Mobutu Sese Seko was the dictator of the Congo from 1965 to 1997.  He was installed into power via a revolution supported by the CIA.  Why? Because the US government wanted him to fight off communists in Angola. So, Mobutu received bags and bags of US government money which went to himself while his people suffered.


Joseph-Desiré Mobutu was born in the Congo while the Belgians controlled it. As a kid, he was rebellious and was sent to a Catholic school. He was later kicked out for being too obnoxious and stealing from the library. He was forced to join the army for moving away to Leopoldville. Mobutu was somewhat disciplined during his service in the army and refused to be married in a church because of his hatred of the Catholic priests at his old school.

After Belgium granted the Congo independence, the Congo Crisis occurred and the nation was divided.  The prime minister was Patrice Lumumba, a friend of Mobutu.  Anarchy spread throughout the Congo and Lumumba asked the Soviet Union for help. Because of this, the US government declared that the real reason the USSR was aiding the Congo was to spread Communism to Africa. The president of the Congo was upset about Soviet aid too and Lumumba declared the president, Joseph Kasa-Vubu, deposed. Each one ordered Mobutu to fire the other and Mobutu was put in the spotlight of the world. The Western World wanted the Soviets expelled so Mobutu sided with them and a CIA-sponsored coup took place. Kasa-Vubu got to keep his office and all of the Soviets expelled. Lumumba was accused of being a pro-communist and fled to Stanleyville where he set up his own government. Lumumba was captured in 1960 and publicly beaten. He was murdered shortly after.

In 1961, Mobutu was promoted to major-general.

In 1965, the Congolese Parliament refused to recognize the loser of the elections as president and the country fell into disorder. Once again, Mobutu led a coup and took full control of the Congo. Parliament was destroyed and one sole political party led by Mobutu was formed. All citizens automatically become members of the party when born (No joke, look it up). The party was against communism and capitalism, but supported nationalism and militarism.

"Mobutu bucks" 1 US $ = 2,529,000 (March 1993)

Mobutu was a corrupt leader and executed all of enemies early on. During the 1970 elections, there were two choices: green for hope or red for chaos.  Mobutu won with 10,131,699 votes to 157 (Again, no joke, look it up). Mobutu supported a return to Africanism and changed the Congo's name to Zaire, the currency to the zaire (Z) and his own name to "Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga" which means "The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake."  Mobutu also disapproved of cars, but he and his friends constantly drove them and used a Concorde, compliments of Air France. Mobutu had an odd political strategy. For example, he fired his foreign minister in 1977 and sentenced him to death and to be tortured. Then, Mobutu changed his sentence to life in prison, released him a year later, and appointed him as his prime minister (Seriously, look it up).

Mobutu received a lot of money in aid, but most of it went to his pocket.  He had roughly US $5,000,000,000 in 1984. His government was known as a kleptocracy. While he had a vast fortune, the people of Zaire were famished and starving. The only reason most of the world didn't care was because Mobutu was anti-communist.

As the Cold War closed, the people of Zaire demanded elections and more political freedoms. Mobutu still kept most of his power but a coalition government was formed.

Mobutu was overthrown during the First Congo War. Soon, the rebels captured the capital of Kinshasa and Mobutu fled to Morocco. Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He died in 1997.

The Congo is still poor even by Third World standards.