Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dedicated to the memory and spirit of Patrice Emery Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba

Dedicated to the memory and spirit of Patrice Emery Lumumba
(2 July 1925–17 January 1961)

The soldiers stole you and two others
into the back of a truck
in the middle of the night
put you in a bag tied up your beaten bloody body with rope
sweating as they drove you into the middle of the country
Katanga Province, Africa
in a far off field
where there were no lights
where you could not see anything
they assassinated you and two ministers Okito and Mpolo

they attacked to kill you
they ripped apart your body
scattering it bone by bone across the fields
so that the blood mixed with the earth
they hid you and they hid their murder of you
they thought that by doing this your spirit would break
they thought that by doing this your memory would be broken

but a week before the killing you had written to your wife,
“I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable,
and with profound trust in the destiny of my country.”

Patrice Lumumba – born in the village of Onalua in Kasai province,
the Congo
you called for an independent country in those stuffy halls
where people taunted you with their visciousness
you were not afraid to speak the truth
because you knew that a village, a country, perhaps even
the world would remember your words

the night knows your secrets
the way you envisioned a united Africa
something about your spirit moves me
across these many years
in a land far away
something about your very presence on this earth moves
me to tears
just as your mother stood outside her small house
as the sky was changing to dusk
stood crying into hands which could not stop the tears
from falling, dripping onto the earth
so that a river of tears fell at her feet

your name should become a chant for all free thinking people
you who longed for a corruption free politics
who took pride in every step you walked
for a free independent Congo you said
and those words became sacred chant for your people

they wanted your name to be forgotten
they wanted your warrior feeling to be cast out
they wanted to stamp on your vision
but it is not forgotten Lumumba
your mother weeping into her cupped hands
the tears filling her face her neck her body
your name is not erased from our history books
but bought back to life
and lived…

Copyright 2011 – Dorothy Johnson-Laird.


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