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Congo Come Back! Why we’re building a new political movement in DRC

Congolese football fans celebrate victory. Credit: MONUSCO /Abel Kavanagh

Kinshasa, DRC | AFRICAN ARGUMENTS| History tells us that summer months are often eventful in Congolese politics. It was on 30 June 1960 that the country gained independence from Belgium. On that day, Belgium’s King Baudouin declared: “the Congo constitutes the culmination of the work conceived by the genius of King Leopold II, undertaken by him with tenacious courage and continued with perseverance by Belgium”.

These comments were laced with more than a hint of irony. The young king marked the country out for what it had been and, in an inadvertent show of foresight, for what it would later become: a playground for “big men”.

Pillaged and plundered under the guise of the Congo Free State during colonialism and then in its current state as the Democratic Republic of Congo, our beleaguered nation has known countless big men. These individuals have toyed with state finances, institutions, and even the Congolese people for personal gratification.

From President Mobutu Seso Seko (1965-1997) – the shrewd manipulator of Cold War politics whose reign collapsed 20 years ago this week – to Laurent-Désiré Kabila (1997-2001) – a man Che Guevara abandoned after judging him not to be “the man of the hour” in the 1960s – our Congo has been consistently denied strong and progressive leadership.

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