Around 300-350 people took part on Saturday in the inauguration of the new Patrice Lumumba Square at the Porte de Namur, in memory of the first prime minister of an independent Congo, arrested and murdered allegedly by colonial Belgium. The Square takes up part of the Square du Bastion, which borders Brussels-City commune and Ixelles. The memorial, however, is confined to the Brussels part; the Ixelles communal council having failed to approve the project.
The site is close to the area known as Matongé, which is a commercial centre for African businesses, grocers, cafes and restaurants. Local representatives expressed their satisfaction with the honour.
“Nobody talks much of colonialism in the schools, the the Belgian Congolese feel insulted,” said Laura Ilunga of the association Change. “To have this plaque at the entrance to the Congolese quarter of Matongé is a strong recognition, but we hope it’s not the first and not the only one.”
A member of the family of Lumumba also welcomed the recognition for his forefather, which he said was a mark of his struggles as part of the history of the Congo republic as well as Belgium.
Patrice Lumumba was the first prime minister of an independent Congo, serving from June to September 1960, prior to which the country had been a Belgian colonial territory, previously the personal property of King Leopold II.
He was assassinated in January 1961, apparently on the orders of the Belgian authorities, and allegedly with the fiat of King Baudouin.