Monday, November 5, 2012
Jean Bamanisa elected Orientale Gov; Belgian dad played role in assuaging misery of Kisangani US Consul Michael Hoyt held hostage in1964
The second round of the gubernatorial election at the Orientale
Provincial Assembly in Kisangani was very close on Wednesday, October
31: 48 votes for Jean Bamanisa, 45 for his rival, Jean Tokole Ilongo,
with one assemblyman calling in sick, and 2 votes voided.
On that same day, another gubernatorial election was held in Bas-Congo
Province,where Jacques Mbadu beat Deo Nkusu 17 vs. 11.
What is remarkable in both elections is that the candidates of the
Presidential Majority (MP) were soundly deafeted--the provincial
assemblymen, though in their majority members of Kabila's platform,
choosing not to back candidates favored by Kinshasa stalwarts.
It was even more dramatic in Orientale Province in the first round of
the election, held three days previously, on Sunday, Octpber 28, when
PPRD stalwart Jean-Pierre Darwezi, former DRC top spy and ex-economy
minister, was eliminated.
Governor-elect Jean Bamanisa is a former MP, and a successful businessman.
Bamanisa is married to the sister of former warlord and ICC jail
inmate Jean-Pierre Bemba.
His father, the late Dr. Alexandre Barlovatz, rumored to be from
former Yugoslavia, is identified in historical narratives of Kisangani
as a Belgian subject.
Dr. Barlovatz moved to the Congo in the 1930s where he opened family
practices wherever he went before permanently settling in
Kisangani--then called Stanleyville.
As a child, I was often treated at the Barvolatz Clinic in downtown
Kisangani. Dr. Barlovatz had also vast orchards in the southeastern
forest near Kisangani.
We often raided those orchards when we played hooky, for such fruits
as guavas, mangoes, avocadoes, etc.
Michael P.E. Hoyt, who was sent for a stint by the US Kinshasa Embassy
to fill in as the American Consul in Kisangani in July 1964 before he
and other American diplomats were taken hostage for 111 days when the
city fell to rebel forces, has fond memories of Dr. Barlovatz.
In a 1995 interview with the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
Foreign Affairs Oral History Project, Hoyt described Dr. Barlovatz as
assuaging the misery of the American hostages by briefing a Red Cross
mission on their condition, and providing the diplomats with
He and his wife Violette Lucie (the governor-elect's mom) even sent a
birthday box to Hoyt at the Central Prison of Kisangani.
(The fact that Dr. Barlovatz wasn't held hostage at a time when all
Westerners--with the exception of Portuguese, Greeks, Asians, etc.--
were rounded up rand thrown into Kisangani Central Prison tends to
lend credit to the rumor that he was a "Yugoslav.")
"The Belgian doctor, Barlovatz, who had described the massacres [at
Kisangani Lumumba Monument] to us, came to visit and said that he had
seen the Red Cross people. He said that he told them clearly what our
situation was, that we were the only expatriates to be mistreated and
Adding later on:
"The 16th of November was my birthday. Although they had stopped
sending in food from the library, we got 2 boxes that day, one from
Leco and the other from Dr. and Lucy Barlovatz."
Hoyt went on to write a book about his and his team's ordeal in
Kisangani titled "Captive in the Congo: A Consul's Return
to the Heart of Darkness," Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000.
Kisangani denizens were very fond of Dr. Barlovatz. It seems that
they've just transferred that fondness to this son. I'm told that
people in the streets were warning assemblymen to vote their
"conscience" (a code word for Bamanisa) or else!
PHOTO CREDITS: Innocent Olenga/Radio Okapi
Posted by Alex Engwete at 2:51 PM