Patrice Lumumba was one of the greatest heroes of human history. He stood up not only for freedom for African peoples. He was an example of a leader of the overall human rights struggle in general. The movement of Pan-Africanism in general owe a great debt of gratitude to the late Brother Patrice Lumumba. He lived a short life, but he executed a massive impact in the freedom struggle. Patrice Lumumba was born on July 2, 1925. His father was named François Tolenga Otetshima. François was a farmer. His wife was Julienne Wamato Lomendja. Patrice was born in Onalua in the Congo. He was part of the Tetela ethnic group. His birth name was Élias Okit'Asombo. His original surname means "heir of the cursed" and is derived from the Tetela words okitá/okitɔ́ ('heir, successor') and asombó ('cursed or bewitched people who will die quickly'). He had three brothers (Charles Lokolonga, Émile Kalema, and Louis Onema Pene Lumumba) and one half-brother (Tolenga Jean). Lumumba was raised in a Catholic family. He was educated at a Protestant primary school, a Catholic missionary school, and finally in the government post office training school. He passed the one year course with distinction. Patrice Lumumba could also speak Tetela, French, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. Lumumba worked in Kinshasa it was called Leopoldville back then) and Kisangani (which was called Stanleyville back then) as a postal clerk and as a traveling beer salesman. In 1951, Lumuma married Pauline Opangu. By 1955, Lumumba became the regional head of the Cercles of Stanleyville. He soon joined the Liberty Party of Belgium where he worked on editing and distributing party literature. He studied in Belgium, but he was arrested in 1955 on charges of embezzlement, but he returned the funds. He was released in July 1956 with the helped of the Belgian lawyer named Jules Chrome.
Naturally, Patrice Lumumba was always a political person. He helped to found the MNC or the Mouvement national Conglais in 1958. Lumumba and his team represented the MNC at the All-African Peoples’ Conference in Accra, Ghana during December of 1958. Lumumba wanted to advance Pan-Africanist beliefs. Pan Africanism is the view that all of Africa should be unified socially, economically, and politically as one. The conference was hosted by Pan-African President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah influenced Lumumba, all Africans, black Americans, all members of the black African Diaspora, and all freedom loving peoples of the world. In late October 1959, Lumumba, as leader of the organization, was arrested for inciting an anti-colonial riot in Stanleyville where thirty people were killed. He was sentenced to 69 months in prison. The trial’s start date was on January 18, 1960. This was the first day of a round table conference in Brussels to finalize the future of the Congo. Lumumba was in prison at this time, but the MNC won a huge majority in the December local elections in the Congo. Lumumba was released from jail because of strong pressure from the delegates. He attended the Brussels conference. The conference culminated on January 27 with a declaration of Congolese independence, setting June 30, 1960, as the independence date with national elections from May 11-25, 1960. Lumumba and the MNC won this election and the right to form a government, with the announcement on June 23, 1960 of 34-year-old Lumumba as Congo's first prime minister and Joseph Kasa-Vubu as its president. In accordance with the constitution, on June 24 the new government passed a vote of confidence and was ratified by the Congolese Chamber and Senate.
Independence Day in Congo was celebrated on June 30, 1960 via a ceremony. There were elections held a week before. Many dignitaries attended it like Belgian King Baudouin and the foreign press. The problem was that Baudouin gave a speech where he praised colonialism, praised Leopold II of Belgium, and he ignored the atrocities committed by white imperialists against black Africans in Congo. His speech was very disrespectful and patronizing by calling Congo to receive advice from the Belgians. The President Kasa-Vubu’s speech assured the King of Belgium that they would try hard. The young, eloquent nationalist Lumumba was not scheduled to speak, but he delivered a great, eloquent speech which reminded the audience that the independence of the Congo was not grant magnanimously by Belgium. Patrice Lumumba said the following words in the speech:
“…For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today with Belgium, a friendly country with whom we deal as equal to equal, 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 spoke about the suffering of the Congolese under Belgian colonialism (including of injustice, oppression, and exploitation). Lumumba’s speech was accurate, courageous, and necessary. Days after Congo gained its independence; Lumumba decided to raise the pay of all government employees except for the army. He was a Prime Minister of the Congo then. Many Belgian officers like General Janssens refused to accept their position after independence, so they rebelled and caused the 1960 munity. The rebellion spread all over the Congo and Europeans fled the country. The province of Katanga declared its independence under the regional premier Moise Tshombe on July 11, 1960. Tshombe was a traitor to black people as he not only allied with the Belgian government, but with mining companies like Union Miniere. The unrest continued even when UN troops came about. Lumumba sought Soviet aid via arms, food, medical supplies, trucks, and planes help move troops to Katanga. This action alarmed his colleagues and President Joseph Kasa-Vubu, who wanted a more moderate political approach.
