Историко-мемориальная работа

ПАМЯТИ ПАТРИСА ЛУМУМБЫ: Взгляд из России

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Статья, посвященная 60 летию со дня гибели конголезского борца за независимость Африки, первого премьер-министра  Демократической Республики Конго Патриса Лумумбы (02.07.1925-17.01.1961).

Газета "The Guardian" от 19.01.2021 г.
Публикация подготовлена Российским центром науки и культуры в Дар эс Саламе.

IN MEMORY OF PATRICE LUMUMBA - A View from Russia

Alexander Mezyaev

 

Sixty years ago, on January 17, 1961, the first Prime Minister of the independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba, was assassinated.

The name of this man is well known not only in Africa, where it is a symbol of devotion to the people and independence of not only the Congo, but the entire continent. He is known and respected all over the world, and especially in Russia. The bright memory of the fiery freedom fighter lives on in the names of Russian streets, in fiction, in poetry and in films ...

In those distant years of the late 1960 and early 1961, every Soviet citizan followed the events in the Congo. Soviet newspapers reported on events in this country every day. The future Prime Minister of Russia, and a journalist at time, Yevgeny Primakov, wrote reports on the events in the Congo in those days:

 “The situation in the Congo continues to heat up. Strong support for the legitimate government of Lumumba in the provinces of East and Kivu ... as well as ferment among the mercenaries of Mobutu - all this indicates a further weakening of the positions of the puppets, with the help of which the imperialists are trying to restore colonial order in the Congo”.

The nationwide support to Lumumba that is what especially frightened the imperialists. A it was decided to liquidate P. Lumumba. Here's what the CIA reported to the US State Department back in August 1960:

In high quarters here it is a clear-cut conclusion that if (Lumumba) continues to hold high office, the inevitable result will at best be chaos and at worst pave the way to Communist takeover of the Congo with disastrous consequences for the prestige of the UN and for the interests of the free world generally. Consequently we conclude that his removal must be an urgent and prime objective and that under existing conditions this should be a high priority of our covert action ...

This is not conspiracy theory. This encryption is published on the official website of the US Department of State ...

The assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba became known only with a great delay: only on February 14, 1961. The news of Lumumba's death was received as the greatest tragedy, as the main event of the time. Here is the first page of the main Soviet newspaper Izvestia, published on the evening of February 14 ...

For several days, the front pages of Soviet newspapers reported mass meetings of workers protesting against this vile murder. These rallies were not staged. The people of the Soviet Union really felt anger and pain.

The fact that many citizens perceived the pain of the Congo as their own is indicated by letters and telegrams sent by ordinary Soviet people. For example, this: "Tears gushed from our eyes when we heard the news of the murder of Lumumba and his associates." This is a telegram from the Berezhnykh family from the Kiev region. Another letter: “3,000 pensioners of the House Committee of Housing and Maintenance Office No. 5 of the Sverdlovsk District of Moscow in the amount of 3,000 people with deep anger stigmatize the killers of the great patriot of the Congolese people Patrice Lumumba and his associates Maurice Mpolo and Joseph Okito. We express our condolences to the Congolese people, the families of Patrice Lumumba and his associates. On behalf of the council M. Kanevsky. "

A letter from students of a secondary school in the city of Penza, who wrote to the editorial office of Komsomolskaya Pravda, sounds naive, but sincere: “We, pupils of the secondary school № 5, learned with deep sadness about the death of Patrice Lumumba. We ask the Soviet government to take Lumumba's children to the Soviet Union for education. We will be happy to accept them in our city Penza."

Here is how journalist of the Pravda newspaper tells about these letters from Soviet people: “I remember how hundreds of letters came to us, to the editorial office of Pravda, every day. They were different - typed on a typewriter and written in pencil on lined notebook paper - and they were written by different people - professors and workers, collective farmers and writers, but they had one thing in common: anxiety for the fate of the Congo, anger and contempt for the colonialists, a great human pain in connection with the death of Lumumba.”

On the death of Lumumba, Soviet poets Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Yevgeny Dolmatovsky, Yaroslav Smelyakov wrote their poems ... Ordinary people wrote poems and sent them to newspapers. The pain that the Soviet people felt for the Congo tragedy was sincere. What was its basis for those feelings? I think that the reason was the fact that the Soviet people themselves quite recently freed themselves from the system of age-old exploitation, this was the same generation, and it felt spiritual unity with the peoples who were waging a similar struggle. It is no accident that poet Yaroslav Smelyakov wrote: "Like an electric shock, the tragedy of the Congo passes through our hearts that have known pain ..."

The poetic talent of Patrice Lumumba himself was well known in the Soviet Union. His poems were translated into Russian, and some of them were translated several times by different Soviet poets. Such, for example, is the fate of the poems "May our people triumph" and "Morning of Africa". The last poem has a very special history in USSR: it had been translated into Russian six times by six different Soviet poets!

Here are the lines from this poem by Patrice Lumumba:

The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,

A new morning breaks in our old Africa.

Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers

Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.

Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again

They'll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.

The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,

The evil cruel times will go never to come again.

A free and gallant Congo will rise from black soil,

A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!

Six decades have passed since the murder of Patrice Emery Lumumba, but we still do not fully know all the circumstances of his death. But we know his heroic and selfless life in the name of the liberation of Africa. That is why the name of Patrice Lumumba is known in all corners of the world, and it will forever remain in the memory of all progressive humanity. Russia remembers Lumumba. The whole progressive world saluting him!

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