Source: Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1961, pp 26-33.
Written: by Patrice Lumumba;
Transcribed: by Thomas Schmidt.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of the Congo we salute you for the magnificent work that you have done.
Solemnly opened on August 25 under the banner of solidarity, the All-African Conference, which we invited to Leopoldville, has successfully completed its work. You have worked as a team in a spirit of understanding and have placed the interests of Africa above our individual interests and features. The success of this Conference gives us grounds for believing in Africa's future. Africa's unity will not be possible until all her children become united among themselves.
This has been profoundly grasped by us and that is why we are here together in this hall.
We have only just completed a tour of the interior of the Republic. We were accompanied by delegates from African countries and by African and foreign journalists, whom we invited. Everybody has seen the enthusiasm of the people and their trust in their Government and leaders. Everybody has seen how the Congolese trust their African brothers and how sincere the inhabitants of our country are in their striving for peace and order. Everybody could see the real face of the Congo and its people.
The colonialists have created a false problem. It is, as you know, the Katanga drama, which conceals an entire headquarters of saboteurs of our national independence. This headquarters, which at present operates covertly, through intermediaries, has the sole object of stirring up trouble, creating difficulties for the Government, discrediting it abroad through carefully organised propaganda, and re-enslaving the Congo. And all this for the sole purpose of securing their own selfish interests.
The colonialists care nothing for Africa for her own sake. They are attracted by African riches and their actions are guided by the desire to preserve their interests in Africa against the wishes of the African people. For the colonialists all means are good if they help them to possess these riches.
Luckily for us, the Congolese people and their Government have shown themselves to be vigilant. Our struggle is aimed at liberating the country, restoring peace and consolidating social justice.
The Congo became independent under conditions which did not exist in any other African country. In other places the transition from the colonial regime to independence had intermediate stages, in the Congo everything proceeded differently. We gained our sovereignty without any intermediate stage. One single step took us from one hundred per cent colonial dependence to one hundred per cent independence.
We took over the country's leadership on June 30, 1960, and only a few days later, without giving us time to organise ourselves, the Belgian Government used a false pretext to launch flagrant aggression against us. We replied to these acts of provocation and force by appealing to the United Nations.
In so doing the Government of the Republic wished to avoid war and the extension of disorders in the Congo. We placed our trust in the United Nations, convinced that it would be able to come to our assistance.
Our endless appeals to that international organisation and the many trips that members of the Government and I have undertaken to U.N. Headquarters in New York bear out how much we desire the incidents in the Congo to be stopped peacefully.
The only reason for any divergence of opinion between the Government of the Republic and the U.N. Secretary-General is that in all their actions in the Congo, contrary to the resolutions of the Security Council, the representatives of the United Nations never consulted us.
These incidents could have been avoided if from the very beginning there had been a spirit of co-operation between representatives of the United Nations and the Government of the Republic. We have never tried to cast a doubt on the work that the United Nations is doing in Africa.
Who will deny that the joint efforts of the United Nations prevented many disasters in the world?
Who will deny that for many long years the colonial peoples placed their hopes in the United Nations?
We ourselves have appealed to the United Nations many times during our struggle against the Belgian colonialism.
On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of the Congo we confirm our trust in the U.N. and in the different nations composing it. Our greatest desire is that this organisation should pursue its aims with greater efficacy for the happiness of mankind. The Government of the Republic will not stint any effort to help maintain peace and international security.
We have solemnly appealed to the National Army and the forces of the United Nations to combine their efforts in their mission to pacify the country.
Agreement between United Nations representatives in the Congo and the Government of the Republic is absolutely indispensable. It would facilitate harmony and understanding between U.N. troops and the Congolese army.
We salute the magnificent work the United Nations is doing in the Congo today.
We thank all the countries which have responded to our appeal and continue to render us all possible aid.
Many countries have spared no effort to help the Congo with food, medicines, materials and other forms of aid.
I cannot pass over in silence the fact that the Congolese appreciate the gestures of human solidarity from the friends of our freedom.
Similarly, we pay tribute to troops of the National Army for their fidelity. They are serving the Republic with a civic spirit and patriotism.
From the very outset of these events, our troops have known no rest and their ideal is to serve the Republic, their country, to defend the people and the integrity of the Republic, and they are prepared to die for this ideal. They are possessed with the idea of entering Katanga without delay and liberating their brothers. They burn with impatience. This consciousness of our soldiers is encouraging the entire people.
The Congo, dear delegates from the African countries, is inhabited by a peace-loving people, but they have decided to defend the unity of their beloved country. They are a people who really want peace and order and stretch out their hand to everybody who sincerely wishes to help them.
Europeans of goodwill, Belgians of good intentions will always find a friendly welcome in our country. We want to turn the Congo into a great, free and flourishing nation, into a land of democracy and freedom.
