When French arrived at the Times’ office in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan in 1994, the continent had achieved a rare degree of world attention with a peaceful transfer of power in South Africa and a horrific civil war in Rwanda. While South Africa offered the hope of a better future, the catastrophe in Rwanda was a signal of things to come.
French bore witness to the gruesome internecine conflict that destroyed Liberia and the violent collapse of Zaire into military anarchy. Complicating matters for the beleaguered African people were two vicious health-care crises: the Ebola virus and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
“A Continent for the Taking” offers a rogue’s gallery of venal dictators who brought an extraordinary level of destruction to the people under their authority.
French offers an eloquent chronicle of the decline and fall of Mobutu Sese Seko, the Zairian dictator who stole Washington’s foreign aid to buy extravagant mansions and fatten his European bank accounts. His nation saw very little of the American funds. Mobutu was deserted by America when Rwandan forces, primarily of the Tutsi heritage, who were allegedly in pursuit of Hutu militia hiding in Zaire’s forests, invaded Zaire and ignited a civil war that brought the rebel leader Laurent Kabila to power.
Complete review available here.