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Katanga Medal found in Addis Ababa

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I have been collecting Congo and Zaire orders and medals as well as medals for service in that country for some years now. I have always found Katangan orders and medals hard to come by despite spending 3 years in the DRC.

To my great surprise I found not one, but two medals of the Katangan Order of Merit when visiting Addis recently. One was in one of the shops on the Churchill Road and the other at a stall in the Merkato. I paid Birr 300 for each one - approximately US$16.50.

The Katanga Order of Merit was created on 16 January 1961 by President Moïse Tshombe, to reward eminent civil merit (ordonnance n°081/8). Nonetheless it seems that the order was also conferred on military personnel.

I have long understood that 1,000 of the medals were made in Belgium and delivered to Katanga although only one was awarded. I have been told that with the collapse of the regime, a number of the medals were taken back to Europe. Having found these two examples in Addis Ababa I can only assume that some of the Ethiopian ONUC contingent brought them back to Ethiopia with them after serving in Katanga.

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I'm not suprised you can't find them in the DRC (would you have wanted to be seen with one after Tshombe had been defeated unless you had a death wish?), not surprised that it turned up where it did as I am sure many of Tshombe's men fled to other lands nonetheless a nice find.


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