U.S.-based production company Congo Rising is preparing “Patrice Lumumba,” a film on the life of the Congolese leader who was assassinated in 1961.
Lumumba, the leader of the Congolese National Movement party, was instrumental in securing Congo’s independence from Belgium and became the new republic’s first Prime Minister in 1960. However, after a a political struggle that involved the Belgian government, the U.N., Soviet Union and the U.S., Lumumba was deposed within a few months of his assuming power and was subsequently executed in 1961.
Lumumba was held in great esteem by top U.S. civil rights leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who called him “the greatest Back man to ever walk on the African continent.”
The film will be directed, co-written and co-produced by Tshoper Kabambi Kashala (“Heart of Africa”), co-written by Veron Okavu On’Okundji and co-written and produced by Congo Rising’s Margaret Blair Young.
Production will begin in September in the Congo. With a predominantly African cast, the film will be in the Tetela, Lingala and French languages. Discussions are ongoing with A-list Hollywood talent to portray the key roles of Dag Hammarskjold (pictured, right), Secretary General of the United Nations, and Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana.
Congo Rising and its Congo partner, Bimpa Production, will be casting “Patrice Lumumba” later this month. The film will be lensed entirely on location in the areas in and around where Lumumba lived, where the true-life events took place, including the villages and cities of Onalua, Kisangani and Kinshasa.
“The film ‘Patrice Lumumba’ offers a vision into the life and courage of one of the great human rights leaders, one who was a foundational builder of the Pan African movement. In a real way, we are bringing Lumumba back to life at the exact moment when the world needs him and when his native land, the Democratic Republic of the Congo — on the threshold of great things after a disastrous decline initiated by Lumumba’s murder — must be inspired by his courage,” said Young.
“As the Black Lives Matter movement has grown, Lumumba’s legacy, and what he confronted as he sought independence for his nation, has become newly relevant. Statues of King Leopold II, whose cruel enterprises in the Congo resulted in the deaths of 10 million Congolese people, were toppled in Belgium in June 2020,” added Young.
“Africa today faces several problems including wars, looting, poverty, lack of health and education structures, corruption and so much more, and I am convinced that cinema can make a significant contribution to change,” said Kashala. “I want to make films that deal with the problematic issues that plague our societies, but which could also mean something to others. My greatest wish for this film would be first to immortalize our hero, to share his story with the world and especially with the Congolese.”
Congo Rising and Bimpa are also on a mission to rebuild the dormant Congo film industry. To this end, they have purchased state-of-the-art film equipment and acquired land to set up a film studio and university. There are plans to bring U.S. filmmakers to the Congo to teach film students, including speciality training in sound, animation and lighting.