What's the connection between Dave Chappelle and Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba?

Comedians Kevin Hart and Katt Williams have said that Dave Chappelle is the greatest stand-up comedian of all time. However, the most shocking fact about Dave is his mother, Dr. Yvonne Seon.

Lumumba (left) and Chapelle

After earning a BA at Allegheny College in north-eastern Pennsylvania, she studied for a MA in political science at American University in 1960. She also studied French.

As a student in Washington DC, she was shaped by what she calls “the time of the big change”, marked by the culmination of black liberation in the United States, and on the African continent starting with the independence of Ghana in 1957.

Following Congolese independence on June 30th 1960, Patrice Lumumba, then the newly elected Prime Minister of the Congo, made his first official visit to the United States from July 27 to July 29th.

Lumumba (who the Central Intelligence Agency code-named "Stinky") was a pawn in the political chess game of the Cold War between the USA and the Soviet Union.

So, his visit to the United States could be interpreted as a well moved chess piece in favour of the USA or the Soviet Union.

However, the other reason for Lumumba’s visit centred on recruiting young professionals that would be willing to fill the gap left by the departure of the Belgian colonial administration in newly independent Congo.

Seon, at the time aged 21, was asked to sign on and she replied: “I will have to think about that,” but looked forward to meeting Lumumba personally.

That very next morning, when she was making up her mind, Lumumba encouraged Seon to accompany him back to the Congo in order to serve as the secretary to the High Commission on the Grand Inga Dam Project, an ambitious initiative which sought to establish Africa’s energy independence immediately.

She eventually did work with Lumumba and Dave Chappelle has publicly acknowledged the extent to which his own work is deeply influenced by his mother and, by extension, Lumumba.

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