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

The Only Remain of Lumumba Finally Returned, 61 years after His Assassination

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Patrice Lumumba

In 2020, Patrice Lumumba’s Children asked the Belgian King Philip for their Father’s Remains in an open letter. Today, Lumumba‘s golden tooth has been returned to his family and country 61 years after his assassination. For the history, Patrice Lumumba was the prime minister of Congo in 1960, and was assassinated by a coalition led by Belgium, and the US in 1961. At the time of his assassination, it was decided that no trace would be left of his body; thus Belgian officer Gerard Soete and his team dug up and, with a saw dismembered the corpse of Lumumba and his comrades Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo, and dissolved them in sulfuric acid while the bones were ground and scattered. We know this from a documentary which aired in 2000 where Soete showed two teeth which he said had belonged to Lumumba. He had taken Lumumba’s teeth as souvenir.  In 2016, Ludo De Witte, author of the book “The assassination of Lumumba,” lodged a legal complaint against Soete’s daughter after she showed a gold tooth, which she said had belonged to Lumumba, during an interview with a newspaper. De Witte’s work has been essential in shattering the official Belgian government silence regarding the assassination of Lumumba.

I cannot imagine what Lumumba’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and all children of mother Congo must feel… it is so painful! It is like the beginning of some closure for the family. Is what was done to Lumumba not considered a crime against humanity? Is returning Lumumba’s tooth supposed to be enough?

Below are some excerpts from the BBC article, “Patrice Lumumba: Why Belgium is returning a Congolese hero’s golden tooth.”

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DRC_Lumumba_Children_tooth returned 20220620
Lumumba’s Children during the return of his tooth in Belgium (Source: TheBusinessExecutive.net)

A gold-crowned tooth is all that remains of assassinated Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba.

Shot dead by a firing squad in 1961 with the tacit backing of former colonial power Belgium, his body was then buried in a shallow grave, dug up, transported 200 km (125 miles), interred again, exhumed and then hacked to pieces and finally dissolved in acid.

The Belgian police commissioner, Gerard Soete, who oversaw and participated in the destruction of the remains took the tooth, he later admitted.

He also talked about a second tooth and two of the corpse’s fingers, but these have not been found.

The tooth has now been returned to the family at a ceremony in Brussels.

Soete’s impulse to pocket the body parts echoed the behaviour of European colonial officials down the decades who took remains back home as macabre mementoes.

For Lumumba’s daughter, Juliana, the question is whether the perpetrators were human. What amount of hatred must you have to do that?” she asks.

This is a reminder of what happened with the Nazis, taking pieces of people – and that’s a crime against humanity,” she told the BBC.

Nevertheless, there seemed to be a personal element to the way Lumumba was vilified and pursued. The total destruction of the body, as well as a way to get rid of the evidence, seems like an effort to obliterate Lumumba from the memory. There would be no memorial, making it almost possible to deny that he existed at all. It was not enough just to bury him.

But he is still remembered.

[Juliana Lumumba] recognises that her father “belongs to the country, because he died for Congo… and for his own values and convictions of the dignity of the African person.

She acknowledges that the handing over of the tooth in Belgium and bringing it back to the Democratic Republic of Congo is symbolic “because what remains is not really enough. But he has to come back to his country where his blood was shed.”

The tooth will be taken around the vast country before being buried in the capital.

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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!

Amilcar Cabral on the Colonizer installing Puppets

Statue of Behanzin in Abomey, Benin
Statue of Behanzin in Abomey, Benin

As you all know, we have seen in recent coups and throughout history, that the colonizers/oppressors in Africa tend to install fake chiefs, or rather puppets to serve their interests. Remember when Agoli-Agbo (French puppet) was installed after King Behanzin was deposed in 1894? or Patrice Lumumba with Joseph Mobutu in 1961, or more recently Thomas Sankara by Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso in 1987, and countless others … history repeats itself. This behavior is not just observed at the top of the country, but even at the levels of the local traditional chiefs… where the successions are contested thus breaking the will of the people, and the passing on of a culture, effectively destroying the oppressed. I could not have said it better than  Amilcar Cabral, himself during his February 20, 1970 speech, as part of the Eduardo Mondlane Memorial Lecture Series at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, under the auspices of The Program of Eastern African Studies. Enjoy!

