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UNIT 22: Global War and Peace

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Post-Colonialism in the Belgian Congo

After World War II, many European colonies were able to gain independence. However, in the context of the Cold War, newly independent nations frequently became pawns in the contest between the United States and the Soviet Union. This segment looks at an example of this phenomenon in the Republic of the Congo.

In 1960, the Republic of the Congo declared its independence from decades of Belgian rule. Patrice Lumumba, a popular Pan-Africanist, nationalist, and socialist who had fought for independence, became prime minister. One of his first moves was to remove Belgian advisors from the Congo. When the Belgian government sought to protect its interests by using military force, Lumumba called in the United Nations.

The UN moved too slowly, however, which prompted Lumumba to ask the Soviet Union for aid. This move alarmed the United States, who assigned a CIA agent to kill Lumumba and install Joseph Mobutu as Congo's military leader. Lumumba was actually executed by Mobutu's forces in 1961, which prompted the Cuban government to send in fighters to aid Lumumba's supporters. By 1965, however, Mobutu seized control of the country and ruled as dictator until 1997. What began as a transfer of power from an imperial nation to an elected prime minister of an independent nation became a Cold War conflict that provoked an international response.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, THE HISTORIC DEATH OF LUMUMBA, MPOLO AND OKITO, ON 17 JANUARY 1961 (n.d.). Courtesy of Bogumil Jewsiewiski.

Anonymous, TROOPS CAPTURING PATRICE LUMUMBA (1960). Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann.


United Press International Telephoto, PATRICE LUMUMBA SIGNING THE INDEPENDENCE PACT FOR THE CONGO (1960). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Anonymous, PRESIDENT JOSEPH MOBUTU SESE SEKO PICTURED DURING A VISIT BY FRENCH PRESIDENT VALERY GISCARD D' ESTAING, ZAIRE (1975). Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann.



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