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Amid all the euphoria and heartbreak over the ongoing World Cup in South Africa, it’s easy to overlook the fact that elsewhere on the continent, a major milestone was passed. But unlike the joyfulness of the tournament in South Africa, this milestone was no cause for celebration. The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as Zaire, marked its 50th anniversary since independence from Belgium on June 30. Having suffered under the crazily corrupt Mobutu Sese who is said to have stolen as many as US$5 billion during his decades in power until the late 90s, the DRC exploded in a sea of violence that even veered into all-out war between several African nations and continues nowadays though in a less brutal but no less sinister manner. The country has stabilized a bit recently but it is still very poor and parts of it are still engulfed in violence, especially mineral-rich areas in the East. Colonialism and corruption as well as interference by foreign powers and neighboring countries have made it the tragedy it is and one wonders if a country so large and fractious like the DRC can be truly governable.

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