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

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the colonizer who represses or inhibits significant cultural activity on the part of the masses at the base of the social pyramid, strengthens and protects the prestige and the cultural influence of the ruling class at the summit. The colonizer installs chiefs who support him and who are to some degree accepted by the masses; he gives these chiefs material privileges such as education for their eldest children, creates chiefdoms where they did not exist before, develops cordial relations with religious leaders, builds mosques, organizes journeys to Mecca, etc. And above all, by means of the repressive organs of colonial administration, he guarantees economic and social privileges to the ruling class in their relations with the masses. All this does not make it impossible that, among these ruling classes, there may be individuals or groups of individuals who join the liberation movement, although less frequently than in the case of the assimilated “petite bourgeoisie.” Several traditional and religious leaders join the struggle at the very beginning or during its development, making an enthusiastic contribution to the cause of liberation.

But here again vigilance is indispensable: preserving deep down the cultural prejudices of their class, individuals in this category generally see in the liberation movement the only valid means, using the sacrifices of the masses, to eliminate colonial oppression of their own class and to re-establish in this way their complete political and cultural domination of the people.

… among the oppressor’s most loyal allies are found some high officials and intellectuals of the liberal professions, assimilated people, and also a significant number of representatives of the ruling class from rural areas.

… Without minimizing the positive contribution which privileged classes may bring to the struggle, the liberation movement must, on the cultural level just as on the political level, base its action in popular culture, whatever may be the diversity of levels of cultures in the country. The cultural combat against colonial domination–the first phase of the liberation movement–can be planned efficiently only on the basis of the culture of the rural and urban working masses, including the nationalist (revolutionary) “petite bourgeoisie” who have been re-Africanized  or who are ready for cultural reconversion. Whatever may be the complexity of this basic cultural panorama, the liberation movement must be capable of distinguishing within it the essential from the secondary, the positive from the negative, the progressive from the reactionary in order to characterize the master line which defines progressively a national culture.

Confronted with such a necessity, the liberation struggle is, above all, a struggle both for the preservation and survival of the cultural values of the people and for the harmonization and development of these values within a national framework.

How do We Continue the Fight when the Head has been Cut Off?

Patrice Lumumba

As we celebrate the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo from Belgium, I cannot help but think of Patrice Lumumba, gone too soon, assassinated by the imperialist forces that were Belgium, the CIA and more. As I think about him, I cannot help but think of Amilcar Cabral, killed for his fight for the independence of his country, or Thomas Sankara the legendary President of the Faso… and then I think about how long it took for Burkina Faso to wake up from its slumber after Sankara’s murder: 27 years! Samora Machel, Modibo Keita, Kwame Nkrumah, Ruben Um Nyobe, Felix Moumie, Sylvanus Olympio, Ernest Ouandie, Barthelemy Boganda, Mehdi Ben Barka, Muammar Kadhafi, … the list is so long…The question is great: How do we continue the fight when the head has been cut off? How do we continue fighting when the leader has been killed, or incapacitated, or as in some cases has been corrupted or coerced or turned over by the enemies?

A recent case has had my head spinning with this fundamental question: how do we keep going when the movement has been decapitated? Or when the leader is no longer fit to lead? I do not claim to have the answers as this is a crucial question, but it is worth pondering.

Thomas Sankara

I recently read “The Cost of Sugar” by Cynthia McLeod, where she talks about the fight of the Maroons or Boni or Alukus of Surinam for freedom. Surinam was a Dutch colony, and so the Dutch crown sent troops to fight the rebellious slaves; they also hired local slaves to whom they promised liberty and land in return for fighting the Maroons. The Maroons never gave up! They were well organized, even though they had very little and were under-armed, and lived in the bush. Their leaders were very often killed, but they kept the fight… they were fighting for their freedom: men, women, and even children contributed to the fight. Yes… they terrorized the planters for many years, they were defeated, and fled to neighboring French Guyana, but kept the fight. Why? Because the prize of freedom is too great to lay on the shoulders of one man, one leader, or a few… the fight must continue in spite of some men (betrayers and others)… we do not follow men, we follow ideas… we are not fighting for men, we are fighting for our right to dignity, our right to humanity, our liberty.

Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau
Amilcar Cabral on a stamp with the flag of Guinea Bissau

We have to keep the fight. Yes, it is okay to cry, it is okay to fall, feel discouraged, but we have to rise up, and keep up the fight. We might be disappointed by the so-called leaders who may turn their backs on us and betray us [“The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral, J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More], or we might get discouraged when our leaders and hopes have been killed, but we have to keep the fight. We rise up! Dust off ourselves, and keep on fighting! The enemy will try many tactics to distract us from our goals, because the enemy lives on our ignorance, the enemy flourishes on our divisions, our disappointments, and discouragements. We cannot afford to cry too long! When a leader no longer matches our ideals, we put him to the side and keep on fighting. We are not fighting for ourselves, we are fighting for our ancestors who died fighting, we are fighting for our children who should not be beggars on their own lands while the enemy feasts on it. We fight because it is more than just us. Dignity, freedom, is a divine right, and it is ours… we need to claim it!

