Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coup d'Etats and other funny going-ons - Part V: The Dogs of War

My boss has gotten interested in the funny goings-on in this part of the world and has gone out and bought Tropical Gangsters by Robert Klitgaard, Adam Robert's' The Wonga Coup and Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War.

The former relates the experiences of a World Bank representative in Equatorial Guinea (EG) in the late 1980ss. I thoroughly recommend it - as it relates much about the horrors of the Macias Nguema regime and the only slightly lesser horrors of his successor and nephew Obiang.The Wonga Coup seems to have been updated since its original publication in 2006, I assume to include updates on Mark Thatcher's fate and Simon Mann's extradition from Zimbabwe to the notorious Black Beach prison in the Equatorial Guinean capital Malabo.

As I have loaned him several books over the last few years, he offered to loan them to me. As I have read the former and latter fairly recently and having only recently learned of Forsyth's admitted knowledge of or involvement in a 1973 coup attempt in EG I opted to borrow Forsyth's Dogs of War first published in 1974. I haven't read it in 20 or more years so, with my current knowledge, it will be gripping - and if he was ever to write an autobiography or permit someone to write a biography, it would make interesting reading.

Just opening the first two pages are chilling in their dedication and epigrams ...


"For Giorgio, and Christian and Schlee,
And Big Marc and Black Johnny,
And the others in the unmarked graves.
At least we tried.".

In the novel's introductory epigrams he reproduces two quotes:

"Cry "Havoc" and let slip the dogs of war" - Julian Caesar, William Shakespeare.

"That ... be not told of my death,
Or made to grieve on account of me,
And that I not be buried in consecrated ground,
And that no sexton be asked to toll the bell,
And that nobody is wished to see my dead body,
And that no mourners walk behind me at my funeral,
And that no flowers be planted on my grave,
And that no man remembers me,
To this I put my name."

Thomas Hardy.

Unrelated (?) regional developments: The French judicial system has frozen the substantial French bank accounts of Africa's (currently) longest-serving president, Omar Bongo, of our nearest continental neighbour, Francophone, Gabon.

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