On July 2, 1925, Patrice Lumumba was born in what was originally referred to as Belgian Congo. It is now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Part of his fame stemmed from his appointment as DRC’s first prime minister following the country’s independence on June 30, 1960. Patrice Lumumba was executed a few months later, in 1961. But what happened to Patrice Lumumba’s golden tooth?
Patrice Lumumba’s gold-capped tooth was returned to Belgium in June 2022. Lumumba was executed in 1961, and the tooth was all that remained after the Congo’s first Prime Minister was dissolved in acid and his bones ground to dust.
The Early Life of Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba was given the name Élias Okita Combo at birth. He was born in one of the provinces of the Belgian Congo in 1925. He had a passion for literature since he was a child. He was a firm believer in the value of education, which drove him to read books he borrowed while attending missionary school.
After finishing his junior education for a one-year course, he enrolled in the post office training school. He passed with honors. At this point, he had already developed a more substantial political interest as an activist. (Source: Sun Signs)
The Career of Patrice Lumumba
Lumumba learned different languages over time due to his frequent travels within his country. He eventually found work as a postal clerk in Kinshasa, then known as Léopoldville. It didn’t take long for him to leave this job to work as an accountant in another city. Aside from his work responsibilities, he found time to write.
This also helped him gain popularity as he published his essays and poems. Because of his national acclaim, he became involved in political movements to rescue Africans from the harsh rule of the Belgians.
Lumumba joined the Liberal Party of Belgium in 1955. His primary responsibilities included editing and ensuring that the party’s literature was widely distributed. Shortly after, he assisted in the formation of the Mouvement National Congolais, French for Congolese National Movement, and became its leader in 1958 due to his significant influence on the party.
This party was unlike any others that had previously occurred. It did not aim to bring people together based on their ethnic backgrounds. On the contrary, it aimed to bring people from various locations together. Furthermore, its primary goal was to fight for the country’s independence.
DRC gained independence on June 30, 1960. During the same year, national elections were held, and the Mouvement National Congolais won, giving them the authority to form a government. Lumumba became the DRC’s first prime minister at the age of 35. (Source: Sun Signs)
Why was Patrice Lumumba Executed?
With the country in political turmoil following independence, Patrice Lumumba and other ministers from his government were apprehended. Joseph Mobutu wielded military power over the government.
On January 17, 1961, the captives were executed. The tragic death of the Congolese leaders sparked international outrage and harmed foreign investment. Later, the country was subjected to decades of dictatorship under Joseph Mobutu. (Source: Sun Signs)
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