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Date: Tue, 3 Jun 97 22:03:26 CDT
From: Marpessa Kupendua <nattyreb@ix.netcom.com>
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Article: 12087

)From: Mumia@aol.com
)Date: Sun, 1 Jun 1997 19:35:37 -0400 (EDT)
)Subject: FROM CONGO, TO ZAIRE, AND BACK AGAIN Column 5/21/97
)(c) 1997 Mumia Abu-Jamal
)Sender: owner-spg-l@asterix.xs4all.nl

From Congo, to Zaire, and back again

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, 21 June 1997

"Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
-- Sir Winston Churchill (1936)

The Republic of Zaire is no more. Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbeandu Wa Za Banga is no longer the President of the now nonexistent state.

As of May, 1997, the nation of nearly 45,000,000 people, situated in the virtual heart of Africa, has been re-renamed the [Democratic] Republic of the Congo, a name that hails from the ancient African Bakongo Kingdom. It was renamed the Congo by Laurent Kabila, a former Marxist who led the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the liberation of Congo/Zaire, the force that drove Mobutu's former army from the Eastern Lake Kivu Region. Kabila's rebels pressed Mobutu's largely demoralized army, and when it finally entered the capital city, Kinshasa, it found virtually no resistance.

After over 30 years in power, and after over 25 years under the name République du Zaïre, Mobutu's reign ended more with a whimper than a bang.

A wily politician, Mobutu has stayed in power in part, by betraying friends and co-opting enemies, but principally by becoming an asset of the CIA, and supporting the interests of European capital.

Far from the depiction given in the Daily News articles, which suggest Central African chaos without any context, Mobutu's rise, his maintenance, and even his fall from power, were orchestrated and managed from Western and European capitals. His office was held in the service of, and to protect the interests of, Western wealth.

Born Joseph-Desire Mobutu in the old Belgian Congo, educated in Belgium, and a Roman Catholic, the man who came to power in a CIA-aided coup, would return to his Western paymasters again and again, to serve their interests above those of the people of the nation. Toward the middle of his presidency, when Angola fought against the Portuguese colonial powers, it was Mobutu who served as the funnel to fund pro-Western forces. In his three decades of power, Mobutu has become on of the richest men on earth (certainly in Africa!) in a nation with some of the poorest citizens on earth, Congo, Africa's third largest nation, is awash in natural and mineral wealth, diamonds, gold and to some reports, oil has recently been found. Even before Kabila's forces took the capital city Kinshasa, industrialists where running to the rebel leader with contracts seeking rights to the nation's vast resources.

The history of the nation since the 15th Century onwards, can be seen as the history of European colonialism, resistance, independence, and neocolonialism, followed by a prolonged resistance. From the so-called Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, People's Republic of the Congo, Zaire, and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Many years ago, Frantz Fanon, in The Wretched of the Earth (1963) warned of the threats from neocolonialism,

The former colonial power increases its demands, accumulates concessions and guarantees and takes fewer and fewer pains to mask the hold it has over the National government. The people stagnate deplorably in unbearable poverty; slowly they awaken to the unutterable treason of their leaders. This awakening is all the more acute in that the bourgeoisie is incapable of learning its lesson. The distribution of wealth that it effects is not spread out between a great many sectors; it is not ranged among different levels, nor does it set up a hierarchy of half-tones. The new caste is an affront all the more disgusting in that the immense majority, nine-tenths of the population, continue to die of starvation.

Fanon's sage warning came true in the Congo and elsewhere in Africa, and we can only hope that the nation's newest incarnation will mean a better life for the Congolese people, with their rich natural resources turned to bettering their lives.

1997 MAJ