Source: Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1961, pp 110-113.
Written: by Tomas KOLESNICHENKO, Soviet journalist;
Transcribed: by Thomas Schmidt.
This man has two lives. The first was cut short by the colonialists. The second will last eternally.
Patrice Emery Lumumba, a young African with attentive, radiant eyes, has for ever taken his place in the ranks of heroic fighters who sacrificed their lives for human happiness. In the Congo we clearly saw this second life of the country's first Prime Minister, who chose torture and death rather than submit.
He has remained eternally young, fighting and unconquerable.
Time has not yet stilled the pain. It seems only recently that he lived, laughed and frowned. "He made a speech at this very aerodrome," we were told by Albert Busheri, commissioner of Paulice in Orientale Province, whom we met in the spring of 1961. "The heat was unbearable, but the people stood absolutely still while Patrice spoke."
"What did he say?"
"I don't remember the words, but I can still hear his wrathful voice accusing the Belgian colonialists of crimes, of the infinite suffering they caused our country. Then a note of excitement crept in when he spoke of what our country would be like when it became independent. As I listened to him, I pictured a new Congo to myself, a Congo with factories, new houses, schools, hospitals, and new people—doctors and engineers—not Belgians but Congolese. There's nothing of that now."
A sad look appeared on Busheri's face. After a moment's silence he went on:
"We have a fine hospital here in Paulice, but it's not operating. There's not a single doctor in the town. But in spite of everything this country will be what Lumumba wanted it to be. You'll see...."
One evening we learned that in Paulice there was a man who was called Lumumba's teacher.
It was already night when we knocked on the door of a small house on the outskirts of the town.
... Paul Kimbala was an elderly man. Our guides respectfully called him "father". He rose heavily to his feet, went to another room and came back with a tattered book. On it its owner had written in his own hand: "Patrice Lumumba". We carefully turned over the yellowed pages. A volume of lectures on logic, it had belonged to Lumumba. "I'm going to turn it over to a museum. We'll have Lumumba museums one day, and towns will be named after him," Kimbala said.
"Like Lumumba, I am a Batetela. We come from the same village. I knew his father well. His father was a Catholic and Patrice went to a Protestant school. Mission schools were the only places in the Congo where one could get an education. But he did not stay in that school long. Religion did not interest him and he was expelled. Later he came to live with me in Stanleyville. He worked and continued with his studies. He was an amazing youth. There was a library near our house and he used to spend every free moment in it. Every evening, I remember, he used to come home with a large heap of paper, which was covered with writing. 'They're extracts, father,' he said to me. 'They'll be useful to me.' I don't remember seeing him resting or simply making merry. Even when others would be singing and dancing or feasting, I would always see him with a book. Patrice was very persevering.
"Then he went to Leopoldville, where he studied in a Post Office school for six months. After he finished the school he wrote to me asking whether he should stay on in Leopoldville or return to Stanleyville. I advised him to return. He came back to Stanleyville and worked as the manager of a small Post Office branch 80 kilometres away from the town. All that time he regarded my home as his own. He married Pauline Opanga in my house. How happy he was at his wedding.
"In 1954 I moved to Paulice, leaving my house to Lumumba. I did not see him again until 1960."
Kimbala grew thoughtful. The flame flickered in the kerosene lamp on the small table. We sat with bated breath and the prolonged shrill notes of the cicadas were all that disturbed the silence of the Congolese night.
"The last time I saw Patrice," Kimbala said, resuming his story, "was in the summer of 1960, when he was the Prime Minister of the country. I visited him in Leopoldville. There were many people around him and it was impossible to get close to him. But I stood in the house and waited. Suddenly he saw me and came striding over to me. 'You came, father,' he said to me in our native Batetela. I had no money and asked him to help me. With an embarrassed smile he said: 'I don't have any money either, but we'll soon fix that.' He turned to the people around him and said: 'Who can give me some money?' Scores of hands were stretched out to him. It was our last meeting. I never saw- him again.
"Patrice was my pupil and I'm proud of him. I watched him begin his struggle. It was when he was working in a Post Office near Stanleyville. He and his friends frequently gathered in my house."
... In Stanleyville we did not have to look long for Patrice Lumumba's house. Everybody knew it, and people from all over the Congo came specially to see it. There were many people near the house when we arrived. They carried portraits of Lumumba and stood in silence. And on a green lawn, in front of the verandah where Pauline Lumumba and her younger son Roland were sitting, a group of peasants dressed in ancient national costumes were performing funeral dances to the beat of a tom-tom. The dancers swayed slowly in time to the rhythm. The tiny bells sewn on their costumes jingled, forming a contrast to the hollow sounds of the tom-tom.
The rhythm grew faster and soon the group was performing a war dance. The grief and hopeless despair in the beat of the tom-tom gave way to a call for vengeance....
Lumumba's family has a heavy burden of sorrow, but they are not alone. The people of the Congo remember their national hero.
Darkness descends swiftly on the equator. When we left Lumumba's house, the lilac sky was covered with a black, star-spangled blanket. People were still standing near the house, and it seemed that the tall, thin man with the proud name of Patrice Emery Lumumba, who is living on, would appear at any moment.