Dark Age: Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa
by Brian Titley
Following a lengthy career in the French army, Jean-Bedel Bokassa (1921-96) seized power in the Central African Republic in 1966. His flamboyance and ... Show synopsis Following a lengthy career in the French army, Jean-Bedel Bokassa (1921-96) seized power in the Central African Republic in 1966. His flamboyance and excesses soon became legendary: he was accused of cannibalism, feeding enemies to lions and crocodiles, and beating schoolchildren to death. In 1977 he named himself Emperor and orchestrated a coronation in the style of Napoleon's. Bokassa was overthrown by French paratroopers in 1979 and went into exile, but returned to his homeland in 1985 to face a sensational trial. Presenting an account of Bokassa's turbulent career, this work probes the origins and veracity of the myths and legends surrounding him. The author interprets his authoritarian and self-aggrandizing style as an attempt to legitimize his regime in a context devoid of indigenous political structures. Through a combination of historical inquiry and investigative journalism, Titley also explores the troubled relations between France and its former colonies.