Dorothee Gizenga writes about her father Antoine Gizenga of the Congo

I read today your review of the movie Lumumba. And for as much as you are clearly supportive of Lumumba himself, I am surprised at how little do you know about his supporters, collaborators and comrades. So you speak of Antoine Gizenga as a traitor. I would like to know on what grounds?

Antoine Gizenga, former vice-Premier Minister in Lumumba’s government is still alive and has led a life of exile and of big sacrifice. As his daughter, I can’t begin to tell you the tribulations we have lived through during his 27 years of exile (in the former Soviet Union, in France, in Angola, in Congo-Brazzaville), and then after his return to Congo.

I witnessed his dedication to the Congo, to pan-Africanism and to Lumumba’s legacy.

We, his children, lived with him a life of danger and sacrifice and were asked to accept that Congo was our father’s primary focus.

We were with him when an attempted assassination failed in 1977. We were expelled from France with him a few weeks later not knowing our destination, until we were welcomed in Algeria and then by Agostinho Neto in Angola.

A few years later, our father was a “nuisance” to Dos Santos regime in his attempt to negotiate peace with Zaire to eliminate FNLA. It took a hunger strike of the whole family to be released out of Angola. Accepted in Congo-Brazzaville at first, the family found itself facing a firing squad at the airport on arrival, then jailed until Brazzaville cleared it with with Kinshasa. I could tell you more...

We were afraid of our father's return to the Congo. However, he told us that at his age, if he is to die anywhere, he will rather die in the Congo, no matter even if it was brutally. And so he returned in 1992 and participated in the National Conference under constant harassment.

On July 29, 1995, 35 people were butchered at my father’s residence during the brutal attack led by Mobutu’s soldiers. These events were broadcasted on international news. In August 1997, we saw a repeat of military attack on Gizenga’s residence. This time by soldiers of Laurent Desiré Kabila.

I do not intend this to be an emotional letter, I just could not stay silent after reading such an unjust portrayal of someone you do not know (even if you may have met him) and know nothing about.

I may be his daughter, but I know that the force and persecution suffered by our father are not necessary against any corrupted traitor.

My words would not be accepted by you as credible, because I am his daughter. Yet, numerous writings exist that are contrary to your statements. I will cite “Congo Cables” by Madeline Kalb,” because she is an American and “ My Mother, Africa” by Andrée Blouin who was chef de protocol of Lumumba’s government, loaned to Lumumba by Sekou Touré of Guinée.

Your statements also contradict the effusive demonstration of support by the Congolese and African people towards Antoine Gizenga and the fear of him by political opponents.

How well do you know the circumstances of the trip to Russia? You even claim that Lumumba did not call on Russians, when he actually resorted to what he thought was his last hope, when neither the Americans, nor the United Nations would help him against Belgian-organized plots to destabilize our first and only democratic government to date.

My letter may not make a difference to you, but it does to me.

Regards, Dorothée Gizenga

REFERENCE: The best summary I have found of the history of the Congo and the only full description of the activities of the various military and mercenary elements after independence is "Heart of Darkness: the Tragedy of the Congo, 1960-67" © 1997 by Dr. Robert Craig Johnson, a highly respected military historian. This is part of a series first published, in abbreviated form, in 'Eagle Droppings', the Newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Chapter, IPMS/USA. It includes excellent pictures of all the military aircraft involved and a very good map. You will find this at