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This article appears in the February 17, 2023 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this article]

Dialogue: The Struggle for African Sovereignty and the Assassination of Lumumba

During the discussion segment, a question came in by email that concerned the assassination of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba:

Elison Karuhanga: … I think what is important to note, and I stand again to be corrected, is that the African relationship with the metropolitan centers of the West over the past couple of hundreds of years has been as a supplier of free labor either in the form of slavery or cheap labor, and also as a supplier of raw materials. The economic system has meant that whatever differences in economic theory exist elsewhere in the world, very many powerful global elites—I don’t want to sound undiplomatic, but powerful global elites have had a policy of plunder of the continent.

And of course, the killing of Lumumba you will recall, historically we also saw when the UN Secretary General Dag Hammerskjöld tried to visit the Congo to switch it out, he too was actually killed. So, if you go back along that trajectory, the solution has always been the economic liberation of Africa. The ability of Africans to undertake developmental projects and to lift themselves up by being able to add value to resources, and by being able to participate as not just suppliers of cheap labor or as suppliers of raw materials. [Box: Lumumba: ‘This was the noble principle of his vision’]

… I would suggest that in Africa we don’t want to look back and count the scores. We are not looking for Nuremburg trials for those who enslaved our people. We are not looking for war tribunals for those that colonized us. We are not looking for all sorts of things. We are looking to go forward, and to go forward with an opportunity to do projects like the electricity projects in Ethiopia or the energy projects in Uganda and Tanzania. We are saying we must be given the right and the opportunity to be able to ensure that future generations of Africans do not continue transitioning from darkness to darkness.

People, for example, who discuss transitions and energy, fail to understand that for us, where we come from, what we are not interested in is continuing to pass on poverty and continuing to transition from darkness to deeper darkness.

…with regard to the conflicts, of course, in Ukraine, I think by and large African countries have taken a neutral position on the conflict for the simple reason that while we appreciate the horror of war, we are alive to many things on the continent. So, in summary, I would say that what we are interested in is the ability and the right to develop our home, to build our countries, and to be able to transition some of the poorest people in the world out of the dire needs of their poverty, and not so much in the settling of historical scores.

Dr. Fred M’membe: We have to be in the mind that our countries did not exist as countries before 1884-5. That is, before the Berlin Conference. We were created as countries by them. We exist as countries, and [they thought] we should exist as countries by their will. Even after fighting for our independence, for our liberation, they still do not accept us as independent people who should shape their own destiny, who should decide their future, who should decide what to do, who to do it with. Our leaders have to be dictated to as to who should be their friends, who should they cooperate with.

Patrice Lumumba was killed simply because he was seen to be closer to the Soviet Union. The killings were not confined to the 1960s; they continued even in recent years. Muammar Gaddafi was killed by the same people, who divided Africa among themselves. Our resources today have to be exploited in the way they want, and by whom they want. Today, some of our countries have the strategic minerals needed for the 21st Century technologies. Again, they wanted to exclude others from the exploitation and benefit of those minerals. Their behavior doesn’t seem to change towards us. We are still being treated as children, whose friends should be chosen for them by the parents. The games they play should be dictated by the parents. Where they go, what they do should be dictated by the parents. We have the right to independence; we have the right to self-determination; we have the right to peace. We have the right to live in equity, in solidarity, and in peace. But they don’t seem to understand this.

Africa has no military bases anywhere else. But today, there is a proliferation of military bases in Africa by others. For what? They talk to us about democracy, about choosing our own leaders. We choose our own leaders, they kill them. They impose puppets on us. Sometimes they even turn against their own puppets and kill them. Where will this end? We know where it began, but where will it end? When will it end? Today, they do not want us to deal with China. Today, they do not want us to deal with Russia, with Iran, and other countries of our choice. Today, they don’t want us to choose our own path of development. We have to be told by them how to develop. We have been under their control since 1884-5, when they set up our countries, when they divided Africa among themselves. We have been pursuing development pathways designed, decided by them. We are still in poverty. And they still want to continue that. They have failed to get us out of poverty; they have been perpetuating poverty among us. And they want to continue with us in that way.

We are refusing to continue on that path in these new times, complex as they may be. And that’s why we need platforms like this; we need meetings like this. Because the world we live in today is very complex. And in this complexity we live in, we need new ideas. Not that there are no ideas before us, but if complex situations like this continue we need more and more new ideas, need more and more principles than ever before. Where are these principles going to come from? They are going to come from discourses like this we are having today. From the best of our economic thinkers, from the best of our political thinkers, from the best of our regional thinkers.

Lumumba: ‘This was the noble principle of his vision’

An excerpt from “Patrice Lumumba, a True African Hero,” by T.G. Mukengechay, which appeared in EIR, June 15, 2001:

The Congolese politician Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the first government of Congo, was brutally murdered on Jan. 17, 1961, in Katanga province, along with his companions Mpolo and Okito ... The decision on the liquidation of Lumumba was coordinated among the Belgian, American, and British government authorities … It is by no means exaggerated to say that it was a symbol that was murdered. This man incorporated the dignity of all the Africans who had been debased by injustice under colonial domination, persecuted, mutilated, and murdered. It was he who, in the days of independence, had pointed to healing the wounds of the colonial system. For this, they feared him—not because he had become some kind of communist or a racist, but precisely because he was too great for any racist ideology.

He knew and often said openly, that “our independence requires sacrifice.” He had a premonition that this sacrifice would be him, himself. But that did not frighten him. The force, the debasement, the discrimination had contrasted with an always greater, unbreakable hope. This was the noble principle of his vision and his behavior, for which he stood up to the ultimate consequences, full of confidence and credibility. Yet the Europeans would never tolerate a charismatic black man in the middle of Africa, despite all the protestations about freedom and democracy. He must disappear!

From the last available letter of Patrice Lumumba to his wife Paulie.

To the children whom I leave behind and whom I probably will never see again, I would like to say, that the future of the Congo is beautiful, and that upon them, as upon each Congolese, rests the sacred mission of reclaiming our independence and sovereignty. Because without justice, there is no dignity, and without independence, no free men.

One day history will pronounce her judgment. But it will not be the history which one learned at the United Nations, in Washington, Paris, or Brussels, but that which one will learn in the countries which have been freed from colonialism and its marionettes. Africa will write her own history. And it will be, north and south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.

Don’t cry, my companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its freedom.

Long live the Congo! Long live Africa! [back to text]

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