It took 100 years for China to reclaim Hong Kong and Macao from the British… China was able to do so because its leaders kept telling them how Great Britain made them sign treacherous treaties and stole their lands, they did not hide it from their people like many African leaders do [Did You Know about the 999-year Lease granted to Europeans in Kenya ?]. As a result, 100 years later, the Chinese leaders went to the British, and said “time is up, give us back our lands”. The leaders who were forced to sign these treaties 100 years prior were no longer alive, but the history, the preparation, the muscling up, the battle continued!… so we have to plan over decades, generations, to ensure continuity in the battle, implying education, real knowledge of our history (our triumphs as well as our defeats and the causes), the stakes, and keeping a living memory of our history. It may take years, decades, even a century like China with Macao, but we have to grow, know, and muscle up… we cannot keep crying.

Lumumba’s Children Ask Belgian King for their Father’s Remains

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of Congo

Early this month, I shared with you that the Belgian King Expressed his ‘Deepest Regrets’ for Colonial Past in Congo, by sending a letter to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)  Felix Tshisekedi on the day of the celebration of the DRC’s independence from Belgium. I told you that those were empty words, and that coincidentally, King Philippe had forgotten to include the period from 1908 to the independence of Congo, and the treacherous role played by Belgium in the assassination of the Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba detained
Lumumba detained, a few days before his death

Now the children of Patrice Lumumba, led by his daughter Juliana Amato Lumumba, have asked the Belgian king to prove his good faith by sending back the remains of their father. These remains are parts that were taken, like Lumumba‘s teeth, from his body at the time of his murder. We know from a documentary which aired in 2000 that Belgian Police Commissioner, Gerard Soete, told AFP that he and acolytes had decapitated Lumumba’s body and those of two others, Joseph Okito and  Maurice Mpolo, and subsequently dissolved them in acid. In another documentary that same year, Soete showed two teeth which he said had belonged to Lumumba. He took Lumumba’s teeth as souvenir.  In 2016, Ludo De Witte, author of the book “The assassination of Lumumba,” lodged a legal complaint against Soete’s daughter after she showed a gold tooth, which she said had belonged to Lumumba, during an interview with a newspaper.

According to AFP, Juliana Lumumba’s letter was written and addressed to the Belgian monarch on June 30, which happens to be the 60th anniversary of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo from Belgium.

We, Lumumba’s children, call for the just return of the relics of Patrice Emery Lumumba to the land of his ancestors,” Juliana said in the letter.

In Juliana Lumumba’s letter, which she said was written on behalf of her “wider family”, she said that her father was a “hero without a grave”.

The remains of Patrice Emery Lumumba are being used on the one hand as trophies by some of your fellow citizens, and on the other as funereal possessions sequestered by your kingdom’s judiciary.”

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.

 

Patrice Lumumba’s 1960 Address to the Congolese Youth

Patrice Emery Lumumba
Patrice Emery Lumumba

For the celebration on 30 June 1960 of the independence of Congo, we will do a trip down memory lane with this speech Patrice Lumumba addressed to the Congolese youth in August of 1960. In 1960, Patrice Lumumba was elected the first prime minister of the  Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Assassinated by Belgian colonialists and the CIA in 1961Lumumba was a founding member of the Movement National Congolais (MNC), which led Congo to independence. Today, Patrice Lumumba is the symbol of aspirations for an entire continent, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to contemporary Congolese and African politicians. His message here to the Congolese youth is really a message to the African youth. Enjoy! The full speech can be found in Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1961, p 33-36, by Patrice Lumumba (transcribed by Thomas Schmidt) here .

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Map of the DRC
Map of the DRC

Today I am addressing the youth, the young men and women of the Republic of the Congo.

In speaking to them, I am addressing these words to future generations because the future of our beloved country belongs to them.

We are fighting our enemies in order to prepare a better and happier life for our youth.

If we had been egoists, if we had thought only about ourselves we would not have made the innumerable sacrifices we are making.

I am aware that our country can completely liberate herself from the chains of colonialism politically, economically and spiritually only at the price of a relentless and sometimes dangerous struggle. Together with the youth of the country, we have waged this struggle against foreign rule, against mercantile exploitation, against injustice and pressure. 

DRC_flag
Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Young people who have been inactive and exploited for a long time have now become aware of their role of standard-bearer of the peaceful revolution.

The young people of the Congo have fought on our side in towns, villages and in the bush. Many of our young men have been struck down by the bullets of the colonialists. Many of them left their parents and friends in order to fight heroically for the cause of freedom. The resistance that the young people offered the aggressors in Leopoldville on January 4 and in Stanleyville on October 30, 1959, deserves every praise.

