Patrice Emery Lumumba, a true African hero and independence leader is the man I highlight today for #AfricanHeroesMonth. Lumumba led the Democratic Republic of the Congo to independence on Jun. 30, 1960 becoming its first Prime Minister.
In 1958, inspired by the independence movement of Africa after attending the All-African Peoples’ Conference in Ghana, Lumumba was determined to fight for the decolonization of the DRC and achieved this goal with his political party, the Congolese National Movement (MNC) two years later.
The conference in Ghana was hosted by Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah who was personally impressed by Lumumba’s intelligence and ability. The two maintained a close relationship until the assassination of Lumumba in 1961.
Lumumba stood for a united Congo and was against division of the country along ethnic or regional lines. It is this and also, Lumumba’s determination that Congo’s natural resources must principally benefit the Congolese people that made him a threat to Western interests, which led them to use all possible strategies to eliminate him.
Despite knowing the dangers he faced in fighting for freedom, justice and dignity for his people, Lumumba, a man of strong character, was unmoved and intended to pursue his policies regardless of the enemies he made within his country or abroad.
Like many other African leaders, he supported pan-Africanism and the liberation of colonial territories. He proclaimed his regime one of “positive neutralism,” which he defined as a return to African values and rejection of any imported ideology.
Here’s a very moving quote on Patrice Lumumba by African-American political activist and leader, Malcolm X;
“Lumumba is the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, the he couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him.”
On Jan. 17 1961, the African leader and first head of government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Patrice Lumumba was brutally murdered yet his legacy continues to spread across free peoples in Africa and the world.