Some of African’s Most Ruthless Tyrants in the 20th Century

When slavery ended, some ex-slaves chose to repatriate to Africa. Those who knew their African self-esteem or heritage did not want anything to do with the system that enslaved them. Some had received a distinguished education before repatriating to Africa. They sort to establish a confederation of African empires and charge the West for exploiting African minerals, resources, and centuries of slavery. However, not all Africans were interested in the movement. Hopes of using African wealth to bring Uncle Sam to his knees were far-fetched. But many hoped to reject the European King or Queen’s kingship along with any Western heresy that proclaimed its superiority over the African tribal bloodline. They failed to recognize Africa’s participation. 

While these ideals soon came to be referred to as “radical thinking,” some had hoped that after eradicating the colonial system, Africans would unite to reclaim what they believed the West had stolen. But they failed to recognize Africa’s participation in its demise. As a whole Africans had engaged in tribal wars for hundreds of years. Not only that, our ancestors sold or gave our natural and mineral resources away for dirt cheap. They also mismanaged the continent’s wealth and sold their people into slavery. They exchanged diamonds and gold for salt, rum, silk, leather, or manufactured goods. That was no different from the Africans who were now embracing the West. Yet this generation despised their fellow Africans for espousing the West.

Lo and behold, there were at the beginning of the age of the 20th-century African warlord. While many of these soon-to-be tyrants arrived with good intentions, hoping to improve Africa, a lack of clear vision, discipline, sacrifice, and collaboration among the tribal people led them to force their issue. Soon, they began to see their fellow African citizens who embrace Western ideals as “weak links,” and commenced massive ethnic cleansing and genocide. This got out of control when greed, anger, hatred, and power fueled by corruption led to several very brutal wars in which millions of innocent people lost their lives. All of these tyrants are now either deceased or incarcerated. The truth is Africa has fallen too far behind. It would take centuries to recover.


New Year’s Eve 1965… Officer Jean-Bédel Bokassa stunned the Central African Republic when he turned the country into a monarchy rather than the post-colonial French state it had become. He allegedly changed the country’s direction by overthrowing the president who was his own cousin. After this military coup, he became president and changed the name of the country, and declared himself the first emperor. He called himself the “President of Life” and the rogue empire of the lavish spending emperor was rejected by all. In his frustrated longing for control, he massacred many civilians for rioting. This royal cannibal is also believed to have slaughtered 100 school children after they refused to put his picture on their uniforms…

After 10 years of tyranny, Jean-Bédel Bokassa was evicted. He spent several years in exile, was tried, charged with murder, treason, and human rights violations, and imprisoned. He died in the mid-1990s. It could have been a great idea to turn the country into a monarchy. Only, he lived in a different time. The African were giving away their natural resources which led the Arabs and the Europeans to take advantage of that. They’ve introduced Islam and Christianity, destroyed the royal families, and established a post-colonial democracy. To change the system back to what it used to be in the ancient days, it will take the cooperation of the people. Even with that, there might be a problem. Africans can’t even prevent feminism from spreading. 


Mugabe is probably the most successful of the warlords. His bloodbaths are not as obvious as the rest of the others. Unlike Ghadaffi for example Mugabe seems to understand how to play the game of international hypocrisy. He is no stranger to conflict by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Mugabe has been fighting since the 1960s. The current peace is due to various truces. The situation in southern African states is very complex. Whereas the Europeans went to the north and the west, stripped diamond, silver, and gold, gabbed shiploads of slaves, and left, in the southern states they moved in. The Europeans did not only enslave the southern Africans they took over their country and segregated the natives as second-class citizens on their own land.

Some Africans are happy to look the other way while those who belong to a long line of tribal heresy continued to fight to reclaim control of their fallen kingdom. It’s easy to see that western democratic systems have prevailed while genocide and/or civil war is a thing of the past now. Some of these guys were facing a double-edged sword. It’s either abandon their custom and bow to the English queen. Refusing the higher authority and declining to recognize western laws has always been the trouble. In those southern African states where there are both black and white Africans, the problem becomes compounded when you factor racism into the equation. Nonetheless, Mugabe is no joke. Going by the stories, he is easily one of the most ruthless.


