Nine of Africa's worst ever dictators revealed

A list of more African dictators

Find the first list here: 11 worst African dictators

Sani Abacha| Nigeria| 1993-1998

He rose to power after he sacked the interim president following the annulment of the 1993 elections.

He was responsible for the looting of USD 5 billion in funds. Abacha was accused of gross human rights violations and most infamous for the public hanging of political activist Ken Saro Wiwa.

Abacha was killed in the president’s palace in 1998 where it is suspected that he may have been poisoned via two Indian prostitutes, a plan said to have been orchestrated by political rivals. He was buried on the same day without autopsy so reports were never confirmed.

Sekou Toure| Guinea| 1958- 1984

A pioneer for trade unions in Guinea, Toure ended up becoming president in 1958 after leading a referendum to vote against continued French association. As a result, Guinea became fully independent from France in 1960.

Toure declared his party to be the only legal political party and ran unopposed in 1968, 64 and 72.

Any opponents of his government often risked police intimidation or staying in detention camps. He was responsible for the arrests, detention and executions of opposition members who had attempted to lead a military operation to rescue political detainees and capture Toure. According to Amnesty International 2,900 of 4,500 political detainees had unknown fates.

Toure had a cabinet minister who had attempted to assassinate him die in prison at the same year of the minister’s arrest- without a trial.

He died while receiving cardiac treatment in the US.

Macias Nguema| Equatorial Guinea| 1968- 1979

He was the first president of Eq. Guinea.

Nguema granted himself all direct powers of government and institutions. He declared private education rebellious and banned it outright in 1975. He banned western medicines, ordered the executions of entire families and towns; and mandated the deaths of people who wore spectacles.

He was extremely paranoid, banning all boats so as to prevent people from fleeing his rule. He also banned citizens from shorelines.

Nguema ordered all citizens with Hispanic names to Africanise their names.

He had the governor of the central bank killed and had all national treasures transported to his rural village.

He forced cultural regression and an intellectual purge which had majority of academics fleeing the country which Eq. Guinea has never recovered from.

Nguema constantly referred to himself as Unique Miracle. He consumed copious amounts of bhang and psychoactive drugs.

He was overthrown by his nephew in a military coup after he ordered the death of several of his own family members and sentenced to death 101 times by firing squad for crimes of genocide against the Bubi people.

Obiang Mbasogo| Equatorial Guinea| 1979- present

He overthrew his uncle, Macias Nguema, in a bloody military coup. The state’s radio declared him a god with all power over everything.

He granted amnesty to political prisoners from his uncle’s rule.

But he has no opposition as he has the power to rule by decree. There is no free press in Eq. Guinea.

Calling himself El Jefe (the boss), he is responsible for unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; life-threatening conditions in prisons; impunity; random arrest and has even been rumoured to be a cannibal.

Gnassingbe Eyadema| Togo| 1967- 2005

He conducted Africa’s first coup d’état.

In 1998, he organised a presidential election but upon realising he was losing, he cancelled it stating that it was in the interests of National Security.

He was accused of countless human rights violations.

Eyadema had an entourage of 1000 dancing women, bronzed statues in the capital and even had a comic book that portrayed him as a superhero with powers of invincibility.

He died of heart failure while on a flight to seek medical treatment.

Jean-Bedel Bokassa| Central African Republic| 1966- 1976

He took power from the president David Dacko in a coup d’état in 1966 and was subsequently overthrown in a France supported coup in 1976 where Dacko was reinstated.

He emulated Napoleon Bonaparte.

Bokassa supervised judicial beatings and ruled that thieves should have an ear cut off in the first offence.

He appointed himself as Emperor of the Central Africa Empire in 1977 in a coronation ceremony that cost $80 million today (Sh8.2 billion) which bankrupted the country.

In 1979 he had schoolchildren arrested for refusing to buy expensive school uniforms that were made by one of his wives’ companies and bore the image of his face. He allegedly supervised the massacre of 100 of the children.

Bokassa decreed that adults between the ages of 18 and 55 had to have jobs or they would face imprisonment. He banned begging and sought to control all “extracurricular” activities that adults engaged in.

Yahya Jammeh| Gambia| 1994- 2017

Jammeh took power in a bloodless coup in 1994. He was exiled to Eq. Guinea after pressure from ECOWAS, the AU and the UN to concede defeat in the 2016 elections- which he had at first conceded then contested.

He was accused of human rights abuses.

Jammeh claimed to have the cure for HIV/AIDS and asthma.

He was awfully homophobic declaring the LGBT acronyms to stand for Leprosy, Gonorrhoea, Bacteria and Tuberculosis. He also declared that any LGBT people should be beheaded.

He suppressed free press and had anti-government stations closed or even burnt down.

He engaged in illegal trade with Senegalese rebels.

He had fourteen students killed during a protest.

He was responsible for the disappearance and detention of journalists and was responsible for up to 1,000 Gambians who had been abducted by government-sponsored "witch doctors" on charges of witchcraft, and taken to detention centres where they were forced to take poison. This was because he believed the death of his aunt had been caused by witch craft.

Gaafar Nimeiry| Sudan| 1969- 1985

He took power in a 1969 coup ending the first Sudanese civil war.

His indiscriminate borrowing led to hyperinflation and a resulting sharp decline of the value of the Sudanese currency which lost a reported 90% in value.

Nimeiry imposed Sharia Law in 1983 that led to a religious war between the Muslim centric North and Christian based South.

He was ousted in 1985 and went into exile in Egypt and was allowed to return in 1999.

Mobutu Sese Seko| Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo)| 1965- 1997

He gained power during the Congo Crisis, leading a Belgian sponsored coup against nationalist Patrice Lumumba then had him executed by firing squad.

Mobutu had the support of the US and the UK due to his anti-communism stance.

His legacy was one of an authoritarian regime, amassing personal wealth and attempting to purge all colonial cultural influence.

The nation suffered uncontrolled inflation, currency devaluation and large debt.

In 1991, due to economic deterioration, he was forced to share power with the opposition but used the army to prevent any power sharing until 1997 where he was expelled by Kabila.

He embezzled an estimated $5 billion and was accused of widespread human rights violations. He died 3 months into exile from advanced prostate cancer in Morocco.


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