Patrice Lumumba’s Remains Land in Congo and His Last Letter to His Wife

Patrice Lumumba

As the remains, the golden tooth, of Patrice Lumumba is finally getting returned to his family and his nation after over 60 years, I felt it was necessary to share here Patrice Lumumba’s beautiful letter to his wife which happens to be his last letter. Although it is a sad letter, it is full of hope at the thought that one day Congo will be free. Roland Lumumba, his son, said in his interview to France24, “Only the dead can forgive, the living do not have the right to forget.” Entirely true… Lumumba would not allow us to forget his fight for the Congolese freedom, just as he would not want us to forget those who died at the hands of King Leopold II in the rubber plantations of Congo (King Leopold II and the Congolese genocide)… it is part of our history. As we fight for our freedom, we need to remember, and get inspired from the fight of those who came before us.

Almost a decade ago, I published the letter here on Afrolegends.com, and it has gained in significant popularity since then. La Dernière Lettre de Patrice Lumumba / Patrice Lumumba’s Last Letter. Enjoy!

Ma compagne chérie, Je t’écris ces mots sans savoir s’ils te parviendront, quand ils te parviendront et si je serai en vie lorsque tu les liras.  Tout au long de ma lutte pour l’indépendance de mon pays, je n’ai jamais douté un seul instant du triomphe final de la cause sacrée à laquelle mes compagnons et moi avons consacré toute notre vie.  Mais ce que nous voulions pour notre pays, son droit à une vie honorable, à une dignité sans tache, à une indépendance sans restrictions, le colonialisme et ses alliés occidentaux—qui ont trouvé des soutiens directs et indirects, délibérés et non délibérés, parmi certains hauts fonctionnaires des Nations, cet organisme en qui nous avons placé toute notre confiance lorsque nous avons fait appel à son assistance—ne l’ont jamais voulu.

Ils ont corrompu certains de nos compatriotes. Ils ont contribué à déformer la vérité et à souiller notre indépendance.  Que pourrai je dire d’autre ? 

Que mort, vivant, libre ou en prison sur ordre des colonialistes, ce n’est pas ma personne qui compte.  C’est le Congo, c’est notre pauvre peuple dont on a transformé l’indépendance en une cage d’où l’on nous regarde du dehors, tantôt avec cette compassion bénévole, tantôt avec joie et plaisir.  Mais ma foi restera inébranlable.  Je sais et je sens au fond de moi même que tôt ou tard mon peuple se débarrassera de tous ses ennemis intérieurs et extérieurs, qu’il se lèvera comme un seul homme pour dire non au capitalisme dégradant et honteux, et pour reprendre sa dignité sous un soleil pur.

Nous ne sommes pas seuls.  L’Afrique, l’Asie et les peuples libres et libérés de tous les coins du monde se trouveront toujours aux côtés de millions de congolais qui n’abandonneront la lutte que le jour où il n’y aura plus de colonisateurs et leurs mercenaires dans notre pays.  A mes enfants que je laisse, et que peut-être je ne reverrai plus, je veux qu’on dise que l’avenir du Congo est beau et qu’il attend d’eux, comme il attend de chaque Congolais, d’accomplir la tâche sacrée de la reconstruction de notre indépendance et de notre souveraineté, car sans dignité il n’y a pas de liberté, sans justice il n’y a pas de dignité, et sans indépendance il n’y a pas d’hommes libres.

Ni brutalités, ni sévices, ni tortures ne m’ont jamais amené à demander la grâce, car je préfère mourir la tête haute, la foi inébranlable et la confiance profonde dans la destinée de mon pays, plutôt que vivre dans la soumission et le mépris des principes sacrés.  L’histoire dira un jour son mot, mais ce ne sera pas l’histoire qu’on enseignera à Bruxelles, Washington, Paris ou aux Nations Unies, mais celle qu’on enseignera dans les pays affranchis du colonialisme et de ses fantoches.  L’Afrique écrira sa propre histoire et elle sera au nord et au sud du Sahara une histoire de gloire et de dignité.

Ne me pleure pas, ma compagne.  Moi je sais que mon pays, qui souffre tant, saura défendre son indépendance et sa liberté.

Vive le Congo !  Vive l’Afrique !

Patrice Lumumba

My beloved companion, I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, and whether I shall still be alive when you read them.  All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives.  But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies, who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organization in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.

They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others.  They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour.  How could I speak otherwise? 

Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not myself who counts.  It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure But my faith will remain unshakeable.  I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say No to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.

We are not alone.  Africa, Asia and the free liberated people from all corners of the world will always be found at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there are no longer any colonialists and their mercenaries in our country.  As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, to be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that their country expects them, as it expects every Congolese, to fulfill the sacred task of rebuilding our independence, our sovereignty; for without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.  History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets.  Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife.  I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo!  Long live Africa!

Patrice Lumumba

King Philippe of Belgium’s Visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

DRC_King Philippe and Queen Matilde visit in Kinshasa
King Philippe and Queen Matilde visit in Kinshasa (DRC) last week (Source: BBC)

Last week marked King Philippe of Belgium’s first visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since his ascension to the throne. He visited with his wife, Queen Matilde. This visit comes two years after the king expressed regret for the monarchy’s colonial record in the DRC [Belgian King Expresses ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo]. Recall that  King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a genocide in Congo,  ruling DRC like his personal property and committing some unspeakable atrocities, executing and maiming over 15 million Congolese during that time, in pursuit of the money that rubber (and other things) could bring.

