Following his assassination, many people viewed Lumumba as a martyr for the wider Pan-African movement. More than three decades later, a statue was erected in his honor, symbolically placed on the Lumumba Boulevard, a major transport route for people in and out of the city from Kinshasa’s airport. In 1966 he was declared a national hero in Congo, and in 2002, Belgium formally apologized for its role in the assassination.
Streets were also named after him, in places such as Bamako (with his life-size statue and a large central plaza of his name), Gaborone, Lusaka, Dar es Salaam, Accra, Burundi, Alger, across Europe in Warsaw, Donetsk, Leipzig, and many other places.
The legacy he left to the world and his final message that, “Africa will write its history, to the north and south of the Sahara, and it will be glorious and dignified” remains as powerful as ever 60 years after his death.
Lumumba’s legacy extends to the continental and international level, far beyond the DRC, the country for which he fought for independence to the point of being assassinated because of his beliefs and ideas.
He wanted the DRC and the whole of Africa to be free from colonization, but 60 years later, we notice leaders who are striving to keep their populations colonized in another form. Some African leaders are playing a big role in the colonization of their population through dictatorship; where leaders are more self-focused than people-focused. This has led to an Africa with corrupted institutions ready to sacrifice their countrymen’s life in the interest of foreign actors.
Lumumba played his role. It is now up to Congolese and African people especially young and emerging leaders to know what they will do with what Lumumba started. It is up to young African leaders to stand against this new form of colonization and unify our voices to denounce this crime Africa is facing.
What I consider to be Lumumba’s legacy in my leadership journey is his pan-Africanist view of leadership. I believe in the concept that a unified Africa is a stronger Africa. I believe that Africa will know a great economic expansion when Africans have a global and continental view of leadership, business, among other aspects of human progress.
When a Congolese will be free to do business in Rwanda, a Ugandan in South Africa, a Cameroonian in Kenya; that is when great development will occur, and then we will stand powerful as a continent and we will see the bright future that Lumumba was talking about. It is up to us young African leaders to stand as one people for our continent and not just for our countries, as the old saying goes ‘’ we don’t party when it burns in our neighborhoods” and this is true.
Even though Lumumba’s vision for the DRC and Africa is yet to be achieved, there is still hope especially in the African youth. All over the continent, we see several revolutionary and leadership movements rising and young leaders rising everywhere ready to create change and build a better Africa. With all of these efforts, I believe that Africa’s future is bright and Lumumba’s vision for Africa can still be achieved. But that is only if each one of us brings his stone to the building.