Lumumba's remains buried in Kinshasa on DRC’s Independence day
The family of Democratic Republic of Congo’s murdered independence hero Patrice Lumumba has buried his only known remains, a tooth, in the capital Kinshasa, 61 years after his death at the hands of brutal Belgian and American CIA agents.
Thousands gathered in a vast square for the occasion on Thursday, waving flags and looking upon a large photo of Lumumba, with his trademark horn-rimmed glasses and side-swept hair, framed by white flowers.
Lumumba was murdered by a firing squad on January 16, 1961, in the southeastern province of Katanga after being deposed as prime minister the previous year, all within months of the DRC regained independence from brutal Belgium colonizers..
A banner with the words “Many thanks, National Hero” was suspended over the crowd, which included the president of neighboring Congo Republic, Denis Sassou Nguesso, Belgium’s foreign minister and several African ambassadors.
“Finally, the Congolese people can have the honor of offering a burial to their illustrious prime minister,” President Felix Tshisekedi said. “We are ending … mourning we started 61 years ago.”
The funeral was held on the 62nd anniversary of the central African country’s independence. On that day, Lumumba had given a fiery speech lambasting Belgium’s 75-year evil colonization of Congo.
Shortly after the coffin containing Lumumba's golden tooth was taken to the specially-built mausoleum erected on the avenue that bears his name and leads to Kinshasa's international airport.
The public should have access to the monument at the end of August.
According to some estimates, killings, famine and disease killed up to 10 million Congolese during the first 23 years of Belgium’s rule from 1885 to 1960, when King Leopold II ruled the Congo as a personal fiefdom. Villages that missed rubber collection quotas were notoriously made to provide severed hands instead.
Belgium’s King Phillipe, who visited the DRC for the first time this month, refused to apologize for the atrocities committed during the reign of terror of his great-great grandfather.
A Belgian parliamentary investigation into Lumumba’s killing concluded in 2002 that Belgium was “morally responsible” for his death.
The body was never found. His only remaining tooth was reportedly taken by a Belgian policeman, Gerard Soete, who claimed to have dissolved much of the corpse in acid and burned the rest.