Skip to comments.If you think this one's bad you should have seen his uncle -
Posted on 08/29/2004 11:54:06 AM PDT by UnklGene
If you think this one's bad you should have seen his uncle -
By Anthony Daniels (Filed: 29/08/2004)
There is no leader in the world who more deserves to be overthrown than Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea for the last quarter of a century. By rights, his brutality, corruption and venality should not go unpunished; yet I doubt that the mercenaries who planned to overthrow him, and whom Sir Mark Thatcher is accused of having backed financially, were motivated by a burning ambition to bring democracy and clean government to the volcanoes of Fernando Poo and the jungles of Rio Muni.
On the contrary: I am sure that they knew that one venal dictator in Equatorial Guinea would be replaced by another: one who would owe his position to them. Since Equatorial Guinea is now the third largest oil exporter in Africa, there were wonderfully lush, quick fortunes to be made by mercenaries and their backers.
Equatorial Guinea is one of the least-known countries in the world, because of its small size and its insignificant population. It was, however, the scene of one of the greatest disasters to befall any country in the 20th century, proportionately as great as that which befell Cambodia, caused by the first president after its independence, Francisco Macias Nguema.
When I visited in 1986, it had not recovered from the trauma. Macias Nguema had killed or driven into exile a third of the population. His successor was his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who is still president 25 years after his coup. He is less bizarre than his uncle, but is certainly no man of the people. In those days, they turned the electricity off whenever the President left the capital, as being no longer necessary. The telephone directory, a slim volume, had a fulsome, and obligatory, dedication to him.
He was not a friend of free speech: I was told by an expatriate in no uncertain terms that I had better not let on that I was a journalist, or they would cut me into pieces and throw me into the sea. People disappeared in Equatorial Guinea and no one dared ask any questions.
The only imported goods available in the market at the time were tinned sardines and pink champagne, of which there was a strangely plentiful supply, presumably left over from a summit of West African presidents that had just taken place in Malabo. Foreign aid at the time had reached 90 per cent of the gross national product of the country. It paid for the pink champagne, of course. I spent a pleasant and instructive afternoon in Malabo counting the different international aid agencies whose Toyota Land Cruisers passed me in the otherwise dead streets: I got up to 27 before I abandoned my count.
Equatorial Guinea had been the only Spanish colony in sub-Saharan Africa, and consisted of two parts: Rio Muni, on the mainland of Africa, and Fernando Poo (renamed Bioko), a volcanic island off the Cameroonian coast. For a time, the British occupied the island, and the original name of the capital was Clarence, later (under the Spanish) Santa Isabel and now (after independence) Malabo. The famous explorer and linguist Sir Richard Burton was consul there for a time, and detested it, calling his office "a plank-lined coffin containing a dead consul once a year". Before the advent of modern medicine, Fernando Poo really was a white man's grave.
In the last few decades of Spanish colonial rule, Equatorial Guinea flourished. By the time the world prevailed upon Spain to decolonise, it had the best medical services, the lowest death rate and the second highest per capita income of any sub-Saharan African country. The first president of the newly independent country soon changed all that. Macias Nguema, who in 1968 was democratically elected (like Mr Blair, though with a far higher percentage of the popular vote), turned into a paranoiac monster. The government and economy became a family affair, with most of the ministers coming from the same village; young Teodoro, the head of the National Guard, was only one of Macias's relatives among many to hold high office.
Macias, who had failed the entrance exams to the colonial civil service three times, was distinctly uneasy around educated people. Before long, he had killed everyone who wore spectacles, a sure sign, in his peculiar opinion, of superior educational accomplishment, and it was dangerous for any Guinean to own so much as a page of printed matter. Under Macias, forced labour akin to slavery was re-introduced, though it did not prevent cocoa production (the main export at the time) from declining by five sixths.
