Tuesday, January 19, 2010

JEAN BEDEL BOKASSA, Central Africa Republic.

The Francophone mistake in Africa
From an early age Bokassa life was marred with violence. At 6 years old in the village of Boubangui his father, a petty thief, was beaten to death by the French for refusing to take forced labour as a punishment for his deeds. His mother committed suicide a week later, leaving behind 12 siblings to be raised by their grandfather.
After finishing a catholic mission secondary school, where Bokassa was taunted by other children for the fate of his unfortunate parents, he joined the French army. At the army he received 12 citation of bravery in World War 2 at Indo-China, the legion d’ttoneur and the Croix de Guerre.

He left the army at 17 years as a sergeant to become the army of chief of stuff of CAR’s national army.

He overthrew his cousin, President David Dacko on 31st December 1965 when he learnt he wanted to replace him secretly. Once in power Bokassa demonstrated personal grandeur unusurpped by any other African ruler.

Democracy and elections were banned. He called himself an absolute monarch. For ‘supreme services of the society’ he made himself a marshal and had special uniforms designed to accommodate many medals he awarded himself.

He took great pleasure in naming schools, hospitals, roads and development programs after himself. The front page of every exercise book in the country adorned his image.

Jean-Bedel Bokassa held 12 ministerial portfolios and interfered with all others by staffing through the radio and presiding over chaotic government expenditure with no paper work or budget. Apart from the army, the civil servants salary was always in arrears.

He started the presidential guard and recruited heavily from the Mbaka tribe where he belonged.

Emperor Bokassa sexual escapes were legendry. He had 17 wives, a hoard of mistresses and official broad of 55 children. His principal wife, Catherine, a striking beauty spotted by Bedel at age thirteen lived in villa Nasser and the other wives and mistresses in separate villas build by tax payers’ money.

Bokassa used to hold up traffic in the capital Bangui when he left his palace to pay a visit to his women.

Bokassa wives were known by their nationalities: the German, the Swede, the Chinese, the Gabonese, and the Ivorian amongst others.

"I did like everyone" Jean-Bedel boasted in 1984. “In Formosa, for example, I hustled the most beautiful woman in the country. Who later he married. In Bucharest, the most beautiful woman in Romania {a cabaret dancer}. In Libreville…..and so on. My criterion was beauty.”

Jean-Bedel tried to track a daughter, Martine born through a marriage with a Vietnamese woman in Saigon in 1953. An impostor, later adopted, turned up while the real daughter was found working in a cement factory in Vietnam.

The two had a double weeding in a public auction where a doctor and an army officer were the highest bidders.

The fake Martine’s marriage turned into a disaster. Her husband, a doctor, was brutally executed for assassination attempt on Bokassa. A few hours later, she gave birth to a baby boy. The infant was taken away and murdered.

To save his empire which had poor government services, huge infant mortality rate, wide spread illiteracy and only 418 kilometers of paved road, emperor Jean-Bedel dubbed in the 1948 cold war fever to gain funding.

In 1969 he announced ‘the move to the East’ by proclaiming scientific socialism as the new government ideology. When the eastern bloc did not co-operate he tried in vain to coax the Arab oil dollars by converting to Islam. He changed his name to Salah Addin Ahmed Bokassa.

Disillusioned he reverted back to the Catholic Church and got supported by the French who wanted to prolong the francophone dynasty against the Anglo-Saxon onslaught.

Bokassa gave generous gifts of diamond to French presidents; Charles de Gaulle and Valery Giscard d’Estaing. The latter had a wildlife reserve at his disposal where, in 1970s, he killed 50 elephants and numerous animals.

Emperor Bokassa was inconsolable during de Gaulle burial, he cried in front of the widow:

“I lost my natural father when I was a child. Now I have lost mu adoptive father as well. I am an orphan again.”

The reason for Bokassa emotion was that French aided in Bokassa $22 million coronation which emulated his ‘guide and inspiration’ general Napoleon Bonaparte coronation in 1804.

The 4th December 1977 coronation took place at palias des sports Jean-Bedel Bokassa, on Bokassa Avenue, next to universite Jean-Bedel Bokassa.

The amount was ploughed back to France as, among others, an imperial throne shaped like a golden eagle, thoroughbred horses, 60 Mercedes-Benzes for guests and even flowers were imported from France.

During the ceremony, emperor Bokassa turned to Robert Galley, French co-operation minister and whispered.

“You never noticed, but you ate human flesh.” This prompted his reputation as a cannibal who included human flesh on his menu.

During his outset two mutilated bodies were found in a refrigerator. One body, of a mathematician teacher, had its head, arms and one leg missing.

His violence was manifested in April 1979 he led government ministers in beating inmates at Ngaragba prisons. He massacred 100 students, fed 30 to crocodiles and lions at his palace when they protested the buying new uniforms sold exclusively at Bokassa’s family textile outlets.

Unable to face embarrassment the French army in neighboring Gabon and Chad overthrew Bokassa and reinstated David Dacko. A perfect case of neo-colonisation. Several chest of diamonds, 200 cameras and pornographic material were found in his residence.

Emperor Bokassa was sentenced to 20 years of forced labor in 1986, later reduced to 7 years imprisonment. He died in 1996, at 75 years, while surviving in Bangui with French army pension.

He was buried in an unmarked grave.

(Le Grand Folie: The coronation of Jean Bedel Bokassa PHOTO: by Mike Thomson/BBC Online)

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