Bolikango began his career in the Belgian Congo as a teacher in Catholic schools, and became a prominent member of Congolese society as the leader of a cultural association. He wrote an award-winning novel and worked as a journalist before turning to politics in the late 1950s. Though he held a top communications post in the colonial administration, he became a leader in the push for independence, making him one of the "fathers of independence" in the Congo. The Republic of the Congo became independent in 1960 and Bolikango attempted to organise a national political base that would support his bid for a prestigious office in the new government. He succeeded in establishing the Parti de l'unité nationale and promoted both a united Congo and strong ties with Belgium. Older than most of his contemporaries and commanding significant respect, especially among his Bangala peers, he was seen as the Congo's "elder statesman". Regardless, his attempts to secure a position in the government failed and he became a leading member of the opposition in Parliament.
As the country became embroiled in a domestic crisis, the first government was dislodged and succeeded by several different administrations. Bolikango served as Deputy Prime Minister in one of the new governments before a partial state of stability was reestablished in 1961
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