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DRC: After Lumumba, will Mobutu and Tshombe ever rest in peace?

By Romain Gras

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Posted on June 22, 2022 09:04

Lumumba Patrice Emery Lumumba, 1 September 1960, in Stanleyville. ©Jeune Afrique Archives
Patrice Emery Lumumba, 1 September 1960, in Stanleyville. ©Jeune Afrique Archives

While Patrice Lumumba’s tooth was finally returned to his family before being repatriated to Kinshasa, the remains of other Congolese political figures are still interred abroad. The inside story of a family headache with national significance.

It is difficult to tell whether Roland Lumumba’s low tone of voice is an expression of his fatigue, relief or simply a certain weariness. Speaking in early June, the only thing that Patrice Émery Lumumba’s son seems struggling to hide is his impatience to bring his family’s interminable ordeal to an end. “It’s been difficult to get to this point,” he says, referring to the mourning his family has been deprived of – for lack of a body to bury.

To say that the road was long is an understatement. The construction of the mausoleum has been delayed, the family has hesitated, the presidential cabinet has fumbled, the event itself has been postponed many times… But this time, Roland Lumumba wants to believe that the outcome is close and that his father’s tooth, the only relic from the hero of Congolese independence assassinated on 17 January 1961, will finally return to Congo.

And it doesn’t

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