If you’ve seen “The Last King of Scotland,” have read a book, or at worst just spend a lot of time on Wikipedia then you would have heard of Idi Amin. Idi Amin was a bat-shit crazy dictator that ruled Uganda with such an iron fist that so many bodies were thrown into the rivers that the hydroelectric dams stopped working.
What most people don’t realize though is that by comparison Idi Amin was frankly sane when compared to Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Empire, now less imaginatively known as the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic is what Donald Trump might call a “shit hole country” we won’t because we’re woke, but he might. The reason he might say this is that the Central African Republic is a huge country which would you guess is in Central Africa, has a population of 5 million people, ongoing civil war and poverty, lots and lots of poverty
Things were not always like this for the CAR as the cool kids call it, for it used to be a glorious part of the French Empire. The area mostly came under French control in 1894 from where they raped, pillaged and set up basically no infrastructure before determining in 1960 that they should be a country.
In 1960 David Dacko and his MESAN party won elections and declared themselves independent as the Central African Republic. Having not been at the meeting to decide a name for the country we can only assume it went as such ~
Pictured Above: David Dacko
David Dacko “does anyone have an idea on what we should call the country” (silence) “we shall, therefore call it the Central African Republic” Dacko drops the mic.
In 1962 merely two years after independence Dacko declared MESAN the party of the state and set to building a corrupt poverty ridden country, a task he was largely succeeding at until the 1965 coup.
1965 Coup in Central African Republic
On 31 December 1965, Dacko was overthrown in the Saint-Sylvestre coup by Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who not only got rid of the national assembly but declared himself President-For-Life in 1972.
Alas being President for life was not enough for Bokassa and he had grander ideas for the glorious nation of Central African Republic, but more on that later!
Who was General Bokassa?
Bokassa who is pictured above was a general that had a real hard-on for all things French and Napoleonic, not just a little bit, like almost to fetish levels. He was also an anti-Communist, which back in the day gave you major street creds with Imperialist governments like France. Bokassa used to go on hunting trips with President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Feeling like a bit of a player, President Bokassa was about to shake shit up in a big way!
Cometh the Central African Empire
General Bokassa decided that he wanted his country to stand out with a silly name like the Central African Republic, so he was presented with two ideas, make a cool name like Coolasfuckistan, or become an empire and call it the Central African Empire. He went for the latter.
On 4 December 1977, Bokassa spent a third of the country’s very meagre economy on a rather lavish coronation or the exact equivalent that France had provided in aid that year.
Remember the whole Napoleon short man thing Bokassa had going on? Well that was what the theme of his coronation was, with him taking the title “Emperor of Central Africa by the Will of the Central African People, United within the National Political Party, the MESAN.”
And in 1977 this was the place to be if you were French and although the French President was not present there were more French dignitaries there than you could shake a shitty baguette at.
Impoverished Children Made to Wear Posh Uniforms
As well as having a major boner for Napoleon Bokassa also really liked Paris. He decided that the children of the capital should dress like Parisian school children and wear expensive uniforms. His wife happened to own the uniform shop, but alas the parents of the kids could not afford the uniforms. Emperor Bokassa then did what any sane and rational ruler would do and had the school children massacred.
Operation Barracuda AKA Oops we fucked up France
Killing kids didn’t overly bother the French, but when Bokassa had the audacity to be friends with Colonel Gaddafi shit hit the fan. David Dacko (remember him) had been hauled up in a French hotel waiting to be told what to do, and when Bokassa went on holiday to Tripoli, the Barracuda was unleashed.
French forces supported by other friendly African nations entered the Central African Empire, put Dacko back into power and thus the Glorious Central African Republic was reborn!
How Did Dacko Fare as President for a Second Time?
Shit, he lasted two years before doing something the French President didn’t like him and he was ousted by a military coup.
Where Did His Royal Highness Emperor Bokassa Go?
Pictured Above: Bokassa in exile
Bokassa remained in exile in France, paid for by the French state, where he was sentenced to death in absentia. In 1986 he decided to return to the CAR, where he was immediately arrested and sentenced to death. In 1988 the death sentence was changed to life imprisonment, then 20 years, before in 1993 they said “fuck it” and released the old boy. Cannibal, or not you don’t lock up your former emperor.
Three years later, High Royal Excellency died at the ripe old age of 75 of a heart attack. He was survived by his 17 wives and 50 or so children. One of whom Jean-Bédel Bokassa Jr AKA the Crown Prince now heads the royal house of the Central African Empire.
So remember the next time someone moans about human rights in places like Cuba that once upon a time we supported the ass hat that was Emperor Bokassa.
And as for the Central African Republic?
It’s still a bit of a shit hole…..