Only when lions have historians will hunters cease being heroes. We need to write our own history.
“Thanks to the general mobilization of all the democratic youth of the Congo, the Congolese nationalists won independence for the nation. We received this independence at the price of a grim struggle, at the price of all sorts of privations, at the price of tears and blood.” Patrice Lumumba
Among African leaders of the independence era who vigorously fought for the freedom of their people and particularly as well for the unity of Africa against its exploitation by Western nations, Patrice Lumumba, the first Congolese elected prime minister, features high on my list.
When Kambale Muzavuli, Congolese activist and spokesperson of Friends of the Congo, put up on his facebook pages, extracts of Lumumba’s address to the Congolese youth, this raised my curiosity to find out the whole text that the prime minister read at the intention of his compatriots. The search took me to other numerous texts and speeches of the illustrious Congolese and pan-African personality.
Please read below the full text of Lumumba’s address. The appeal is deep and calls every young Congolese. It surprises how appropriate the content seems, considered the dire situation the Democratic Republic of Congo experiences today, being confronted to the same dark forces of yesterday working through actors such as M23, Rwanda and Uganda, US and Britain, plus a multitude of global corporations interested in plundering the country’s resources as this was the case in the 60s and even before that.
Address to Congolese Youth
Today I am addressing the youth, the young men and women of the Republic of the Congo.
In speaking to them, I am addressing these words to future generations because the future of our beloved country belongs to them.
We are fighting our enemies in order to prepare a better and happier life for our youth.
If we had been egoists, if we had thought only about ourselves we would not have made the innumerable sacrifices we are making.
I am aware that our country can completely liberate herself from the chains of colonialism politically, economically and spiritually only at the price of a relentless and sometimes dangerous struggle. Together with the youth of the country, we have waged this struggle against foreign rule, against mercantile exploitation, against injustice and pressure.
Young people who have been inactive and exploited for a long time have now become aware of their role of standard-bearer of the peaceful revolution.
The young people of the Congo have fought on our side in towns, villages and in the bush. Many of our young men have been struck down by the bullets of the colonialists. Many of them left their parents and friends in order to fight heroically for the cause of freedom. The resistance that the young people offered the aggressors in Leopoldville on January 4 and in Stanleyville on October 30, 1959, deserves every praise.
With deep emotion I bow in memory of these courageous patriots, these fighters for African freedom.
The time is not far distant when large numbers of young men and women were driven out of schools by their white teachers and instructors on the suspicion of having nationalist ideas. Many brilliantly gifted young people turned down the opportunity to receive a higher education for the simple reason that they no longer wished to be indoctrinated by the colonialists, who wanted to turn our young men and women into eternal servants of the colonial regime.
During the heroic struggle of the Congolese nationalists, the young people, even those who were still sitting at school desks, resolutely opposed all new forms of colonialism, whether political, social, spiritual or religious.
Their only dream was national liberation. Their sole aim was immediate independence. Their only resolve was to wage an implacable struggle against the puppets and emissaries of the colonialists.
Thanks to the general mobilisation of all the democratic youth of the Congo, the Congolese nationalists won independence for the nation. We received this independence at the price of a grim struggle, at the price of all sorts of privations, at the price of tears and blood.
After independence was solemnly proclaimed on June 30, 1960, the colonialists and their black emissaries started a barbarous war in the young Republic of the Congo. They began this perfidious aggression because the nationalist Government now in power did not want them to continue exploiting our country as they did prior to June 30, the historic day when the people of our country said Adieu to the Belgian colonialists.
Not having any support whatever, particularly among the working class, who have had their fill of colonial exploitation, the colonialists and their henchmen now want to force certain sections of the youth to serve them in order to be able to propagandise the revival of colonialism. That is why a certain part of the youth, luckily not a very numerous part, have plunged into national defeatism.
Happily, the vast majority of the young people saw through this last attempt of the imperialists, who are turning into account the dissatisfaction of some malcontents, of those who failed in the elections because they did not have the confidence of the people.
This nationalist youth recently held demonstrations in various towns in the Republic to show their absolute and total opposition to imperialist intrigues.
Young people, I salute you, and congratulate you on your civic and patriotic spirit. Young people, specially for you I have created a Ministry for Youth Affairs and Sports under the Central Government. It is your Ministry. It is at your disposal. Many of you, without any discrimination, will be called upon to direct this Ministry, its different services and activities.
Today, in the free and independent Congo we must not have a Bangala, National Unity Party, Association of Bakongo, Mukongo, Batetela or Lokele youth but a united, Congolese, nationalist, democratic youth. This youth will serve the social and economic revolution of our great and beloved country.
You must energetically combat tribalism, which is a poison, a social scourge that is the country’s misfortune today. You must combat all the separatist manoeuvres, which some of the preachers of the policy of division are trying to pass off to young and inexperienced people under the name of federalism, federation or confederation.
In reality, young people, these names are only a new vocabulary brought by the imperialists to divide us in order the better and more conveniently to exploit us. Your entire future will be threatened if you do not oppose these manoeuvres, this new, disguised colonisation.
You must be proud that you belong to a great nation, a great country, a mighty power. This power, which the imperialists envy today, is embodied in national unity. This unity must be the heritage that you, in your turn, shall leave to your children.
The Government will soon send 300 young people to study in the U.S.A., 150 in the Soviet Union and 20 in Guinea, not to mention other countries.
The Congo is no longer a national reservation, a national park, a zoo which we could not leave. Tomorrow you shall go everywhere to study, to learn a speciality, and to get to know the world. Workers, working people will have an equal share in these study missions.
You shall go everywhere, to all the parts of the world. These contacts with the outside world, this direct confrontation with the reality of life will make you experienced people, whom the free and independent Congo needs today.
You will go there not as representatives of Association of Bakongo, National Unity Party, Congo National Movement or African Regroupment Centre youth. You will be Congolese citizens, simply Congolese. And by your behaviour, devotion, intelligence and political maturity you must be a credit to your Congolese motherland.
Young people, the Congo belongs to you. The national Government, the people’s Government will do everything in its power to prevent the Congo from being torn away from you.
Long live the Republic of the Congo!
Long live the people’s, democratic youth!
Source: Patrice Lumumba: Fighter for Africa’s Freedom, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1961, pp 33-36.