January 2011 will mark the 50th anniversary of the murder of one of the world’s greatest anti-imperialist leaders – Patrice Lumumba. The first Prime Minister of independent Congo, Lumumba died at the hands of US and Belgian imperialism and their domestic puppets.
Congo was a colony of Belgium from 1884-1960. For part of that time it was directly owned by King Leopold II of Belgium, and then the Belgian parliament, which exploited the country for its rubber, mineral wealth and slave labour. Belgium and international corporations were trying to “civilize the pagan Congolese people”, while conveniently making immense profits. One useful “civilizing” tool they used was severing the hands of workers that were not meeting their rubber quotas.
The Congolese people rose up against colonialism and imperialism along with their sisters and brothers around the world at that time. Lumumba and the Congolese National Movement led the struggle and Lumumba was elected the Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo in 1960.
Now politically sovereign, Congo’s oppressors quickly emerged as foreign Capital and their imperialist states. The governments of Belgium, France, England and the US had no intention of letting the Congolese people keeping some of the profits from the Congo’s mineral wealth.
They manufactured a secessionist movement within the wealthy region of Katanga, led by wealthy plantation owner and businessman Moise Tshombe. Provoking the domestic crisis a Western dominated UN force moved in to “stabilize” the country.
Fidel Castro warned at the United Nations that the American government had been advising Col. Mobutu within the Congolese military. Sure enough, on September 5, 1960, Lumumba was summarily removed from office, Soviet representatives were ordered out of the country, and a military dictatorship was established under Col. Mobutu.
In January of 1961, Lumumba was turned over by the military government to Tshombe in Katanga. Soon after, in collusion with Belgian officials, Lumumba and two of his comrades from the republic’s government were lined up against a tree and shot.
Malcolm X, called Lumumba “the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people so scared they had to kill him.”