|1st President of the Republic of the Congo|
27 June 1960 –24 November 1965
|Prime Minister|| Patrice Lumumba |
Justin Marie Bomboko
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Joseph-Désiré Mobutu|
Kuma-Dizi, Mayombe, Belgian Congo
|Died||24 March 1969 (aged 53–54)|
Boma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
|Spouse(s)||Hortense Ngoma Masunda (m. 1941)|
|Children||9, including Justine Kasa-Vubu|
Joseph Kasa-Vubu, alternatively Joseph Kasavubu, (c. 1915 – 24 March 1969) was a Congolese politician who served as the first President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) from 1960 until 1965.
Joseph Kasa-Vubu was born in the village of Kuma-Dizi in the Mayombe district of the Belgian Congo. Different sources list his year of birth as 1910, 1913, 1915, or 1917, though 1915 is the most probable date. He was the eighth of nine children in a family of the Yombe ethnic group, a subset of the Kongo people. His father was a successful farmer who, as an independent entrepreneur, traded with street merchants in Cabinda and built his house at the outskirts of the village. This earned him the animosity of the villagers and in an attempt to assuage their hostility he volunteered to undergo a "poison test" with a substance extracted from a kasa tree.The word "Kasa" was appended onto his name in commemoration of the event. Kasa-Vubu's mother died four years after his birth, and his father died in 1936. On 31 January 1925 he was baptised under the Christian name of Joseph at the Scheutist Catholic mission of Kizu, near Tshela.
In 1927 Kasa-Vubu enrolled in primary school at the third-year level. The following year he transferred to a minor seminary in Mbata-Kiela, 50 kilometers away from Tshela. There he completed his primary studies and began learning Latin and humanities in preparation for instruction at major seminary. An industrious student, Kasa-Vubu graduated second in his class in 1936 and was admitted to the Kabwe seminary in Kasai Province. He intended to study three years of philosophy and five years of theology before becoming an ordained priest. Following the completion of the former courses in 1939 he was expelled by the bishop.
Kasa-Vubu subsequently returned to Mayombe and took up work as a bookkeeper for the Kangu mission. Dissatisfied with his salary of 80 francs per month, Kasa-Vubu passed the instructor's exam and became a sixth-grade teacher at the mission school in early 1941. However, his pay was not increased and he left the mission in open disagreement with the superior and the local bishop. In May he found a new job at Agrifor, an agricultural and logging company. With a monthly pay of 500 francs, he felt financially secure enough to marry; on 10 October Kasa-Vubu wedded Hortense Ngoma Masunda in a Catholic ceremony at the Kangu mission. They had nine children.
In June 1942 Kasa-Vubu earned a job as a clerk in the finance department of the Belgian colonial administration in Léopoldville, the capital of the Congo. He worked there for 15 years,attaining the rank of chief clerk, the highest level of employment available to Congolese civil servants under Belgian rule. In 1956 he was in charge of accounting for all of the administration's general stores.
Kasa-Vubu began semi-clandestine political organising work while he was still employed by colonial authorities.
Following the resignation of its leader on 21 March 1954, Kasa-Vubu was elected president of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO).Under his leadership, the group swept the first open municipal Leopoldville elections in 1957 and he was elected mayor of the Dendale district of the city.
Kasa-Vubu quickly became known as one of the first Congolese leaders to call for independence. At first, he advocated for independence from Belgium on a 30-year timeline, but he shortened the timetable as the ABAKO movement gained in strength.In his inauguration speech as mayor of Dendale, Kasa-Vubu reiterated his demand for independence, drawing a reprimand from Belgian colonial authorities, which only strengthened his image as a Congolese leader.
On 4 January 1959, an ABAKO political gathering organised by Kasa-Vubu erupted into violence, sparking the Léopoldville riots, a pivotal moment in the Congolese struggle for independence. Kasa-Vubu was set to address the crowd on African nationalism, but colonial authorities banned the meeting. They were unable to calm the crowd and thousands of Congolese began rioting. Kasa-Vubu was arrested, along with several other leaders, and imprisoned for inciting the riot. He was released two months later.
Upon Congo's independence from Belgium, the ABAKO won a significant number of votes in the new parliament but not an outright victory. In a political compromise, it was agreed that Patrice Lumumba, of the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) would be prime minister, and Kasa-Vubu would face Jean Bolikango, a former mentor in the ABAKO, for the presidency.The election of Kasa-Vubu brought about wide-ranging acceptance of the Congo's new administration. The Belgian press reacted positively to the development, while the Léopoldville's daily newspaper Courrier d'Afrique, edited by a Kongo, showed much warmer approval of the government. International opinion expressed satisfaction at the striking of a proper balance in leadership. Belgian politicians hoped that Kasa-Vubu would check Lumumba's impulses and personal disdain for Belgium. He was officially sworn in as president on 27 June.
The new republic was immediately disrupted by political and military strife and regional secessionist movements, and the central government was paralyzed by conflict between the conservative Kasa-Vubu and leftist Prime Minister Lumumba. While Lumumba advocated for a stronger central government, Kasa-Vubu preferred a more decentralized form of government that gave autonomous powers to provinces under a federal system.
