Renowned Congolese scholar Wamba dia Wamba dies
Friday July 17 2020
Prominent Congolese scholar Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has died, bringing to an end the era of one of Africa’s foremost pro-democracy campaigners.
Prof Wamba died on Wednesday morning at the University Clinic of Kinshasa where he had been admitted for several days.
An academic and politician, Prof Wamba had an illustrious career both in the DR Congo and around Africa.
Born in the Kongo Central Province in 1942, he rose as a teacher of history before gaining more academic credentials. He had once lived in exile in Tanzania before studying in the United States on a scholarship.
His published works focused on African struggles to establish African democracy. Prof Wamba was influential in bringing peace to Burundi in talks mediated by former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere.
In DR Congo, then known as Zaire, Prof Wamba participated in the Sovereign National Conference (1991-1992) as a member of the opposition.
On the domestic political scene, he had been somewhat discreet. In May 2017, he was appointed as the head of the political-religious movement Bundu dia Mayala of Ne Muanda Nsemi.
In Kinshasa, however, his name is often associated with his support for armed struggle in eastern Congo.
For example, in 1998, he headed the RCD (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie), a rebellion raised against Laurent-Désiré Kabila and which had then ushered in what is now called the second Congo war.
In 1999, this movement split into an RCD-Goma wing and a RCD-Kisangani wing of which Prof Wamba became president. Both wings were reportedly supported by rival neighbouring countries.
In August 1999, he lost the "Kisangani War", but it was actually seen as a proxy battle between two rival neighbouring states.
Prof Wamba would then change the name of his faction to RCD-Bunia, the main city of Ituri, and then to RCD-ML (liberation movement).
In April 2000, he had lost his influence within the RCD-ML in favour of Mbusa Nyamwisi.