Considered one of the talented writers who made Congo "the Latin Quarter of Central Africa", former Congolese Prime Minister Henri Lopes died on Thursday in France, aged 86, his family announced in Brazzaville in a statement on Friday.
"Henri died on Thursday, November 2 at the Foch hospital in Suresnes (near Paris), carried away by illness," the statement said.
A free-spirited man who wrote about the contemporary history of Africa, he was the author of numerous works, including novels such as "Le Pleurer-rire", "Ma grand-mère bantoue et mes ancêtres les Gaulois", "Sans tam-tam", "Il est déjà demain"...
Henri Lopes was born in 1937 in Kinshasa (then Léopoldville, in the former Belgian Congo, now the Democratic Republic of Congo), to a Portuguese father and a mother from the Plateaux, in central Congo-Brazzaville.
After studying in Brazzaville, Bangui, Nantes (western France) and Paris, he taught history at the Ecole normale supérieure d'Afrique centrale in Brazzaville, now the Université Marien Ngouabi.
He then entered politics, serving as Prime Minister under President Marien Ngouabi's Marxist-Leninist regime between 1973 and 1975.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked at Unesco as deputy director for Africa, before being appointed Congo's ambassador to France in 1998, a post he held for 17 years.