The last laughters of the African autocrats, M. Frindéthié

The post-independence exaltation in Francophone Africa was short-lived. By the mid–1990s, most African countries were ravaged by a wave of widespread political barbarity; which in such places as Benin, Mali, Togo, Zaire (Congo), Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), The Central African Republic, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Rwanda, Madagascar, and Côte d’Ivoire, served as a pretext for the militaries to seize power, pretending to restore a social order that civilian leaders had failed to maintain. Despite their pretentious claims of good intentions, most of the praetorian leaders proved incapable of implementing democracy in their respective countries. Endowed with practically little, if any, political experience and an inflated will to power, the new leaders, propped up by Western powers,  ruled their nations as family plantations. The most ambitious dictators, such as Kaddafi of Libya, Moubarak of Egypt, Compaore of Burkina Faso, inaugurated themselves President-for-life with the unction of their Western backers and referred to and used public funds as their personal assets. These power mongers became extremely resentful of intellectuals, whom they perceived as threats to their personal authority, and whom they persecuted, executed or forced into exile. Left with no real opposition from within their countries, accountable to no one but themselves, and surrounded by a plethora of praise-singers, these rulers filled strategic political and military positions with their clansmen. They drove their nations into management crises, and they made laxity, nepotism, absenteeism, opportunism, and corruption their governing tools. Whereas the tyrants’ rises arrive in the form of carefully planned carnivalesque episodes, the demises of the African repressive rulers come by way of unforeseen events that dumbfound them as much as they surprise the ruled masses, and most importantly their Western foe-friends (faux friends). Had not Kaddafi planted his tents in the middle of New York and on the bank of the River Seine in Paris? Was not Mubarak the “best friend” America once had in the Middle East—we say North Africa? These days, there are uncomfortable smiles on the faces of these dictators’ Western supporters, lest the African masses should remember the duplicity of the Western powers that support African dictators until the eleventh hour. The West is not in the business of freeing African people from their dictators. We know it. On the contrary, the West is in the business of imposing dictators to Africa. And this, when the masses find in their spilled blood the bitter taste of freedom and finally stand up, they shall remember.     

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