Okello Oculi memorialises Patrice Lumumba, former prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

On 17th January, 1961 Belgian officials and military officers hacked Patrice Lumumba’s body into little pieces and dropped their total harvest into a barrel full of sulphuric acid. One military officer cut off Lumumba’s index finger as a trophy to keep in his family home back in Belgium. Belgian Government officials are reported to be offering to return it to Lumumba’s children for an official burial.

In a letter to his wife Lumumba told her not to weep for him. Her tears couldn’t match that of Congolese patriots and nationalists all across Africa. Moreover, his blood would irrigate Africa’s quest for freedom. He had cursed and damned King Bedouin of Belgium at Congo’s independence ceremony by recounting the genocidal record of King Leopold cutting off hands of over ten million Congolese; of farmers who whipped workers with rhino hide, and companies that dug out copper, diamond, gold and other precious minerals from under Congo’s land.

His blood and curses at Euro-American colonialism roused rage in warriors in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, South Africa and Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. But the tool of assassination that oozed out of hearts and minds of Belgian defenders of the economic greed of Belgium was a trait limited not to their tribe. Portugal’s secret police, the PIDE, would later assassinate Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique. South Africa’s racist government would use a crash of a Russian presidential aircraft to terminate Samora Machel and his top advisers and cabinet members. PIDE would strike again by assassinating Amilcar Cabral.

The defence of access to minerals by Euro-American companies had incited President Eisenhower to direct the CIA to ‘’neutralise’’ Lumumba if he was ‘’mad’’ enough to invite the Soviet Union to send him war planes to end the protection by Belgian troops of secession by Katanga. Oil companies with geological data on oil deposits in the Niger Delta would have shared with South Africa’s racist leaders wishes to terminate Abubakar Tafawa Balewa whose political dexterity had severely weakened opposition to his northern behemoth, and would hinder oil exploitation on the cheap.

Lumumba’s legendary powers as a user of words to rouse the political emotions of crowds had been captured in poetic drama by Martinique’s writer Aime Cesaire. Liberation movements had combined that skill with putting guns in hands of villagers and created military storms which drove Portuguese colonial power out of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique. Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF mobilised their Shona people into shaving Ian Smith’s head, and shove from his tongue the boast that European immigrants would rule Zimbabwe for one thousand years.

The French writer Regis Debray once wrote that ‘’the revolution revolutionises the counter-revolution’’. His wit was adopted by the 83 multinational corporations which a United Nations Committee accused of supplying weapons to militias that kill, maim and burn homes and food storage granaries and barns to drive them out of areas rich in vital minerals. Dr. Dennis Mukwege, the Congolese Nobel Laureate whose surgery repairs and heals women victims of sex as a weapon of war, urged European users of cell phones to hear screams of women victims from areas with coltran deposits.

Lumumba’s rousing voice to build political power from within a tortured people, continues to be drowned by staccatos of guns of murderous agents of exploiters of Congo’s rich minerals. Their counter-revolution kills silence with harassed screams of hacked villagers.

But Lumumba was a man of action, of struggle for freedom and development of human dignity. It has been suggested that his admirers in East Africa may have injected their goodwill in the election campaign of Felix Tshisekedi; and are following it with negotiating his country into membership of a political and economic community shared by Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. It is said that it was Mohammed Babu, a Zanzibar Marxist, who fished out Patrice Lumumba from a slum in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), and took to attend Kwame Nkrumah’s 1958 all-Africa conference. That conference was a vital arena of political education for Lumumba. A boomerang is at play here.

Nkrumah created a Pan-African educational institution known as the ‘’Young Pioneers’’. It drew youths from other African countries to train as builders of a United States of Africa. Successive governments killed it. The current Pan-African Parliament is not made of former Young Pioneers. They are bred inside ‘state sovereignty’ as political prison spaces.

Lumumba would approve of rebuilding the PAN-AFRICAN NEWS AGENCE, PANA, to exploit the power of the word to promote the germination and fruiting warriors of knowledge and grand vision for Africa. The Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow should build campuses in each region of Africa and breed true Lumumbist architects of ‘Another Africa’ beyond pygmy sovereignties.

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