A few minutes after King Baudouin had proclaimed independence for the new-born Congo Republic June 30, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba made an unscheduled speech in which he attacked the past record of Belgian colonialism .
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Background: A few minutes after King Baudouin had proclaimed independence for the new-born Congo Republic June 30, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba made an unscheduled speech in which he attacked the past record of Belgian colonialism . It happened in the Leopoldville Parliament Building before a combined meeting of Assembly representatives, Senators, and delegates from foreign countries crowded into the visitors gallery.
Many were surprised and embarrassed as Premier Lumumba repeatedly spoke of "the struggle" against colonialism, "an indispensable struggle to put an end to the humiliating slavery which was imposed upon us by force". He went on, "We have known ironies, insults and blows which we had to undergo morning, noon and night because we were Negroes". Nearing the end of his bitter accusations against the 80-year Belgian rule, Premier Lumumba spoke of Congolese who had been imprisoned or exiled for their religious and political beliefs. "Who will forget", he said, "the rifle-fire from which so many of our brothers perished, or the prisons into which were brutally thrown those who did not want to submit to a regime of injustice, oppression and exploitation, which were the means the colonialists employed to dominate us".
Earlier in the proceedings, Premier Lumumba and the Belgian delegate signed the Declaration of Independence, and King Baudouin made a speech in which he declared: "The Independence of the Congo is the crowning of the work achieved by the genius of Leopold 11". He warned the assembled Congolese leaders about the immense task facing them. President Kasavubu continued the ceremony by receiving the credentials of diplomats from scores of nations, then walking with King Baudouin into the grounds for a celebratory banquet.
Belgian officials speculated that the attack would move King Baudouin to cut short his programme, but in later banquet speech Premier Lumumba praised the King and Belgium, and said he hoped his earlier speech had not been misunderstood. "The Government", he and the noble people he represents for their work accomplished here during the past 80 years." This was warmly applauded by the Congolese leaders, and appeared somewhat to modify the obviously offended Belgian King.
A large holiday-mood crowd gathered in the afternoon to cheer the procession of troops, sportsmen and youth organizations as they paraded past King Baudouin and President Kasavubu.
The King left the same evening on board a military aircraft for Brussels. He was seen off by President Kasavubu, Premier Lumumba and several other Ministers.