Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People's History

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As this book shows, the People of the Congo have suffered throughout the past century from a particularly brutal experience of colonial rule, and a series of post-independence political conflicts. But as this insightful political history of the Congolese democratic movement of the 20th century decisively makes clear, its people have not taken these multiple oppressions lying down. Instead, they have struggled both to establish democratic institutions at home and to free themselves from exploitations abroad.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Authoritative books in English on the Congo are scarce, so this work by a leading Congolese academic is welcome."—Gail M. Gerhart, Foreign Affairs 3-4/01/03

"Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is one among those very few intellectuals who possesses the background, the knowledge, the commitment and the vantage point from which to assess the historical possibilities for contemporary Congo." —Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University

"This book could not be more timely. It throws new light on the past struggle for democracy in the Congo while indicating possible directions for the future." —Mbaya Kankwenda, UNDP Resident Representative in Nigeria

Foreign Affairs
Authoritative books in English on the Congo are scarce, so this work by a leading Congolese academic is welcome. After reviewing the colonial period, the turbulent independence era, and Mobutu Sese Seko's long years of misrule, Nzongola-Ntalaja focuses on the emergence of opposition groups in the 1980s that led to prodemocracy momentum in the 1990s. Under pressure to curb kleptocratic excesses, Mobutu permitted in 1991 the brief installation of his chief rival, Etienne Tshisekedi, as prime minister, and he allowed the convening of a Sovereign National Conference (CNS) to discuss the country's future. Within a year, however, the CNS folded, and Mobutu aborted an election that would have put Tshisekedi firmly in control. When Kinshasa fell to foreign-backed rebels in 1997, hopes for a better political future rose, only to be dashed again. The Congolese people yearn for accountable government, says the author, who was a prominent participant in the CNS, but they lack the material and organizational resources to prevail against venal leaders and rapacious foreign governments to whom Congo is still one of the most tempting slices of the "African cake."
Criticizing the international community's seeming rejection of change in Africa through democratic means, as opposed to by strong-arm political leaders, professor and democracy activist Nzongola-Ntalaja outlines the history of the democracy movement in the Congo. Deeply critical of the Belgian imperialists, Mobutu and his supporters, as well as the Kabila regime that overthrew Mobutu, he connects the struggle for democracy to the Western corporations that oppose it and to local corrupt elites. Distributed by Palgrave. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781842770535
  • Publisher: Zed Books
  • Publication date: 5/3/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is a renowned scholar of African politics and an international consultant specializing in public policy, governance, and conflict-related issues.

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Table of Contents

• Imperialism, Belgian Colonialism, and African Resistance
• The Struggle for Independence
• The First Congo Crisis
• The Second Independence Movement
• The Mobutu Regime: Dictatorship and State Decay
• The Struggle for Multiparty Democracy
• Conflict in the Great Lakes Region

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