Kasa-Vubu was regarded as rather mysterious in his motivations and his actions, frequently preferring to stay silent or give ambiguous answers when he was confronted. His role as head-of-state was theoretically ceremonial and far less influential than Lumumba's role as prime minister. During the immediate upheaval following independence, Kasa-Vubu took few steps and made few definitive statements, even as Lumumba appealed for international assistance to the Americans, the United Nations and the Soviet Union.Meanwhile, Kasa-Vubu faced criticism from ABAKO and President Fulbert Youlou of Congo-Brazzaville for not curbing Lumumba's authoritarian actions. He resisted their pressure, and on 13 August he broadcast an appeal for unity and support for the government. Nevertheless, he cautioned the government against arbitrariness and excess:
If I am under a moral obligation to support and defend the government within the limits set by the law, the members of the government themselves have a duty to work together as a team. Their policy must be the policy of the government and not that of one party, one race, or one tribe. It must be a policy which reflects the interests of the nation and which allows humanitarian values to flourish in freedom. This imperative excludes all feelings of hatred, suspicion, and bad faith towards those who have collaborated loyally with us. It is also the duty of the government to respect the institutions which have been set up and to abide by the normal rules of democratic practice.
On 5 September, Kasa-Vubu dissolved Lumumba's government which he accused of communist sympathies. Lumumba refused to accept his dismissal and announced Kasa-Vubu's dismissal,creating a stalemate that endured until 14 September, when Army Commander Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power and arrested Lumumba. Lumumba was later handed to Moïse Tshombe's secessionist state in Katanga and was murdered under an alleged association of Mobutu, Kasa-Vubu, Moise Tshombe and the western powers, who had interests in the natural resources in Congo.
Over the next five years, Kasa-Vubu presided over a succession of weak governments. After the end of the Katangese secession, Kasa-Vubu appointed Tshombe as prime minister in July 1964 with a mandate to end the emerging Simba Rebellion. Tshombe recalled the exiled Katangese Gendarmerie and recruited white mercenaries, integrating them with the Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC). Many of the mercenaries had fought for Katanga while Tshombe was the leader of that breakaway province. Despite the successes against the Simba rebels, Tshombe's prestige was damaged by his use of white mercenaries and western forces. He lost the support of Kasa-Vubu, who dismissed him from the post of prime minister, in October 1965.
Mobutu seized power for a second time on 25 November 1965, now deposing Kasa-Vubu and subsequently declaring himself head of state.
Mobutu placed Kasa-Vubu under house arrestbefore eventually allowing the deposed president to retire to his farm in Mayombe. Kasa-Vubu died in a hospital in Boma four years later in 1969, possibly after a long illness.
Kasa-Vubu's family went into exile following his death, first to Algeria and then Switzerland.One of his daughters, Justine M'Poyo Kasa-Vubu, eventually returned to the Congo (then called Zaire) in the 1990s. In 1997, she was appointed a cabinet minister by Laurent Kabila and then ambassador to Belgium.
Kasa-Vubu's role in Congolese history has been overshadowed in literature by Lumumba and Mobutu.Anthropologist Yolanda Covington-Ward wrote that, contrary to Lumumba's "privileged" position in historiography on Congolese nationalism, Kasa-Vubu and ABAKO were the primary "driving force" behind the independence movement.
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. Ideologically an African nationalist and pan-Africanist, he led the Congolese National Movement (MNC) party from 1958 until his assassination.
Moïse Kapend Tshombe was a Congolese businessman and politician. He served as the president of the secessionist State of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1964 to 1965.
Cyrille Adoula was a Congolese trade unionist and politician. He was the prime minister of the Republic of the Congo, from 2 August 1961 until 30 June 1964.
Lumumba is a 2000 biographical film directed by Raoul Peck. A co-production of France, Germany, Belgium, and Haiti filmed in French, the film depicts the rise and fall of Patrice Lumumba, and is set in the months before and after Congo-Léopoldville achieved independence from Belgium in June 1960. Political unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the time of filming caused the film to be shot in Zimbabwe and Beira, Mozambique. The film received positive reviews from critics, and won awards from the American Black Film Festival, the Political Film Society, and the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou.
The Congolese National Movement is a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Congo Crisis was a period of political upheaval and conflict in the Republic of the Congo between 1960 and 1965. The crisis began almost immediately after the Congo became independent from Belgium and ended, unofficially, with the entire country under the rule of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu. Constituting a series of civil wars, the Congo Crisis was also a proxy conflict in the Cold War, in which the Soviet Union and the United States supported opposing factions. Around 100,000 people are believed to have been killed during the crisis.
Évariste Leon Kimba Mutombo was a Congolese journalist and politician who served as Foreign Minister of the State of Katanga from 1960 to 1963 and Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 13 October to 25 November 1965. Kimba was born in 1926 in Katanga Province, Belgian Congo. Following the completion of his studies he worked as a journalist and became editor-in-chief of the Essor du Congo. In 1958 he and a group of Katangese concerned about domination of their province by people from the neighbouring Kasaï region founded the Confédération des associations tribales du Katanga (CONAKAT), a regionalist political party. In 1960 the Congo became independent and shortly thereafter Moise Tshombe declared the secession of the State of Katanga. Kimba played an active role in the separatist state's government as its Minister of Foreign Affairs and participated in numerous talks with the central government aimed at political reconciliation. Following the collapse of the secession in early 1963, Kimba had a falling out with Tshombe and took up several ministerial posts in the new province of South Katanga.
