Friday, July 1, 2022 – The only surviving remains of Congolese independence hero and first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba – a gold plated tooth – has been buried more than 60 years after he was assassinated.
Lumumba was the country’s first prime minister and one of the leaders of the struggle for independence. He was also seen as one of the most prominent voices in Africa’s anti-colonial movement.
Today marks 62 years since Belgium relinquished control of the country.
Belgium viewed Lumumba as a barrier to its efforts to maintain influence and economic interests in DR Congo and assassinated him 60 years ago.
His body remains were dissolved in acid and the gold plated tooth is the only part of his body that exists after his remains were dissolved in acid.
The Belgian policeman, who was in charge of his body disposal, kept the tooth as a trophy.
It was returned to the family last week and has toured several parts of DR Congo in a coffin as people pay their respects ahead of the funeral which took place today.
DR Congo President Félix Tshisekedi, Lumumba’s family and other dignitaries were at the burial service which took place in the capital, Kinshasa, before the transfer of the coffin to a specially built mausoleum.
In a famous speech on independence day in 1960, in front of Belgian dignitaries including King Baudouin, Lumumba, then aged 34, blasted Belgium saying that the Congolese had been held in “humiliating slavery”.
The Belgians were stunned by his statement as a black African had never dared speak like this in front of Europeans.
Just two months later Lumumba was toppled as prime minister. Then in January 1961, with orders from Belgium, he was shot by a firing squad, along with two of his allies.