Patrice Lumumba , in full Patrice Hemery Lumumba (born July 2, 1925, Onalua, Belgian Congo [now the Democratic Republic of the Congo]—died January 1961, Katanga province), African nationalist leader, the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (June–September 1960). Forced out of office during a political crisis, he was assassinated a short time later.
Lumumba was born in the village of Onalua in Kasai province, Belgian Congo. He was a member of the small Batetela ethnic group, a fact that became significant in his later political life. His two principal rivals, Moise Tshombe, who led the breakaway of the Katanga province, and Joseph Kasavubu, who later became the Congo’s president, both came from large, powerful ethnic groups from which they derived their major support, giving their political movements a regional character. In contrast, Lumumba’s movement emphasized its all-Congolese nature.
After attending a Protestant mission school, Lumumba went to work in Kindu-Port-Empain, where he became active in the club of the évolués (Western-educated Africans). He began to write essays and poems for Congolese journals. He also applied for and received full Belgian citizenship. Lumumba next moved to Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) to become a postal clerk and went on to become an accountant in the post office in Stanleyville (now Kisangani). There he continued to contribute to the Congolese press.
In 1955 Lumumba became regional president of a purely Congolese trade union of government employees that was not affiliated, as were other unions, to either of the two Belgian trade-union federations (socialist and Roman Catholic). He also became active in the Belgian Liberal Party in the Congo. Although conservative in many ways, the party was not linked to either of the trade-union federations, which were hostile to it. In 1956 Lumumba was invited with others on a study tour of Belgium under the auspices of the minister of colonies. On his return he was arrested on a charge of embezzlement from the