The President of Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, has announced that the remains of DR Congo’s former Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba will be repatriated from Belgium.
“In June 2021, on the sidelines of the celebration of the 61st anniversary of our independence, the homeland will show its gratitude to Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba, one of the national heroes whose relics will be repatriated and to whom we will give finally a burial worthy of his sacrifice for the party,” the President said.
Lumumba was an enduring national hero and icon of those who demand that former colonial powers face up to their history.
The speech in June 1960 marked the brief high point of Lumumba’s brilliant political journey which came to a tragic end just six months later on January 17, 1961.
Toppled from power, humiliated and tortured, Lumumba was executed at the age of 35 by firing squad in a savannah 50 kilometres from Elisabethville (the current Lubumbashi) by Katangan separatists and Belgian mercenaries.
“Patrice Lumumba became a martyr of decolonization, a hero for all the oppressed of the Earth, a saint of godless communism, he owed this status more to the horrible end of his life than to his political successes.
He was in power for barely two and a half months.” says David Van Reybrouck, author of “Congo, a history”.