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International Socialist Review, Winter 1963


Karolyn Kerry

The Political Testament of Patrice Lumumba


From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.2, Spring 1963, pp.62-63.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Congo, My Country
by Patrice Lumumba, with a foreword by Colin Legum
Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1962. 195 pp. $5.95.

In his foreword, entitled: The Life and Death of Patrice Lumumba, Colin Legum is constrained to raise some pertinent questions regarding the circumstances under which this book was published some years after the manuscript had been submitted to the publishers.

He notes in his opening paragraph that:

“Nothing that touches the name of Patrice Lumumba is entirely free from controversy. When this book, which was written in 1956-57, was published posthumously in Belgium last year, it raised a fresh outcry both from those who regarded him as a martyred hero and from those who regarded him as evil incarnate. Was it authentic? With what motive did the publishers produce it four years after it had been sent to them? Why was publication held up in the first place? Had the manuscript been ‘doctored’ in any way?”

On the basis of the evidence Legum is convinced that it is authentic; that the manuscript represents a progressive development of Lumumba’s views which underwent considerable change during and especially after it had been written. The internal evidence would seem to confirm Legum’s conclusion.

Under the explosive impact of the revolutionary development in the Congo, Lumumba rapidly discarded the illusory phantom of “gradualism,” in which the Congolese would “eventually” acquire their freedom and independence from Belgian colonial rule. In his 1956 program, Lumumba advocated the establishment of a Belgo-Congolese Community under Belgium “tutelage,” with a limited form of democracy.

The Belgian colonialists refused to grant the most moderate proposals for a gradual reform until the mounting pressure of a surging mass movement compelled them to surrender far more than the Lumumba program had originally proposed. It is a tribute to his integrity that Lumumba’s thinking kept pace with the dynamic of the revolutionary development. More than any other, he best expressed the aspirations of the Congolese people, to throw off the shackles of colonial oppression.

“By the middle of 1960,” Legum remarks, “Lumumba’s strength was such that, try as they would, neither his Congolese opponents nor the Belgians could resist his claim to become the first Congolese Prime Minister.” Lumumba earned the bitter enmity of the Belgian colonialists by his determination to resist the divisive tactics of the imperialist powers who sought to retain their control by conspiring to promote separatist movements in Kantanga and elsewhere.

On the basis of his experience in the struggle for national independence and national unity, Lumumba quickly realized that even the most elementary democratc reforms could not be achieved without going far beyond his original program. He did hot hesitate to jettison the reformist views put forward in this book – which is all to his credit and testimony to the fact that history today has placed on the agenda tasks which cry out for revolutionary solutions.

Because he remained true to the interests of his people Lumumba was marked for destruction. Legum points out that “Lumumba has an electrifying effect on the Congolese; he was capable of arousing enthusiasm in a way that could not be matched by any other leader in the Congo. That was his strength. The strength of his opponents depended on their ability to neutralize him or, if necessary,to destroy him.” Lumumba could not be silenced, so ... he was murdered.

The treacherous role of the United Nations played no small part in facilitating this dastardly act, and to this day, although a UN resolution, Feb. 1961, specifically instructed the United Nations officials to apprehend and punish the murderers, nothing has been done.

The great distance traveled by Lumumba between the writing of this manuscript and his death can best be illustrated by his political testament, written shortly before he was murdered, in the form of a letter to his wife:

My Dear Wife:

I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, whether I shall still be alive when you read them. All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives. But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies, who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organisation in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.

They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others. They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence to dishonour. How could I speak otherwise? Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I myself who count. It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from beyond whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say No to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia and the free liberated people from all corners of the world will always be found at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there are no longer any colonialists and their mercenaries in our country. As to my children, whom I leave and whom I may never see again,

I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty: for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.

History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets. Africa will write her own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty. Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!


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