Haiti Re-MEMBERing Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Émery Lumumba (2 July 1925 – 17 January 1961) was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba’s government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis. He was subsequently imprisoned and murdered in circumstances suggesting the support and complicity of the United Nations, the governments of Belgium and the United States.

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Two Poems Written By Partice Lumumba

Weep, Beloved Black Brother

(Video)


A poem by Patrice Lumumba

O black man, beast of burden through the centuries,
Your ashes scattered to the winds of heaven,
There was a time when you built burial temples
In which your murderers sleep their final sleep.
Hunted down and tracked, driven from your homes.
Beaten in battles where brute force prevailed.
Barbaric centuries of rape and carnage
That offered you the choice of death or slavery.
You went for refuge to the forest depths,
And other deaths waylaid you, burning fevers,
Jaws of wild beasts, the cold, unholy coils
Of snakes who crushed you gradually to death.
Then came the white man, more clever, tricky, cruel,
He took your gold in trade for shoddy stuff,
He raped your women, made your warriors drunk,
Penned up you sons and daughters on his ships.
The tom-toms hummed through all the villages,
Spreading afar the mourning, the wild grief
At news of exile to a distant land
Where cotton is God and the dollar King.
Condemned to enforced labor, beasts of burden,
Under a burning sun from dawn to dusk,
So that you might forget you are a man
They taught your to sing the praises of their God,
And these hosannas, tuned in to your sorrows,
Gave you the hope of a better world to come.
But in your human heart you only asked
The right to live, your share of happiness.
Beside your fire, your eyes reflect your dreams and suffering,
You sang the chants that gave voice to your blues.
And sometimes to your joys, when sap rose in the trees
And you danced wildly in the damp of evening.
And out of this sprang forth, magnificent,
Alive and virile, like a bell of brass
Sounding your sorrow, that powerful music,
Jazz, now loved, admired throughout the world,
Compelling the white man to respect,
Announcing in clear loud tones from this time on
This country no longer belongs to him.
And thus you made the brothers of your race
Lift up their heads to see clear, straight ahead
The happy future bearing deliverance.
The banks of a great river in flower with hope
Are yours from this time onward.
The earth and all its riches
Are yours from this time onward.
The blazing sun in the colorless sky
Dissolves our sorrow in a wave of warmth.
Its burning rays will help to dry forever
The flood of tears shed by our ancestors,
Martyrs of the tyranny of the masters.
And on this earth which you will always love
You will make the Congo a nation, happy and free,
In the very heart of vast Black Africa.

Dawn in the Heart of Africa


A poem by Patrice Lumumba.

For a thousand years, you, African, suffered like beast,
Your ashes strewn to the wind that roams the desert.
Your tyrants built the lustrous, magic temples
To preserve your soul, reserve your suffering.
Barbaric right of fist and the white right to a whip,
You had the right to die, you also could weep.
On your totem they carved endless hunger, endless bonds,
And even in the cover of the woods a ghastly cruel death
Was watching, snaky, crawling to you
Like branches from the holes and heads of trees
Embraced your body and your ailing soul.
Then they put a treacherous big viper on your chest:
On your neck they laid the yoke of fire-water,
They took your sweet wife for glitter of cheap pearls,
Your incredible riches that nobody could measure.
From your hut, the tom-toms sounded into dark of night
Carrying cruel laments up mighty black rivers
About abused girls, streams of tears and blood,
About ships that sailed to countries where the little man
Wallows in an ant hill and the dollar is king,
To that damned land which they called a motherland.
There your child, your wife were ground, day and night
In a frightful, merciless mill, crushing them in dreadful pain.
You are a man like others. They preach you to believe
That good white God will reconcile all men at last.
By fire you grieved and sang the moaning songs
Of a homeless beggar that sinks at strangers’ doors.
And when a craze possessed you
And your blood boiled through the night
You danced, you moaned, obsessed by father’s passion.
Like furry of a storm to lyrics of a manly tune
From a thousand years of misery a strength burst out of you
In metallic voice of jazz, in uncovered outcry
That thunders through the continent like gigantic surf.
The whole world surprised , wakes up in panic
To the violent rhythm of blood, to the violent rhythm of jazz,
The white man turning pallid over this new song
That carries torch of purple through the dark of night.
The dawn is here, my brother! Dawn! Look in our faces,
A new morning breaks in our old Africa.
Ours alone will now be the land, the water, mighty rivers
Poor African surrendered for a thousand years.
Hard torches of the sun will shine for us again
They’ll dry the tears in eyes and spittle on your face.
The moment when you break the chains, the heavy fetters,
The evil cruel times will go never to come again.
A free and gallant Congo will rise from black soil,
A free and gallant Congo-black blossom from black seed!
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