belgian lawyer Jules Chrome that Lumumba had returned the funds, and he was released in July 1956. After his release, he helped found the broad-based Mouvement national congolais (MNC) in 1958, later becoming the MNC's president. Lumumba and his team represented the MNC at the All-African Peoples' Conference in Accra, Ghana, in December 1958. At this international conference, hosted by Pan-African President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Lumumba further solidified his Pan-Africanist beliefs. Lumumba spoke Tetela, French, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba.[11]

Leader of MNC

In late October 1959, MNC leader Lumumba was arrested for inciting an anti-colonial riot in Stanleyville where thirty people were killed; he was sentenced to 69 months in prison. The trial's start date of 18 January 1960, was also the first day of a round-table conference in Brussels to finalise the future of the Congo. Despite Lumumba's imprisonment at the time, the MNC won a convincing majority in the December local elections in the Congo. As a result of strong pressure from delegates upset with Lumumba's trial, he was released and allowed to attend the Brussels conference. The conference culminated on 27 January with a declaration of Congolese independence, setting 30 June 1960, as the independence date with Belgian Congo general election, from 11–25 May 1960. Lumumba and the MNC won this election and the right to form a government, with the announcement on 23 June 1960 of 34-year-old Lumumba as Congo's first prime minister and Joseph Kasa-Vubu as its president. In accordance with the constitution, on 24 June the new government passed a vote of confidence and was ratified by the Congolese Chamber and Senate.

Independence Day was celebrated on 30 June in a ceremony attended by many dignitaries including Belgian King Baudouin and the foreign press.[12] Baudouin's speech praised developments under colonialism, his reference to the "genius" of his great-granduncle Léopold II of Belgium glossing over atrocities committed during the Congo Free State.[5] The King continued, "Don't compromise the future with hasty reforms, and don't replace the structures that Belgium hands over to you until you are sure you can do better... Don't be afraid to come to us. We will remain by your side, give you advice."[13] While President Kasa-Vubu thanked the King, Lumumba, who was not scheduled to speak, delivered an impromptu speech which reminded the audience that the independence of the Congo was not granted magnanimously by Belgium:[12][13]

For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today with Belgium, a friendly country with whom we deal as equal to equal, no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that it was by fighting that it has been won, a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood. We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.[13]

In contrast to the relatively harmless speech of President Kasa-Vubu, Lumumba's reference to the suffering of the Congolese under Belgian colonialism stirred the crowd while simultaneously humiliating and alienating the King and his entourage. Some media claimed at the time that he ended his speech by ad-libbing, Nous ne sommes plus vos macaques! (We are no longer your monkeys!) — referring to a common slur used against Africans by Belgians, however, these words are neither in his written text nor in radio tapes of his speech.[14][15] Lumumba was later harshly criticised for what many in the Western world — but virtually none in Africa — described as the inappropriate nature of his speech.[16]

Actions as Prime Minister

A few days after Congo gained its independence, Lumumba made the fateful decision to raise the pay of all government employees except for the army. Many units of the army also had strong objections toward the uniformly Belgian officers; General Janssens, the army head, told them their lot would not change after independence, and they rebelled in protest. The rebellions quickly spread throughout the country, leading to a general breakdown in law and order. Although the trouble was highly localised, the country seemed to be overrun by gangs of soldiers and looters, causing a media sensation, particularly over Europeans fleeing the country.[17]

The province of Katanga declared independence under regional premier Moïse Tshombe on 11 July 1960 with support from the Belgian government and mining companies such as Union Minière.[18] Despite the arrival of UN troops, unrest continued. Since the United Nations refused to help suppress the rebellion in Katanga, Lumumba sought Soviet aid in the form of arms, food, medical supplies, trucks, and planes to help move troops to Katanga. Lumumba's decisive actions alarmed his colleagues and President Joseph Kasa-Vubu, who preferred a more moderate political approach.[19]

Deposition, Kidnapping and Murder

Full article: Patrice Lumumba/Assassination

In September, the President Kasa-Vubu dismissed Lumumba from government. On 14 September, a coup d’état organised by Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko incapacitated both Lumumba and Kasa-Vubu. Lumumba was captured by troops loyal to Mobutu in Port Francqui on 1 December 1960. He was flown to Kinshasa (Léopoldville) and murdered by firing squad by the Katangan authorities. Belgium and the United States actively sought his murder, the 1975 Church Committee finding that Allen Dulles had ordered Lumumba's assassination as "an urgent and prime objective".[20]

Legacy

"Today, it is impossible to touch down at the (far from modernised) Lubumbashi International Airport in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo without a shiver of recollection of the haunting photograph taken of Lumumba there shortly before his assassination, and after beatings, torture and a long, long flight in custody across the vast country which had so loved him."

