In this brilliant three-part series Belgian filmmaker Thiery Michel takes an in-depth look at the reign of Mobutu Sese Seko. A man of “modest roots” who had a Catholic upbringing, Mobutu was sent to the army by his father for insubordination. Soon he would be Patrice Lumumba’s right-hand man, his chief of the army and the one who gave the order – in conjunction with the CIA – to have Lumumba assassinated. The only others who still stood in his way were the prime minister and president. Mobutu had them hanged in public. He was now the king of Zaire, and would remain so for another 30 years. A three part series of visual records of the 30 year reign of Joseph Désiré Mobutu, ruler of Zaire (the Congo). It uses up to 140 hours of rare Kinshasa material and 50 hours of interviews with those close to him, all telling a story of Mobutu, King of Zaire a man at the heart of Central Africa's post-colonial history.
Part one deals with Mobutu's journey from his birth to 1969. It documents his life as a cook's son, to military journalist, to Secretary of State, and then President. An interview with Larry Devlin, the CIA Station Chief at the time, tells how even in the early stages of Congo's independence, Mobutu was seen as his sponsor Patrice Lumumba replacement. There is footage of the four-year civil war resulting from Mobutu's coup in 1965 and the imprisonment of Lumumba. Like a vast historical puzzle, this film pieces together the tragic history of a country, and its self-styled leader - the dictator, Mobutu, Sese Seko, ‘King of Zaïre’.
2001 African Literature Association Film Festival
2000 African Studies Association Film Festival
1999 Best Documentary Nominee, International Documentary Association
Special Mention, 1999 European Film Awards
1999 Prix Arte, European Film Academy
1999 New York Film Festival
1999 Margaret Mead Film Festival