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this article in The Guardian and now here at EuroTrib. Thank you for posting it here, Richard.

It's a vital point you make about how Africa enriched the West in the 17-19th centuries -- the push and pull of the triangular trade that acted as a siphon, enriching us, impoverishing Africa. (Disorganizing Africa internally too, I believe, though I've no certain knowledge of this and am not sure what sources there are for internal African history at the time of the slave trade). And the dependent trade relations that were set up then have continued down to today, whatever the "official" version of colonialism in vogue at one time or another.

Speaking of which, you mention Patrice Lumumba, an immensely respectable and attractive figure. His Independence Day speech, made in 1960 before the King of the Belgians and an assortment of dignitaries assembled to witness the "benevolent" hand-over of power from Belgium to the new Democratic Republic of the Congo, is fairly well-known, but I can't resist posting this excerpt:

For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today with Belgium, a friendly country with whom we deal as equal to equal, no Congolese worthy of the name will ever be able to forget that is was by fighting that it has been won [applause], a day-to-day fight, an ardent and idealistic fight, a fight in which we were spared neither privation nor suffering, and for which we gave our strength and our blood.

We are proud of this struggle, of tears, of fire, and of blood, to the depths of our being, for it was a noble and just struggle, and indispensable to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force.

This was our fate for eighty years of a colonial regime; our wounds are too fresh and too painful still for us to drive them from our memory. We have known harassing work, exacted in exchange for salaries which did not permit us to eat enough to drive away hunger, or to clothe ourselves, or to house ourselves decently, or to raise our children as creatures dear to us.

We have known ironies, insults, blows that we endured morning, noon, and evening, because we are Negroes. Who will forget that to a black one said "tu", certainly not as to a friend, but because the more honorable "vous" was reserved for whites alone?

We have seen our lands seized in the name of allegedly legal laws which in fact recognized only that might is right.

We have seen that the law was not the same for a white and for a black, accommodating for the first, cruel and inhuman for the other.

We have witnessed atrocious sufferings of those condemned for their political opinions or religious beliefs; exiled in their own country, their fate truly worse than death itself.

We have seen that in the towns there were magnificent houses for the whites and crumbling shanties for the blacks, that a black was not admitted in the motion-picture houses, in the restaurants, in the stores of the Europeans; that a black traveled in the holds, at the feet of the whites in their luxury cabins.

Who will ever forget the massacres where so many of our brothers perished, the cells into which those who refused to submit to a regime of oppression and exploitation were thrown [applause]?

All that, my brothers, we have endured.

But we, whom the vote of your elected representatives have given the right to direct our dear country, we who have suffered in our body and in our heart from colonial oppression, we tell you very loud, all that is henceforth ended.

The Republic of the Congo has been proclaimed, and our country is now in the hands of its own children.

Together, my brothers, my sisters, we are going to begin a new struggle, a sublime struggle, which will lead our country to peace, prosperity, and greatness.

Together, we are going to establish social justice and make sure everyone has just remuneration for his labor [applause].

We are going to show the world what the black man can do when he works in freedom, and we are going to make of the Congo the center of the sun's radiance for all of Africa.

Lumumba, of course, was driven from power and murdered. Dictator Mobutu replaced him until his death forty-odd years later. We in the West support democracy and freedom, and we even invade countries to put dictators down. Well... Sometimes.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 09:40:28 AM EST
I saw the chilling documentary that exposed Lumumba's murder as done by the Belgian secret service, with CIA and the British only in the support crew. They interviewed the agents who murdered him, and the sick assholes are still proud of what they did...

Belgium's colonial amnesia is probably worse than Britain's. The current conflict in Kongo is the worst in the world, but pales in comparison to the Belgian rape of that land a century ago.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 09:46:08 AM EST
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Thanks for this-- I've never read that speech before.

Richard

by Richard Drayton on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 10:15:27 AM EST
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The full text, in this English translation (the speech was made in French) can be found here.

I remember seeing this ceremony in a documentary. Lumumba had presence, dignity, style, intelligence. And he didn't pull a single punch. There were all these white dignitaries looking as if they'd just swallowed a toad.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Aug 20th, 2005 at 10:40:23 AM EST
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