Lum Last Days Lum Last Days


Lumumba Assass Lum/Eis/JFK

Only once, in the history of Congo, was there an interlude where the people had an honest leader. That was in 1960 when Patrice Lumumba took part in a nationalist uprising that forced the Belgians to give Congo its independence and then subsequently won the first democratic election ever in the country's history.

Here's the famous speech Lumumba gave on his Inauguration on Independence Day, June 30th, 1960, the day the Belgians handed over power to its rightful owners, the newly elected government of the Congo, with Lumumba its Prime Minister. The King of Belgium (grand-nephew of King Leopold who used to own Congo) had just sat down after patronizingly offering Belgium's best wishes. Lumumba, when it came time for him to speak, was expected to be thankful and humble in tone, but instead lashed out at Belgium for its history of oppressive rule:

"...We have known that the law was never the same for whites and blacks, for it made special concessions to the former, and was cruel and inhuman to the latter. We have been aware of the horrible suffering of those imprisoned for political opinions or religious beliefs; exiles in their own country, their lot was truly worse than death itself . . . . We who have known bodily suffering because of colonialist oppression say to you: all that is now over and done with. The Congo has been proclaimed a Republic and our beloved country is now in the hands of its own children. We are about to begin another struggle that will lead our country to peace, to prosperity, and to greatness. Together we will bring about social justice and assure that everyone receives equitable remuneration for his work. We will show the world what the black man can do when he works in freedom..." [page 161 from Lumumba: The Last Fifty Days by Heinz & Donnay]

Lumumba's speech was interrupted several times by cheers and applause from the Congolese people who were there by the thousands for the ceremony. The Beligians, sitting on stage - including the King - sat in stony silence and refused to attend the dinner afterwards - choosing instead to leave for Belgium. This was the beginning of the end for Lumumba. It was soon realized that he was not a puppet politician to be used by Belgium, the former colonial ruler, but a bonafide nationalist who wanted government "of the people, by the people, for the people". Belgium then proceeded, along with other western countries with vested interests, including the USA, to undermine Lumumba's government and foment rebellion in his ranks. Two weeks later, on July 11th, the mineral-rich southern part of Congo (Katanga) - with military support from the Belgium army and United Nations forces - declared itself a separate state with its own leader - a political opponent and Lumumba hater named Tshombe, and the province north of that also threatened breakaway.

Lumumba responded in a speech:

"...We are being attacked because we will no longer bow down. We are being attacked because the members of the Congolese government are honest men who will have nothing to do with corruption. They have tried to buy us; they have tried to buy me for millions; I refused; I will not accept a cent for my people. And today the Belgian government has gotten money together to buy malcontents and die-hards throughout the country who day by day, in their newspapers, in their press, are mounting an organized campaign against the government, against the nation. Bishops have abandoned their mission of spreading the gospel to meddle in affairs of State . . . We will not tolerate that. Our government is never going to meddle in the affairs of the Church. Freedom of religion will be guaranteed in our constitution. Catholics will pray in their churches, Protestants in theirs, Kibanquists in theirs, Kitawalists in theirs: everyone will pray in his own church and the State will protect all citizens and the government will respect all opinions, all religions . . . It has been said here in Leopoldville [capital of Congo] that a splinter group of Bakongo are going to proclaim their independence. This will never come to pass..." [page 163 from Lumumba: The Last Fifty Days by Heinz & Donnay]

Then on September 5, just two months after Lumumba's inauguration as Prime Minister of the Congo, his Chief of State, President Kasavubu (bought off by the Belgians with a car and fancy house) took to the airwaves to arbitrarily dismiss Congo's elected Prime Minister and appoint someone in his place. Lumumba immediately got on national radio to explain to the Congolese people what had happened:

