Money cannot buy off death.

Filed in Current affairs, foreign affairs by on June 9, 2009 0 Comments

The longest-serving head of state in the world, Gabonese president Omar Bongo, just passed away in Spain. The controversial leader — symbol of French imperialism in oil producing countries in Africa — was one of the richest heads of state in the world. Gabon is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa for a population of less than 2 million people.

In spite of allegations of corruption and all the expensive luxury properties he had bought in France, Bongo was unique in his style of governance. During his 41 years in power, Gabon was one of the most stable countries in Africa with very few violations of human rights. His generosity was also known. What he has achieved in his country by bringing all the tribes together is not an easy thing to do, especially in a country with more than 50 tribes. He will be missed.

Many people saw him as a dictator, but Africans are not Europeans. Many tragedies have happened in Africa in the name of democracy. Bongo’s style was more about bringing everybody together and sharing power with his political opponents as way to attenuate their virulence. Despite his riches, President Bongo was unable to avoid death. As the Bangala of Congo say, “Money cannot buy off death.”

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