Belgian officers in Brussels have just spent four months training 60 men of the Congo Democratic Republic to become a mounted Presidential police guard.
Belgian officers in Brussels have just spent four months training 60 men of the Congo Democratic Republic to become a mounted Presidential police guard. They have to be ready for the celebrations of the fifth anniversary of the Second Republic in November.
The 60 volunteer recruits have been trained to accompany Congo-Kinshasa President Joseph Mobutu and other African Heads State from the palace to the conference hall for meetings during the celebrations. In addition, 22 Belgian officers have been flown to the Congo to train 100 mounted lancers to accompany the police.
Their progress has surprised the Belgian officers, who told President Mobutu earlier this year the guard could not be ready by November. For before they began training, the men, with the exception of their Captain, had never mounted a horse.
Stables are being built in Kinshasa to house the horses, and two veterinarians have been hired to look after their health. Three more Congolese men are in Belgium learning to make horse-shoes.
The trainees have spent an estimated 120 hours a month on horse-back in addition to attending physical training courses.
Recently, before setting off for the Congo, they held a dress rehearsal before the Congolese diplomatic representative to Belgium, Ambassador Nzabi, Belgian General Lorge, and their own Captain Tumba.
Formal dress for the new guard, which they will wear during the November celebrations, includes bear-skins and gold-embroidered tunics.