On a Spit

02 05 07

It’s quiz night again this Sunday night for The Cosmopolitans, and another table of our chums and siblings (and, of course, nine other tables of competitors, probably including our nemesis team, Gene Pool/ Jean Pant.)

In preparation for this auspicious occasion, The Cosmopolitans have undertaken to brush up on our sports knowledge. However, this is unlikely to prove too successful, unless verbal abuse of other teams is considered ‘sport’.

I reckon we should probably focus on the politics section. Here follows the first (an probably last) in the series “know your African dictator”:

In first place:

Omar al-Bashir (Sudan – current)

Al-Bashir took charge of a military coup in 1989 that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Sadeq al-Mahdi. Al-Bashir immediately banned all political parties, repressed the press, and dissolved Parliament upon assuming control of the nation. He has long been accused of harbouring and aiding terrorists and Islamic extremists. Osama bin Laden lived and operated in Sudan for five years until he was removed and banned from the country in May 1996. Over the last four years, at least 200 000 people in Darfur have been killed by pro-Bashir forces. Nationwide, 5.3 million have been driven from their homes, and more than 700 000 have fled the country.

And then

Idi Amin (Uganda until 1972) – During his reign, Amin announced that God had told him in a dream to expel Uganda’s Indian and Pakistani populations, who owned almost all of Uganda’s businesses. Despite personally ordering the killing of up to half a million Ugandans, Amin was elected chair of the Organisation of African Unity by the rulers of other African states – a one-year term in 1975. Liked the taste of fellow Ugandans on a spit.

Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire – until 1997)At some point in his life and career as leader of Zaire, Mobutu changed his name to Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa za Banga – officially translated as ‘the all-powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, will go from conquest to conquest leaving fire in his wake.” Friendly guy. Reportedly absconded with billions of dollars in Western aid and export earnings generated by the country’s mineral wealth. Believed to have amassed a personal fortune of $4 billion by the mid-1980s.

Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana – until 1966) During his reign, Nkrumah passed measures which included passing laws allowing the imprisonment of political opponents without charge, dismissing the nation’s supreme court and pronouncing judgments himself. Nkrumah lived in exile in Guinea, where Guinean president Sékou Touré appointed him honorary co-president of Guinea. Co-predident?? I DIG IT!

Hastings Kamuzu Banda (Malawiuntil 1971 or until life ends) In November 1970 the constitution of Malawi was amended to make Banda president for life, effective the following year. Likes the taste of fellow Malawians on a spit

Sani Abacha (Nigeria – Military president until 1998): In 1993, Abacha overthrew the transitional administration in Nigeria at the time and installed himself as head of state. He abolished all state and local governments and the national legislature, banned all political parties, and replaced many civilian officials with military commanders

Paul Biya (Cameroon – current)Biya is credited with instituting one of the more creative tactics in the history of rigged elections. After international election-monitoring groups denounced his elections as ‘designed to fail,’ Biya hired his own group of international monitors. Made up of ex-U.S. congressmen of both parties, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress declared Cameroon’s 2004 election as free and fair. Another observer group, led by former Canadian prime minister Joe Clark, arrived earlier and denounced the registration process as rigged. Damn Canadians!

Daniel Arap Moi (Kenya – until 2002) Not quite a dictator but a Nazi-esque individual never the less. In December 1991 Moi agreed to legalise opposition political parties but encouraged political and ethnic divisions among the new parties

There are many more including Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe), about whom I think we all hear and say much, and who continues to astound and terrify; Teodoro Obiang Nguema (Equatorial Guinea); King Mswati III (Swaziland) – he of the many, many wives; Isayas of Afewerki (Eritrea); Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) and Hosni Mubarak (Egypt).

With this I think the Cosmopolitans have just enough African history to get us through one quiz evening. If not, we’ll just roast the owner on a spit and par-tay! Mmmmm, meat!