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Congo Independence Day


Cultural events are listed here with basic background details. For specific events, dates, and times, please see the Featured Events on the Cultural Calendar main page.




In November 1965, five years after independence, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power in a coup d'état. He ran the country (which he named Zaire) as a dictatorial one-party state. As in some other African states, his anti-communist stance led to support of his government from the United States. With the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the US no longer felt the need to prop up his regime. The 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the Congolese Tutsis led to an invasion in October 1996 led by Tutsi rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda, beginning the First Congo War. The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo rebel group was led by Jean-Pierre Bemba, the son of Congolese billionaire, Bemba Saolona. On May 17th 1997, Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To mark the holiday, each town and city across the Congo will hold street festivals with food, live music, and parades.


17th May, 2023.


Congo Independence Day

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