The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series presents a free screening of Lumumba, the true story of the rise to power and brutal assassination of the formerly vilified and later redeemed Prime Minister of the independent Congo, Patrice Lumumba. The screening will be followed by a discussion on “Lumumba: The Man, His Ideas, and Today's Challenge in the Congo,” led by Dr. Rita Kiki (Nkiru) Edozie of Michigan State University and Maurice Carney of the Friends of the Congo organization. This free event takes place Saturday, April 12, 2014, starting at 2 pm at the museum, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.
Using newly discovered historical evidence, Lumumba renders an emotional and tautly woven account of the mail clerk and beer salesman with a flair for oratory and an uncompromising belief in the capacity of his homeland to build a prosperous, independent, and truly African nation free of its former Belgium overlords. Lumumba emerges as the heroic sacrificial lamb dubiously portrayed by the international media and led to slaughter by commercial and political interests in Belgium, the United States, the international community, and Lumumba's own administration. It is a true story of political intrigue and murder where political entities, captains of commerce, and the military dovetail in their quest for economic and political hegemony.
The Berlin (Congo) Conference of 1884 - 1885 established agreements for Europeans to increase their colonialism of Africa to gain access to vast mineral resources, free labor, wealth and geostrategic locations. In 1878, King Léopold II of Belgium joined forces with Henry Morton Stanley, under the guise of philanthropic interests, to obtain the Congo Free State - what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo - as his personal property. Leopold criminally “owned and ruled” the Congo Free State for 23 years (1885 - 1908) and earned the equivalent of one billion dollars primarily from the extraction of rubber, ivory, and the exploitation of free African labor. King Léopold II’s reign resulted in the mutilation and murder of over 13 million Congolese, approximately half of the population of the region. The historian Walter Rodney’s 1972 magnum opus, entitled “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” further delineates this atrocity. For 52 years following King Léopold II, from 1908 to 1960, the Congolese people suffered under the foot of Belgian colonization.
Patrice Émery Lumumba (born Élias Okit'Asombo, July 2, 1925 – January 17, 1961) was a Congolese, pan African revolutionary leader who helped his country win its independence from Belgium in June 1960 and became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). On January 17, 1961, after being beaten and tortured, Patrice Lumumba was assassinated. This criminal act, sanctioned by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, was coordinated by CIA Director Allan Dulles (and attempted by his agents Victor Hedgman and Joseph Scheider) and Belgian, British (M16) and United Nation forces in collusion with United States-financed Congolese mercenaries Joseph-Desiré Mobutu, Joseph Kasavubu, Moïse Kapenda Tshombe, and their associates.
Directed by Raoul Peck, the story of Lumumba serves as one of many possible entry points for examining the history of Africa’s exploitation and how it continues to inform the continent’s present and future, and serves as a substantive comparison to the continuing fight for justice and rights of African Americans.
About the Liberation Film Series
The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Black/African Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, and University of Massachusetts – Amherst, National Council of Black Studies, Dr. Errol Henderson (Pennsylvania State University), Media Education Foundation, The Walter P. Reuther Library – Wayne State University, Fashion International, Black & White Look Optical Corporation, Wayne State University Press, Bentley Historical Library - University of Michigan, University Prep Science & Math High School, Nandi’s Book Store, The African History Network Show, community activists, and individual contributors. The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.