Thursday, October 19, 2017
The Legacy of Lumumba
By Dr. Firpo W. Carr (Columnist)
Published February 5, 2009

Almost a decade ago, in February of the year of the Space Odyssey, 2001, I wrote a review for the movie Lumumba after being asked to do so. Patrice Lumumba was the first post-colonial Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here's part of what I wrote:

"This remarkable film plucked a little-known yet important page out of modern African history and transferred it with enormous clarity to the silver screen. We've waited long enough for another exceptional piece of black filmmaking. Patrice Lumumba, whose life the film Lumumba is based on, was a great black African leader. As Prime Minister of the Congo (he was co-regent with Joseph Kasavubu who served as President) he put the interest of his people first instead of exploiting them as did some Black African puppets of the oppressive colonial Belgium government.

“He was for the total liberation of the Congo and the film radiantly reflected the strong, vibrant personality and intensity of the revered Congolese leader. He impacted the African continent like few others during his short two-and-a-half-month stint as the Prime Minister. He was the voice of the silent, disenfranchised masses. Ten years in the making, Lumumba is the rough equivalent of Spike Lee’s story of Malcolm X. One could easily get the feeling that he was viewing Africa’s version of Malcolm’s story! Though not mentioned in the film, Malcolm X, who was a contemporary of Lumumba, castigated the United States, and specifically the CIA, for complicity in the murder of Patrice Lumumba.” I had no clue that eight years after writing this review I’d be asked to conduct an interview with the son of Patrice Èmery Lumumba, namely, Guy Patrice Lumumba. (“Guy” is pronounced “gee,” rhyming with “bee”). On Monday, February 2, 2009, I conducted the following interview with Guy Patrice Lumumba.

CARR: Welcome to the U.S. Brother Lumumba. It's good to have you here. How long will you be in the U.S.?

LUMUMBA: I came with a Visa of three months. I will try to do as much as I can to convince the American people to help and to work with my people. The answer to your question is that I will stay as long as it might take for me to communicate this message clearly to the American people, of course I will account for the timing in my Visa.

CARR: You ran for president in 2006 and lost. Do you plan to run again?

LUMUMBA: I was asked by the Congolese youth to run for president on their behalf. After several solicitations I agreed to run for president with the understanding that I would be the candidate of the Congolese youth. We were a little bit disappointed because Kabila was able to steel the results. Note that the Congolese youth electoral map makes 60% of the whole electoral base. Therefore, whoever has the youth's support will become the next president of the DRC. To answer your question: The same groups and organizations that I represented during the 2006 elections have already made clear that they will support my candidacy for president in DRC in 2011. I have told them that God speaks through people and that it is going to be a honor for me to represent once again the youth during the presidential elections in the DRC in 2011. This said the answer to your question is YES.

CARR: Do you have ties with the current government?

LUMUMBA: I know people in the current government. Most of them were living in exile in Europe with me. Actually after the first round of the 2006 elections in Congo I was approached by Kabila's team requesting that I support him and that in exchange he would give me $2,000,000 cash and two positions in the new government. However, given the credit I have earned among the Congolese youth, and given that he and his team did not have any clear idea on how to run and build the country, I decided to decline the offer and instead I preferred spending time with my electoral base. Since then, I have been meeting with Congolese all over the world, including those living in the DRC, to make sure that we could suggest a sound program to the Congolese people.

CARR: Are you currently in exile?

LUMUMBA: I put an end to my exile in 2005. I went back home and was arrested two times by Kabila's secret services. But I feel that I can move freely and implement any project inside the country. Then the answer to your question is no.

CARR: Are you in communication with any rebel forces?

LUMUMBA: I heard about some rebel movements in DRC. Some of them have claimed being Lumumba's followers, but I have never been in touch with them.

CARR: Are your siblings, the other children of Patrice émery Lumumba, also into politics?

LUMUMBA: For the time being Franois, my eldest brother, is still active in politics. Julienne, however, has returned to Egypt [see below] where she is working now. Roland is working with NGO [non-governmental organization] where he is heading a corporation. As for me, I have been prohibited from participating in any political activity in DRC by the current regime.

CARR: Given the fact that they were contemporaries with parallel political philosophies, I've compared your father with Malcolm X. Is there any evidence that they knew each other?

LUMUMBA: Yes, there is evidence that they not only knew each other, but also corresponded in writing with each other.

CARR: Has your father ever been to the U.S.?

LUMUMBA: Yes, he came here on 25th July 1960 and as a head of state, the Eisenhower administration welcomed him to the White House. The Belgium government was so incensed that the king reportedly said that should he come to America, he would never stay in the same room that Lumumba occupied.

CARR: Did your father reach out to African Americans during his visit?

LUMUMBA: He did, however his movements and efforts were restricted. Ultimately, he was given minimal credibility as a Black leader himself by the U.S. government, and was disheartened by the treatment of the Black man here in America.

CARR: Is it true that your father went to Canada from the U.S., and while there, raised awareness of the plight of the Blacks here in America?

LUMUMBA: Yes. After his trip to the USA, Lumumba visited Canada. And as soon as he hit the Canadian ground he began talking about his experience in the USA. He talked about the suffering of the black people in USA.

CARR: Final question. What is your message to the American public?

LUMUMBA: My message to the American people is twofold: First, like my father, who came to this country on 25th July 1960 to convince the American government to work with the Congolese people, 49 years later I am also coming to the same country to let you know that within 49 years things have changed around and I am hoping that we can work together for the well-being of our people.

CARR: Thank you for your time, sir.

Guy says his sister Julienne went back to Egypt because his father had arranged for the family's exile there. Interestingly, there are claims of political intrigue within the family involving Francois and Guy. Francois obtained a doctorate in political economics while in Hungary, and, according to Wikipedia, "returned to Congo in 1992 to oppose Mobutu since which time he has been the leader of the Mouvement National Congolais Lumumba (MNC-L), his father's original political party." However, Guy is the one who ran for president.

Categories: Dr. Firpo W. Carr

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