Nearly 60 years after his assassination in January 1961, a court in Belgium ruled on Thursday to give back a tooth- the only remains of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba which his relatives have been lobbying for years to realise this deeply symbolic gesture to the Congolese people.
The museum director says "some were brought by missionaries, others were brought by civil servants… also, some were resulting from military expeditions and sometimes even from plundering." For decades, 🇨🇩 leaders have asked for the return of these objects which 🇧🇪 have refused.
— #CONGOGENOCIDE (@ssozinha__) October 12, 2020
Ben Mangangi, a Congolese student feels inspired by the news, “Lumumba is a symbol of hope for us Congolese youth. He represents so much. He was a patriot who gave up his life for the development of the nation. He’s an example of patriotism for everyone in our generation, to devote our lives to the nation after we finish our studies.”
A deeply symbolic gesture to eternalise Lumumba the Congo’s first prime minister at just 34 years old as an independent nation after advocating for an end to colonial rule.
A military coup d’état fueled by alleged complicity from coloniser Belgium and the United States ended his short-lived regime and in turn dampened the country’s hopes as the rise of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, rose to power.
Between 1961 and 1973, six African independence leaders including Rwagasore Rudoviko, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Sylvanus Olympio, Mehdi Ben Barka were assassinated by their ex-colonial rulers. This group of leaders had a common political project based on national dignity. pic.twitter.com/kUlMLk7qE9
— J.C Karerwa Ndenzako (@KarerwaNdenzako) October 13, 2020
The authoritarian later renamed the country Zaire until his death in 1997 and his regime was characterised by the plundering of the state and its vast mineral riches.
International Foul Play
A Belgian parliamentary probe did determine that the government was “morally responsible” for Lumumba’s death, while a 1975 US Senate committee uncovered a failed CIA plan to assassinate the revered Congolese prime minister.
The tooth — the only physical remains of the hero as his body had been dismembered and dissolved with acid, in an apparent attempt to keep any grave from becoming a pilgrimage site, is certain to have belonged to Lumumba because of where it had been retrieved, according to Belgian officials.