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Friday, March 16, 2012

Martyrdom: Patrice Lumumba (To Divide and Rule Was Their Only Plan...)

We must canonize our own saints, create our own martyrs, and elevate to positions of fame and honor black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our racial history. ~ Marcus Garvey

I only gave voice to words of freedom and brotherhood, words they couldn't accept. Just words. ~ Patrice Lumumba
 A whole heap ah lessons can be learned from ourstory, Black stories, African stories. Anytime I think 'bout Patrice Lumumba, the Divide and Rule concept bounce 'round mi brain  and I can hear Jah Cure chant 'bout how it "is their only plan...." I, Kaya, done say it already: the so-called Cold War was actually fought in the Third World amongst poor people. The so-called Super Powers only postured and plotted, and is we in the Caribbean and Africa and Asia who actually bust we gun, killing we own people, in the name of Capitalism, Socialism or Communism. "We sick an tired of yuh ism, schism."

Patrice Lumumba was charismatic and warm, and at the time the only Congolese leader who  genuinely stood firm for anti-tribalism, anti-regionalism, anti-imperialism,  and African Unity. Like Walter Rodney, he was quick to speak out 'gainst fuckery- that is, exploitation and oppression. The man proudly wore the robe of African Nationalism. But you done know, the powers that be couldn't stand to see a strong, fully independent Congo, united and  in control of her own natural resources.
Patrice Hemery Lumumba was born on July 2, 1925 in Onalua, in Kasai, Congo. In a country made up of a couple hundred tribes/ethnic groups, he was the son of farmers who belonged to one of the smallest- the Batetela ethnic group. Back in them days Congo was a colony of belgium and Lumumba was mostly Western-educated, he attended Christian primary and secondary schools. He became a postal clerk and was an active member of the évolués (Western educated Africans and Asians). He wrote essays and poems for Congolese publications and press. Just reading about his earlier life, one could think Lumumba woulda been the perfect colonial puppet, once Congo became independent in 1960. But nah, man. The belgians flung him in prison twice, first for embezzlement of post office funds and later for inciting an anti-colonial riot.
He helped found the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC)* in '58, and eventually became president of this organisation. In December that said year, Lumumba and a team of MNC members attended the All-African Peoples' Conference in Accra, Ghana. Hosted byKwame Nkrumah of Ghana and this event served like steel sharpening steel- Lumumba honed his Pan-Africanist focus and his tone grew into militant nationalism after attending this conference.

Map of Territorial Control during the Congo Cr...                                    Image via Wikipedia
Leading up to independence in 1960, belgium knew it had a problem with Patrice Lumumba's popularity amongst his people. He was staunchly nationalist and was against tribal division, conflict and war. In other words, he was against Divide and Rule. He fire-burned the cloak of neo-colonialism. When the belgians held a round table conference in brussels to stage who and who would run Congo, which leaders were "suitable" to protect belgian interests- especially the resource-rich Katanga and South Kasai states/provinces, it was really a ploy of picking puppets.
Lumumba at the time was in jail on the riot charge**, but his MNC party members and supporters in brussels refused to participate without Lumumba, they demanded his freedom. 
Babylon released the chains and Lumumba was flown in to brussels. The man stepped in to the conference room hours after sitting in a cell.
Elections were held in May. Over 120 mostly ethnic or regional parties participated.  But the MNC united across ethnic lines and regional divisions and triumphed. The party named the thirty-four year old Lumumba the country's first Prime Minister.  Joseph Kasavubu of Abako (Alliance des Ba-Kongo, organ of the Bakongo, one of the largest ethnic groups in the Congo) was made President. 
Then came Independence Day, June 30th. The ceremony in which the belgians "handed over" the Congo to the Congolese deliberately excluded Patrice Lumumba. In fact, leading up to the ceremony, king baudouin paraded around the capital in a car with Joseph Kasavubu. (The newly formed constition named the prome misnister the supreme power and the president the ceromonial leader)  During the ceremony, Prime Minister Lumumba was excluded from speaking and sat quietly observing. But after the belgian king's paternalistic speech about how "...The independence of the Congo is the crowning of the work conceived by the genius of king leopold II, undertaken by him with courage and continued by Belgium with perseverance...", Lumumba could restrain himself no longer. He rose, took the podium and delivered his famous Tears, Blood and Fire speech, reminding the world:
"... no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that it was by fighting that it has been won, a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood. We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force..." Read Prime Minister Lumumba's Independence Day Speech in full (AKA The Tears, Blood and Fire Speech"
It was this speech that sealed Patrice Lumumba's fate.
In the days and months that followed, the country descended into chaos. Divisions formed along ethnic and regional lines. Other Congolese political leaders exploited their associations and ties, but Patrice held on to his Nationalist conviction, determined that one, undivided nation would be the best approach. "The more closely united we are, the better we will resist oppression, corruption, and those divisive maneuvers which experts in the policy of 'divide and rule' are resorting to."
When the mineral-rich province Katanga seceded under General Moïse Tshombe, it was done with belgium's support. After all, belgium had economic interest in the Katanga region and was nervous of Lumumba's nationalist views. Since it was newly independent nation with an inexperienced army, Lumumba appealed to the UN and even America for assistance in keeping Congo unified. When neither helped, Lumumba asked the Soviet Union for planes to help move troops to the Katanga region. This further alarmed belgium and America. Kasa-vubu, with his more moderate tone dismissed Lumumba as Prime minister. Patrice in turn announced the dismissal of Kasa-vubu from presidency. So now you had two seperate governments claiming legitimacy. Now up comes Colonel Joseph Mobutu with his CIA- backed coup d'etat, taking advantage of the weak, divided government. Mobutu deposed both leaders and placed Lumumba under house arrest. 

