Mvemba Dizolele
Alumni Spotlight

October 11, 2018
The Whiting Room

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Mvemba Phezo Dizolele is a writer, foreign policy analyst, and independent journalist. He is a professorial lecturer in African studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. Formerly, he was a Peter J. Duignan Distinguished Visiting Fellow and a National Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is the author of the forthcoming biography, Mobutu: The Rise and Fall of the Leopard King.

Dizolele’s analyses have been published in the Journal of Democracy, New York Times, Newsweek International, International Herald Tribune, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, New Republic, Forbes, St Louis Post-Dispatch, and other outlets. A frequent commentator on African affairs, he has been a guest analyst on PBS’s NewsHour and Foreign Exchange; NPR's Tell Me More, On Point, and the Diane Rehm Show; BBC’s World News Update; and Al Jazeera’s the Stream, NewsHour, and Inside Story.

He has testified before various subcommittees of both chambers of the U.S. Congress, as well as before the UN Security Council. He was a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and covered the 2006 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the Pulitzer Center, he produced Congo’s Bloody Coltan, a documentary report on the relationship between the Congo conflict and the scramble for mineral resources. He served as an election monitor with the Carter Center in Congo in 2006 and 2011. He was also embedded with UN peacekeepers in Congo's Ituri district and South Kivu province as a reporter. Dizolele holds an International M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and he graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science and French from Southern Utah University. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and he is fluent in French, Norwegian, Spanish, Swahili, Kikongo, and Lingala; and is proficient in Danish and Swedish.

SUU Press Release

Event Reflection

by Billy Clouse

During Homecoming Week, Distinguished Alumnus Mvemba Dizolele spoke to students and faculty in the Whiting Room of the Hunter Conference Center. His lecture focused on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its center at every major revolution.

To begin the lecture, Dizolele described the nation, explaining that the Congo River is the second-strongest in the world, that the country is one-third the size of the U.S., and that around one-in-four slaves came from Congo.

When it comes to major revolutions, such as the Industrial Revolution, few people think of the role Congo played, but without it, progress would have been much slower. Rubber was a hot commodity during the time, and quite a bit of it came from Congo. The drive to produce as much as possible resulted in the death of 15-20 million Congolese, many of these people were murdered by Europeans who didn't think they were producing enough.

While explaining what he referred to as the "Destroy the World Revolution," Dizolele joked, saying "Europeans like to kill each other; it's in their DNA." He then went on to explain how Africa as a whole was involved in the war, having to use their own soldiers to fight German and Italian occupation. Congo specifically played a major role, supplying the Uranium for the atomic bombs. To this day, Congo is the only African country with a nuclear reactor.

In the Digital Revolution, Congo has played an even larger role, as it is one of the main producers of minerals such as Tungsten and Cobalt.

By telling these stories, Dizolele wanted to show that the world is more interconnected than most people think. He also noted that having an abundance of natural resources is like a risk factor for a disease; although it is likely that country will be more successful, that doesn't mean it will.

To conclude his talk, Dizolele spoke briefly on some current and future projects that the country is looking into, such as a series of dams that could provide electricity to all of Africa and parts of the Middle East.

In response to a question from a member of the audience, Dizolele explained that he believes the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo should have grown up in the country and understand the people, unlike the current leader.


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