Watching after few years The last king of Scotland i’ve been caught by a sentence of the fictional character Nicholas Garrigan that I forgot in this time: he tells the real character, the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, something like “the scariest thing about you is your childish part”. Amin wasn’t really delicate with homicides and tortures, and keeping alive a distorted inner child made him even creepier. Tantrums, extravagances, excesses, irrational manias, self celebration and cult of personality. In a normal adult the little child is not bad, in a cruel one is overwhelmed by corruption and hunger for power. The result a brand new John Wayne Gacy, serial killer known for his clownish disguises. Many dictators, clownish themselves, are connected by a common thread.
Idi Amin is the typical authoritarian African leader, pretending to be friend of the people and enemy of the whit colonizer, actually the opposite. Ego proportioned to his fat body, Amin ruled Uganda between 1971 and 1979, misleading of making it a great Nation. The last king of Scotland admired the northern-British country, that’s why he had a controversial relationship with England, loved and hated because of its imperialism. Guest of Queen Elizabeth II, Amin brought a bunch of bananas as gift, to support the poor and malnourished English people. His moves not always followed a logic, but the ones that finally put him on his knees were the expulsion of the Asians, especially Indians – middle class fundamental for the balance of a developing society – and the invasion of Tanzania. There aren’t many info about pre-political life of Idi Amin and that helped to build an obscure, histrionic, iron fist character, accused of a never proven cannibalism.
Another product of decolonization was Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who had power in Central African Republic almost at the same time of Idi Amin -5 years earlier. He was considered cannibal like Amin, he had a troubled relation with a European country, also like Amin. Only in this case was France, that supported Bokassa economically even though he wasn’t actually democratic. But Bokassa served the French army and had a lot of commodities. French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing was often Bokassa’s personal guest and he received diamonds. Until criticism forced France to turn the back on Central African Republic in 1979 and organized a golpe against Bokassa, or better yet the new emperor Bokassa. The ceremony of coronation was worth of that Napoleon loved by Bokassa: 20 million dollars spent for a 30 kg dress, pearl shoes, golden wagon, a throne incorporated in an eagle figure, scepter and crown with stones and majestic banquet. Clearly, that was possible only drying the State finance. And his idea was to become a monarch to rise in African scene.
For a little while Bokassa had a connection with Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader who has been in charge from 1969 to 2011, one of the longest running dictators in the world. Some of his extravaganzas are well known, like the (female) bodyguards, strictly virgins, or the Bedouin tent used even in 5 stars hotels – like kids who love to camp in the backyard to feel adventurous. The Colonel was obsessed by his look, the reason why he dyed is transplanted hair. But worse, he declared himself enemy of Western Countries when at the very same time he was trading with them (hypocrisy is two-ways, though). His sons where often in Italy, one pretended to be a football player in Perugia, another one was kicked out Billionaire Club of Flavio Briatore (former Formula1 team manager). One of Gaddafi best sentence was against Switzerland, a Nation without a reason to be, according to him, divided in different language and nationalities. Maybe it’s true, but what about his Libya? After Gaddafi’s death rivalries among tribes created mayhem. Someone regrets the Colonel, because when he had power, oil was cheaper. Oil over human rights, well, each one has his own priorities.
Moving across the globe, we reach Turkmenistan, in central Asia. A not so famous country, with interesting stories (and history). One is about Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov, president between 1991 and 2006. This funny guy is remembered (not much) for his self celebration: he changed the name of cities, schools, airports, days of the week, months of the year after himself, his relatives and – because he was a good patriot – national heroes. He appeared on paper money, better than Uncle Scrooge. Extremely religious, he also wrote Ruhnama, a book with historical, epic and moral teachings, studied at school because, if read three times, it guaranteed paradise. That’s all? Not even close. Niyazov forbid ballet, opera (officially because “not in Turkmen background”, probably he found them boring, as a child!) beards, long hairs, make up in television, driving licenses (available only after a moral exam), radios, dogs and videogames.
And finally here we are in Far East, with the star Kim Jong-un, the only one of this parade still in charge. The Northern Korean dictator is childish even in his apparel, and obsessed by nuclear research (or weapons). He use to threat his southern neighbor and United States, but is not taken seriously, not totally. Not even after the brand new H-bomb, too low potential to be real one according to scientists. They say he made eat his traitor uncle by dogs, anyways he’s always on the news: from the obligation for Koreans to have his haircut to his appetite for Swiss cheese, to the pictures with the Nba former player Dennis Rodman.
A stereotype genius like Sacha Baron Cohen (inventor of Kazak Borat, of English-Jamaican Ali G, homosexual fashion journalist Brüno) included all this assets in one character, Aladeen, in his movie The Dictator. Violent and paranoid, Aladeen used to replace some words of his language with his name (like Niyazov), is sexist and he invites wonderful women to his palace, like Gaddafi. Got a mania on nuke, like Kim and is childish like them all combined. He picks on his trustworthy head of nuclear research because he demands rockets with pointy nose-cones, as he saw them in a “documentary” which has a cartoon duck for protagonist. Acme has more customers than Wile Coyote.
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