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Macias Nguema: Ruthless and bloody dictator

By: Rashid Suleiman

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[ Posted On: 2008-08-06 ]  
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Macias Nguema During His Trial
Francisco Macias Nguema during his trial.He makes Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, Jean-Bedel Bokassa of Central African Republic (CAR) and Ali Soilih of the Comoros look like small boys when it comes to insane dictatorship, mass murder and the destruction of a national economy.

Before he was overthrown and executed in September 1979, Francisco Macias Nguema, the founding president of Equatorial Guinea (Guinea-Malabo) was easily post-independent Africa's most ruthless and bloody dictator and economic vandal. His iron-fist rule, mass murder, economic plunder and crazy behaviour made his wife to flee the country in 1976. During his reign, Equatorial Guinea was a by-word for a hermit country of political murders and a non-existent economy.

Crazy dictator

Like Soilih, another economic vandal and crazy dictator, Nguema consumed copious amounts of bhang and other toxicants. The two are the most insane dictators to emerge from Africa with Nguema beating Soilih in the league of ruthlessness and bloodshed. The country's murderous security apparatus were in total control of members of his family or clan. During his 11-year reign from 1968-1979, Equatorial Guinea was dubbed the "Dachau of Africa" after the Nazi concentration camp used to gas millions of Jews to death in the Second World War. He was branded the "Pol Pot of Africa" after the Cambodian dictator who initiated the killing fields where millions perished.

Like Soilih who once told his people: "I am your god and teacher. I am the divine way, the torch that lights the dark. There is no god but Ali Soilih," Nguema elevated himself to the status of a deity. In 1978, he changed Equatorial Guinea's motto to read: "There is no other God than Macias Nguema."

Killing priests

He proscribed the Roman Catholic Church, jailed or killed priests. Before the proscription he declared himself the "National Miracle or Unique Miracle" and ordered that at the end of mass, the congregation should chant thus: "Forward with Macias. Always with Macias. Never without Macias".

He declared himself the "Grand Master of Science, Education and Culture" and launched a purge against intellectuals. He killed or exiled nearly all the educated people in his country and banned the use of the word "intellectual". He declared private education subversive and banned it.

Under the "National Miracle," Equatorial Guinea had neither a development plan nor an accounting system for public funds. Nguema killed the governor of the Central Bank and carried whatever remained in the national treasury to his rural village house.

Fearful that foreigners will topple him and keen to hide the mass murders under his regime, he made Equatorial Guinea a de facto hermit country.

The Thieving, Murdering, Dictators of Africa

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His thugs killed Nigerian immigrant workers in the cocoa plantations who demanded higher wages and badly beat up members of Nigeria's diplomatic mission in the capital Malabo. In 1976, Nigeria had to repatriate its citizens from Equatorial Guinea.

Almost all the political leaders of the pre-independence era were murdered as Nguema effected a rule dominated by members of his family. Real or imagined opponents and members of their families were either killed at the main prisons at Malabo and Bata or other detention camps. His repressive and bloody rule caused a third of the country's nearly 400,000 population, by then, to flee.

Between 1971-1973, he usurped all state power through decrees. He repealed the constitution and assumed all legislative, judicial and executive powers as President-for-Life.

By 1979, even close associates of Nguema had realised that he was mad and lost faith in him. He overreached himself when he murdered a family member the same year. In August 3, 1979 his nephew and main military adviser, Lt-Col Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo executed a successful coup with Spain's connivance.

He announced the release of all prisoners, lifted the ban on the Catholic Church and resumed relations with the West. Before the coup, Obiang Nguema was Vice Minister of Defence and head of the armed forces — known as the National Guard.

After his ouster, Macias Nguema and troops loyal to him fought the new government for nearly two weeks. First the dictator fled to his home village of Nzeng Ayong to mount a resistance.

He was forced out once again, this time into the jungle after ordering the massacre of all the soldiers under his control whom he suspected to be supporters of Obiang Nguema.

Military tribunal

He was captured from his hiding place in the forest and taken to Bata Prison on August 18. He was moved to Blabich prison in Malabo where his trial with 10 others for mass murder, massive looting and treason by a military tribunal began on September 24.

Besides Macias Nguema, the other men at the dock in the four-day trial were one of his former vice-presidents, Miguel Eyegue whom he had imprisoned for using witchcraft against him; and the heads of Bata and Blabich prisons.

Others were the commanders of Macias Nguema's bodyguards and the presidential security. Two days after the trial on September 29 some of the co-defendants got lengthy jail-terms while the deposed dictator and six others were sentenced to death. They were executed the same day at Blabich Prison by a firing squad composed of Moroccan troops.

Francisco Macias Nguema was born on New Year's Day in 1924 in the mainland province of Rio Muni (now Mbini), in Nzeng Ayong village near the border with Gabon. Little else is known about his early life though like Amin, one of his parents was a purveyor of the dark art of witchcraft. His father was famed sorcerer.

Rabidly anti-spain

Macias Nguema joined the colonial civil service and in the 1960s, he emerged as the main leader of the majority Fang tribe. He was rabidly anti-Spain and never disguised the fact that he was a tribal supremacist. He became mayor of Mangomo and then joined the colonial Parliament. After a referendum in 1963 and elections in 1964, he was named vice-president of semi-independent Equatorial Guinea.

The president of the coalition government was Bonifacio Ondu Edu. In pre-independence elections in September 1968, Macias Nguema as head of a three-party coalition beat Ondo Edu after two rounds.

The defeated leader went to a brief exile in neighbouring Gabon immediately after independence. He returned less than two months later in November 1968 only to be killed by Nguema in January 1969 after he was accused of plotting a coup.


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