As we prepare for the Twenty-eighth Annual National Black United Front Convention in Houston, Texas from July 12-15, 2006, we should remember to lift the spirit of some of our great ancestors who made significant contributions to the African Liberation Movement. One of these great heroes is Patrice Lumumba, whose 82nd birthday was July 2nd.
The meaning of the life and work of our beloved brother, Patrice Lumumba was rooted in his determination to fight against the forces of the European world in the most turbulent period of the history of the Congo. We should commemorate the birthday of this late, great African leader, who stood against all the forces in the European world and the African world who were steadfast in their efforts to stop the real Independence Movement of the people of the Congo. It is important for us to understand, today, that those who stand and fight against the evil of the European world take on a serious task and challenge. Herein lies the legacy of Patrice Lumumba.
Patrice Lumumba was born July 2, 1925 in Katako Kombe, a small village in a remote area of the African continent, then referred to as the Congo. Born to a family of five and educated by missionaries, he was able to caste off the domination of European influences on his life and relate to the interests of the masses of Congolese people. At an early age, he recognized the need to develop the kind of skills necessary to become an active participant in the African Liberation struggle. In his efforts to develop his skills, Patrice had a variety of work experiences that included his being employed in a hospital and a post office, which gave him greater insights into the overall oppression of the Congolese people. The more contact Patrice had with the European world, the more he developed the kind of political consciousness that made him one of the most important leaders in the African Independence Movement.
As a result of his participation as the secretary in the Liberal Party of the Congo and his efforts to talk with the Belgian officials, Lumumba was able to see that independence and freedom for his people would not come through the efforts of the Liberal Party or negotiations with the Europeans. His outspokenness and determination to find a vehicle to free the Congolese people led to his being sentenced to two years in prison. Although his prison sentence was cut short, upon his release, the Belgian colonialists, along with their African servants, attempted to isolate Patrice from the growing independence movement of the masses of the people.
In October 1958, Patrice helped form the National Congolese Movement, which was to become the forerunner in the liberation struggle. In December of 1958, Patrice was invited to a conference of African nations hosted by Kwame Nkrumah in Accra, Ghana. It was through this conference that Patrice began to establish contact with the leaders of the Liberation Movements in other African countries. From this point forward, the Liberation Movement in the Congo escalated to the point that the Belgian government decided to grant the Congolese people their so-called freedom on June 30, 1960.
At the Independence Day Ceremony on June 30th, while his African movement friends were thanking the Belgians for granting them their independence, it is said the Lumumba became enraged. He grabbed the microphone and told his people that the colonization of the Congo was nothing other than the domination of the European world over the African world. He went on to point out that the humiliating system of slavery, which was imposed upon the African people of the Congo by European forces was done because they were African. This statement by Patrice Lumumba caused the white world and their African servants to conspire in the next year to find a way to get rid of this most courageous spokesman for the interest of the Congolese people.
Patrice Lumumba was assassinated on January 17, 1961 at the hands of African mercenaries working in the interests of the Europeans through the United States and the CIA. This fact was recently revealed in Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney’s International Relations Hearings. Before his death, Lumumba wrote a letter to his wife that signified the essence of his involvement in the struggle to free his people. Patrice wrote, in part:
“I want my children, who I leave behind and perhaps will never see again, to be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that their country expects them, as it expects every Congolese, to fulfill the sacred task of rebuilding on our independence, our sovereignty, for without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men…Do not weep for me, my companion, I know that my country, now suffering so much, will be able to defend its independence and freedom.”
In conclusion, we can say that the external enemies,(or the enemies from without), and internal enemies (or the enemies from within), led to the demise and death of Patrice Lumumba. But, fortunately, his legacy lives on. As we build towards the Twenty-eighth Annual National Black United Front Convention in Houston, Texas from July 12-15, 2006, let us remember our African Heroes and Heroines.
BC columnist Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is the National Chairman of the National Black United Front (NBUF). Click here to contact Dr. Worrill.