There are lavish palaces across Africa that stand as monuments to the brutal dictators who used to rule their people with an iron fist.
Corruption is rife among powerful people around the world, but Africa has a particularly grim recent history of hosting fearsome rulers who treated their people like dirt while living in luxury themselves, usually in lavish properties.
Somewhere that’s now suffering from fading glory but which was the height of opulence until not many years ago is the village of Kawele in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reports The Sun.
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The dictator Mobutu Sese Seko ruled over the country – which was then Zaire – for nearly a third of a century until the late-1990s, and Kawele was at the centre of his power. He had two palaces in the village – one for him and one for his visitors and pals.
He had a runaway built that was big enough for his private plane to use – that private plane being Concorde – as well as his own Coca-Cola factory.
The village had its own plush hotel and Mobuto had posh food flown in from around the world, all while everyone else in the country was suffering under the one-party, totalitarian military dictatorship.
It was estimated that the two palaces cost £250million, and French presidents and Pope John Paul II were among the VIPs who stayed there.
But today Mobutu’s palace doesn’t even have a roof and the empty swimming pool is filthy. Looters have left the village looking grim and old cars are littered around the place, and it's a far cry from its former glory.
Another nasty piece of work who enriched himself while his people suffered was Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who took power in the Central African Republic at about the same time as Mobutu did in the country formerly known as Zaire.
What the evil tyrant lacked in humanity he certainly didn’t make up for in taste, either, as he ascended to his golden-eagle throne while wearing a gold outfit – and a gold crown bejewelled with diamonds. More than 25,000 bottles of champagne were necked at that ceremony, which reportedly cost £14million, says The Sun.
This was the same man who tortured and killed kids who protested against his reign, and his reputation took such a battering that he eventually handed himself in after being accused of dreadful crimes.
The cops who raided his properties made some startling finds. Inside his palaces, alongside diamonds and treasure, were mutilated bodies stuffed in freezers, bones of some of his victims that had been spewed up by his pet crocodiles, and loads of horrific porn.
Today, the scene is a very different one. There are still guards at the gates of the village, but all they’re protecting is a Bokassa statue and a landscape that’s overgrown and has been blighted by graffiti.
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