Black Ancestors : Patrice Emery Lumumba

Discussion in 'Honoring Black Ancestors' started by Chinelo, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. Chinelo

    Chinelo Third Eye Is Always Open MEMBER

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    http://www.africawithin.com/lumumba/historical_bio.htm


    Patrice Emery Lumumba
    b. July 2, 1925, Onalua, Belgian Congo [now Congo (Kinshasa)]
    d. January 1961, Katanga province

    African nationalist leader, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (June-September 1960). Forced out of office during a political crisis, he was assassinated a short time later.

    Lumumba was born in the village of Onalua in Kasai province, Belgian Congo. He was a member of the small Batetela tribe, a fact that was to become significant in his later political life. His two principal rivals, Moise Tshombe, who led the breakaway of the Katanga province, and Joseph Kasavubu, who later became the nation's president, both came from large, powerful tribes from which they derived their major support, giving their political movements a regional character. In contrast, Lumumba's movement emphasized its all-Congolese nature.

    After attending a Protestant mission school, Lumumba went to work in Kindu-Port-Empain, where he became active in the club of the évolués (educated Africans). He began to write essays and poems for Congolese journals. Lumumba next moved to Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) to become a postal clerk and went on to become an accountant in the post office in Stanleyville (now Kisangani). There he continued to contribute to the Congolese press.

    In 1955 Lumumba became regional president of a purely Congolese trade union of government employees that was not affiliated, as were other unions, to either of the two Belgian trade-union federations (socialist and Roman Catholic). He also became active in the Belgian Liberal Party in the Congo. Although conservative in many ways, the party was not linked to either of the trade-union federations, which were hostile to it. In 1956 Lumumba was invited with others to make a study tour of Belgium under the auspices of the Minister of Colonies. On his return he was arrested on a charge of embezzlement from the post office. He was convicted and condemned one year later, after various reductions of sentence, to 12 months' imprisonment and a fine.

    When Lumumba got out of prison, he grew even more active in politics. In October 1958 he founded the Congolese National Movement (Mouvement National Congolais; MNC), the first nationwide Congolese political party. In December he 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 organization set up by the conference. His outlook and terminology, inspired by pan-African goals, now took on the tenor of militant nationalism.

    In 1959 the Belgian government announced a program intended to lead in five years to independence, starting with local elections in December 1959. The nationalists regarded this program as a scheme to install puppets before independence and announced a boycott of the elections. The Belgian authorities responded with repression. On October 30 there was a clash in Stanleyville that resulted in 30 deaths. Lumumba was imprisoned on a charge of inciting to riot.




     
  2. Chinelo

    Chinelo Third Eye Is Always Open MEMBER

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    The MNC decided to shift tactics, entered the elections, and won a sweeping victory in Stanleyville (90 percent of the votes). In January 1960 the Belgian government convened a Round Table Conference in Brussels of all Congolese parties to discuss political change, but the MNC refused to participate without Lumumba. Lumumba was thereupon released from prison and flown to Brussels. The conference agreed on a date for independence, June 30, with national elections in May. Although there was a multiplicity of parties, the MNC came out far ahead in the elections, and Lumumba emerged as the leading nationalist politician of the Congo. Maneuvers to prevent his assumption of authority failed, and he was asked to form the first government, which he succeeded in doing on June 23, 1960.

    A few days after independence, some units of the army rebelled, largely because of objections to their Belgian commander. In the confusion, the mineral-rich province of Katanga proclaimed secession. Belgium sent in troops, ostensibly to protect Belgian nationals in the disorder. But the Belgian troops landed principally in Katanga, where they sustained the secessionist regime of Moise Tshombe.

    The Congo appealed to the United Nations to expel the Belgians and help them restore internal order. As prime minister, Lumumba did what little he could to redress the situation. His army was an uncertain instrument of power, his civilian administration untrained and untried; the United Nations forces (whose presence he had requested) were condescending and assertive, and the political alliances underlying his regime very shaky. The Belgian troops did not evacuate, and the Katanga secession continued.

    Since the United Nations forces refused to help suppress the Katangese revolt, Lumumba appealed to the Soviet Union for planes to assist in transporting his troops to Katanga. He asked the independent African states to meet in Léopoldville in August to unite their efforts behind him. His moves alarmed many, particularly the Western powers and the supporters of President Kasavubu, who pursued a moderate course in the coalition government and favoured some local autonomy in the provinces.

    On September 5 President Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba. The legalities of the move were immediately contested by Lumumba. There were thus two groups now claiming to be the legal central government. On September 14 power was seized by the Congolese army leader Colonel Joseph Mobutu (president of Zaire as Mobutu Sese Seko), who later reached a working agreement with Kasavubu. In October the General Assembly of the United Nations recognized the credentials of Kasavubu's government. The independent African states split sharply over the issue.

