The Sunday Mail
From tomorrow until Wednesday, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be mourning Patrice Lumumba — the country’s first democratically elected prime minister — who was slain 61 years ago in the goriest way imaginable at the behest of America, Belgium, UK and a shameless coterie of power-hungry separatists in Katanga Province.
On Wednesday, Lumumba’s “remains” — a gold-crowned tooth harvested from his decomposing corpse — will be flown back to his home country from Belgium, the country’s former colonial master, where it was inexplicably and eerily kept as a macabre memento by one of the officers, Gerard Soete, who dismembered the nationalist and dissolved his body in sulphuric acid.
After arriving in Kinshasa, the remains will be taken around the country before being finally interred for the third and final time on June 30, incidentally the day that marks the DRC’s 62 years of Independence from Belgium.
It has come full circle for Lumumba, who became a marked man fated to be assassinated from the day he delivered that fiery independence speech on June 30, 1960 that confirmed the West’s worst fears that he was a staunch nationalist, devout Pan-Africanist and unflinching anti-colonialist likely to scupper their designs in the resource-rich Congo.
We shouldn’t lose sight that at that time most African countries were under the vice-grip of greedy colonialists.
And dressing down Belgian King Baudouin, who was the most esteemed guest at the ceremony, in front of an ecstatic starry-eyed African crowd could only have come at an extortionate cost that could only be paid in blood.
Well, if you thought Moreblessing Ali of Nyatsime, Chitungwiza, was butchered in an unconscionably sordid way, then you might not have heard the way Lumumba met the most horrific and gory end.
Even in death, he did not know peace.
With less than six months into his job, Lumumba was ousted, condemned and handed over to his blood-thirsty enemies in the secessionist region of Katanga, which was led by Moise Tshombe.
On their flight to the mineral-rich province, the nationalists, who also included Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo, were beaten like piñatas.
When they arrived, the beatings did not stop.
In the evening, they were driven to the killing field, where 35-year-old Belgian inspector of police Frans Verscheure pushed each of the three men individually in front of the burial hole.
Another low-ranking Belgian officer, Captain Julien Gat, gave the order to the firing squad, while Tshombe and his posse of political officers amusingly looked on.
At 9.43pm on that fateful January 17 evening Lumumba was dead and his bullet-riddled body was buried in a shallow grave.
The following morning, villagers who heard gunshots the previous evening stumbled upon the graves.
Fearing the scene would become “a shrine where ghouls might procure sacred relics and mementos”, the assassins decided to obliterate the memory of the nationalists.
Enter Gerard Soete, another Belgian officer, who exhumed the corpses the following day, on January 18, wrapped them in canvass sheets and transported them near the border with Zambia, where he buried them.
Soete later returned, unearthed the cadavers and, after hacking off the arms, legs and heads using a hacksaw, dissolved the decomposing parts in sulphuric acid, but not before he kept the gold-capped tooth as a keepsake.
We are told the butchering took two days and two nights until February 1.
It is as unthinkable as it is diabolic.
“We did things an animal would not do,” recounted Soete, who later opened up in 1999 that he had kept the tooth.
It is the same tooth that will be buried on Thursday in sacred remembrance of this Pan-African stalwart, whose young life, together with the future of the DRC, was brutishly and violently cut short.
Bishop Lazarus once told you that the plan to off Lumumba was actively pursued by America’s CIA under the express authority of President Dwight Eisenhower, who ironically made his farewell address in a public speech broadcast on the same day DRC’s prime minister was killed.
The British and Belgians, among other influential powers, were also in on it.
Remorseless and Insincere
The Bishop, however, took time to elaborate Lumumba’s inglorious fate as a metaphor that highlights the horrific extent to which Africa has, is and will possibly continue suffering because of its fabulous mineral riches.
Isn’t it rich that Lumumba’s mortal remains were dissolved in sulphuric acid that came from Union Miniere du Haut-Katanga (UMHK), a company formed by Belgian King Leopold II in 1906 to exploit minerals in a territory he had been gifted as personal property at the Berlin Conference that was held in German between November 15, 1884 and February 26, 1885.
