EYEGAMBIA

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Court orders Belgian authorities to hand over Lumumba’s tooth to family


The only remaining body part of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first prime minister, who was assassinated in 1961 with his body destroyed will finally be sent to his ancestral country.

Following years of battle by his family, especially his Daughter Juliana Lumumba who petitioned the King to return “relics of Patrice Emery Lumumba to the land of his ancestors”, a Belgian court has on Thursday ruled that a tooth taken from his corpse should be handed over to his family.

When Patrice Lumumba was murdered in 1961, his body was dismembered and dissolved in acid in an attempt to erase everything relating to him; unfortunately for the assassins and fortunate for his family, Congo and the African continent as a whole, his tooth was taken by a police officer who was tasked to dispose his body.

Admittedly, the said tooth was retrieved from the officer by the Belgian Government and kept for almost 60 years. His death was reported to have been orchestrated by a Belgian backed militia group.

The government has earlier rendered an apology to the family and the people of Congo for their role in his assassination. According to reports, an enquiry revealed that, Belgium bore “moral responsibility” by the deliberate refusal of some Ministers at the time to prevent his assassination.

The then Belgian foreign minister, Louis Michel told Parliament that: “The government feels it should extend to the family of Patrice Lumumba…and to the Congolese people, its profound and sincere apologies for the pain inflicted upon them.” He further added that, “certain Belgian actors bear an irrefutable responsibility in the events that led to Lumumba’s death.”

The government instituted a reparation by setting up a fund in the name of the revolutionary leader purported to contribute to the Congolese democratic development, conflict prevention and also provide scholarships for the youth. An amount of about $3 million was set-up with a ten years annual commitment of $500,000 made.

Apart from Belgium, spy agencies belonging to both the United States and the British government were equally mentioned in his assassination; hopefully, his family, home country and the continent will be presented with an opportunity to pay proper last respect to the celebrated leader.

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