Monday, July 21, 2008

Omar Bongo, king of bling...

Article on Omar Bongo in the Sunday Times yesterday here and pasted below. I can only echo the comments of the guy who sent the link:

"The article below appeared in today's UK Sunday Times - a profile of
President Bongo of Gabon. Can we expect someone like him to disapprove in
the AU of President Mugabe's activities in Zimbabwe? Why do Africans
tolerate leaders like Bongo, who has ruled for 40 years? Is it only some top
political leaders who display these characteristics, or do we see it on a
lesser scale in different spheres of activity as we go down the hierarchy?"

Bongo, the des res despot
President of Gabon uses treasury cash to fund luxury lifestyle

A mansion worth £15m in one of Paris’s most elegant districts has become the
latest of 33 luxury properties bought in France by President Omar Bongo
Ondimba of Gabon, the world’s longest-serving leader, and his family, it was
alleged last week.

According to files seen by The Sunday Times, a French judicial investigation
has discovered that Bongo, 72, and his relatives also bought a fleet of
limousines, including a £308,823 Maybach for his wife, Edith, 44. Payment
for some of the cars was taken directly from the treasury of Gabon, a
country rich in oil.

Bongo, who started his career as a postal worker, has ruled for 40 years and
has become one of wealthiest leaders in the world while 30% of his people
eke out a living on less than 50p a day.

The Paris mansion is in the Rue de la Baume, near the Elysée Palace, the
home of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who greeted Bongo there last week. The
21,528 sq ft home was bought in June last year by a property company based
in Luxembourg. The firm’s partners are two of Bongo’s children, Omar, 13,
and Yacine, 16, his wife Edith and one of her nephews. Bongo is reported to
have more than 30 children.

The residence is the most expensive in his portfolio, which includes nine
other properties in Paris, four of which are on the exclusive Avenue Foch,
near the Arc de Triomphe. He also rents a nine-room apartment in the same

Bongo has a further seven properties in Nice, including four villas, one of
which has a swimming pool. Edith has two flats near the Eiffel Tower and
another property in Nice.

Investigators identified the properties through tax records. Checks at Bongo
’s houses in turn allowed them to find details of his fleet of cars. Edith
used a cheque, drawn on an account in the name of “Paierie du Gabon en
France” (part of the Gabon treasury), to buy the Maybach, painted Cote d’
Azur blue, in February 2004.

Bongo’s daughter Pascaline, 52, used a cheque from the same account for a
part-payment of £29,497 towards a £60,000 Mercedes two years later. Bongo
bought himself a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti F1 in October 2004 for £153,000,
while his son Ali acquired a Ferrari 456 M GT in June 2001 for £156,000.

Bongo’s fortune has repeatedly come under the spotlight. According to a 1997
US Senate report, his family spends £55m a year.

In a separate French investigation into corruption at the former oil giant
Elf Aquitaine, an executive testified that it paid £40m a year to Bongo via
Swiss bank accounts in exchange for permission to exploit his country’s
reserves. Bongo has denied this.

The latest inquiry, by the French antifraud agency OCRGDF, followed a
lawsuit that accused Bongo and two other African leaders of plundering
public funds to finance their purchases.

“Whatever the merits and qualifications of these leaders, no one can
seriously believe that these assets were paid for out of their salaries,”
alleges the lawsuit brought by the Sherpa association of jurists, which
promotes corporate social responsibility.

Jean Merckaert, of the Catholic Committee Against Hunger and For Development
in Paris, who first drew up an inventory of Bongo’s properties last year,
said: “France sees itself as a world leader in fighting corruption and yet
now it is not only refusing to lift a finger against Bongo and other
dictators, but is greeting their money with open arms.”

- Born Albert-Bernard Bongo in 1935, he changed his name to El Hadj Omar
Bongo when he converted to Islam in 1973.
- He has been in power since 1967 and became the world’s longest-serving
ruler after Fidel Castro stepped down as Cuba’s president in February.
- He is married to Edith, the daughter of the Congolese president, Denis
- He has more than 30 children - though not all of them by his wife.
- His home town, formerly Lewai, has been renamed Bongoville.


Anonymous,  6:35 pm

ilovegabon,  6:37 pm

Anonymous,  6:39 pm  

i love bongo, he has class and stye but he is too short

Anonymous,  7:47 pm  

Does anyone else think Bongo is a ridiculous name for a dictator?
There once was a king called Bongo-
Who said "what the?! Gabon, not Congo!"
i'm the master of bling,
no, i prefer the term King-
while the list of my assets grows longer.

(Collective groan)
I know that was awful, but i was inspired! How does Africa come up with these comical dictators?!
Didnt have to read too long to find usual spectre of oil company lurking in the background..
God Bless our Continent!

wag,  9:08 pm  

There once was a man named Bongo
who had a rod as long as the Congo
When he finally came,
The ladies exclaimed:
Come as you please, but don’t go!

Jeremy 9:31 pm  

More food for the limerick crew:

Jeremy 9:32 pm  

ie, there was a young woman from Peru...

wag,  9:43 pm  

There once was a lady from Peru
who was rather eager to jump the queue
Quite soon her pretty face
won her a dubious place
as member of King Bongo’s retinue

Jeremy 9:48 pm  

Wag you are a genius. Next time you are in Abuja, dinner is on me.

anonymaus,  5:29 am  

If you are able to listen to this program,

you can see that it is a real tragedy for the people of Gabon, that they don't know how to manage their wealth.

It begs the question Gabon, with a small population can't manage it's wealth (sensibly or sustainably). Nigeria, burdened with a large population, can't manage their wealth either (again both sustainably or sensibly).

What is it with the elite in Africa and sound management of a national economy, are they incompatible?

