Congo/Zaire Timeline


1885-1908    Congo Free State. Entirely focussed on extraction of wealth at any human cost, the number of bullets shipped into districts correlated with the amount of rubber shipped out. Profound social upheaval, distrust of government and extremely high infertility (because of STDS spread through rape) were the results


1908-1960    Belgian paternalism: Basic political rights could be withheld indefinitely as long as material and spiritual needs of people were met by the state. Economy controlled by a small number of Belgian owned mining and export concerns. Directly forced labor and indirectly coerced labor in mines and in plantation agricultural; compulsory cultivation of cotton or food for urban dwellers for those who stayed on their own land.

early 1950s Labor unrest and labor militancy in Shaba (Katanga) copper mining region

1952        Belgians envision eventual independence, urge interracial interaction, do not allow political

††††††††††† organizing

1957-1959Political groups emerge as Belgians allow city level elections, these all have an ethnic/regional dimension, except Lumumbaís MNC.

1960      Independent government a fragile coalition of Lumumba and Kasavubu, whose ethnic/regional base was the Bas-Congo, people jealous of othersí participation in the Kinshasa economy.

1961      Mobutu takes over briefly, Lumumba assassinated with participation of the CIA, who feared his strong labor orientation and feared he would ally Congo with the Soviet bloc.

The institutional basis of the state disintegrates, the army revolts, Katanga, the copper mining province, with Lubumbashi in it, secedes. Secession is strongly supported by the 31,000 Europeans living there, and tacitly supported by the Belgian state, that supplies military, economic, and technical support. Mercenaries are recruited in Belgium to create a Katangan army.


1963†† Katanga secession finally ends with defeat by UN forces, that had been held powerless for part of the time they were present.


1964 Rural insurgency in 5 out of 21 provinces, caused by neglect of rural sector, extreme wealth and corruption of political elite, administrative inefficiency. Mulele was a key leader. Half of the country and 7 out of 21 capitals in rebel hands by the end of the year.


1964    Central government calls in Belgian/American mercenaries, including some that had fought on Katangaís side, in a brutal war with atrocities on both sides, the central government regains control of the country.

1965    Mobutuís second coup. Mobutu entrenches personal rule by granting power, privileges and material goods in return for the support, loyalty and obedience of officials and administrators, and in turn Mobutu receives unqualified support from the U.S. government, Belgium, and international mining interests.