Liberation Day in Congo Democratic Republic
Liberation Day is a public holiday that’s observed in the Democratic Republic of Congo every year on May 17th. This holiday is a commemoration of the 1997 coup that brought Laurent-Desire Kabila into power after the First Congo War. Since it’s a public holiday in DR Congo, it’s a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed for the day.
It’s also a day on which people get together and celebrate with communal meals, military parades, and special festivals. However, the popularity of some of the celebrations has taken a marked downturn in the past few years as war, famine, and civil unrest have wearied the population.
The History Of Liberation Day In DR Congo
In November of 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Desire Mobutu seized power during a coup d’etat—just 5-years after the country had achieved independence. He would then go on to run Zaire (as it was known at the time) as a one-party state under his dictatorship. His regime was partially propped up by the U.S government who viewed his rule as favorable since he had a pronounced anti-communists stance.
After the fall of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s, the United States stopped supporting Zaire. A few years later, Tutsi rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda invaded the country in the First Congo War. Jean-Pierre Bemba would lead The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo rebel group and on May 17, 1997, the leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu became President when Mobutu fled to Morocco. The name of the country was then reverted back to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Observing Liberation Day In DR Congo
Although the popularity of this holiday has waned in the past few years, there are still plenty of people who celebrate this holiday with live music, dancing, and street festivals that serve plenty of food and drink. This holiday is also observed with military parades across the Congo.