- Thanks to Steve Bean, I am re-reading "African Betrayal" by Charles
and Alice Darlington. Steve was also in the first group of PCVs sent
to Gabon and graciously sent me a copy of this book. The book is
about the three plus years that Darlington served as the first US
Ambassador to Gabon.
It's been a long time since I first read this book, published in
1967, and forgot that the reason we PCVs were pushed to the limit to
finish the construction of our primary schools throughout Gabon,
ASAP, was that Darlington wanted to impress the Gabonese government
that their 20% share of the school cost was well spent and that his
own reputation/ego was on the line.
We Volunteers, over four decades, worked, usually, six days a week in
sweltering Equatorial Africa to eventually build approximately
several hundred primary schools and hundreds more teacher houses and
thousands of student desks throughout Gabon.
Re-reading "African Betrayal" brings back a lot of memories and is
worth a read for every new Foreign Service Officer assigned to the
developing world and to those interested in Gabon.
- From Feb 9, 2003 news release:
President Omar Bongo of Gabon has offered 100 million francs CFA (US
$153,846) to help the Central African Republic (CAR) government
prepare for a national dialogue to resolve its political and security
logjam, Abdel Beolo, the head of communications at the CAR
presidency, said in a communique issued on Thursday.
The Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States has
designated Bongo as mediator in a diplomatic standoff between the CAR
and Chad over the latter's alleged support for CAR rebels trying to
unseat President Ange-Felix Patasse. A Gabonese general commands the
community's 303-man peacekeeping force in the CAR, to which his
country contributed 146 soldiers, the Republic of Congo (ROC) 126,
and Equatorial Guinea 31. The force's authorised strength is 350.
Meanwhile, Radio Centrafrique has announced that the national
dialogue coordination team, headed by Bishop Paulin Pomodimo and
former Prime Minister Henri Maidou, flew to Paris on Thursday. "We
are going to meet CAR people who love their country, we are going to
invite them to attend the national dialogue," Pomodimo told reporters
The team had earlier been to the Gabonese capital, Libreville, to
meet Bongo, and the ROC capital, Brazzaville to meet President Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, for consultations.
The 750-million-franc CFA budget for the national dialogue was fixed
in February, with one-fifth of cost to be met by the international
community and friendly countries.
- I notice that Charles Darlington was the only non-Foreign Service
Officer who served as the Ambassador to Gabon (1961-1964) and was the
only US Ambassador asked to exit Gabon by a Gabonese President.
This could lead one to postulate that it is weak US foreign policy to
send non-career FSO's to serve as Ambassadors abroad since they are
ill-prepared to deal with the intricacies of foreign diplomacy
In my opinion, just the opposite is true. By the time career FSO's
attain Ambassadorial positions, most have lost touch with their
American roots and have been thoroughly indoctrinated into serving
the demands made upon them by Washington's bureaucrats, politicians
and by big business.
Charles and Mary Darlington made a special effort to live their lives
in Gabon as they would in the US in the best spirit of America. They
opened their home to all, traveled throughout the country and
volunteered their time and money to meet local needs.
It was clearly evident in their book, "African Betrayal", that Gabon
was not only betrayed by its leadership and the French but by the US
Charles Darlington, also, was a good friend to all of us Peace Corps
Volunteers who served in Gabon during the Darlington era. He was a
man of the highest integrity and both Charles and Mary were
universally loved by the Gabonese and even most of the French.