Its important to note that a major influence on Lumumba's work within the MNC came from his participation in the All African People's Conference sponsored by Nkrumah and the Convention People's Party in Ghana in December of 1958. From his own words, Lumumba left that gathering, which was essentially a calling for the resolutions from the 5th Pan-African Congress of 1945 to continue to come into existence (for all of Africa to form mass organizations that would bring immediate independence to all of Africa from European colonialism), fired up to fight against colonialism. Lumumba wrote that the conference gave him confidence that he could help bring freedom to the Congo. It was also at this conference that Lumumba's relationship with Kwame Nkrumah was strengthened. The then Ghanaian President, as he did for movements all over Africa, promised Lumumba that he could depend upon Ghana's support for independence efforts being waged in the Congo.
The story of Lumumba's MNC winning the majority of the seats in Parliament in 1960, gaining independence, and then being immediately sabotaged by imperialism e.g. its efforts to wrestle the mineral rich Kinshasa (then Katanga) region from the Congo in an effort to destroy the MNC is well documented. The capture of Lumumba and the fact that troops under the jurisdiction of the United Nation, including Nkrumah's Ghanaian troops, were actually the ones who prevented Lumumba from being able to use the Congolese radio station to speak to the Congolese people is also well documented. And, the sad truth that these troops allowed Lumumba to be handed over to the neo-colonialist forces, led by Mobutu, that murdered him, is also well known.
What's not talked about enough is the sincere efforts Nkrumah, Ture, and others, made to attempt to prevent the events that ended in Lumumba's murder. Its important that people realize that this was a very new and fresh time for Africa. Ghana had been the first African country to gain its independence and that happened only three years prior to the Congo. Guinea, just two years prior. Nkrumah, Ture, Ghana, Guinea, and the other emerging African nations were struggling to gain their own footing as newly independent countries that were still controlled by imperialism. By controlled we mean the political independence didn't come with Africans achieving full control over the economies of these countries. The foreign (imperialist) corporations that dominated economics everywhere in Africa didn't leave once political independence was achieved. Instead, they worked overtime to establish mechanisms that would ensure their interests continued to dominate in these countries. The objective of imperialism during this era in Africa was neo-colonialism which we define as capitalism in blackface in Africa. Same exploitation with blackface leadership. Nkrumah, Ture, and a select other newly developing African leaders and parties were not at all interested in being tools for imperialism. They wanted complete freedom and self determination. And, despite the consistent efforts of imperialism to prevent them from achieving true independence, they struggled mightily to fight back, Ghana and Guinea were early and often major suppliers of material aide to the MNC, before Congolese independence, and certainly after Lumumba came to power. And, this happened despite the severe challenges Ghana and Guinea themselves faced from their daily struggle for freedom. In the midst of these adverse conditions, the Congolese situation arose. At this point in history, the United Nations (UN) was only 15 years old. It had not yet been revealed to be what we all know it to be today, a political tool for imperialism. At that time it was genuinely viewed as a vessel of democracy where nations are supposed to collectively decide the outcome of conflicts. Instead, we know today that the UN was always intended to be imperialism's tool to control outcomes. And for all intent and purposes, the Congo served as imperialism's first real opportunity to use its UN to play its game in Africa.
Since neo-colonialism wasn't yet a thing anywhere in Africa in 1960, its reasonable to accept that our newly developing African leaders would have faith that the UN would be an honest attempt to mediate issues as it was advertised to be. So, under this context, we find absolutely no valid reason to criticize Nkrumah for seeing the UN as a viable vehicle to help solve the Congolese crisis. Especially since at that time he was one of the world leaders of the newly developed non-aligned movement which sought to avoid taking sides in the cold war between the United States and imperialist countries and the European countries of the Soviet Block. For Nkrumah, the UN probably represented at that time a pathway to address problems without becoming embroiled in cold war politics. Another factor to consider is that Lumumba was a very young man, only in his mid thirties. There were countless conversations between Nkrumah and Lumumba during the most stressful periods of 1960 and the crisis where Nkrumah tried desperately to get Lumumba to carry out actions a certain way. For example, Nkrumah knew that Lumumba's support among his Betatela tribe was strong, but fractured with other large ethnic groups in the Congo (that last part largely because of imperialism's instigation). Consequently, he begged Lumumba to concentrate on building solid unity among other ethnic groups before attacking the representatives of those other groups like Tshombe or Kasavubu who were appealing to their own ethnic identities to support their efforts, which were fueled, financed, and supported by imperialism, to oust Lumumba as the country's prime minister.
