TODAY would have been the 90th birthday of a Leopard. It would have been the birthday of an evil genius who used his intelligence, his charm, and his good looks to destroy a country.
For 32 years, he tortured his country and his people. His arrogance knew no bounds. He called himself the Guide and gathered all power to himself. He destroyed the country in order to keep himself in power. To be very intelligent or very competent or very popular was to make an enemy of the Leopard.
As his stay in power lengthened, his grandiose self-image and self-delusion grew. His image was everywhere in the country. During the evening news his name would be heard 20, 30, 40 times. His national broadcaster had a whole unit, complete with outside broadcasting unit, reporters, cameramen and technicians that followed the great man wherever he went.
He eventually became richer than his country and one occasion paid the salaries of the civil servants of his country for three months and demanded repayment and scolded the Finance Minister and told him not to let this happen again.
Another time he held a cabinet meeting where he advised his Ministers not to steal too much because the people were noticing.
He owned mansions and villas in France, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States and he held birthday parties in his grand villa on the Cote D’Azur that would be attended by French Presidents and European Royalty.
It is said that his Ministers were in awe and fear of him. One day his son Kongolo spotted one Minister talking to his father. The night before there had been a concert in the Presidential Palace and the minister who was an excellent dancer had held all the guests spellbound with his dancing skills.
Kongolo demanded that his father should make the minister dance. The minister was at first annoyed and was on the point of refusing. Then he looked directly in the eyes of the Leopard. My dear Sir, the Leopard said, my son demands that you dance. Please dance. The Minister danced and danced with young Kongolo cheering him on.
Another Minister defied the Leopard. After refusing to do what the Leopard told him, he went home and sat there petrified. Then he heard a knock at the door. It was the Leopard himself. The Minister was so scared and terrified. The Leopard without a word called the Minister’s wife by her first name and called her to him. He drove away with her. Two days later she came back heavily laden with gifts for herself and the Minister. It was obvious the Leopard had slept with his wife. She came with a note. The Leopard warned that under no circumstances would he permit the minister to take action against his wife whether it was beating her or divorcing her or act in any way hostile to her.
Ministers regularly tasted prison or were fired and rehired like casual labourers. Two of his favourite ministers were fired and rehired as Prime Minister several times sometimes exchanging posts. On one occasion one of the favourite ministers was detained and in jail and forgotten. When a crisis arose and his particular skills needed, the minister was brought straight from a stinking jail cell and sworn in.
The Leopard hugged him and chided him for coming to his swearing in ceremony covered in dirt, smelling bad and dressed in rags.
He built himself a replica of the Palace of Versailles of French Royalty and a whole town to cater for him and his inner circle in Gbadolite his home village. He built a big international airport in the same jungle village so that his wife could charter Concorde and go shopping in New York, London and Paris and come back with a plane load of shopping with her friends.
Each of these jaunts cost $250,000 to charter the Concorde and his wife was not averse to spending around $1 million on the shopping jaunts. He himself kept a DC-10 for his personal use. Pilots at the ready, the plane was luxuriously equipped and would jet off at a moment’s notice to his holiday homes in Switzerland or France.
His palace complex in the jungle, in his home village was a city on its own, with its own hydro-electric dam and eventually needed 10,000 people to run and maintain the infrastructure which included three huge palaces, a technical college, primary and secondary school, a hospital, movie theatre, a grand ball room, and a hotel sized kitchen with chefs to match. He had delicacies flown in from all over the world.
The Leopard was to eventually get sick. He developed prostate cancer and meanwhile the economy of his country nosedived and the people jokingly renamed their ailing currency the Prostate after his illness.
Eventually the Leopard’s luck run out. His people rose up and with the help of outsiders he was overthrown. He fled the country in perched in his limousine which had been driven into the cargo plane. He died alone in exile.
All his hangers on except for a few loyal retainers had fled.
Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga born October 14, 1930 died September 7 1997. He will not be missed.
By Brian Mulenga
©KalembaOctober 14, 2020