Bobi Ladawa Mobutu

Bobi Ladawa Mobutu (born 2 September 1945[1]) is the second wife and widow of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) as president between 1965 and 1997.

Bobi Ladawa Mobutu
First Lady of Zaire
In office
May 1, 1980 – May 16, 1997
PresidentMobutu Sese Seko
Preceded byMarie-Antoinette Mobutu (1977)
Succeeded bySifa Mahanya
Personal details
Born
Bobi Ladawa

(1945-09-02) 2 September 1945 (age 76)
Dula, Équateur province, Belgian Congo
Spouse(s)
(m. 1980; died 1997)
ChildrenGyala
Ndokula
Nzanga
Toku

She was born at Dula in the western province of Équateur and attended a Roman Catholic convent school in the capital Kinshasa before embarking on a teaching career.[1] In the 1970s, she became the mistress of President Mobutu. She bore his children before his first wife, Marie-Antoinette, died in 1982.[2] She married Mobutu in both church and civil ceremonies on 1 May 1980, on the eve of a visit by Pope John Paul II. The pope refused Mobutu's request to officiate over the ceremony.[3]

The couple had a total of four children — three sons, Gyala, Ndokula, and Nzanga, and a daughter, Toku.[2] Bobi Ladawa, who was customarily addressed as "Citizen Bobi" or "Mama Bobi", frequently accompanied her husband abroad. She promoted issues such as health, education and women's rights.[1] She was also reportedly deeply involved in the extravagant corruption that characterised Mobutu's rule. In 1996, a government minister who feared that he was about to be sacked in an upcoming cabinet reshuffle flew to Mobutu's palace at Gbadolite to visit the president and his family, carrying a million US dollars in his briefcase as a gift for Bobi Ladawa. When the reshuffle came, he was promoted to deputy prime minister.[4]

Mobutu was overthrown in May 1997 and fled into a luxurious exile, eased by the billions of US dollars that he had embezzled during his rule. Bobi Ladawa accompanied him to his eventual final place of exile in Morocco, and was at his bedside when he died from prostate cancer in September 1997.[5] She remains in exile with her twin sister Kosia, and reportedly divides her time between Rabat, where Mobutu is buried, Faro, Portugal, where the sisters own properties, and Brussels and Paris.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "BOBI Ladawa" (PDF). Central Intelligence Agency. 12 June 1989. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b Akyeampong, Emmanuel Kwaku; Gates, Henry Louis (2012). Dictionary of African Biography. OUP USA. pp. 238–9. ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5.
  3. ^ Schatzberg, Michael G. (1988). The Dialectics of Oppression in Zaire. Indiana University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0-253-31703-7.
  4. ^ Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges (2002). The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila: A People's History. Zed Books. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-84277-053-5.
  5. ^ Kisangani, Emizet Francois (2016). Historical Dictionary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 439. ISBN 978-1-4422-7316-0.
  6. ^ Juompan-Yakam, Clarisse (20 September 2012). "RDC : veuves de Mobutu, mais pas trop" (in French). Jeune Afrique. Retrieved 15 November 2016.