Lumumba '53

Written by Gorilla Ndelo. Posted in Gorilla Blog.

Today we commemorate a man whose philosophy is paramount to the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), a Congolese independence leader who helped orchestrate the Congo's freedom from Belgium, is our resident DRC ApeParel historical hero.

Patrice Lumumba was born to a small tribe, grew up writing poetry and reporting for the press, then started the first nationwide Congolese political party. His rivals believed his humble beginnings could be overshadowed by their birth rites to prominent tribes in Belgian Congo, but his roots were a source of his strength and led him to great influence.

Lumumba was able to connect people of all tribes, spanning 905,563 square miles of country (slightly less than 1/4 of the US). Not a small feat. And not something others had attempted.

Bringing people together in this way shed light on the similarities between tribes, their common denominator being desire for a free nation, and increased the likelihood of a successful transition from Belgian rule to independent rule.

The MNC - Congolese National Movement - headed by Lumumba, won the first elections and formed the new independent government on June 30, 1960, now national independence day.

Soon after, already shaky ground began to rumble. His resolve to run the country as he see fit, independently, led to what historical claims report as a situation in which "an imprisoned Lumumba was more dangerous than a dead Prime Minister". Escalated tension and hostility among other leaders with vested interest in the Congo, both foreign and native, led to Lumumba's arrest and subsequent murder.

His life, as is the case for many of history's true leaders and men and women of heart, is one of great tragedy and triumph - without his vision for a united Congo, without his individual leadership, the thread of true Congolese unity would be further lost in a battered sea of global political bureaucracy.

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