On 5 July 1960, only ﬁve days after the Congo’s independence, the commanding general of the newly formed Congolese national army, Emile Janssens(He described himself as the “Little Maniac” (Petit Maniaque), called a meeting with his non-commissioned oﬃcers in Leopoldville to discuss signs of indiscipline he had detected among his African soldiers. Born in Belgium in 1902, Janssens was a blunt and outspoken man, unaccustomed to diluting his words with tact or diplomacy, and he seemed to possess an iron-clad hold on the Congo’s emerging military establishment. The general strode into the room, with nearly 200 non-coms standing stiﬄy at attention, walked to the blackboard and wrote AFTER INDEPENDENCE =BEFORE INDEPENDENCE. That afternoon, the ﬁrst instance of outright disobedience against European oﬃcers began, and by the evening a full-scale mutiny was on. In the subsequent weeks, the Congo spiralled out of control, reaching a nadir at the end of the year with the arrest and then murder of the country’s ﬁrst African prime minister, Patrice Lumumba.
The remains of former Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba arrived on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at the Palais de la Nation located in the commune of Gombe in Kinshasa.
Arrived in the city of Kinshasa on Wednesday June 22 from Belgium, the remains of PE Lumumba was buried at Place Échangeur, this Thursday June 30, on the occasion of the celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the independence of the DR Congo.
Several personalities are already present at the Palais de la Nation, like Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, the presidents of two chambers of Parliament and the president of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.
The presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo, respectively Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and Denis Sassou-Nguesso, arrived this Thursday, June 30, 2022 at Place Échangeur in the commune of Limete in Kinshasa.
On site, the two Heads of State will take part in the last tribute ceremony in honour of Patrice Emery Lumumba, first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and national hero.
Several personalities from the country are present at Place Échangeur, in particular the presidents of two chambers of Parliament, Modeste Bahati and Christophe Mboso.
The funeral of Patrice-Emery Lumumba continued in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This Wednesday, June 29, 2022, it was around the Primature were the remains of the very first Prime Minister of Congo-Kinshasa was first put.
It was a moment of meditation filled with emotion, in which several Congolese personalities took part, in particular the ex-prime ministers who are still alive, members of the government, ambassadors accredited to Kinshasa and other distinguished guests.
First of all, the coffin carrying the relic of Lumumba entered the “Garden of the first” at the Primature at 5 p.m. local time. And followed, the hymns, the prayers of the religious denominations and the sketch of the pupils of the French school, dressed in white, who tried to revive the famous speech of June 30, 1960, by Lumumba.
This moment was also marked by the testimonies of Mabi Mulumba and Bruno, former prime ministers, but also that of Joseph Okito, grandson of Joseph Okito, one of the companions of the Sankuru child, who almost shed a few tears in talking about his grandfather.
The other highlight of these tributes to the Prime Minister is the unveiling, by the Prime Minister, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, of a plaque at the bottom of the statue of Lumumba repeating one of his quotes: “Without dignity, there is no freedom. Without justice, there is no dignity. Without independence, there are no free men”.
Long before, the head of government said of the “Warriors” retraced the history of Patrice-Emery Lumumba, while highlighting his qualities and prowess. “Moved”, he affirmed that the ex-prime minister is irreplaceable.
” Dear Patrice, my situation is unique, I am troubled to be the one occupying your chair at this precise moment when you return to the Prime Minister. Indeed, we are succeeding Lumumba, but we are not replacing him. I am moved by to take responsibility for receiving your remains, 61 years after your martyrdom ,” said Sama Lukonde.
In addition, he said he was proud to make today the junction between the Lumumba government, the very first in the DRC, and the one he leads. Sama Lukonde took this opportunity to urge the members of his government to live up to the greatness of the spirit and ideology of Lumumba, but also the greatness of the Congo.
The Congolese National Hero, Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the former Belgian Congo, led his country to independence. In a speech on Independence Day (June 30, 1960), Lumumba denounced the oppression and humiliation of colonial rule in the presence of Belgium’s King Baudouin. The king, scandalised, nearly left Léopoldville (modern day Kinshasa), but he was persuaded to stay for the lunch that followed the ceremony. Lumumba, for his part, was persuaded to give a second speech at the lunch, in which he attempted to make amends, crediting Belgium and its monarchy for its positive contributions to Congo. However, the damage had been done.
Lumumba’s speech had not been included in the program for the day’s events, a program negotiated by representatives of Congo and Belgium. The heads of state, King Baudouin of Belgium and President Joseph Kasavubu of Congo, were to exchange speeches. In Lumumba’s view, Kasavubu was a figure head chief of state, who owed his post to support from Lumumba and his coalition. Kasavubu, he believed, should have cleared his speech with the prime minister. Moreover, Lumumba apparently feared that Kasavubu would fail to say some things that needed to be said.
