Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Friday, December 17, 2010

Congo club on the brink of world fame

Tomorrow is a hugely momentous day for the Congo. TP Mazembe, a soccer team from Lubumbashi, will face off with Inter Milan in Abu Dhabi for the title of best soccer club in the world. It is hard to understate the importance of this event, not just because this is the first time any African team has been in the Club World Finals. After years of repression by their own and foreign governments, the Congolese finally have a chance to be proud of a homegrown, talented and successful institution. Congrats to the guys for getting this far.

From a political point of view, this will be important, as well. TP Mazembe's chairman is Moise Katumbi, the governor of Katanga and reportedly one of the wealthiest men in the Congo. Katumbi is a controversial figure - he is hailed by many Congolese (and the movie "Katanga Business" as one of the few leaders who has been efficient and responsible), but he also is alleged to have been involved in corrupt dealings in Zambia, whose government at one point wanted to arrest him (they later dropped the charges). According to an article in the Financial Times (by Katrina Manson, who just moved to the FT from Reuters/Kinshasa), he offers up to $10,000 in bonuses to his players and helps the club have a $10 million budget.

Katumbi has been widely mentioned as an eventual rival to Joseph Kabila. He has waved aside these rumors, saying that he will retire in 2011 and return to business. Nonetheless, in a country where most of the chairmen of the top clubs have been involved in politics, a victory by TP Mazembe would boost his reputation even more.

As a reminder, the governor of Kinshasa, André Kimbuta, was the head of AS Vita Club, a Kinshasa rival of TP Mazembe, as was a 2006 presidential hopeful, Diomi Ndongala. General Gabriel Amisi, the embattled head of the army now accused of corrupt dealings in gold, built up Maniema Union from scratch, making it into one of the best clubs in the country. Claude Nyamugabo, the current Sports Minister, used to run OC Bukavu Dawa.


Rich said...

Hey Jason,

This is a whale of an achievement; it is HUGE. I didn't realise that you guys are also following what's happening on the DRC’s sport front, especially footy!

I followed the game against Internacional of Brazil and I saw how the name 'Mazembe' was trending on twitter. However, that was nothing compare to the vibration I got on the phone when I phoned my people in Lubumbashi. It was a massive jubilation and the whole city seemed to be effervescing with joy.

We can give this one to the chairperson of Mazembe and to be honest Congolese have very few occasions to celebrate good things.

Amisi Tango was the chairperson of Darin Club Motema Pembe and not AS V Club.

According to some indiscretions close to the presidence, J. Kabila is a secret, yet a massive TP MAZEMBE fan and I personally wouldn't be surprised if J. Kabila travels to Abu Dhabi tonight in order to watch the final tomorrow!

Let us not forget that it is not only Lubumbashi or Kinshasa celebrating TP Mazembe's achievement, the whole African continent why not the world are just happy to see the underdog performing so well in such a prestigious football competition.

TP MAZEMBE..EH TP MAZEMBE..EH TP MAZEMBE..EH... (that's one of the venerated songs)


Here is the link to the semi final game:

Here is the link to the club's website:
One last thing the DRC is a big nation of football, as Zaire the national team was the first black African team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (1974) and twice won the African Cup of Nations (1968 & 1974).

Jason Stearns said...

Yes, yes, this is indeed huge. Let's all hold our collective breaths for tomorrow's game.

Also - are you sure Amisi is on the comité de direction of Daring Club? I am sure he heads Maniema Union and I am pretty sure he's the president of the comité de direction of AS Vita Vlub.

Anonymous said...

You can also follow the team on twitter at @tpmazembe (!/tpmazembe).

Video Recap of TP Mazembe's victory can also be seen at

Rooting for TP Mazembe with my virtual vuvuzela!

Anonymous said...

"TP Mazembe Surprises the World, Not Itself" on today's New York Soccer blog

Me and my virtual Vuvuzlea are all ready to go
TP MAZEMBE..EH (thanks for that info Rich)

Rich said...

Sorry Jason,

You are right about Gen Amisi, he use to be the Chairperson of AS V Club and not DCMP! At the moment Tatu Hilare Lumbaie Badinabi is the honorary president. I don't know why I got this one wrong and yet DCMP and AS V Club are archi rivals!!!

@ Lorraine, nice one, I should be vuvuzelling virtually for a major part of this afternoon!

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