With deep emotion I bow in memory of these courageous patriots, these fighters for African freedom.

The time is not far distant when large numbers of young men and women were driven out of schools by their white teachers and instructors on the suspicion of having nationalist ideas. Many brilliantly gifted young people turned down the opportunity to receive a higher education for the simple reason that they no longer wished to be indoctrinated by the colonialists, who wanted to turn our young men and women into eternal servants of the colonial regime.

DRC_First_Congolese_government
Patrice Lumumba (center left) with his first government after his investiture outside the Palais de la Nation, 23 June 1960

During the heroic struggle of the Congolese nationalists, the young people, even those who were still sitting at school desks, resolutely opposed all new forms of colonialism, whether political, social, spiritual or religious.

Their only dream was national liberation. Their sole aim was immediate independence. Their only resolve was to wage an implacable struggle against the puppets and emissaries of the colonialists.

Thanks to the general mobilisation of all the democratic youth of the Congo, the Congolese nationalists won independence for the nation. We received this independence at the price of a grim struggle, at the price of all sorts of privations, at the price of tears and blood.

After independence was solemnly proclaimed on June 30, 1960, the colonialists and their black emissaries started a barbarous war in the young Republic of the Congo. They began this perfidious aggression because the nationalist Government now in power did not want them to continue exploiting our country as they did prior to June 30, the historic day when the people of our country said Adieu to the Belgian colonialists.

Not having any support whatever, particularly among the working class, who have had their fill of colonial exploitation, the colonialists and their henchmen now want to force certain sections of the youth to serve them in order to be able to propagandise the revival of colonialism. That is why a certain part of the youth, luckily not a very numerous part, have plunged into national defeatism.

Happily, the vast majority of the young people saw through this last attempt of the imperialists, who are turning into account the dissatisfaction of some malcontents, of those who failed in the elections because they did not have the confidence of the people.

This nationalist youth recently held demonstrations in various towns in the Republic to show their absolute and total opposition to imperialist intrigues.

DRC_Republic_of_the_Congo_(Léopoldville)_-_Commemoration_Independence_Stamp
Stamp commemorating the independence of Congo on 30 June 1960

Young people, I salute you, and congratulate you on your civic and patriotic spirit. Young people, specially for you I have created a Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports under the Central Government. It is your Ministry. It is at your disposal. Many of you, without any discrimination, will be called upon to direct this Ministry, its different services and activities.

Today, in the free and independent Congo we must not have a Bangala, National Unity Party, Association of Bakongo, Mukongo, Batetela or Lokele youth but a united, Congolese, nationalist, democratic youth. This youth will serve the social and economic revolution of our great and beloved country.

You must energetically combat tribalism, which is a poison, a social scourge that is the country’s misfortune today. You must combat all the separatist manoeuvres, which some of the preachers of the policy of division are trying to pass off to young and inexperienced people under the name of federalism, federation or confederation.

In reality, young people, these names are only a new vocabulary brought by the imperialists to divide us in order the better and more conveniently to exploit us. Your entire future will be threatened if you do not oppose these manoeuvres, this new, disguised colonisation.

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

You must be proud that you belong to a great nation, a great country, a mighty power. This power, which the imperialists envy today, is embodied in national unity. This unity must be the heritage that you, in your turn, shall leave to your children.

The Government will soon send 300 young people to study in the U.S.A., 150 in the Soviet Union and 20 in Guinea, not to mention other countries.

The Congo is no longer a national reservation, a national park, a zoo which we could not leave. Tomorrow you shall go everywhere to study, to learn a speciality, and to get to know the world. Workers, working people will have an equal share in these study missions.

You shall go everywhere, to all the parts of the world. These contacts with the outside world, this direct confrontation with the reality of life will make you experienced people, whom the free and independent Congo needs today.

You will go there not as representatives of Association of Bakongo, National Unity Party, Congo National Movement or African Regroupment Centre youth. You will be Congolese citizens, simply Congolese. And by your behaviour, devotion, intelligence and political maturity you must be a credit to your Congolese motherland.

Patrice_Lumumba_official_portrait
Official portrait of Patrice Lumumba

Young people, the Congo belongs to you. The national Government, the people’s Government will do everything in its power to prevent the Congo from being torn away from you.

Long live the Republic of the Congo!

Long live the people’s, democratic youth!

