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Zaire, officially the Republic of Zaire, was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party.
See the fact file below for more information on the Zaire or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Zaire worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
QUICK FACTS ABOUT ZAIRE
- Zaire (officially known as the Republic of Zaire) was the name of a sovereign state in Africa. It is now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The name “Zaire” was used from November 27, 1971 to May 17, 1997.
- The word “Zaire” was adapted by the Portuguese from the Kongo word “nzare” which translates to “river”.
- Zaire was once run by Mobutu Sese Seko and the Popular Movement of the Revolution party.
- From the 1960s to the 1980s, Zaire was characterized as a country rampant with economic issues and mismanagement, corruption on many levels, and cronyism (giving jobs and advantages to friends or relatives, especially in politics).
- Previous names for “Zaire” included the Congo Free State and the Belgian Congo.
- The largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Kinshasa.
EARLY HISTORY OF ZAIRE
- The Kingdom of the Congo, established in the 14th century, dominated the area until the early 19th century when the Portuguese arrived.
- For a long time, Europeans looking to colonize Africa did not enter the interior of the country, so the Congo remained virtually untouched.
- The density of the rainforests, fierce protection, swamps, and diseases made Zaire and its close surrounding areas difficult for Europeans to penetrate and settle, in addition to the idea that there was no immediate economic benefit.
- Leopold II of Belgium held a conference in Brussels centred around the idea that Europeans should visit Africa in order to improve the lives of its indigenous peoples and the conditions in which they lived.
- Leopold used a Welsh journalist and explorer by the name of Henry Morton Stanley to gain a foothold in Africa’s interior, which he then annexed for himself.
- Leopold II (pictured to the right) concocted a plan to convince European powers that he himself should rule the Congo. He was successful in doing this, and became the founder and sole owner of the Congo Free State (this was authorized by Europe in 1884).
- The Congo Free State became Leopold’s personal property, and his to solely manage.
- It soon became one of the most infamous scandals by the end of the 20th century due to the arrests of white officials who abused their powers by killing hundreds of Congolese natives and allowing war, starvation, diseases,
and killing sprees to run rampant.
- On November 15, 1908, Leopold II formally relinquished power of the Congo Free State. It was renamed the Belgian Congo.
- From 1908-1960, the Belgian Congo saw increases in racial segregation, due to large numbers of white immigrants moving to the Congo after World War II.
- Urbanization and economic growth happened during the 1940s and 1950s in the Congo, and many diseases and illnesses were being treated.
- Interest in the region stirred internationally, as the Congo’s rich natural resources, including uranium, became known and desired.
- Unfortunately, by the 1960s, a crisis began once the Congo proclaimed independence from Belgium, becoming the Republic of the Congo, on June 30th, 1960.
- It was believed that immediate social change would come about, but the retention of white people in positions of power only angered the Congolese people and made them resentful.
- Violence erupted between blacks and whites in July of the same year, and as a result, the UN sent peacekeepers, which triggered a call to the Soviet Union for military support.
- As the Cold War was taking place during this time, the United States decided to support a military coup led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu (pictured to the right), which resulted in his seizure of complete power of the Congo in 1965.
- He then renamed the country Zaire and “Africanized” the country, including his name, adopting “Sese Seko” at the end of his surname.
- “Sese Seko” roughly translates to “the all-conquering warrior”.
- By 1967, Mobutu had solidified his rule and sought to give the country a facelift of sorts by giving it a new constitution (approved by 98% of voters in June 1967) and a single party (the Popular Movement of the Revolution on April 17, 1967).
- The party called for refusal of both capitalism and communism.
- This one-party system existed from 1967-1990, and was the only legal party allowed in the country.
- In hindsight, the party had no solid ideology apart from full support for Mobutu, so when he was overthrown by Laurent Kabila in 1997, the party disappeared too.
- “Zaire” was changed to the “Democratic Republic of the Congo”.
MOBUTISM IN ZAIRE
- Mobutuism was the leading ideology in the Popular Movement of the Revolution, which was centred around three major themes:
- Implied the achievement of economic and political independence.
- Encouraged the advocacy and support of the political independence of Zaire as a nation and as a people.
- Was described as a “truly national revolution, essentially pragmatic”, which called for the dismissal of communism and capitalism.
- The party refused to align itself as right or left and was used as a slogan for the regime.
- Mobutu had a desire to Africanize names and realign one’s own personality and values with their home culture and tribe.
- Citizens were forced to adopt African names, and many cities were also renamed.
- Other Reforms
- The zaire replaced the franc as Zaire’s national currency.
- Western-style dressing was replaced with more authentic clothing.
- Institutions that could mobilize ethnic loyalties were suppressed.
- Christian names were banned and religious sects were dissolved and the party leaders were jailed.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Zaire across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Zaire worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Zaire, officially the Republic of Zaire, which was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Zaire Wordsearch
- Important Vocabulary
- Book Comparison
- The First Congo War
- Zaire Crossword
- Who’s Who?
- Mobutu’s Reforms
- Where is Zaire?
- Geography of Zaire
- Opinion Piece
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Link will appear as Zaire Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 8, 2019
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