former Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Lives of Courage
Patrice Lumumba was born on 2 July 1925 in Kasai, in the Northern Province of Katanga. He belonged to the Batetela tribe. His father wanted him to be a teacher and was sent to a Roman Catholic Mission to get education. In 1955 he moved to Protestant School where he attended a training course for doctor’s assistant. After reaching Standard VII he left the Protestant School and entered an independent school. He was strongly attracted by the ideas of the French Philosophers in the 18th century such as Voltaire and Rousseau. At this stage he started writing poems using them to indicate difficulties of the Belgian colonial regime. He moved on to attend a postal worker’s school. He worked as a clerk with the local administration, then shortly as the head of a department in a brewery. At the postal office he began with his political activities. In 1958 he was arrested for misuse of postal funds and was soon released.
In October 1958 he founded the National Congolese Movement and became its President. In December 1958 he addressed the Pan-African Congress in Accra, Ghana. He was arrested in 1959 for making a speech which was calling for a rebellion against the colonial rulers. However he was released in November 1959 to attend the Brussels Round Table Conference of January 1960. Lumumba remained in prison under the end of May 1960. After the Democratic Republic of Congo attained independence Lumumba was forced to make an unholy coalition in the National Assembly with Kasavubu. Kasavubu became President and Lumumba became the country’s first Prime Minister. On 4 July 1960 soldiers rebelled against the government. Lumumba called for the assistance of the United Nations Organisation to restore order and expel the Belgians but was not successful. Later disgruntled with the UNO he obtained Russian aid that caused much bloodshed by leading the soldiers through the Southern Kasai. Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba and he in turn dismissed Kasavubu. In October 1960 Lumumba was placed under house arrest. He escaped to Kasai at the end of November 1960 and was captured. On 1 December he was imprisoned at Thysville. On 17 January 1961 he was flown to Elisabethville in Katanga where on 13 February 1961 it was announced that he was shot and killed while trying to escape.