Only a Tooth Remains of an Independence Hero. Congo Finally Has It Back

Patrice Lumumba's body was dissolved in acid after 1961 murder
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 22, 2022 5:40 PM CDT
Remains of Independence Hero Finally Return to Congo
Congo's former prime minister Patrice Lumumba, center right, with hands tied behind his back, sits in a truck upon arrival at Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) Airport in Congo, Dec. 2, 1960, following his arrest the previous day.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The remains of Congo's independence leader Patrice Lumumba arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, from Belgium on Wednesday and will be taken around the country, a government official said. After leading the struggle for Congo's independence from colonial power Belgium, Lumumba became the country's first prime minister before he was killed six months later in 1961. After a military coup, he was imprisoned and executed by separatists and Belgian mercenaries, the Guardian reports. Immediately after his killing, Lumumba’s body was dismembered and dissolved with acid in an apparent effort to keep any grave from becoming a pilgrimage site.

A gold-capped tooth was all that remained and was kept by the Belgian police commissioner who oversaw the destruction of Lumumba's body. In 2016 the tooth was seized by Belgian officials from the police commissioner's daughter. A coffin containing Lumumba's tooth was taken Wednesday from Kinshasa to Lumumba's birthplace in Onalua village in Sankuru province. From there it will be taken around the country.

The restitution of the relic took place after Belgium’s King Philippe expressed regrets earlier this month for his nation’s abuses in Congo when it was a colony. Lumumba was a patriot and Congolese people wanted to honor his memory by paying their respects to his remains, member of parliament Lambert Mende tells the AP. "I welcome the return of the relic of the Congolese prime minister," Mende says.

(Read more Democratic Republic of Congo stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
X
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.

X