Declaring himself President for Life and the Unique Miracle, he also acted as chief judge who sentenced thousands to death. Trusting no one, he spent most of his time in his ancestral village of Mongomo, where he kept the national treasury under his bed or in suitcases in his hut. Half Pol Pot, half Mobutu, he insisted that all Guineans Africanise their names.
Teodoro did not overthrow his uncle, subsequently try him in a cinema in Malabo and have him executed, because he had a tender conscience, for he himself was a well-known torturer. Rather, he realised that a terrible fate would befall him if he did not act. In 1979, six members of the National Guard that he commanded, including one of his brothers, had gone to Macias in Mongomo to ask him to release some of the money in his suitcases to pay the men and officers of the National Guard, who had gone without wages for some time. Infuriated by their impertinence, Macias had them shot, whereupon Teodoro decided that a coup was the best form of defence. It was a case of execute lest thou be executed.
In 1992, 13 years after the coup, oil was discovered offshore, and suddenly Equatorial Guinea - or more precisely, the family of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - was rich. Equatorial Guinea now produces more than one barrel of oil per day per inhabitant. But the president has remained more or less faithful to the political principles bequeathed to him by his uncle.
It was stated officially in 2003 that he was in permanent communication with God, and that he could therefore kill anyone he chose without having to answer to anyone. It is true that the rest of the world has forced him to have elections now and again, but he usually wins them with handsome majorities, gaining somewhere between 98.3 and 99.99 per cent of the votes. Perhaps the fact that one opposition leader, Severo Moto Nsa, was sentenced to 101 years' imprisonment helped voters decide which way to vote, especially as the ballot was not secret. And, as the nephew of the Unique Miracle put it with admirable forthrightness, "Anyone who doesn't vote for me is low class."
It is ironic that the president should be so morally outraged by the attempt upon his regime by mercenaries. His presidential guard is composed entirely of Moroccans, because he does not trust Guineans: and the Moroccans guard him not from idealism, but because they are paid to do so. Indeed, Moroccan mercenaries guard more than one West African tyrant. Obiang Nguema doesn't object to mercenaries as such: only to those who would overthrow him and deprive his family of the spoils of the Ministry of Mines and Petrol.
Equatorial Guinea is a concentrated distillate of all the woes of post-colonial Africa. It is all there: the corruption, the nepotism, tribalism, brutality, megalomania and - underlying everything else - the wounded amour propre and brittle self-esteem. And indeed, it must be a sign of the marginal importance of Africa to the rest of the world that a country, a third of whose population either fled or was killed by a presidential maniac, should be so completely unknown even to the well-informed.
What is with Africa that it can't govern itself?
Big deal. Yet another African stinking s**thole. A God-forsaken continent that deserves to be wiped clean. Harsh? Prove me wrong.
So what precisely did Mark Thatcher do that was wrong?
Thatcher faces extradition over coup plot charges
(Filed: 27/08/2004) Telegraph - UK
The government of Equatorial Guinea has called on South Africa to extradite Sir Mark Thatcher over allegations that he was involved in a coup plot.
Sir Mark faces jail if he is found guilty
Lucie Bourthoumieu, lawyer for the west African state, which still carried the death penalty for serious crimes, said that the country had "strong hopes" of achieving the extradition.
Sir Mark, Lady Thatcher's son, was arrested on suspicion of involvement in an attempted coup in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea in west Africa. He is currently under house arrest and has surrendered his passport.
Sir Mark, 51, is suspected of being one of the major financiers behind the plot.
Miss Bourthoumieu said: "South Africa is co-operating, and they are willing to fight furiously against all mercenaryism and terrorism."
She said partnership in the African Union and civil conventions should make the extradition between the two countries possible.
The news comes as Lady Thatcher arrived home from holiday in the United States.
The former Prime Minister refused to comment on her son's plight as she was helped out of her car, surrounded by five bodyguards.
Lord Bell, a former adviser to Lady Thatcher who is acting as Sir Mark's spokesman, said: "She is obviously distressed about the fact her son appears to be in some difficulty."