Now Gabonese oil reserves are dwindling? What do they have to show for all this wealth. Look at how Kuwait has managed and their land is nothing but dry and barren desert.

This is phenomenon is not unique to Gabon, but will other African nations take the hint? I think not. God help Africa.

Anonymous,  11:12 am  

The attitude "god help africa" is precisely what allows these despots to thrive.
As long as you leave it to god to step in and resue you from these people, someone will continue to take advantage.
You should be saying "Africans, help Africa!"

Anonymous,  11:46 am  

Why do you think thousands risk it all to escape to Europe? By the time the Chinese are done, there'll be nothing left. If you are lucky enough to leave, get out fast. The lunatics are running the asylum.

anonymaus,  3:44 pm  

Anonymous @ 11.12 am, "God help Africa", was meant as saying "what will become of Africa". I was not implying the
people of Africa take a reactive stance to this situation, on the contrary they should take a proactive stance.
I've raised this point time and time again (you are first to respond), that the poor functioning of governments
on the continent are the fault of elites and social societies. Who allow such characters (regimes whatever you
want to call them) to rule (or misrule) them, to flourish in perpetuity. By misrule I mean following misguided
policies is in Zimbabwe, Gabon, or just plain theft. Yet the same pattern often repeats itself in one country after
another,decade after decade. If it's not famine, its the breakdown of law and order, or economic strife that gets African nations.
This is all too sad because it's avoidable.

My apologies for the link I posted not working

Here it is agin, just click on "Gabon" to listen to the program.

Toks- Boy 7:35 pm  

Jeremy who are we as Nigerians to throw stones or to even try to ridicule other leaders doing exactly what is happening on our own door step? I wonder if these guys have a monthly conference call where they try to better each other.


Mugabe - $40m this month oh. That is one power I will not be sharing with what's his name.

Bongo - Small change. Small chap. Just spent that taking my wife to lunch. In Paris.On my private jet. Got her a little something for dessert. A Mansion. And a matching Maybach.Yes another one. So suck on that boyo.

Wonder how much the big boys in Nigeria and South Africa have made off with this month. Can't seem to get through to the guy in Nigeria. Hear its a Nitel problem.If only he would spend some of the money on that company. At least get them to sort him out with a propoer line. Anyway, till next month. Goodbye. Or should I say Au revoir?

I recently read a book called Africa My Black Arse and the author highlighted something that I was not aware of. Apparently in most, if not all the countries he travelled through on the way from SA to Egypt, every single leader had tried, or had successfully managed, to change the constitution to make themselves President or Leader for Life. Mmmm wonder why?

Oh and yes as somebody has already said wait till the Chinese finish their takeover. In the above mentioned book there was a town I believe in Liberia? where the Chinese have built a hotel where only the Chinese can enter. You read right. Apparently outside this hotel are guards who are natives of the country in querstion and they actually turn away the indigenes as the hotel is for the Chinese only. In Africa oh. It is happening right here. Right now.

I am of course keeping a close eye on the Chinese hotel being built on the Lekki Expressway. Let them try that rubbish.

Sandrine 7:43 pm  

Hi Jeremy,

This reminds me "Baby Doc" (Jean Claude Duvalier). Like they say "l'argent n'a pas d'odeur".


olu,  11:02 pm  

Suffocating rage, just beneath the surface.It sits there,like a dull ache. Feeding.Surviving.Year in,year out.I feel small,yet i hope against hope. What the FUCK can i do ?,What the FUCK should i do? can anything be done at all ?.

My pride, my heritage.To what end?
One brute after another.They lord it over the powerless. Life goes on. Abi ?

Why shouldn't i drink the koolaid? Maybe i should.They told me since i was a kid.Your people are: dull,dumb,inept,barbaric,corrupt,myopic,tribal..

Somebody tell me. Give me a good reason not to believe. That the children of Ham...
Are not cursed.

Anonymous,  2:56 am  

Olu I feel your pain. Some of this h*t leaves me wondering if Professor Watson (racist of the year 07) did not have a point......breaks my heart to see it happening. Ignorance is the root of this evil - education (about our past, present and future) is the only way out of this mess.

Toks-boy your Africa My Black Arse info is truly heartbreaking. If these leaders knew anything about their Black History - from the perspective of everyone else in the world, not just their own indigenous culture, they would never disrespect their predecessors by behaving like 3 yr olds.........

anonymaus,  4:51 pm  

I understand your sentiment, but if everyone took that attitude, things will never change and Africa will remain infantilised, dependent, disrespected and left-behind.

Although the failings of black people have been well publicised (if not over publicised).
One shouldn't take that to mean that black people will never progress. To think like that is to disempower oneself and to let your adversaries forever dominate you.

We all know that the people of ancient Israel were enslaved in Babylon (or Iraq as it now known) and Egypt for long periods of time

It could have been easy for the people of Israel to say, "oh well folks that's it, our fate has been sealed, let's stay like this forever". Today, Israel is head and shoulders ahead of Iraq and Egypt. So it is possible for one to rise above one's circumstances, although it is not easy.

Dare I say it, Botswana is a relatively stable country that is making significant strides (and modestly too).

That is an attempt to answer your question about the children of Ham.

Anonymous,  10:00 am  

the payments for the serveral luxury cars (about 30 pcs from maybach untill to mercedes benz slr) came from a austrian company steyr-daimler-puch spezialfahrzeug ag. he has a contract with the goverment of gabon to delivery a lot of trucks,construction maschines and service. for more information please to not hesitate to contact magna steyr in graz/ austria or a new company in switzerland how make big business with gabon. contact mr. claudio bauer or the new owner of steyr daimler puch - general dynamics company in vienna

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