The Central African Republic and its neighboring countries during the colonial period became the Ubangui-Chari empire, ruled by tribal chiefs, a sultan, by colonial traders, French administrators, a president, a military dictator, an emperor and a corrupt politician. Thus it has been since the late 19th century, and so it continued even after the country in August 1960 declared itself independent.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the region was exposed to one of the most wild and deceptive forms of colonialization undertaken by the European colonial powers in Africa. France’s only interest was the military dominance used as a basis for attacks on Sultan Rabah, who ruled the area that is today Sudan. The military occupation was the basis of about 40 companies tasked with commercializing the raw rubber and ivory from the entire region. In addition, cotton, coffee and diamonds were added. The companies began a 30-year exchange period characterized by slave labor, massacres and persecution. They managed to control 70% of the area, renamed Ubangui-Chari in 1908.
After World War II, the financial problems of maintaining the colony administration forced the French to give the Bangui government partial autonomy. At the same time, they used the local elite as an instrument to gain control of foreign trade, defense and tax collection. The neocolonial period was thus initiated.
Oppression and violence were already mounting when former President Barthélemy Boganda in 1949 founded the Party for the Social Development of Black Africa (MESAN), which was tasked with fighting for the independence of the current Central African Republic. Boganda’s prestige rose sharply despite the French efforts to blackmail him. In 1956, the French intelligence decided to infiltrate MESAN with the aim of corrupting Boganda’s closest advisers, David Dacko and Abel Goumba. In March 1959, Boganda died in a plane crash under mysterious circumstances – only a year before the country became independent.
David Dacko immediately declared himself as Boganda’s political heir and initiated a purge of the party’s progressive elements. He became ever closer to France, while the United States began to take an interest in the country’s reserves of uranium and cobalt. Dacko gradually lost the public support Boganda had enjoyed, his government sinking deeper into corruption while exacerbating the country’s economic crisis.
- According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Central African Republic is Bangui with a population of 794,000 (2015 estimate). Other major cities include Bimbo, Berberati.
1965-79 Emperor Bokassa
In December 1965, Dacko was overthrown at a coup d’état conducted by his nephew, Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa, who was closely associated with France, in whose army he had served for 22 years. Bokassa belonged to the small land- owning bourgeoisie of the m’bak ethnic group in Lobaye – the area from which France had recruited most of its officials and military people for its colony administration. In 1972, Bokassa appointed president for life, then field marshal, to finally be crowned emperor and at the same time change the country’s name to the Central African Empire. The coronation ceremony in December 1977 cost $ 28 million and was funded by France, Israel and South Africa.
In 1978, Bokassa handed over 30,000 km 2 to a retired Israeli army general for the extraction of diamonds. At the same time, he appointed a number of well-known international arms dealers to military advisers. He also sent troops to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in support of dictator Mobuto, who was in the process of fighting a rebellion in the Shaba province.
But gradually the dissatisfaction of the population reached a critical point. This led to more riots among workers and students. Now it was Bokassa who got support from Zaire’s soldiers to defeat the popular uprising. In April 1979, the students returned to the streets, this time protesting that they were forced to buy their uniforms in shops owned by the emperor. 100 students were arrested and taken to the nasty Ngaragba jail, where under Bokassa’s personal supervision they were subjected to torture and, for the most part, executed. The scandal shook the world public.