The hero of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo was taken to his final resting place on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Patrice Lumumba, after 61 years was given a dignified burial, which coincided with the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence, during which President Felix Tshisekedi paid a final tribute to the national hero.
It is at the end of a solemn, symbolic, sober funeral ceremony, in the presence of the Lumumba family, and different Congolese and foreign political personalities that the tooth of Patrice Emery Lumumba, having value of a relic was buried this day. The blessings of various religious leaders accompanied the demonstrations in Kinshasa.
The President of the Republic, Félix Tshisekedi, himself gave a funeral oration, a speech in which he addressed the coffin of the first Prime Minister, an anti-colonial hero. “Dear national hero, it was in the night of November 27, 1960 that you left Kinshasa then Leopoldville in the most total anonymity. Here you are back 61 years later under the sweet sun of June 30, the sacred day of our liberation from the colonial yoke,” said President Felix Tshisekedi during the ceremony. “A date we will proudly teach our children of its significance so they in return will teach their sons and grandsons of the glorious history of our struggle for our freedom,” he continued.
The end of 61 years of grief
This burial ceremony is synonymous with the end of three days of national mourning but also and above all with 61 years of mourning, because, according to Congolese tradition, without burial, a soul is condemned to wander endlessly. “Finally, the Congolese people can do themselves the honor of offering a burial to their illustrious Prime Minister who had never had one; this, not only in defiance of Congolese tradition which requires the organization of funerals and mourning, a ritual to ensure the passage of the deceased into the afterlife, but also of the belief that a soul without a burial is condemned to endless wandering,” said the president before adding “May the land of our ancestors be sweet and light.
The coffin was then taken to the mausoleum, a white marble vault, which has just been built on an emblematic square in Kinshasa. Indeed, on the avenue that bears his name and that leads to the international airport of Kinshasa, at the “Limete Interchange”, an imposing statue of Lumumba overhangs a mausoleum made of glass and concrete. There, will be kept what remains of the remains of this martyr of independence. The monument should open its doors to the public at the end of August.
As a reminder, Patrice Emery Lumumba was assassinated with two of his companions on January 17, 1961 in Shilatembo, in Haut-Katanga (southeast), by Katangese separatists and Belgian mercenaries because of his virulent speeches against the racism of Belgian colonists. His body, dissolved in acid, was never found until a Belgian policeman who participated in the assassination boasted that he had a tooth of the Congolese independence hero. The Belgian justice then seized the tooth and returned it to the Lumumba family on June 20. After nine days of pilgrimage, with all the honors of his rank in his native country, especially in the places that marked his life, the man reaches his final resting place today.
In addition, as a prelude to this burial ceremony, the Congolese authorities met yesterday Wednesday at the presidential palace to decorate the two companions of Patrice Lumumba, Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito, who were murdered in the same circumstances as him. The two companions were posthumously decorated by President Felix Tshisekedi, “grand officer” in the National Order of Heroes. It is the highest civic honor in the country.