BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Patrice Lumumba was born to father Francois Tolenga Otetshima and mother Julienne Wamato Lomendja, in Onalua in the Katakokombe region of the Kasai province of the Belgium Congo.
He was raised in a Catholic family, but was educated at a protestant primary school and a Catholic missionary school, and eventually the government’s post office training school. Lumumba spoke five languages, which included French, Swahili, Lingala, Tetela and Tshiluba.
Lumumba would work as postal clerk and traveling beer salesman in Leopoldville and Stanleyville now (Kinshasa and Kisangani).
In 1955, Lumumba would go on to become regional head of the Cercles of Stanleyville and joined the Liberal Party of Belgium.
He would be arrested on embezzlement charges, during a three week study tour in Belgium. His two-year sentence was commuted to one year, after it was confirmed by a Belgian lawyer, that Lumumba had returned the funds.
After his release, Lumumba would help fund the political party, Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) in 1958.
On October 1959, as leader of the organization, Lumumba would be arrested, charged with inciting an anti-colonial riot in Stanleyville, (thirty people were killed in the riot).
He was sentenced to 69 months in prison. The start of the trial on January 18, 1960 was the first day of the round-table conference in Brussels to finalize the future of the Congo.
The MNC won a majority in the December local elections in the Congo, despite Lumumba being in prison.
As a result of pressure from delegates, who were upset over Lumumba’s trial, he was released and allowed to attend the Brussels Conference.
The Conference would culminate on the 27th of January, with declaration of Congolese independence set for june 30, 1960. National elections would be held from may 11-25 1960. Lumumba and the MNC won the election and right to form a government.
Patrice Lumumba’s Congo Independence speech on June 30th 1960:
“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.”
In September the president dismissed Prime minister Lumumba from government.
In retaliation Lumumba declared the newly appointed Prime Minister deposed and he won a vote of confidence from the Congolese senate.
On September 14 a coup d’etat organized by Colonial Joseph Mobutu deposed Lumumba.
Lumumba would be placed under house arrest at the Prime Minister’s residence, with United Nations troops positioned outside the house. Nonetheless he was able to be smuggled out of the Prime Minister’s residence, where he escaped to Stanleyville, where he planned to set up his new government and army.
On December 1, 1960 Lumumba would be captured in Port Francqui, by troops loyal to Mobutu. Mobutu claimed Lumumba would be tried for inciting the army to rebellion and other crimes.
The United Nations secretary General Dag Hammarskjold made an appeal to the Congo government, asking for Lumumba to be given his due process.
The Soviet Union denounced Hammarskjold and western powers as being responsible for the coup d’etat that deposed Lumumba and his eventually arrest.
On January 17, 1961 Lumumba was forcibly restrained on a flight to Elizabethville, now (Lubumbashi) , once he arrived at Elizabethville, Lumumba would be brutally beaten, tortured and eventually executed by a firing squad.
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