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If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article. A Belgian task forced backed by the United States assassinated Lumumba, the first leader in the country to be democratically elected. As part of his program of “national authenticity”, Mobutu changed the Congo’s name to Zaire in 1971 and his own name to Mobutu Sese Seko in 1972. There she met and married Albéric Gbemani, a cook for a Belgian judge. Shortly afterwards she gave birth to Mobutu.
The name “Mobutu” was selected by an uncle. Gbemani died when Mobutu was eight. Thereafter he was raised by an uncle and a grandfather. The wife of the Belgian judge took a liking to Mobutu and taught him to speak, read, and write the French language fluently. Yemo relied on the help of relatives to support her four children, and the family moved often. Christian Brothers School, a Catholic-mission boarding school.
A physically imposing figure, he dominated school sports. He also excelled in academic subjects and ran the class newspaper. He was also known for his pranks and impish sense of humor. A classmate recalled that when the Belgian priests, whose first language was Dutch, made an error in French, Mobutu would leap to his feet in class and point out the mistake. In 1949 Mobutu stowed away aboard a boat to Léopoldville and met a girl.
The priests found him several weeks later. Mobutu kept up his studies by borrowing European newspapers from the Belgian officers and books from wherever he could find them, reading them on sentry duty and whenever he had a spare moment. After passing a course in accounting, he began to dabble professionally in journalism. Still angry after his clashes with the school priests, he did not marry in a church. His contribution to the wedding festivities was a crate of beer, all his army salary could afford.
By this time, Mobutu had met many of the young Congolese intellectuals who were challenging colonial rule. Mobutu eventually became Lumumba’s personal aide, though several contemporaries indicate that Belgian intelligence had recruited Mobutu to be an informer. During the 1960 talks in Brussels on Congolese independence, the US embassy held a reception for the Congolese delegation. Embassy staff were each assigned a list of delegation members to meet, and then discussed their impressions.
The ambassador noted, “One name kept coming up. But it wasn’t on anyone’s list because he wasn’t an official delegation member, he was Lumumba’s secretary. But everyone agreed that this was an extremely intelligent man, very young, perhaps immature, but a man with great potential. The new nation quickly lurched into the Congo Crisis as the army mutinied against the remaining Belgian officers. In that capacity, Mobutu toured the country convincing soldiers to return to their barracks.
Encouraged by a Belgian government intent on maintaining its access to rich Congolese mines, secessionist violence erupted in the south. Soviet technical advisers in six weeks. The US government saw the Soviet activity as a maneuver to spread communist influence in Central Africa. Kasa-Vubu was encouraged by the US and Belgium to dismiss Lumumba, which he proceeded to do on 5 September. An outraged Lumumba declared Kasa-Vubu deposed. Parliament refused to recognise the dismissals and urged reconciliation, but no agreement was reached. Both Lumumba and Kasa-Vubu each ordered Mobutu to arrest the other.
As Army Chief of Staff, Mobutu came under great pressure from multiple sources. The embassies of Western nations, which helped pay the soldiers’ salaries, as well as Kasa-Vubu and Mobutu’s subordinates, all favored getting rid of the Soviet presence. On 14 September Mobutu launched a bloodless coup, declaring both Kasa-Vubu and Lumumba to be “neutralised” and establishing a new government of university graduates. Lumumba rejected this action but was forced to retire to his residence where UN peacekeepers prevented Mobutu’s soldiers from arresting him.