The Neighbor’s Son
Imagine a situation whereby a metal tube is inserted into your penile shaft, through which jets of air are introduced causing blood vessels to rapture and application of electrical shocks to your testicles. Chances of you becoming impotent in such a scenario are very high. In the case of Jean Nguza Karl-i-bond, that is exactly what happened.
For those who don’t know him, this is the former foreign minister of Zaire, now known as the democratic republic of Congo. And what wrong did this man do to warrant such torture, you’d ask yourself. According to Mobutu sese seko he had seduced his wife while simultaneously plotting high treason. For that, mobutu personally threatened to shoot him. However, the man’s sole crime was having being mentioned in the foreign press as a possible successor to the self proclaimed messiah (read mobutu). The man would later flee to Brussels and live in exile, called back in a hoax that he had been pardoned, tortured again and sentenced to life imprisonment, released after a year of international pressure and reinstated as prime minister. What a life! One hell of a rollercoaster.
Mobutu sese seko
All hail mobutu sese seko, the self proclaimed messiah, the people’s savior, helmsman, guide of the revolution, the life president who later became the object of a pervasive cult of personality. A bright man who took advantage of the cold war to develop himself, mobutu has been declared, and rightly so, as one of the most corrupt leaders in history and is a foremost example of kleptocracy. To help you understand how twisted this man was, look at the things he did. He drank human blood in front of his enemies to psychologically crush them, he had an image of himself descending from the clouds dressed as a messiah put on before all news broadcasts and he prevented local media from calling any politician by name. Instead they would be referred to by the positions they held, in case any of them got ideas of trying to overturn him.
Idi Amin’s history of human rights abuses dwarfs that of mobutu and Mol’s Nyayo chambers look like child play in comparison. Here is a man who publicly executed not one or two but more than eight cabinet members in front of a multitude of 50,000 people. Coup plotters, political rivals and secessionists were all executed- in public. In 1969, Pierre mulele, Patrice Lumumba’s minister of education who later became a rebel leader, was lured out of exile on the assumption that he would be amnestied. But that was not to be the case. While mulele was still alive, his eyes were gorged out, his genitals were ripped off in pieces and in intervals of one hr. ohm, you haven’t heard anything yet. All his four limbs were amputated one by one. That must have been one of the most miserable deaths in history. I mean, apart from Jesus crucifixion, I can’t think of anything worse.
He was re-elected in single-candidate elections in 1977 and 1984. In case you don’t understand what this means, it means he was the only presidential candidate and the ballot paper would have two colors. Green for peace and red for bloodshed. Either way you voted, he was still going to win and in one instance he won by a landslide (I know, right!) of 11,000,000 votes to 117!!
During his tenure as president he amassed approximately 15b USD, almost twice his country’s debt. The nation suffered from uncontrolled inflation, a large debt and massive currency devaluations while he amassed wealth for his cronies, families and presidential security. Civil servants went unpaid for months and there was a popular saying that “the civil servants pretended to be working while Mobutu pretended to be paying them.” In Kenya, doctors went unpaid for two weeks and hell almost broke loose. During his tenure, no road was ever constructed. He has been referred to as Africa’s biggest dictator and comes third in the world history.
This is the man who organized the famous “rumble in the jungle” where boxer Mohamed Ali famously quoted “countries have been known to try and put themselves in the world maps through wars and as far as I know wars cost more than 10M.” Remember we are talking dollars here. Ali was paid 5m for his efforts. So was George foreman. Remember also this was back in 1974, a time when such an amount could easily feed an African nation. Lest you forget, this was the country’s money, a country where the living conditions of its people were, to say the least, horrible. This was also the year Zaire became the first black African country to qualify for the words cup and second African country after Egypt in 1934. They were defeated 2-0 by Scotland, thrashed 9-0 by Yugoslavia and beaten 3-0 by Brazil. Before they played Yugoslavia, the players say they were demoralized after hearing that they would not be paid anything for their efforts and that the government officials who had come with them would take all their money. After the thrashing, mobutu sent his presidential guards to threaten the players that if they were defeated by a score line of more than 4 goals they should not go back home.
It was this threat that pushed mwepu ilunga, a then defender in the national team to pull the now famous free kick stunt. Against Brazil, with 5 minutes to go while 3 goals down he ran out of his team’s defensive wall and kicked the ball as far away as his African legs could before rivelino could kick the ball. He then shouted “you bastards” at the Brazilian players (although who could blame him, this is rivelino we are talking about!) he was subsequently booked while the crowd jeered at him. Meanwhile the obviously racist commentator, john Matson chipped “a bizarre moment of African ignorance.” Of course they couldn’t understand – who would? – The kind of pressure they were undergoing especially with a president like mobutu.
I would really like to talk about Patrice Lumumba, his secret torture and assassination, how they lied that villagers had killed him but that is a story for another day. His is a painful story that Africans wish never happened. Patrice, a man of vision, a man who wanted the best for his country and tried his best to free his mineral rich country from total colonialist shackles. What was his mistake? Asking the then Soviet Union for help, although he himself declared openly that he was neither a communist nor a capitalist.
The filthy west, like they did with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Rwanda and most recently Libya, left their imprints all over Lumumba’s death. Britain’s MI6, American’s CIA and (at the forefront) Belgium all wanted Lumumba dead because of his perceived friendliness to the Soviet Union (I know I said Lumumba’s story is for another day but I just can’t help myself)
In fact there are numerous letters the MI6 wrote to mobutu, requesting him to execute Lumumba, in the end they even sent troops to kill him. Sad, just sad. Even the UN that Lumumba had sought help from, wasn’t there to help him.
Isn’t it a bit shocking that this man mobutu, a man who befits the tile “scum of all scum,” was a personal friend to the racist American president Nixon and visited him at the state house? During carter’s administration, president carter put a public show of distancing himself from Zaire due to its record of human rights abuse but ironically, Zaire received half the foreign aid carter put aside for sub-Saharan Africa.
Mobutu’s relation with Soviet Union was tense and almost hostile and it’s worth noting that Moscow was the only major capital mobutu never visited. (He turned down an invitation from them once).
Mobutu was very close to France, its biggest partner. During the presidency of Charles de Gaulle, relations between the two countries gradually grew stronger and closer (minerals, what else?)
Belgium was also a great ally to mobutu and in fact had the biggest hand in Lumumba’s death.
Which begets the question, who exactly is the west? Are they genuine friends? Answer yourself.
Mobutu, a self proclaimed “fan” of Charles De Gaulle, Winston Churchill and niccolo Machiavelli, is a case worth studying.
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