Belgium murderers return tooth of slain Congolese hero Patrice Lumumba
The coffin of slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba returned to his homeland on Wednesday, more than six decades after his brutal murder by Belgium in collaboration with top US spy agency, CIA.
Sixty-one years ago, a terror squad formed of Belgian military officers and assisted by the CIA kidnapped and executed Congo's Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who is often hailed as the country's independence hero.
Ex-colonial power Belgium handed over to toot to his family on Monday and after arriving in Kinshasa the tooth is being taken for a nine-day trip around the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The coffin and an accompanying delegation first flew to the central province of Sankuru, where the country's first post-independence leader was born in the village of Onalua in 1925.
The remains will visit sites symbolically important to Lumumba's life and be laid to rest in a mausoleum in the capital Kinshasa on June 30, following three days of national mourning.
"His spirit, which was imprisoned in Belgium, comes back here," said Onalua Maurice Tasombo Omatuku, a traditional chief and nephew of Lumumba.
Finally, able to mourn his uncle but knowing he was assassinated in 1961, Omatuku said he was feeling emotionally torn.
The tooth was kept by one of Lumumba's killers, former Belgian police chief Gerard Soete, who admitted in 1999 that he had stolen the tooth following the killing of Patrice Lumumba.
In 2020, Patrice Lumumba's daughter, Juliana Amato Lumumba announced an official request by her and her family for Belgium to return her father's last remains, 59 years after his gruesome murder, considering it makes the only coffin they can have of him.
Fiery speech and execution
Patrice Lumumba was executed by a Belgian firing squad in January 1961, when he was 35 years, nearly six months after his country gained independence from Belgium and after a historic speech he delivered in rejection of remarks made by King Baudouin of Belgium on the same day.
In his speech, Lumumba enraged the Belgian delegation by openly challenging the king. He said of independence that “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.”
“We have known harassing work, exacted in exchange for salaries which did not permit us to eat enough to drive away hunger, to clothe ourselves, or to house ourselves decently, or to raise our children as creatures dear to us.... We have known ironies, insults, blows that we endured morning, noon and night, because we are negroes.... We have seen our lands seized in the name of allegedly legal laws, which in fact recognized only that might is right.... We will never forget the massacres where so many perished, the cells into which those who refused to submit to a regime of oppression and exploitation were thrown.”
In the same speech, Lumumba declared that the Democratic Republic of the Congo was now “the equal” of Belgium. Only in terms of vote-counting at the United Nations could such a statement be true.
Grisly US, Belgium crime
Belgium, which ruled the Congo until 1960, and the US have never been able to wash away the blood from this grisly crime. There was little doubt at the time, and even less now, that Washington was the primary force behind Lumumba’s execution.
The killing exposed the savagery and hypocrisy of US imperialism. Though not a socialist, Lumumba’s demand that the Congo should control its own extensive mineral wealth proved to be his death sentence. The credibility of all the other newly-independent African nations was lessened by his murder; thereafter in every decision the continent’s leaders would have to reckon with Lumumba’s fate.
Nowhere is the failure of formal national independence better expressed than in the Congo. Lumumba’s former aide, Joseph Mobutu, assumed power in separate CIA-backed coups in 1960, when he removed Lumumba from power, and in 1965. A US proxy in the struggle against liberation movements in southern Africa, Mobutu ruled the Congo, which he renamed Zaire, as a kleptocracy, looting an estimated $5 billion before his removal in 1997 at the hands of invading Rwandan and Ugandan forces. The spilling over into the Congo of the Rwandan crisis of the 1990s―itself the legacy of the European-drawn borders in the region―cost as many as 5 million lives over the next decade.