The 62nd year of Self and internal rule of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may be subject of debate as the country still battles with collecting herself into one unit.
King Leopold II, the brother of Philippe’s great great grandfather, oversaw the conquest of what is now the DRC, governing the territory as his personal property between 1885 and 1908 before it became a Belgian colony.
Belgium’s colonisation of the Congo was one of the harshest imposed by the European powers that ruled most of Africa in the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Historians say that millions of people were killed, mutilated or died of disease as they were forced to collect rubber under his rule. The land was also pillaged for its mineral wealth, timber and ivory.
The Central African country gained its independence from Belguim on 30 June 1960, after a long struggle against occupation. The country’s anti-colonial hero Patrice Lumumba was elected as Prime Minister.
‘Who will ever forget the shootings which killed so many of our brothers, or the cells into which were mercilessly thrown those who no longer wished to submit to the regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation used by the colonialists as a tool of their domination?,’ Lumumba said during the proclamation of the countrys independence.
Belgians were stunned, as they “never before had a black African dared to speak like this in front of Europeans.”
Lumumba was seen as having humiliated the king and other Belgian officials.
In October 1960, the walls were closing in for Patrice Lumumba. Months earlier, he had been celebrated as the Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister after decades of brutal colonial rule.
Afterwards, he was overthrown in a coup and was being kept under house arrest by his political opponent.
With Lumumba’s life at risk, the Egyptian government under Gamal Abdel Nasser proposed a dangerous and unusual plan to have three of Lumumba’s young children smuggled out of the country and away to the safety of Cairo.
On January 17, 1961, Lumumba suddenly disappeared. In February 1961, his body was found with the bodies of some of his closest comrades in Katanga. He was murdered by separatists and Belgian mercenaries.
Just before his assassination in 1961, Lumumba asked former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to take care of his family.
His death caused an international scandal. The Assassination of Lumumba, which provided evidence that the Belgian government, with the complicity of the United States, was largely responsible for his death.