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Patrice Lumumba was a leader of the independence strugglein what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo,as well as the country’s first democratically elected primeminister. After a meteoric rise in the colonial civil serviceand the African political elite, he became a major figurein the decolonisation movement of the 1950s. Lumumba’sshort tenure as prime minister (19601) was marked by anuncompromising defence of Congolese national interestsagainst pressure from international mining companies andthe Western governments that orchestrated his eventualdemise.Cold war geopolitical manoeuvring and well-coordinatedefforts by Lumumba’s domestic adversaries culminated inhis assassination at the age of thirty-five, with the supportor at least the tacit complicity of the U.S. and Belgiangovernments, the CIA, and the UN Secretariat. Evendecades after Lumumba’s death, his personal integrity andunyielding dedication to the ideals of self-determination,self-reliance, and pan-African solidarity assure him aprominent place among the heroes of the twentieth-centuryAfrican independence movement and the worldwideAfrican diaspora.Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja’s short and concise bookprovides a contemporary analysis of Lumumba’s life andwork, examining both his strengths and his weaknesses as apolitical leader. It also surveys the national, continental, andinternational contexts of Lumumba’s political ascent andhis swift elimination by the interests threatened by his ideasand practical reforms.

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