Laurent-Désiré Kabila: (November 27, 1939 – January 16, 2001)
(FILES) Picture dated 19 April shows Laurent-Desire Kabila giving a speech during his first meeting in Lubumbashi. Kabila seized power in former Zaire as head of state 17 May 1997 and renamed the country Democratic Republic of Congo.
Laurent Desire Kabila was a Congolese revolutionary who served as the third president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo until has assassination by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. His son Joseph took over the Congo Presidency eight days later. His Presidency started on May 17, 1997 after Tutsi rebel forces under his control from the province of South Kivu overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko.
Kabila was sensitive about his privacy (particularly when it came to his past). and little is known about his childhood. He was born in 1939 in what was then Baudoinville, in the former Katanga Province. The town was created by members of the Cistercian Order in 1893 who called it Baudoinville/Boudewijnstad after Prince Baudouin of Belgium. During his childhood he lived in Kalemie, (former Albertville) and Manono, where his parents from the Baluba tribe settled and worked, to maintain the family. As a child he used to play soccer, despite his playing ability being about average and although he was not a brilliant player he always wanted to be a forward and score goals. Although he was strongly built, a small muscular problem in his right leg prevented him from standing out and achieving high performance in sports. He also enjoyed playing baseball as well. Kabila was reported as being heavyset with a muscular build as a child.
His father was known as an “assimilated traditional chief” (i.e. someone with a certain level of education working for the Belgian Crown).
First Congo War
When he began his bid for power, Kabila had Rwanda backing. The Rwandan Government together with Uganda supported an alliance of rebel groups led by Laurent Kabila.
In order to get an understanding of where Kabila fits in, one needs to have some familiarity with the country he was born in. The Congo River flows through most of the country and is the 2nd largest river in Africa.1
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the river that flows throw it. The river itself was named after the Kingdom of Kongo which flourished in the Congo Basin.2. Colonization of the Congo started in 1876. Starting in 1885 the territory was personally ruled by King Leopold completely separate from Belgium known as the Congo Free State. In theory the extraction of Ivory, Rubber and other natural resources was supposed to uplift the native people and encourage development of the area. In practice,it became one of the greatest scandals of the early 20th century as the atrocities inflicted on the local population came to light. 3