Africa Day 2021
Prime Minister of an Independent DRC, Patrice Emery Lumumba.
Lumumba was not alone when he was murdered that day. With him were his two comrades, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito.
After being tortured and killed by a firing squad, Lumumba’s body was buried in an unmarked grave. But that was not enough for the butchers.
On the evening of January 21, 1961, Belgian agents dug up the grave, cut up Lumumba’s body with a hacksaw, and then dissolved it in concentrated sulphuric acid.
All that remained of his body were some teeth and a fragment of skull, which Belgian agents have kept to this day as souvenirs.
Last week, the Lumumba family announced that Belgium was going to return the last confirmed relic from the icon’s body: a tooth.
The handover ceremony will launch a period of official mourning, during which both the DRC and Belgium will look back on their troubled past as the SADC member state formally lays to rest an African hero.
But a tooth is not all that Lumumba left behind.
Patrice Lumumba left an enduring legacy of principle, ideological clarity and courage: all things that Africa needs now more than then.
And besides this towering abstract legacy, he also left one last letter to his beloved wife, Pauline Lumumba, the mother of their five children, one of whom was born six months after the hero’s murder.
With the continent celebrating Africa Day this week, just a few days after the announcement that something is at last being done to honour Patrice Emery Lumumba, The Southern Times Insight reproduces his final written words.
I am writing this without knowing whether you will ever get it, or when, or whether I shall be alive when you read it.
Throughout my struggle for the Independence of my country I have never for one instant doubted that the sacred cause to which my friends and I have given our lives would triumph in the end.
But what we have wanted for our country, the right to honourable life, untarnished dignity, to unrestricted freedom – these things have never been desired on our behalf by those important officials in the UN in whom we put our trust, and upon whom we called for help, because, whether they knew it or not, they were directly or indirectly supporting the colonialism of Belgium and her friends in the West.
They have corrupted the minds of some of our compatriots, others they have simply bought, and they have played their part in distorting truth and shackling our Independence.
What else can I say? Dead or alive, free or imprisoned by the colonialists, it is not I who matter.
It is the Congo, it is our poor peoplOn January 17, 1961, Congolese collaborators working with Belgian agents – and with the tacit approval of America’s CIA and then US President Dwight Eisenhower – murdered the first e whose Independence has been turned into a cage in which we can be watched by those outside, either with positive pleasure, or with benevolent compassion.
But my faith remains unshaken.
I know, and I feel in my heart, that sooner or later my people will shake off all their enemies, inside and outside our land, and that they will rise as one man to say “no” to the same and degradation of colonialism, and to assume once again their dignity under clear skies.
We are not alone.
Africa, Asia and the free and freed peoples all over the world will always stand beside those millions of Congolese who will not give up the struggle until the day when no colonisers and no mercenaries are left on our soil.
I would like my children, whom I am leaving and may perhaps never see again, to be told that the Congo has a great future, and that it is up to them, as to every Congolese, to carry out the sacred task of rebuilding our Independence and our sovereignty; for where there is no dignity there is no freedom, and where there is no justice there is no dignity, and where there is no Independence there are no free man.
No brutality, no agony, no torture has ever driven me to beg for mercy, for I would rather die with my head high, my faith unshaken, and a profound trust in the destiny of my country, than live in subjection, seeing principles that are sacred to me laughed to scorn.
History will have its say one day – not the history they teach Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations, but the history taught in the countries set free from colonialism and its puppet rulers. Africa will write her own history, and both north and south of the Sahara it will be a history of glory and dignity.
Do not weep, my love; I know that my country, which has suffered so much, will be able to defend its Independence and liberty.
Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!