General elections were held in the Belgian Congo on 22 May 1960, in order to create a government to rule the country following independence as the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Léopoldville), scheduled for 30 June. The 137-seat Chamber of Deputies was elected by men over the age of 21. The seats were filled by district-based lists, although only two parties, the Mouvement National Congolais-Lumumba (MNC-L) and the Parti National du Progrès, submitted lists in more than one district.
The Republic of the Congo was a sovereign state in Central Africa, created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was also known as Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its northwestern neighbor, which is also called the Republic of the Congo, alternatively known as "Congo-Brazzaville". In 1964, the state's official name was changed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the two countries continued to be distinguished by their capitals; with the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa in 1966, it became also known as Congo-Kinshasa. After Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country, it became the Republic of Zaire in 1971. It would again become the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997. The period between 1960 and 1965 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic.
The Belgo-Congolese Round Table Conference was a meeting organized in two parts in 1960 in Brussels between on the one side representatives of the Congolese political class and chiefs and on the other side Belgian political and business leaders. The round table meetings led to the adoption of sixteen resolutions on the future of the Belgian Congo and its institutional reforms. With a broad consensus, the date for independence was set on June 30, 1960.
The Léopoldville riots were an outbreak of civil disorder in Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo which took place in January 1959 and which were an important moment for the Congolese independence movement. The rioting occurred when members of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) political party were not allowed to assemble for a protest and colonial authorities reacted harshly. The exact death toll is not known, but at least 49 people were killed and total casualties may have been as high as 500. The Congo received its independence on 30 June 1960, becoming the Republic of the Congo.
The following lists events that happened during 1960 in the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville).
Thomas Rudolphe Kanza or Nsenga Kanza was a Congolese diplomat. He was one of the first Congolese nationals to graduate from a university. From 1960–1962 he served as the Democratic Republic of the Congo 's first ambassador to the United Nations and from 1962–1964 was a delegate to the United Kingdom. His opposition to the governments of Moïse Tshombe and Joseph-Désiré Mobutu led him to first rebel and ultimately flee the Congo. He returned in 1983 and resumed politics. From Mobutu's ousting in 1997 until his own death, Kanza served in diplomatic roles for the Congo.
Jean Bolikango, later Bolikango Akpolokaka Gbukulu Nzete Nzube, was a Congolese educator, writer, and conservative politician. He served twice as Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, in September 1960 and from February to August 1962. Enjoying substantial popularity among the Bangala people, he headed the Parti de l'Unité Nationale and worked as a key opposition member in Parliament in the early 1960s.
Justin Kokolo-Longo was a Congolese military officer who briefly served as deputy chief of staff of the Armée Nationale Congolaise.
The Lumumba Government, also known as the Lumumba Ministry or Lumumba Cabinet, was the first set of ministers, ministers of state, and secretaries of state that governed the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from 24 June until 12 September 1960. The government inherited many problems from the era of the Belgian Congo, a tightly administered colony which for most of its existence had few political freedoms. Its members came from different social classes, different tribes, and held varied political beliefs. Weak and divided, its tenure was dominated by a widespread mutiny in the army and two secessions. An exodus of thousands of Belgian functionaries—who had controlled most of the bureaucracy—left the administration in disarray. The United Nations created a large multinational peacekeeping force to assist the government in reestablishing law and order. Western nations were under the impression that Lumumba was a communist, and the United States, Belgium, and France all worked to undermine and divide his government. Domestic opposition to the government cemented by late July, and Lumumba increasingly relied on only a few advisers, and rarely consulted the full Council of Ministers; several members of the government began acting without his direction. He resorted to increasingly authoritarian measures to maintain control over the country.
Rémy Mwamba (1921–1967) was a Congolese politician who twice served as Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was also a leading figure of the Association Générale des Baluba du Katanga (BALUBAKAT).
On 5 September 1960 President Joseph Kasa-Vubu of the Democratic Republic of the Congo dismissed Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from office. He also dismissed six other members of his government: Deputy Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga, Minister of Justice Rémy Mwamba, Minister of Interior Christophe Gbenye, Minister of Information Anicet Kashamura, Secretary of State Antoine-Roger Bolamba, and Secretary of State Jacques Lumbala.
The Lumumba Government was the first set of ministers, ministers of state, and secretaries of state that governed the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba from 24 June until 12 September 1960. It was hastily formed over the period of several weeks in June, and was supported by a slight majority coalition in Parliament. Weak and divided, its tenure was dominated by a widespread mutiny in the army and two secessions.
In August 1960 troops of the Republic of the Congo attempted to crush the secession of South Kasai by invading the declared state's territory. Though initially militarily successful, the attack faltered under intense international and domestic political scrutiny and the Congolese troops were withdrawn.