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.

Lumumba is a member of the Tetela ethnic group. He was born on July 2, 1925, in Katako-Kombe in the Sunkuru district of the Kasai Province. Growing up, Lumumba attended a Protestant Missionary school as well as a Catholic missionary school and became a part of the educated elite called évolués. Lumumba contributed to the Congolese press through poems and other writings. His occupations included a postal clerk in Kinshasa and an accountant in Kisangani. Lumumba’s organizational involvement were varied. He served as head of a trade union of government employees, he was active in the Belgian Liberal Party and in 1958, Lumumba founded the Congolese National Movement (MNC in French). Also in 1958, he was invited to the first All-African People’s Conference in Accra, Ghana, organized by Kwame Nkrumah. He met nationalists and pan-africanists from various African countries and became a member of the permanent organization set up by the conference.

Lumumba’s party won national elections in May of 1960 which led to his ascendancy to Prime Minister on June 30, 1960. Read more on Lumumba>>

Lumumba’s Independence Day Speech
Lumumba’s Last Letter to his Wife

Reading List
Congo My Country by Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom by Patrice Lumumba
The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo De Witte
Rise and Fall of Patrice Lumumba by Thomas Kanza
Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961
Translated by Helen R. Lane. Ed. Jean Van Lierde