    In November Lumumba sought to travel from Leopoldville, where the United Nations had provided him with provisory protection, to Stanleyville, where his supporters had control. With the active complicity of foreign intelligence sources, Joseph Mobutu sent his soldiers after Lumumba. He was caught after several days of pursuit and spent three months in prison, while his adversaries were trying in vain to consolidate their power. Finally, aware that an imprisoned Lumumba was more dangerous than a dead Prime Minister, he was delivered on January 17, 1961, to the Katanga secessionist regime, where he was executed the same night of his arrival, along with his comrades Mpolo and Okito. His death caused a national scandal throughout the world, and, retrospectively, Mobutu proclaimed him a "national hero."

    The reasons that Lumumba provoked such intense emotion are not immediately evident. His viewpoint was not exceptional. He was for a unitary Congo and against division of the country along tribal or regional lines. Like many other African leaders, he supported pan-Africanism and the liberation of colonial territories. He proclaimed his regime one of "positive neutralism," which he defined as a return to African values and rejection of any imported ideology, including that of the Soviet Union.

    Lumumba was, however, a man of strong character who intended to pursue his policies, regardless of the enemies he made within his country or abroad. The Congo, furthermore, was a key area in terms of the geopolitics of Africa, and because of its wealth, its size, and its contiguity to white-dominated southern Africa, Lumumba's opponents had reason to fear the consequences of a radical or radicalized Congo regime. Moreover, in the context of the Cold War, the Soviet Union's support for Lumumba appeared at the time as a threat to many in the West.
     
  3. cherryblossom

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  4. Chinelo

    Chinelo Third Eye Is Always Open MEMBER

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    Eisenhower Had Lumumba Killed!

    On 17th January 1961 Patrice Lumumba, first and only elected Prime Minister of Congo, was murdered. The circumstances of his death remained a mystery, the identity of his killers unknown.

    Now, forty years later, fresh scrutiny of documents held in government vaults and the testimony of those who were there at the time reveal a story of international intrigue and betrayal.


    Lumumba's murder provoked world outrage

    In 1956 Lumumba was a post office clerk; four years later he would be prime minister. In between he had been an "evolue" - one of Congo's tiny black middle class, a beer salesman and a prisoner, twice - once for embezzlement, though he claimed his motivation was political, and once for his political activities and inciting unrest.

    Perhaps it was prison that radicalized him. By 1958 he had co-founded a political party, the National Congolese Movement, the MNC.



    "Lumumba was the only Congolese leader who rose above ethnic difficulties and tribal preoccupations that killed all the other parties"

    Jean Van Lierde
    According to Jean Van Lierde, then a young Belgian radical who had befriended Lumumba, the MNC was distinctively pan-Africanist.

    "Lumumba was the only Congolese leader who rose above ethnic difficulties and tribal preoccupations that killed all the other parties."

    It was as leader of the MNC that Lumumba emerged as Congo's first prime minister after elections in June 1960.

    At the Independence Day celebrations of June 30th Belgium's hostility to Lumumba deepened. Excluded from the official programme, Lumumba was advised by Van Lierde to get up and make an impromptu speech. He did, passionately denouncing the harsh brutalities and indignities suffered by the Congolese under Belgian colonial rule. Diplomacy it was not.


    Jean Van Leirde, friend and advisor to Patrice Lumumba

    "The king was very angry. The Belgians wanted nothing to do with him after that. People say it was this speech that brought his end," says Van Lierde.

    The road to independence was rocky. Within days the army mutinied. Worse followed.

    The mineral-rich Katanga province in the south declared independence. Its leader, Moise Tchombe, a longtime enemy of Lumumba, was known close to the Belgian industrial companies which mined the copper, gold and uranium whose wealth had flowed back to Brussels for decades. Without Katanga Congo's was an impoverished economy.

    The researcher and historian, Ludo de Witte, who has scrutinized documents held in the Brussels' archives for forty years, says the Belgian government was secretly protecting its interests and directing Katanga's secession from behind the scenes.

    "The documents are very clear. All those officers and functionaries were following orders from the Belgian government, and following Belgian policy,"

    Lumumba demanded that Belgian troops withdraw - they didn't. He expelled Belgian diplomats and called on the United Nations to defend the newly-independent state. He hinted that it might be necessary to ask the Soviet Union to assist unilaterally. That set alarm bells ringing in the West.

    A mutinational UN peacekeeping force was deployed.