Lumumba’s fiery speech was prepared beforehand, so it was not a reaction or reply to what the previous speakers had said. However, he must have known what to expect from the Belgian ruler and from his political rival Kasavubu. It is too simple to suggest that without Lumumba’s speech, Congo’s decolonisation might have been more successful. The speech certainly seemed to have provided ammunition for those who opposed Lumumba and his vision of a strong, independent Congo.
The Congo crisis of 1960 and thereafter was a consequence of failed decolonisation. The Belgian Congo came into existence in 1908 in response to the international scandal provoked by the massive violence of the Congo Free State (1885–1908). Under Belgian rule, considerable economic development had taken place, but within a highly paternalistic framework. Africans were confined to the lowest ranks of the administration and the economy. Opposition to Belgian rule simmered throughout the colonial era and took a variety of forms, including armed resistance to the imposition of colonial rule, rural revolts, and urban strikes. Religious movements, notably the church created by Simon Kimbangu, provided an alternative channel for resistance to colonialism.
Patrice Lumumba was born in Onalua, a village in Katako Kombe territory, in the north-eastern corner of the province of Kasai. He was a member of the Tetela ethnic group, which forms the majority in Katako-Kombe territory and in Sankuru district but is outnumbered within Kasai by the Luba Kasai ethnic community. After attending Protestant and Catholic mission schools in his home area, Lumumba went to work in Maniema and then to Stanleyville (now Kisangani), where he found a job in the post office. He was sent to Léopoldville to the postal school, from which he obtained a diploma. With that certificate, heat last had the right to claim the status of évolué, someone who has “evolved” to the point of being able to live and work in the new world created by colonialism. Lumumba returned to Stanleyville, where he became an accountant in the post office. There he continued to contribute to the Congolese press.
At Stanleyville, Lumumba was recruited to work as a research assistant on a UN educational, scientific and cultural organisation project studying the urbanisation of Stanleyville. He became a leader of the évolués of Stanleyville. At one point, in 1953, he occupied seven posts in ethnic, professional, and other associations. Under his leadership, the Association of Évolués of Stanleyville became a political movement, defending the interests of its members, notably with respect to housing. As president of the association in 1954, he was able to meet the minister of colonies, Auguste Buisseret, who was promoting lay schools (not run by missions). Two years later, he met King Baudouin, who was visiting the capital of the province of Orientale.
Lumumba was invited with others to make a study tour of Belgium under the auspices of Buisseret. On his return he was arrested on a charge of embezzlement from the post office. He was convicted one year later, and after various reductions of sentence, he was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment and a fine. When Lumumba was freed from prison, he moved to Léopoldville, the capital, and joined the MNC, the . He then became president of the MNC, which soon split. His faction, the MNC-Lumumba, was centralist in orientation. The other faction, the MNC-Kalonji, was federalist and became a de facto ethnic party of the Luba-Kasai.(Centralists favoured a strong central government, while federalists favoured granting important powers to the provincial governments.) In December 1958 Lumumba attended the First All-African People’s Conference in Accra, Ghana, where he met nationalists from across the African continent and was made a member of the permanent organisation set up by the conference. From this point on, his outlook and vocabulary were coloured by Pan- Africanist goals.
Lumumba’s second experience of colonial justice came at the end of 1959. A rally of the MNC-Lumumba in Stanleyville led to rioting and a number of deaths. Lumumba was briefly imprisoned on charges of inciting the riot but was set free in time to attend a roundtable of Congolese leaders held in Brussels in January of 1960. Reportedly, the other political leaders insisted on his release. Lumumba’s party received more votes than any other in the elections of May 1960. The Belgians tried to find an alternative but failed, and they were obliged to invite Lumumba to form a government.
Five days after independence, the army mutinied against its European officers. In response, the Lumumba government was obliged to Africanise the officer corps. From July 6 to July 9, the mutiny spread to Equateur and Katanga provinces, and Belgium sent in paratroopers, allegedly to protect its citizens. Moise Tshombe declared Katanga independent, whereupon Lumumba and Kasavubu requested UN military assistance in the face of Belgian aggression and Katanga secession. On July 12 the UN Security Council called for Belgian withdrawal and authorised UN intervention.
Lumumba’s speech at the ceremony celebrating Congolese independence contrasted sharply with the contributions of King Baudouin and President Kasavubu. It was reported that Lumumba was writing while the king and the president were speaking, giving the impression that he composed his speech on the spot. In fact, the speech was written several days before and was made available in mimeographed form by the prime minister’s office. In delivering the speech, Lumumba made several changes from the prepared text. The speech as delivered was recorded, broadcast, and subsequently transcribed. Three versions of the speech survive.
