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Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba, first Prime Minister of the independent Republic of Congo, was born on 2 July 1925 in Sancuru, in the northern province of Kasai, the son of an ordinary farmer. His father wished him to become a teacher, and therefore he was sent to a Roman Catholic missionary school wich at that time was almost the only opportunity for Africans to acqire knowledge. At the age of thirteen he moved to a protestant school where he attended a training course for doctor's assistants. Two years later he also left these missionaires, triyng to satisfy his thirst for knowledge trough independent studies. He was strongly attracted by the ideas of the French Enlightement (18th century) to be found in the works of Voltaire and Rousseau. He read books by Hugo and Moliere. Even at that time he wrote poems, at a later date using his poems as a stirring indictment of the Belgian colonial regime.

After attending a postal worker's school, Lumumba worked as a clerk with the local administration, then shortly as the head of a department in a brewery. At that time he began with his political activities. He joihed the ranks of those fighting to liberate his country from the yoke of colonialism. He made speeches, wrote articles, did his utmost to unite and organize the Congolese working people. Soon he was arrested and released. He increasingly realized that it was not possible to fight the colonial power effectively unless tribal strife was overcome. Together with like-minded people he wrote a memorandum in 1957 in which they demanded the country's immediate independence. There was a general storm brewing. After the Second World War, when the world socialist system had emerged and consolidated, the imperialists' all-pervading power was broken, the anticolonial struggle of the national liberation movement experienced an upswing and, of course, did not stop at the African continent. Ghana was the first country of sub-Saharan Africa to win its independence as a nation in March 1957. Therefore, it was not by chance that the first conference of the peoples of this continent was held in Accra, the country's capital on the West African coast, in December of this year. When Lumumba took the floor at that conference he resolutely demanded his country's independence. At the same time he called on Africans to unite "irrespective of the frontiers separating us, irrespective of our ethnic differences, in order to make the African continent free and happy, rescued from insecurity, fear and all colonial rule".

On 10 october of the following year Lumumba founded the Congolese National Movement (MNC). In contrast to other parties it had written the whole country's independence on its banners. Lumumba pointed out that the Congo would not be able to throw off its colonial shackles unless the whole people joined hands. The Belgian colonial power, naturally, did not stand and watch. For them and the transnational corporations the domination over one of the world's regions abounding in raw materials was at stake. When in 1959 the popular revolts and demands for independence became ever more unequivocal in defiance of the colonialists' unbridled rule of terror, Belgium had to modify its policy. Demonstrations and strikes in its colony, which it was no longer able to smash, plus a broad international wave of solidarity forced it to the negotiating table. Irrespective of his renewed arrest the colonial authorities did not succeed in silencing Lumumba. Due to sustained protests they head to release their fiercest and most persistent opponent. During parliamentary elections in May 1960, the MNC, which was under his leadership, became the country's strongest party. Lumumba became the new government's prime minister and following the country's independence on 30 June

Lumumba

1960 took a marked anti-imperialist line. The young republic in the heart of Africa where, in Lumumba's view, political independence was not to be an end in itself but the prerequisite for thorough social and economic changes and which wanted to pursue a non-aligned foreign policy, immediatly brought the domestic and foreign reactionaires into the arena, who, finally, under the guidance of the CIA translated their long-cherished plans into bitter reality. Patrice Lumumba had become the victim of an insidious imperialist plot. The pioneer of African unity died after bestial torture on the night from 17 to 18 January 1961 in Elisabethville at the hands of his murderers. The promising country was turned into a neocolonial state. The ideas of Lumumba, that great patriot and fervent advocate of African unity, however, live in the hearts and minds of his people and the peoples of a whole continent.

 

"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."

From his farewell letter to his wife


Chronology



July 2, 1925: Born in Katako Kombe, Kasai Province, Congo (Zaire). 

1943-1958: Lumumba worked as a nurses assistant, postal clerk, and a volunteer librarian. He served as secretary and later president of the Association for African Government Employees; founded Post Office Employees Club, member of the Comite de Lunion Belgo-Congolaise

1951: Married Pauline Opangu.

Oct. 5, 1958: Founded the National Congolese Movement (Movement National Congolaise-MNC) and became its president. 

Dec. 11, 1958: Lumumba addressed the Pan-African Conference in Accra-Ghana. 

June 23, 1960: Became first prime minister of Congo (Zaire). 

June 30, 1960: Independence of the Republic of Congo (Zaire). 

July 31, 1960: Secession of Katanga declared. 

September 14, 1960: Colonel Mobutu neutralizes political institutions and their leaders. 

October 10: Lumumba is put in guarded residence under ANC and United Nations protection. 

November 27: Lumumba leaves his residence on Leopoldville (Kinshasa) to reach Stanleyville. 

December 1: Lumumba arrested by ANC Mobutu soldiers and taken to Leopoldville (Kinshasa). 

December 3: Lumumba transferred to Camp Hardy in Thysville. 

January 17: Lumumba is transferred to Elizabethville, Katanga. 

January 17, 1961: Death by assassination with two of his comrades; Mpolo and Okito. 

Poems by P.Lumumba

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