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The Resurgence of Colonialism (2/4)

Sam Leslie

On July 5, 1960, latent structures of colonialism reappeared five days after the declaration of independence; the National Congolese Army at Thysville mutinied against its Belgian superior officers over low wages and lack of opportunities. Fearing Congolese aggression, Belgium deployed twenty-three military units into various places in Congo without Congolese approval. Immediately, Lumumba asked the US to intervene, but the US demurred, instead suggesting that the Congo apply for a peace-keeping mission through the UN.

Western countries were irritated by Belgium’s irrational move to reoccupy the Congo, so the UN Security Council received Lumuba’s application favorably, which approved the Congolese government’s request for an armed force on July 14th. However, the authorization of this military assistance was vague. The first clause called for Belgium to remove their stationed troops but did not specify the requested date. The second clause stipulated that the UN’s assistance would be provided through the consultation of the Secretary-General until it met the Congolese government’s goals. This clause effectively dealt with Belgium's military occupation. However, on July 11th, the mineral-rich province of Katanga opportunistically declared independence, complicating the interpretation of the second clause. The July 14th UN resolution asked for “Belgium to withdraw its troops from the Congo.” However, Congolese leaders interpreted this clause as applying to the recent Katanga secessionist regime. Thus, the second clause blurred the UN’s ambiguous intentions in Katanga. Under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, a pro-Belgium member of the Katanga provincial council, Belgian military officers and profit-seeking European mercenaries collectively gathered around Katanga to declare sovereignty (See Appendix A).

Situation in newly independent Congo as of July 14, 1960.

Uwe Dedering, Katanga in Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 21, 2011, image.

The Belgian corporate sphere invested heavily in Katanga due to its vast mineral deposits, which allowed Belgium to produce profit margins twice those of domestic margins. Thus, Moise Tshombe’s regime maintained a direct financial relationship with Belgian politicians and companies, most prominently Union de Miniére, which hoped to maintain its monopoly of rich Congolese mineral deposits. The revenue stream from these relationships funded the Katangan political sphere and military strength of 2,000 troops. The Katangan military suppressed multiple northeastern-Katanga Baluba ethnic rebellions, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Balubas (See Appendix B).

Location of the Baluba rebellion and Baluba ethnic group which rejected Katanga secession.

Uwe Dedering, Katanga in Democratic Republic of the Congo, November 21, 2011, image.

Referencing his security force, Moise Tshombe infamously said, “In these matters, I trust only whites.” Thus, Lumumba believed that Katanga was a colonial threat to Congolese sovereignty, telling the foreign press, “It is inconceivable that foreign bases should exist in a sovereign state.” Lumumba needed foreign assistance to deal with the Katanga.


1 Alessandro Iandolo, "Imbalance of Power," Journal of Cold War Studies 16, no. 2 (2014):

2 Bruce Kuklick, "Killing Lumumba," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 158, no. 2 (2014):

3 United Nations, "Resolution of July 14, 1960," United Nations Archive, last modified July 14, 1960, accessed February 28, 2022

4 Nations, "Resolution of July," United Nations Archive.

5 Kuklick, "Killing Lumumba."

6 David N. Gibbs, "Dag Hammarskjold, the United Nations, and the Congo Crisis of 1960-1: A Reinterpretation," The Journal of Modern African Studies 31, no. 1 (1993)

7 New York Times, "In the Congo," New York Times (New York, NY), September 4, 1960, sec. 4

8 Gibbs, "Dag Hammarskjold.”

9 CIA, "National Security Council Briefing: Washington, July 25, 1960.," Office of The Historian, last modified August 11, 1960, accessed February 28, 2022

10 Lumumba, "SPEECH AT THE CEREMONY," address,


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