Monday, January 17, 2011

The Tragic Anniversary of Patrice Lumumba's Assassination

As we celebrate the achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King today, we should also pause to reflect on the death of Patrice Lumumba, killed on this date 50 years ago. His assassination at the direction of the United States and Belgium is one of the blackest marks on America's conscience. It set into motion the virtual destruction of a nation that should be the beating heart of Africa.

Lumumba's death just months after his choice as the Democratic Republic of Congo's first freely-elected leader was akin to strangling the infant nation in its cradle. It led to the ascension of Mobutu Sese-Seko, who raped the Congo for 32 years with the monetary, military, and shameful public relations support of the U.S. government. The conflict that erupted when he was finally deposed has resulted in the deaths of millions of innocent people. Sadly, it's a conflict that continues to this day.

Adam Hochschild writes an incisive piece about the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in today's New York Times.

Tonight, Friends of the Congo is sponsoring events in Washington, New York, and Toronto. In New York, it's a screening of a fabulous film, Lumumba, at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem followed by a panel discussion. For information, call 212-582-6050 X221.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the