Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko
Journalist, President of the republic
Principal country concerned : Column : History/society, Media

Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga (October 14, 1930 ? September 7, 1997), known commonly as Mobutu, or Joseph Mobutu-Sese Seko, born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for 32 years (1965 ? 1997). He rose to power after a coup d'état.

In 1965, now Lieutenant-General Mobutu seized power from President Kasavubu, following another power struggle between Kasavubu and his prime minister Moise Tshombe.

Flag of ZaireMobutu declared himself president for five years. He quickly centralized power, put down an attempted coup in October 1967 and was elected president in 1970, in an election where he was the sole candidate. Embarking on a campaign of pro-Africa cultural awareness, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire in October 1971. Africans were ordered to drop their Christian names for African ones, and priests were warned that they would face 5 years' imprisonment if they were caught baptizing a Zairean child with a Christian name. Western attire and ties were banned, and men were forced to wear a Mao-style tunic known as an abacost.

In 1972, Mobutu renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga ("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"), Mobutu Sese Seko for short (pronounced /məˈbuːtu ˈseze ˈsekoʊ/). Note that the latter portion of this name has been transliterated in a wide variety of ways.

Mobutu died on September 7, 1997 in exile in Rabat, Morocco, from prostate cancer which had been developing since 1962. He is buried in Rabat, in the Christian cemetery known as "Pax."

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