Photos: DR Congo Inters Remains of Murdered First Leader Patrice Lumumba Returned by Belgium

© AP PhotoCongo's former prime minister Patrice Lumumba, center right, with hands tied behind his back, sits in a truck upon arrival at Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) Airport in Congo, Dec. 2, 1960, following his arrest the previous day. On Monday, more than sixty one years after his death, the mortal remains of Congo's first democratically elected prime minister Patrice Lumumba will be handed over to his children during an official ceremony in Belgium.
Congo's former prime minister Patrice Lumumba, center right, with hands tied behind his back, sits in a truck upon arrival at Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) Airport in Congo, Dec. 2, 1960, following his arrest the previous day. On Monday, more than sixty one years after his death, the mortal remains of Congo's first democratically elected prime minister Patrice Lumumba will be handed over to his children during an official ceremony in Belgium. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.06.2022
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The remains of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first democratically-elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, were laid to rest in the country’s south on Thursday, 61 years after he was murdered in a coup backed by the United States and DR Congo’s former colonial ruler, Belgium.
"Dear national hero, it was on the night of the 27th of November 1960 that you left Kinshasa, then Leopoldville, in total anonymity. Here you are again, 61 years later, under the gentle sun of this 30th of June, the sacred day of our liberation from the colonial yoke,” said President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi at the ceremony.
“We will proudly teach to our children the importance of this date so they will also be able to tell their sons and grandsons about the glorious history of our struggle for freedom,” he said.
Lumumba was killed in January 1961 by a firing squad, less than a year after securing the independence of DR Congo from Belgium. The country had quickly fractured amid a mutiny by troops backed by the US, UK, and Belgium, who feared Lumumba’s left-wing politics and perceived closeness to the Soviet Union would deny them access to the minerals and strategic resources for which Europeans had colonized the Congo River basin decades earlier.
Lumumba’s body was desecrated after his death. Gerard Soete, a Belgian police officer who claimed to have dissolved much of Lumumba’s corpse in acid and burned the rest, kept the only known remnant of the ousted leader: a gold tooth.
Earlier this month, King Philippe of Belgium visited the DRC and personally delivered the gold tooth to the Congolese government. On Thursday, it lay inside a casket draped in the DRC flag, and will be interred in a mausoleum in the capital of Kinshasa after touring the country for several weeks.
In 2002, the Belgian government formally apologized for its role in Lumumba’s assassination. The Belgian monarchy had gained personal control over the Congo in 1885 as part of a compromise by competing European powers in the country, which is rich in minerals, palm oil, and rubber, among other resources. Under King Leopold II, the brutality of colonial rule reached new heights, and between 10 and 15 million Congolese were killed by Belgian colonial authorities.
Lumumba joined the movement for Congolese independence in 1958 and quickly became a prominent leader, attending the All-African People’s Conference in Ghana hosted by that country’s Pan-Africanist leader, Kwame Nkrumah. Two years later, the Congolese National Movement declared independence and won the first elections, with Lumumba being appointed prime minister days after the country officially became independent on June 30.
However, less than two weeks later, troops mutinied across the country and Belgium intervened militarily, with most Europeans in the country regrouping in the southern Katanga Province, where much of the country’s mineral wealth lay. President Joseph Kasavubu removed Lumumba from office in September, claiming he feared a Soviet intervention, and Lumumba regrouped in the eastern city of Stanleyville (today Kisagani).
Meanwhile, Kasavubu was himself overthrown by the military chief, Mobutu Sese Seko, whose government was then recognized by the United Nations. He remained the country’s military ruler for the next 30 years.
Lumumba was arrested in October 1960 and executed in January 1961 amid continued support for his release in the country.
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