ZAIRE REPUBLIC: The Zairization of Almost Everything


As proof positive of its independence, almost every new African nation has made a show of changing many of the place names imposed by its former colonial masters. None, though, have gone quite so far as the Zaïre Republic, once known as the Belgian Congo. This month President Joseph Désiré Mobutu held a mass rally in Leopoldville (today known as Kinshasa), his capital city on the mighty Congo River (sorry, the Zaïre), to announce a sweeping "return to Zaïre authenticity."

Henceforth, Mobutu decreed, Katanga province will be called Shaba (after the Swahili word for copper, the source of the province's and...

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