Although the adverse conditions surrounding the political work made things extremely difficult, it just simply cannot be argued that Lumumba was able to carry out Nkrumah's repeated organizing pleas. In fact, Lumumba's public denouncements of the neo-colonial puppets without being able to secure strong support from their ethnic bases as well as his hurried and unsuccessful efforts to bring in the Soviet Union as a tool to assist his political efforts without the firm support of the Congolese people on a national level, did a lot to further fracture and isolate him in the political process. The results of all of this were Nkrumah's greatest fears for the young Congolese leader.
After the neo-colonialists deposed Lumumba as Prime Minister and once the UN troops prevented Lumumba from having access to the radio station so that he could give his version of events to the Congolese people, Sekou Ture argued with Nkrumah that Guinean and Ghanaian troops should be immediately pulled from the authority of the UN and used to form an all African command that would restore Lumumba and the MNC to power. As much as Ture's desires appeal to our emotional need to confront imperialism, the reality told Nkrumah we were not ready. Nkrumah's position was that doing so would give imperialism a license to involve its military forces directly in the Congo so he effectively argued that the UN should be given a chance to use their respective troops to resolve the crisis. One of the sinister tricks used by imperialism is the communication between Nkrumah, Ture, and their respective troops was blocked during the critical periods so that each of these leaders were basically in the dark about the extent their troops were being used to upset Lumumba's efforts instead of helping him. Again, in 1960, Nkrumah's fundamental position was more than logical. Nkrumah recognized that our Pan-African forces would be at a severe disadvantage if forced to fight against imperialist forces head on in our disorganized state at the time, so he tried to see that the situation was resolved using what he thought at the time to be sincere diplomatic methods.
Of course, we know today that there is no such thing as sincerity when imperialism is involved, but much of the reason we have been able to figure that out is because of the work and experiences of people like Nkrumah. Today, the Congo is still very much reeling from the consequences of imperialism's assault against the democratic desires of the Congolese people in 1960. After the election that placed Lumumba in office in 1960, the Congo didn't have another election until 2007. And for that 47 year period the entire country was besieged by imperialist land grabs for the vast mineral resources, reactionary neo-colonialist tribalism for the same, and the lack of complete infrastructure to run a country like safe roads, schools, security, food production, mail delivery, etc. This is the sad and unfortunate story for much of Africa, but as bad as the crisis in the Congo was 60 years ago, the lessons learned and articulated by Nkrumah, Ture, and others have given us much ammunition to understand how to build capacity to stop these tragedies from happening in Africa. Nkrumah's 1968 "Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare" and 1970 "Class Struggle in Africa", while he served as co-President of Guinea with Sekou Ture (after imperialism illegally overthrew his Ghanaian government in 1966), were both largely influenced by the events in the Congo (and Ghana). What Nkrumah learned from those experiences is that imperialism is never going to leave Africa until we force them out. And, imperialism will never be destroyed until we destroy it. Consequently, he called for a revolutionary, mass, political party. A Pan-African party built from joining together mass Pan-African parties and organizations across Africa. The purpose of this mass party is to wage war on all levels - ideologically and militarily - against imperialism. The creation of an All African Committee for Political Coordination and an All African People's Revolutionary Army, facilitated by an All African People's Revolutionary Party. For Nkrumah, this approach would be necessary to eliminate reliance on imperialist forces like the UN and the African Union. The latter, Nkrumah discovered since he was one of the founders, was built on the basis of neo-colonial governments and not mass political organization, which would always make it beholden to imperialist interests.
As much as idealists refuse to admit it, we clearly were not prepared to understand and act on these necessities in 1960, but after witnessing and studying those unfortunate events, we have absolutely no excuses for why we cannot get prepared in 2019 and beyond. Instead of ignorantly blaming Nkrumah, Ture, and others for the unfortunate loss of Patrice Lumumba, we are fortunate today to have their guidance to help us move together to achieve the freedom and liberation Lumumba lost his life for.