On September 1960, the President dismissed Lumumba illegally from the government. Lumumba immediately protested the legality of the President’s actions. Congo is the third largest nation in Africa and it has rich, natural resources. Also, the Western establishment wanted to control Congolese resources like uranium, cobalt, diamonds, and rubber. Two of the companies that shaped the history of Congo were the Union Miniere de Haut-Katanga founded in 1906 (mining copper, uranium, cobalt, etc.) and the Societe Internationale Forestiere et Miniere du Congo (Forminiere) which started mining diamonds in the Congo in 1907. By 1950, the Rockefeller Group became a major shareholder of Union Minier by buying into one of Miniere’s subsidiaries, Tanganyika Concessions. This opened the door for American interests in Union Miniere. So, Lumumba wanted Congo to have economic liberation and use the resources of the Republic of the Congo to improve the general welfare of his people. The West didn’t want that. According to Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon, President Eisenhower and the National Security Council determined in 1960 that Lumumba was a "very difficult if not impossible man to deal with, and was dangerous to the peace and safety of the world." To Under Secretary of State Douglas Dillon, President Eisenhower and the National Security Council determined in 1960 that Lumumba was a "very difficult if not impossible man to deal with, and was dangerous to the peace and safety of the world." This is why the Western imperialists supported Tshombe and his Katanga state. Many reactionaries like G. Edward Griffith falsely labeled Lumumba a Communist when he was a nationalist. Also, it has been found that Kasa-Vubu was on the CIA payroll. Lumumba took his case of being illegally dismissed by the President to the Congolese legislature where both houses of Parliament voted to reinstate him as Prime Minister. The CIA viewed Lumumba as a threat, because of his great leadership qualities, resistance to Western imperial aims, and his great oratory ability. On September 14, 1960, the CIA-backed Colonel Joseph Mobutu used a coup d’etat to stop both Lumumba and Kasa-Vubu. Lumumba was placed under house arrest at the Prime Minister’s residence with UN troops positioned around the house. Nevertheless, Lumumba decided to rouse his supporters in Haut. Smuggled out of his residence at night, he escaped to Stanleyville, where his intention apparently was to set up his own government and army.
Mobutu’s loyal troops pursued Lumumba and he was captured at Port Francqui on December 1, 1960. He was flown to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) in ropes not handcuffs. Mobutu claimed that Lumumba would be tried for inciting the army to rebellion and other crimes. United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld made an appeal to Kasa-Vubu asking that Lumumba be treated according to due process of law. The USSR denounced Hammarskjöld and the West as responsible for Lumumba's arrest and demanded his release. The UN Security Council was called into session on December 7, 1960. The UN considered the Soviet’s demands (of making Lumumba the head of the Congo government, the dismantling of Mobutu’s forces, and the evacuation immediately of Belgians from the Congo). Hammarskjöld, answering Soviet attacks against his Congo operations, said that if the UN forces were withdrawn from the Congo "I fear everything will crumble." The pro-Lumumba resolutions were defeated on December 14, 1960 by a vote of 8-2. On the same day, a Western resolution that would have given Hammarskjöld increased powers to deal with the Congo situation was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Lumumba was sent to the Thysviell military barracks Camp Hardy on December 3, 1960. This was about 100 miles from Kinshasa. He was sent to the state of Katanga because of security risks. He was forcibly restrained on the flight to Elizabethville (now Lubumbashi) on January 17, 1961. On arrival, Lumumba was under arrest to Brouwez House where he was brutally beaten and tortured by Katangan and Belgian officers, President Tshombe and his cabinet debated on what to do with Lumumba. Patrice Lumumba was driven to an isolated spot where tree firing squads had been assembled. Dag Hammarskjöld would die in a plan crash while he was trying to resolve the crisis in the Congo.
