From camera to canvas: The case of Patrice Lumumba and Congolese popular painting

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This article explores the entanglement of Congolese popular painting with photography through the case of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was assassinated in 1961. Lumumba’s final public appearance was immortalized in a series of photographs and newsreel footage that was disseminated around the world. The author contends that the events thereafter are frequently envisioned by Congolese popular painting, as it takes over from the operations of the camera in an era largely defined by the photographic. The article suggests that photography and Congolese popular painting are enmeshed in the creation of a visual archive around the figure of Lumumba. Furthermore, it examines the indebtedness of popular painting to photographic culture as well as other sources in the “colonial contact zone.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-93
Number of pages12
JournalNka: Journal of Contemporary African Art
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Patrice Lumumba
  • Congolese popular paintingphotography, Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu, Burozi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lubumbashi
  • photography
  • Tshibumba Kanda-Matulu
  • Burozi
  • the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Lubumbashi

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