Jean-Bedel Bokassa

Country: Central African Republic
Foreign Intervention

Jean-Bedel Bokassa, self-proclaimed ‘Emperor of Africa’, was perhaps the maddest of the lot. Fond of wearing his Field Marshal’s uniform with medals from neck to knee, he was crowned emperor in 1977 on a two-tonne golden throne with a French battalion standing by.

In 13 years ruling the Central Afican Republic (just south of Sudan) Bokassa tortured and executed his opponents (perhaps eating them or feeding them to crocodiles) and raped the country of what little wealth it had.

He met his downfall in 1979 when 100 schoolchildren were killed after protesting they were forced to wear expensive uniforms produced by Bokassa’s wife. The emperor allegedly beat five to death with his walking stick. The French sent in their commandos to depose him, and Bokassa fled to the Cote d’Ivoire, then to Paris, where he lived in a chateau and drew a French military pension.

He returned to the CAR from exile in late 1986 to be arrested as he stepped off the plane. Tried on 14 different charges, including treason, murder, embezzlement and cannibalism, he was convicted of all but the last and sentenced to death. This was commuted to 20 years in jail and he was then released in 1993 as part of a general amnesty. He remained in the CAR until his death in 1996 at the age of 75, proclaiming himself the 13th Apostle.