Assassination Of Lumumba / Edition 2

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Ronan Bennett - LA Times
“De Witte writes without stylish frills or narrative tricks, but his is a vivid and utterly compelling account of a nation strangled at birth by the West.”
Richard Bernstein - New York Times
“De Witte's book, politically passionate as it is, is an unignorable effort to bring the West face to face with its culpability in this entire sad and sanguinary tale.”
Michela Wrong - Financial Times
“One Belgian author has triumphed pover decades of official obfuscation: Belgium did collude in Patrice Lumumba's assassination ... It raises questions about western policy in Africa that will reverberate for decades to come.”
New Internationalist
“Whilst the battle for control over the resources of the Congo (now DR Congo) continues today this important book restores Congolese history and saves it from the official version peddled by those directly implicated in the affair.”
Neal Ascherson - London Review of Books
“One should never underestimate the ruthlessness of British gentlemen cradling endangered shares.”
New York Review of Books
“De Witte has performed an important service in establishing the appalling facts of Lumumba's last days and Belgium's responsibility for what happened.”
The Washington Post Book World
“De Witte has assembled a staggering amount of detail to support his allegations of direct government participation in Lumumba's murder.”
From the Publisher
“De Witte has assembled a staggering amount of detail to support his allegations of direct government participation in Lumumba's murder.”—Washington Post Book World

“De Witte has performed an important service in establishing the facts of Lumumba’s last days and Belgium’s responsibility for what happened.”—New York Review of Books

“De Witte writes without stylish frills or narrative tricks, but this is a vivid and utterly compelling account of a nation strangled at birth by the West.”—Ronan Bennett, Los Angeles Times

“De Witte’s book, politically passionate as it is, is an unignorable effort to bring the West face to face with its culpability in this entire sad and sanguinary tale.”—Richard Bernstein, New York Times

“One Belgian author has triumphed over decades of official obfuscation: Belgium did collude in Patrice Lumumba’s assassination ... It raises questions about Western policy in Africa that will reverberate for decades to come.”—Michela Wrong, Financial Times

“One should never underestimate the ruthlessness of British gentlemen cradling endangered shares.”—Neal Ascherson, London Review of Books

“Thoroughly researched, passionately written, deeply disturbing.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Whilst the battle for control over the resources of the Congo (now DR Congo) continues today this important book restores Congolese history and saves it from the official version peddled by those directly implicated in the affair.”—New Internationalist

Ronan Bennett
. . . a vivid and utterly compelling account of a nation strangled at birth by the West. It would be satisfying to report, 40 years after Lumumba's murder, that the Congolese are now at last being allowed to develop their country in a way that suited their needs. But the truth is that "after" still equals "before": Big business, foreign armies and an array of stooges are still trampling over the unfortunate population to be first in line to plunder and enrich themselves. If you want to know who to thank for this, look no further than De Witte's The Assassination of Lumumba.
Los Angeles Times
Washington Post Book World
[A] staggering amount of detail to support...allegations of direct government participation in Lumumba's murder.
New York Times
An unignorable effort to bring the West face to face with its culpability in this entire sad and sanguinary tale.
LA Times
A vivid and utterly compelling account of a nation strangled at birth by the West.
Booknews
Sociologist and writer De Witte details the story of how Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of the Republic of Congo, was murdered in January 1961, directly by the Belgian government and Congolese rebels, but with the indirect help of the US and United Nations. The original was published in Dutch as by Editions Uitgeverij van Halewyck in 1999, but the English seems to have been translated from the French. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Kirkus Reviews
Indefatigable Dutch sociologist De Witte (Crisis in Kongo) examines the murder of Congolese nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba and unearths a sordid story of corruption, violence, conspiracies, and lies. On January 17, 1961, former Prime Minister Lumumba and two of his associates were murdered by firing squads in a remote clearing. Shortly afterwards, their remains were moved, then exhumed a few days later. This time, the perpetrators, desperate to cover their trails, dismembered the bodies, submerging them in sulfuric acid. Even this was insufficient, so the remains of the remains were burned, and those stubborn fragments that refused to disappear were scattered across the countryside. Lumumba had been captured by his political enemies on December 1, 1960, days after escaping from house arrest; he was then subjected to many days of beatings and other humiliations (among the most disturbing of which was his being forced to swallow hair ripped from his own face and head). 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 from the fear of the Belgians (and of other Western countries, especially the US, just then reeling from its problems with Castro) that Lumumba-a popular politician-would so animate the people that they would expel rather than accommodate the business interests in the country. De Witte shows with devastating clarity how the UN and the West portrayed Lumumba as a danger (comparisons to Hitler were made), how the eight Belgian soldiers and nine policemen shot him (and received bonuses in their next paychecks!), how the government concocted lies about an escape attempt and denied responsibility for his death. His research has left him deeply cynical, as revealed in his declaration that governments espouse humanitarian and ethical principles only when they serve political objectives. Thoroughly researched, passionately written, deeply disturbing. (1 map, 2 charts, 8 pages b&w photos)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859844106
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 12/1/2002
  • Edition description: PBK
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 260
  • Sales rank: 829,796
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

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.
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