Patrice Lumumba: Africa's Lost Leader
Patrice Lumumba (1925-61) is perhaps the most famous leader of the African independence movement. After his murder in 1961 he became an icon of anti-imperialist struggle. His picture was brandished on demonstrations in the 1960s across the world along with Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh. His life and the independence that he sought for the Congo made him a pivotal figure of the 20th century. Lumumba’s life marked out some of the key post-war fault lines in the second half of the 20th century; how the Cold War would be fought in Africa and the nature of the independence granted to huge swaths of the globe after 1945. For those fighting in liberation struggles, Lumumba became a figure of resistance to the imperial division of the world.
Lumumba was lauded by the press for his public lectures on his visit to Belgium. However, his greatest challenge was to come and on 6 July he was arrested for embezzlement and imprisoned. Embezzlement and prison During Lumumba’s study tour in Belgium an enquiry into his activities at the post office in Stanleyville was undertaken. Lumumba had been informed that such an enquiry might take place at the beginning of the year. The embezzlement amounted to withdrawing money from one account – a
from a monopoly on the trade in rubber and ivory. So in 1891 a decree forced the Congolese to provide these goods to Léopold’s army of agents. Access to cheap labour was secured through perceived tribal lines. Demands for the new commodities were so great that villages were compelled to hand over able-bodied men for forced labour. When villages were uncooperative, Léopold’s new model army – the Force Publique – destroyed homes, raped and killed. To prove action had been taken the hands of the
of the MNC Indépendance the pictures of Lumumba, Sekou Touré, Nkrumah and Kasa Vubu were printed to demonstrate this continuity. Lumumba was developing his politics and organisation in a pan-Africanist mould. To organise the party further the MNC resolved to hold a congress in Stanleyville in October. Lumumba’s address at the closing rally displayed his growing impatience and anger: Dear brothers no collaboration is any longer possible with Belgium … Dear Brothers we do not pursue any personal
Yugoslavia as many as 30,000 smashed their way into the Belgian embassy in Belgrade. In Warsaw demonstrators attacked the Belgian Embassy forcing the Ambassador to flee for his life. A session of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome descended into chaos as demonstrators broke up the proceedings, then threatened to march on the Belgian embassy. In their thousands Syrian students join workers demonstrating in the city’s streets.172 There were also protests in London and Paris. In the meeting
was not limited to religious movements. The ‘war effort’ sped up processes that saw the formation of a Congolese working class, and the new industry gave rise to new forms of organised struggle. One dramatic example was in November 1941, when miners at Jadotville, Kipushi, Likasi, Luisha and foundry-men in Elisabethville (Lubumbashi) started to organise something like a general strike. In the evening of 3 December 1941, workers at the Shituru and Pandotville factories in Jadotville unanimously