— Victoria Brittain, The Guardian, 2011

Political

Patrice Lumumba was Prime Minister of The Congo for 81 days, from June 23rd to September 14th, 1960. To his supporters, Lumumba was an altruistic man of strong character. He favoured a unitary Congo and opposed division of the country along ethnic or regional lines.[21][22] Like many other African leaders, he supported pan-Africanism and liberation for colonial territories.[23] He proclaimed his regime one of "positive neutralism,"[24] defined as a return to African values and rejection of any imported ideology, including that of the Soviet Union: "We are not Communists or Catholics. We are African nationalists."[25]

2006 Congolese elections

The image of Patrice Lumumba continues to serve as an inspiration in contemporary Congolese politics. In the 2006 Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, several parties claimed to be motivated by his ideas, including the People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), the political party initiated by the incumbent President Joseph Kabila.[26] Antoine Gizenga, who served as Lumumba's Deputy Prime Minister in the post-independence period, was a 2006 Presidential candidate under the Unified Lumumbist Party (Parti Lumumbiste Unifié (PALU))[27] and was named prime minister at the end of the year. Other political parties that directly utilise his name include the Mouvement National Congolais-Lumumba (MNC-L) and the Mouvement lumumbiste (MLP).

Family and politics

Patrice Lumumba's family is actively involved in contemporary Congolese politics. Patrice Lumumba was married to Pauline Lumumba and had five children; François was the eldest followed by Patrice Junior, Julienne, Roland and Guy-Patrice Lumumba. François was 10 years old when Patrice died. Before his imprisonment, Patrice arranged for his wife and children to move into exile in Egypt, where François spent his childhood, then went to Hungary for education (he holds a doctorate in political economics).

Lumumba's youngest son, Guy-Patrice, born six months after his father's death, was an independent presidential candidate in the 2006 elections, but received less than 10% of the vote.

Tributes

  • In 1966 Patrice Lumumba's image was rehabilitated by the Mobutu Sese Seko regime and he was proclaimed a national hero and martyr in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. By a presidential decree, the Brouwez House, site of Lumumba's brutal torture on the night of his murder, became a place of pilgrimage in the Congo.[28]
  • The Peoples' Friendship University of the USSR was renamed "Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University" in 1961, but it was later renamed "The Peoples' Friendship University of Russia" in the post-Soviet landscape in 1992.[29]
  • In Kampala, Uganda, "Lumumba Hall" of Residence at Makerere University continues to carry his name.
  • "Lumumba" is a popular choice for children's names throughout Africa.[30]
  • In 1964 Malcolm X declared Patrice Lumumba "the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent".[31]

Quotations

In October 1960, Patrice Lumumba was reported to have said:

"Dead, living, free, or in prison on the orders of the colonialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo, it is our people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage where we are regarded from the outside… History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets... a history of glory and dignity."[32]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Hammarskjold and Kennedy vs. The Power EliteArticle7 August 2016James DiEugenioPresident John F. Kennedy hears of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba's murder from UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Perhaps no photo from the Kennedy presidency summarises who Kennedy was, and how he differed from what preceded him and what came after him, than this picture.


Bibliography

Writings by Lumumba

  • Congo, My Country (1962) London: Pall Mall Press. ISBN 0-269-16092-2. Foreword and notes by Colin Legum; translated by Graham Heath.
  • Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958–1961 (1972) Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-53650-4. Editor, Jean Van Lierde; translated by Helen R. Lane.

Films

  • El Congo 1961 – As himself in a documentary.
  • Seduto alla sua destra (1968) – A fictional film by writer-director Valerio Zurlini starring Woody Strode as a thinly disguised Lumumba. It was released in the US as Black Jesus.
  • Lumumba (2000). Dramatised biography directed by Raoul Peck with Eriq Ebouaney as Lumumba.
  • Lumumba: Death of a Prophet (1992). Documentary distributed by California Newsreel.
  • Lumumba: Un crime d'Etat (in English Lumumba: A state crime)
  • Independence Cha-Cha – The Story of Patrice Lumumba (2009). Documentary produced by Kadi Kabeya.

