The Africa Problem

Magdalene Mills

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A friend sent me a post, ‘Five times the CIA robbed Africa of its promising leaders’. Being African, I was mildly interested in the article. However, it was my lack of knowledge about the face that was used to advertise the post that held my attention. A black and white picture of a smiling, charismatic looking black gentlemen, wearing Malcolm X style glasses, with an air of Kwame Nkrumah.

Now, I have enough general knowledge of Black and African history, as I have always had a passion for the subject, but I am also aware that there’s so much more I don’t know. This is what sparked my initial intrigue to dig deeper. Not only did I not recognise this face, or name, I didn’t know this piece of such important history even existed, even though it was so closely linked to the history I did know. The pursuit of knowledge excited me, my journey with this mystery man had begun.

I began scrolling, typing, clicking, reading, each time enjoying the chase a little bit more, all to find out about that smiling face that had lured me in at the top of the list. He was now at the top of my list, without even knowing him, I just knew he would be worth it. Patrice Lumumba... At this point, I think it's only fair that I admit I may have fallen in lust with this beautiful, unknown character. Even his name rolls off my tongue so wonderfully like a french dessert. Sorry. Trust me, his story is even more salivating.

Patrice Lumumba had become the Democratic Republic of Congo’s revolutionary leader and the newly independent country’s first elected Prime Minister. According to ‘The African Exponent’ he had been inclined to communist principles, so instantly made it on the US hit list. Can you say Cuba? Apparently, there had always been a plan to get rid of Lumumba, ‘should he get into power’. The US along with Belgium and other Western powers, you know who they are. The British and the French had first tried to poison him using his toothpaste! When that plan failed, the West used their now ‘tried and tested’ plan, by supporting his opponents, supplying them with money and arms, then sitting back and watching the whole mess unfold. And it was a very ugly, bloody mess, allowing the West free access to the country’s valuable resources.

Just underneath Patrice on the list, at number two, was Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana’s beloved first elected Prime minister and President and also one of the founding members of the Pan African movement. The Wests outward relationship with Dr Nkrumah was that of adoration and acceptance. This post proved that the West’s true feelings about Nkrumah were not what they had presented. More interesting to me was that Patrice Lumumba sitting in amongst this type of company proved to me that my instant draw to him would prove fruitful. An associated article attached to the post, ‘Remembering Patrice Lumumba, Another African Hero killed by the West’, contained another image of the man. He was very handsome and also very young. Patrice only lived to the age of 36! Now without giving up my ‘Lady’ status, Patrice and I would probably fit within the same age demographic. This shocked me because when you see African leaders today, they are not like him. They are old and not very revolutionary or maybe with big bellies like… President Jacob Zuma of South Africa or ‘arrogant’ like the late President Mugabe of Zimbabwe or even uninspirational like President Buhari of Nigeria, yeah, not that great.

What made Patrice Lumumba so special? Well, the story goes like this. When the DR of Congo had finally achieved independence from their Belgium colonisers, which Lumumba was pivotal in, the time had come for the ‘exchanging of the keys’ ceremony, during which Patrice gave an unscheduled, but probably the most powerful speech I have ever heard. I can now see that Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech echoed some of Patrice’s sentiments. I was going to summarise what he had said, but his very own chosen words are so powerful and eloquently put, that I would be doing you and him an injustice by not allowing you the chance to experience his love letter for yourself. https://www.marxists.org/subject/africa/lumumba/1960/06/independence.htm

Within 10 weeks of giving this great speech, Patrice’s government had been disposed, he was imprisoned, brutally assassinated by firing squad, then his body was chopped up and dissolve in acid. All done with and under the watchful eye of the West. To be clear DR of Congo is one of, if not the most, wealthiest country in natural resources on this earth!

I had always believed that Africa the continent, had been a sleeping lion and kept asking when it would wake from this continual slumber whilst the hyena’s run around destroying the land and other animals. But now I am starting to think that Africa’s problems have been a ‘death by a thousand cuts’. Just when this lion tries to get up, raise a heel, a puncture or cut is inflicted. Corruption, widespread poverty, water, religious extremism, poaching, fraud, famine.

I always dreamed about the potential of what Africa could be if leaders like Patrice Lumumba had been free to be. This thought angers me, even more, when I hear leaders such as Donald Trump, calling countries on the continent and further ‘shit-holes’, or when President Macron, lectures the continent on its ‘over’ population. Knowing that these ‘shit-hole’ problems were probably caused and being maintained by the ever meddling, corrupt West, so they can continue to do what they do best, plunge and pillage. Can anyone say Libya? Syria? On another note, just as Patrice’s speech had suggested, I do also wonder what the history of black people could have been if they had been allowed to just be. Wakanda forever?

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Magdalene Mills

An emotive writer, hailing from the British concrete jungle. I hate injustice and still believe ‘good’, will eventually prevail.