The Soviet Union is the only great power whose position has reflected the will and wishes of our people. Therefore the Soviet Union proves to be the only great powers that has supported the Congolese people in their struggle from the beginning – Patrice Lumumba
What transpired at the Democratic Republic of Congo was a genuine insight on how best the West has contaminated the path of Africanization and solidarity. The historical foundation of the minerally endowed nation is pretty complex and horrific. To witness the crux of the whole assassination scheme of Patrice Lumumba, and the dubious involvement of the United States and Belgium, one must engage in a brief trip down memory lane. Furthermore, how the Soviet Union rendered assistance amidst the Congo Crisis is of equal importance.
Prior to the 1884 Berlin Conference where European nations gathered to claim autonomy over designated territories in Africa, the US was the first nation to officially recognize Belgium as the principal claimer of Congo. This act would go on to show you why they both worked in a concerted effort to have the Central African nation under their control. King Leopold, the king of Belgium, established the Congo Free State which he ruled in his capacity, completely separate from his functions in Belgium. King Leopold and his associates would go on to exact a horrendous spree of violence and excruciating torture on the people of Congo. To date, it is recorded to be one of the most brutal atrocities in the history of Africa. Around 5 to 10 million lives were lost.
Belgium officially took colonial control of Congo in 1908. The US had acquired a noteworthy stake. Therefore, the sole purpose of Congo hinged on exploitative premises. The Uranium that was used to make nuclear weapons that neutralized cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki were from Congo.
Patrice Emery Lumumba was a Congolese politician and independence leader. Throughout his political activities, Lumumba remained to be an ardent Pan Africanist and African Nationalist.
The road to the formation of the newly independent state of Congo was off to a slow start. However, it didn’t hinder the prospect of having Patrice Lumumba as the nation’s first prime minister. Following the country’s independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960, Lumumba had a kickstart with two goals: to ensure that independence would bring a legitimate improvement in the quality of life for the Congolese and to unify the country. It is significant to know that Lumumba’s glaring push for independence stood in contrast with the US and Belgium’s interests.
However, the short term of the premier was disrupted internally. The Congo Crisis was political upheaval and conflict which immediately took place in the newborn nation. It was also an event that involved America and the Soviet Union as they supported opposing factions – a proxy conflict of the cold war. The Congo Crisis was a mutiny between black and white officers. In a bid to coil the situation, Lumumba had dismissed the European top ranks and elevated junior African officers. This major Africanization process wasn’t enough to forge a halt to the conflict. Overall, the Congo Crisis amounted to over 100,000 lives.
The intervention of Belgium into the conflict was originally meant to protect its citizens from violence. Nevertheless, their involvement initially helped to cripple the government of Lumumba. They even participated in the mass killing of 19 Congolese civilians in Matadi. On 11 July, the State of Katanga declared independence under regional premier Moise Tshombe. This came a day after the arrival of the Belgian troops. The Belgian government-supported Tshombe to secure political autonomy over the abundant natural resources of the South Eastern territory. They had helped the rebel group with military support upon their arrival. With that in play, they administered control over Katanga and its resources. One of the richest regions.
A restless Lumumba appealingly asked the United Nations to deploy UN troops and expel the hypocritic Belgian troops from the country. But the United Nations failed to address the situation swiftly.
THE SOVIET UNION AND THEIR ASSISTANCE TO LUMUMBA
Eager to act quickly and the world had turned its back against him, Patrice Lumumba ran to the Soviet Union for help. It was the Soviet Union who gave a listening ear to Lumumba. This posed a threat to the United States which were ideologically at war with their Soviet counterparts. Consequently, it placed Lumumba in the black book of these countries and were plotting his demise. The Belgians reaffirmed their earlier claim that “Lumumba was indeed a communist.”
The assistance of the Soviet Union was limited. Even though they had wanted to help in charting a serene political atmosphere, they faced tough competition from Belgium and America who feared an expansion of communism in Africa. Around 1000 Soviet military advisors arrived in Congo. Over and above that, they provided both technical and military support. With Soviet support, 2000 troops successfully launched a major offensive against rebels in the secessionist state of South Kasai.
The Soviet Union were focal in voicing out the neglect of the UN in adhering to the plea of Lumumba to intervene. They outrightly condemned the arrest and detention of Lumumba by President Kasa-Vabu. As members of the United Nations Security Council, they were vociferous in demanding that the UN Lumumba’s immediate release, his restoration to the head of the political cadre of the Congolese government and disarmament of Mobutu’s forces who have backed the Americans and Belgians.
The Soviet Union’s support for Lumumba was a contributing reason for the Western plot against his life.
HOW THE UNITED STATES AND BELGIUM ASSASSINATED LUMUMBA
The buildup to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba consists of a long and shady detail. On September 14, power was seized through the barrel of the gun which was spearheaded by the Congolese army leader Col. Joseph Mobutu. He had originally found favour with Belgian allies and was also supported by the United States.
In October, Lumumba was placed under house arrest. He was heavily guarded by Mobutu’s soldiers and those of the UN as well, which provided him with protection.
On January 17, 1961, Lumumba and his two trusted friends, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo, were executed by a firing squad under Belgian command. Their death can be defined as “irresponsible, brutish, unjust, and inhumane.” With their bodies indiscriminately pelted with bullets, they were thrown into shallow graves. As if that was not enough, they were later dug up by Belgian soldiers, severed into pieces, and dissolved in sulfuric acid. The tooth of Lumumba was gifted to Belgium.
To critically examine in particular Belgium’s involvement, you must first and foremost have detailed testimonies and alibi. Belgian Police Commissioner Gerard Soete openly admitted in several explanatory details that he and his brother led the original unearthing of Lumumba’s body. They had dug up the corpse, cut it up with a hacksaw, and dissolve it in sulfuric acid. Soete further revealed in a 1999 interview on Belgian television, in a program about the assassination, where he displayed a bullet and two teeth he had saved from Lumumba’s body.
The 2001 Belgian Commission investigating the assassination listed these findings: (1) That Belgium wanted Lumumba arrested, (2) Belgium were unconcern with regards the physical well-being of Lumumba, and (3) although they knew about the imminent threat on Lumumba’s life, Belgium did not take any action to avert the killing.
Lumumba’s execution was spearheaded by a firing squad led by Belgian mercenary Julien Gat. The activities of the Kantangan regime was heavily funded by a Belgian mining company. Katangan Police Commissioner Verscheure, who was Belgian, had overall command of the execution site.
Lude De Witte, a Belgian writer, found written documents that revealed orders from the Belgian government that had requested Lumumba’s execution. It also contained various arrangements such as death squads. A book was published in 2001 about the assassination of Lumumba.
In 2002, Belgium formally apologized for its role in the assassination.
A further report by the Belgian Commission recognized U.S. and Belgian plots to kill Lumumba. They highlighted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – sponsored attempt to poison him. The US president authorized the assassination plot in 1960. Initially, the plan was to devise a poison resembling a toothpaste and have it polished on Lumumba’s toothbrush.
The CIA station chief helped to direct the search to capture Lumumba for transfer to his enemies in Katanga. He was pressurized at the time to execute the elimination of Lumumba. The CIA had covert meetings and operations all designated to shut down Lumumba.
The Congolese leaders who killed Lumumba received money and weapons from the CIA.