Patrice Lumumba’s name has returned to the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. This is what it means for Russia-Africa relations

Picture: Sputnik/Supplied

Picture: Sputnik/Supplied

Published Jul 14, 2023


‘Russia is turning its face towards Africa’ as the name of the national Congolese hero and first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba (RUDN University), making the university’s full name Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia.

These were the words of Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador-at-Large of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Head of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum Secretariat, during a round table discussion hosted by Sputnik International Multimedia Press Centre.

In attendance were Ozerov, Sergei Kochetkov, First Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Rossiya Segodnya International Media Group; and Svetlana Kukava, observer of the international TV BRICS network; Director General of the TAP News Agency (Tunisia) Najesh Missaoui; Roland Lumumba, son of Patrice Lumumba, national hero of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and President of the Patrice Lumumba Foundation; Hassane Baba Diombele, Director General of the Radio and Television Office of Mali (ORTM); and Eric Ndongo, Director of Radio Bonne Nouvelle (Cameroon), joined the discussion online.

The discussion was also attended by top media managers from African countries.

The university was founded in 1960 with the aim of helping developing countries, and in 1961, the university was named Patrice Lumumba University after Lumumba and the strides for freedom that the African leader has made.

However, the university's name was changed to the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in 1992. This makes the return of Lumumba’s name to the university’s full name, a momentous occasion.

During the dialogue on Russia-Africa cooperation, Ozerov announced the completion of the legal procedure for returning the name of Patrice Lumumba, national hero and first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University).

“We restored historical justice. This is an important symbolic gesture, an indicator that Russia is turning its face towards Africa. Russia remembers the heroes of Africa and fighters for national liberation. Not just Patrice Lumumba, but also Nelson Mandela, and Kwame Nkrumah, and Leopold Sedar Senghor, and many others. Samora Machel, Ahmed Ben Bella, Gamal Abdel Nasser and all those who fought for national liberation, sometimes at the cost of their lives,” Ozerov said.

The son of Patrice Lumumba, Roland Lumumba, welcomed the decision: “I am overwhelmed with pride that the name of my father was returned to RUDN University in Moscow. He was a spokesman in the struggle for progress in Africa in the early years of African independence.”

Lumumba added that his father was a martyr among the African leaders of his time, and it ‘moved’ him when people said they graduated from Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow.

In a similar vein about keeping the Russia-Africa ties strong, Sergei Kochetkov, First Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Rossiya Segodnya media group, spoke about the impact Sputnik Afrique has had on Africans. Sputnik Afrique is a French-language website aimed at African audiences.

“During the year, it has shown very positive results: a significant increase in the number of unique visitors, and the audience is growing steadily,” said Kochetkov, adding that there are plans to expand Sputnik’s radio broadcasting in French and English, as well as joining the African Broadcasting Union as an associate member and developing the SputnikPro project in Africa.

Director General of the Tunisian TAP News Agency Najesh Missaoui supported the need to develop Russia-Africa relations: “The horizons of peace and international cooperation are still open, and cooperation between Russia and the African countries prove this. We hope this will become a model for establishing fair, equal and mutually enriching international relations.”

Svetlana Kukava, TV BRICS observer, highlighted the important role of BRICS in promoting international dialogue, saying the BRICS agenda is expanding.

“World leaders and international media are highlighting BRICS’ enormous potential. It is important to note that the BRICS agenda is focused on addressing international development issues that unite absolutely all of its participants. Members of our international TV BRICS network are taking constructive unifying initiatives aimed at finding joint answers to the most current questions,” said Kukava.