The legacy of anchoring power on violent ethnic security tools undermined European immigrant regimes in Africa, writes Okello Oculi
In 1893 French invaders forced Sultan Abd Rahman to surrender the imperial ambition of Baguirma and become a “protectorate’’. In April 22, 1900 a defeated Rabih Az Zubayi saw Tchad descend into depths of underdevelopment.
France, like Britain planted future conflict by denying the development of human and infrastructural development in the Muslim north, while it “managed to govern effectively only in the South’’. Until 1920, it was governed from Brazzaville on the Atlantic Ocean end Congo River.
The South became a source of able-bodied cheap labour exported to grow cotton in Niger. Its people became the first to provide colonised troops which joined World War Two in attacking Southern Libya on August 26m 1940. Germans dropped bombs on Ndjamena on January, 1942 in a case of Africans dying for their oppressors.
War veterans and Chad’s small educated groups formed a political party which demanded progressive change, including self-rule. After all, France had appointed a black man, Felix Ebue from the Caribbean, as the governor of Chad.
Colonial dictatorship neither bred democrats; nor build institutions and democratic attitudes. Little wonder that the first Chadian politician to head government by ‘’Chadian Progressive Party’’, Francois Tombalbaye, behaved like a colonial oppressor. In January 1962 he banned all other political parties. That included Chadian Democratic Union created by French officials to link local aristocrats, French business interests and ethnic groups in the north-east and the border with Libya.
Tombalbaye imprisoned critics in thousands and by 1966 provoked the emergence of a National Liberation Front of Chad which, like similar movements in Algeria, Mozambique and elsewhere, chose military struggle to remove a dictator. Support by Libya precipitated the military’s killing of Tombalbaye on April 13, 1966. Chad had entered legacies of a colonial-type politics of: government torture, repression, slaughter of protesters, and armed quest for ‘’regime change’’ including killing the incumbent ruler.
The rebels introduced Hissen Habre into Chadian politics. He rejected being ruled by a southerner between June7, 1982 and December 1, 1990, he supervised arrests of 12,321 victims; killed 1,208. During ‘’Black September’’ in1984, ‘’villages were pillaged, burned, while ‘’educated Chadians from the south were systematically arrested and executed’’.
In 1987, his political police targeted the Hadjarai ethnic group for repression. In 1989, 40 localities of Zhagawa ethnic group were attacked and ‘’hundreds were killed’’. In August 1990, arrests targeted government officials.
Like French and British colonial officials, Tombalbaye and Habre would ensure that their ethnic groups monopolised power in intelligence and political administration sectors.
. Just as France and the United States aided Idriss Debby’s ouster of Hissen Habre, it is being speculated that France engineered the military coup against him.
Idriss Deby’s 30 years in power was marked by his wrestling control of oil revenues but critics assert that Deby did not pursue development for the people of Chad. By 2020 the United Nation’s Human Development Index ranked Chad 184 out of a total of 184 countries.
Debby bought French and American support by using oil revenues to equip and support a military force which fought Islamist terrorists across West Africa. By 2013 he was supporting 2,250 troops in Mali. He had joined forces with Nigeria, Niger and Cameroun in fighting Boko Haram. He was killed after he visited Nigeria’ president, Muhammadu Buhari a few days to his presidential election.
There have been claims the Deby supported Bozize to organise a coup from Ndjamena in 2003 but sent Chadian troops to assist Michel Djotodia, leader of the Seleca coalition of militias. President Bozize had been photographed inspecting a Guard of Honour in China. Both Chad and Central African Republic are rich in strategic minerals, including Uranium, gold, oil and diamonds, and the prospect of China’s companies getting official access must have irritated Deby’s Euro-American friends. Likewise, President Buhari’s disapproval of tenure elongation by Quattara in Ivory Coast.
Deby himself had signed contracts with several Chinese companies. It is not clear if he lost favours with his NATO friends. His highest recent diplomatic achievement included keeping the ‘’International Community’’ silent over his violent repression and extension of his tenure up to 2033; and achievements in 2017 and 2021 getting his Zhagawa ethnic kin Moussa Faki Mahamat elected Chair of the African Union Commission. His ‘Oil-For-Security’ diplomacy was severely stretched to achieve victory after NINE rounds of voting.
Suspicious of his duplicitous Euro-American friends betraying him and denying his military son, Deby Mahatma Itno, succession to his throne, he probably sought to feel safe by placing Moussa Faki Mahamat within range for a novel Zhagawa civilian President of Chad.
The legacy of anchoring power on violent ethnic security tools undermined European immigrant regimes in Algeria, Kenya, and Southern Africa. Cry beloved Chad.