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Re: [Gabon Discussion] Dictator in Action

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  • Jeremy Rich
    Dupont - From 1968 through the early 1990s, Omar Bongo ran a one-party state. Some opponents were shot by firing squads on national television. There was no
    Message 1 of 8 , Feb 29, 2004
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      Dupont -

      From 1968 through the early 1990s, Omar Bongo ran a one-party state. Some opponents were shot by firing squads on national television. There was no freedom of the press. Meanwhile, Bongo and his cronies collected the wealth produced by the very "Western materialists" you seem to despise - Hess, Elf Total, lumber and mining companies based in Europe and Asia. Bongo has used this money to buy off potential opponents. This is a major reason he has been able to suppress opposition. So has Bongo's selective use of xenophobia to build up a sense of Gabonese nationalism (witness campaigns against Beninois, people from Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria...)

      This man can certainly manage finances to profit himself. I grant you that. I do not think it is a Western idea to despise bribes and the waste of resources that has existed in Bongo's country. What's next - was Mobutu misunderstood, too? Was he a great African chief or something? Tell that to the Congolese.

      Again, the idea that Bongo is somehow a victim of Western propaganda and naive observers and businessmen seems frankly unbelievable. He has chateaux in France. He's the richest man in Gabon. Look at the Elf-Total scandal. What is there to misunderstand here? Certainly, my experience living in Gabon for over a year and only ONCE hearing any support at all for Bongo (the late Archbishop Anguile) from the hundreds of Gabonese people I met leads me to think that Bongo is not popular - in large part due to corruption. Foreign observers and many Gabonese feel he lost the 1993 election but fixed the results, and the opposition never pulled themselves together after that.

      I don't care much that he is luring Peruvian models or fooling around with women. I do care that he has treated the Gabonese treasury like his own personal checking account, and that the PDG works like the African version of Tammamy Hall and Boss Tweed in New York in the late nineteenth century. What constructive criticism can anyone offer to a man that has ripped off his country with his entourage for over four decades? Help with designing a new presidental palace, or giving tips about what new luxury cars he should buy?

      I am sorry to take such a harsh tone, and I sincerely doubt we can persuade one another to change our positions. I will therefore stop posting. If you want the last word by lauding a dictator, feel free to leave it.


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    • bobutne
      The table was set by the French well before Bongo ascended to power. In 1960, Jacques Foccart persuaded De Gaulle to break French Equatorial Africa into five
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 1 7:36 PM
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        The table was set by the French well before Bongo ascended to power.

        In 1960, Jacques Foccart persuaded De Gaulle to break French
        Equatorial Africa into five smaller states and then offer
        them "independence". He recommended the same with French West Africa.

        Foccart reportedly said to De Gaulle, "It will be much easier for
        France to control and dominate smaller African states than to
        maintain the two large states and compete with the Americans and
        others". Foccart's most focused objective was to assure that Gabon
        remained tightly under French control since Gabon was the pearl of
        French Equatorial Africa.
        http://www.ewatravel.com/Gabon/Gabon_Past.htm

        It's interesting now that Omar Bongo is actually achieving
        independence for Gabon/Omar Bongo by playing the French, American and
        Chinese cards. Each of the three powers wants to dominate in Gabon to
        achieve greater supplies of oil with Omar Bongo playing one off the
        others at will.

        Cetainly, Omar Bongo has all the wealth he could ever need. What he
        doesn't have is an excellent legacy as a national leader who has
        raised the quality of the lives of his nation's citizens. My hope is
        that he becomes further enlightened during his remaining years in
        power.
















