By Shenali Waduge
Throughout almost 60 years, the US has been involved in covert operations that have overthrown over 50 democratically elected popular foreign leaders and placed dictators and tyrants as US puppets. How can Africa and Asia or Latin America produce good leaders committed to the welfare of the masses when the US ends up gunning these leaders down and installing local agents who are ever ready to allow the West to pilfer the nation while they too do the same? The story of Congo’s Patrice Lumumba is one such assassination wherein several western nations conspired to kill Congo’s first independent Prime Minister simply because he was a nationalist.
The killing exposed not only the savagery and hypocrisy of US imperialism, it illustrated the hollowness of so-called independence for the African nations, whose absurd boundaries have created unprecedented strife.
Does the American Congress and the American people know an iota of what its intelligence agency is upto overseas? Do Americans not wonder about the legality and morality of unmanned drones that fire missiles upon wedding parties, funerals and can these citizens accept the US Government’s excuse that they have killed “terrorists”. Are these unnecessary killings not making people hate America and Americans?
Africa has been subject to numerous assassinations over the years. In Algeria sixteen assassinations have taken place. Angola, Namibia and Murkina Faso accounts for two assassination while Burundi accounts for the assassinations of 5 of its Prime Ministers. Cameron, Gambia, Guinea and Chad had their leaders gunned down. Comoros also saw three of its heads killed. Fifteen leaders of Egypt including President Anwar Sadat. Four leaders of Guinea Bissau. Seven leaders of Kenya. Two presidents of Liberia. The King of Madagascar and its President. Mozambique leader allegedly killed by Portuguese branch of Gladio. In 1999 President of Niger was ambushed and killed while Nigeria lost nine leaders including a Prime Minister. Rwanda saw the deaths of four leaders including that of Habyarimana whose plane was shot down triggering the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Senegal lost a minister/mayor in 1967 while Somalia lost 5 leaders including its interior minister Hassan Farah in 2011. South Africa has lost eight leaders since 1828 (King of Zulu). Sudan has had three assassinations including that of Jimmy Lemi Milla in 2011 South Sudan Government Minister. In 2008 Swaziland lost its opposition leader Gabriel Mkhumane. Tanzania lost its first vice President and Togo lost its first President of independent Togo in 1963. Tunisia saw two assassinations while in Uganda the Chief Justice and Archbishop was killed and in Zimbabwe the left-wing Malawian politician was killed. The latest killing has been that of Libya’s President Gaddafi. In all these murders the West had a hand.
Let us look at just one leader – Patrice Lumumba Congo’s first Prime Minister after Congo gained independence (1959) and shot dead after being tortured for days on 17th January 1961. He was just 35 when he died.
Why would the West who favors democracy want to get rid of a man loved by the masses? While Lumumba was loved by the masses he was also a nationalist who opposed the West’s plan to transform Congo from a colony (white rule and military occupation) into a neo-colony (black rule according to white interests). Both Lumumba and the Congolese people were aware that the West were walking away with Congo’s rich natural resources – coltan, diamonds, copper, zinc and cobalt. Moreover, Belgium troops had killed over 10million Congolese over 20 years for failing to meet rubber collection quotas.
As with all colonial countries there came a time when citizens were becoming fed of being second class citizens in their own country. Sadly in the case of most African nations the white oppressors were replaced with black oppressors. However, Lumumba was different and his charisma annoyed the West so much that two interrelated plots by the US/UK and Belgium was planned to kill Lumumba.
Documents reveal how US President Eisenhower gave orders to the CIA to assassinate Lumumba (1960 August National Security Council meeting minutes). British Foreign Office notes reveal how the UK too wanted Lumumba killed because of their interests in neighboring Rhodesia. The plot to kill Lumumba was called “Operation Barracuda” and Colonel Louis Maliere bought millions of francs. Unknown to Lumumba, his secretary and Army Commander Mbotu was turned into an agent of the West. Mobutu became the West’s main Cold War ally in Africa. He was a close ally of Jacques Chirac, he sat next to the Queen, was close friends with George Bush Snr and was a close friend of the Belgian King. Mbotu was to rename Congo as Zaire and ruled it until removed by Rwandan and Ugandan forces in 1997.
True to form as seen even in the present the Western media was quick to declare targeted leaders as “dictators” “tyrants” “despots”….these being to prepare the public for the real plan that is to follow. We all know the scenario in the present context.
Lumumba, close associates Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okite were taken by plane to Katanga province where they were shot by a firing squad commanded by Belgian officers. Belgian commander of the Katanga police force, Gerard Soete were tasked with destroying the bodies which were chopped up and dissolved in acid and kept Lumumba’s teeth as souvenirs. Soete had said “We did things an animal wouldn’t do.” This is just an example of how the West, the supposed champions of human rights had treated fellow humans.
The mystery of Lumumba’s murder lives on despite a Belgium parliamentary investigation in 2001 falling short of admitting responsibility for his murder. Despite evidence of US involvement, the US too has never made any attempt to officially acknowledge its accountability. Whatsmore the UN is also accused of watching Lumumba beaten and paraded through the streets. The guilt of the UN is established in the Belgian sociologist Ludo de Witte who has uncovered proof of the Belgian Government’s and the UN’s complicity in the killing of Lumumba having analyzed 8000 telegrams exchanged between Congo and New York UN diplomats.
The last letter addressed by Lumumba to his wife is poignant:
My dear companion,
I write you these words without knowing if they will reach you, when they will reach you, or if I will still be living when you read them. All during the length of my fight for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and myself have consecrated our lives. But what we wish for our country, its right to an honorable life, to a spotless dignity, to an independence without restrictions, Belgian colonialism and its Western allies-who have found direct and indirect support, deliberate and not deliberate among certain high officials of the United Nations, this organization in which we placed all our confidence when we called for their assistance-have not wished it.
They have corrupted certain of our fellow countrymen, they have contributed to distorting the truth and our enemies, that they will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful colonialism and to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.
We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese. They will not abandon the light until the day comes when there are no more colonizers and their mercenaries in our country. To my children whom I leave and whom perhaps I will see no more, I wish that they be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that it expects for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.
No brutality, mistreatment, or torture has ever forced me to ask for grace, for I prefer to die with my head high, my faith steadfast, and my confidence profound in the destiny of my country, rather than to live in submission and scorn of sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.
Do not weep for me, my dear companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty. Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!
Malcolm X, speaking at a rally of the Organisation of Afro-American Unity in 1964, described Patrice Emery Lumumba as “the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent. He didn’t fear anybody. He had those people [the colonialists] so scared they had to kill him. They couldn’t buy him, they couldn’t frighten him, they couldn’t reach him.”
We are being repeatedly preached by these same Governments who are committing grave crimes across the world. These incidents should give us the smaller nations the strength to finally demand that they stop this charade of pretending to be human rights saviors when we know too well that they have been and continue to commit crimes against humanity each day.
The opinions are the author’s own.