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News > Democratic Republic of Congo

Africa Recalls 61st Death Anniversary of Patrice Lumumba

  • Anti-colonial leader Patrice Lumumba, Congo.

    Anti-colonial leader Patrice Lumumba, Congo. | Photo: Twitter/ @EOTierney

Published 17 January 2022

This anti-colonial leader was deposed from his position as Congo's Prime Minister in 1960 and assassinated by troops backed by the U.S. and Belgium a year later. 

On Monday, Africans remember the 61st anniversary of the death of Patrice Lumumba, an anti-colonial leader who fought for the independence of the Congo from Belgium and became this country's prime minister.


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Born on July 2, 1925, in Katako-Kombe municipality, Lumumba studied in a Catholic school and later in a Swedish-run Protestant school. Since his youth, he stood out for his academic results and links to anti-imperialist and pacifist organizations.

In 1958, he founded the Congolese National Movement, which advocated the creation of an independent and secular State whose unitary political structures would overcome social differences. The movement became the first national political party.

In that year, Lumumba also participated in the Pan-African Accra Conference, in which he met anti-colonial leaders Frantz Fanon (Argelia), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), and Felix-Roland Moumie (Cameroon) and was elected permanent member of its coordination committee.

After winning the first Congolese free elections in 1960, Lumumba was appointed Prime Minister and started promoting social policies that pleased the population but caused the Belgian entrepreneurs to prompt the rebellion of some army units to preserve their interests.

Amid the revolt, the Katanga province was declared an independent republic under the rule of anti-communist leader Moise Tshombe. For allegedly protecting Belgium citizens, King Balduino sent troops to this province that supported the Tshome government.

To counteract this situation, Lumumba appealed to the United Nations (UN), which sent a few military personnel who could not restore order. Finding himself isolated, he asked for the support of the Soviet Union, with which he threatened Western interests amid the tense political atmosphere of the Cold War.

Following the Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko military coup, Lumumba was arrested while he attempted to meet his supporters in the eastern Congo and killed by U.S.-backed Katanga rebel troops in 1961.

For posterity, Lumumba has remained a martyr of African nationalism. His aspirations for peace and social justice have inspired the resistance of a Lumumbist movement in the Congo. "Without dignity, there is no freedom, without justice, there is no dignity, and without independence, there are no free human beings," he once stated.

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