Lumumba then briefly escaped but Mobutu's troops quickly tracked him down and put him on a flight to Leopoldville. They paraded him, beaten and humiliated, in front of journalists and diplomats. Then at Mobutu's villa the Prime Minister was further humiliated when he was beaten in front of TV cameras for the world to see.
Still, belgium wanted more blood and demanded that Lumumba be delivered to General Moïse Tshombe of Katanga. Mobutu complied and Lumumba was again beaten savagely during the flight to Elizabethville where he was seized by Katangan soldiers led by belgian commanders. On January 17, 1961, Patrice Lumumba was killed by firing squad commanded by a belgium officer. His body was then chopped up, dismantled and dissolved in sulfuric acid to hide evidence.

When I analyze the stench, Mobutu was backed by the CIA because he screamed anti-communism. Tshombe was backed by the belgians because he did their bidding and could be manipulated. Kasavubu was a moderate. But Patrice Lumumba was just too independent/non-aligned for the Europeans and Americans. Remember, this was the Cold War era. African nations were gaining independence from the colonizers, who were determined to install puppets. Lumumba stood firm and refused to be controlled. 
So babylon used their brains, divided and conquered. And though they may taint Lumumba every chance they get, it is up to us to uphold his legacy.
Never gone, Never forgotten!
Congo! Lumumba! Uhuru!

* Congolese National Movement
** The belgian government planned a five-year program that would eventually grant Congo independence. The program was to begin with elections in December 1959, but the MNC cited, and sighted, this as a deliberate plot to place belgian puppets in the government before independence. The nationalist declared they were boycotting the elections. The belgians fired back with oppression and persecution. On October 30 there was a clash in Stanleyville and thirty people died. 

Patrice Lumumba Speaks:
“Slavery was imposed on us by force! We have known ironies and insults. We remember the blows that we had to submit to morning, noon and night because we were Negroes!”

"We are neither Communists, Catholics nor socialists. We are African nationalists. We reserve the right to choose our friends in accordance with the principle of positive neutrality."

"Who will ever forget the massacres where so many of our brothers perished; the cells into which those who refused to submit to a regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation were thrown?" (referring to atrocities committed against the Congolese people by the belgians since the time of the time of the Congo Free State)

Question: "Some of your political opponents accuse you of being a Communist. Could you reply to that?"
Lumumba's Answer: "This is a propagandist trick aimed at me. I am not a Communist. The colonialists have campaigned against me throughout the country because I am a revolutionary and demand the abolition of the colonial regime, which ignored our human dignity. They look upon me as a Communist because I refused to be bribed by the imperialists."
(From an interview to a "France-Soir" correspondent on July 22, 1960)

Your favorite revolutionary's favorite revolutionary:
“...the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people [the colonialists] so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him.”
Malcolm X (speaking about Lumumba at an Organisation of Afro-American Unity rally in 1964)

“We must move forward, striking out tirelessly against imperialism. From all over the world we have to learn lessons which events afford. Lumumba’s murder should be a lesson for all of us.”
Che Guevara 

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