Posts Tagged ‘Patrice Lumumba’

Demokratische Republik Kongo: Erinnerung an Patrice Lumumba

Dienstag, Juli 13th, 2010

“Remembering Lumumba

By Mwaura Kaara

Bild: Botschaft der DRC

As the DRC commemorates 50 years of independence, Mwaura Kaara finds there’s little official acknowledgement of the life of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first and only elected prime minister, removed from office after two months and eventually assassinated. The celebration ‘should have reflected on Lumumba’s main contribution to the Congolese struggle’, writes Kaara, ‘his articulation of the idea of a united Congo, a vision that sought to build a united nations across all ethnic and tribal divisions despite fierce European opposition.’

On 17 January 1961 Patrice Lumumba, the charismatic first and only elected prime minister of Congo, was brutally murdered. The circumstances of his death remain a mystery, the identity of his killers unknown.

In 1956 Lumumba was a post office clerk; four years later he would be prime minister. In between he had been an ‘évolué’ – one of Congo’s tiny black middle class, a beer salesman and a prisoner, twice for his political motivation.

His imprisonment radicalised him and by 1958 he had co-founded a political party, the National Congolese Movement, the MNC that was distinctively pan-Africanist.

Independence Day was celebrated on 30 June in a ceremony attended by many dignitaries including King Baudouin and the foreign dignitaries and press. Patrice Lumumba delivered his famous independence speech after being officially excluded from the event programme, despite being the new prime minister. The speech of King Baudouin praised developments under colonialism, his reference to the ‘genius’ of his great grand-uncle Leopold II of Belgium glossing over atrocities committed during the Congo Free State.

The King continued, ‘Don’t compromise the future with hasty reforms, and don’t replace the structures that Belgium hands over to you until you are sure you can do better… Don’t be afraid to come to us. We will remain by your side, give you advice.’

In his speech, addressed directly to Belgium’s monarch and ministers, Lumumba reclaimed the history and dignity of the Congolese people in their decades-long struggle for independence:

‘For this independence of the Congo … no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that it was by fighting that it has been won, a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood … We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.’

Lumumba was prime minister for only about two months before he was removed illegally from office and eventually killed. This occurred under the auspices and coordination of a section of the United Nations loyal to the Belgian government, the Belgian authorities and the US Central Intelligence Agency.

On 11 July 1960, the resource-rich Katanga province announced it was seceding under the leadership of Moise Tshombe. Belgium’s troops promptly entered in support. This move provoked a wave of international outrage, in particular criticism by the socialist bloc, spearheaded by the Soviet Union, and the decolonising nations in Africa and Asia. The Belgians withdrew in favour of UN troops, but the UN did not nullify Tshombe’s secession. Prime Minister Lumumba appealed to the UN and United States, but the imperialist powers turned a deaf ear to the new African leader. He turned to the Soviet Union, which provided loyal forces with aid and transported troops to help end the secession.

On 5 September, the pro-imperialist president, Kasavubu, illegally removed Lumumba from office. Lumumba brought his case directly to the parliament, which reaffirmed his post. In response, Kasavubu dismissed the parliament.

UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold publicly endorsed Kasavubu’s move. A section of the UN forces loyal to the Belgian government had earlier hampered Lumumba by closing a radio station he was using to plead his case with the people. Amid the struggle, Colonel Joseph Mobutu took power in a CIA-backed coup d’état on the side of Kasavubu and the United States. Lumumba was placed under house arrest, ‘protected’ by UN troops actively intervening against his rule.

Lumumba understood that the UN was acting as the armed forces of the Western imperialist powers. Rather than stay under house arrest, he decided to flee. As he was fleeing, he was captured by Mobutu’s forces on 1 December 1960. Mobutu handed over Lumumba to the secessionist Tshombe, who had him executed on the very night of his capture. The whole capture by Mobutu and turnover to Tshombe was orchestrated by Belgian authorities with the full knowledge and aid of the CIA.

Mobutu gained in power under the new government, eventually ruling as a brutal dictator with the support of US imperialism until he was ousted in 1997.

This year, the Democratic Republic of Congo has celebrated 50 years of independence, and amidst the noise and cacophony, the name of one of Africa’s greatest ancestor and his significant contributions to the African liberation movement has gone silent.

The meaning of the life and the work of Patrice Lumumba was rooted in his determination to fight against the forces of domination and oppression, that were represented by the European world in the most turbulent period of the history of the Congo, and as such as the Democratic Republic of Congo held festivities to mark 50 years of independence and symbolically usher in a new era breathing in new ethos and values, focus should have been to reflect on the steadfast efforts of Lumumba in his quest for the real movement of the people of Africa.

The celebration should have been to reflect on Lumumba’s main contribution to the Congolese struggle, his articulation of the idea of a united Congo, a vision that sought to build a united nations across all ethnic and tribal divisions despite fierce European opposition. A vision that paralleled his Pan-African sentiment of African unity, both ideals that were unacceptable to the imperialist powers, which sought a Congo and Africa riven with internal strife in order to be held in submission.

