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Final rest for slain Congo Lumumba

– I can’t say it’s a feeling of happiness. But it is important to us that we can finally bury the one we loved, Lumumba’s son Roland says at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium.

The tooth will be handed over on Monday at an official ceremony in Brussels. And so, says Roland Lumumba, “we can end our period of grief” at the same time that a long and dark chapter of Central African history somewhat ends.

– May God have mercy on him. It is important to us.

Anticolonial fighter

Patrice Lumumba was one of the leading figures in anti-colonialism when, as leader of the Congo, he leveled his harsh criticism against Belgium, the former colonial power.

Belgian violations of human rights and dignity in the leadership of the Belgian Congo were brutal, as were the killing of countless Congolese serfs.

Upon independence in 1960, Lumumba became the country’s first prime minister after being one of the leaders in the struggle against the resistance. But his power base collapsed, not least because of foreign interference. In September of the same year, he was overthrown in a military coup by future dictator Mobutu and supported by the CIA and the CIA.

35-year-old Lumumba went to the separatist region of Katanga, where he was captured and killed by the separatists and in the presence of Belgian agents. In January 1961. His body was destroyed with the help of acid.

But a Belgian officer saved a tooth as a souvenir.

Teeth in the coffin

It is the age that authorities have extracted from the policeman’s daughter, since Lumumba’s relatives submitted an official application in 2016.

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The tooth is placed in a coffin in the presence of the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Congo and Kinshasa. The relatives were also welcomed by Belgium’s King Philippe, who publicly apologized for Belgium’s involvement after prolonged criticism.

And Congo-Kinshasa, rich in natural resources, at that time, as it is today, was the scene of great international politics. In the conflict, then-UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld was given a leading role. Fate ended abruptly when the plane he was on crashed in Katanga in September 1961, months after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.