Commentaries

February 2006

THE CONGO AT 45; LUMUMBA AT 80:
IN TRIBUTE TO AN ONGOING STRUGGLE

by Elombe Brath

Thursday, June 30th, represents the 45th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when Patrice Lumumba burst upon the world stage as the Congo's dynamic new leader who led his country to freedom from 75 years of brutal Belgian colonialism in defiance of that small European country's longstanding support of west European imperialist powers. And Saturday, July 2nd, marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Patrice Emery Lumumba, whose name can never be divorced from his nation's glorious struggle to liberate itself from the many vested foreign interests which coveted the country's tremendous natural resources.

Congratulations are in order for both the DRC's continuous struggle and Lumumba's everlasting spirit. For no country in Africa has suffered the brutality of European genocidal terror to ravish the Congolese people and conspired to cover up their crimes with slanders against a people who had dynasties in Africa long before Belgium emerged as a modern nation state.

No African leader struggled as hard against the combined interests of NATO to lead their nation to independence, and once that magnificent achievement was accomplished, had the imperialist cabal usurp a legitimate, ousting a duly elected leader in less than three months, as was the situation that Lumumba was confronted. Moreover, although Lumumba's myriad of enemies were able to force him from control of state power and placed under house arrest, because the U.S. and its European allies were so fearful that his support base was still intact and he might be able to rally them to fight back and restore him to his role as prime minister. Therefore, the administration of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, declared that Lumumba had to be gotten rid of.

On January 17, 1961, the imperialist cabal, particularly in the CIA and Belgium's Surete, coordinated their efforts to have the Congo's charismatic leader and a number of his faithful cadres assassinated. This was done under the CIA-installed Mobutu Sese Seko (Joseph Desire Mobutu), Lumumba's former choice to head the Congolese national army, in a conspiracy with the country's vacillating president, Joseph Kasavubu. As a result, the people of the Congo were soon forced to live under Mobutu, whose tyrannical a rule was nearly as despotic as that of King Leopold II. Mobutu established a brutal reign that even his U.S. sponsors had to admit was guided by kleptomania – a "persistent neurotic impulse to steal." Yet his "kleptocracy" was maintained by nine American presidents and eleven U.S. administrations for 37 years while he became second only to the Shah of Iran in regards to which CIA-installed clone would be the richest leader in the world.

In the meantime, the misfortunate broad masses of the Congo's people continued to decline into poverty, while Mobutu's avaricious greed became more insatiable. Reports later disclosed that his wealth was greater than the country's entire foreign debt. But even though Lumumba had both a much shorter period in office and an even lesser life span, and although Mobutu spent a fortune in self-aggrandizement schemes promoting himself and his regime, four and a half decades later Lumumba's name has been enshrined in history while Mobutu's various names and titles have been collectively dumped on the mound of infamous and treasonous personalities. As the Amsterdam News editor at the time pointed out, Lumumba was the victim of an "international crucifixion", which has guaranteed him to have everlasting life. His name is synonymous as one so committed to the struggle to liberate his people that he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – martyrdom, "death before dishonor", rather than surrender to the oppressors of his people.

It is for all of these reasons and more that it is fitting, even almost obligatory, that we pause this June 30th and July 2nd to pay tribute to the ongoing struggle of the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the immortal visionary who led that struggle, the Honorable Patrice Emery Lumumba.

Atukuzwe Lumumba. Your name will never die because your spirit will never let us forget you. Asante sana.

In this regard, this Saturday, July 2nd, 80 years after his birth, activists and other members of the progressive community celebrate his "earthday" and the 45th anniversary of the founding of the nation he delivered to the Congolese people, to pay homage and their respect for his sacrifice to the struggle to liberate the country's African masses. It is a small but significant way to show that we intend to never quit this struggle until his vision is totally fulfilled. And the driving force to see that accomplished is to understand his enemies, and our enemies as well, are trying to stop us as much as he was determined to fight against their nefarious schemes to defeat us. Join us as we assemble at the 34th Annual International African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park, in downtown Brooklyn, on Navy Street, between Park and Flushing Avenues.

For those attending general admission is free, but for Lumumba, like Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, the price of freedom was death. Let us show our people that we appreciate their sacrifices and support the effort to let our mutual enemies know that, like them, we too will never give up our historic collective struggle until victory is finally won.

Further information can be obtained by calling Kwame Brathwaite at 212-410-7692.