As the political elite in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to suffer from the hangover of toasting with their Belgian masters, after their heavy indulgence, and celebrations marked by the entertainment parading of their poverty-stricken populace, who could not comprehend what was happening, let us reflect on and walk the legacy of Patrice Lumumba. A legacy reflected in the pan-African aims, institutions and policies of the African Union and in the guiding ethos behind the adoption of the Ezulwini Consensus, which proposes a permanent African seat in a reformed United Nations Security Council.

His ability to evoke so powerfully the extent of his people’s subjugation, derived from a rare understanding of the inherent duplicity of the colonial discourse. As Jean Van Lierde put it:

‘He was the only Congolese leader who rose above the ethnic difficulties and tribal preoccupations that destroyed all the other parties. Lumumba was the first real pan-African.’

Shortly before his assassination, Lumumba penned the following words in a farewell letter: ‘The only thing we wanted for our country was the right to a decent existence, to dignity without hypocrisy, to independence without restrictions… The day will come when history will have its say.’

In conclusion, we can say that the external enemies, (or the enemies from without), and internal enemies (or the enemies from within), led to the demise and death of Patrice Lumumba. But, fortunately, his legacy lives on.


* Mwaura Kaara is the youth focal point at United Nations Millennium Campaign, Africa.
* Please send comments to or comment online at Pambazuka News.”


(Quelle: Pambazuka.)

Demokratische Republik Kongo: Ein Befreiungskampf, der nicht enden will

Donnerstag, Juli 1st, 2010

Congo’s Quest for Liberation Continues

By Bahati Ntama Jacques and Beth Tuckey


Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Flagge der DR Kongo

Congo has long been the focus of resource exploitation. The first era of colonization in Africa, beginning in the mid-1880s, was most pronounced in this central African country. Belgium’s King Leopold brutalized the population in his quest for rubber and riches, leaving a legacy of natural resource exploitation by white Europeans in the heart of Africa.

Today, at the 50th anniversary of Congo’s independence, the country continues to be a source of wealth for the world, yet the Congolese people live in poverty. Like many African nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is suffering under this new era of neocolonialism, where natural resources belong not to those who live on the land but to those with power and access to global markets.

The pursuit of true independence and liberation in Congo will continue until foreign nations cease their policies of exploitation.

History of Violence

When Patrice Lumumba began agitating for independence in early 1960, there was great hope that Congolese people would benefit from the resources of their land, lifting the country out of poverty and into an era of prosperity. Instead, after nearly three months in office as Congo’s first elected prime minister, Lumumba was deposed in a coup and four months later killed in a plot orchestrated by the Belgian government with the complicity of the United States. Mobutu Sese Seko, a staunch opponent of communism, took power in a CIA-backed coup and became one of Africa’s most brutal dictators. He drove Congo — which he named Zaire — into ruin.

In 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo and forced Mobutu to flee, while a new leader, Laurent Kabila, rose to power. Since then, eastern Congo has been mired in conflict, overrun by rebel groups and government militias, each of which seeks control of Congo’s vast wealth. It’s estimated that between 1998 and 2007, 5.4 million people died in DRC as a direct or indirect result of conflict. Meanwhile, the world has come to depend on minerals such as tungsten, tin, and coltan, used in electronics and sophisticated weaponry, which come primarily from the Congo. Western love for the Congo has always been for its resources, never its people, which explains the lack of any genuine interest in helping to build Congo’s state capacity. 

Lack of transparency or regulation in the mining industry in Congo makes it nearly impossible to prevent the sale of conflict minerals in electronic products. And although many companies have expressed interest in disclosing their supply chain information, tracing which minerals come from the conflict zone in eastern Congo remains a significant challenge.

In the 110th session of Congress, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced the Conflict Minerals Trade Act “to improve transparency and reduce trade in conflict minerals,” and Sen. Samuel Brownback (R-KS) introduced the companion Senate legislation “to require annual disclosure to the Securities and Exchange Commission of activities involving columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, and wolframite from the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Also in May, Brownback was able to attach a related amendment into the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, which passed the Senate and is being reconciled with the House version of financial reform. While an admirable start considering the inadequate U.S. government attention paid to Congo, such legislation is only a small part of a more holistic policy shift needed to address the economic colonization of DRC.

America: Part of the Problem?

The United States can do much more to promote true security and prosperity in Congo.  However, time and time again the United States has been part of the problem. In 2008, the United States was among a group of nations that negotiated the premature and hasty integration of former rebel forces of the Rwanda-backed rebel group, the National Council for the Defense of the People (CNDP) into the Congolese national army. These Rwandan troops, as part of the national army, today represent a serious threat to sustainable peace in eastern Congo.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Rwanda relationship continues to be very problematic as far as peace and stability in Congo is concerned. From 2000 to 2009, the United States provided $1.034 billion to Rwanda when its government was occupying large territories in Congo and plundering Congolese resources. While Washington argues that it never intended to aid the Rwandan invasion in the Congo, U.S. financial support possibly helped the Rwandan government secure money within its budget to wage the deadly war. 

