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Ethiopian doctors and nurses in Kisangani (formerly Stanleyville). Congo, 1961



.A nationalist movement demanding the end of colonialism in Belgian Congo led to the country’s independence in June 1960. Mutiny soon broke out in regions across the country, and widespread violence soon erupted between blacks and whites. With the threat of secession in two regions along with continuing unrest, the UN decided to deploy a peacekeeping force in 1960

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These medical personnel from Ethiopia were part of a later UN medical mission in Congo aimed at preventing a humanitarian crisis. Ethiopian troops were among the first UN soldiers to arrive in July 1960. Emperor Haile Selassie sent 3,000 Imperial Bodyguard soldiers, about 10% of the army’s strength at that time. Later as the crisis deepened, the Emperor also deployed an Air Force squadron & medical support
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The murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first elected prime minister of an independent Congo.
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Lumumba’s murder sent shockwaves throughout Africa. He was outspoken about oppression and injustices suffered by the Congolese and other Africans under colonial rule. He spoke eloquently about the bright future of a nation that will come from a “new struggle to bring peace, prosperity and greatness”. Less than a year after leading Congo to independence, Lumumba met his end in an elaborate assassination plot orchestrated by an alliance of Western nations including the US, Belgium and Britain. The West couldn’t allow Congo to control its own uranium supply in case it were to fall into the hands of Soviet Russia (ironically, America had already used Congolese uranium to build its own Hiroshima & Nagasaki atomic bombs)
Lumumba’s legacy extended far and wide across the African continent.
His final message to the world was “Africa will write its own history to the north and south of the Sahara, and it will be glorious and dignified!”. It is just as powerful now.