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This week, an unlikely artifact has been returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). And along with its return is the hope that there will be some closure for those subjected to a gruesome chapter of European colonialism.

The object? A tooth that had once belonged to Patrice Lumumba, and is now all that remains of The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s first democratically-elected prime minister.

NPR spoke with Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja about this historic moment. He is a Congolese historian who participated in the independence movement led by Lumumba, and also currently serves as the Congo’s representative to the United Nations. He is also a professor in the department of African, African American and diaspora studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.