4th of January Independence

The ABAKO section of the Kalamu municipality announced a meeting on the premises of the YMCA for Sunday 4 January 1959 at 14h00. This meeting follows the conference held a week previously, by delegates to the Pan African Conference in Accra for which KASA-VUBU could not obtain a visa. One must note the new concept appearing during these discussions, namely Pan Africanism. What would be KASA-VUBU’s attitude?

One week prior to the governmental declaration announced by the minister VAN HEMELRYCK for 13 January, it was a sure bet that the president of ABAKO would seize the opportunity to publicly express his views. The colonial administration, fearing the consequences of such an obvious political opportunity, prohibited the meeting. KASA-VUBU – some time before 15h00, went to the YMCA premises, gave a small speech to calm down the population who gathered despite the ban. The over-excited crowd could hardly fathom what he said.

“Today’s section meeting is postponed to 18 January 1959. You are all waiting anxiously to hear about the development of your destiny. You claimed your independence. The Belgian government will issue its declaration on 13 of this month. Have faith. The representatives will study the reply of the Belgian government. Depart and have faith in your request”. Soon after the president of ABAKO arrived at home, blood flowed as skirmishes between policemen and protesters erupted and widespread rioting broke out. After the Police Force intervened, tens of people were left dead and injured.

For the Europeans, there was no doubt that the person responsible for the rioting could only be KASA-VUBU, the man who hates the Whites, the xenophobe, the man who incites the people against the authority, the ambitious and pretentious man. The legal authorities capitulated to the weight of public opinion. As for the administration, it finally had found the opportunity to avenge itself.