Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Murder of Congolese Leader
When independence came this should have been the happy moment of victory for Patrice Lumumba but he could not let go of his past hatreds and turned the independence ceremony into an ugly scene. There had already been some unpleasantness but at the ceremony King Baudouin gave a speech trying to put the best light on everything. He advised the Congolese leaders not to do anything too radical, assured them that Belgium was ready to help them in any way possible if they needed it and wishing them the best. Lumumba, the new Prime Minister, then took the stage and began railing against the Belgians, even digging up the memory of King Leopold II, insulting Belgium with the most wicked accusations. Everyone today (not just in Africa) thinks this was some sort of brave and heroic speech but at the time few people thought so and instead said that it simply displayed the undiplomatic and unprofessional nature of the new native government, was needless antagonistic and only ensured that the olive branch offered by King Baudouin was slapped away in favor of a continued hostile attitude. The King was so upset at this public humiliation that he almost left the country immediately but his sense of duty prevented him.