        --- In gabondiscussion@yahoogroups.com, Jeremy Rich <roiadende@y...>
        wrote:
        > Dupont -
        >
        > From 1968 through the early 1990s, Omar Bongo ran a one-party
        state. Some opponents were shot by firing squads on national
        television. There was no freedom of the press. Meanwhile, Bongo and
        his cronies collected the wealth produced by the very "Western
        materialists" you seem to despise - Hess, Elf Total, lumber and
        mining companies based in Europe and Asia. Bongo has used this money
        to buy off potential opponents. This is a major reason he has been
        able to suppress opposition. So has Bongo's selective use of
        xenophobia to build up a sense of Gabonese nationalism (witness
        campaigns against Beninois, people from Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon,
        Nigeria...)
        >
        > This man can certainly manage finances to profit himself. I grant
        you that. I do not think it is a Western idea to despise bribes and
        the waste of resources that has existed in Bongo's country. What's
        next - was Mobutu misunderstood, too? Was he a great African chief
        or something? Tell that to the Congolese.
        >
        > Again, the idea that Bongo is somehow a victim of Western
        propaganda and naive observers and businessmen seems frankly
        unbelievable. He has chateaux in France. He's the richest man in
        Gabon. Look at the Elf-Total scandal. What is there to
        misunderstand here? Certainly, my experience living in Gabon for
        over a year and only ONCE hearing any support at all for Bongo (the
        late Archbishop Anguile) from the hundreds of Gabonese people I met
        leads me to think that Bongo is not popular - in large part due to
        corruption. Foreign observers and many Gabonese feel he lost the
        1993 election but fixed the results, and the opposition never pulled
        themselves together after that.
        >
        > I don't care much that he is luring Peruvian models or fooling
        around with women. I do care that he has treated the Gabonese
        treasury like his own personal checking account, and that the PDG
        works like the African version of Tammamy Hall and Boss Tweed in New
        York in the late nineteenth century. What constructive criticism can
        anyone offer to a man that has ripped off his country with his
        entourage for over four decades? Help with designing a new
        presidental palace, or giving tips about what new luxury cars he
        should buy?
        >
        > I am sorry to take such a harsh tone, and I sincerely doubt we can
        persuade one another to change our positions. I will therefore stop
        posting. If you want the last word by lauding a dictator, feel free
        to leave it.
        >
        >
        > ---------------------------------
        > Yahoo! Mail : votre e-mail personnel et gratuit qui vous suit
        partout !
        > Créez votre Yahoo! Mail
        >
        > Dialoguez en direct avec vos amis grâce à Yahoo! Messenger !
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • bobutne
        By Daniel Mboungou Mayengue, BBC, Gabon The Omar Bongo Technical High School is lifeless. President Bongo ordered the closure of the school which bears his
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 5 2:03 PM
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          By Daniel Mboungou Mayengue, BBC, Gabon


          The Omar Bongo Technical High School is lifeless. President Bongo
          ordered the closure of the school which bears his name. It is
          normally vibrant with pupils in classrooms and the yard, but the
          students and teachers are now at home. They will not return until a
          commission set up by the ministry of education to investigate the
          problems plaguing the school submits its report.

          The authorities in Gabon, which oil has made one of Africa's richest
          countries, closed the school a month ago following student unrest.

          Looting spree. Some of its pupils attacked students of neighbouring
          schools and passers-by to avenge the death of a sickly schoolmate. He
          died after a fight with a pupil from the Melen Evangelical Grammar
          school. "I used to come first in English, but when one of the girls
          in my class managed to seduce the teacher, I started to get lower
          grades", said former student Thibault

          In an exaggerated show of solidarity, the pupils moved into the Melen
          Evangelical Grammar and the Professional Computer Science School,
          threw stones at fellow pupils and smashed computers, photocopy
          machines and type writers, and destroyed files. At least 10 people
          were injured including two policemen who were among a team called in
          to quell the violence.

          In Rio, one of Libreville's largest areas, the pupils looted shops
          and smashed passing vehicles including three buses of the national
          transport company, Sogatra, which had been transporting them to and
          from school free of charge. "We wanted to show to the relatives of
          our dead mate that we are hurting like they do," one of the pupils
          who took part in the violence told the BBC. "We are Omar Bongo's
          offspring," said another pupil.

          Concerned about the escalation of violence, Education Minister Daniel
          Ona Ondo held separate meetings with the class prefects and the
          administrative and teaching staff at the school.

          The meetings opened up a can of worms. Classrooms are overcrowded and
          have over-age students. "The Omar Bongo High School is sinking," said
          the minister, after participants informed him that there was
          prostitution in the school.

          The minister was informed that girls had sexual relations with
          teachers to get better grades and that expelled pupils offered bribes
          to remain in the school.

          Professor Ondo also learnt that most classes have more than 100
          pupils each and students over 30 years were enrolled in the school.

          "Anyone can get admission into Omar Bongo Technical High School,"
          said a final year pupil who identified himself as Patrick Otta. "All
          you need is 50,000 CFA francs ($93)," he said.

          "I have never been a bad pupil in English. In fact, I used to come
          first in English, but when one of the girls in my class managed to
          seduce the teacher, I started to get lower grades despite my constant
          efforts," said Thibault, a former pupil.

          The pupils of Omar Bongo Technical High School may feel proud that
          their school bears the president's name.

          However, President Bongo called an urgent meeting of the council of
          ministers which decided to close the school and put in place a
          committee charged with its reorganization.

