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Patrice Lumumba : Assassinated Leader January 22, 2016

Posted by wmmbb in Africa.
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There was a time when the Congo dominated the news when the country gained independence in 1960. The assassination of the first elected prime minister, Patice  Lumumba always seemed puzzling.

Wikipedia provides a pen portrait:

Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese independence leader and the first democratically elected leader of the Congo. As founder and leader of the mainstream Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) party, Lumumba played an important role in campaigning for independence from Belgium.

Within twelve weeks of Congolese independence in 1960, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis following his attempt to solicit support from theSoviet Union against Katangan secessionists. This led to growing differences with PresidentJoseph Kasa-Vubu and chief-of-staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu as well as foreign opposition from the United States and Belgium. Lumumba was subsequently imprisoned by state authorities under Mobutu and executed by firing squad under the command of the Katangan authorities. The United Nations, which he had asked to come to the Congo, did not intervene to save him. Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom have all been accused of involvement in Lumumba’s death.

He was murdered 55 years ago. On the 50th anniversary of his The Guardian suggested the explanation:

For 126 years, the US and Belgium have played key roles in shaping Congo’s destiny. In April 1884, seven months before the Berlin Congress, the US became the first country in the world to recognise the claims of King Leopold II of the Belgians to the territories of the Congo Basin.

When the atrocities related to brutal economic exploitation in Leopold’s Congo Free State resulted in millions of fatalities, the US joined other world powers to force Belgium to take over the country as a regular colony. And it was during the colonial period that the US acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo, following its use of the uranium from Congolese mines to manufacture the first atomic weapons, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

With the outbreak of the cold war, it was inevitable that the US and its western allies would not be prepared to let Africans have effective control over strategic raw materials, lest these fall in the hands of their enemies in the Soviet camp. It is in this regard that Patrice Lumumba’s determination to achieve genuine independence and to have full control over Congo’s resources in order to utilise them to improve the living conditions of our people was perceived as a threat to western interests. To fight him, the US and Belgium used all the tools and resources at their disposal, including the United Nations secretariat, under Dag Hammarskjöld and Ralph Bunche, to buy the support of Lumumba’s Congolese rivals , and hired killers.

In Congo, Lumumba’s assassination is rightly viewed as the country’s original sin. Coming less than seven months after independence (on 30 June, 1960), it was a stumbling block to the ideals of national unity, economic independence and pan-African solidarity that Lumumba had championed, as well as a shattering blow to the hopes of millions of Congolese for freedom and material prosperity.

The assassination took place at a time when the country had fallen under four separate governments: the central government in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville); a rival central government by Lumumba’s followers in Kisangani (then Stanleyville); and the secessionist regimes in the mineral-rich provinces of Katanga and South Kasai. Since Lumumba’s physical elimination had removed what the west saw as the major threat to their interests in the Congo, internationally-led efforts were undertaken to restore the authority of the moderate and pro-western regime in Kinshasa over the entire country. These resulted in ending the Lumumbist regime in Kisangani in August 1961, the secession of South Kasai in September 1962, and the Katanga secession in January 1963.

This story might be worth recalling when people argue that Climate Change is a plot to distribute wealth to the Third World.

Democracy Now reported the story on the 50th Anniversary of Patrice Lumumba’s murder:

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