At long last, Belgium is doing something concrete about Lumumba's assassination. It may not be enough, but for the time being Brussels' "official" recognition on 5 February of its "irrefutable" complicity in the 1961 murder of Lumumba has been halfheartedly welcomed by the Congolese people as "a step in the right direction".
It has taken 41 long years for Belgium to officially accept its sins and apologise, but when it finally came on 5 February, it did not surprise the Congolese people because they had known all along that Lumumba could not have been murdered without Belgian and CIA complicity.
The apology followed the publication of the report of the Belgian parliamentary commission which, over the past two years, investigated Belgium's responsibility in the assassination.
Louis Michel, the Belgian foreign minister, read the apology in parliament: "The government feels it should extend to the family of Patrice Lumumba...and to the Congolese people, its profound and sincere apologies for the pain inflicted upon them," he told a hushed parliament.
He accepted that "certain Belgian actors bear an irrefutable responsibility in the events that led to Lumumba's death".
As a form of reparation, Belgium will this year set up a Patrice Lumumba Fund, worth over $3 million in the first instance, and for the next 10 years make an annual contribution of nearly $500,000 to the Fund, meant to help "Congo's democratic development, conflict prevention and scholarship schemes for the Congolese youth".
Reactions in Congo have been lukewarm. According to the Kinshasa-based daily newspaper, L'Avenir.
"On this occasion, we remind the international community that Congo is still counting its dead. More than 3.5 million Congolese have been massacred since 2 August 1998 -- the Washington-based Refugees International has called it a 'slow-motion holocaust' -- and our mineral and...