Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013



At the DUNER BLOG, we search the globe for stories you might have missed.  Last week, we took you to Polynesia to uncover Samoa Air's controversial new policy.  This week, we journey deep into the humid jungles of the Central African Republic.  We'll try to sort out what motivated last month's bloody coup d'etat and how the new "president" is acting to get his woeful nation back on track.

Let's start some basic geography.  The landlocked Central African Republic is slightly smaller than Texas.  The North is covered in savanna, which give way to tropical forests and dense jungles. Finally, the mighty Ubangui River forms the nation's Southern border with the Congo.  The French-built capital, Bangui, is found on this river.  It lies one mile below the rapids and serves as a port for goods produced further inland.  Of the nation's four million inhabitants, a quarter live in this sprawling capital.  The remaining three million are divided up between eighty officially recognized groups in the interior.  In short, it's like most other African nations: It was drawn up in Brussels in 1894 when European ministers looked at maps and played a real-life version of the board game Risk

Next, we'll examine the nation's name.  The Central African part is correct, but the Republic has never existed.  (In fact, for a dozen years, the nation was officially known as the Central African Empire!) Anyhow, the nation gained independence from France in 1960.  Within months afterward, the entire region slipped into anarchy.  See, megalomaniac leaders in the capital Bangui claim to rule the vast nation. Ahem! These despots just embezzle enough money to purchase an army to stay in power.  The worst such violator was BOKASSA THE FIRST, Emperor of Central Africa.  His 'coronation' cost $20 million dollars!  And this figure doesn't include his $5 million diamond-encrusted crown.  Other Presidents For Life include DAVID DACKO and FRANCOIS BOZIZE.

Unfortunately, the new "president" MICHEL DJOTODIA could end up being worse.  While he doesn't have the audacity to proclaim himself a divine monarch, he does want a life of luxury.  After shooting up the Presidential Palace, the rebel leader decided it wasn't nice enough for him and his rag-tag army.  So the motley crew drove to the lavish, Five-Star Ledger Plaza Hotel and Resort across town.  Djotodia is now living in the top-end, $3,850-a-day private villa and drinking inported cocktails served on calalily flower petals.  Meanwhile, his generals and lieutenants are slumming it in the executive suites, which cost $675 a night.  At any rate, it doesn't sound like they really care about the politics of the Central African Republic.

The real tragedy here is the senseless deaths that occur every time a military junta comes to power in Africa.  This time, thirteen South African peacekeeping soldiers were indiscriminately killed by Djotodia's child soldiers in last month's bloddy Battle of Banjui.  We can add these killings to the 28 people murdered in Mali in February, when another junta occurred.  And...until the UN, EU, USA and African Union think outside the box and come up with a big picture plan for the mineral rich, yet incompetently run African continent...we can count on more of the same in upcoming months.


No comments:

Post a Comment