Failed Coup in the DR-Congo – Part I

Failed Coup in the DR-Congo – Part I May 21, 2024

After and Before the coup attempt

I looked at my text messages on Sunday morning, May 19, 2024. I had one from a number I didn’t recognize. It was a Facebook Live video. I pushed the arrow to see it.

There was Christian Malanga, a resident of Salt Lake City who is a Congolese national, dressed in Congolese military fatigues, a red beret on his head, camouflage pants. My first thought was, “Christian, where did you get those clothes? And why are you wearing them?” I assumed it was a joke of some kind, or an amateur film.

It was real. Christian Malanga, who insisted on being called “President” (since he believed God had called him to be the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was in Kinshasa, and he was leading a coup d’etat. The text and the link are still on my phone. The preview image is of Christian’s son, Marcel, age 21, a black mask covering his nose and cheeks, his eyes staring straight ahead. When I push the arrow now, the link takes me to some ads. But on Sunday, it showed the coup.

Marcel is out of the frame at the beginning, but speaks English to his father, who is the center . “It says it’s only me,” Marcel says.

Christian “President” Malanga is standing in front of a few soldiers, also dressed in red berets and camouflage pants. He speaks in Lingala, the most common language of the Congo, but switches to English to say, “Felix, we are coming for you!” Felix is Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Marcel enters the frame and goes to his father, then covers the bottom half of his face with the black mask.

I did not reply to the text, but went back to sleep.

When I awoke, there was news of a coup in the Congo. Christian Malanga had been killed. Marcel had been arrested, along with another American.

I looked at Marcel’s Instagram page. Photos showed him as a football star at Copper Hills High School in West Jordan, Utah. There were also photos of the Malanga family, and a short video of Marcel boxing. In one video, Marcel says, “I got my feelings hurt, so I’m running six miles.” Lots of selfies, some of them focused on his muscles. In one video, someone steps on a Joe Biden sign and then a Trump sticker appears. In another, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are identified as “Dumb and Dumber.” Marcel shows himself with an envelope of cash, standing in front of a Tesla. The caption says, “This is the greener grass they were talking about.” Included in his selfies is a photo of Al Pacino. In fact, Marcel’s profile photo on Instagram is Pacino as Scarface, just before saying, “Say hello to my little friend.”

The images are all masculine, victorious, ridiculously imposing. Super heroes.

Surely, Marcel could not imagine that his father, PRESIDENT Malanga, could fail.

Only minutes after Christian Malanga proclaimed, “Felix, we are coming for you!” he was dead, shot by guards. Marcel and another American were arrested shortly thereafter, Marcel looking like a terrified child.

This series will look at the context for this grand failure.

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