Throughout the pages of history, humanity has struggled to free itself from containment and the tentacles of dictatorship, and with only a very few exceptions, the African continent has suffered the most from ruthless dictators and self-imposed liberators who have placed self-interests over national good by enriching themselves at the expense of their compatriots. The decline of the African continent is reflective of the systemic greed and corruption that is evident throughout its borders.
The spirit of greed and bigotry has often so easily captured the minds of African Leaders and turned them into reckless corrupters and egotists who would do anything to hold on to powers, the familiar scenario is that they begin by promising democracy and the rule of law, development, protection for human rights, and justice and equality for all.
Amongst the leaders that the African continent has produced over the last half century, only a handful has served with true dignity and left an honorable legacy, including the iconic Nelson Mandala, Kwame Nkrumah, and perhaps Jerry John Rolands.
It is very much unfortunate that a vast majority of African leaders in that same space of time included the following:
Mobutu Sese Seko - Mobutu was a terrifying dictator who seized power in a bloody coup d'état that deposed and executed President Patrice Lumumba (the country's first president in 1960.
Immediately upon taking office, Mobutu organized a fearsome authoritarian regime that prioritized amassing vast personal wealth and crushing literally all critical voices. President Mobutu was so controlling that he dissolved every opposition party and established a one party system with himself as the only standard bearer when it was election year. Under Mobutu's rule, state prosecutors were allowed to bring charges against citizens for failing to cast a vote for him.
General Idi Amin Dada-Idi Amin actually doesn't need much introduction, and by the way, the types of crimes that he committed over four decades ago cannot be completely described in a single article. For those fully interested in understanding the scope and gravity of Idi Amin's crimes against humanity, I suggest you watch the movie 'raid of Entebee', or maybe 'the rise and fall of Idi Amin' on either youtube or netflex to understand for yourself why I think that his actions were indescribable.
However you think of it, just know that this man was one of the deadliest murderers of the 20th century, and he violated human rights to an unimaginable extent (and this is still an understatement).
Robert Mugabe - While he wasn't such a murderer as Mobutu and Idi Amin, Mugabe's transformation from a freedom fighter in the 1950s and 60s to the extremely corrupt and controversial character he became after taking power was just beyond reason.
If dictatorship can be ranked by stars, then Mugabe was a five star dictator, an erratic old man who thought that democracy and the principles that regulate modern world orders could not apply to him.
Mugabe believed in extra-judicial incarceration, torture, and politically-motivated executions. Even the bravest of oppositions, including former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, had to minimize their criticism after repeated imprisonment and near-death encounters at the hands of state security officers under Mugabe's rule.
Denis Sassou Nguesso - President Nguesso and President Mugabe were actually very good friends and they believed in Machiavellianism. After thirteen years in power with a single party system, Nguesso finally gave in to international pressure and opened up to multiparty system, and in the first fully monitored multi-party election ever held in Congo, Nguesso lost power in 1992.
But as expected after losing the election, Nguesso formed an opposition party which he converted into an arms group and lunched a coup de 'tact that brought him back to power in 1997, since that time, Nguesso has shown no intention of relinquishing powers, just like the other African dictators described in this article, Nguesso enjoys humiliating senior opposition figures and instilling fear in his people.
Folks - The sad story of corruption and dictatorship that has kept the African continent in darkness since the beginning of modern civilization is not limited to the few names mentioned in this article, the list can include former Libyan dictator Muhammed Khadafi, Liberia's Charles Taylor, Guinea's Sekou Tourey, and so on. Moreover, every generation of African dictators have blame either the ones before, or perhaps the opposition party, for the continent's problems.
At the Foundation for Human rights Defense International, we believe that the action by so many African leaders over the years have kept the continent in poverty and limited its potential amongst the community of nations.
The pattern here is consistent, they all do the following:
1. begin by criticizing the incumbent
2. get to power and fail to declare assets
3. hire public officials not based on their qualification ,but based on political affiliations
4. accrue so much worth in the shortest possible time
5. throw opposition leaders in jail
6. rig elections and stay in office until you are forced out
So my friends, for the most part, are African leaders patriots? Or are they egotists?
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From Foundation for Human Rights and Dignity's perspective, when all peoples can be treated without any form of social, political, racial or religious discrimination, etc, under the rule of law, when there exists a system that respects human values and those who violate the law are prosecuted in a balanced judiciary system and given a merited reward, then justice and equality exist.
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