He dismissed claims that Sir Mark had been planning to flee South Africa when he was arrested. He also said he was unaware of any death threats against him.
Lady Thatcher is said to be 'distressed' by the arrest of her son
Sir Mark is a friend of Simon Mann, an Old Etonian and former SAS officer who is awaiting sentencing in Zimbabwe after being tried in connection with the same plot. Eighty-four suspected mercenaries are in detention in Zimbabwe or Equatorial Guinea.
Another 19 people are on trial in the Equatorial Guinea capital Malabo. These include South African arms dealer Nick du Toit, who faces the death penalty if convicted.
His co-defendants could face prison sentences of up to 86 years if the case against them is proved.
I find this very interesting, especially when you consider that US liberals during the Spanish Civil War thought nothing of sending self-proclaimed "soldiers" to fight against Franco. Of course, they were "heroes," but Mark Thatcher's a "criminal."
The problem was du Toit didn't let the ANC and ZANU/PF in on the oil concessions he would have gained. The fact that he is a white professional soldier doesn't help much either.
<< What is with Africa that it can't govern itself? >>
Ten thousand years of evolution and a couple score points on the mean IQ.
More like Evelyn Waugh's Black Mischief and Scoop if you ask me...
Ten thousand years of evolution and a couple score points on the mean IQ.
No, I would disagree. There are plenty of Africans with smarts. The answer lies in exactly what your question queries.
The first requirement for a successful government of any style (Monarchist, authoritarian, democratic) is self governance, the ability to keep in check one's own worst impulses. It's a moral issue really.
Africans are not stupid. Their problem is that, as a culture, they just haven't developed a strong moral code.
Do keep in mind, though, that Western European culture, with bodies piled high as a result of its immoral ideologies, also has not done so well. What do you think 20th Century European History looks like to Africans ?
I think you owe an apology to stinking sh!tholes.
Unfortunately, Brian may have couched his comment bluntly, but he has a point. You need to hit some books ... start with L L Cavalli-Sforza, and then read Lynn and Vaihanen's IQ and the Wealth of Nations.
The median IQ of subsaharan Africa is about 70.
This doesn't mean all Africans are slow, or that there are not thousands and thousands, millions, of very intelligent Africans. But low IQ across the continent is documented in study after study, even those carefully controlled for cultural content. The data are confirmed, the experiments are consistent and repeatable. This is a real problem.
The impulsivity or lack of self-control, unsatisfactory "self-governance" as you call it, has been shown to be strongly correlated with "g" or IQ.
Some part of this is certainly caused by bad nutrition. That means that over the decades we can fix this part, at least theoretically. Some part of it is genetic. This means that over even centuried will will find this part of the problem intractable. The scientists have this figured out pretty well, but policy discussions have a way to go to catch up -- the core of the problem is one that well-meaning folks do not want to believe: whatever the threshold is for participating in a civil society's orderly government, and whatever percentage of your population needs to be in this "smart fraction" for success as a nation, Africa is falling short.
A sad side effect of this is that the most intelligent people in these countries, the ones who are their country's great hopes, flee and become Britons or Americans. Our gain is Africa's loss.
You need a civilised society to keep people who have or develop options from leaving. Having or developing options is a function of many things, but intelligence is certainly one of them. But you need to have a certain smart fraction of the populace in order to maintain a civilised society.
Colonialism isn't going to come back. Unlike the situation in the 19th Century, the resources of Africa are pretty well mapped and understood, and they are not worth the trouble to the civilised nations of the Americas and Eurasia. Yet it almost seems as if nothing will work for Africa but some kind of benevolent custodial relationship -- the very idea of which is, to me and probably to you, repulsive.
I don't have any answers, really. I just know that we need to stay within the left and right limits set by science as to what is possible. Your strong moral code is a great idea. Perhaps the growth of evangelistic churches will help, I don't know. Perhaps it will be Islam that finally gets Africans pulling together. I don't know.
