Patrice Lumumba in mural by Susan Greene
Lumumba speaking in French (1 MB mp3)
From Freedom Archives audio archives
Photo: Scott Braley

Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba was born July 2, 1925, Onalua, Belgian Congo [now Congo (Kinshasa)] and was killed on January 1961, in the Katanga province. He was an African nationalist leader and the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (June -- September 1960). Forced out of office during a political crisis, he was assassinated a short time later.

An active trade unionist he founded the Post Office Employees Club. He also served as secretary of the Association for African Government Employees. In October, 1958, Lumumba founded the National Congolese Movement (MNC). He became president of the organization and the following year led a series of demonstrations and strikes against the Belgian colonial government. Lumumba called for the Congo to be granted its immediate independence from Belgium. Lumumba was arrested but after sustained demonstrations the authorities were forced to release him.

The country was governed from Leopoldville (Kinshasa). Kantanga, a rich mining province, was very much under the control of Moise Tshombe. In July 1960, Tshombe, with the support of Belgian troops and white mercenaries, proclaimed an independent republic. Lumumba appealed to the United Nations for help and agreed to send in a peace-keeping force to restore order. Lumumba was arrested by Mobutu's soldiers and transferred to Elizabethville, Katanga, where he was murdered on 17th January, 1961.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding an inquiry into the circumstances of his death. This was rejected by Moise Tshombe but evidence emerged later that the Belgian government was behind the events in Katanga.

Patrice Lumumba photo

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