Albert Kalonji

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Flag of the secessionist state of South Kasai

Albert Kalonji (born June 6, 1929[1] in Hemptinne — April 20, 2015, Mbuji-Mayi[2]) was a Congolese politician best known for leading the short-lived secessionist state of South Kasai during the Congo Crisis. Kalonji, a Luba chief, was a leader (with Joseph Ileo) of a moderate faction of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba's MNC.[3]

South Kasai

Within days of being granted independence from Belgium, the new country (at the time called the Republic of the Congo)[4] plunged into chaos; amid the turmoil, Moise Tshombe, president of Katanga Province, announced that "We are seceding from chaos," and declared Katanga's independence on 11 July 1960. Kalonji, partly motivated by tribal rivalries, followed suit shortly afterwards and declared the independence of the diamond-rich[5] province of South Kasai on 8 August, giving himself the title Chef Suprême du Peuple Muluba et Protecteur Incontesté des Tribus Associées à son sort (French for Supreme Chief of the Muluba People and Uncontested Protector of the Associated Tribes).[6]

During his brief tenure, Kalonji, who vehemently hated Lumumba (due to the slaughter of thousands of Baluba, which Kalonji blamed on the central government), unsuccessfully sought American help in overthrowing Lumumba.[7]

On 12 April 1961, Kalonji's father was granted the title Mulopwe (which roughly translates to "emperor" or "god-king"),[8] but he immediately "abdicated" in favor of his son.[6] On 16 July, Kalonji rejected royalty status, but retained the title of Mulopwe and changed his name to Albert I Kalonji Ditunga.[9]

Kalonji's reign, however, proved to be short-lived; after a four-month military campaign, the military of the central government managed to successfully capture South Kasai, and on 30 December, Kalonji was arrested.[6] He did manage to escape shortly afterwards, and managed to maintain a government that lasted till October 1962.[6]

Legacy and subsequent activities

Following Joseph Mobutu's 1965 coup, South Kasai was divided into two regions, partly to discourage future secessionist tendencies.[6]

As of 2007 Kalonji was still living, retaining the title Souverain Possesseur des Terres occupées par les Balubas (Sovereign Owner of the occupied Lands of the Baluba).[6] He died in 2015.

He is the author of Memorandum: Ma lutte, au Kasai, pour la Verité au service de la Justice (published 1964) and Congo 1960. La Sécession du Sud-Kasaï. La vérité du Mulopwe (published 2005).


  1. Sando, Kabuya Lumuna (1993). Nord-Katanga 1960-1964: De la sécession à la guerre civile - Le meurtre des chefs. 196: L'Harmattan. ISBN 2738412637.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Décès de M. Albert Kalonji Ditunga Mulopwe Agence Congolaise de Presse. 30.5.2015 (French)
  3. Country Information for Congo (DRC)[dead link]
  4. Not to be confused with the neighboring country of the same name.
  5. Larry Devlin, Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone, p. 62
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 The Imperial Collection: The Autonomous State of South Kasai[dead link]
  7. Devlin, p. 30
  8. "''Zaire: A Country Study'', "Establishment of a Personalistic Regime"". Retrieved 2014-08-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Ben Cahoon. "Provinces of Belgian Congo and Congo (Kinshasa)". Retrieved 2014-08-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Albert Kalonji
(House of Kalonji)
Born: June 6, 1929
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of South Kasai

12 April – 16 July 1961
Monarchy dissolved
Titles in pretence
Loss of title
Royal status rejected
King of South Kasai

16 July 1961 – present