Africa Continental Shift

In Africa too, authoritarian regimes are giving way to multiparty systems. But can democracy thrive in countries that cannot even feed themselves?

The story going around Kinshasa is that one night late last December, Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko was entertaining a roomful of dinner guests when the television broadcast news of Nicolae Ceausescu's precipitate execution in Bucharest. Mobutu had long counted as a friend the Romanian autarch, who came to power in 1965, as he did. At the sight of that familiar face wreathed in blood, Mobutu abruptly left the room, abandoning his visitors without a word.

Finally, late last month, the authoritarian ruler of Zaire for all but five of its 30 years of independence was ready to speak. As his...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!