a “moment of emotion and hope” for his daughter

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It was a historic moment, this Monday, June 20, 2022, the Belgian justice gifted the family of Patrice Lumumba a relic. A tooth that a Belgian officer had removed from the body of the former prime minister more than 61 years ago shortly after his murder. After this return, the national hero’s body was transferred to the DRC embassy in Brussels, where he signed his return to Congolese soil.

From our special correspondents in Brussels

I’m very emotional I never thought this day could come Jules Lumumba has clear eyes when he talks about his parent. The old man looks with emotion at the large coffin that now stands in the middle of the Congolese embassy, ​​surrounded by white flowers. At his side, Congolese from Belgium came to assemble at the remains of the national hero and to sign the condolence registers.

There are both anonymous and ambassadors in the room, such as those from Gabon. Everyone comes when they want. † It’s our tradition, explains one of the organizers, everyone comes to pay tribute without announcing themselves, the house is just open† †

In front of the Congolese embassy in Brussels, anonymous people and personalities gather to greet the memory of Patrice Lumumba, June 20, 2022.
In front of the Congolese embassy in Brussels, anonymous people and personalities gather to greet the memory of Patrice Lumumba, June 20, 2022. © RFI/Paulina Zidi

“Moment of emotion and gravity”

The last leg of a day full of emotion started a few hours earlier during a family ceremony in a small committee in the Egmont Palace, in the heart of the Belgian capital. The tooth, the only remnant of the body of Congo’s first prime minister, has been returned to his family. The end of a waiting period of more than 61 years for his three children: Juliana, Roland and François.

This moment of emotion and gravity should open a moment of hopesays Juliana Lumumba, he must, appease the wounded memories and fill the existing memory gap between Belgium and the DRC.

► To also read: DRC: the remains of Patrice Lumumba officially handed over to his family by the Belgian justice

The private ceremony was followed by speeches from officials, including those of the two heads of government. The Belgian Alexander de Croo repeated his country’s apologies, while the Congolese Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde organized the ” national mourning that could never happen

A mourning that now has to carry the remains of Patrice Lumumba through the country for ten days of commemoration.

♦ Belgium, an incomplete apology?
The Belgian Prime Minister pointed out on Monday the moral responsibility of several Belgian ministers who were in office in 1961: “ They should have realized that his transfer to Katanga would put his life in danger, they didn’t want to see that. A man was murdered because of his political beliefs. To the Democrat that I am it is indefensible, to the Liberal that I am it is unacceptable and to the human being that I am it is detestable
Alexander de Croo then repeated the Belgian government’s apologies. Apologies already offered in 2002 by Louis Michel, then Minister of Foreign Affairs. A year earlier, a parliamentary commission of inquiry had already concluded that Belgium bore moral responsibility for this murder. The Belgian Prime Minister therefore remained on the same page. A position that deeply disappointed the Belgian historian Ludo de Witte, an eminent specialist in this matter: ” “Moral responsibility breeds passivity. No, there was an active role of Belgium, active and even predominant in the unfolding of the facts, and therefore it lacks, a full responsibility to establish apologies and conclusions
Conversely, Alexander de Croo’s speech was applauded by Patrice Lumumba’s family. For his children, the aim now is to turn the page on this painful history and further the relationship between the two countries.

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