The nine-day pilgrimage which retraced the highlights of Patrice Lumumba’s life in the Democratic Republic of Congo ends in Kinshasa with the burial of his coffin on Thursday, the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence.
On the avenue that bears his name and leads to Kinshasa’s international airport, at the “Échangeur de Limete”, an imposing statue of Lumumba overlooks a glass and concrete mausoleum where the preserved remains of the remains of this martyr of independence: a tooth with the value of a relic.
Congolese and Chinese workers were still busy on Wednesday cleaning the sidewalk or watering the newly planted lawn there. Further on, a stand in the colors of the Congolese flag is transformed. President Félix Tshisekedi speaks there.
In a room set up next door, at the foot of the “Tour de l’Échangeur” which symbolizes the city of Kinshasa, around twenty Congolese artists have reproduced in their own way the life, vision and political heritage of this hero of African independence.
“There is a spiritual relationship between Lumumba, the ancestors and the world”, analyzes the organizer of the exhibition, the artist Franck Dikisongele, explaining the content of a painting where we see the ancestors at the feet of Lumumba. , speaking into megaphones, while he held a rooster, a symbol of revival, carried skyward.
“Lumumba bore the weight of the claims and sufferings of the Congolese population against Belgium. The path remained rocky, but he knew how to lead the people to independence”, explains the artist in front of another painting showing the hero tractor an overflowing cart covered with the flag of the DRC.
“Lumumba sweated to carry out his mission for the Congo. Unfortunately, he also shed his blood,” he finished, continuing the visit.
– “National cohesion” –
According to historians, it was his virulent speech against the racism of Belgian settlers that made him a legend on June 30, 1960, the day of the official proclamation of the independence of the former Belgian Congo.
A speech which also sealed the fate of this nationalist considered a communist by his detractors. After only 75 days, the Prime Minister of the DRC was neutralized, then assassinated a few months later, at 35 years old.
On Wednesday in Kinshasa, the coffin was taken to the room where Lumumba gave his famous speech, at the Palais de la Nation, the seat of Parliament at that time.
On this occasion, President Félix Tshisekedi decorated the two companions in misfortune of Patrice Lumumba, Joseph Okito, Vice-President of the Senate, and Maurice Mpolo, Minister of Education, killed in the same circumstances as him on January 17, 1961 in Shilatembo, in Haut-Katanga (south-east), by Katangese separatists and Belgian mercenaries.
For the wake, it was at the Prime Minister’s office that the coffin spent its last night before burial. Five former prime ministers were present on this occasion alongside the current head of government Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde.
“The first symbol of national cohesion, the personality of Patrice Lumumba has transcended political differences”, declares Évariste Mabi, Prime Minister in 1987-1988, under President Mobutu Sese Seko. Patrice Lumumba “remains the embodiment of a successful struggle for the liberation of the people”, he adds.
After the official return by Belgium to the DRC of Patrice Lumumba’s tooth on June 20, the coffin of the Congolese national hero arrived on the 22nd in the DRC and was transported to Sankuru (center), his native land, in Kisangani (north-east), his political stronghold, then on the place of his torture.
A national mourning that began on Monday during his journey to Kinshasa will end after the burial.