    Brigadier Inda Jit Rikhye, knew of the conspiracy

    "It is on record in UN reports that Belgian civilian personnel made it impossible for the UN civilian experts to work properly", says Brigadier Indarjit Rikye, the Secretary-General's military representative in Congo.

    Lumumba was frustrated. Finally he accepted a consignment of Soviet transport planes, military trucks and, it was suspected, guns. The American ambassador in Leopoldville began referring to the prime minister as "Lumumbavitch".

    Sixty-seven days after he came to power, Patrice Lumumba was sacked by state president Joseph Kasavubu. Lumumba, in turn, tried to sack Kasavubu. It was stalemate.

    Lumumba was placed under informal house arrest at the prime minister's residence.
     
  5. Chinelo

    Chinelo Third Eye Is Always Open MEMBER

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    Eisenhower Had Lumumba Killed Part 2

    On October 6th, the Belgian Minister for African Affairs, Count d'Aspremont Lynden, sent a cable to Katanga's capital, Elizabethville, stating clearly that policy was now directed at the "definitive elimination" of Patrice Lumumba.

    In London's Whitehall, analysts at the British Foreign Office were considering reports from the UK's ambassador in Leopoldville. One desk man, later to become head of the internal security service MI5, opined I see only two possible solutions to the problem. The first is the simple one of ensuring Lumumba's removal from the scene by killing him. This should, in fact, solve the problem."

    Larry Devlin, the CIA station chief in Leopoldville received orders from Washington to await the arrival of "Joe from Paris".

    "I recognised him as he walked towards my car, but when he told me what they wanted done I was totally, totally taken aback", says Devlin now. "Joe from Paris" was better known as the CIA's chief technical officer, Dr Sidney Gottlieb. He had brought with him a special tube of poisoned toothpaste. Devlin's job was to get the toothpaste into Lumumba's bathroom.

    "It would put the man away", recalls Devlin, who was aghast at the plan. "I had never suggested assassination, nor did I believe that it was advisable," he says now. The toothpaste never made it into Lumumba's bathroom. "I threw it in the Congo River when its usefulness had expired."

    Devlin says he suspected, but didn't know for sure, that the order to assassinate Lumumba must have come from President Eisenhower himself. In August this year, however, Devlin's suspicion was confirmed officially by Washington - the order had come from the President.

    Lumumba now made perhaps the worst decision of his life. He decided to escape. Smuggled out of his residence at night in a visiting diplomat's car he began a long journey towards Stanleyville. Mobutu's troops were in hot pursuit. Finally trapped on the banks of the impassable Sankuru River, he was captured by soldiers loyal to Colonel Mobutu.

    He appealed to local UN troops to save him. The UN refused on direct orders from headquarters in New York. He was flown first to Leopoldville, where he appeared beaten and humiliated before journalists and diplomats.


    Gerard Soete, Comissioner of the Katangese Police, disposed of the evidence.

    "He was chained in the back of a truck. He was bleeding, his hair was disheveled, he'd lost his glasses", says Rikhye. "But we could not intervene."

    Further humiliation followed at Mobutu's villa, where delighted young soldiers whooped with joy as they beat the elected prime minister in full view of television cameras. Lumumba was dispatched first to Thysville military barracks, one hundred miles from Leopoldville.

    The Belgians demanded a more decisive ending - they wanted Lumumba delivered into the hands of his most sworn enemy, President Tschombe of Katanga. On January 15th 1961, the Belgian Minister for African Affairs wrote to his apparatchiks in Elizabthville instructing them to inform Tschombe that he must accept Lumumba without delay. It was in effect a death warrant. After a moment's hesitation Tschombe agreed.


    Lumumba was beaten again on the flight to Elizabethville on January 17th. He was seized by Katangese soldiers commanded by Belgians and driven to Villa Brouwe. He was guarded and brutalized still further by both Belgian and Katangese troops while President Tschombe and his cabinet decided what to do with him.

    That same night it is said Lumumba was bundled into another convoy that headed into the bush. It drew up beside a large tree. Three firing squads had been assembled, commanded by a Belgian. Another Belgian had overall command of the execution site. Lumumba and two other comrades from the government were lined up against a large tree. President Tschombe and two other ministers were present for the executions, which took place one at a time.

    The following day Katang'as interior minister called a senior Belgian policeman to his office with orders to conceal the killings. "He said 'You destroy them, you make them disappear. How you do it doesn't interest me," says Gerard Soerte. Soete and a companion exhumed the bodies from shallow graves, hacked them into pieces and dissolved them in acid from the Belgian-run mines nearby.

