LH, I am curious as well. And Aldborini‘s post sheds light on some of this mystery.
I posted this because I recalled a journalist talking about being the Mobutu of the internet and curiosity killed my morning:
Googling around yielded this: Mobutu of Zaire changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu waza Banga, which, according to most translations means “the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake.” He thought well of himself, yes? According to an alternate translation, the name meant: “the rooster that watches over all the hens.” I wonder if there is a statue of a rooster in his memory.
I wonder what language it is meant to be in. It’s not Swahili or his native language Ngbandi.
Kuku means chicken in Swahili, and waza means “think”. I would have guessed that Ngbendu was some kind of part of Ngbandi.
Anyone else think that the official translation sounds bogus?
In 1966 he came to power. Perhaps he snuck his native tribal Ngbandi name into his title, since there were so many languages he could choose from (the number is somewhere greater than 200 as linguists are still untangling the many families of languages there). His title could be a mixture and bastardation of them, ensuring that no one person could belittle him by addressing him by his mighty moniker?
In 1971 Mobutu required that everyone in the country had to change their names from ethnic tribal ones, French, Belgian, Dutch, etc. to Zairean names, thus further sowing confusion....
Lingala is an official language, as are French and Swahili. From what I’ve read, the first two are generally used by police and military to begin a conversation meant to establish power, then switching to a more casual shared language.
Anyway, FWIW, I think “according to most translations” makes sense and is not bogus, but earnest efforts at a job he purposefully made impossible.
After all of this I still picture a grand statue of a rooster.