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Republic of the Congo in 1964

rebellion and bloodshed plagued Congo throughout 1964

Terrorism erupted early in the year when a 2,000-man force led by Pierre Mulele went on a rampage in Kwilu Province during which several missionaries were killed and dozens of villages and bridges were burned. Although government troops were eventually able to quell the rampage in Kwilu, they were unsuccessful in Kivu Province, where rebels sought to seize administrative control of the larger towns. By the middle of the year, the situation had become so threatening that President Joseph Kasavubu declared Kivu to be in a state of emergency.

On June 30, violence broke out in Stanleyville, forcing the government to impose a city-wide 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew. In less than a week, rebel forces had seized Albertville and set up a revolutionary regime. From there, rebellion and violence spread northward and westward virtually without opposition.

Two Congolese rebels pause after killing a police officer, whose corpse lies just beyond them.
Congolese rebels

On June 30, the rearguard of the 20,000-man-strong UN peace-keeping force left the country. Three hours later, President Kasavubu announced that Premier Cyrille Adoula and his government had resigned. The following day, Kasavubu called on former Katanga President Moise Tshombe to help him form a new government. Tshombe was sworn in as Premier on July 10. Tshombe immediately set out on a nationwide tour in hopes of convincing rebels to lay down their arms, but his pleas went unheralded. In mid-August, Tshombe appealed to Ethiopia, Liberia, the Malagasy Republic, Nigeria, and Senegal for military assistance. In early-September, he asked that the Organization of African Unity be convened in extraordinary session to discuss the rebellion, which he maintained was being supported by Congo (Brazzaville) and Burundi.

Moise Tshombe is borne aloft by supporters after his return from exile to head the Congolese central government.
Moise Tshombe

On September 7, in Stanleyville, rebel leader Christopher Gbenye announced the establishment of a Congolese People's Republic. The Stanleyville rebels had already begun rounding up all of the city's white residents to be held as hostages against any air raids by the Congolese government, and by November 7 the number of hostages included 60 Americans, 800 Belgians, and 500 other foreigners. On October 28, the rebels disclosed that Dr. Paul Earle Carlson, a 36-year-old medical missionary, had been arrested and brought to rebel headquarters on charges of "spying." On November 24, a rescue mission consisting of 600 Belgian paratroopers flown in U.S. planes landed near Stanleyville. Minutes before the drop, however, Dr. Carlson and at least 18 hostages were executed by the rebel soldiers. By November 28, when the airlift ended, about 1,700 foreigners had been evacuated, but some 900 others still remained.

Dr. Paul Carlson is greeted by Congolese children a few weeks before being slain by rebel soldiers.
Dr. Paul Carlson

Hostages once held by rebels in Stanleyville reach safety in Léopoldville.

Victims of the Stanleyville massacre included Dr. Paul Carlson.
Stanleyville massacre victims

The World Book Year Book Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1965

Organization of African Unity

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Africa >> Congo (Zaire)

This page was last updated on 11/11/2017.