Congo Series: Prof Georges Nzogola Ntalaja on DR Congo’s Search for Democracy
The Congo Series was first broadcast on AfroBeatRadio on WBAI between April and May, 2009. In that series of broadcasts on the Democratic Republic of Congo, we examined various aspects of the conflict in the DR Congo by talking to activists, scholars, and Congolese citizens. During the several interviews that were conducted, our participants discussed pre-colonial Congo, King Leopold’s Congo and the Belgian Congo, and the ongoing conflicts over the Congo’s mineral wealth.
This is a record of our conversation with Dr. Georges Nzogola-Ntalaja, Professor of African Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He discusses the history of the Congo, the 19th century Indian ocean slave trade and legacy of Arab rule in parts of the Congo, the Atlantic Slave trade of the 16th to 19th century, Patrice Lumumba, Mobutu Sese Sekou, and other historical figures, US strategic interest, and DRC’s difficult search for democracy.
Prof. Nzongola-Ntalaja, a Congolese, played key roles in the Democratic Movements of the 1980s and 1990s during DR Congo’s difficult search for democracy. He organized two major conferences on the DR Congo at Howard University. The first, held in 1984, focused on the crisis in Zaire, as Congo was then known. The proceedings of that conference were published in the book titled “The Crisis in Zaire, Myth and Realities.” The second conference was held in 1990 and was titled “Perspectives for Democracy in Zaire.” It was was attended by all the major political players of the time. Dr. Nzongola-Ntajaja also participated in the 1991-1992 Sovereign National Conference in the DR Congo, served as Chair of the Political File, and was on the Electoral Commission in 1996 for 8 months before resigning in protest. Nzongola-Ntalaja has authored several other books including “The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People’s History,” and “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Africa: Essays in Contemporary Politics.”
Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani has described Dr. Nzongola-Ntalaja as one among the few intellectuals who possess the background, knowledge, commitment and vantage point from which to assess the historical possibilities for contemporary Congo.
Articles by Prof Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja:
Congo in context
DRC’s potential: Lighting the continent from Cape to Cairo
The African Report: Moved by nature, not by man
This interview was conducted with the assistance of the Friends of the Congo