          A new management team has since been appointed by presidential decree.
          "The man selected as headmaster is young and admired by everybody,
          let's give him a chance to succeed, for his success shall be our
          success and his failure our failure," Professor Ondo said during the
          installation ceremony.

          In response, the 50-year-old new headmaster, Salomon Cabinda,
          said: "My every day concern will be to do everything possible in
          order not to betray your trust."

          But Mr Cabinda's task will not be easy. Looking fresh and handsome in
          a dark-blue suit, he said: "I don't know what my priority will be.
          Perhaps I should start by cleaning up the weeds around the school."

          Meanwhile, some pupils are wondering when their school will
          reopen. "We don't even hear a rumour about the date - I hope it
          reopens soon," said Serge.
        • Jeremy Rich
          Did the students riot again, or this coverage from the last round of violence? Jeremy bobutne wrote: By Daniel Mboungou Mayengue, BBC,
          Message 4 of 8 , Mar 5 7:32 PM
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            Did the students riot again, or this coverage from the last round of violence?

            Jeremy

            bobutne <bobutne@...> wrote:
            By Daniel Mboungou Mayengue, BBC, Gabon


            The Omar Bongo Technical High School is lifeless. President Bongo
            ordered the closure of the school which bears his name. It is
            normally vibrant with pupils in classrooms and the yard, but the
            students and teachers are now at home. They will not return until a
            commission set up by the ministry of education to investigate the
            problems plaguing the school submits its report.

            The authorities in Gabon, which oil has made one of Africa's richest
            countries, closed the school a month ago following student unrest.

            Looting spree. Some of its pupils attacked students of neighbouring
            schools and passers-by to avenge the death of a sickly schoolmate. He
            died after a fight with a pupil from the Melen Evangelical Grammar
            school. "I used to come first in English, but when one of the girls
            in my class managed to seduce the teacher, I started to get lower
            grades", said former student Thibault

            In an exaggerated show of solidarity, the pupils moved into the Melen
            Evangelical Grammar and the Professional Computer Science School,
            threw stones at fellow pupils and smashed computers, photocopy
            machines and type writers, and destroyed files. At least 10 people
            were injured including two policemen who were among a team called in
            to quell the violence.

            In Rio, one of Libreville's largest areas, the pupils looted shops
            and smashed passing vehicles including three buses of the national
            transport company, Sogatra, which had been transporting them to and
            from school free of charge. "We wanted to show to the relatives of
            our dead mate that we are hurting like they do," one of the pupils
            who took part in the violence told the BBC. "We are Omar Bongo's
            offspring," said another pupil.

            Concerned about the escalation of violence, Education Minister Daniel
            Ona Ondo held separate meetings with the class prefects and the
            administrative and teaching staff at the school.

            The meetings opened up a can of worms. Classrooms are overcrowded and
            have over-age students. "The Omar Bongo High School is sinking," said
            the minister, after participants informed him that there was
            prostitution in the school.

            The minister was informed that girls had sexual relations with
            teachers to get better grades and that expelled pupils offered bribes
            to remain in the school.

            Professor Ondo also learnt that most classes have more than 100
            pupils each and students over 30 years were enrolled in the school.

            "Anyone can get admission into Omar Bongo Technical High School,"
            said a final year pupil who identified himself as Patrick Otta. "All
            you need is 50,000 CFA francs ($93)," he said.

            "I have never been a bad pupil in English. In fact, I used to come
            first in English, but when one of the girls in my class managed to
            seduce the teacher, I started to get lower grades despite my constant
            efforts," said Thibault, a former pupil.

            The pupils of Omar Bongo Technical High School may feel proud that
            their school bears the president's name.

            However, President Bongo called an urgent meeting of the council of
            ministers which decided to close the school and put in place a
            committee charged with its reorganization.

            A new management team has since been appointed by presidential decree.
            "The man selected as headmaster is young and admired by everybody,
            let's give him a chance to succeed, for his success shall be our
            success and his failure our failure," Professor Ondo said during the
            installation ceremony.

            In response, the 50-year-old new headmaster, Salomon Cabinda,
            said: "My every day concern will be to do everything possible in
            order not to betray your trust."

            But Mr Cabinda's task will not be easy. Looking fresh and handsome in
            a dark-blue suit, he said: "I don't know what my priority will be.
            Perhaps I should start by cleaning up the weeds around the school."

            Meanwhile, some pupils are wondering when their school will
            reopen. "We don't even hear a rumour about the date - I hope it
            reopens soon," said Serge.




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