Zaire: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Zaire, independence, colony of Belgium, the Congo, mineral exports of copper.



Although at the time of independence the Congo's living standard was the highest in black Africa, the Belgian rule had been essentially paternalistic. Colonial monopolies raped the country of its mineral wealth while plantation owners raped the native populace to obtain a labor force. The old regime had not given any administrative responsibility to the natives and there was no secondary education until the '50s. Consequently, with the Belgians' sudden departure in 1960, the Congo was left in the lurch.

Internal strife followed independence. The provinces of Kasai, Kivu, and Katanga, on whose mineral deposits the rest of the country depended economically, all broke away. The country more or less pulled itself back together again in 1964. In 1965, after some minor rebellions, Col. Joseph D. Mobuto (now Mobuto Sese Seko), a tough, Israeli-trained paratrooper, regained control and established a strong central Government. In 1970 he was elected as the only candidate to a 7-year term as President. He has since set about getting cash for industrial development from Western countries but at the same time expelling foreigners and Africanizing all culture. He has banned neckties and Christian names and has changed the date of the celebration of Christmas.

Leyland Motors, Fiat, and Peugeot have auto assembly plants here and GM and Ford may soon follow.

Zaire has huge mineral wealth. It is the world's 5th largest producer of copper which constitutes 2/3 of its exports. It also produces most of the world's industrial diamonds and smaller amounts of gold, cassiterite, manganese, zinc, cobalt, and silver. Its uranium, one of the only known sources during W.W. II, made possible the world's 1st atomic bomb.

A national hero is Patrice Lumumba, the fiery 1st Prime Minister of Zaire. He was deposed in 1960 and captured while trying to flee to Kinu Province. He was then turned over to his archenemy, Moishe Tshombe of Katanga Province, who had him assassinated.

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