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Lumumba’s Remains Return But Justice Pursuit Continues

Belgian authorities returns a tooth of murdered Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to his children. Taken 6.23.2022

Belgian authorities have returned a tooth of murdered Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to his children in a new move toward recognition of atrocities that accompanied Belgium’s brutal exploitation of its former colony. VOA's Yeheyes Wuhib discussed this with one of Lumumba's descendants.

Yeheyes Wuhib: 61 years after his murder Belgian authorities returned a tooth of Congolese Independence hero - your grandfather - Patrice Lumumba. You were at the ceremony. What are your feelings?

Jean-Jacques Lumumba: You know, I prefer to talk about the fact brings something [a memory] back to me [that is] heinous, and I feel a lot of emotions. I thought of these two important people, who do I call Pongo and his son, Patrice Lumumba, who died in 2014. [The return of Lumumba's remains is] for the common people, the death of Lumumba and [those] who represent the beginning of this cycle of impunity [by Belgium], of the dawn of our focus [on] independence until today.

Yeheyes Wuhib: What do you think is the significance of returning the remains? Is Belgium trying to put behind one of the most brutal and shameful episodes in the country's bloody exploitation of central Africa ?

Jean-Jacques Lumumba: These events are going to lead to the beginning of the clarification of this process, the apology of the King Felipe and the prime minister Miquel, whom we now know to replace the role of justice today, did the greatest weakness in our story of immense impunity. We cannot accept the myths [put forth] of the personalities like Lumumba, Apollo, Okita - all those who are the victims of our [struggle for] freedom.

No lasting peace and harmony and development can be built without justice. To reiterate my [statement] to all Congolese people...a great crime was committed in the assassination of your grandfather and a few others in 1961. So, it's very hard to express it to you. But he was killed. They dissolved his remains.

Yeheyes Wuhib: Will there ever be justice for this grisly deed? Will the family together demand justice?

Jean-Jacques Lumumba: Justice is the heart of the [effort] to build a bright future. You know [this is] the memorial for millions of victims of yesterday. To to be respected and to be honored [by Belgium] is justice.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.