Zaire Past and Present
Your recent articles in the Monitor on the state of affairs in Zaire have been excellent and insightful, especially the personal recollection of Frederic Hunter on the Home Forum page, "Finding My Courage in a Crisis" (April 23).
I met the author in Zaire, then the Congo, in 1964 when I was a US Army interpreter and intelligence specialist assigned to COMISH (US Military Mission to the Congo). Though we both stayed at the American consul's house in Bukavu for about a month, he never told me about his experiences in Coquilhatville. My hat's off to you, Fred, for your courageous stand.
While also insightful, the article "Elite in Zaire Party On, but Keep Bags Packed" (May 1) is in part troubling because of the reported criticism of the US by some of President Mobutu Sese Seko's entourage. The author reports that they are blaming the US for General Mobutu losing the civil war.
Here, let me tell you a little story of my own. One evening in 1964 in Isiro I was present at a dinner presided over by Mobutu. Mobutu asked me to check out a ruckus in the foyer and to report back to him. A South African mercenary captain was vociferously demanding back pay for his troops. I assured the captain that I would convey his demand to Mobutu directly, succeeded in quieting him, and he left.
Back in the dining room I described the encounter to Mobutu and others present. Mobutu's response was, "These Americans are useful to us for a while."
That remark has echoed in my mind over the years as I have followed Mobutu's self-aggrandizing career. How painful it has been to watch Mobutu's despotism expand in collusion with US aid for expediency's sake, because of the cold war.
Mobutu, one of the world's richest men, enriched himself by bleeding his own country and pocketing US aid. No American should feel guilty because we are not rushing to his rescue.
John B. Bray
I believe that the information you provided in the May 1 article on Zaire was not accurate. The US envoy jumped into what was already proceeding with the help of President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and many others in Africa.
Any contribution by the American government to our cause is very much welcome, but I really believe that the South Africans in their efforts deserve all the credit.
It is also my belief that the US envoy is acting as an opportunist. This is just my opinion on the way you chose to inform your readers. I will close by saying that, although I was troubled by this posting, I have always enjoyed reading your newspaper and listening to your radio programs since I was just a young kid in Africa.
Jean-Paul B. Kalonji
The British Empire and Ireland
"The Last Shards of Empire" (April 28) mentions Britain's remaining dependencies - Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn Islands, and such.
But Britain's Foreign Office makes no mention of another island of which Britain still occupies a portion. I'm referring to British Occupied Ireland. (I can't call it Northern Ireland; parts of the Irish Republic extend farther north. I can't call it Ulster, it's not the original province of Ulster. That was gerrymandered when Britain partitioned Ireland in the 1920s under the threat of "immediate and terrible war.")
Was this an oversight or does the Foreign Office plan to continue this occupation? It took many centuries of violence and rebellion to rid them from the present Irish Republic. What will it take to rid them from the portion they still occupy?
Time will tell - but there will come a day when there will be an Ireland United, Gaelic, and Free.
Desmond J. Nunan Sr.
Ocean City, N.J.
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