The scene where Lumumba gives his speech on Independence Day is a something that has stuck with me throughout the movie. From the first words in the speech, he set the tone for the type of government he wanted the Congo to have. He was the only speaker who actually addressed the people of the Congo and referred to them as equal to the Belgians. He reminded the people that they had to fight for their freedom and it wasn’t given to them contrary to what the King suggested. At this point was when the Belgian government realized that Lumumba would be a problem for them.
Unlike the British, the Belgians believed in direct rule and so they were hesitant to grant Congo their independence. During his speech, the King said, “do not replace the Belgian institutions unless you are sure you can do better.” That statement was one that stuck with me throughout the movie as well. In the 50s and 60s, many African nations began to receive their independence but this was a farce in a sense. Many of these nations were still expected to be tied to their colonizing countries. This is why many of the problems that exist in Africa still persist today. While these countries were given ‘independence’ they weren’t really given their freedom. They were expected to keep and continue to maintain the institutions under which they were colonized. They weren’t encouraged to start their own institutions and figure out what is better for them as a country.
Another important point made in the movie was when one of the white delegates said: “the Congo is just a bunch of tribes, colonialism is the only thing keeping it together.” This statement shows how important it was for African nations to get rid of the European institutions and come up with their own. The European institutions only worked while they were there. Once the Europeans were gone, Africans began to focus on their differences and that led to many of the conflicts we see in the region today.