Will Congo's next president be Jewish?

Pinchas Sadai, a convert to Judaism, weighing presidential bid. However, he is not the only potential candidate with Jewish roots.

Yoel Domb,

Eliyahu Sadai
Eliyahu Sadai
Screenshot channel 1

Pinchas Eliyahu Sadai was born in Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, immigrated to Paris and then fell in love with Judaism. After studying and completing his conversion, he immigrated once again (to Israel), married and set up his home in the Old City. As if this is not unusual enough, Sadai, also known as Kituku Sadai Mare Pinchas, intends to compete for president of his native country Congo - that is, if elections take place at all there.

Ostensibly named the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country has been ruled for the past 17 years by Joseph Kabila, the DRC’s current leader, who took power when his father was assassinated. Kabila is barred by the constitution from seeking reelection but has intentionally delayed elections in the war-torn country for some time.

Sadai has been endeavoring for a number of years to promote his candidacy by gaining international support as well as using Israeli influence which he says could have a powerful effect on his native country, as Israel has the resources to help the poverty-stricken and backward nation. At present Sadai does not dare work in Congo for fear of being thrown into jail like other opposition leaders there. However he still wishes to help his brethren in Congo while maintaining his Jewish identity. Sadai even believes that his Jewishness could help him gain election, as Congolese people view the Jewish nation as blessed by God.

Strange as it may seem, Sadai is not the only Jewish person with aspirations to reach the presidency of Congo. Moise Katumbi, described by The Economist as "probably the second most powerful man in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the president, Joseph Kabila", is the scion of a Greek Sephardic Jew, Nissim Soriano, and a Congolese princess.

Katumbi, one of the wealthiest men in Congo, began working in the fishing industry when he was 13. He sold salted and fresh fish to the state-owned mining company Gécamines. In 1987, he created the holding company Etablissement Katumbi to aggregate all of his business activities including mining, transportation, and food processing.

Katumbi founded MCK (Mining Company Katanga) in 1997, which specialized in mining and logistics and subcontracted for mining companies in the region, including Gécamines. By 2015, the company had grown to 1900 employees and was a leading mining company in the country. French company Necotrans bought MCK in November 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

Katumbi also served as governer of Katanga province in South Congo from 2007 until 2015, and has also stated that Kabila should step down from the presidency. However he has also been quoted as saying he prefers his private career to politics. He also publicly eschews his Jewish roots and recently tweeted before Easter “Christ’s sacrifice will save us all.”

However the initial questions still remain- when will president Kabila allow elections to take place? Will he himself run for presidency despite the constitution preventing a third term? And how will the Congolese take to a Jewish president?




top