Read Malcolm X's speech HERE on the Congo, and in defence of Gbenye and his comrades and against the neo-colonial stooge, Tshombe. - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malclolm
Christophe Gbenye, Radical Nationalist in Congo, Dies at 88
Christophe Gbenye, a radical nationalist whose brutal rebel warriors seized control of eastern Congo in 1964 and held hundreds of foreigners hostage until they were rescued by Belgian paratroopers dropping from American planes, died on Feb. 3 in Kinshasa. He was 88.
His death was reported by Radio Okapi, the United Nations-supported station in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A Belgian-trained civil servant who was appointed interior minister under Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister, Mr. Gbenye was briefly one of several pivotal players in the seesawing civil wars waged by superpower proxies after the Belgian colonial regime left in 1960.
Mr. Gbenye (pronounced gah-BEN-yah) was born in 1927 in Orientale Province of what was then the Belgian Congo. A deputy mayor in Stanleyville and an elected member of the Chamber of Deputies in the first Congo government, he served until Mr. Lumumba was ousted in 1960.
Having figured in internecine rivalries in the cabinets of Antoine Gizenga and Cyrille Adoula, he was placed under house arrest and fled to Brazzaville in what is now the Republic of Congo, where in 1963 he became the president of the Committee for National Liberation, a coalition that said it was mounting a second war for independence, against what it branded the neocolonialist regime based in Léopoldville, now Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
His warriors, known as simbas (Swahili for lions), armed themselves with “traditional weapons and magico-religious resources that supposedly ensured their invincibility,” Prof. Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja of the University of North Carolina, the author of a new biography of Patrice Lumumba, wrote in “The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila, A People’s History.”
After killing or terrorizing thousands of Congolese, Mr. Gbenye’s coalition overpowered a 1,000-man Congolese Army garrison at Stanleyville (now Kisangani) on Aug. 5, 1964.
Mr. Gbenye declared himself president of a people’s republic, which received support from Eastern bloc countries and was dedicated to overthrowing what the Western-backed premier, Moise Tshombe, called his national reconciliation government.
Hundreds of hostages, including foreign nationals and recalcitrant Congolese, were herded into Stanleyville, where Mr. Gbenye threatened to harm them unless government troops halted their advance on territory he nominally controlled.
In mid-November, the rebels announced that Dr. Paul E. Carlson, an American medical missionary, would be executed as a spy. According to an official United States Army history, “The spy charges, which could not be believed by the non-Communist world, tended to drive home the plight of Carlson and of the other hostages held by the rebels.” They inspired the rescue mission.
Belgian soldiers recaptured Stanleyville. As many as 1,000 Congolese and scores of others were killed, including Dr. Carlson and another American missionary, but the United States consul and four other consular officials emerged unharmed.
The assault dealt a fatal blow to Mr. Gbenye’s rebels and led to his exile in Africa and Europe; he returned to Congo decades later.
Information on his survivors was not available.