Patrice Lumumba – Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo

Patrice Émery Lumumba was born on July 2nd 1925, and was assassinated January 17th 1961. Lumumba was an African anti-colonial leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo.

He was elected because he helped to win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba’s government was deposed in coup during the Congo Crisis. He was subsequently imprisoned and assassinated under controversial circumstances.

In my opinion, Patrice Lumumba served as a great martyr for the Congolese people. According to dictionary.com, a martyr is a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: a martyr to the cause of social justice. As shown is the movie, Lumumba fought for what he believed in. He sacrificed many things to accomplish freedom for the Congo. Lumumba was not afraid to challenge white supremacy and denounce the oppressive way Europeans treated Africans. One thing I noticed in the movie was that Lumumba was very family oriented and cared a lot not just for his family, but his followers also.
As I said above, Lumumba was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo in June 1960. Sixty-seven days after he came to power, Patrice Lumumba was dismissed by state president Joseph Kasa-Vubu.

Lumumba was placed under informal house arrest at the prime minister’s residence. UN troops were positioned around the house to “protect” him. After he was arrested, Lumumba made the decision to escape out of his residence at night in a visiting diplomat’s car. Mobutu’s troops were in hot pursuit, they followed him.

At this point in the movie, a Congolese civilian stopped Lumumba’s vehicle and warned him that Mobutu’s troops were very close behind. He was told to “Get off the main road”, so they decided to cross the Sankuru River.

The scene in the movie shows Lumumba looking back at his family, with terror in his eyes. From the expression on his face you can tell he won’t be seeing his wife and family ever again after that day. He was captured that day near the Sankuru River by soldiers loyal to Colonel Mobutu. Lumumba was then transported on January 17, 1961, from the military prison in Thysville near Leopoldville to a “more secure” prison in Jadotville in the Katanga Province. There were reports that Lumumba and his fellow prisoners, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, were beaten by provincial police upon their arrival in secessionist Katanga.

Lumumba and his fellow prisoners were taken into the woods and shot one by one. The guards tied them to a tree and shot them. As they dragged his followers, they resisted. All but one. Lumumba walked himself to the tree, and immediately pressed his back against the tree. He was not afraid to die for what he believed in. It wasn’t enough that these three men were shot and killed; they were cut into pieces and then burned. There is no evidence of their death and no ashes.

One thing I learned from this film is that Lumumba
had faith that his message would live on after his death. This is very hard to believe, especially when he was treated so badly by Mobutu and his army.

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