Wednesday, February 2, 2011

African Clowns and Tyrants

Today, 2 February 2011, was supposed to be a special anniversary for South Africa, because it marks the 21st anniversary of the unbanning of the ANC, PAC, and goodness knows how many other terrorist organizations. FW de Klerk made the announcement at the opening of parlement on 2 February, 1990. It was in that same speech that he also announced the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela.

For those who are interested, here is the speech by the former State President de Klerk:

Since then the countries problems have escalated to unbelievable heights, so when Mr de Klerk announced today, “that we must still change. So we can not just look back, we must look to the next twenty one years and say we're going to also solve these remaining problems…,” I could not help but laugh, for I do not want to see what this country will look like in 21 years from now!

So let’s move on to the next African clown…

On this day, on 2 February 1971, another historic event took place on African soil. The Big Daddy (Idi Amin Dada) had staged a coup and took over from Milton Obote, declaring himself President of Uganda, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Army Chief of Staff -- and many other crazy things!

Incidentally, on this day in 1989, exactly a year before FW de Klerk made his ‘revolutionary’ speech, another important event took place: Die "Groot Krokodil" PW Botha suffered a mild stroke and resigned as leader of the National Party on 2 February 1989, but remained as State President for a few months until he resigned as president on 14 August 1989. I’m just mentioning this for the record, it is not intended to be amusing.

But – while I’m in the mood for jokes, I may as well share the following article, which I think is hilarious:

Lighter side of tyranny
Article By: Rebekah Kendal - (
Wed, 02 Feb 2011 6:10

There are some things you shouldn't joke about - bombs while you are standing in the check-in queue at the airport; death at a funeral; your wife's cooking; and dictators. Yip, dictators are generally a nasty bunch who inflict untold evil on the defenceless masses. But, sometimes, they are also just a little bit funny…

Ah yes, for when delusions of grandeur meet absolute power the results are wonderfully absurd. Ostentatious titles, quirky idiosyncrasies and flagrant self-promotion paint pictures of dictators who are not only the incarnation of evil, but are also rather silly and contemptible.

So, in light of all this, we figured it's probably okay to have a quick chuckle at the expense of these tyrants. At your desk. Quietly. Far far away from the madness that these despots have inflicted on their people.

Now, that's a mouthful

What's in a name? Well, for those of the dictatorial class, quite a bit. Joseph-Désiré Mobutu was all for name changes when he seized power of the then Belgian Congo in 1965. He changed the name of the country to Zaire and rechristened himself Mbotutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, which translates roughly as 'the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, goes from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake'. Admittedly, when put like that, Joseph-Désiré does lack some panache.

But old Désiré has nothing on the Last King of Scotland. And by Scotland, we are of course referring to Uganda, and by King we mean tyrannical despot. Idi Amin Dada, who unleashed his reign of terror over Uganda from 1971 to 1979, was rather fond of extolling his own 'accomplishments'.

'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'.

Huh! And you thought that PhD after your name was impressive.

Divine intervention

Nothing smoothes the path to absolute power more than a little bit of divine intervention. Yip, the almighty's stamp of approval gives you a free pass on murder, corruption, embezzlement and general hanky-panky. Now some leaders, such as our friend Désiré, chose to take a more subliminal approach. The Warrior with the Inflexible Will conveyed his intimacy with the holy trinity by ensuring that every evening before the news, televisions around the country would broadcast an image of him descending from heaven through the clouds.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - dictator of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 - no doubt fearing that the subtle nuances of Désiré would be lost on his subjugated masses, decided to be a little more frank. In 2003 he had the state radio station announce that he was in constant communion with God and, as such, had the right to "kill anyone without having to give anyone an account and without going to hell". Oh yes, the god of Equatorial Guinea is indeed a wrathful one.

Delusions of grandeur

Having delusions of grandeur is one thing, getting others to believe them (or at least pretend that they do) is something else entirely. If you're a dictator you have a few handy tools at your disposal - a faithful army, a defunct legal system; and a terrified populous. Yip, then you can pretty much do whatever you want.

And the things that some dictators want are rather bizarre.

Take for instance Saparmurat Niyazov, who renamed himself 'Turkmenbashi' (Leader of all ethnic Turksmen) when he took absolute control of Turkmenistan following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

So fond was he of his new name, that he gave it to the month of January; the airport in the capital city of Asgabat; the large port city of Krasnovodsk; and a 670-pound meteorite that crashed into Turkmenistan in 1998. But Turkmenbashi was not only fond of himself, he renamed April and bread (yes, bread) after his mother Gurbansoltan edzhe.

And while the Turkmenistanis are enjoying a slice of Gurbansoltan edzhe in the month of Turkmenbashi they can down a shot of Turkmenbashi vodka, check the time on their Turkembashi watch (face) and watch one of the Turkmenbashi channels on TV.

Variety is indeed the spice of life.

Hastings Banda, who ruled Malawi from 1971 until 1993, insisted that every business building had to have an official picture of the Great Lion (Banda himself) hanging on the wall. Furthermore, he was rather particular about the positioning - no picture, clock or poster could be higher than his picture. And just in case the adoring populous forgot about their mighty leader on the way from the bank to the mechanic, every movie (TV was banned) was preceded by a video of Banda waving to the people while the national anthem played in the background.

Little extravagances

There really is very little point in earning the reputation of a ruthless megalomaniac, if you don't splash out a little every now and again. Muammar Abu Minyar al Gaddafi - Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution in Libya since 1969 - likes to keep things simple. Occasionally he sponsors a terrorist group; he adds a dash of colour to his military fatigue wardrobe with a few elaborate silk robes; and he has a personal bodyguard, the Amazonia guard, comprised entirely of beautiful African (allegedly virginal) women highly-trained in martial arts and weaponry.

It takes a little more to please Kim Jong Il of North Korea. The diminutive dictator, who wears four-inch platform shoes to enhance his height, has a fondness for Hennessy cognac. In a country where the average citizen earns $900 per annum, this connoisseur finds it acceptable to import $700 000 worth of cognac every year. One can only imagine the shame he would feel if his cellar (with a capacity for 10 000 bottles) were not fully stocked for all those visiting foreign dignitaries.

When he's not hosting military parades and presiding of an evil nuclear empire, little Kim spends his time browsing through his film collection (allegedly containing 20 000 video tapes), test-driving one of his 200 imported Mercedes or jotting down a new opera.

And yet, Kim Jong Il's fingers may have to get a little stickier before he can play with the big boys. Mobutu Sese Seko inspired the term 'kleptocracy' (ruled by thieves) when he helped himself to $5-billion (in 1980) as his country's economy crashed; while Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - he of divine killing powers - believes that he can overcome corruption by ensuring that the bulk of his country's oil wealth is deposited directly into his personal bank account.

Lighter side of tyranny - sourced from:


Macaw said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Brilliant. Those who are first will be last....

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