Twelve steps to becoming an effective African dictator

Binyavanga Wainaina has written a viciously funny step-by-step “guide” for aspiring African dictators in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Some of the highlights: Rule 3. Make America or China happy. Make Israel and Saudi Arabia very happy. Become a Muslim, like Idi Amin. Visit Moammar Gadaffi often. He likes African leaders. We do not know ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
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591166_081211_mobutu5.jpg

Binyavanga Wainaina has written a viciously funny step-by-step "guide" for aspiring African dictators in South Africa's Mail & Guardian. Some of the highlights:

Rule 3. Make America or China happy. Make Israel and Saudi Arabia very happy. Become a Muslim, like Idi Amin. Visit Moammar Gadaffi often. He likes African leaders. We do not know why. Pray with George Bush and let him see your soul. Make your country's leading supermodel the ambassador to France and Italy. Ask her to wear a mini when presenting her papers to Nicholas [sic] Sarkozy...

Rule 6. Colonial countries expected little of Africans. Maintain this illusion...

Binyavanga Wainaina has written a viciously funny step-by-step “guide” for aspiring African dictators in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. Some of the highlights:

Rule 3. Make America or China happy. Make Israel and Saudi Arabia very happy. Become a Muslim, like Idi Amin. Visit Moammar Gadaffi often. He likes African leaders. We do not know why. Pray with George Bush and let him see your soul. Make your country’s leading supermodel the ambassador to France and Italy. Ask her to wear a mini when presenting her papers to Nicholas [sic] Sarkozy…

Rule 6. Colonial countries expected little of Africans. Maintain this illusion…

Rule 10. A free press is important. But have shares in all major media and make sure that you allow them to be very critical of everything, except you. You can, these days, secretly pay bloggers. They can say, for example, that your economic policy is Keynesian, but they should never say you are a “corrupt Zulu warlord”…

If all these things fail and you find yourself in State House surrounded by screaming citizens carrying homemade weaponry, make sure you have a Hummer (Raila Odinga) in your garage. They are cheap now in America. You can burst out of your palace and make your way to Somalia, where you can become a pirate who earns $50-million a year.

Of course, if you don’t have government connections in an unstable African country, you may have to start a country of your own. FP‘s got your back.

(Hat tip: Ethan Zuckerman)

Update: Apparently I had a brain malfunction and Beth flagged this last week in Smart takes. Sorry about that.

Photo: WALTER DHLADHLA/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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