Africa always has been a magnet for the power-crazed politician, the militant madman, the diabolical dictator.
In the last fifty or so years, among many has stood out Ugandan Idi Amin, a former British army lieutenant who seized power and styled himself, “His Excellency President for Life Field Marshal Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.
In the eight years of Amin’s diabolical reign it is estimated half a million people were killed. So many bodies were thrown to the Nile crocodiles that at times the intake to the country’s hydro-electric plant became blocked by body parts. Thousands of Ugandan Asians were forced to flee the country, settling in Britain, Canada, and Australia.
Joseph-Désiré Mobutu reigned as president of Zaire for thirty-two years (1965–1997). He forced all TV news channels to show an image of him descending through clouds from the heavens, prior to every newscast.
In his spare time he tortured and hanged his rivals, and was a particularly close friend of Republican US presidents, Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. In 1968, Mobutu lured an ex-education minister out of exile with promises of an amnesty, only to have him tortured. While still alive, his eyes were gouged out, his genitalia ripped off, and his limbs amputated one by one.
Jean Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic proclaimed himself “Emperor” on December 4th 1977. It took a while as he’d been in power since overthrowing the CAR government of his cousin David Dacko in early 1966.
On March 4th 1974, Time Magazine carried an article on Bokassa, entitled, “Lord High Everything Else”. One paragraph reads:
The people of the C.A.R. know the importance of devotion and obedience: the hallmark of Bokassa’s reign is arbitrary and unpredictable terror. Government officials are frequently summoned at a moment’s notice to the presidential palace. If Bokassa is angry, they can expect anything from a drunken tirade to a personally administered presidential beating to instant imprisonment. Even harsher treatment has been meted out to the President’s political opponents, real or imagined. Michel Mounomboye, security chief at the time of Bokassa’s takeover, had his eyes torn out in front of his family before being executed. When Lieut. Colonel Alexandre Banza, who backed Bokassa’s grab for power, was accused in 1969 of planning another coup, he was dragged before a Cabinet meeting where Bokassa slashed him with a razor. Guards then beat Banza until his back was broken, dragged him through the streets of Bangui and finally shot him.”
Bokassa remained in power until he was overthrown by André Kolingba in 1981. At his trial he was accused of treason, murder, cannibalism, and embezzlement. The cannibalism charge was not proven, though all other charges were. He served six years in jail before being pardoned by Kolingba.
Before he died, in 1996, Bokassa proclaimed himself the thirteenth apostle and declared he’d had secret meetings with the Pope.
One of the scariest of Africa’s dictatorial madmen is still in power today.
Robert Mugabe has been responsible for the most appalling atrocities in his native Zimbabwe, and still confounds his critics by continuing to rule that nation despite a recent election that should have felled him and his cronies from government. He continues to defy the world, and the world sits around playing with its thumbs, and does nothing.
There is another ghastly figure presently loose in the jungles and plains of Africa, in Mobutu’s old stomping ground of Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The very name is ironic. Today, there is little chance for democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Laurent Nkunda is a self-styled general of the rebel Rwandan Tutsi tribes. While a democratically elected government resides in the capital, Kinshasa, rebel forces roam the eastern area of this vast country killing, torturing, raping at will. Nkunda is their leader. His mission, he says, is to protect Tutsi tribesmen from attack by Hutu rebels who fled into the Congolese jungle after the Rwandan genocide of 1994. There can be little doubt his true aim is to overthrow the government and seize power.
Most of the rebel groups in the DR Congo agreed to be assimilated into the armed forces. Nkunda has always refused. His army is known to be several thousand strong, and while there are 17,000 UN peacekeepers in the country, no-one seems inclined to take on Nkunda.
His forces have committed some of the gravest atrocities known to man. Particularly brutal is their attitude towards women.
This, from Stephen Lewis, Canadian Ambassador to the UN from 1984-1988, and an expert on Africa (courtesy of “The Other Side Of Sixty”):
……in the case of the Congo, you have a war on women. You know, if I may make a somewhat more intellectual observation, rape is no longer a weapon of war. Rape has become a strategy of war. You rape women in such numbers, so savagely that you humiliate entire communities through the women. The women hold the communities together. On the continent of Africa, nothing happens without the engagement of the women, particularly at the grassroots, particularly on the ground. And what happens is that the entire community is subdued, oppressed, overcome by these roving bands of marauding militias, who rape the women, move the community off the extractive resources, which is what they want, or turn the women into sex slaves and the men into the laborers who do extract the resources. And it’s hideous, the consequences, and it’s been going on since 1996. More than a quarter of a million women have been raped. And what is so unfathomable about it is everyone in a position of power knows, and it continues. I’ll never never comprehend…..”
(Read more of this harrowing report at the link below)
While Nkunda’s forces are not the only perpetrators of such crimes – government soldiers can be equally brutal and uncontrolled – his is the largest in the region.
Nkunda is well educated. He studied psychology at university level and speaks four languages. He uses religion, like so many of his ilk, to control his followers and justify his crimes. Nkunda calls himself a Pentecostal Christian and wears a lapel badge that says, “Rebels for Christ”.
Yesterday, UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon called for an extra three thousand UN troops to be sent to the DR Congo. Even if he gets them, it’s hard to imagine what they can do. The UN has a mandate not to interfere in the internal politics of another country, except in the case of genocide.
It’s time someone interfered in this war-torn nation, to prevent Laurent Nkunda from becoming the next Idi Amin, or Mobutu, or Bokassa, or Mugabe.
It’s time the world stopped sitting around playing with its thumbs, and did something.
 “Lord High Everything Else”, TIME, March 4th 1974
 “Stephen Lewis”, “The Other Side Of Sixty”, November 11th 2008
Filed under: Evil