Sindika Dokolo, Husband Of Africa’s Richest Woman, Dies In Diving Accident While Under Investigation By Angolan Authorities

Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Sindika Dokolo
Sindika Dokolo, right, husband of Africa’s richest woman, dies in diving accident while under investigation by Angolan authorities. In this March 5, 2015 photo, Isabel dos Santos, reputedly Africa’s richest woman, and her husband and art collector Sindika Dokolo arrive for a ceremony at the City Hall in Porto, Portugal. On Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto said that there is no political motivation behind the government’s demand for more than $1 billion from dos Santos, her husband and a Portuguese business partner. Isabel dos Santos is a daughter of Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled the oil- and diamond-rich nation for 38 years until 2017. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

Sindika Dokolo – the husband of Africa’s richest woman, billionaire Isabel Dos Santos – died Thursday, Oct. 29 at age 48. His death was a result of a diving accident in Dubai, according to Angolan media reports.

The family confirmed Dokolo’s passing through his official Twitter account on Friday, Oct. 30.

“The Dokolo family, his wife, children, mother, brother and sisters have the deepest sorrow and immense sadness to announce the passing of Sindika Dokolo, which occurred on October 29, 2020 in Dubai. We thank all who have expressed their sympathy and kindness and who share our grief,” the statement read.

Dokolo was one of Africa’s most respected art collectors. He founded his namesake Sindika Dokolo Foundation in 2005 and had amassed over 3,000 works of art, CNN reported.

He was an advocate of returning African art to Africa and once said, ““African art is our history, our identity, our dignity” in an Instagram post. He was also very proud of pre-colonial African history and culture and worked to give African artists a platform at Western art shows.

“Being African today means reading your own world through someone else’s eyes,” Dokolo told ArtNet News last year. “So this whole debate around restitution is a huge opportunity to address this issue and to work on it in a constructive way. We want to take away the veil that the colonial time has left on us.”

He and Dos Santos were under investigation for their business dealings at the time of his death. They were accused by the Angolan government of money laundering and stealing state funds to build their business empire.

According to Bloomberg, the couple had “transactions with state-owned companies that caused the government to incur losses of $1.14 billion.”

The couple has denied any wrongdoing and said they were targeted due to political motivations. Dos Santos is the daughter of former Angolan Dictator Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who led the country for nearly 40 years.

The elder Dos Santos’ presidency was characterized by many as corrupt and abusive of human rights. He also set his children up in cushy positions of power, which they used to enrich themselves, according to accusations.

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Jose Dos Santos stepped down from power in 2017 and turned the reins over to his hand-picked successor João Lourenco. The move blew up in Jose’s face when Lourenco went on an anti-corruption campaign.

Dokolo also came from wealth as his father, Augustin Dokolo, was a wealthy Congolese banker. It is from his father Dokolo is said to have gotten his love of art. Raised in France and Belgium, Dokolo became a collector himself when he was 15.

Due to the investigation they were under, Dokolo and Dos Santos’ Angolan assets were frozen in Dec. 2019. Portugal followed suit in February and froze Dos Santos bank accounts in their country.

Reactions to Dokolo’s death were mixed. Responses ranged from mourning to feeling as if his legacy was being disrespected by media only referring to him as Dos Santos’ husband..

“Sindika Dokolo. Thank you for everything you shared with us. May you rest in eternal peace, may your legacy continue and strength to your wife and children,” one user tweeted.

“You broke our hearts brother Sindika. Africa will always remember the great love and your human side when coming across African community issues. You left us too early from this development challenge battleground. Peace in your soul, Dokolo!” added another.

“Dear @K24Tv, his name is @sindika_dokolo and he is my countryman (DR. Congolese). Stop referring to him as a “husband of Africa’s richest woman” only. it is a sign of disrespect. Thanks,” tweeted another.

Not everyone was sorry over Dokolo’s death.

“If thats true, no compassion from me. I could not care less. This man and his evil wife have sacrificed Angolans and Congolese’ lives and future for their greedy place. The divine came to collect. Never respected them at all,” wrote another.

Still others suspected foul play. Media reports Monday said authorities refuted those claims, but that’s not the consensus on Twitter.

“It’s always an accident,” wrote Nubai Ventures Founder Jamarlin Martin.

“Diving accident???? Something fishy.. if he was willing to cooperate with the authorities then he was a loose end. It was a hit not an accident. I said it,” another user concurred.

In addition to his wife, Dokolo leaves behind their children, his mother, siblings and a host of family and friends.