NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
6th December, 1960 : After a lengthy manhunt Patrice Lumumba, the Congo’s deposed Premier, who escaped from house arrest in Leopoldville, was recaptured 400 miles away at Port Francqui. Lumumba was on the road to his base at Stanleyville. There, troops loyal to Lumumba, expecting him to arrive at any moment, rounded up to 1,000 European men, women and children and beat them up as a reprisal for Lumumba’s house arrest. UN officials were present, but took no action to protect the Europeans. Relations between the UN and the Congo were further soured last month after Congolese used cannon and machine guns in a battle outside the home of Nathaniel Welbeck, the Ambassador of Ghana. Lumumba was flown back to Leopoldville with his hand tied and driven to barracks in a lorry. Lumumba, a former postal clerk, was the Congo’s first Prime Minister when independence was achieved in June 1960 after 80 years of Belgian rule. With his fiery rhetoric, Lumumba could count on support from young would-be revolutionaries, but his erratic behaviour as Premier, at one moment mortgaging the Congo’s vast mineral wealth to shady American financier, the next calling on the Russians to come in, lost him the support of senior Congolese politicians. Now he faces trial charged with inciting the Army to mutiny.