Medals of Katanga |
Katanga, formerly Shaba , province borders Angola on the southwest, Zambia on the southeast, and Lake Tanganyika on the east. The capital and chief city is Lubumbashi. The province encompasses the fertile Katanga Plateau where profitable farming and ranching are carried on. In the eastern part of the province is an enormously rich mining region, which supplies much of the world's cobalt as well as extensive quantities of copper, tin, radium, uranium, and diamonds. The province's considerable industrial plant is largely concerned with the processing of minerals. Katanga is well connected by rail with the rest of Congo and with Angola and Zambia. There is also steamer service on Lake Tanganyika between Kalemie, in Katanga, and Kigoma, Tanzania. Copper has been mined and exported by the region's inhabitants for centuries. From the 17th to the 19th century much of the province was controlled by the Luba and Lunda kingdoms. In the late 19th cent. M'Siri, a Nyamwezi trader from what is now central Tanzania, founded a kingdom in the area that lasted until he was killed by the Belgians in 1891. Under Belgian rule (1884-1960), mineral resources were exploited by Belgian firms and the province was developed much more rapidly than the rest of the country.
In July, 1960, after the Congo became independent, Katanga proclaimed itself a Republic and seceded from the central government. Under the leadership of its president, Moise Tshombe , and with Belgian aid, Katanga fought off repeated attempts by the central government to seize control. Disorder was widespread, and the central government invoked the help of the UN. In 1960, President Tshombe reluctantly allowed a small UN force to enter Katanga. Later a considerable number of UN troops, committed to a policy of nonintervention, were stationed in Katanga to oversee the withdrawal of foreign troops. The Belgian troops were slowly withdrawn, but white mercenary officers continued to command the army of Katanga. There was recurrent trouble between the UN force and the Katangese, and attempts at reconciliation with the central government proved fruitless.
The situation grew steadily more volatile until early 1961, when the former premier Patrice Lumumba was murdered in Katanga. Under a new, stronger UN mandate the international force took control (1961) of Elisabethville (now Lubumbashi) and other strongpoints. An agreement (December 1961) for reintegrating Katanga into the country proved abortive. In January 1963, UN troops routed Tshombe's forces and ended the Katanga secession.
In 1966 the central government nationalized Union Minière du Haut Katanga, the Belgian firm that had controlled most of Katanga's mining interests. It was renamed Gécamines. In 1971 Katanga was renamed Shaba; the original name was restored in 1997. Throughout the 1970s further insurrections were put down by the government with help from foreign nations, but in the 1990s there was again talk of secession.
The three medals issued by the Republic of Katanga during its brief period of declared independence (1960-1963) vary greatly in terms of both quality (much better) and appearance from the medals of the DRC and Zaire.
Katanga Order of Merit, Medal Merit and Military Merit Cross