Congratulations to Dr. Mengara on the publication of his new book, Gabon en Danger (Gabon in Danger: From the Duty of Reform to the Duty of Violence: Autopsy of a “Bananized” African “Monarchical Republic).”
Oil-rich Gabon—in central West Africa—has been ruled not only by the same regime, but also by the same family for 52 years. The father—Omar Bongo—ruled for 42 years from 1967 until his unexpected death in 2009, when his son—Ali Bongo—took over after sham elections. Omar Bongo’s reign lasted through nine American presidents (Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama) and, at the time of his death, he was the second longest-serving head of state in the world behind only Fidel Castro of Cuba. Despite a political relaxation that ended Omar Bongo’s one-party rule in 1990, all attempts to fully democratize the country have failed. According to the World Bank and the IMF, Gabon paradoxically presents levels of poverty comparable to those of poorer countries despite boasting the second highest per capita wealth in Africa. The impossibility for the Gabonese people to change this fifty-two-year-old regime via democratic elections is such that Dr. Mengara has to result to terms like “bananized monarchical Republic” to describe the rampant corruption, lawlessness, human right abuses, economic mismanagement, and economic bankruptcy caused by a single family. He concludes that revolutionary change may be the only pathway to democracy in Gabon.
Dr. Daniel Mengara is a professor of French and Francophone Studies at Montclair State University. He also teaches a course on the Governments and Politics of Africa in the Department of Political Science and Law. As the founder of the exiled opposition movement “Bongo Doit Partir” (Bongo Must Go) and a pioneer of “cyber-activism,” he has been campaigning since 1998 for regime change in Gabon. Daniel Mengara is the author of two novels—Mema (in English) and Le Chant des chimpanzés (Song of the Chimpanzees)—and two volumes on Africa—La Représentation des groupes sociaux chez les romanciers noirs sud-africains (The Representation of Social Groups by Black South African Writers) and Images of Africa: Stereotypes and Realities). This new book is his fifth.