In this era of all-out invocation of ancient African figures, living or dead, everyone chooses their icon. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it was with great fanfare that Lumumbists welcomed the dental relic of Patrice Émery Lumumba last June. In May 2019, five months after the inauguration of President Félix Tshisekedi, the remains of his father, former Prime Minister Étienne Tshisekedi, returned from a Belgian funeral home.
[Chronique] Lumumba: time for the return of the relics?
“Never two without three”, seems to say a caucus of deputies who met in Kinshasa, on July 15, to develop “institutionalized” approaches aimed at encouraging the power in place to repatriate Mobutu Sese Seko. It was after thirty-two years at the head of Zaire that the Marshal-President had to go into exile in Morocco in 1997, under the battering of troops from the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL ) led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila. He will be buried in the Cherifian kingdom, three months after his flight.
Following “national consultations”
For the deputies in favor of the return of his remains, “what Mobutu did for this country […] is not, so far, equaled”. They point to the security situation in eastern DRC as proof of this, evoking the marshal’s stubbornness to fight, through patriotic worship, against any form of balkanization. And the deputy Willy Bolio Emina underlined that Mobutu had not known a war longer than eighty days. The collective of elected officials must seize the President of the National Assembly so that he reaches the President of the Republic…
If the subject is not regularly mentioned, none of Mobutu’s living successors has declared himself opposed to this hypothesis. In 2013, before the two chambers of Parliament meeting in congress, Joseph Kabila announced that, following “national consultations”, arrangements would be made “to proceed with the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president […] Mobutu Sese Seko”. Félix Tshisekedi would have mouthed the same trumpet in 2019.
Morocco-DRC: tea in Rabat with the Mobutu
On the other hand, if we regularly evoke the emergence of a nostalgia for the time when, in the collective memory, “there was food and drink”, the social networks do not see much, in the repatriation of the remains of the leopard hat marshal, a priority at the moment. The twittos “James Kalaghan” wonders if the people’s elected representatives “really have nothing else to do”, while “IrAgi LAndry CigAngu” guesses “another emergency to disburse millions”. Some, like “dido ndoko”, nevertheless recognize the “legitimate right” of the former Zairian president to be “buried in the soil of ses ancestors “.