With the conviction of former Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor (pictured) in the Netherlands today, the case casts a glaring spotlight over other war-ravaged countries of Africa that have buckled under the weight of dictatorships and oppression. Here, NewsOne takes a brief look at other African dictators of times past.
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1. Sekou Toure (Guinea) – For more than two and a half decades, Ahmed Sekou Toure ruled Guinea with an iron fist, which was not how he was originally perceived. His people welcomed him as the “Guinean Messiah” as he helped liberate the country from French rule. However, that freedom came with the price of oppression and intolerance of opposition by way of the many “death camps” he instilled in the country. Toure would die in America from cardiac arrest in 1984 while still in rule.
2. Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) – Ruling his country for 22 years to the day, April 26, Robert Mugabe was once a lauded figure in his homeland. Although he is largely credited for bringing Zimbabwe to freedom and prominence, Mugabe’s iron fist has also been the catalyst for the country being one of Africa’s poorest nations. A long list of cruel crimes have been levied toward the leader, all pointing to Mugabe’s power-hungry aims to crush his opposition.
3. Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) – Muammar Gaddafi, also known as the “brother leader,” ruled his country for more than 30 years and was infamous for his erratic nature and renowned status in the Arab world. Although many Westerners have a view of Gaddafi as a dictator, many in Africa have hailed the leader as a hero. However, many Libyans would come to realize that Gaddafi would begin to crack down on anyone he felt was a disruption to his rule by way of public hangings and other atrocities. Gaddafi would die in the fall of 2011 at the hands of Libyan rebels. The details surrounding his death are still murky to this day.
4. Idi Amin (Uganda) – Idi Amin Dada may be one of the more infamous figures in the history of African warlords. Called the “Butcher of Uganda,” Amin’s reign of terror was relatively short but encompassed a violence of legendary proportions. On the day of his military coup in 1971, when he established his rule, Amin would famously declare himself a prominent leader and responded viciously to anyone who dared to challenge him. It was rumored that Amin suffered from mental illness, given his propensity to order killings at a moment’s notice. Amin would die in exile in Saudi Arabia in 2003, this after being ousted in 1979 by a Ugandan nationalist.
5. Mobutu Sese Seko (Zaire) – Born Joseph-Desire Mobutu, Mobutu Sese Seko would rule in the Congo for 31 years, employing the same oppressive tactics of other dictators before him. Leading the Congolese Army in 1965, he would conquer the country and become its ruler. Seko considered himself a warrior, even taking on a name (Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga) that signified him as such. He was a notoriously self-promoting leader, and he didn’t tolerate any criticism of his rule. A government uprising in 1996 would lead to Seko’s overthrow at the hands of opposition leader Laurent Kabila, leading to an exile. Ailing from cancer, Seko would step down and flee to Morocco, where he would die of prostate cancer in 1997.