Political map of Sub-Saharan Africa 24 December 1960 (Year of Africa ends): In mid-September 1960 Colonel Mobutu (Mobutu Sese Seko) ended the governmental crisis in the Congo by seizing control and imprisoning PM Lumumba (Patrice Lumumba). Lumumba escaped a few months later only to be recaptured and murdered while attempting to reach his supporters in the east (Free Republic of the Congo). Meanwhile Nigeria - the UK's most populous African colony - and Mauritania gained independence, the last of the seventeen African nations to throw off foreign rule in 1960 (Year of Africa).