Jean-Bédel Bokassa

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Jean-Bédel Bokassa (French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃ bedɛl bɔkasa]; 22 February 1921 – 3 November 1996, also known as Bokassa I of Central Africa and Salah Eddine Ahmed Bokassa) was the military ruler of the Central African Republic from 1 January 1966 and the Emperor of the Central African Empire from 4 December 1976 until he was overthrown on 20 September 1979.


Early life

Bokassa was born one of 12 children to Mindogon Mgboundoulou, a village chief, and his wife Marie Yokowo in Bobangui, a large M'Baka village in the Lobaye basin located at the edge of the equatorial forest, then a part of colonial French Equatorial Africa, some 80 kilometres (50 mi) southwest of Bangui.[1] Mgboundoulou was forced to organise the rosters of his village people to work for the French Forestière company. After hearing about the efforts of a prophet named Karnu to resist French rule and forced labour,[2] Mgboundoulou decided that he would no longer follow French orders. He released some of his fellow villagers who were being held hostage by the Forestière. The company considered this to be a rebellious act, so they detained Mgboundoulou, and took him away bound in chains to Mbaïki.[1] On 13 November 1927, he was beaten to death in the town square just outside the prefecture office. A week later, Bokassa's mother, Marie Yokowo, unable to bear the grief of losing her husband, committed suicide.[1][3][4]

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