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Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo after Mobutu’s ouster on this day in 1997

May 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm | History

Francis Akhalbey

Francis Akhalbey | Staff Writer

May 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm | History

On this day in 1997, the Republic of Zaire was renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after Ex-President and dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was ousted from power by Laurent-Désiré Kabila in the First Congo War.

Zaire flag

Backed by Ugandan and Rwandan forces, the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) led by Kabila seized control of Kinshasa.

Laurent-Désiré Kabila

Mobutu fled Zaire/ DRC that same day and went into exile in Togo, then later in Morocco where he died of prostate cancer on September 7 the same year.

Democratic Republic of Congo flag

DRC was renamed Zaire by Mobutu in October 1971 to champion his then “Authenticité (Authentic)” and pro-African campaign and ideology aimed at relegating western/colonial culture and influence to the background.

Mobutu Sese Seko

He also changed his name from Joseph-Désiré Mobutu to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, meaning “The all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake.” The names of several cities were also changed as a result.

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