Antwerp University names auditorium in honour of Patrice Lumumba

Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has had an auditorium named in his honour at the University of Antwerp. The room, on the university’s Campus Middelheim, was christened in the presence of his daughter Juliana and his grandchildren.

“We have wept a lot, but today is a day of victory,” Juliana Lumumba said. ​ ​

The campus has a direct link to Belgium’s colonial past. Until 1962, it was home to the Colonial College, where Belgian men received an elite education to prepare them for governing the colonies. The university’s personnel department is housed in a replica of the former colonial home of the Belgian governor in Kinshasa. ​ ​

“The way we deal with our history reflects how we want the world of tomorrow to be,” said UAntwerp rector Herman Van Goethem. “This is more than a symbolic naming. We are doing this as a tribute, to make colonial heritage and wrongdoings open for discussion. And as a beacon of reflection of the world we want. We want to take responsibility for correcting historical injustices based on Western superiority and unequal economic-political interactions.”

"The way we deal with our history reflects how we want the world of tomorrow to be"

Patrice Lumumba fought for equal rights and in 1960 became the first prime minister of independent Congo. He denounced colonial rule and exploitation: the violence, atrocities and individual human rights violations. ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

On 17 January 1961, he was assassinated. The assassination was done in collaboration with Belgians and with the knowledge of the Belgian government. In the decades following his death, Lumumba became an important symbol of emancipation, respect, equality and human rights. ​ ​


Patrice Lumumba gives a press conference in August 1960 © AFP

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