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Worst African Dictators & Leaders – Top 10

Many countries in Africa have been privy to the many different forms of government ranging from one end of the spectrum to the other. Dictatorship is one of the many forms that is even to this day still prevalent on the continent of Africa. Many African leaders take office as a democratic leader but often times, the hunger for power drives them to become dictators.

Another great read: Richest Presidents in Africa – 10 Wealthiest African Politicians

Here is a list of the ten worst dictators that Africans have ever seen in their history.

10. Charles Taylor


Country: Liberia

Charles McArthur Ghanakay Taylor’s life story is akin to that of a movie. He became the 22nd president of Liberia on August 2, 1997 and served until August 11, 2003. Before his presidency, Taylor was accused of embezzlement, he escaped to the US abut was caught and jailed. Like the star of a movie, he soon escaped from jail and returned to Africa.

In 1997, he was elected as president. His presidency was marked with allegations of illegal trading of blood diamonds, purchasing weapons and recruiting child soldiers to aid rebels. On August 11, 2003 he resigned after being pressured by the U.S government. In 2012 after years of trial, Taylor was convicted of eleven charges. These charges included acts of terrorism, murders, rape, sexual slavery, enslavement and enlisting child soldiers..

9. Mobutu Sese Seko

Mobutu Sese Seko

Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Mobutu Sese Seko, born Joseph-Dèsirè, served as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997 after seizing power in a coup. Mobuto while in office to tried to boost economic growth by nationalizing the Katanga copper mines and by trying to attract foreign investors. He even changed the name of the country to the Republic of Zaire.

However, no economic growth occurred. Instead, the country suffered from hyperinflation, increasing debt and extreme currency devaluations. While the citizens were suffering; this dictator built his personal fortune from the coffers of the country and corruption. In May 1997 he was ousted by rebel forces and three months later he died from prostate cancer in Morocco.

8. Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

Country: Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe, a man known for his sometimes very controversial comments, has served as the president of the Republic of Zimbabwe since 1987. In 1987, Mugabe was appointed president of Zimbabwe after the constitution was amended. During the 1990s, the economy was suffering from inflation but government officials were raising their salaries.

Despite growing opposition among the people, increasing debts and a fall in the standard of living of Zimbabweans, Mugabe won elections in 2002. In 2005, it is alleged that he won the re-elections with the help of corruption and violence and in  the March 2008 re-elections Mugabe refused to give up his seat which led to violent outbreaks. Again he won in the 2013 elections. Throughout Mugabe’s rule anyone who opposes him has been subjected to intimidation, arrests and persecution.

7. General Sani Abacha

General Sani Abacha

Country: Nigeria

A Nigerian army general, Sani Abacha served as de facto president of Nigeria for the years 1993-1998. Abacha seized power in 1993 when he overthrew the government of Chief Ernest Shonekan. Through a decree, he gave himself absolute power.

Unlike other dictators that led their countries to political ruin, Abecha increased Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves, reduced the national debt and reduced the inflation rate. However, his government has been accused of violating human rights and Abacha and his family were accused of lining their pockets with money from the country’s treasury. Abacha was ranked as the fourth most corrupt world leader in history in 2004.

6. Macias Nguema

Macias Nguema

Country: Equatorial Guinea

Francisco Macìas Nguema was sworn in as the first president of Equatorial Guinea on October 12, 1968. He served in this position until his administration was overthrown in 1979. After gaining office, He instituted the death penalty as punishment for those who threatened the President or the government.He appointed himself titles such as the “Unique Miracle” and “Grand Master of Education, Science and Culture.”

Crazy dictators are no stranger to history and the African continent seemed to as had its own share. Nguema ordered the death of those who wore spectacles so much so that at the end of his rule almost all of the educated class had either been executed or forced into exile.He even had members of his own family killed. What had he been smoking?

Also Worth Your Time: 12 Interesting Facts About Liberia

Written by Toni-Ann

Toni-Ann is currently a university student who dabbles in Economics during
the day and unleashes her creative writing skills during the night. Her
dream is to see the seven wonders of the world. But due to the
unavailability of several resources, she travels through the pages of the
books she consumes on a daily basis.

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