Source: Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1961, pp 90-93.
Written: by Henri LAURENT, Belgian journalist;
Transcribed: by Thomas Schmidt.
His name appeared on the political horizon in the days when the rattle of tommy-guns was heard in Leopoldville and Stanleyville.
Baudouin I, King of Belgium, had arrived in the Congo. That was in December 1959. Lumumba, founder of the Congo National Movement Party, was in prison. The king, it was said, would establish concord between the whites and the Negroes. The royal triumphal voyage was announced as though white men had never shed the blood of Negroes, as though the Congolese would fall down on their faces at the sight of the white king and chant his praise for his benefactions. Inwardly, the colonialists felt jittery. They were wondering whether it would not be the other way round, whether the king would not be hooted. They started cleverly spreading rumours among the Congolese. It was whispered into their ears that Baudouin I was a "good white man", that he would have Patrice Lumumba released from prison into which the "bad white men" had thrown him.
They were obliged to release him only when the notorious round-table conference started in Brussels, at which the independence of the Congo was fixed for June 30, 1960. Lumumba arrived at the conference with the marks of manacles on his wrists. Like the other Congolese leaders, he was an object of exaggerated attentions. Money was offered to him. Hypocritical expressions of regret at his ill-treatment were made to him.
Of course, Count Gobert d'Aspremont-Lynden, the Grand Maréchal of the Court of Baudouin I, was not at the conference in person. But his nephew, Count Harold d'Aspremont-Lynden, was. The interests of the first administrator of the Katanga Company were defended by the second. Now that nephew is a member of the Belgian Cabinet.
Minister Ganshof van der Meersch also addressed the conference. He pressed his hand to his heart and was profuse in his expressions of love for the Congolese. His son, a naturalised American citizen, arrived in Belgium at that time. He had come to Brussels to explore the ground in the interests of powerful financial corporations in the U.S.A. Others behind the scenes were Gillet and Cousin, President and General Director of the Union Miniere, Humble, President of l'Union des Colons of Katanga, who practically came out in support of Tshombe. Colonel Weber was there, too, the man who was replaced by the French Colonel Trinquier as head of Tshombe's legions, the legions of the Union Miniere.
Lumumba was hard at work organising his movement in view of the coming general elections in the Congo. The colonialists had done their best to create a host of petty tribal opposition groups against him. Being set on securing the election of a Congolese Parliament that would serve them faithfully, they went to work still more intensively to fan inter-tribal animosity. Already at that time they were keeping Tshombe in reserve.
Proclaim the "independence" of Katanga? Why, what for? Everything in good time! The thing was, first, to try to keep the Congo whole. So the colonialists put on winning smiles for Lumumba....
But when the elections were held, when Lumumba's Party won a sweeping victory, which made it impossible to create a parliamentary majority against him, they got the wind up and started to manoeuvre. Lumumba was to be in the Government but not as its head. The idea was to make him a political captive, to use his name and prevent him from pursuing his own policy. It was like trying to make an elephant play the role of a mouse!
When this plan failed the Union Minière people called in their reserves. They praised Tshombe to the skies. They proclaimed the "independence" of Katanga, from where they hoped to reconquer the whole of the Congo.
What happened next, everyone knows. The armed intervention by Belgium, the United Nations.... The Central Government of the Republic was hamstrung by Hammarskjöld. The soldiers of this Government were disarmed on the pretext that all bloodshed was to be avoided.... At the same time Tshombe armed his forces with impunity! In the end Lumumba was delivered over to him bound hand and foot.
The imperialists knew what victim to choose. They dealt a dastardly blow at the symbol of Congolese independence and liberty. But do they really believe that in destroying the symbol they will destroy the cause it stood for? Lumumba was the object of their blind hatred. Things reached a point during the general strike in Belgium where the reactionary newspapers frequently represented the most respected leaders of the workers, the most courageous fighters for the cause of the working class, as people who "emulate Lumumba"! Actually, this cry of hatred was an admission of glory.
Following the expressions of horror which the murder of Patrice Lumumba and his two associates has evoked in the Congo and throughout the world, I hear the stirring cry "Justice!" This cry has reached Belgium, where those who paid Lumumba's assassins and shed the blood of the workers during the strike are hiding in their rich salons. The blood of the Prime Minister of the Congo, the blood of the workers of Belgium—the circle is completed. Imperialism stands branded with the badge of infamy.