Not all Americans agree, but the U.S. often backs reactionaries in international disputes, opposes liberation movements, and supports puppet rulers who help multinational corporations. Having built a great democracy, are we be afraid of democracy elsewhere? "Lumumba" portrays how the U.S. killed Congo's democratically-elected President Patrice Lumumba, and for nearly four decades, sponsored Joseph Mobotu, a dictator, murderer, and thief.
The situations of many struggling countries make us wonder if we could better show our ideals better if we didn't intervene. American foreign policy imports few American ideals, but many big American business interests.
The film begins as Patrice Lumumba's assassinated body is dug up by Belgian soldiers, who chop it up, and burn the pieces. The disfigured corpse narrates, telling how Lumumba developed leadership and speaking skills in early work as a beer salesman. Rival salesman Joseph Kasa Vubu is later president when Lumumba is prime minister and defense minister, and orders Lumumba's arrest.
In the 1950s, Lumumba became a leader of the Congolese National Movement, and the Belgians warily watched him. After a century of their inhumane exploitation and rape of once-fertile land, they fear strong Africans. Lumumba is jailed and beaten, then flown to a Brussels conference granting Congo freedom. He takes office while the army is still headed by white officers who tortured him; when he tries to replace one, he's targeted by the CIA and the Belgians as "a dangerous man."
The Katanga province, rich in natural resources, declared independence in a coup backed by the West. Lumumba tried to halt the rebellion, and got tagged a communist after asking Russia to support his government. Jailed by Kasa Vubu, he escapes, and tries to flee with his family to safety, but is captured, and, without a trial, shot by a firing squad.
Writer-director Peck, a former cultural minister in Haiti, knows firsthand that despotic regimes get Western sponsorship. In a poignant montage, Mobutu gives a speech on his country's second Independence Day, as Lumumba sits on a throne guarded by soldiers with machine guns. Mobutu asks for a moment of silence in Lumumba's memory; as the moment begins, Peck cuts to the execution, burial, disinterment, dismemberment, and burning of Lumumba, then cuts back to Mobuto's throne, as the moment of silence ends.
Raoul Peck And Pascal Bonitzer
Eriq Ebouaney, Alex Descas, Theophile Moussa, Joseph Kasa, Maka Kotto, Dieudonne Kabongo
Congo; Belgium; CIA; Lumumba; multinational corporations
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