Democratic Republic of Congo

At the Berlin Conference of 1884, King Leopold II of Belgium claimed the Congo as his personal property. His ruthless exploitation of the territory caused untold suffering to the people. In 1908 Congo became a Belgian colony, which it remained until independence in 1960. The country was coveted by the international powers, because of its natural wealth, especially minerals, and its strategic importance. Mobutu, who seized power in 1965, established a dictatorial regime, exploited the country and served the interests of the West. He was finally overthrown in 1997. From 1998 until 2003 the DRC was in the grip of civil war, in which neighbouring countries Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi intervened, supporting rebel factions, while Angola and Zimbabwe took the side of the government. According to a UN report, several million people were killed, many were displaced, and all parties committed large-scale plundering of natural resources. With the help of South Africa, an inter-Congolese dialogue was conducted, and in 2003 a coalition government was formed. The Catholic Church is the largest church. The Protestants and the Anglicans are organized in the Church of Christ in Congo, which is composed of 62 churches called "Communities". The DRC is the home of the Kimbanguist Church, one of the largest African Instituted Churches. There are many other independent churches, and a small indigenous Orthodox Church under the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Catholic Church and the Church of Christ in Congo played a key role in the inter-Congolese dialogue, and several of their clergy were given high positions in the coalition government. The great majority of the people live in dire poverty and struggle daily for survival.