The tooth of assassinated Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected leader, is scheduled to be handed over to his family on Monday.
The Belgium government will hand over the tooth to Lumumba’s family in an official ceremony in Brussels. Lumumba elected as Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister in 1960 and was hugely popular with his countrymen and largely unpopular with European and American powers.
The Congo had been a Belgium colony. At his inauguration ceremony in 1960, Lumumba spoke in graphic detail about the atrocities the Congolese people had suffered under their Belgium colonizer, angering Belgian King Baudouin who was present.
Lumumba was in office for less than a year when Col Joseph Mobutu seized power in a coup. Shortly after the coup, the young prime minister faced a firing squad. Belgian police officer Gerard Soete and his brother took charge of the grizzly details of dismembering and dissolving Lumumba’s body in acid, according to Belgian writer Ludo De Witte, the author of the book “The Assassination of Lumumba.”
Decades later, in 1999, Soete came forward and acknowledged that he had Lumumba’s gold crowned tooth.