Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe
Sigil: The Falling Man
Words: “Keep falling”
History: Robert Mugabe has been in power for 36 years- the only living African leader to have been continuously in power since his country’s independence. This elder statesman who started off political life as a man of the people has now become a man against the people. While some 2.5 million Zimbabweans were experiencing widespread drought and food shortages, Mugabe celebrated his 92nd birthday with a lavish bash reportedly costing $800,000. Uncle Bob is intent on holding onto power but if the inevitable happens, Mrs. “Gucci” Grace Mugabe looks set to pick up the baton.
Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia
Sigil: Jester Mask
Words: “I will rule for a billion years”
History: His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa, Commander In Chief of The Armed Forces and Chief Custodian of the Sacred Constitution of the Gambia has been in power since 1994 when he removed the country’s democratically elected president through a coup. His opponents and other political activists have since been subjected to routine harassment and detention. In 2011, the Gambian leader said in an interview that he will rule for “one billion years”, if God wills.
Paul Kagame, Rwanda
Sigil: Iron Fist
Words: “It is better to be feared than loved”
History: Paul Kagame who has been president since 2000 changed his country’s constitution last year, allowing him to potentially rule until 2034. Although Kagame has delivered visible economic progress, the extension of his stay in power and reports of human rights abuses have led many to question his democratic credentials.
Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundi
Sigil: Jogging man
Words: “I don’t trust joggers”
History: In March 2014, Nkurunziza who has been in power since 2005 banned jogging due to “fears it was being used as a cover for subversion.” In 2015, he was controversially nominated by his party for a third term in office. Opponents argued the constitution bars the president from running for a third term. However, Nkurunziza’s allies say his first term does not count as he was appointed by parliament and not directly by the people. Protesters were violently repressed, leaving about 100 people dead. Despite strong international condemnation, Nkurunziza went ahead with the elections, winning a third term in July 2015.
Yoweri Musevini, Uganda
Sigil: Social media block sign
Words: “Kim broke the internet, I only blocked it!”
History: The 71 year old recently extended his 30 year rule in an election marred by widespread irregularities and fraud. Musevini routinely detained and harassed opponents during the campaign period and also blocked access to Facebook and WhatsApp on the election day.
Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola
Sigil: Father with a bag of cash and daughter with shopping bags
Words: “I am dosh Santos”
History: Angola’s enormous oil wealth has brought sorrows to its people but added more zeros to the dos Santos family account. With a little help from daddy, Isabel dos Santos is now Africa’s wealthiest woman- with a personal net worth of $3.3 billion. After 37 years in power, Angola’s president José Eduardo dos Santos recently announced that he will be stepping down in 2018. However, many Angolans have already filed this under the “Broken Promises” section, reminding us of a similar promise by 73 year old president 15 years ago.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea
Words: “An Obiang flaunts his cash”
History: Teodoro Obiang became president of Equatorial Guinea in 1979, ousting his uncle in an August 1979 military coup. In July 2003, a state-operated radio declared Obiang “the country’s god” who possesses “all power over men and things.” Obiang is currently the longest-serving leader in Africa and the longest-serving president in the world. While many Equatoguineans live on less than $1.25 per day, the Obiangs have continued to amass enormous family wealth. Teodorin, the son of the president, reportedly forked out $482,000 for Michael Jackson’s diamond-studded glove in the late 1980s.
Omar al-Bashir, Sudan
Sigil: Wanted poster
Words: “Justice is coming”
History: Omar al-Bashir has ruled Sudan since he seized power in a coup in June 1989. In March 2009, al-Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for allegedly directing a campaign of mass killing, rape and pillage against civilians in Darfur. Last year, South Africa refused to arrest al-Bashir while attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg, claiming he had immunity as the head of a member state. Documents from WikiLeaks allegedly reveals that the Sudanese president has siphoned as much as $9 billion out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London based banks.
Ali Bongo, Gabon
Sigil: Lionel Messi
Words: “I love Messi”
History: The Bongo family have been ruling Gabon since 1935. The current president, Ali Bongo- who reportedly paid Barcelona forward Lionel Messi £2.4 million to visit Gabon- succeeded his father Omar Bongo Ondimba who ruled the Central African nation for 42 years. The Bongos have 45 homes in France, including a $120 million 18th century mansion in the centre of Paris.
Paul Biya, Cameroon
Sigil: Wife’s hair weave
Words:“We have given the world Miller, Eto’o and Chantal’s hair”
History: Paul Biya, with an estimated personal wealth of about $200 million, been president of Cameroon for 32 years. While 48% of Cameroon’s population wallow below the poverty line, Biya had no problem splurging on a €30,000 per day villa while on a vacation in France in 2009.