An old friend blames the UN and Belgium for the murder of Congolese hero Lumuba

An old friend blames the UN and Belgium for the murder of Congolese hero Lumuba

Belgium and the United Nations are to blame for failing to prevent the assassination of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumuba, an 89-year-old ex-boyfriend told AFP.

Jean Mayani will attend a tribute next week in Lumumba, whose remains – a single tooth – Belgium has finally returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mayani is deaf, his hands tremble and he needs a cane or a helping hand to move, but he speaks clearly and has a piercing look.

From time to time, he briefly loses the cycle of his thoughts, but then concentrates and describes historical events.

In May 1960, the Congolese National Movement nominated him and Lumuba as its candidates for the northeastern district of Stanleyville, now known as Kisangani, in municipal and parliamentary elections respectively. They both won.

On June 30 of the same year, the country became independent and Lumuba was appointed prime minister.

Mayani soon replaced Lumumba in the National Assembly.

But by September 12, the anti-colonial image had been overturned.

He was executed by separatists in the southern region of Katanga and by Belgian mercenaries and two close supporters, Maurice Bolo and Joseph Okito, on January 17 of the following year.

“All nationalists had to be eliminated,” Mayani recalls bitterly.

He said the United Nations had done nothing to prevent his friend from being killed.

“Before the Belgian mercenaries came to the Congo, the Blue Helmets were here,” he said, referring to the UN peacekeeping force deployed in the African country in July 1960 after independence.

“Why did not the UN Secretary-General prevent these mercenaries from disembarking?

“He sat down and did nothing. He knew that the mercenaries would destabilize the Congo. He was complicit in the position of Belgium and the United States, which through the CIA knew about the sending of these mercenaries to the Congo.”

– “My teeth were broken” –

Mayani said he believed the Belgians had decided to get rid of Lumumba in the early 1960s during a meeting in the Belgian capital, Brussels.

He said Lumuba was not afraid to repeat his call for “immediate independence” for his country before the Belgians.

Mayani said they were surprised and outraged by his stability and “decided to eliminate him”.

Belgium then “did everything to prevent Congolese nationalists from gaining state power, under the indifferent gaze of the UN,” he said.

Mayani said the campaign continued even after Lumumba was assassinated.

In a low voice, he described how in 1961 he was “arrested for hosting two central government ministers who had escaped with Lumuba”.

“During the torture, twelve teeth were broken,” he said, removing a series of eight false teeth from his upper jaw. He said he was wearing another denture on his lower jaw to replace the other four he had lost.

The following year, Mayani was arrested again and held in Makala Kinshasa Prison until 1964, when former separatist leader Katanga and then-Prime Minister Moise Tshombe declared amnesty.

Mayani said that today his friend’s political legacy – what represented the icon of independence – has been lost.

“Today no one can ‘win elections without corruption,'” he said.

“People in the DRC have made the choice that in order to be elected, a transplant is necessary,” he added.

“In our time, corruption was completely out of the question.”

bmb / at / ah / lcm

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