Zaire President Sese Seko Flees Capital as Rebels Take Over (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: Long-term tyrant Mobutu Sese Seko, after battling corruption charges, a powerful insurrection, and terminal illness, was forced to abandon Kinshasa, the capital, and surrender the country to rebel leader Laurent Kabila.
The future president-for-life was born in Lisala, a small village in what was then the Belgian Congo. Educated in Catholic missionary schools, Joseph Désiré Mobutu (his original name), joined the colonial Belgian Congolese army, known as the Force Publique, while still a teenager.
Mobutu excelled at his studies and was eventually promoted to the highest possible rank for a native African, sergeant major. At the same time, he was becoming a talented journalist, first gaining a reputation in that area by writing a series of letters, most of which dealt with what he felt was the Congo’s bright future, to various Leopoldville (later Kinshasa) newspapers. After leaving the military, he became a roving reporter for a daily newspaper and simultaneously edited a weekly periodical.
Frustrated by Belgium’s oppressive political system, racial bigotry, and mercantile economics, Mobutu came to support independence for the Congo. He allied himself with nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba’s Congolese National Movement and, in 1960, stood in for the...
(The entire section is 1050 words.)
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