On January 17th, 1961, Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo was assassinated.
He was the second of five leaders of independence movements in African countries to be assassinated in the 1960s by their former colonial masters, or their agents.
Before his assassination, Lumumba wrote his wife a letter:
My dear wife,
I am writing these words not knowing how they will reach you and when they will and whether I shall still be alive when you read them.
All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives.
But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and their Western allies who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional amongst
certain high official of the United Nations that organization in which we placed all our trust when called on its assistance.
They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others. They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour. How could I speak otherwise?
Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I myself who count. It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from beyond whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy but at other times with joy and pleasure.
But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say no to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.
As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty.
For without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.
Neither brutality nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakeable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles.
History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations. But the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets.
Africa will write its own history and to the north, and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.
Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.
Long Live the Congo. Long Live Africa!
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