By Obi Egbuna
For African people who respect the sacred tradition of remembering our fallen freedom fighters in the context of gaining inspiration to advance our liberation struggle forward,we pledge to the ancestors that Monday, January 17th 2011 will never be forgotten. At the same time Africans in the US on a mass level were celebrating the 25th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday becoming a national holiday, the 50th anniversary of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination was commemorated by Africans and freedom-loving people all over the globe.The fact that these celebrations occurred simultaneously was truly poetic justice in every respect. Especially since the US Government is willing to do everything in its power,to prevent at all costs, having to openly acknowledge they killed Dr. King in cold blood.
It is glaringly obvious that US Imperialists feel relieved that Africans have yet to bring the country to an absolute standstill concerning a trial that would reveal exactly how Dr. King was cowardly gunned down in Memphis,Tennessee. We must also reject any attempt at an apology from the US Government concerning Lumumba’s death.This is an extremely important stand for African people to take collectively even if the apology were to come directly from US president Barack Obama himself, especially if the US flag- a true symbol of rape, plunder, and genocide- was in the background. Any attempt at an apology by President Obama for the role of the CIA in Lumumba’s murder would be at best insincere upon noting that this outrageous crime against humanity was followed up by building a wall of defense around the neo-colonialist war criminal Mobutu Sese Seko whose palms were stained with Lumumba’s blood. The story of Lumumba and the Congolese National Movement is even more relevant today than it was when he was physically alive at the height of anti-colonialist resistance on the African continent.
It is virtually impossible to pay a working tribute to freedom fighters like Lumumba or Dr. King having to relive the painful memories of their assassinations. It is also important to note that any attempts to damage their character should be completely ignored.
There are two other examples of attempted character assassination that come to mind. The first of which is when the US Treasury department spent 400,000 US dollars to forcefully remove Adam Clayton Powell from his seat in the US Congress. The second instance is how the FBI spent millions of dollars to entrap the former Mayor of Washington DC Marion Barry in a gestapo-like sting operation.
As we accept the responsibility of exposing our youth to the life and work of Lumumba,we recognize this task comes on the heels of shattering the illusion that we should always consider developments on our beloved mother continent as foreign policy.This approach presents a unique challenge because this generation remembers President Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004,which played a pivotal role in his rise to national as well as international prominence.The part of Obama’s message that stood out was when he said,”only in America is my story possible”,which was amusing because the statement had an aggressively patriotic overtone. That statement by Obama made boxing fans immediately think of the fight promoter Don King whose meteoric rise to fame and fortune is attributed to the same reactionary and repulsive slogan.It is no coincidence that the boxing match that made Don King a household name in the sportsworld,took place in the Congo in 1974 between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman,which was promoted as the the Rumble In The Jungle.The African community at home and abroad should look at this pro-capitalist economic venture as a case study because while Ali and Foreman made 5 million US dollars a piece,it helped validate the most greedy and wicked African head of state in modern history.The political ramifications of this sports extravaganza appears to be grossly misunderstood because while Ali will always be revered for his courageous stance he took on the question of Vietnam,a heartfelt apology to Africans everywhere for embracing the murderer of Patrice Lumumba, is long overdue.
The most valuable lesson to be learned from this tragedy is Africa’s most ruthless exploiters, past and present,feel bound by duty to manipulate our yearning to embrace our history and culture.We can see how Reagan took full advantage of the cultural icon Stevie Wonder’s genuine desire,to see Dr. King properly honored by Africans and poor people,who demanded his birthday be declared a national holiday.It makes those who really were touched by Dr. King’s life and work,extremely angry because the mobilization centered around this symbolic and compassionate effort and diverted attention away from any plan to have a no holds barred trial concerning his assassination.
If we accept Don King and President Obama’s outlook that the US is truly the land of milk and honey, and therefore progress by Africans elsewhere hardly matters. This means it is now politically en vogue to act as though gallant fighters like Lumumba never existed in the first place.This explains why 2 years ago the 100th birthday anniversary of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah,who had such a tremendous influence on both Lumumba and King,was for all intensive purposes treated as an afterthought.The senseless murder of Lumumba 50 years ago is inextricably linked,to the exploited labor of Congolese women, children, and men today,whose slave labor in the country’s coltan mines continues to be suppressed by the imperialist media apparatus.
While we wage the courageous fight for Reparations surrounding the forced free labor that occurred during chattel slavery- private corporations fatten their pockets off the notorious cell phone rackets.This line of dirty business that has corporate executives representing Sprint,TMobile,AT&T etc,laughing all the way to the bank,remains a political fantasy without the Congo’s coltan reserves at their complete disposal.While the slaughtering of Lumumba remains a bitter pill to swallow,the image of the Congolese people digging for Coltan in the mines,has to make us think of our ancestors in the US cottonfields or Caribbean sugar plantations.
It was none other than Malcolm X who reminded us “You can’t understand what’s going on in Mississippi if you don’t understand what’s going on in the Congo.” Which means the manner Africans must treat the loss of Lumumba,should resemble the manner that Christians treat the crucifixion of Christ.This does not mean Africans should declare Lumumba infallible like Catholics do the Pope. It simply compels Africans worldwide to intensify our genuine resistance to ensure justice prevails on our mother continent- where Lumumba and countless others died not in vain, but searching for a brighter day.
Obi Egbuna is the US Correspondent To The Herald
And a member of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association
he can be contacted at obiegbuna15 [at] gmail.com