The Congo: New Order

"Come over here," ordered General Joseph Mobutu, President of the Congo. "Now turn around."

The governors of the nation's twelve provinces did as they were told. They had been summoned to Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville) to receive the Order of the Leopard, an award Mobutu invented for "exceptional services" and had already passed out to his Cabinet. For last week's ceremony, the governors showed up in Kinshasa's Place Braconnier in a sartorial array of cutaway coats, tails, business suits and even one black corduroy jacket. When they were properly in line, Mobutu marched stiffly down the ranks, planting a medal on...