The Independence Day ceremony was held in the Palais de la nation (Palace of the Nation), built as the residence of the governor-general of the Belgian Congo. Following the speeches of Belgium’s King Baudouin and Congo’s president, Joseph Kasavubu, Lumumba took the microphone after he was introduced by the president of the lower house of parliament, Joseph Kasongo of the MNC-Lumumba. Lumumba spoke as prime minister, head of the Council of Ministers. He did not address himself to King Baudouin or to the president of the republic, Kasavubu. Instead, he addressed the Congolese population. He saluted them because this day marked their triumph. They had struggled for independence and now they had achieved it, he said.
There is a slight shift in the third paragraph, in that Lumumba addresses his “friends”—perhaps not all the Congolese but all of those who “have fought unceasingly at our side”—and gives them the task of passing on to their children and grandchildren the true meaning of this date of independence, a meaning that he then defines. The day does not mark merely a transfer of sovereignty but, in fact, the culmination of the people’s struggle for independence.
Patrice Lumumba’s Speech at the Proclamation of Congolese Independence
Congolese men and women: As combatants for independence who today are victorious, I salute you in the name of the Congolese government.
I ask all my friends, all of you who have fought unceasingly at our side, to make this thirtieth of June,1960, an illustrious date that will be indelibly engraved upon your hearts, a date whose meaning you will teach your children with pride, so that they in turn will tell their children and their children’s children the glorious story of our struggle for freedom.
For though this independence of the Congo is today being proclaimed in a spirit of accord with Belgium, a friendly country with which we are dealing as one equal with another, no Congolese worthy of the name can ever forget that we fought to win it a fight waged each and every day, a passionate and idealistic fight, a fight in which there was not one effort, not one privation, not one suffering, not one drop of blood that we ever spared ourselves. We are proud of this struggle amid tears, fire, and blood, down to our very heart of hearts, for it was a noble and just struggle, an indispensable struggle if we were to put an end to the humiliating slavery that had been forced upon us.
The wounds that are the evidence of the fate we endured for eighty years under a colonialist regime are still too fresh and painful for us to be able to erase them from our memory. Back-breaking work has been exacted from us, in return for wages that did not allow us to satisfy our hunger, or to decently clothe or house ourselves, or to raise our children as creatures very dear to us.
We have been the victims of ironic taunts, of insults, of blows that we were forced to endure morning, noon, and night because we were blacks. Who can forget that a black was addressed in the familiar form, not because he was a friend, certainly, but because the polite form of address was to be used only for whites?
We have had our lands despoiled under the terms of what was supposedly the law of the land but was only a recognition of the right of the strongest. We have known that the law was quite different for whites and blacks; it was most accommodating for the former, and cruel and inhuman for the latter.
We have known the atrocious sufferings of those banished to remote regions because of their political opinions or religious beliefs; exiles in their own country, their fate was truly worse than death. We have known that there were magnificent mansions for whites in the cities and ramshackle straw hovels for blacks, that a black was never allowed into the so-called European movie theatres or restaurants or stores; that a black travelled in the hold of boats below the feet of the white in his deluxe cabin.
Who can forget, finally, the burst of rifle fire in which so many of our brothers perished, the cells into which the authorities threw those who no longer were willing to submit to a rule where justice mean to oppression and exploitation? We have grievously suffered all this, my brothers. But we who have been chosen to govern our beloved country by the vote of your elected representatives, we whose bodies and souls have suffered from colonialist oppression, loudly proclaim: all this is over and done with now. The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed and our country is now in the hands of its own children.
We are going to begin another struggle together, my brothers, my sisters, a sublime struggle that will bring our country peace, prosperity, and grandeur. We are going to institute social justice together and ensure everyone just remuneration for his labor. We are going to show the world what the black man can do when, he works in freedom, and we are going to make the Congo the focal point for the development of all of Africa.
We are going to see to it that the soil of our country really benefits its children. We are going to review all the old laws and make new ones that will be just and noble.
We are going to put an end to the suppression of free thought and see to it that all citizens enjoy to the fullest all the fundamental freedoms laid down in the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
We are going to do away with any and every sort of discrimination and give each one the rightful place that his human dignity, his labor, and his devotion to the country will have earned him.
We are going to bring peace to the country, not the peace of rifles and bayonets, but the peace that comes from men’s hearts and their good will. And in order to achieve all this, dear compatriots, rest assured that we will be able to count not only on our tremendous strength and our immense riches, but also on the assistance of many foreign countries, whose collaboration we will always accept if it is sincere and does not seek to force any policy of any sort whatsoever on us.
In this regard, Belgium has finally realized what direction history was moving in and has not attempted to oppose our independence. She is ready to grantus her aid and her friendship, and a treaty to this effect has just been signed between our two equal and independent countries. I am certain that this cooperation will be beneficial to both countries. We for our part, though we shall continue to be vigilant, will respect all commitments freely made.
