By Paul Ndiho

The coffin carrying the remains of slain Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba has returned to his home for an emotionally charged tour and burial more than six decades after his assassination. 

Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba’s remains have been returned to his home more than 60 years after his assassination.  A carrying Lumumba’s remains — a tooth that ex-colonial power Belgium handed over to his family last week — from Brussels to Kinshasa for a nine-day trip around the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The coffin and an accompanying delegation then flew to the central province of Sankuru, where the country’s first post-independence leader was born in the village of Onalua in 1925.

Jean Jacques Lumumba, an activist and recipient of the International Award for Fighting Corruption, is the grandson of Patrice Lumumba and was among the family that received the remains. He spoke to VOA from Paris about the significance of the remains and the family’s quest for justice.  Jean Jacques Lumumba, is a great grandson of Lumumba.

“Lumumba family suffered repression in the name of the brother. We would have all wanted to see this day while in grief the emotions. Still, it’s so for the Congolese people for whom the death of Lumumba and its comrades represent the beginning of this cycle of impunity, of the dawn of our focus to independence until today.” 

After resting in his native village, the coffin of the former Belgian Congo’s first post-independence prime minister began its memorial pilgrimage to the northeastern city of Kisangani.

A single tooth is all that remains of the young scholar and nationalist politician whose life and career was cut short in a dark struggle for leadership and control of resources in the central African country.

Lumumba’s body was dissolved in acid after being killed, but a Belgian police officer kept the tooth as a trophy.

In 1958, Lumumba launched a political party, the Congolese National Movement, which won national elections in May 1960, a month before independence.

“Justice is the only practical option to a bright future. You know the memorial for millions of victims of yesterday and today who was to be respected and honored Congolese life justice and Lumumba family-like justice. “

From Kisangani, the coffin will be taken to Katanga in the southeast, where a secessionist movement raged after independence and Lumumba and his aides were tortured.

The burial ceremony is planned for June 30th in Kinshasa, which is D-R-C Independence Day.

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