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Happy Birthday Patrice

July 3, 2014

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Today would have been Patrice Emery Lumumba’s 89th birthday. Lumumba, first prime minister of the Republic of Congo, was an emblem of passionate resistance to Belgian colonial rule, and at the ceremony marking the handover of power he gave a speech that puckered the sphincters of the assembled dignitaries and oligarchs, vowing that Congo’s independence would be complete and that a free Congo would strive to rectify the desperate and entrenched inequality that the Belgians had created. Someone in the crowd muttered “he’s going to have to go”, and within six months he was dead, assassinated with the collusion of the Belgians and the CIA, both of whom had deemed his government an unacceptable threat to foreign-owned mining and commercial interests in the southeast of the country. Lumumba’s assassination opened the door for the assumption of power by the reptilian Mobutu Sese Seko, an agent of the US and Belgium who slowly disarticulated Congolese society over the following thirty years. We can mark Lumumba’s death today by listening to this podcast from Foreign Affairs, which summarizes some of the information found in a recently declassified trove of documents related to the CIA’s activity in the Congo.

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