How do you destroy a country? You call a Foday Sankoh and set him off to that task. He was a disgraced army Sargent whom the government threw into one of the world’s worst prisons. They released him after seven years, stripped of dignity. Westerners quietly exploited the unpopular country’s (at the time) lucrative stash of mineral resources. The angry ex-soldier found no catch with his post-prison freelance photography. Idle anti-government rants evolved. Soon, the reject and his band of rascals are learning how to form an insurgency from none other than the master insurgent himself – Ghadaffi! Add a fellow insurgent classmate next door in Liberia with ties to American and European black markets, Sankoh had the perfect recipe for destruction.

The fiery-tempered mad man stormed the borders of Sierra Leone in 1991 creating victims of mass rape, murder, genocide, and amputations. With loot from diamonds sold on the black market Foday fed his undisciplined army with enough, drugs alcohol, and hate-fueled rhetoric. In the end, his 11-year civil unrest killed over 50, 000 people while displacing another 500, 000. What’s even crazier about Foday Sankoh is after manning one of Africa’s wildest genocides he wanted the people to honor and then rewarded him with the presidency. Once he got the chance to be a part of the government, he found it difficult to trust the peace, violated the agreement, and got himself thrown in prison. The RUF warlord died of a stroke while deteriorating in prison.


Kony’s style is different. When a close political ally is sent home in a government change, Kony’s well-connected family soon lost access to their political influence in Uganda. He slowly became an anti-government ranting, AK47, rocket launcher, and hand grenade toting rain forest bound psychopath. Add in heavy use of the occult as every African warlord participates with spirits. However, when you go looking for juju, chances are you will come across a jack ripping boo without a dollar to their name before you meet that fire-spitting warlock. Nonetheless, you do not wanna take that as a reason to underestimate. You may not believe in grumkins and snarks, spirits walking, or magical spells but every once in a while that storyline appears in an African tale. 

The last reporter who tried to expose Joseph Kony was seen butt naked in the streets, dangling his testicles in front of passing motorists. Kony’s Joe Blow might actually have the correct spell to make you dangle your nuts on Hollywood Blvd. With two million people affected, Kony’s movement has probably supplied thousands of child soldiers, child sex workers and probably offered some hundreds of kids in human sacrificing rituals. Of course, none of us are there to know if these allegations are true. Like yourself, I gathered this information from brief research on the internet. Fairly speaking, the West has branded many African freedom fighters and political liberators as criminals and warlords. As legends go, Joseph Kony has quite the story behind him.


Charles Taylor hit Liberia with rage! No one saw it coming but most people thought it was inevitable. Christmas eve, 1989… It was bloody and swift. Total massacre without regard for status, gender, age, or merit. People gathered around their battery-operated pocket-size AM/FM radios petrified as they listened to BBC’s “Focus On Africa” where Charles Taylor gave indications on where he might attack next. Mass rape, murder, human sacrifice, cannibalism, drug trafficking, child soldiers, anarchy, and human right violation were the order of the day for over ten years. Many factions evolved drawing in United Nations forces and collaboration of African Nations armed forces all aiming to stop Taylor as millions scattered into overwhelmed refugee camps.

Taylor, an ex-government official, wound up in Libya at Muammar Ghadaffi’s infamous insurgency training camp. He met Foday Sankoh supposedly and with their eyes on Liberia’s iron ore and rubber plus Sierra Leone’s diamonds the two disgruntled warlords became allies. Sankoh raised hell on the Joseph Mommoh government and Taylor attacked Samuel Doe’s government. To end the bloodbath people decided to vote Taylor into office. Hoping to be hailed as a noble statesman the prideful dictator faced humiliation when George Bush Jr. chased him into exile. Once he attempted to escape and return to start another war he was captured, tried, and found guilty of 11 counts of human rights violations including terrorism. Taylor has left a serious mark.

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