Patrice Lumumba was the first prime minister of the Republic of Congo and is credited with making great strides to free the region from Belgian colonization. Many of his tactics were questioned and some say he caused unrest in the Congo. Lumumba endured criticism, several arrests and torture. Here are 10 ways Patrice Lumumba paid for his beliefs.

1. He published political essays while working a day job

While working as a postal service clerk just to get by in the 1940s, Lumumba spent his spare time writing poems and essays regarding Belgian oppression of the African people. He had them published and gained a reputation as a civil organizer.

2. He went to jail on charges of embezzlement

Lumumba worked briefly for the Liberal Party of Belgium, editing and distributing party literature. During that time, he was arrested on charges of embezzlement. He was sentenced to two years in prison, which was reduced to 12 months after authorities said he had returned the money.

3. He was arrested for starting an anti-colonial riot

As president of the Mouvement National Congolais, a pro-independence group in the Belgian Congo, Lumumba started an anti-colonial riot in 1959. He was sentenced to prison for more than five years. Due to pressure, Lumumba was released from prison after a couple of months.

4. He spoke out during Independence Day

On June 30, 1960 — the Congo’s Independence Day from Belgium — Belgium King Baudouin gave a speech asserting that the Congo owed much of its freedom and structures to the Belgians, and that the Congo needed colonialism. Though not scheduled to speak, Lumumba gave an impromptu speech assuring the Congolese people that they did not need Belgian colonialism.

5. He pointed out to Belgian colonialists the errors of their ways

In many ways, Lumumba’s Independence Day speech forced the Belgian king to see the horrors behind the “pageantry and paternalism” that he had forced the country to endure. After that speech, much of the non-African world criticized Lumumba for being harsh. Africans were happy with the speech.

6. He raised government salaries

One of Lumumba’s first acts as prime minister was to raise salaries for everyone in the government, except for the army. This sparked military revolts all over the country. Soldiers ransacked the streets, drawing major media attention.

7. He got a reputation as a communist

After Lumumba became prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, other leaders tried to overturn him. After the U.N. denied Lumumba’s request for intervention, he turned to the Soviet Union for military assistance, which made the U.S. believe he had communist ties. A C.I.A. operative was sent to poison Lumumba, but was unsuccessful.

8. He fought his removal from government

After some of Lumumba’s reforms resulted in him being removed from a position in government, he protested and secured a vote of confidence from the Senate, making it difficult for the new prime minister to gain parliament’s confidence.

9. He was captured and escaped

Lumumba was captured and put on house arrest in the new prime minister’s house, but escaped to Stanleyville where he allegedly had plans to set up his own government and military.

10. He was captured and killed

Military leader Joseph Mobutu overpowered Lumumba and had him captured and killed. His death to this day sparks conversation about how foreign investment can create turmoil in Africa.

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