17 September 2010

Patrice Lumumba

African Revolutionary Writers, Part 3

Patrice Lumumba, 1960

Patrice Lumumba, 1925 - 1961

This third part of our African Revolutionary Writers’ Series is dedicated to the “Uhuru Years” that followed the 1960 “Year of Africa”, when sixteen countries seized their independence, one of which was Congo, now DRC. In this part we feature Patrice Lumumba’s short, powerful Congo Independence Day speech of 30 June 1960 (download linked below).

In the Western Imperialist literature the independence of all of these countries has been recorded as a “granting” (for example: “Congo was granted independence by Belgium”). This contradictory view of what really happened during the greatest change in the 20th Century - the National Democratic Revolutions in the former colonial countries - mirrors the theme of Frederick Douglass’s most famous speech, (“If there is no Struggle, there is no Progress”) where Douglass says that “power concedes nothing without a demand”. It is the revolutionary subject that is the most necessary historical ingredient.

Lumumba’s speech is still famous for making the same point, and particularly because he made the speech in the presence of the monarch of the colonial power, King Baudouin of Belgium (grandson of the original colonist King Leopold) who had already spoken in a paternalistic and euphemistic manner at an earlier stage during the same proceedings.

Lumumba at once spoke of struggle, and of victory, and he spoke frankly of the vicious colonialism which had been overcome by that struggle.

Congo at that time was on a par with South Africa as a wealthy, quickly-modernising African country. The subsequent history of the Congo has been a tragedy of neo-colonialism including the martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba in the following year, 1961, and the imposition of the corrupt stooge dictator Mobutu who ruled until the 1990s.

It is absurd to suggest, as some Imperialist writers continue to do, that the neo-colonial reaction was Lumumba’s fault for being cheeky in front of the Belgian king. No-one must be allowed to forget that these words of Lumumba’s expressed the historical truth, as well as the feelings of millions of Africans at the time, and that these words needed to be said and had to be said, so that they can now be remembered and glorified again in the 21st Century while Africa gains its “second independence” born out of the struggle against neo-colonialism and Imperialism.

Update on the African Revolutionary Writers’ Series

In the second part, we did not succeed on this occasion to secure suitable material by Paul Robeson and W E B Du Bois. What we need for that purpose is post-WW2 material, from the time of the Robeson’s Council on African Affairs, that shows the articulation in literature of anti-Imperialism at that crucial time, by these authors.

In this third part, we would still wish to include material from Oginga Odinga’s “Not Yet Uhuru” (a book that was “ghosted” by South Africa’s Ruth First), and the full text of Malcolm X’s “By Any Means Necessary” speech. For next week’s “Lusophone” part, we have yet to find suitable revolutionary texts from Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto or Samora Machel.

Even if we have to move on, without getting all these documents in time to use on this occasion, we should still continue to try to secure them and other relevant documents. Like the other twelve Communist University courses, this one will be run again each year on one or other of the three CU channels, which are Communist University, CU Africa, and SADTU Political Education Forum.

In the case of this African Revolutionary Writers Series, the next iteration of its ten parts will probably be early in the New Year, 2011, on the SADTU Forum.

Please download and read the entire text via this link:

Further reading:


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