Patrice Lumumba gets its own auditorium: “Today is a day of victory” | Interior

Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of Congo, was given his own auditorium in the main building of the Middelheim Campus of the University of Antwerp on Friday. The name of the historic wooden auditorium was renamed in the presence of his daughter Juliana.

The re-doping is quite unique. There is no official hall or auditorium anywhere in Belgium that bears Lumumba’s name. “So this is much more than a symbolic naming,” says the university.

“The way we deal with our history indicates how we want the world of tomorrow,” says Rector Herman Van Goethem. “Just like in society at large, the debate about decolonization is also alive at our university. The legacy of Belgium’s colonial past is still tangible.”

Daughter Juliana and Lumumba’s grandchildren were clearly emotional. “We cried a lot, but today is a day of victory,” said Juliana.

Colonial High School

Campus Middelheim has a direct link with the colonial past. Until 1962, the Koloniale Hogeschool was located here, where Belgian men received an elite education and then went on to govern the colonies. The rectorate of the UA, among others, is located in the main building. The personnel department is housed in an annex, a replica of the former colonial residence of the Belgian governor in Kinshasa.

“Discuss misdeeds”

Patrice Lumumba fought for equal rights. In 1960 he became the first prime minister of the independent Congo. At the time, Lumumba extensively denounced colonial rule and exploitation: violence, atrocities and individual human rights violations.

On January 17, 1961, the first prime minister of the independent Congo was assassinated. The murder of Lumumba happened in collaboration with Belgians and with the knowledge of the Belgian government. In the decades after his death, Lumumba grew into an important symbol for emancipation, respect, equality and human rights.

“This is more than a symbolic naming,” says Van Goethem. “We do this as a tribute, to make the colonial heritage and misdeeds a subject of discussion. And as a beacon of reflection about the world we want. We want to take our responsibility to rectify historical unjust relationships based on Western superiority and unequal economic-political interactions.”

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