Criminal Number 18F
The effect of culture, and the insularity of African tribes from the ferment of change experienced in Europe and Asian certainly didn't challenge them for many millenia. They were out of the mainstream where the ideas of ethics and morality were promulgated and "worked out", and the stringent societal enforcement of those mores were developed.
I think we can look at our own society to see how quickly the lack of self governance becomes the norm, once those mores are not longer enforced, and the ability to pass down lore and knowledge is reduced.
Look all around you; there is a segment of our own society that is dumbing down from the level of the previous generation. These people are by no means only thoses in the so-called ghetto, but those whose families were of a higher socioeconomic class. This is due, not to inherent IQ, but to the use of drugs and producing children out of wedlock (lack of self governance).
It will be interesting to examine the IQs of that segment in a several generations. I think what I am trying to say is that, IQ is not as much a determinant as morality, which is accessible to all cultures as a developed habit of living. I think that living "right" can make a culture smarter over generations because it allows innate ablities to be used to solve new problems, instead of old stupid problems like "how can I feed my fatherless child."
P.S. Styles of parenting differ as well, and can have a great influence on cognitive ability. Engaging and stimulating babies and toddlers as they grow has been shown to have an effect on IQ. I noticed, when I lived in Africa, how mute the African children seemed to be. Obedient, but constrained, compared to loqacious American children.
Supposedly North Korea has a higher than average national I.Q...
Would do but such a vile offering must be treated with the contempt it deserves and therefore does not merit a serious reply
Vile? You want to discuss "vile"? Sit back, then, and let's discuss recent African history, shall we Sparky????
give me what you've got then. Remember I don't deny that terrible things, the worst things imaginable, have happened in Africa. I'm a white African. My father was imprisoned in the infamous Nyayo House torture dungeons in Kenya by dictator Daniel arap Moi. I weep for the continent I love. But I believe there are many, many good people on it, and your proposal of wholescale extermination is offensive. Anyway, if you can give me a cogent explanation for your final solution for the African problem, I will be happy to hear it.
It may be your home, but Africa has been a s**thole of genocide and tribal atrocities for a long, LONG time. Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan.........good God, man, how many examples of mass butchery and moral emptiness and darkness do you need ????
I am absolutely, positively convinced that the world would be a far better place if the continent of Africa.....and most of the middle east.........were totally depopulated. It won't happen in my lifetime, but these are peoples who have given ZIP to mankind except misery and heartache (especially to each other).
Defend it all you will......but I'll never set foot in that sewer. As poorly as you obviously think of me for my opinion, just look around your lovely continent at the two legged animals who live there, and just think of the horrors they have inflicted on each other for hundreds of years. THEN come talk to me, sport.
Scoop was written with Abyssinia in mind. The dogs of war includes a capital city of Clarence, which just happens to have been the former name of EG's capital. And it begins with a massive discovery of mineral wealth.
I stand corrected -- you are, of course, quite right.
The details in the story about Obiang and his family and the strange goings on in the upper echelons of eq's government are still strikingly similar to some of the descriptions of the jackson family in Waugh's novels.
franco wasn't the recognized leader of spain. he was commanding an invading army. indeed, the republican gov't was the official one during the civil war.
"It may be your home, but Africa has been a s**thole of genocide and tribal atrocities for a long, LONG time. Uganda, Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan.........good God, man, how many examples of mass butchery and moral emptiness and darkness do you need ???? "
or you could say...
It may be your home, but Europe has been a s**thole of genocide and tribal atrocities for a long, LONG time. Germany, USSR, the Ottoman Empire, Ireland.........good God, man, how many examples of mass butchery and moral emptiness and darkness do you need ????
Apparently we needed one more example of mass butchery and moral emptiness and darkness, because then you give us this:
"I am absolutely, positively convinced that the world would be a far better place if the continent of Africa.....and most of the middle east.........were totally depopulated. It won't happen in my lifetime, but these are peoples who have given ZIP to mankind except misery and heartache (especially to each other)."
When you are qualified to denounce moral emptiness, come talk to me then, sport.