Lumumba’s death: Could we (Africans) have acted differently?

Frantz Fanon
Frantz Fanon

This is a great article by Frantz Fanon, which I published earlier in French.  (You will find the original here).  In view of all the events occurring in Africa (bombing of Cote d’Ivoire and Libya) with the UN approval, I thought that this article, published in 1964, was so important that I had to translate it into english for all to read! Enjoy…


The great success of the enemies of Africa is to have corrupted the Africans themselves.  It is true that these Africans had vested interest in the murder of Lumumba.  Heads of puppet governments, in a fake independence, faced everyday by massive opposition from their peoples, it did not take long to convince themselves that the real independence of the Congo would put them personally at risk.  And there were other Africans, a little less puppet, but who get frightened when it comes to disengaging Africa from the West.  It seems as if these African Heads of State are still afraid to face Africa.  These, also, though less actively, but consciously, contributed to the deterioration of the situation in Congo.  Little by little, we were reaching the agreement in the West that there was a need to intervene in Congo, we could not let things evolve at this pace.

Gradually, the idea of a UN intervention was taking shape. So we can say today that two simultaneous errors were committed by Africans.

Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba

And first by Lumumba when he sought the intervention of the UN.  He should have never called on the United Nations.  The UN has never been able to properly solve problems brought to man’s consciousness by colonialism, and whenever it has intervened, it was to actually come to the aid of the colonial power to the oppressed country.  Look at Cameroon.  What kind of peace do the subjects of Mr. Ahidjo kept in check by a French expeditionary force, which most of the time, made ​​its debut in Algeria, enjoy?  The UN, however, controlled the autodetermination of Cameroon and the French government has set up a “Provisional Executive” there.

Look at Viet-Nam.  Look at Laos.

It is not true to say that the UN fail because the causes are too difficult.

In reality the UN is the legal card used by imperialist interests when brute force has failed.  The sharing, the mixed controlled joint committees, under guardianship are international means of torture to break the will of the people, cultivating anarchy, banditry and misery.

For, before the arrival of the UN, there were no massacres in Congo.  After hallucinating rumors spread deliberately at the departure of the Belgians, there were only a dozen deaths.  But since the arrival of the UN, we have gotten accustomed to hear each morning about Congolese killing each other.  We are told today that repeated provocations were mounted by Belgians dressed as soldiers of the United Nations.  We are being shown today that UN civilian staff had in fact established a new government on the third day of the inauguration of Lumumba. Now we understand better what people had called the violence, stiffness, and susceptibility of Lumumba.

Actually, everything shows that Lumumba was unusually quiet.  Heads of UN mission made ​​contact with the enemies of Lumumba and were taking decisions with them about the State of Congo.  How should a government leader react to this?  The goal sought and achieved is as follows: proving the absence of authority, proving the failure of the state.  Thus motivating the sequestration of the Congo.

Lumumba’s fault was then initially to believe in the impartiality of the UN. He forgot that the UN, particularly in the current state, is only a reserve assembly established by the Greats to continue, between two armed conflicts, the “peaceful struggle” for the balkanization of the world.
If Mr. Ileo in August 1960 was telling to anyone who would listen that Lumumba should be hanged, if Lumumba’s cabinet members knew not what to do with dollars, which from that time, invaded Leopoldville, and finally if Mobutu every night was going to Brazzaville to hear how and what we can only guess better now, why then turn with such sincerity, with such lack of reserves to the United Nations?

Africans should remember this lesson.  If outside help is necessary to us, let us call on our friends.  Only they can truly and fully help us achieve our goals precisely because the friendship between us is a friendship of struggles.

But African countries for their part, have made ​​a mistake by agreeing to send their troops under the guise of the UN.  In fact, they admitted to be neutralized and unwittingly, allowed others to work.

They should have, of course, sent troops to Lumumba, but not in the UN framework.  Directly. From country to country, friend to friend.  African troops in the Congo have suffered a historic moral defeat.  Weapon in hands, they assisted without reacting (because being UN troops) to the disintegration of a state and nation that the whole of Africa had once greeted and sung.  Such a shame.

Our mistake, as Africans, is to have forgotten that the enemy never backs down sincerely.  He never understands.  He surrenders, but is not converted.

Our mistake is to have believed that the enemy had lost its militancy and its harmfulness.  If Lumumba disturbs, Lumumba should disappear.

Hesitation in commiting murder has never been a feature of imperialism.

See Ben M’Hidi, see Moumie, see Lumumba.  Our mistake was to have been somewhat confused in our efforts.  It is a fact that in Africa today, traitors exist.  We should have denounced them and combat them.  Whether it is hard after the magnificent dream of an Africa picked up on itself and subject to the same requirements of true independence does not change anything to reality.

Some Africans have endorsed the policy of imperialism in Congo, served as intermediaries, endorsed the activities and the strange silence of the UN in Congo.

Today they are afraid.  They compete for hypocrisy around Lumumba shredded.  Make no mistake about the point, they express the fear of their constituents.  The imperialists are afraid too.  And they are right because many Africans, many African-Asians have understood.  The imperialists will mark a pause.  They will wait until “the legitimate emotion calms down. ”  We must take advantage of this short respite to abandon our timid steps and decide to save the Congo and Africa.

The imperialists have decided to kill Lumumba.  They did.  They decided to form legions of volunteers. They are already in place.

The Katanga aviation, under the command of South African pilots and Belgian, has began several days strafing the ground.  From Brazzaville, several foreign aircrafts crowded with volunteers and officers paratroopers fly to the rescue of a certain Congo.

If we decide to support Gizenga, we must do so resolutely.  Because nobody knows the name of the next Lumumba.  In Africa, there is a tendency shown by certain men. It is this dangerous trend for imperialism that is at issue.  Let us never forget: it is our fate, to all, that is being played in Congo.

Dr Frantz Fanon

Afrique Action, n°19, 20 février 1960

repris dans “Pour la Révolution Africaine” (1964)

5 thoughts on “Lumumba’s death: Could we (Africans) have acted differently?

  1. Pingback: How many of you know Dave Chappelle’s mother worked for Patrice Lumumba? | Africa is a Country

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  3. Pingback: Did you know Dave Chappelle’s mother worked for Patrice Lumumba? - UK RBG's

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