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Patrice Lumumba and Democratic Republic of Congo

This guide provides a selection of sources on life, assassination and legacy of Lumumba; history, politics and justice in the Congo; Russia and West's involvement and interference.

About Democratic Republic of Congo

Some Country Facts

Capital: Kinshasa. Other major cities: Lubumbashi (formerly Elisabethville), Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville).

Current estimated population, about 96 million (2023). 

Area: 2,344,858 sq km (905,355 sq miles).

Location: Central Africa, bordered by Sudan, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.

Ethnic groups: Kuba, Kongo (Bakongo), Mongo, and Mangbetu-Azande: about 45%; over 200 other groups, including Rwanda, Bangi, Ngale, Rundi, Teke, Boa, Chokwe, Lugbara, and Banda. About 80% are Bantu speaking. 

Languages: French (official); Lingala; Kingwana; Kikongo; Tshiluba; Swahili; numerous other local languages.

Natural resources: Cobalt, copper, gold, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal.

First Prime Minister: Patrice Lumumba. 

About Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961)

Patrice Lumumba was Congo's first prime minister. An advocate of pan Africanism, he inspired strong feelings of nationalism. He was born on July 2, 1925 in Onalua village, Sankuru district, Kasai province. He was of the Tetela ethnic group. The Tetela primarily inhabit east-central Congo. They speak a Bantu language.

In his adulthood, Lumumba moved to Stanleyville where he was president of Evolues club, provincial president of the Association de Personnel Indigene de la Colonie (APIC) and a contributor to various magazines. He worked at a local brewery for two years. In 1956, he spent one year in prison convicted of theft. 

Lumumba attended the first Pan African Conference in Accra in 1958, where he met Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah. He is said to be the first leader to openly call for Congo's independence in  December 1958 at a political rally. He helped found the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC). 

His rhetoric and political leaning to the Soviet bloc during the Cold War made him a target of especially western governments with vested interests in the Congo. He was assassinated in 1961, less than a year after Congo's independence.

Library Catalogs




Town names, June 1966

The names of the following towns were changed in June 1966: Leopoldville (to Kinshasa), Banningville (to Bandundu), Coquilhatville (to Bandaka), Paulis (to Isiro), Stanleyville (to Kisangani), and Elisabethville (to Lubumbashi).

Map source: Kitchen, Helen A. Footnotes to the Congo Story; an Africa Report Anthology. New York: Walker, 1967.