Zaire, the Cycle of the Serpent

Thierry Michel
Belgium 1992 | 85 Min. | 16 mm, OmeU

This is Zaire, after 30 years of inde­pen­dence and 25 years of Mobutu’s rule. What does the future hold in store for this coun­try? Thier­ry Michel filmed the cap­i­tal Kin­shasa from every angle for five weeks – the city of the beg­gars, the home­less, the out­siders, the Kin­shasa of busi­ness people, of reli­gious dig­ni­taries, of the mil­i­tary. Final­ly, he filmed the people’s dis­trict, where vic­tims of the dic­ta­tor­ship are car­ried to their graves. “The his­to­ry of Zaire can be divid­ed into four sec­tions,” Aubert Muk­en­di says in the film. “The first period is the Lumum­ba period at the begin­ning of inde­pen­dence, when we talked about free­dom, democ­ra­cy and hap­pi­ness. Then there was the lion, Tschom­bé, who only talked about order and the rein­stal­la­tion of order. Then there was the leop­ard, Mobutu. The fourth epoch, which we are in now, sees the coming end of the leop­ard. This is when the cycle of the ser­pent begins. The ser­pent is the secret ser­vice, but also the people who set up and sup­port the dic­ta­tor­ship. The Ser­pent is the secu­ri­ty force and all those who col­lab­o­rat­ed with it to impose and main­tain the dic­ta­tor­ship. The Ser­pent lacks sub­tle­ty and he will try to clamp down again and again until man revolts and speaks again of lib­er­ty and democ­ra­cy. This is what is hap­pen­ing now in Zaire …”