Danny Mwanga was the first overall pick in the recent MLS soccer draft. He is also the son of Belmand Mwanga, an adviser to Joseph-Desire Mobutu, the former dictator of
Zaire the Democratic Republic of Congo. When Mobutu was overthrown, Mwanga senior went missing and is presumably dead. The effect on Danny was surely profound:
"I miss him. I wish he were here today," Mwanga said in French. Although his English is excellent, Mwanga still jumps at any chance to speak his mother tongue. Those who doubt that Mwanga is 18 -- and some do -- have but to look at his boyish looks and his pronounced cheekbones, which punctuate a face he hasn't quite grown into yet. He's coy and soft-spoken. If you want to be able to hear what Mwanga has to say, you need to sidle up to him. Whenever his father is mentioned, he lowers his gaze to the ground and turns the volume down even further. "I don't like to talk about it," he said.
After his father's disappearance in 1998, Mwanga's mother fled to America. They hadn't seen each other in five years when Danny, whose given name is Jean-Marie Daniel, was awarded refugee status and followed.
Why is this interesting (other than on a human level)? Because if this study [pdf] is to be believed, Mwanga will soon be one of the most violent soccer players in MLS. It will be interesting to see if that's what happens, or if the effect of "cultures of violence" is not present in MLS.
(edited for clarity in language)