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Patrice Lumumba and the worldwide struggle for liberation

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  • Patrice Lumumba and the worldwide struggle for liberation

    Patrice Lumumba and the worldwide struggle for liberation

    Patrice Lumumba
    By Abayomi Azikiwe
    Editor, Pan-African News Wire

    Although Africans have built civilizations in ancient times through the modern period, over the last six centuries the continent and its people have struggled consistently against slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Even those Africans who were taken away from their homeland and enslaved by European colonialists in the western hemisphere have maintained a campaign of resistance aimed at full self-determination and liberation.

    The movements against slavery, segregation, lynching, and super-exploitation in the West have always coincided historically with the resistance movements on the African continent. All during the period of colonialism in Africa, there were rebellions and movements to win freedom and independence.

    These efforts to break the shackles of slavery and national oppression intensified during the period following the Second World War. By the early 1950s, both inside the United States and on the African continent, civil rights, human rights and national independence movements had mobilized and organized millions.

    In Egypt, anti-imperialist leader Gamal Abdel Nassar came to power in 1952 and nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956 prompting an invasion from Britain, France and Israel. The Egyptian people triumphed in the conflict and provided an inspiration to other peoples within the region where popular revolts occurred in Iraq and Lebanon during 1958, triggering the U.S. intervention in the region that same year.

    In 1955-56, African Americans in Montgomery staged a successful boycott of the bus system and defeated legalized segregation on public transport in that city. In 1957, the first civil rights bill since the period of Reconstruction in 1875 was passed by the U.S. Congress.

    Also in 1957, Ghana gained its national independence under the leadership of the Convention People’s Party founded by Kwame Nkrumah, a Pan-Africanist and Socialist who studied in the United States at the Historically Black College of Lincoln University during the Great Depression. Nkurmah, who was influenced while in the United States by other Pan-Africanists and Marxists such as W.E.B. DuBois, William A. Hunton, C.L.R. James, Paul Robeson and George Padmore, invited many African Americans to Ghana after it gained independence and became the center of activity for broadening the liberation struggles in other colonized territories in Africa.

    In Ghana in December 1958, revolutionaries such as Patrice Lumumba, Shirley Graham DuBois, George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah came together at the All-African Peoples Conference (AAPC) to plan a strategy for the total liberation of Africans and peoples of African descent worldwide. It was at the AAPC in Ghana that Lumumba became a known figure within liberation movement circles in Africa and the United States.

    The year of Africa and the African American Movement

    In 1960, two significant developments occurred in Africa and the United States. On the continent, 17 countries gained their independence from European colonialism. Inside the United States, African American students began to engage in nonviolent direct action at lunch counters and other segregated private and public institutions, demanding an end to legalized racial segregation.

    In April of 1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed. The founding conference of SNCC was held in Raleigh, N.C., where the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, encouraged the college students to form their own independent organization to better fight against national discrimination.

    In 1960, thousands of students staged sit-ins and other demonstrations throughout the southern United States. SNCC proceeded to enter areas in the South to extend the leadership of the burgeoning civil rights movement to the Black farmers and youth who were tied to the exploitative conditions in the agricultural industry prevalent during the period.

    Assassination of Lumumba

    Patrice Lumumba returned to the Belgium Congo in early 1959 to lead the national independence struggle. By June 30, 1960, Congo was a sovereign country with Lumumba serving in a coalition government with moderate forces as prime minister and leader of the most populous party, the Congolese National Movement (MNC-Lumumba).

    However, after a short period, Lumumba’s government came under attack by the former colonialists in Belgium and the other imperialist countries led by the United States. After three months, Lumumba’s government was overthrown and he was being held under house arrest by United Nations so-called peacekeeping forces who were objectively siding with imperialism against Lumumba and the progressive forces in Congo.

    After Lumumba escaped the capital of Leopoldville to join his supporters in the east of the country, he was kidnapped with the assistance of the Central Intelligence Agency which had been involved in plots to assassinate him for several months. Lumumba was turned over to the agents of Belgian and world imperialism and executed on Jan. 17, 1961.

    Immediately demonstrations erupted all over Africa and throughout the world. In Africa, the murder of Lumumba was denounced by Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah and other progressive and anti-imperialist forces throughout the continent.

    Demonstrations against Belgium and the United Nations occurred in many other countries around the world including Moscow in the Soviet Union, London, England as well as the city of Chicago and at the UN headquarters in New York City in the United States. During a speech where the United Nations ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson was speaking to a special session where the Soviet Union was seeking the termination of the Secretary-General Dag Hammerskjold, African Americans and other progressive forces disrupted the proceedings.

    The incident forced U.S. Ambassador Stevenson to acknowledge the demonstration and later that evening the-then President John F. Kennedy was forced to go on national television to defend the U.S.position in support of the imperialist-puppet Joseph Kasavubu who was supported to undermine the Lumumba government.

    Lumumba became a martyr to freedom fighters in Africa and around the globe. Malcolm X, who was the national spokesman for the Nation of Islam when Lumumba was killed, spoke out later in denunciation of his politically-motivated assassination. In his last speech as a representative of the Nation of Islam on Dec. 1, 1963, in New York, he made mention of U.S. complicity in the murder of Lumumba in response to a question about the recent assassination of John F.Kennedy.

    Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was silenced by the NOI after these comments and would later form the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) in June 1964 that was patterned on the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the continental grouping of African states during the period. After taking two trips to Africa in 1964, Malcolm X became the strongest outspoken critic of U.S. imperialist policy toward Congo.

    Under President Lyndon Johnson, the liberated areas of Congo were bombed by U.S. military war planes in late 1964. Malcolm X denounced these acts of militarism against the Congolese people.

    In late 1964, Malcolm X sought to collaborate with Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara in his upcoming secret campaign to assist the Lumumbists in Congo, where Antoine Gizenga had established a rival government to the other centers of imperialist power in Leopodville, the capital, and in the Katanga region in the south that was headed by Moise Tshombe. Malcolm X was attempting to recruit African American veterans into an “Afro-American Brigade” that would have fought alongside the Cubans and the Congolese in 1965.

    Malcolm X, however, was assassinated in New York on Feb. 21, 1965....

    A 'refresher'.