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The Daily Beast: Stars Who Perform for Dictators

James Brown, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, B. B. King, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, Bill Withers, and Mobutu Sese Seko

In 1974, Mobutu Sese Seko, the president of the country then called Zaire, wanted to show the world of what he had done since Congo's rocky struggle for independence 14 years earlier. Mobutu, a close ally of the U.S., had a nearly 30-year reign over Congo-Zaire—one of the longest and most devastating in African history. Nevertheless, the "Rumble in the Jungle" and the concert that preceded it brought some of the biggest celebrities of the time to Kinshasa. Mobutu paid $5 million each to Muhammad Ali and George Foreman to bring their famous boxing feud to Zaire's capital, as part of the "authenticity campaign" for the new country. Zaire 74, the concert held six weeks before the fight—it was originally intended to be the same weekend as the fight, but Foreman suffered an injury that pushed the concert back six weeks—brought James Brown, Celia Cruz and the Fania All-Stars, B.B. King, Miriam Makeba, the Spinners, and Bill Withers to perform in an epic concert. The 2009 documentary, "Soul Power, captures the great music that came out of the concert—with the ubiquitous signs of Mobutu's rule everywhere in the background.

(AP Photos)
See the Full story at The Daily Beast
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