Lumumba in the Arts

Edited by Matthias De Groof

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Edited volume - paperback

"Art reminds us of the impossibility of his death and leaves us horrified every time one remembers the tragedy.", Matthias De Groof, editor 'Lumumba in the Arts'

Lumumba as a symbol of decolonisation and as an icon in the arts

It is no coincidence that a historical figure such as Patrice Emery Lumumba, independent Congo’s first prime minister, who was killed in 1961, has lived in the realm of the cultural imaginary and occupied an afterlife in the arts. After all, his project remained unfinished and his corpse unburied. The figure of Lumumba has been imagined through painting, photography, cinema, poetry, literature, theatre, music, sculpture, fashion, cartoons and stamps, and also through historiography and in public space. No art form has been able to escape and remain indifferent to Lumumba. Artists observe the memory and the unresolved suffering that inscribed itself both upon Lumumba’s body and within the history of Congo. If Lumumba – as an icon – lives on today, it is because the need for decolonisation does as well.

Rather than seeking to unravel the truth of actual events surrounding the historical Lumumba, this book engages with his representations. What is more, it considers every historiography as inherently embedded in iconography. Film scholars, art critics, historians, philosophers, and anthropologists discuss the rich iconographic heritage inspired by Lumumba. Furthermore, Lumumba in the Arts offers unique testimonies by a number of artists who have contributed to Lumumba's polymorphic iconography, such as Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans, Raoul Peck, and Tshibumba Kanda Matulu, and includes contributions by such highly acclaimed scholars as Johannes Fabian, Bogumil Jewsiewicky, and Elikia M’Bokolo.

Contributors: Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda (artist), Karen Bouwer (University of San Francisco), Véronique Bragard (UCLouvain), Piet Defraeye (University of Alberta), Matthias De Groof (scholar/filmmaker), Isabelle de Rezende (independent scholar), Marlene Dumas (artist), Johannes Fabian (em., University of Amsterdam), Rosario Giordano (Università della Calabria), Idesbald Goddeeris (KU Leuven), Gert Huskens (ULB), Robbert Jacobs (artist), Bogumil Jewsiewicki (em., Université Laval), Tshibumba Kanda Matulu (artist), Elikia M’Bokolo (EHESS), Christopher L. Miller (Yale University), Pedro Monaville (NYU), Raoul Peck (artist), Pierre Petit (ULB), Mark Sealy (Autograph ABP), Julien Truddaïu (CEC), Léon Tsambu (University of Kinshasa), Jean Omasombo Tshonda (Africa Museum), Luc Tuymans (artist), Mathieu Zana Etambala (AfricaMuseum)

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Introduction by Matthias De Groof – The Iconography of Patrice Emery Lumumba


Isabelle de Rezende – History as Spectacle

Jean Omasombo Tshonda – Lumumba, a Never-ending Tragedy and the Unfulfilled Mourning Process of Colonisation

Pedro Monaville – A History of Glory and Dignity: Patrice Lumumba in Historical Imagination and Postcolonial Genealogies

Christopher L. Miller – Patrice Lumumba and the Past Conditional: The Virtual Reality of a Martyr

Elikia M’Bokolo, interviewed by Julien Truddaïu & Matthias De Groof – The History of Patrice Lumumba’s Historiography



Matthias De Groof – Lumumba in Cinema
Raoul Peck – It’s About the Image
Karen Bouwer – Lumumba entre deux genres: Peck’s Filmic Diptych
Rosario Giordano – The Masks of the Savage: Lumumba and the Independence of the Congo
Balufu Bakupa-Kanyinda, interviewed by Matthias De Groof – Imagining Lumumba

Piet Defraeye – Lumumba on Stage: X Times a Murder

Mark Sealy – Picturing Lumumba: Framed in Colonial Time

Mathieu Zana Etambala – Tributes to Patrice Lumumba in the Poetry of the American Continent, 1961-1966

Véronique Bragard – Between Communicative and Cultural Memory: The Figure of Lumumba as Decolonial Counterpoint in Nicolas Pitz’s Comics Les Jardins du Congo (2013)

Léon Tsambu – The Figurative Representation of Lumumba in Popular Music
Gert Huskens and Idesbald Goddeeris – Lumumba in the Hood: The Legacy of Patrice Lumumba in Rap Music since 1990

Bogumil Jewsiewicki – A Congolese Hero to the Oppressed Peoples of the World: Lumumba, from Christlike Martyr to Guide for the Future
Tshibumba Kanda Matulu and Johannes Fabian – Conversations
Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans, interviewed by Matthias De Groof – My Pauline and Your Patrice

Public space

Pierre Petit – Official Miniatures: The Figure of Patrice Lumumba in the Global and the National Contexts
Julien Truddaïu – Representing Lumumba (1956-1961): The Twists and Turns of Belgian Colonial Propaganda
Robbert Jacobs – Down Lumumba Lane
Piet Defraeye – Lumumba’s Bike: A Rhizomatic Walk in the Park

Epilogue by Matthias De Groof – Shilatembo


Format: Edited volume - paperback

Size: 285 × 195 × 35 mm

464 pages

ISBN: 9789462701748

Publication: January 17, 2020

Languages: English

Stock item number: 133016

Matthias De Groof is a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the University of Antwerp. He has held visiting fellow appointments at the New York University, the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in Finland, and the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence of the Bayreuth University in Germany.

By discussing the rich iconographic heritage bequeathed to us by Lumumba and by reflecting on the different ways in which he is being remembered, we do not only answer the two questions that guided our work, but hope equally to contribute to this imagery by making his absence more present, though without laying his legacy to rest.
Matthias De Groof, Africa Is a Country, July 2020

"Not on a filmmaker, yet centered around one historical figure, "Lumumba in the Arts" engages with the iconography of independent Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba. Next to his representation in public space, theatre, photography, poetry, comics, music and painting, the publication includes a large part on cinema with five texts, written by, among others, filmmaker Raoul Peck and Matthias De Groof – a Belgian film scholar/filmmaker who edited this anthology and also interviewed painters Luc Tuymans and Marlene Dumas for it."
Sabzian, Ruben Demasure,

On a donc là une recension importante, sinon exhaustive, de la représentation de Lumumba en héros de la lutte anti-coloniale.
Marc Lenot, Blog Lunettes Rouges sur l'art, 8 Mars 2020
Congolisation, un Festival pour décoloniser le regard
Radio Libres, Ensemble

Aan Lumumba is alles onaf, dus overleeft hij in de kunst
Matthias De Groof maakte in een nieuw boek 'Lumumba in the Arts' een vrij compleet en genuanceerd overzicht van hoe hij bleef verderleven in schilderijen, strips, films, theater, literatuur, maar ook in postzegels of monumenten. [...] In de kiem gesmoorde beloften en gefnuikte hoop zijn de dominante thema’s in deze iconografie, met een ondertoon van verlies en rouw. 
Marc Reynebeau, De Standaard, vrijdag 17 januari 2020