Patrice Lumumba, the return of the hero of independence

Patrice Lumumba, the return of the hero of independence

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The nine-day pilgrimage through the places that marked the life of the Congolese national hero Patrice Lumumba concluded this week in Kinshasa, where the coffin was deposited in a mausoleum on Thursday, coinciding with the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence. Lumumba became an anti-colonial icon when Congolese independence from Belgium was proclaimed on June 30, 1960, delivering a fiery speech against settler racism.

Overthrown in September 1960, Patrice Lumumba was taken prisoner by separatists from the southern region of Katanga and Belgian mercenaries, who executed him along with his collaborators Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, on January 17, 1961. Their bodies were never found because They were placed in acid to dissolve. In early June, King Philippe of Belgium, visiting the DRC for the first time, reiterated in Kinshasa his “deep sorrow for the wounds” inflicted during colonization On June 20, the Belgian government handed over to relatives of the independence hero, a small bright blue box containing a tooth, the only conservative remnant of the hero of independence.

RFI spoke with Germain Ngoie Tshibambe, Professor of International Relations at the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC:

“To understand the plot of today’s events, you have to go back to the years 1960-1961. On June 30, 1960, our country gained independence and a government was formed, whose prime minister was Patrice Emery Lumumba, of whom remember a speech that gave rise to various interpretations. For some, not very courteous and not very diplomatic, which tensed the situation, 11 days later, the province of Katanga, which had great mining wealth, entered into secession. Lumumba is faced with this crisis, he goes to the UN, is said to even try to turn to the Soviet Union Although there is no evidence, but he is quickly forced to resign and in January he is sent to Katanga. Where the secessionist authorities became responsible for what we can describe as his murder. In this context, when we try to reconstruct what happened, we see that the hand of the Belgians is directly involved in that murder. There is a non-commissioned officer of the Belgian gendarmerie named Gérard Soete, who would have dissolved his body in acid, but previously recovered a tooth from Lumumba, and that relic that today is restored and returns to his country. “

RFI; Is it possible to imagine calm relations between the DRC and Belgium?

Ngoie Tshibambe: “I think that imagining relations between the Congo and the old power being pacified is undoubtedly an interesting perspective. There are two, the Congo and Belgium, it would be necessary that at some point we can analyze to know what the Congolese want and to what extent Belgium can assume and acknowledge their responsibility for the events that occurred.

“I think that for the relationship to normalize, it would be necessary for Belgium to help reconstitute the whole truth and assume its responsibilities in this eminently political act that was committed, and that we can consider as an intrusion in the self-determination of the Congolese people. Because the violence with which Lumumba was murdered, marks – I am not a psychologist – the degree of hatred that the actors involved in Belgium at that time had towards the person of Patrice Lumumba. A frank dialogue on this aspect, the acknowledgment of responsibility, would allow us to glimpse an appeased relationship, but it seems to me that on the part of Belgium there is a condescending and haughty look; as if that past should not come to the surface. Belgium must assume its responsibility in the massacre of a man, who in turn participates in the massacre of self-determination and of a state.”

Excerpt from the speech delivered by Patrice Lumumba, in the parliament building after those of King Baudouin and President Joseph Kasa-vubu, on the day of the proclamation of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on June 30, 1960.

Who will forget that a Negro was addressed as “you” not because he was a friend but because the honorable “you” was reserved for whites only?

“We have seen that our lands were plundered in the name of supposedly legal texts that only recognized the right of the strongest. We have seen that the law was never the same depending on whether it was a White or a Black: accommodating for some, cruel for the others. We have seen the atrocious sufferings of those who were relegated because of their political opinions or their religious beliefs; exiled in their own homeland, with a fate truly worse than death itself”

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Written by Editor TLN

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