DRC: Patrice Lumumba’s remains return home

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Belgium handed over the last elements of the hero’s corpse, a tooth, to his family on Monday in a move towards reconciliation after the atrocities it committed in its former colony. Lumumba was killed just a year after he became the first elected prime minister of Congo in 1960 and the investigation is still ongoing.

On Jan. 17, 1961‬, the democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of the Congo was executed with the assistance of the governments of Belgium and the United States. In his 1960 independence day speech Lumumba said,

We are going to show the world what the Black man [and woman] can do when he works in freedom, and we are going to make of the Congo the center of the sun’s radiance for all of Africa. We are going to keep watch over the lands of our country so that they truly profit her children.

Just six months later Lumumba was captured and imprisoned en route by state authorities under Mobutu . He was handed over to Katangan authorities, tortured at length, and executed in the presence of Katangan and Belgian officials and officers. His body was then thrown into a shallow grave, but later dug up and destroyed. He was 35.

“It’s moving, at the same time it is about discovering my own, it also strengthens our determination in the fight that Patrice Lumumba led”, says Francois Lumumba, one of Patrice Lumumba’s sons.

The coffin and an accompanying delegation then flew to the central province of Sankuru, where Lumumba was born, in the village of Onalua.

After a nine-day trip around the DRC, Lumumba’s coffin will be laid to rest in a mausoléoum in the capital Kinshasa on June 30 after three days of national mourning.


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