Kigalians relive the life and times of “Patrice Lumumba”
“Patrice Lumumba”, a shocking documentary film on the murder of first post-independence Congolese Prime Minister, Patrice Émery Lumumba, was screened at the Kacyiru based Ishyo Arts Centre theatre hall, earlier this week.
The well-attended event was organised by Goethe-Institut, a cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany, which organises movie nights at the theatre.
Arguably the most high-profile political assassination of the twentieth century, the Pan-Africanist leader was killed on January 1961, in a plot involving the U.S.A, Belgium – the former colonial overlord in the Congo, the United Nations and Congolese leaders led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu.
Directed by Thomas Giefer, the documentary film was originally released in 1992 by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck and retells the events leading up to Lumumba’s brutal murder.
The film is in French but translated in English.
During the 45 minute–film, those present learnt of the most spectacular political murder in cold war Africa: A revealing insight into the implications of “the West” in the political affairs of Congo Kinshasa after the country’s independence from Belgium.
Left to fate
The general outline of the succeeding events is very clear. The Belgians and Americans were pitilessly opposed to Lumumba’s fiercely nationalist positions and wanted him removed at any cost.
“This man was a hero to his countrymen and to all Pan-Africanists,” said James Kamanzi,a movie enthusiast.
“He became a threat to the Americans and Belgians, who cowardly ordered for his arrest and execution.”
Lumumba was assassinated along with two of his comrades - Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, on January 17. He was then dismembered. The body parts were dissolved in acid.
“I think it’s a well documented film,” noted Zephanie Niyonkuru, a Strategy Expert at the Rwanda development Board (RDB).
“The producer has a passion and at least the film is closer to the reality about Patrice Lumumba’s assassination.”
“At first, when the movie started, I was very sad – seeing how Lumumba was always misinterpreted by the ‘West’. An innocent man was killed brutally,” he added.
Several Belgian officials are interviewed in the film, as is his children: Julianna Lumumba and Roland Lumumba, who said that their father knew he would eventually be killed and discussed it on occasion with those close to him.
Of Belgium’s and the Americans’ sleight of hand in the matter of Congolese self–determination, she rightly says, “They gave us independence with their right hand and took it away with the left.”
The film is worth watching
“I appreciate the ‘Patrice Lumumba’ documentary film and the intelligent people who managed to tell this story,” said Ralf Thiel.
The man often described as ‘A True African hero of Pan-Africanism’, was killed because he dared to chart an independent course for his mineral-rich nation – a course which went contrary to the designs of the Western powers.
“This is a serious and sombre film,” said David Murangwa, a student. “I found myself shaking my head at one point, wondering how evil and selfish human beings can be”.
The Lion of Congo
Born on July 2, 1925, in a small village in the Congo, Patrice Lumumba was the Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960.
As a young man he considered himself urbane, with sophisticated views which he expressed in letters and essays written for publication in various Congolese journals.
In 1959, Belgium announced a plan ostensibly intended to lead to independence for the colony, but, in reality, geared more towards restricting real progress towards that end. Rioting broke out in Stanleyville (Kinshasa) as a result and Lumumba was jailed for the second time.
To the dismay of the Belgian colonial administration, the MNC swept the 1960 elections and Patrice Lumumba was asked to form a government. On 23 June, 1960, he became his country’s first Prime Minister.
Contact email: mbabazi.linda[at]newtimes.co.rw