Thus the new Congo, our beloved republic that my government is going to create, will be a rich, free, and prosperous country, with regard to both its domestic relations and its foreign relations. But in order for us to reach this goal without delay, I ask all of you, Congolese legislators and citizens alike, to aid me with all the strength at your command.
I ask all of you to forget the trivial quarrels that are draining our strength and threaten to earn us the contempt of those in other countries.
I ask the parliamentary minority to aid my government by constructive opposition and to stay strictly within legal and democratic paths.
I ask all of you not to shrink from making any sacrifice necessary to ensure the success of our great undertaking.
I ask you, finally, to respect unconditionally the life and property of your fellow citizens and foreigners who have settled in our country. If the behaviour of these foreigners leaves something to be desired, our justice will be swift and they will be expelled from the territory of the republic; if, on the other hand, they conduct themselves properly, they must be left in peace, for they too will be working for the prosperity of our country.
The independence of the Congo represents a decisive step toward the liberation of the entire African continent.
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, my dear compatriots, my black brothers, my brothers in the struggle, that is what I wanted to say to you in the name of the government on this magnificent day of our complete and sovereign independence.
Our strong, national, popular government will be the salvation of this country. I invite all Congolese citizens, men, women, and children, to set to work to create a prosperous national economy that will be the crowning proof of our economic independence.
Honour to those who fought for national freedom! Long live independence and African unity! Long live the independent and sovereign Congo!
Lumumba was addressing those present in the Palace of the Nation in Kinshasa, on Independence Day. The audience included the new political class of the Republic of Congo (deputies, senators, and ministers) but also key representatives of the former colonial power, including King Baudouin. Lumumba’s speech is sometimes interpreted as a response to the paternalistic speech of King Baudouin. This cannot be literally true, since Lumumba prepared his speech and had it duplicated beforehand, when he had not yet heard what the king had to say. Clearly however, he could anticipate a paternalistic speech that glossed over the suffering of the Congolese.
Lumumba was also speaking to his rival, Joseph Kasavubu, elected president of Congo with the support of the deputies of the MNC-Lumumba. Lumumba considered Kasavubu to be a figurehead like a European constitutional monarch, and according to his adviser, Thomas Kanza, he was furious that the president had not consulted with the prime minister or even shared his text before delivering it.
Lumumba likewise was addressing the citizens of the vast former colony. His speech was recorded and broadcast over the radio. Finally, Lumumba clearly was speaking to future generations of Congolese. As he declared, June 30,1960, must be “a date whose meaning you will teach your children with pride, so that they in turn will tell their children and their children’s children the glorious story of our struggle for independence.”
The army mutinied largely because Belgium had refused to Africanise the officer corps. In response to the mutiny, Belgium sent in troops, ostensibly to protect Belgian lives. Many Congolese saw this action as aggression and perhaps even an attempt by Belgium to reoccupy its former colony. The United States soon became involved, seeing in Lumumba an African Fidel Castro (the Communist leader of Cuba) to be eliminated. The newly independent African countries divided over the Congo question and the person of Lumumba. The friends of Lumumba, led by Nkrumah of Ghana, Sékou Touré of Guinea, and others, formed the so-called Casablanca Group, whereas the “moderates” of the Monrovia Group supported Kasavubu and Tshombe. The split persisted for many years. Lumumba’s speech had an enormous impact within Congo and beyond. Congolese tell of memorising the speech and reciting it among friends. It is considered a founding text of Pan-Africanism.
Lumumba’s speech, however “shocking,” was not the sole or even the principal cause of the Congo crisis of 1960. The principal cause was Belgian policy, which remained “no elites, no problems” until very late in the day. Once Belgian officials had decided that independence was inevitable, they opted for a neo-colonial policy that would have permitted the Belgian companies and the Catholic Church (two of the three pillars of the colonial regime) to continue to operate as before. Nationalisation of the economy and indigenisation of the Church continued to be issues into the 1960s and 1970s.
In August, Albert Kalonji led South Kasai into secession. Lumumba sent the national army into the breakaway province, where it carried out massacres of civilians. Concerned that the UN force sent to help restore order was not helping to crush the secessionists, Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance. The U.S. government saw the Soviet activity as a manoeuvre to spread Communist influence in central Africa. Kasavubu, upset by the Soviet arrival, dismissed Lumumba. Lumumba declared Kasavubu deposed. Both Lumumba and Kasavubu then ordered Joseph Mobutu, army chief of staff, to arrest the other. On September 14, 1960, Mobutu took control in a coup sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency. The new regime placed Lumumba under house arrest for the second time and kept Kasavubu as president. In November1960 Deputy Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga went to Stanleyville to establish a rival national government. Lumumba, under house arrest, left to join Gizenga but was arrested and imprisoned. In January 1961 Lumumba was transferred to Katanga, where, on January 17, he was executed by firing squad.
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