The Assassination of Lumumba by Ludo De Witte

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Patrice Lumumba, first prime minister of the Republic of Congo and a pioneer of African unity, was murdered on 17 January 1961.

Democratically elected to lead the Mouvement National Congolais, the party he founded in 1958, Lumumba was at the centre of the country’s growing popular defiance of the colonial rule of oppression imposed by Belgium. When, in June 1960, independence was finally won, his unscheduled speech at the official ceremonies in Kinshasa received a standing ovation and made him a hero to millions. Always a threat to those who sought to maintain a covert imperialist hand over the country, however, he became within months the victim of an insidious plot and was arrested and subsequently tortured and executed.

This book unravels the appalling mass of lies, hypocrisy and betrayals that have surrounded accounts of the assassination since it perpetration. Making use of a huge array of official sources as well as personal testimony from many of those in the Congo at the time, Ludo De Witte reveals a network of complicity ranging from the Belgian government to the CIA. Chilling official memos which detail ‘liquidation’ and ‘threats to national interests’ are analysed alongside macabre tales of the destruction of evidence, putting Patrice Lumumba’s personal strength and his dignified quest for African unity in stark contrast with one of the murkiest episodes in twentieth-century politics.

About Ludo De Witte

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Ludo De Witte is a sociologist and a writer. He is author of the Dutch work Crisis in Kongo and has researched two broadcast television documentaries on Patrice Lumumba.
Published September 1, 2001 by Verso. 400 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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De Witte’s conclusion is blunt: “It was Belgian advice, Belgian orders and finally Belgian hands that killed Lumumba on 17 January 1961.” The author has examined documentary evidence at the United Nations, in Belgian archives, and in Africa, and he argues that Lumumba’s assassination resulted fro...

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Publishers Weekly

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and Belgian foreign ministry archives, De Witte, a sociologist whose book, when published in Belgium, led to an official inquiry into the assassination, offers evidence that the Belgian government was directly involved in Lumumba's transfer to Katanga—a copper-rich state under Belgian control—and...

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London Review of Books

King Baudouin of the Belgians was there, with Gaston Eyskens, the Prime Minister, and Patrice Lumumba as the newly elected Prime Minister of the Congo.

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