Iconic photograph taken by Robert Lebeck in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) during Belgian King Baudouin’s procession through the city on the eve of Congo’s independence, on June 29, 1960.
The man in the dark suit, Baodouin’s sword in hand, is Ambroise Boimbo. Boimbo, a bystander in the crowd, ran up to the King’s vehicle and, in an act of ultimate defiance, stole his sword right from his side, sealing his fate as a true and patriotic hero of Congo’s independence.
Boimbo was born in Monkoto in Equateur Province. After leaving his village, he joined the military and relocated to Kinshasa. There, he quit the army and became an electrician, and later worked under President Mobutu. He passed away in the 1980s and was interred at Kintambo cemetery.
In this short clip from the documentary Boyamba Belgique, documentary filmmakers Dries Engel and Bart Van Peel trace the life of Boimbo and find out what became of this brave man after this almost surreal incident. Going back to his home village of Monkoto, Engel and Van Peel meet Boimbo’s remaining family there - including his daughter - and, after showing them the above photograph, details of what became of Boimbo begin to emerge in a very emotional encounter.
The video, between the 7:00-8:00 minute mark, also shows a tradition practiced by some African communities were liquor is poured over the graves of the deceased, and then shared by those paying grieving or paying homage to them.
The clip, which shows what is perhaps the only moving image of Boimbo, ends with efforts to preserve Boimbo’s memory within the consciousness of the Congolese people.