The Sunday Mail
TODAY IN HISTORY . . .
58 years ago, on January 17, 1961 Patrice Emery Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was killed by a firing squad. After delivering the country to independence, Lumumba was soon to face internal strife, led by his chief-of-staff, Joseph-Desire Mobutu, which saw him being imprisoned, tortured and then assassinated.
Whilst in prison, he turned to the United States, the United Nations and Belgium – the country’s coloniser, to help diffuse the situation in the country. Getting no help, he turned to the Soviet Union, a decision which might have led to the Western countries turning a blind eye to the Congo Crisis. In later years, Belgium was to apologise for being complicit in Lumumba’s death.
In his last letter to his wife, he wrote, in part: “Neither brutal assaults, nor cruel mistreatment, nor torture has ever led me to beg for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head held high, unshakable faith, and the greatest confidence in the destiny of my country rather than live in slavery and contempt for sacred principles.”
Born on July 2 1925, Lumumba was killed when he was just 36 years old.