"...I wish to announce that a Council of Ministers will be held this evening to examine the situation that has just been created this evening by the unexpected declaration of Mr. Joseph Kasavubu, who has publicly betrayed the nation. I was not consulted by Mr. Kasavubu, nor has any minister or any member of parliament been consulted. Democracy requires that a government rule only if it is elected by the people and has the confidence of the people. We enjoy such confidence. We have proved to the people, to the entire world, that the national popular government which you freely elected to defend your interests, to defend your national patriomony, has worked up to the present in the superior interest of the nation. In the name of the democratically elected government, in the name of all our elected officers, all those who voted for Kasavubu, I proclaim that we withdraw our vote. The popular government remains at its post. Beginning today, I proclaim that Kasavubu, who has betrayed the nation, who has betrayed the people, is no longer Chief of State because he has collaborated with the Belgians and the Flemish." [page 166 from Lumumba: The Last Fifty Days by Heinz & Donnay]

Then, a week later Colonel Mobutu (a confidante of Lumumba who in reality was spying for the Belgians) declared a military coup (backed by the Belgians) saying he was now in charge of Congo's army. Lumumba, he said, was neutralized.

Lumumba attempted, through pleadings for help to the United Nations, the United States and anyone who would listen - including the Soviet Union who had nothing to offer - to keep his legitimate government going. But no one interceded on Congo's behalf and one month later - on October 10, 1960 - surrounded by enemies and foreign armies, Lumumba was confined to house arrest at his Prime Minister's residence in Leopoldville. The only help the United Nations offered was to send troops from Ghana (whose nationalist leader, Nkrumah, Lumumba admired) to surround the house to keep Lumumba from being attacked by Mobutu's soldiers, who were also surrounding the house.

Meanwhile, up in Stanleyville in the north-eastern part of Congo, Lumumba supporters formed a government and took control of Stanleyville, the area of Congo that most supported Lumumba, and made headway into regaining Kivu district (near Lake Kivu) and down toward the mineral rich southern province, Kasai, above break-away Katanga. This alarmed the illegal governments of Mobutu and Tshombe, who were having trouble keeping control of the Congolese armies whose allegiences were, at heart, with Lumumba.

Cooped up a month-and-a-half in the prison of his own residence, Lumumba - on November 27th - made an escape in the backseat of the servants' car as it left one night for supplies. He attempted to make his way a thousand miles up north to Stanleyville to join his supportive government there. But he was captured three days later by Mobutu's soldiers and thrown into prison in Leopoldville. There he was beaten and tortured, along with the two members of his political party who had rendezvoused with him en route to Stanleyville. Then five weeks later - on January 17th, 1961 - he was tranferred to Elizabethville in the break-away province controlled by the Tshombe, the United Nations and the Belgians - Katanga.

During the entire six hours of the flight Lumumba and his two fellow prisoners were brutally beaten. At one point the Belgian pilot couldn't stand it any longer and after vomitting, slammed shut the pilot's door. When the plane landed, Lumumba and the others were thrown onto the tarmac and rifle-butted and kicked, then thrown into a jeep and taken to a deserted house near the airport. There, that night, they were beaten and tortured and then finally murdered. A member of Tshombe's cabinet thrust the bayonet of a rifle through Lumumba's ribs, and then a Belgian mercenary shot Lumumba in the head to put him out of his misery.

Lumumba's body was then taken into the middle of nowhere and buried, only to be dug up the next day, chopped into pieces, thrown into acid at a chemical plant, and then scattered so that nothing of him remained for the people to cling to or martyrize.

Before being taken to Elizabethville, Lumumba had managed to get a letter out to his wife, which is considered his last testament:

"My beloved companion:

I write you these words not knowing whether you will receive them, when you will receive them, and whether I will still be alive when you read them. Throughout my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant that the sacred cause to which my comrades and I have dedicated our entire lives would triumph in the end. But what we wanted for our country -- its right to an honourable life, to perfect dignity, to independence with no restrictions -- was never wanted by Belgian colonialism and its Western allies, who found direct and indirect, intentional and unintentional support among certain senior officials of the United Nations, that body in which we placed all our trust when we called on it for help.

