Dictator Bokassa I

Jean-Bédel Bokassa is crowned as 'Emperor of Central Africa' atop a golden throne in 1976
Jean-Bédel Bokassa is crowned as 'Emperor of Central Africa' atop a golden throne in 1976

Historical Context

For ten years Jean-Bédel Bokassa had reigned with an iron fist in the Central African Republic, having ousted his distant cousin from office when he was the head of the armed forces.

Attempting to emulate his idol, Napoleon Bonaparte, Bokassa had himself declared the Emperor of the Central African Republic. His coronation was unbelievably decadent: he spent some $20 million US dollars - more than a third of the country's national income - on the occasion. No foreign leaders attended, and he was considered a laughing stock by much of the world.

The Central African Empire lasted only three years before Bokassa was himself overthrown in an operation by the French military. He was exiled to France and tried in absentia, though later returned and was tried again. He served six years of a life sentence before being released in 1993, dying three years later.

Photo Info


Photographer: Pierre Guillaud
Date taken: December 4, 1977
Location taken: Bangui, Central African Empire (now Republic)

Source: Apollo Magazine

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