We are profoundly inspired by the trust that the African states are showing us today, and you may be sure, dear delegates, that we shall do everything in our power to justify that trust.
The solidarity that you have demonstrated by gathering in Leopoldville today is a vivid lesson for our people. That is why we are making a fraternal appeal for unity to all our compatriots. Unity alone can help and save us. We are very proud to note today that this has been excellently understood by the Congolese people.
Since Africa is showing her solidarity with regard to us, we, in our turn, must be more united than ever before. It is this unity, dear brothers in struggle, dear brothers in poverty, that strengthens us and enables us to hold out against the intrigues and plots of the colonialists.
The presence in Leopoldville of representatives of all African countries is helping the cause of Africa. The Western world has realised that it can no longer continue its game without the risk of completely losing Africa's friendship.
The Western world now appreciates the value that Africa attaches to her freedom and dignity. It has realised that if it wants to live in friendship with Africa it must respect Africa's dignity and rights.
That is the decisive step that has been taken today towards the speedy and complete liberation of Africa and her normal co-operation with the rest of the world. Peace will not be complete in Africa until the West stops its. colonial activities.
We declare that the Government and people of the Congo have no hate or hostility for Belgium or any other European nation. And yet no sooner had the Belgian Government announced the withdrawal of its troops from Katanga than it replaced them with other troops. They include, for example, the hundred Belgian gendarmes recently arrived in Katanga under the guise of "technical advisers", who will "teach" and "train" Tshombe's police.
Moreover, before leaving Elisabethville, General Gheysen, commander of the Belgian occupation force in Katanga, demanded the creation of a neutral zone between Kasai and Katanga and the neutralisation of the bases in Kamina and Kitona. The Belgian general did not limit himself to recommendations. He took action. The roads, bridges and strategic points in Katanga were mined under the direction of the Belgian army and on direct instructions from the Government in Brussels.
At the same time, the entire white population in Katanga was put in a state of mobilisation. Every European received a mobilisation notification signed by the commander of the Volunteer Corps and the Belgian Territorial Administrator.
I shall read you the official mobilisation order.
"M. Gerard Vanderschrick,
"An additional 25 cartridge clips have been made available for your weapon.
"Your mission is:
"To remain at the Territory Bureau, where you will be at the disposal of the Commander of the Volunteer Corps, who will give you your assignment in patrol or guard duty.
"Before reporting to the Territory Bureau you have sufficient time (fifteen minutes after the receipt of this order) to take your family to the Hotel Verret—which has been set aside for non-combatants—where they will be assured the necessary protection. You are to take with you a suitcase with clothes, a water filter, pots and a minimum supply of food.
"Commander, Volunteer Corps,
This document has been turned over to the press.
The Volunteer Corps is a military organisation created and maintained by the Belgian Government. It has demonstrated its resolute unwillingness to leave Katanga.
The object of this manoeuvre of the Belgian Government is quite obvious: if, for the sake of appearances, it officially withdraws its troops it will, in reality, strengthen and reinforce its occupational potential by sending other military personnel under the guise of "technicians" and mobilising all Belgian nationals residing in Katanga. On behalf of the Government and people of the Congo, we are making it clear that it is not a matter of neutralising the bases at Kamina and Kitona, but of their total and complete evacuation.
We do not want any foreign military base in the Congo, even if it is controlled and maintained by the United Nations.
Not a single square metre of Congolese territory must belong to any foreign power, and nothing can and must be done in our country without the permission of its Government, which is the custodian of the legality and sovereignty of the Congolese people.
We are simply a people who have suffered long from abasement of our dignity and our rights. We are a patient people.
We know that nothing durable can be achieved by continued rancour, and we therefore demand that the Belgians and their allies stop all activity engendering disunity and hostility.
The Government, supported by the people, will soon begin exploiting the country's wealth with the aid of a vast programme of investments.
Political independence has no meaning if it is not accompanied by rapid economic and social development. We can achieve this progress only by tireless effort. With our own hands we shall soon build up our own economy.
The Government of the Republic of the Congo shall make an effective contribution to enable Africa to liberate herself immediately from foreign rule. We ardently desire to see the rejuvenation of Africa despite our regional, language and philosophical differences and the difference in manners and customs.
A free Africa, a united Africa, an undivided Africa, a determined Africa will play a great role in creating a better world, a fraternal world.
Such, Your Excellencies and dear delegates, are the thoughts and profound hopes of the people and Government of the Republic of the Congo.
We wish all of you a happy return home and ask you to be our intermediaries in conveying to your governments and peoples our sincere gratitude for the support you have given us in this period of ordeal that we are living through.
United as the children of one family, we shall defend the honour and freedom of Africa.
Long live African independence and solidarity!
Long live the union of independent African states!