DRC_King Philippe - Mask
Suku mask known as Kakuungu returned by King Philippe to the DRC during his visit (Source: AFP/BBC)

Some ‘visible’ highlights of King Philippe’s visit last week were: 1) The Belgian king returned a giant mask known as Kakuungu used during healing ceremonies by the Suku people from the southwest region of the DRC; the king said the object was on “indefinite loan” to the DRC… The monarch said, “I wanted, during our visit at the National Museum and in your presence, to return to you this exceptional work in order to allow Congolese to discover and admire it. …It marks the symbolic beginning of the reinforcement of the cultural collaboration between Belgium and Congo.” 2) King Philippe acknowledged the last surviving Congolese World War II veteran soldier, 97 year-old Corporal Albert Kunyuku, who served for Belgium; at a memorial of former fighters a wreath was laid, and King Phillipe presented Corporal Kunyuku with a medal. 3) King Philippe lamented the racial colonial past; the monarch said, “On the occasion of my first trip to Congo, here, in front of the Congolese people and those who still suffer from it today, I wish to reaffirm my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past.”

Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Map of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Honestly, this is so pathetic! First can we all stop and imagine how much this 1-week visit of the Belgian Sovereign must have cost  the people of the DRC? How much were taken from the country’s coffers to accommodate the King and Queen of Belgium? How many hospitals/schools/roads will not be built because of his majesty’s visit? Then the king comes and gives one mask! One mask! Seriously? One? Of all the masks that fill up the Royal Museum of Central Africa as an example, only one? Why that one in particular? Then the mask is given as an “indefinite loan”, the height of disdain! Then, he acknowledges the last surviving soldier to have given his blood and sweat to Belgium… Although we are happy for Corporal Kunyuku, how convenient for the Belgians to wait for all of those they needed to pay pensions to die to have a ceremony with only one survivor left? … What about the families of others who served, did they get recognition from the King, medals, pensions?

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Patrice Lumumba

Oh how I wish Patrice Lumumba was alive… he would have told the king to shove it! And actually we should all be telling his majesty just that! Keep your fake visit! Instead, tell us the true reasons of your visit: the needs for Belgium to reinforce economic partnership (get free deals from the old colony) amidst the Ukraine/Russia war; isn’t it easier to come sign and make sure all the diamonds, cobalt, and other minerals continue to flow to Belgium (let’s not forget the other European nations and the US) … Will we really want the mighty Belgium to starve without energy from Ukraine/Russia? And more importantly make sure that the DRC, the reservoir of minerals used in all electronics in the world, does not start a friendship with Russia and much more… O poor Africa, you that the King of Belgium visits with one of your masks in hand and expresses regrets without actions… O poor Congo, after getting maimed, and dying on the frontline for Belgium, you get one little medal… the metal of which is not even as pure as what comes out of your own soil!

Belgian King Expresses ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo

Belgian Congo_Genocide_Leopold II
King Leopold II

It took over 100 years for a Belgian King to finally ‘express his deepest regrets‘ for Belgium’s colonial past in Congo. As we recall, King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a genocide in CongoLeopold II took Congo, a country at least 10 times the size of Belgium, as his private property and killed millions of Congolese. It is said that he must have executed and maimed over 15 million people!

 

So now, Belgian King Philippe wrote a letter to the president of Congo Felix Tshisekedi, on 30 June 2020, the anniversary of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, stating: “During the time of the Congo Free State [1885-1908], acts of violence and brutality were committed that weigh still on our collective memory. The colonial period that followed also caused suffering and humiliations. I would like to express my deepest regrets for the wounds of the past, the pain of today, which is rekindled by the discrimination all too present in our society.” His remarks fell short of an apology! Should we applaud for this?

 

Belgian Congo_Genocide2
Picture of men holding cut-off hands (image by Alice S. Harris in Baringa 1904)

I say NO! To the Belgian King, I say you can eat your “deepest regrets”! Many are calling this progress, but I call this arrogance to wake up one day, and finally say, “I regret the past. Yes…, my grandfather committed acts of violence and brutality, killed your fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, … maimed your forefathers, decapitated so many of you … instilled fear into your psyche… destroyed your livelihood, your culture, and the entire foundation of your society.”

 

And so what? That’s it? Should we clap for you? where is the apology? Didn’t you think we knew that already? Where is the reparation? Don’t you know that Belgium is nothing without Congo? Coincidentally, King Philippe forgot to include the period following that time, from 1908 to the independence of Congo, and then to nowadays with the treacherous role played by Belgium in the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, and countless others, and the unrest in the region to this day.

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Official portrait of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of Congo

And to stand up there, and say I express my deepest regrets for the wounds of the past”… it’s like Hitler waking up today, and telling Holocaust survivors and their descendants, “I killed you, jailed your parents, forced you into exile, brought fear into your souls, and decimated every part of you… I regret it. What can you about it? ” It is simply arrogant! … It is just too easy. Until there is a clear “I am sorry”, until there is a clear “here is what we will do to right the wrongs,” until there is a clear “correction and inclusion in the history textbooks, opening of all classified documents”…. until there is a clear “respect for those killed, and for those living today” until then, there will be no respect for arrogant kings who claim to have been awaken by George Floyd’s killing in the USA and not the atrocities they themselves committed in Congo!

We, the people of Congo, cannot forget… we cannot forget that the unrest in Congo today is a direct result of the atrocities committed by Belgium in the region. We cannot forget the souls of our ancestors who still cry to us for justice today.