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Patrice Lumumba: Africa's Lost Leader

Murdered at the age of 35 by imperialists, Patrice Lumumba was prime minister of the newly independent Congo for just seven months before being shot and his body dissolved in acid.

The synopsis for a new political thriller? No, the true story of Patrice Lumumba, described by Malcolm X as ‘the greatest black man who ever walked the African continent’ and of whose assassination Che Guevara said: “Lumumba’s murder should be a lesson for all of us.”

Leo Zeilig’s 2005 biography of Lumumba, Patrice Lumumba: Africa’s Lost Leader, now an e-book brought to us by HopeRoad Publishing, tells the story of a self-educated young man of humble origins, who become one of a group of educated Congolese men groomed by the then political leaders to become champions of the Belgian Congo community.

However, Lumumba quickly began to see through the hypocrisy and corruption of his Belgian masters and was elected leader of what became the Mouvement National Congolais or MNC in 1958. Inspired by the independence of Ghana in 1957 and a friend of its leader, Kwame Nkrumah, Lumumba campaigned against the Belgian elite and won the general election in May 1960.

Aided by American and Western governments, Belgium sought desperately to overthrow this upstart but realised they could not do so by political means, such was his popularity. Plots to assassinate him abounded and on January 17, 1961, he was shot by Belgian firing squad and buried, his body being dug up the next day, dismembered and dissolved in acid, as if to expunge all remnants of his political struggle and even his memory.

Patrice Lumumba; Africa’s Lost Leader is, as Simon Hester said in the Socialist Review an important addition to our history of the twentieth century and essential reading for students of, and activists in, the African liberation struggle.

Other Reviews of the book:

In this well-researched book Leo Zeilig has done the valuable job of bringing to life Patrice Lumumba as a man, as well as showing the political context of Africa in the 1950s in the dying days of colonialism. This book is the key to understanding why Lumumba became such a potent myth. Victoria Brittain

An excellent introduction to the political and personal life of the most enigmatic African leader of the 20th century. Ludo de Witte, author of The Assassination of Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba: Africa’s Lost Leader is available here.