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Heroes' Day

Heroes' Day 2019 and 2020

Heroes’ Day is a two-day celebration every 16-17 January to honour leaders who pushed for Congolese independence from Belgian colonial rule.

Year Date Day Holiday
2019 16 Jan Wed Heroes' Day (Laurent Kabila)
17 Jan Thu Heroes' Day (Patrice Lumumba)
2020 16 Jan Thu Heroes' Day (Laurent Kabila)
17 Jan Fri Heroes' Day (Patrice Lumumba)

Laurent-Desire Kibila

The first day of the holiday, 16 January, is dedicated to the memory of Laurent-Desire Kibila who served as president of DR Congo from 17 May 1997 until his assassination on 16 January 2001. He was born into the Luba tribe in the southern province of Katanga. In 1960, he became a youth leader allied with Patrice Lumumba, the first post-independence prime minister. After the assassination of Lumumba, Kabila lead a revolt in 1965 that was suppressed by Joseph Mobutu, who changed the name of the country to Zaire after seizing power.

In 1967, Kabila founded the People’s Revolutionary Party, establishing a territory in the Kivu region of Zaire. In 1990, Kabila became the leader of the Alliance of Democratic Forces which pushed for the liberation of Congo-Zaire. He and other forces marched on the capital city of Kinshasa, forcing Mobutu to flee. Kabila named himself head of state on 17 May 1997 and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo. On 16 January 2001, Kabila was shot and killed by a bodyguard at his palace although there are rumours he died in a plane crash that same day.

Patrice Emery Lumumba

January 17 is celebrated in honour of Patrice Emery Lumumba, a Congolese independence leader. Lumumba founded the Congolese National Movement and helped the country win its independence from Belgium. He was born in Onalua as Elias Okit’Asombo and attended missionary school. He began his career as a postal clerk and then became an accountant. He became involved in politics, focused on the oppression African’s endured under the Belgian colonial system.

Lumumba established himself as a union organiser and co-founded the Congolese National Movement in 1958. In 1960, after the Democratic Republic of Congo took independence from Belgium, Lumumba became the first prime minister but the country remained unstable under his leadership. On 17 January 1961, Lumumba was captured, taken to Katanga and killed, sparking outrage throughout the country.

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