They have corrupted some of our countrymen; they have bought others; they have done their part to distort the truth and defile our independence. What else can I say? That whether dead or alive, free or in prison by orders of the colonialists, it is not my person that is important. What is important is the Congo, our poor people whose independence has been turned into a cage, with people looking at us from outside the bars, sometimes with charitable compassion, sometimes with glee and delight. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and feel in my heart of hearts that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, foreign and domestic, that they will rise up as one to say no to the shame and degradation of colonialism and regain their dignity in the pure light of day.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and the free and liberated peoples in every corner of the globe will ever remain at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there will be no more colonizers and no more of their mercenaries in our country. I want my children whom 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 our independence, our sovereignty; for without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutal assaults, nor cruel mistreatment, nor torture have ever led me to beg for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head held high, unshakeable faith and the greatest confidence in the destiny of my country, rather than live in slavery and contempt for sacred principles. History will one day have its say; it will not be the history that is taught in the United Nations, Washington, Paris or Brussels, however, but the history taught in the countries that have rid themselves of colonialsim and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and both north and south of the Sahara it will be a history full of glory and dignity.

Do not weep for me, my companion, I know that my country, now suffering so much, will be able to defend its independence and its freedom. Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!

- Patrice"
[pages 184-185 from The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo De Witte]

Here's an excerpt from the book DULLES: A BIOGRAPHY, by Leonard Mosley, pages 461-463:

"...The political leader against whom President Eisenhower expressed the most lively dislike was not Castro but an African named Patrice Lumumba.

Lumumba was a hotheaded black politician who had already upset a number of applecarts, including those of the United States, during the transition of the Belgian Congo from a white colony into a black African republic...

The CIA was helping the Belgians to promote a breakaway province in Katanga, with a dissident black politician named Moise Tshombe as its leader, and thus assure the Western world of steady shipments of the minerals that were in rich supply in Katangese (and internationally owned) mines. But the Lumumba presence threatened the Western investment in Katanga....

There was something about Lumumba which bugged Eisenhower....Lumumba was irreverent about American Presidents, and determined to bring Congolese mineral assets under Congolese, rather than outside, control. But when a member of the National Security Council suggested that, like all other African leaders so far, he was probably ready for a deal, provided the money was right, the President showed no desire for such a peaceful solution to the Congolese problem. He wanted Lumumba out. Who would rid him of this turbulent black?

'It was perfectly clear to me,' said Richard Bissell later, 'reading some of the cables and also some of the minutes of at least one special group meeting, that Eisenhower certainly wanted Lumumba got out of the way. Put on a great deal of pressure to have it done.'

Normally (if that is the word) a request for the assassination of a foreign leader would have been left in the hands of Richard Bissell. But Bissell was away on holiday, yachting peacefully off Connecticut, so Allen Dulles [director of CIA] told the President that he would personally see to the affair and would put Richard Helms in charge of the details. A few days later Helms produced a blueprint for the 'elimination'.

A CIA employee was called back from Leopoldville, the Congolese capital, and there found Bronson Tweedy, head of the African division of the CIA, waiting for him with a 'first aid kit,' as it was jocularly called. There were rubber gloves, a phial of lethal fever germs, a portable electric toothbrush complete with batteries, and three tubes of toothpaste. The tubes of toothpaste were to be impregnated with the germs and somehow introduced into Lumumba's toilet requisites. He had nice bright teeth and it was presumed that he liked to keep them well scrubbed.

The CIA operative returned to his post with the assassination kit, and Allen Dulles waited for news that the hated Lumumba had been taken ill. Nothing happened. Lumumba still continued to intrigue with the Communists, make a mockery of the United Nations, and threaten the uncertain tenure of the West in the Congo. Why didn't he succumb to the deadly dose the Agency had prepared for him?

But it seemed that Lumumba was not so keen on dental hygiene after all. Around the Agency, where Lumumba was known as 'Prissy', some wit remarked that 'Prissy obviously believes halitosis is better than no breath at all.'

It was not until several weeks later that a more effective CIA puppet came on the scene in the shape of Joseph Mobuto, and he took over power and captured the maverick Patrice Lumumba. Lumumba died shortly afterwards 'while trying to escape', but whether Mobuto did the deed at the behest of the CIA or from more personal motives is one of those mysteries time is not likely to elucidate.

At least President Eisenhower had the satisfaction of knowing that his black African gadfly did not survive the end of his administration. Lumumbo died, in fact, on January 17, 1961, three days before the President handed over his office to John F. Kennedy." [end of quoting from 'Dulles: A Biography' by Leonard Mosley] ~ Jackie Jura



Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~