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DR CONGO – Lumumba’s tooth, the horrors of colonization and the hero’s immortality

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Only one tooth remains of the remains of Congolese leader and nationalist Patrice Lumumba, murdered in 1961. This relic will finally be handed over to the family of the deceased on 20 June 2022 in Brussels. For Lumumba’s heirs, this is the first victory after a thirty-year legal battle. Thirty years of crying out for justice and truth about the real circumstances of Patrice’s death! Thirty years to claim from the Belgian colonial power, the recognition of its responsibility in this unspeakable crime.

In 2001, Belgium acknowledged its ‘moral responsibility’ in Lumumba’s death. This is very little compared to the scale of cruelty revealed by the history of Belgian colonization in the Congo. So many shattered lives, enormous potentialities drowned, lands ripped open and emptied for the benefit of its ” owner ” Leopold II, the freedom and destiny of an entire confiscated people…, the sum of the horrors inflicted on the Congolese people is unspeakable. Patrice Emery Lumumba, appointed prime minister after Congo’s independence, aspired only to restore its dignity to its people. In a speech that remained famous on that occasion, he recalled the extent of the pains suffered by his country and his willingness to put it back on its feet, not as a vassal but as a free and proud land, a ‘head up’ land that takes its destiny in hand. These words probably cost him his life. We had to quickly eliminate this false note from the hymn of domination and crushing. It was necessary to reduce to nothing these desires of black determination. Lumumba could make emulations, give ideas to other sons of Congo and Africa. It was necessary to break the chain of African awakening. It had to be dissolved. And this is what the executioners of Lumumba did.

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In the middle of the African night, we began by getting drunk to have courage. We spread the bodies. The hardest thing was to cut them into pieces, with a chainsaw, before pouring acid into them. There was almost nothing left, only a few teeth. And the smell! I washed three times and I still felt as dirty as a barbarian,” said Gérard Soete, a Belgian policeman on 15 May 2002, forty years after Patrice Lumumba’s disappearance.

But Lumumba’s soul is tenacious. It doesn’t completely die out. Even in acid, it has withstood nothingness and resurfaced in the heart of truth today. Lumumba’s immortality is exploding in the eyes of the world. His tooth, which will be given to his family, remains the most edifying testimony of the colonial horror and injustices imposed on the black land. God only knows how many African breaths were thus cut and dissolved!
Before the whole world, Belgium will face its conscience, with Lumumba’s tooth in its hand. Lumumba has not been defeated. He is there, in the hearts of these young black consciences who are inspired by his struggle. His life and struggle, like children of eternity, will maintain his living immortality.

Patrice Emery Lumumba, more than a Congolese and African leader, is a free man’s pride. And nothing will erase it. Immortal Patrice Emery Lumumba!

       

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