A life-sized effigy sculpture of Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of independent Congo, was inaugurated on Sunday in the Brussels Galerie Ravenstein. This is no sculpture made of bronze, marble or any other material, which is weather-resistant, but is in fact made from sawdust. Mireille-Tsheusi Robert, who had the idea to design this, said, “The sculpture will only be unveiled today.” She stressed, “This will indeed be a sculpture which is able to be moved, with a temporary location in the public gallery. The idea is to arouse debate around Lumumba as a person, and his role in history.”
Patrice Emery Lumumba, was designated as one of the heros of the independence of the former Belgian Congo. He was deposed shortly after Congo’s independence, and was assassinated in 1961. The circumstances of his death remain somewhat unclear, and there are strong indications that the Belgian government is partly responsible for this.
Mireille-Tsheusi Robert stated, “Patrice Lumumba was one of the most significant advocates of Congolese dignity and freedom, a central figure in Belgium’s colonial history. He should be placed on a par with Nelson Mandela or Angela Davis, but at the present time he has not received either the attention or the recognition that he deserves.”
By way of example, there have already been several attempts to give his name to a street or public square in Belgium. However, every time this has been unsuccessful. The fact that the Belgian authorities have never acknowledged their involvement in his death is also something of a nagging issue.
Mireille-Tsheusi goes on, “I waited for this for several years, until I realised that I had no need of the Belgian government in this endeavour.” She emphasizes, “For now we have created a Place Lumumba complete with a statue, which I am hopeful will open debate upon the issue.”
The square itself and the temporary sculpture have been created with the support of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Bozar (the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels). According to Mireille-Tsheusi Robert, several Belgian municipal authorities have already shown an interest in the sculpture.