Born Joseph-Désire Mobutu, he was a colonel in the Congolese army in the years following independence from Belgium. With CIA help, he became military ruler; rose in rank to general. Eschewing rank, he then renamed himself after an Everything node - he was essentially King of Zaire (he also renamed the country). Used Zaire's mineral wealth to become one of the world's richest men. Was overthrown a few years ago; he died, in exile, of cancer.

Mobutu Sese Seko's second attempt at a military coup to seize control of then Zaire (Now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in November 1965 was successful thus began the Mobutu Dictatorship. Immediately the somewhat socialist Zairian constitution was suspended and in only a few months the dictator had lost the goodwill of the people and resistance movements began. The US, however, supported the coup since the prospect of another socialist state was very troubling to the western idea of free markets and cheap labor. In order to ensure that the coup would be successful, the CIA provided aid to Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku wa za Banga (his full name meaning all-conquering warrior, who goes from triumph to triumph )

Some more facts on Mobutu sese Seko

  • His full name (Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu waza Banga) is officially translated as: ' the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake. '
  • During the time of his rule he repeatedly changed his official title from The Marshal to The Supreme Emperor to King of Zaire.
  • Mobutu was in Belgium during most of the independance movement in the then Belgian Congo. He did attend the 1960 Round Table Conference in Brussels, but it is widely believed that while at the conference Mobutu spied on fellow Congolese for the Belgian government.
  • He returned to the Congo just before independence and was appointed Personal Secretarty to Patrice Lumumba, the first Prime Minister of the independent Congo.
  • He was appointed army chief of staff by Lumumba shortly after independence and used this position of power to exploit a temporary strain in relations between then President Joseph Kasavubu and Lumumba to seize power in a bloody coup.
  • It was later alleged that Mobutu had colluded with the CIA to kill Lumumba.
  • It is widely held that the reason for Mobutu's longevity (he ruled for 32 years) is due to continued support from Western governments that viewed him as a strong anti-communist force in Africa.
  • Mobutu espoused an ideology he named 'authenticité' based on a notion of the superiority of 'authentic' African traditions in which he portrayed himself as a traditional chief.
  • Along with his trademark Leopard skin cap, Mobutu always used a wooden walking stick featuring a carved eagle, a symbol of power that allegedly took the strength of eight normal men to carry.
  • He famously sponsored both the Rumble in the Jungle (featuring Muhammad Ali and George Foreman) and the Black Woodstock music event (featuring James Brown and other black musicians from America) (both promoted by Don King) as events to raise the profile of his country.
  • It is alleged that Mobutu imported truckloads of rural peasants as an audience for both events (since the ticket prices were well beyond the reach of any working resident of Zaire) but then left them in Kinshasa without food or shelter once the events had been filmed.
  • Mobutu's wealth was estimated by the IMF to have reached $4 billion in the mid 80's.
  • Mobutu's reign finally came to an end when he was overthrown by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila
  • denied access to Togo and France, Mobutu finally escaped to Morocco, where he died on September 7, 1997 at Age 66.

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