Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mawampanga Mwana Nanga has dismissed the renaming of a square in Belgium after DRC’s first Prime Minister, Patrice Emery Lumumba, as a meaningless gesture that will not do to erase the former colonial power’s heinous past.
In an interview with The Southern Times, Ambassador Mwana Nanga said renaming a little-known area of Brussels after the iconic Lumumba will not make any difference.
“This is too little too late, the Belgians killed him, dismembered his body, dissolved its parts into acid and never apologised for their despicable acts. When so many countries built monuments and named streets and universities in honour of this African icon, what does the naming of an unknown hidden small place in Brussels mean? Nothing,” he said.
Mwana Nanga said Belgium must stop its meaningless efforts to erase history and leave the DRC alone.
“I don’t expect anything from the Belgians; they should just leave us alone to build our nation. Our national anthem says 'we shall build a country far more beautiful than what it was before'. All I want from them is to leave us alone,” he said, adding that many monuments have been built across DRC in remembrance of Lumumba.
“Patrice Lumumba was our first Prime Minister. The longest boulevard in Kinshasa is named after him. A huge monument of him was erected at the most famous part on this boulevard. There are also schools and stadiums named after him. On top of that, he is the first of our national heroes in a country of 80 million people. We only have two national heroes. The second one is Laurent Desiré Kabila, the father of Joseph the current president,” said the ambassador.
Lumumba was the first democratically-elected Prime Minister of DRC after gaining independence in 1960.
He was killed on 17 January 1961, in an incident that implicated the British intelligence, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Belgian agents.
The blue plaque bearing Lumumba’s name was unveiled last week in the Matonge area, a part of Brussels (the capital of Belgium) with the largest Congolese population.
The Patrice Lumumba’s square is Belgium’s latest effort to come to terms with its dark colonial legacy.
In 2002, the then Belgian foreign minister admitted that some Belgian figures played a role in events that led to Lumumba’s death.
DRC celebrated its 58th independence anniversary on June 30.
The country is the second largest on the continent and it borders nine countries namely Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
It is also one of the richest country in Africa in terms of natural resources, but sadly it has not enjoyed these due to perennial conflict perpetuated by western powers.