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Opinions of Monday, 15 March 2021

Columnist: Joel Savage

The brutal murder of Lumumba and part of his tooth kept as souvenir

Patrice Lumumba, late Prime Minister of Congo Patrice Lumumba, late Prime Minister of Congo

If I interpret rightly, the colonial era was one of the brutal historical times for Western European countries to unleash all kinds of cruelties and oppression on African countries just to sustain the European economy. Thus; many European countries, including Belgium adopted a brutal reign in Congo, a country they took over as their personal property.

Congo, the Belgian colony, was under colonial rule from 1908, until independence on June 30, 1960. Fifty-two years of colonization wasn't enough for the parasitic country in which the economy was run by the rich resources of Congo, thus; didn't take the independence likely.

That's when the plot to assassinate the newly-sworn Prime Minister, Patrice Lumumba began. The plan of reprisals against the disgraced politician was prepared at the highest levels of power, even the Belgian king, Baudouin I, knew about the preparation of the murder.

Earlier, in the course of previous investigations, it was found that the CIA was also engaged in preparing for the elimination of Lumumba and US President Dwight Eisenhower allegedly gave the order to poison the ousted prime minister.

After the assassination of Lumumba on January 17, 1961, together with the bodies of Okito and the Minister of Youth and Sports Maurice Mpolo, nobody had the idea that their bodies would be taken out from their new graves in Kasenga. A definitive solution was planned over the next two days.

Early in the afternoon of January 21, two Europeans in uniform and a few black assistants left for Kasenga in a lorry belonging to the public works department, containing road signs, geometrical instruments, two demijohns filled with sulphuric acid, an empty 200-liter petrol barrel, and a hacksaw.

According to Brassinne, all the equipment was provided by the public works department and Verscheure and Belina, also confirmed that the sulphuric acid came from the Union Miniere.

On their arrival, they unloaded the road signs and theodolite to make passers-by think that they were doing a land survey. But they couldn't find the grave and had to stop searching at nightfall.

Not until the evening of the next day did they find the grave and start their lugubrious task. The corpses were dug up, cut into pieces with knives and the hacksaw, then thrown into the barrel of sulphuric acid.

The operation took hours and ended the next morning, on January 23. At first, the two Belgians dismembering the bodies wore masks over their mouths but took them off when they became uncomfortable.

Their only protection against the stench was whiskey, so according to Brassinne, they got drunk. One of the black assistants spilled the acid on his foot and burned him badly.

After this gruesome task, they discovered that they didn't have enough acid and only the bodies aren't completely consumed. According to Verscheure, the skulls were ground up, and the bones and teeth (the body parts neither acid nor fire couldn't destroy) were scattered on the way back.

The same occurred with the ashes. Nothing was left of the three nationalist leaders. From 1961 till now, their remains, even the most minute traces of them were found. In Congo, the widow of Lumumba protested against the brutal murder of her husband and walked bare-chested through the streets.

Part of Lumumba’s body kept as a souvenir

However, from an article published by the Daily Maverick, it is revealed that The Belgian magazine Humo, published an interview with Godelieve Soete, one of the daughters of Gerard Soete, who died in 2000, who had claimed that he had disposed of his macabre “trophies” ( The body parts of Patrice Lumumba) in the sea.

However, during the interview, his daughter presented the magazine's photographer and reporters with a small box which contained a gold-wrapped molar that had been ripped from Lumumba's jaw before his body was disposed of.

While the tooth was being photographed for the first time the journalists, Jan Antonissen en Hanne Van Tendeloo, asked Soete's daughter whether seeing it affected her in any way.

“Mais non, ‘Ce n’était quand-même pas un homme sérieux,” she replied. (Loosely translated “But no, he was a man of no importance”).

Just imagine how some people can be so cruel that they pass on their DNA to sons and daughters. An innocent man killed by Belgium because he fought for independence for his country was a man of no importance?

Her disturbing lack of empathy and understanding and the insistence that her father and her family were actually the victims, speaks volumes about the perverse mindset of those who have never had to face or account for their role in a brutal history.

Shockingly, the sick woman retorted, “My father never received any recognition or thanks for the work he did,” Godelieve told Humo news magazine.

When the journalists ask who it was she expected should afford her father this “recognition”, Godelieve replies that after 2001 parliamentary commission Belgium's then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louis Michel had apologized to Lumumba's family on behalf of the country.

“Why did the family of Lumumba receive an apology but we did not? They lost their brother and father but we also lost someone, my father. Why doesn't Belgium apologize for the inhuman instruction they gave him?”

She said after De Witte's exposure of the assassination in 1999, she wondered why her father had “reopened the wounds.”

It’s hard to understand why the continent called Africa will have to pass through such horrible experiences all of because of the wealth the continent has.

If Europe and America want to steal from Africa, they can do so but they mustn’t kill the leaders and Africans. From slavery to colonial brutality, Apartheid, medical crimes, Aids, and Ebola. What comes next?

Further investigations after Lumumba's murder, revealed that Brussels strongly contributed to the pro-Western forces in the African country who had attacked Lumumba and even allocated 250 million Belgian francs (about six million euros) to get Lumumba killed.

There are certain atrocities and crimes that no amount of apology or compensation can heal the wounds of the victims or their families. Africa has suffered a great deal in the past, yet it's not over because of the continent's rich resources.

Patrice Lumumba was more than a hero, naming a square after him in Brussels doesn't mean anything significant than putting Belgium before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to face the law for the horrible crimes the Belgian government and the royal family committed in Congo.

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