Lumumba (2000)  TV 

 

 

 

 

Director:  Raoul Peck.

Starring:  Eriq Ebouaney (Patrice Lumumba), Alex Descas (Joseph Mobutu), Thophile Sowi (Maurice Mpolo), Maka Kotto (Joseph Kasa Vubu), Dieudonn Kabongo (Godefroid Munungo), Pascal N'Zonzi (MoVse Tshombe), Andr Debaar (Walter J. Gansh of Van der Meersch), Cheik Doukour (Joseph Okito), Makena Diop (Thomas Kanza), Mariam Kaba (Pauline Lumumba), Rudi Delhem (Gnral Emile Janssens).

The movie presents the facts around the rise to power and then the assassination of Patrice Emery Lumumba who strove for the independence of the Congo from Belgium. 

 

 

Good movie.  It presents a more balanced picture of the assassination of Lumumba, which resulted from a combination of two things: Lumumba's impulsive and uncompromising nature and the power of Belgium and the United States to determine the outcome of political events in the former Belgian Congo.

The movie starts with the assassination of Lumumba, so the ending can't be spoiled.  June 30, 1960 the 36 year old Lumumba became the first prime minister of the Congo Republic.  He lasted just two months. 

Lumumba had already made enemies of the political leaders of the Katanga province, whose copper and diamonds were responsible for most of the wealth of the country.  Then the separatist urges of the Katanga province were encouraged by the Belgians. 

Then when independence arrived, Lumumba gave an extremely provocative speech condemning the Belgian colonists.  The speech led to the outburst of violence, especially against whites, in the Congo. A group of armed Congolese soldiers broke into a Lumumba cabinet meeting and demanded that the white officers be removed from the army and replaced by black officers.  Lumumba gets out of the situation by promising them that he will reply to their demands the next day at Camp Leopold (from which he was later chased away). 

The attacks on white Belgians leads the Belgian ambassador to warn Lumumba that his nation might have to resort to force to stop the depredations, that include the raping of white women.  Instead of Lumumba promising to deal with the crisis, or to ask for Belgian military assistance, he becomes enraged and insults the ambassador.  This is no way to run a country. 

The chaos continuing, Belgian paratroopers land in key area to protect Belgian citizens from black reprisals.  And now the USA paints Lumumba as a communist. 

Continuing problems leads Lumumba to call on the aid of the Soviet Union.  This was a mistake as the United States promises Col. Joseph Mobutu everything his troops might need and everything and anything that the colonel might personally want.  

President Kasa Vubo gives a speech on the radio saying that Lumumba is dragging the nation into a civil war. 

Col. Mobutu has his troops surround the home of Lumumba.  He tells the press that it is not a coup d'tat, but a revolution.   

Lumumba is smuggled out of the house but is later captured.  He is taken to Katanga province where he and two of his supporters are terribly beaten and then executed by firing squad in the middle of the night.   

Eriq Ebouaney as Patrice Lumumba does a great jog at portraying the prime minister plagued by out-of-control rages that were ultimately self-defeating  . 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 
 


Historical Background:

 

1925 -- Patrice Emery Lumumba born Onalua, Kasai province, Belgian Congo. 

He was educated at a missionary school. 

He worked in Leopoldville (Kinshasa) and Stanleyville (Kisangani) as a clerk and journalist.

1955  -- he was regional president of a Congolese trade union.   He joined the Belgian Liberal Party. 

1957  --  he was arrested for embezzlement and imprisoned for a year. 

1958  --  after his release, he helped organize the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC).

1959  -- Belgium introduced a five year plan for the independence of the Belgian Congo. 

1960  -- a conference decided to speed up independence; elections were held in May with the MNC winning a substantial majority.

1960 (June 23)  --  the MNC formed the first independent government.  Lumumba was the Congo's prime minister while Joseph Kasa Vubu was ceremonial president.

1960 (June)  --  with Belgian support, Moise Tshombe declared independence for the Katanga province.  This led to considerable unrest and Lumumba calling for Soviet support. 

1960 (September)  --  Kasa Vubu dismissed Lumumba from office. In turn, Lumumba tried to dismiss Kasa Vubu from the presidency.

1960 (September 14)  --  Colonel Joseph Mobutu overthrew Lumumba. 

1960 (December 1)  --  Lumumba was arrested.

Lumumba was under informal house arrest, while being protected by UN forces.  The former prime minister escaped from house arrest.  He was captured, beaten and sent to a military prison in Thysville, Leopoldville.

1961 (January 17)  --  Lumumba was taken from the military prison in Thysville to  a prison in the secessionist province of Katanga. Belgium had wanted Lumumba arrested and did nothing to avert his threatened death.  Lumumba and two others (Mpolo and Okito) were bundled away in a convoy.  When the convoy stopped by a large tree, a firing squad executed the three men with four Belgian officers present.  The Belgians later declared that the officers were operating under Katanga's authority, not that of Belgium.  But Belgium was legally culpable for doing nothing to stop the assassinations.

US President Eisenhower ordered a CIA plot to murder Lumumba.  The plan was not successful because a local CIA agent had pangs of conscience.

1960-1965  --  Kasa-Vubu was president of the Republic of Congo following another power struggle between Kasa Bubu and his prime minister Moise Tshombe.

1965-1997  --  Joseph Mobutu becomes the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) via a coup d'tat.  He ruled for 32 years.  He was backed by the Belgians and the CIA.   

 

 

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