5 Weird African Rulers After Independence

"One terrible leader simply gives way to another. The new leader doesn’t have better motives for their country; they just think it’s their turn to go shopping."

At the turn of the 21st century, all African countries were free from colonial rule. But Africa hasn’t progressed very much till today. Africa is still the poorest continent even though it has a wealth of natural resources. Her countries rate poorly on the indexes for development, welfare, freedom, and health.

Africa has suffered at the hands of the world’s dumbest and most corrupt rulers. Here’s a list to help:

  1. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, also known as Bokassa I, was a Central African who served as the second president of the Central African Republic and a self-proclaimed emperor of its successor state, the Central African Empire, from his Saint-Sylvestre coup d'état on 1 January 1966.  The central African Republic was blessed with oil, gold, uranium, diamond, cobalt, and land for agriculture. Yet it remains one of the poorest places on earth and ranks 188 of 189 countries in terms of its human development.  Bokassa, during his coronation as emperor, spent over 25 million dollars (a quarter of the country’s annual budget) and sat on an eagle-shaped gold throne.

  1. There’s Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo, he was president and the longest-serving ruler in Africa from 1967 until he died in 2005 (38 years). He participated in two successful military coups and systematic electoral fraud. Eyadéma had an entourage of 1,000 women who sang and danced in praise of him; a bronze statue in the capital city, Lomé; and a comic book that depicted him as a superhero with powers of invulnerability and super strength. He neglected education and infrastructure and was said to have made off with billions of dollars of his nation’s wealth.

  2. There’s General Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria, as a soldier, he distinguished himself as a UN peacekeeper in Congo in 1961 and 1963. When Nigeria experienced its first military coup in January 1966, Gowon became the chief of army staff at 31 years old. When the counter-coup occurred, Gowon was chosen as successor and governed through nine years that included a civil war between 1967 and 1970. He allegedly stole half of the Central Bank of Nigeria, when he moved to the UK in exile after his overthrow on 29 July 1975.

  1. There was General Sani Abacha of Nigeria (1994 to 1998) who stole $4.3 billion from the government.

  2. Then there was Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1965-1997) who created a one-party state and made off with $5 billion from the central bank. He built a palace in his honor, in Gbadolite – his ancestral village, costing 100 million British Pounds. It was 15,000 square meters in size, made out of Carrara marble imported from Italy, the Pope, the French president, and the Director of the CIA were all hosted there. Mobutu loved to shop and he frequently chartered Air France’s Concorde with his wives and associates to Paris. He specifically built a 3200m long runway to take the jet. The villages near his palace lacked electricity, paved roads, schools, and doctors.

In Africa citizens eventually get fed up and launch a coup. In 48 independent, sub-Saharan African nations, between 1956 and 2001, 46 years, there have been about 80 successful coups d’etat and about 108 failed ones. According to Alain de Botton - the problem is that almost no good government ever emerges from a coup. One terrible leader simply gives way to another. The new leader doesn’t have better motives for their country; they just think it’s their turn to go shopping.