Friends of the Congo in collaboration with Congo Love and Quatrieme Voie will launch the inaugural Lumumba Prize on January 17, 2018. The Lumumba prize is an annual award given to a leader on the African continent who exhibits the ideals and teachings of Patrice Emery Lumumba through his/her work. Lumumba is one of Congo’s independence heroes and the first democratically elected prime minister. The Winners of the Lumumba prize will be announced on July 2, 2018, the birthday of Patrice Emery Lumumba. The three winners will be recognized in the spirit of Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito (the two comrades who were assassinated with Lumumba).
The Winners of the Prize will exhibit the following qualities or traits:
- Tolerance for different cultures and ethnicity
- Love of country, continent and humanity
- Fierce defender of the interests of the masses
- Embrace and love for African culture
- Believe in the self-determination of Congo and Africa
- See the future of Congo as being inextricably linked to the future of the African continent
- Embrace the principles and pursuit of PanAfricanism
The winners will receive a cash prize and commemorative painting of Patrice Lumumba, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo.
Why the Lumumba Prize?
Throughout Congo’s history, the central drive of the people has been to control and determine the affairs of this spectacularly wealthy country. Patrice Lumumba, one of Congo’s independence heroes and its first democratically elected Prime Minister who was overthrown by the West, embodies this spirit of independence and self-sufficiency. Recognizing, individuals and institutions that strive to fulfill Lumumba’s ideals of a free and liberated Congo is one key way to perpetuate his legacy and that of his comrades, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo for future generations.
The Man, Patrice Emery Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba was the first elected Prime Minister of the Congo. He ascended to power in the Congo on June 30, 1960, the date of Congo’ s independence from Belgium. Within ten weeks of being elected, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup. He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated on January 17, 1961 by Western powers (United States, Belgium, France, England and the United Nations) in cahoots with local leaders such as Moise Tshombe and Joseph Desire Mobutu.
Maurice Mpolo (1928 – 1961)
Maurice Mpolo was 32 years old when he was assassinated along with Patrice Lumumba and Joseph Okito on January 17, 1961. Mpolo was born on March 4, 1928 in Leopoldville (Kinshasa). He was married to Catherine Wale and they had four children together, two boys and two girls. He was the sports and youth minister in Lumumba’s government. He served briefly as army’s chief of staff. He was a leader in Lumumba’s political party the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC).
Joseph Okito (1910 – 1961)
Joseph Okito was 50 years old when he was assassinated along with Maurice Mpolo and Patrice Lumumba on January 17, 1961. He was vice-president of the Senate. He was a leader in Lumumba’s political party the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC).