Remembering Patrice Lumumba

Vol. 1, No. 5, February 2nd, 2021

The story of Patrice Lumumba predates him for many years. It starts with the separation of Black people via outside forces in Europe, to a greater degree, his story ends the same. More importantly, Lumumba’s story is of pan-Africanism, unity and how true independence will always come with a cost.

Prior to colonialism, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was primarily ruled by four distinct kingdoms. In the 1870s explorations by Europeans were conducted and sponsored by one of the most vile men in history, Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold declared the Congo as his own private property and “formally” acquired those rights during the Berlin Conference in 1885. Funny and not funny, the United States was the first government to recognize Leopold’s claim over the Congo. Leopold’s rule over the Congo was marred with brutal slavery, disease, and the murder of millions of Congolese. His control of the Congo was eventually ceded to Belgium through pressure from the international community, with the country finally gaining independence in 1960. During this period, the United States (*fake gasp*) had a vested interest in the Congo due to the diamond and uranium mines, which would later produce atomic bombs and the device how you’re more than likely reading this newsletter.

Like many young leaders across the continent of Africa during his time, Patrice Lumumba longed for independence. He founded a political party which differed from all other Congolese parties due to its unification of ethnicities, its strive to promote Africanisation of the government, and its neutrality in foreign affairs (sounds a lot like a fictional Marvel country that rhymes with the word Bakanda). Over the years, Lumumba would be jailed and subjected to intimidation attempts based on his ideals. Eventually, Patrice Lumumba’s party won the country’s first free election. Shortly after the elections and independence, Lumumba was asked to form the now independent country’s first government. Almost immediately after independence, parts of the newly formed country seceded (spurred by Belgium forces). Lumumba petitioned the United Nations for help to control the rebellion, but was rebuffed. Moving on from the rejection of the U.N., Lumumba reached out to the Soviet Union to provide planes to transport Congolese troops to dispel the rebels and asked other independent African nations to back him. Surely enough, this alarmed America, which was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviets. With no backing, the rebels eventually took control and Lumumba was imprisoned, tortured, and eventually assassinated along with two members of his cabinet. The man that dreamed of unification and independence was killed for those very reasons. Patrice Lumumba dared to not only unite different ethnicities of the Congo, but other free African countries. Additionally, his desire for true independence caused his death due to Western countries wanting continued control of the resources and minerals in the Congo.

In the final days of Lumumba’s life, he wrote a letter to his wife that was optimistic of his fate, the independence of the Congo, and a glorious African future. I must have read that letter to Pauline Opang Lumumba at least ten times. With each glance I find some gem that ignites the fire in me to continue my own work. As a writer, I often find myself framing what my last words would be to my wife, my children, and the people that love me the most. Yet, I cannot come up with anything as profound as this passage by the late prime minister: “The day will come when history will speak. But it will not be the history which will be taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington, or the United Nations. It will be the history which will be taught in our countries which have won freedom from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history and in both north and south it will be a history of glory and dignity.” Simple, yet elegant. Short in script, yet long in profoundness. This one passage written by a man nearing his death to his wife sums up why I continue to write. The Black African diaspora as a whole and black men specifically need to rewrite the narratives ascribed to us. We have a history of glory and dignity, it’s now time for the rest of the world to see that.


Business Moves

Calendly, black-owned tech company, surpasses $3 billion valuation

Calendly, a scheduling platform, founded by Tope Awotona, has raised a  $350 million investment. This investment now values Calendly at $3 billion. The company was founded in 2013 at the Atlanta Tech Village and reported $70 million in subscription revenue last year.

Sports

Ken Griffey. Jr. named special advisor to MLB commissioner

Major League Baseball announced last week that it has named Hall of Famer Ken Griffey as senior advisor to their commissioner. In his new role, Griffey will consult with the MLB on baseball operations and youth development, with an emphasis on creating a more diverse amateur talent pool.

What I’m Listening To

Christmas Day is always full of surprises. Rarely do we get album drops on that holiday, but I’m not complaining about one of the releases from that day. Last month 38 Spesh released his album Interstate 38 which has been heavy in my music rotation. Stand out songs are “Interstate”, “Stash Box”, “Route 38”, “Investment Pieces”, and “Made it Home”.

Notables

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Black fathers are more likely than their white and Hispanic counterparts to bath, feed, diaper, play with, and read to their children. Additionally, Black fathers are more likely to live with their children on a daily basis. More proof that we need to continue rewriting the narrative.


"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." - Steve Biko