Patrice Lumumba: Fierce Guardian of Congolese and African Liberty

Patrice Emery Lumumba
Patrice Emery Lumumba

This Monday marked the 50 year anniversary of the assassination of the great African giant Patrice Lumumba.  How could I pass on such an occasion to talk about him?  50 years later, his speech and his vision still  ring true.  Lumumba dared to defy the Belgian King Baudouin by telling him on independence day what he saw as the Belgian hold on Congo. He was blunt! He spoke the truth! He was not malleable… He could not be manipulated by Europeans! He was a menace because he was a free man proud to be Congolese.

Lumumba detained
Lumumba detained

I always wondered what would have happened if Lumumba had not been so open about his ambitions for his country? What would have happened if he had played their game, and hidden his cards? Then we, Africans, would have never had our African hero! Someone had to say what we all felt: oppressed, hated, enslaved, diminished,… someone had to make us proud of being Congolese/African again… someone had to re-establish our dignity!  That someone happened to be Patrice Emery Lumumba!  Patrice died because he had great ideals, and because he trusted others.  For the problem in the Katanga province, he went to the United Nations; he trusted that establishment to resolve the conflict peacefully, and to help solve the Katanga secession…. Instead they, with all the interests they represented (US, Belgium,France, etc…), refused to help him… the US of Kennedy refused to help him out, and thus he turned to the USSR to keep his country united.  With the USSR, he was able to solve the rebellion in the Katanga and Kasai provinces… but the Americans and Belgians were mad that he had been helped by the Soviets; they decided to have him murdered after this affront (they used Mobutu, and Tshombe)! Once again, we Africans sold our own brother…  I wonder where the Maurice Tshombe, or Kibwe, or the Joseph Mobutu are today… History will remember them as tyrants, dictators, and puppets of the West!  Isn’t it interesting that history keeps repeating itself? Today the United Nations are starting a war in Ivory Coast in the name of installing a puppet-president in a soveraign country… Have you ever seen the UN so vehemently ask for war in a country?  Only in Africa could this be possible…  I used to dream that this was a peace organization! Actually, it is an organization to impose the will of the West on third world resource-rich countries.

Lumumba on a USSR stamp in 1961
Lumumba on a USSR commemorative stamp in 1961

The following documentary will tell it all: how the Belgians did not like Lumumba because he was not a puppet, how they started the Katanga secession and supported it; how Lumumba went to the UN for help in keeping his country united and was refused help; how Lumumba went to the US to ask for help, and was not even received by president Kennedy; how he turned to the USSR to solve his problem in the Katanga and Kasai provinces; how that event precipitated his end.  50 years later, Lumumba’s ideals and vision are still actual. Lumumba is the symbol of aspirations of an entire continent. His spirit lives on, and his pride is ours!

Lumumba (2000)
Lumumba (2000)

I live you with an excerp from a letter he sent to his wife before his death: “… the future of the Congo is beautiful and [I] expect for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.”  You can find the Integral version of this letter on, as well as his famous 30 June 1960 independence day speech.  Please don’t forget to check out: Wikipedia, The Guardian which deemed the assassination of Lumumba as the most important of the 20th century, The Daily Nation of Kenya deemed Lumumba the bright spark in a land of despair, and The New York Times which called it an assassination’s long shadow.  At last, the movie Lumumba (2000) is what finally got the Belgian admitting their part in the assassination of Lumumba.

9 thoughts on “Patrice Lumumba: Fierce Guardian of Congolese and African Liberty

  1. Pingback: Patrice Lumumba: ’30 June 1960′ Independence Speech « African Heritage

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  4. I heard about Patrice Lumumba in passing a while ago. I never realized he did that much for the Congo during his time when he was alive. It’s a tragedy that he was assassinated just for daring to fight against (neo-)colonialism and he cared about his countrymen.


      1. Very much so. I even heard that Haitian director Raoul Peck (famous for the documentary I Am Not Your Negro) made a movie about him a while back and I heard it was good.


      2. That’s good to know. I do want to check out more of his works and that movie looks fascinating. Too bad it wasn’t available on Netflix (streaming or DVDs), so I’ll see if any other place like Google Play or Amazon has it available to rent.


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