Belgium will now return to his family the mortal remains of Patrice Lumumba, the DR Congo‘s first democratically elected prime minister who was slain in a Western-backed overthrow from power.
Belgium’s federal prosecutor’s office announced on Thursday that Lumumba’s family will receive a tooth, obtained by police officer Gerard Soete because Lumumba’s burned body could not be identified and recovered in 1961.
Soete’s family held on to the tooth for decades in spite of requests to return it to Lumumba’s family. Now, Belgian’s federal prosecutor’s office admits there is no way it can absolutely ascertain if the tooth is Lumumba’s “since there could be no DNA test”.
“If such a test had been done it would have destroyed the tooth itself,” a spokesperson in the prosecutor’s office said on Thursday.
The return of the tooth follows a plea in July to the Belgian government by Juliana Amato Lumumba, a daughter of Lumumba.
“We, Lumumba’s children, call for the just return of the relics of Patrice Emery Lumumba to the land of his ancestors,” read the letter.
Since January 17, 1961, no one has been held accountable for the brutal murder of DR Congo’s independence leader Lumumba who was shot dead along with two of his ministers, Joseph Okito and Maurice Mpolo.
However, many in Africa and beyond have pointed fingers point at Western governments, including Belgium, and their imperial designs. They are said to have sanctioned the elimination of one of Africa’s most vocal anti-imperial politicians and independence heroes who stood his ground against colonizers.
Lumumba led the DR Congo to independence on June 30, 1960, after the country was passed on from King Leopold II, who took control of it as his private property in the 1880s, to Belgium in 1908 as a colony.