Magazine article Newsweek

How Che Saw Kabila

Magazine article Newsweek

How Che Saw Kabila

Article excerpt

The revolutionary icon spent time with the rebel leader in 1965--and he wasn't all that impressed

IN THE EARLY YEARS OF Laurent Kabila's fight, he received a helping hand from a revolutionary superstar. Ernesto (Che) Guevara, the Argentine insurgent, had already fought alongside Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution and, in the process, had become the Third World's most charismatic spokesman. Searching for new exploits, he toured Africa in early 1965. He met the leadership of the Congolese rebellion in Ghana and Cairo, and decided to lead a group of 100 Cuban troops in support of the Congo revolt.

During his six months in Africa Che kept a diary, recording his bouts of dysentery and asthma, along with his assessment of Kabila. In the 150-page unpublished manuscript, entitled "Passages From the Revolutionary War (The Congo)," Che time and again vents his frustration with Kabila. The leader was habitually unwilling to show his face at the front, Che writes, spending his time, along with other Congolese leaders, in Cairo, Dar es Salaam and Paris "in the best hotels, issuing communiques and drinking Scotch in the company of beautiful women." When in Kigoma (Tanzania), Kabila moved from "saloon to whorehouse," Che writes. Kabila also refused to allow Che to participate directly in the fighting, because, according to Che, the troops would never have understood why an Argentine doctor from Cuba was leading them into combat while their local leader spent his time wining and dining. …

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