Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic.
He was assassinated 60 years ago. Shot by Katangan separatists and Belgian mercenaries on 17 January 1961, during the first, chaotic months of independence, his body was dissolved in acid. The only part of his body ever recovered was a tooth seized from a Belgian policeman who, by his own account, took it while helping to dispose of the body.
We honour one of the great Pan Africanists and freedom fighters of the continent. Here are some of his quotes that still have a profound bearing on Africa:
“Political independence has no meaning if it is not accompanied by rapid economic and social development”.
Speech at the All-African Conference in Leopoldville August, 1960
“No one is perfect in this imperfect world.”
“Without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men”.
– Letter to his wife, Letter from Thysville Prison, Congo, My Country.
“Neither brutality nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakeable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.”
“The day will come when history will speak. But it will not be the history which will be taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations…Africa will write its own history and in both north and south it will be a history of glory and dignity”.
– Letter from Thysville Prison to Mrs. Lumumba.
“These divisions, which the colonial powers have always exploited the better to dominate us, have played an important role — and are still playing that role — in the suicide of Africa”.
– African Unity and National Independence speech, March, 1959.
“Africa will write its own history and the to the north, and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.”
“African unity and solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in decisions”.
– Speech at the opening of the All-African Conference in Leopoldville August 25,1960.
“A minimum of comfort is necessary for the practice of virtue”.
– Congo, My Country.
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