The Belgian Commission has found that the execution was carried out by Katanga's authorities. It reported that President Tshombe and two other ministers were present with four Belgian officers under the command of Katangan authorities. Lumumba and two ministers from his newly formed independent government (and who had also been tortured), Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, were lined up against a tree and shot one at a time. He was killed on January 17, 1961. The Belgians and their counterparts wanted to get rid of the bodies. So, their bodies were dug up, dismembered, and dissolved in sulfuric acid, with the bones ground and scattered. This is why I’m against European imperialism and puppet regimes. The announcement of his death caused protests in Belgrade, London, and in New York City.
RIP Brother Patrice Lumumba
Life continues. I have learned many lessons in my life. In my life, I will never quit and I will keep on going. I love my black American culture and I love Africa too. I respect the progressive efforts of the working class who are fighting against imperialism, sexism, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and other injustices. We won't stop, because we can't stop. We won't stop until white racist supremacy is gone. We won't stop until black people are free. We won't stoop until goodness and justice is spread all over the world. We want humanity to have justice.
Sister Jessica Desvarieux is absolutely right to mention about large luxury hotels being built in Haiti, while lax health care and other infrastructure problems exist. Haiti has been a victim of Western imperial oppression for centuries. After Haiti received its rightful independence at 1804, the French illegally forced the Haitians to pay to them what they deem "reparations." That is the height of absurdity and disrespect. American forces occupied Haiti during the early 20th century (from 1915 to 1934). Many Haitian dictators have been aided and funded by the West. The neoliberal Martelly is President. UN forces have been caught abusing the Haitian people in a myriad of ways. Bill Clinton is an establishment person with an neoliberal agenda (he wants solely select private corporate tools to dominate the reconstruction effort in Haiti. We all know about Clinton's errors from his support to the repeal of Glass Steagall to his policies that grew the prison industrial complex). NGOs and USAID dominate the economic system of Haiti (especially involving its imports and exports of goods and services). That ought to change. Also, more progressive political parties in Haiti like Fanmi Lavalas has been suppressed of their right to express themselves. The Haitian nation needs real compensation (and Haiti should be rebuilt comprehensively itself based on human need) and they need to be truly independent. Ted Cruz is much more honest in advancing his agenda (because many GOP candidates want to sugarcoat what they really stand for). His agenda is one that I adamantly disagree with. He combined foreign policy militarist rhetoric with other reactionary policies domestically. I can never ally with his extremist ideological views. He has a very small chance of winning the Republican nomination. The Republican establishment definitely doesn’t want him to win the nomination. The corporate 2 party system has exploited divisions and sought power at the expense of the interests of working people, the poor, minorities, etc. At the end of the day, the people want solutions and justice.
This outcome was tragic, but not surprising. It is obvious that the pro-one percent, neoliberal extremist Rahm Emanuel won reelection as mayor (with minor support because voter turnout has been very low). That is the shame. The Democrats have been pacified not only by neoliberal propaganda, but by cowardice. Rahm has caused dozens of schools to close and he has aided overtly the interests of big corporations and the rest of the oligarchy in Chicago. That is a fact. Emanuel has been a supporter of the Clinton administration and he's an ally of the Obama administration. Emanuel has overseen stop and frisk and other anti-civil liberty policies in Chicago. Rahm has cut services in Chicago while he has aided wealthy investors who desire more privatization and gentrification (at the expense of the lives of the people). The political neoliberal establishment (including the black bourgeoisie crowd) has supported the anti-liberty Rahm Emanuel. The Democrat Rahm Emanuel proves that many Democrats (not just many Republicans) can be reactionaries. The big banks, Bobby Rush, President Barack Obama, and other corporate privatizers endorsed Rahm Emanuel. Rahm has stonewalled the investigations on police torture and atrocities, he deliberately shortened red light camera intervals (to raise revenues for his allies), and he has closed plus privatized more than 50 public schools. The closed schools are found almost exclusively in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Rahm Emanuel has been responsible for privatization, gentrification, austerity, etc. in the city of Chicago. The political elites (which fund Rahm) want this outcome. They want the same continuation of the oppression of black people, the working poor, and other people in the city. We don’t need the system of high stakes testing. We need real solutions. Wealthy investors and corporations have received tax cuts while the pensions of teachers including public employees have been cut.