A Belgian parliament’s 2000-2001 commission of inquiry on the assassination of Lumumba described UMHK — a major producer of copper, gold, silver, uranium, tin, diamonds, cobalt, zinc, germanium and manganese — as “the essential economic actor” in events surrounding the assassination.
Not only did it morally, logistically and materially support the secessionist administration in Katanga, but it also talked of “disappearing” Lumumba in internal memos.
From archived material, we now know that in September 1960, UMHK’s Louis Wallef wrote to a colleague about the need for “someone” — obviously Patrice Lumumba, whom the company described as similar to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh and likely to give them a torrid time — to “disappear”.
This Anglo-Belgian mining behemoth grew in influence to such an extent that by 1929 it was the world’s largest copper producer and by the 1960s and had become the largest producer of cobalt.
At one time, it generated half of Congo’s revenues and 70 percent of exports.
Most people are blissfully ignorant to the fact that the two bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan) on August 6 and August 9, 1945, respectively, were developed by the American military through the Manhattan Project using uranium from Congolese mines.
Spurred by these mineral riches exploited using black labour, Belgium built its economy and cities, and added impetus to its industrial growth.
The port of Antwerp unsurprisingly later became the second busiest after Britain’s Liverpool owing to the frenzied trade in minerals, ivory and rubber from the colonial territory.
And, as Belgium grew filthy rich, DRC conversely became very poor and fractured along ethnic and various tribal fault lines.
The violent exploitation of the Congo came at an unimaginably high cost in human lives, as more than 10 million people died, a shocking number whichever way one looks at it.
And the latest flare-up of violence in eastern DRC, which saw the East African Community (EAC) deploying peace-keeping troops last week, shows the country has not recovered from its troubled past to this day.
Yet companies that were foundationally born out of UMHK such as Brussels-headquartered Umcore, a firm that recycles rechargeable batteries and refines cobalt for electric vehicles produced by Elon Musk’s Tesla, continue to benefit from the Congo.
In a letter to then-UN secretary-general U Thant in December 1963, Kwame Nkurumah, independent Ghana’s first president, who also had the ignominy of being ousted through a CIA-engineered coup, succinctly captured Bishop Lazi’s point: “Lumumba was not killed because he was thought to be a communist, but because he was a nationalist leader threatening the monopolies of the Union Minière (UMHK).”
So, far from being vanity endeavours meant to assuage imperial egos, colonialism and neo-colonialism were and are actually economic enterprises meant to guarantee lofty lifestyles of the West.
This is why we were colonised by the British South Africa Company (BSAC) and India was conquered by the British East India Company.
What is worse is that despite the atrocities, industrial-scale exploitation and humiliation visited on our African people, these vile people are not even ashamed or apologetic, and do not countenance paying us reparations, which ordinarily should be the right thing to do.
Luke 17:3 says: “So watch yourselves. ‘If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.’”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 adds: “Yet now I am happy, not because you were sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow and brings death.”
Well, when Belgium’s King Philippe travelled to the DRC on June 6 this year for a historic six-day visit, he could not bring himself to apologise for Brussels role in the Congo’s horrific past.
But, it is hardly surprising considering that in a recent University of Antwerp survey, half of Belgium shockingly indicated the European country had done more good than bad in the DRC. Argh! Kikikiki.
The fact that the US and countries such as Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, UK, and the European Commission have cobbled together a Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), which is ostensibly meant to secure strategic minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, among others, gives Bishop Lazi the hibbie-jibbies and an ominous foreboding.
Some of us know what this means.
There will be more frantic and manic efforts to install puppet regimes and destabilise countries such as Bolivia that have considerable deposits of these minerals.
Here, in our sacred teapot-shaped Republic, we are also richly endowed.
As we prepare to finally lay down Lumumba, a Pan-African colossus, Africa should be wary of past shenanigans.
We must prepare for a new war on the horizon.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!