Henri Lopès (born 12 September 1937) is a Congolese writer, diplomat, and political figure. He was Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo from 1973 to 1975, and since 1998 he has been the Republic of Congo's Ambassador to France.
Political and diplomatic career
Lopès was born across the Congo River in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa), the capital of the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He received his primary education in Brazzaville and Bangui, then went to France in 1949 for his secondary and higher education. While there, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Black African Students and was President of the Association of Congolese Students from 1957 to 1965. Returning to Congo in 1965, he was a history professor at the Ecole normale supérieure d'Afrique Centrale in Brazzaville from 1965 to 1966, then Director-General of Education from 1966 to 1968.
Under President Marien Ngouabi, Lopès was Minister of National Education from January 1969 until becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs in December 1971. He was included on the five-member Political Bureau of the Congolese Labour Party (PCT) in December 1972. Subsequently he was Prime Minister from 1973 to 1975. He visited China in early 1975, but could not meet with Chairman Mao Zedong because Mao was ill. Lopès and his government resigned following a meeting of the PCT Central Committee in December 1975, and Louis Sylvain Goma was appointed to replace him.
After working as political director of Etumba from 1975 to 1977, Lopès was reappointed to the government as Minister of Finance on 5 April 1977; he served in that position until Justin Lekoundzou was appointed to replace him in December 1980. Subsequently he worked at UNESCO as Assistant Director-General for Culture and Deputy Director-General for Africa from 1981 to 1998.
On 26 October 1998, Lopès presented his credentials as the Republic of Congo's Ambassador to France; while posted in Paris, he was additionally accredited as Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain, and the Vatican City.
In 2002, Lopès was a candidate for the post of Secretary-General of La Francophonie, but he withdrew his candidacy under pressure on the night before the vote, which was held on 20 October 2002 and resulted in the unanimous election of Senegal's Abdou Diouf.
As a writer
In addition to his distinguished political and diplomatic career, Lopès has earned distinction as a literary author. Perhaps his most acclaimed work is the satirical novel Le Pleurer-rire ("The Laughing Cry", 1982). Other works include the short-story collection Tribaliques ("Tribaliks," 1971), as well as the novels La Nouvelle romance (1975) and Sans tam-tam (1977). Tribaliques received the Grand Prix Littéraire de l'afrique noire in 1972, and in 1993 Lopès received the Grand prix de la francophonie for his entire body of work.
- International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004, Europa Publications, page 339.
- "Henri Lopes, écrivain diplomate", presse-francophone.org (French).
- Rémy Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique (1997), Karthala Editions, page 150 (French).
- Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique, page 194 (French).
- "Mar 1973 - New Draft Constitution. - Government Reorganization. - Suppression of Alleged Plot.", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 19, March, 1973 Congo, Page 25776.
- "Who's Who", CONGO BRAZZAVILLE: LES HOMMES DE POUVOIR n°1, Africa Intelligence, 29 October 2002 (French).
- "Mao's Failure to Receive Visitors Is Laid to a Cold", Reuters (The New York Times), March 15, 1975, page 20.
- "Jan 1976 - New Government - Former Prime Minister's Visits to China and France - President's Visit to Soviet Union - internal Developments", Keesing's Record of World Events, Volume 22, January, 1976 Congo, Page 27556.
- Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique, page 241 (French).
- Bazenguissa-Ganga, Les voies du politique au Congo: essai de sociologie historique, page 274 (French).
- "Remise de lettres de créance", Official Journal of the French Republic, Number 251, 29 October 1998 (French).
- "Abdou Diouf, premier francophone", Afrik.com, 20 October 2002 (French).
- "Interview with Henri Lopès, by Boniface Mongo-Mboussa", Africultures.com, October 1997.