Archive video and audio


 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Hammarskjold and Kennedy vs. The Power EliteArticle7 August 2016James DiEugenioPresident John F. Kennedy hears of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba's murder from UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. Perhaps no photo from the Kennedy presidency summarises who Kennedy was, and how he differed from what preceded him and what came after him, than this picture.


References

  1. Fabian, Johannes (1996). Remembering the Present: Painting and Popular History in Zaire. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0520203761.
  2. Willame, Jean-Claude (1990). Patrice Lumumba: La crise congolaise revisitée. Paris: Karthala. pp. 22, 23, 25. ISBN 978-2-86537-270-6
  3. Kanyarwunga, Jean I N (2006). République démocratique du Congo : Les générations condamnées : Déliquescence d'une société précapitaliste. Paris: Publibook. pp. 76, 502. ISBN 9782748333435.
  4. Zeilig, Leo (2008). Lumumba: Africa's Lost Leader (Life&Times). Haus Publishing. p. 117. ISBN 978-1-905791-02-6
  5. a b Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, 1999, Mariner Books, ISBN 0-618-00190-5, ISBN 978-0-618-00190-3.
  6. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, Trans. by Ann Wright and Renée Fenby, 2002 (Orig. 2001), London; New York: Verso, ISBN 1-85984-410-3.
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/21/arts/belgium-confronts-its-heart-darkness-unsavory-colonial-behavior-congo-will-be.html?pagewanted=1
  8. "MI6 and the death of Patrice Lumumba"
  9. Kanyarwunga, Jean I N (2006). République démocratique du Congo : Les générations condamnées : Déliquescence d'une société précapitaliste. Paris: Publibook. pp. 76, 502. ISBN 9782748333435.
  10. Hagendorens, MGR J (1975). Dictionnaire ɔtɛtɛla-français. Bandundu: Ceeba Publications. pp. 309, 371.
  11. Kanyarwunga, Jean I N (2006). République démocratique du Congo : Les générations condamnées : Déliquescence d'une société précapitaliste. Paris: Publibook. p. 76. ISBN 9782748333435.
  12. a b http://www.africawithin.com/lumumba/independence_speech.htm
  13. a b c Kamalu, Chukwunyere. The Little African History Book – Black Africa from the Origins of Humanity. page 115.
  14. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, Trans. by Ann Wright and Renée Fenby, 2002 (Orig. 2001), London; New York: Verso, ISBN 1-85984-410-3, pp. 1–3.
  15. http://www.guardian.co.uk/congo/story/0,,766933,00.html
  16. A History of the Modern World, Johnson P, Weidenfeld, London, (1991)
  17. Larry Devlin, Chief of Station Congo, 2007, Public Affairs, ISBN 1-58648-405-2
  18. Osabu-Kle, Daniel Tetteh (2000). Compatible Cultural Democracy. Broadview Press. p. 254. ISBN 1-55111-289-2.
  19. Johnson. P, ibid
  20. In Dulles' own words; William Blum, Killing Hope. MBI Publishing Co., 2007: p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7603-2457-8
  21. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10E14FC385916738DDDA00894D0405B808AF1D3
  22. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0E16FE38541A7A93C7AB1783D85F448685F9
  23. http://partners.nytimes.com/library/world/africa/600701lumumba.html
  24. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F1071FF93D581A7A93C6A91783D85F448685F9 quote='We want no part of the cold war,' he [Lumumba] continued.. 'We want Africa to remain African with a policy of positive neutralism.'
  25. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F3071FFA395916738DDDAF0894DF405B808AF1D3
  26. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1907252.stm
  27. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/5199518.stm
  28. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba, Trans. by Ann Wright and Renée Fenby, 2002 (Orig. 2001), London; New York: Verso, ISBN 1-85984-410-3, pp. 165.
  29. http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9707/26/russia.university/
  30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3321575.stm
  31. X, Malcolm (1970). By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews and a Letter by Malcolm X. Pathfinder Press. ISBN 0-87348-145-3.
  32. "Africa: A Continent Drenched in the Blood of Revolutionary Heroes" by Victoria Brittain, The Guardian, January 17, 2011
  • Mahoney, Richard D. JFK: Ordeal in Africa. Oxford University Press, 1983. ISBN 0-19-503341-8

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