Jan. 10 (GIN) – Fifty one years ago on Jan. 17, Patrice Lumumba, the leader of the anti-colonial struggle in the Congo and its first democratically-elected prime minister, was murdered by a firing squad aided and abetted by the United States and Belgium. He was 35.
For speaking out against colonialism, for pan-Africanism and against the brutality of the Belgian colonizers who took over the country in 1908, Lumumba and two of his associates, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, died a gruesome death. They were gunned down one by one, while tied to trees. When questions surfaced over the official version of Lumumba’s death-that he had been killed by enraged villagers after attempting to escape-the Belgians returned, exhumed the bodies, hacked them up, dissolved them in acid, keeping as souvenirs Lumumba’s teeth and bullets removed from his body.
Belgium ruled the Congo until 1960. Today the country is named the Democratic Republic of Congo but few of Lumumba’s democratic ideals survive.
Since Lumumba’s death, foreign multi-national corporations have profited handsomely by exploiting Congo’s abundant mineral resources and Congolese labor. This month, workshops and films have been scheduled in Washington DC and New York to recall Lumumba’s life. For more information, visit Friends of the Congo on the internet and Facebook.
“An Assassination’s Long Shadow,” by Adam Hochschild, about Lumumba and the Congo is still available through Amazon.com.