Black History Month has been co-opted and hijacked by government insitutions and the mainstream media. Every February they share images and words from a series of handpicked black leaders, stripped of any historical relevance or any spirit of revolutionary black struggle. Fire This Time Newspaper wants to counter the mainstream watered down account of the struggle for black liberation in the U.S. and internationally. In this issue we honour the revolutionary legacy of black liberation leaders that have fought for black rights and for the rights of all oppressed people and nations around the world. We have chosen excerpts from the speeches of five black revolutionary leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Thomas Sankara, Patrice Lumumba and Maurice Bishop, all five were forced to make the most valuable sacrifice for humanity - their lives.
Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961) was a Congolese independence leader, African anti-colonial revolutionary and the first democratically elected leader of the Congo. He dedicated his life to fighting colonialism, exploitation and injustices. Lumumba played a critical role in Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium.
Patrice Lumumba’s letter to his wife from Thysville Prison, 1960.
My dear wife,
I am writing these words to you, not knowing whether they will ever reach you, or whether I shall be alive when you read them.
Throughout my struggle for the independence of our country I have never doubted the victory of our sacred cause, to which I and my comrades have dedicated all our lives.
But the only thing which we wanted for our country is the right to a worthy life, to dignity without pretence, to independence without restrictions.
This was never the desire of the Belgian colonialists and their Western allies, who received, direct or indirect, open or concealed, support from some highly placed officials of the United Nations, the body upon which we placed all our hope when we appealed to it for help.
They seduced some of our compatriots, bought others and did everything to distort the truth and smear our independence.
What I can say is this—alive or dead, free or in jail—it is not a question of me personally.
The main thing is the Congo, our unhappy people, whose independence is being trampled upon.
That is why they have shut us away in prison and why they keep us far away from the people. But my faith remains indestructible.
I know and feel deep in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of their internal and external enemies, that they will rise up as one in order to say 'No' to colonialism, to brazen, dying colonialism, in order to win their dignity in a clean land.
We are not alone. Africa, Asia, the free peoples and the peoples fighting for their freedom in all corners of the world will always be side by side with the millions of Congolese who will not give up the struggle while there is even one colonialist or colonialist mercenary in our country.
To my sons, whom I am leaving and whom, perhaps, I shall not see again, I want to say that the future of the Congo is splendid and that I expect from them, as from every Congolese, the fulfilment of the sacred task of restoring our independence and our sovereignty.
Without dignity there is no freedom, without justice there is no dignity and without independence there are no free men.
Cruelty, insults and torture can never force me to ask for mercy, because I prefer to die with head high, with indestructible faith and profound belief in the destiny of our country than to live in humility and renounce the principles which are sacred to me.
The day will come when history will speak. But it will not be the history which will be taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations.
It will be the history which will be taught in the countries which have won freedom from colonialism and its puppets.
Africa will write its own history and in both north and south it will be a history of glory and dignity.
Do not weep for me. I know that my tormented country will be able to defend its freedom and its independence.
Long live the Congo!
Long live Africa!
Written from Thysville prison, 1960-1961
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