Patrice Lumumba

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Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925–17 January 1961) was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis.[1] He was subsequently imprisoned and murdered in circumstances suggesting the support and complicity of the governments of Belgium and the United States.[2][3]

Contents

Path to Prime Minister

Lumumba was born in Onalua in the Katakokombe region of the Kasai province of the Belgian Congo, a member of the Tetela ethnic group. Raised in a Catholic family as one of four sons, he was educated at a Protestant primary school, a Catholic missionary school, and finally the government post office training school, passing the one-year course with distinction. He subsequently worked in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) and Stanleyville (now Kisangani) as a postal clerk and as a travelling beer salesman. In 1951, he married Pauline Opangu. In 1955, Lumumba became regional head of the Cercles of Stanleyville and joined the Liberal Party of Belgium, where he worked on editing and distributing party literature. After traveling on a three-week study tour in Belgium, he was arrested in 1955 on charges of embezzlement of post office funds. His two-year sentence was commuted to twelve months after it was confirmed by Belgian lawyer Jules Chrome that Lumumba had returned the funds, and he was released in July 1956. After his release, he helped found the broad-based Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) in 1958, later becoming the organization's president. Lumumba and his team represented the MNC at the All-African Peoples' Conference in Accra, Ghana, in December 1958. At this international conference, hosted by influential Pan-African President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Lumumba further solidified his Pan-Africanist beliefs.

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