The battle for Patrice Lumumba’s tooth – how the family of Congo’s first leader finally secured his remains

Details behind Lumumba’s murder shine a light on a Belgium’s colonial cruelties in the Congo, Leo Cendrowicz explains

Monday 14 September 2020 19:08
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Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba

A gold-capped tooth is all that remains of Patrice Lumumba, the African freedom fighter who became Congo’s first prime minister when it won its independence from Belgium in 1960. 

It was wrenched from his skull after he was executed in January 1961 and taken to Belgium as a human trophy. The rest of his body was cut up and dissolved in acid. 

Now, after almost 60 years, the tooth is finally heading home. A Belgian judge has ordered it to be sent back to Mr Lumumba’s family in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it can be laid to rest.

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