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News > Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo Celebrates 61 Years of Independence From Belgium

  • Patrice Lumumba (C) at his first speech as DRC Prime Minister, 1960.

    Patrice Lumumba (C) at his first speech as DRC Prime Minister, 1960. | Photo: Twitter/ @congotraveldrc

Published 30 June 2021

During the Belgian colonial rule, Leopold II established slavery in this African territory. At least 20 million people died as a result of state violence.

On June 30, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) celebrates 61 years of its independence from Belgium and the election of Patrice Lumumba as its first Prime Minister.


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For the second year in a row, the Congolese will not celebrate this national holiday by performing any rallies or ceremonies because of an exponential rise in COVID-19 infections. Low vaccination rates have left the country vulnerable to the most contagious variants such as the Delta COVID-19 strain.

Commenting on the deficiencies in the management of the pandemic, the mayor of Bandundu city Rabby Ilwani stated that the corruption of the national public institutions has not facilitated the rapid return of social life to normality. For this reason, he appealed to the population to support the values that gave rise to the country's independence.  

On this national holiday, several messages from world leaders were also sent to President Felix Tshisekedi. For instance, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI stated that his country and DRC are united by exceptional bonds of fraternity and solidarity which continue to strengthen for the greater good of our two peoples.

The history of Belgium's involvement in Congo before and after independence is controversial. Last year, King Philippe apologized for the genocide committed during the reign of Leopold II (1865-1909).

This colonial ruler murdered about 20 million people and practiced the worst atrocities such as cutting off the limbs of Black people who did not collect the allotted amount of rubber.

Later, Belgium was involved in the assassination of Lumumba, a precursor and ideologist of the African anti-colonial struggle who continues to be remembered by the peoples of the world.

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