    "We were there for two days," says Soete. "We did things an animal wouldn't do. That's why we were drunk. Stone drunk." When they ran out of acid, they made a fire for the last remains. When they had finished, there was no trace of human remains.

    Nothing was said for three weeks - though rumour spread quickly. When Lumumba's death was formally announced on Katangese radio, it was accompanied by an elaborately implausible cover involving an escape and murder by enraged villagers. No-one believed it.

    The research by Ludo de Witte and the recent testimony from witnesses and accessories have caused soul-searching in Brussels. The Belgian Parliament has opened a Commission of Inquiry into the events of forty years ago.

    "It is time to address our history," says Geert Versnick, the MP who chairs the commission which has already begun taking evidence. "If there was wrong-doing in some of our former colonies, especially in the case of Mr Lumumba, then we should address our history."


    During the making of this film, producer Caroline Pare had her passport taken by soldiers and was held prisoner for three days before being thrown out of the country. Below is her own account of what happened.

    Working in Kinshasa, capital of the Congo, is not your traditional journalistic experience. In the first place I was not being granted a visa. Despite my pleading urgency, I never did get one from the recently closed down Knightsbridge embassy. In the end I traveled via Kenya where I picked one up in a morning.


    Luckily I had arranged for my driver-cum-fixer, Roger, to meet me and as soon as he arrived the whole nightmarish experience changed. He whisked me off to his broken down car and returned to the fray. He emerged fifteen minutes later having dropped US$50. I thought it was a bargain! I won't dwell on the drive into town which ended in a smashed windscreen, my briefcase strap tying down the bonnet and a push start. But we eventually arrived at the hotel.

    My first assignment was to get the precious foreign journalist accreditation. I was told the office I needed was on the 8th floor but I was to get out at the 10th as the lift could not stop at 8. The doors opened to pitch black. I stumbled around feeling my way along manky walls to the stairwell and eventually spotted light as I emerged on the 8th floor.

    The place seemed deserted and reminded me of the film Barton Fink but when I knocked on door 825 I was called in. The window was shattered and the ministry official sat behind an empty desk in front of which, placed on the floor, were two car seats for visitors to sit in.

    It was to be a long process to get the accreditation - three days in fact - but I eventually got the precious piece of paper and began work. I was making a documentary about the killing of the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, in 1961. Today Congo is in the throes of civil war but I assumed this 40 year old story would be straightforward to make. My first visit was to a man called Jonas Mukamba. He and some thugs were rumoured to have beaten Patrice Lumumba nearly to death on an aeroplane back in 1961 and I wondered if he wanted to talk about it.

    The driver pulled up outside and took my business card to the gateman. At that very moment the car doors were flung opened and soldiers pushed in beside me, AK47s and all. We were force to drive into the compound and the large gates slammed behind us.


    Passport, mobile phones and car keys were taken. Nothing was said. We waited. Myself, my taxi driver (poor man) and my fixer. Two or three hours later our interrogators came. Who they were we never knew. Mine was charming, spoke immaculate French and wore spotless civilian clothes. He asked an odd list of questions about my family then as he left he reassuringly advised us to be a little patient as we would have to wait a few minutes more.

    He was being economical with the truth. We were kept at Mukamba's house for the next three days. We were never told why we were there or if or when we were going to be released.


    I ranted and raved at the soldiers as our first day turned into night. But when, at around midnight, there were sounds of someone being beaten up by the soldiers in the compound and Mukamba's daughter came rushing into the house crying I bit my tongue. I only pleaded for our guards to get us some food as none of us had eaten, or drunk, all day. They eventually agreed but having no vehicle themselves they decided that Pierre, the taxi driver could drive them to the Grand Hotel and buy some for us.

    I scratched the number of the British Consul on a piece of paper and whispered to Pierre that if he could he should pass it to the hotel staff. He turned out to be a hero and despite having two soldiers guarding him managed to pass the note.

    The days dragged by. There was nothing to do. I spent my time talking to Camille, my Congolese fixer, about today's war, independent Congo's short and turbulent history and the failings of the international community.

    Our story ends happily. We were released in the middle of the night in a bizarre ceremony involving a lot of besuited men in a gloomy foreign Ministry room.


    We were handed over from Military Intelligence to the Interior Ministry, to the Foreign Office and finally to the British consul on the understanding that she put me on the first plane out of there the next morning.

    It was only after my release that I discovered that Jonas Mukamba had been arrested the day before our arrival on suspicion of plotting a coup d'etat. Plotting with the rebels supported by Uganda.

    I was very sorry to leave Kinshasa. It may be a mad kind of place but it is also the most interesting. It's the American Wild West in the twenty first century
     
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