“Dawn in the Heart of Africa” by Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba
Patrice Emery Lumumba

Here is a poem by Patrice Lumumba (19251961), published on Pambazuka NewsPatrice Lumumba was elected the first prime minister of the  Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Assassinated by Belgian colonialists and the CIA, Lumumba was a founder member of the Movement National Congolais (MNC), which led the Congo to independence. Patrice Lumumba is the symbol of aspirations of an entire continent, and he continues to serve as an inspiration to contemporary Congolese and African politicians. His spirit lives on, and his pride is ours!

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Dawn in the Heart of Africa

For a thousand years, you, African, suffered like beast,
Your ashes strewn to the wind that roams the desert.
Your tyrants built the lustrous, magic temples
To preserve your soul, reserve your suffering.
Barbaric right of fist and the white right to a whip,
You had the right to die, you also could weep.
On your totem they carved endless hunger, endless bonds,
And even in the cover of the woods a ghastly cruel death
Was watching, snaky, crawling to you
Like branches from the holes and heads of trees
Embraced your body and your ailing soul.
Then they put a treacherous big viper on your chest:
On your neck they laid the yoke of fire-water,
They took your sweet wife for glitter of cheap pearls,
Your incredible riches that nobody could measure.
From your hut, the tom-toms sounded into dark of night
Carrying cruel laments up mighty black rivers
About abused girls, streams of tears and blood,
About ships that sailed to countries where the little man
Wallows in an ant hill and the dollar is king,
To that damned land which they called a motherland.
There your child, your wife were ground, day and night
In a frightful, merciless mill, crushing them in dreadful pain.
You are a man like others. They preach you to believe
That good white God will reconcile all men at last.
By fire you grieved and sang the moaning songs
Of a homeless beggar that sinks at strangers’ doors.
And when a craze possessed you
And your blood boiled through he night
You danced, you moaned, obsessed by father’s passion.
Like furry of a storm to lyrics of a manly tune
From a thousand years of misery a strength burst out of you
In metallic voice of jazz, in uncovered outcry
That thunders through the continent like gigantic surf.
The whole world surprised , wakes up in panic
To the violent rhythm of blood, to the violent rhythm of jazz,
The white man turning pallid over this new song
That carries torch of purple through the dark of night.

The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,
A new morning breaks in our old Africa.
Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers
Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.
Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
They’ll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.
The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
The evil cruel times will go never to come again.
A free and gallant Congo will rise from black soil,
A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!

Patrice Lumumba

African Women and Revolution

Winnie Mandela_5
Winnie Mandela

Very often history books suffer from amnesia: they forget women’s contributions to revolutions. History acts as if the men had been all alone, as if only men were there, as if only men stood against injustice.

When people talk of the struggle for independence in Africa, and around the world, only the great men are cited. As one browses from country to country, only men are cited, as if women had been silent spectators. Do you think apartheid would have collapsed without the critical and vital input of women? Do you think without Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s name would have been anchored in our heads today? What do you think these women were doing while their husbands were in prison? History wants us to think that they were ‘just’ raising children as if that was not an enormous contribution already, but in the case of Winnie Mandela and countless others, they took up the fight, and were jailed, harassed, beaten, and humiliated by the system (some were even raped). Yet today, the world acclaims only the men! And when a woman raises too strong a voice, then she is vilified, told that she acts like a man, or is an ‘angry’ woman. How could you face injustice day after day, and just keep quiet? There comes a time when, as Bob Marley says, “You can fool some people some time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time…” people will rise up!”

Thomas Sankara family
Mariam and Thomas Sankara, with their children

I am so sick of the saying, “behind every great man, there is a great woman.” I think it is again quite sexist, and should rather read, “ALONGSIDE EVERY GREAT MAN IS A GREAT WOMAN.” Raising children, and pumping somebody’s ego after a day’s fight, taking up the fights, and then keeping the men’s memory so that the world does not forget them, are no easy fit; these are extraordinary fits. Alongside Nelson Mandela, there is Winnie Mandela. Alongside Thomas Sankara, there is Mariam Sankara. Alongside Patrice Lumumba, there is Pauline Lumumba. Alongside Felix Moumié, there is Marthe MoumiéRosa Parks had to be defiant and sit in the front of the bus, for the movement to be taken over by Martin Luther King Jr.; without her part in the fight, there would have been no movement!

Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié's death
Ernest Ouandié, Marthe Moumié, and Abel Kingue in Geneva after Felix Moumié’s death

It is our duty to remember this, and to claim it. The world and history wants us to think that men are the only ones in the world, when we know that 50% of the world’s population is female; men are not the only ones fighting for independence, liberation, freedom, revolution, democracy, … Can one make a revolution without the remaining 50%? NO! It is our duty to remember Women’s contributions to history, and stop the global historical amnesia!