Albert Kalonji

Albert Kalonji

Albert Kalonji (b. 1919 [ The Imperial Collection: The Autonomous State of South Kasai] ] or 1929 [ Provinces of Belgian Congo and Congo (Kinshasa)] ] ) is a Congolese best known for leading the secessionist state of South Kasai during the Congo Crisis. Kalonji, a Luba chief, was a leader (with Joseph Ileo) of a moderate faction of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba's MNC. [ [ Country Information for Congo (DRC)] ] Within days of being granted independence from Belgium, the new country (at the time called the Republic of the Congo) [Not to be confused with the neighboring country of the same name.] plunged into chaos; amid the turmoil, Moise Tshombe, president of Katanga Province, announced that "We are seceding from chaos," and declared Katanga's independence on July 11, 1960. Kalonji, partly motivated by tribal rivalries, followed suit shortly afterwards and declared the independence of the diamond-rich [Larry Devlin, "Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone", p. 62] province of South Kasai on August 8, giving himself the title " _fr. Chef Suprême du Peuple Muluba et Protecteur Incontesté des Tribus Associées à son sort" (French for "Supreme Chief of the Muluba People and Protector of the Associated Tribes").

During his brief tenure, Kalonji, who vehemently hated Lumumba (due to the slaughter of thousands of Luba, which Kalonji blamed on the central government), unsuccessfully sought American help in overthrowing Lumumba. [Devlin, p. 30]

On April 12, 1961, Kalonji's father was granted the title "Mulopwe" (which roughly translates to "emperor" or "god-king" [ [ "Zaire: A Country Study", "Establishment of a Personalistic Regime"] ] ), but he immediately "abdicated" in favor his son. On July 16, Kalonji rejected royalty status, but retained the title of "Mulopwe" and changed his name to Albert I Kalonji Ditunga.

Kalonji's reign, however, proved to be short-lived; after a four-month military campaign, the military of the central government managed to successfully capture South Kasai, and on December 30, Kalongi was arrested. He did manage to escape shortly afterwards, and managed to maintain a government that lasted till October 1962.

Following Joseph Mobutu's 1965 coup, South Kasai was divided into two regions, partly to discourage future secessionist tendencies.

As of 2007, Kalonji is still living and retains the title "Souverain Possesseur des Terres occupées par les Balubas" (Sovereign and Owner of the Land of the Baluba). He is the author of "Memorandum: Ma lutte, au Kasai, pour la Verite au service de la Justice" (published 1964) and "Congo 1960. La Sécession du Sud-Kasaï. La vérité du Mulopwe" (published 2005).


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