Difficult to know if the low voice of Roland Lumumba reflects fatigue, relief or simply a certain weariness. At the start of June, the only thing that the son of Patrice Émery Lumumba struggles to hide is his impatience at the idea of ending this interminable ordeal. “It was difficult to get this far,” he says, referring to the mourning that his family was deprived of, for lack of a body to bury.
It is an understatement to say that the road has been long. The construction of the mausoleum was delayed, the family hesitated, the presidential cabinet fumbled, the event itself was repeatedly postponed… But this time, Roland Lumumba wants to believe that the outcome is close and that a tooth of his father, the only relic of the hero of Congolese independence assassinated on January 17, 1961, will finally return to Congo. And what does it matter if the initial format – a delegation led by the Head of State in Belgium – was finally abandoned: “The main thing for us is to be able to bury him with the honors that are due to him”.
Morocco-DRC: tea in Rabat with the Mobutu
Nothing would have been possible without the fight led in Belgium by Lumumba’s wife, Pauline, who died in 2014, and by her children. But will this repatriation, which finally takes place this Monday, June 20, pave the way for other returns? The cases of Mobutu Sese Seko, who has been resting in Morocco since his death on September 7, 1997, or the former Prime Minister and President of the short-lived State of Katanga, Moïse Tshombe, who died in 1969 in Algiers and buried in Etterbeek Cemetery, Belgium, have never been resolved. Burden for their heirs, political stake for the various presidents who have since succeeded each other in power, the return of the remains of these key personalities from the dawn of independence is a real headache.