As a senator, Barack Obama introduced legislation, ultimately signed into law in 2006 by President George W. Bush, that requires the U.S. Secretary of State to “withhold assistance made available under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961…other than humanitarian, peacekeeping, and counterterrorism assistance, for a foreign country if the Secretary determines that the government of the foreign country is taking actions to destabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

But it wasn’t the United States, ironically, that took action. Sweden and the Netherlands, after looking at the evidence of Rwandan involvement in the conflict in the Congo made available by a UN panel of experts’ report in 2008, threatened to withhold their financial support to Rwanda. This action, which drew international attention to the issue, held the Rwandan government accountable by requesting an immediate withdrawal of its troops from the Congo. Instead of following suit, the United States participated in the misleading and failed integration of former CNDP forces into the Congolese army. So far, the Obama administration shows no sign of implementing the legislation that Sen. Obama worked so hard to promote. The key to the U.S. relationship with Rwanda is rooted in access to Congo’s resources. 

Congo as Heart

All governments must enact strict laws against the import of products that fuel conflict, use child labor, or otherwise support human rights violations in Africa. Companies should also be forced to pay fines and reparations to communities they have damaged in the creation of their goods.

But at the same time, and equally as important, governments must work to engage Africa in the global economy in a way that encourages human security. Although coltan and tungsten fuel deadly conflict in eastern Congo, they also provide local people with jobs and some means of income. The Congolese government, with the support of the international community, should ensure that those local people reap the true benefits of their labor, which requires strict attention to worker’s rights. In this way, Congo and the outside world can partner to advance resource sovereignty and local ownership.


Congo is the heart of Africa. Yet, after 50 years of political independence, it still does not beat on its own. Nor does it sustain the health of other African counties. Lumumba once famously said, “free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese.” The liberation of Congo — which is a key part of the liberation of all of Africa — requires that people in countries that profit from Congo’s wealth stand in solidarity with those who rightfully own it. That means, most importantly, taking action as citizens and pushing governments to create more responsible policies toward central Africa regarding the use of its natural resources.

Bahati Ntama Jacques, a Congolese national, is policy analyst at the Africa Faith & Justice Network in Washington, DC. Beth Tuckey, former associate director at Africa Faith & Justice Network, is currently an executive intern with Africa Action in Washington, DC. They are both contributors to Foreign Policy In Focus.


Recommended Citation:

Bahati Ntama Jacques and Beth Tuckey, “Congo’s Quest for Liberation Continues” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 30, 2010)


(Quelle: FPIF.)


Siehe auch:

DR Congo Marks 50 Troubled Years of Independence


Demokratische Republik Kongo: Mord an Lumumba wird wieder aufgerollt

Dienstag, Juni 29th, 2010

“Belgians accused of war crimes in killing of Congo leader Lumumba

By Antonia van de Velde in Brussels

A son of Congo’s first democratically-elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, is to seek the prosecution for war crimes of 12 Belgian officials suspected of aiding his father’s assassination in 1961.

Bildquelle: Botschaft der DRC
Patrice Lumumba

Lawyers for Francois Lumumba said on Tuesday that they planned to file the complaint at a Brussels court in October – a week before the Democratic Republic of Congo celebrates 50 years of independence from its former colonial master, Belgium.

‘I want to know how he died. There are many books I can read and everything has been said, but there is no justice,’ said Guy Lumumba, the leader’s youngest son, at a news conference at which Francois was not present.

The complaint will assert that the Belgian government and military officials were involved in transferring Mr Lumumba Snr from captivity in the capital, Léopoldville, to the region of Katanga, and that they failed to prevent him being tortured and killed.

Patrice Lumumba came to power after the Congo won independence from Belgium in 1960. His government was overthrown in a coup led by the young head of the Congolese army, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu.

Mr Lumumba, who was mistrusted by Washington because of his close ties to the Soviet Union, escaped house arrest in January 1961 only to be recaptured, beaten and killed by Mobutu’s soldiers with the assistance of Belgian officers, the legal documents will say.

A Belgian parliamentary investigation in 2001 found that Belgium was ‘morally responsible’ for the murder of Mr Lumumba. Belgium has since officially apologised for its role.

‘Belgium was party to the conflict in Congo at the time,’ said Christophe Marchand, a lawyer for the Lumumba family. ‘A conflict between several sovereign states – Belgium and Congo – which makes this an armed international conflict during which war crimes were committed.’

He declined to disclose the names of the 12 potential defendants, saying only that they were all in Congo at the time of Mr Lumumba’s death. Under the Mobutu regime, the central African country was plagued by corruption.

The Belgian government’s decision to accept an invitation to Congo’s independence day celebrations next Wedneesday has stirred controversy because of tense relations between Brussels and its former colony. King Albert will be the first Belgian monarch to visit the country in 25 years. ‘This is a symbolic moment,’ Mr Marchand added. ‘Fifty years of independence is a good thing but we need to make clear that justice has not yet been done in the murder of Lumumba.'”


(Quelle: The Independent.)