The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War

By Mark Huband | Go to book overview

I
SELL THE SILVER,
STEAL THE GOLD

Mobutu and Zaire

A STONE PEDESTAL AT THE JUNCTION of a private driveway leading to the Villa del Mar commemorates Sir Winston Churchill as a citoyen d'honneur (honorary citizen) of Cap Martin. Off Avenue Churchill a shaded cul-de-sac leads to what was still on the day I visited, in May 1997, the French Riviera residence of Mobutu Sese Seko, which to my eyes seemed a monument of a different sort. 1 Iron gates, and a sign warning unwanted visitors that guard dogs might be snarling on the other side of the wall, hid the villa, estimated to be worth $4.3 million. The Villa del Mar is the largest of a cluster of luxury homes dominating a small hill leading down to the Mediterranean at Roquebrune-Cap Martin. A nearby real estate agent ran through the prices of mansions and villas in the surrounding streets, while in a shop opposite the couple that ran a newspaper shop and grocery store talked of how Mobutu's children used to come buy sweets and toys with large-denomination notes. A copy of the International Herald Tribune lay on the counter, with an account of the advance by rebel forces across the savannah and forest of the collapsing Zairian state dominating the front page. A world lying thousands of miles away, the inhabitants of which, every summer until only a few years beforehand, had arrived in a convoy of sleek cars in these streets, was reduced from being the geopolitical drama of the dynamic days of the 1960s, to a black-and-white

-3-

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The Skull beneath the Skin: Africa after the Cold War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Prologue viii
  • Part One - Empty Promises i
  • 1 - Sell the Silver, Steal the Gold 3
  • 2 - The Skull beneath the Skin 31
  • 3 - Great Game, Dirty Game 57
  • Part Two - The Time of the Soldier 79
  • 4 - Whispers and Screams 81
  • 5 - A City on the Lake 97
  • 6 - Juggling the Juntas 115
  • 7 - The Deadly Harvest 137
  • Part Three - Blood of the Ancestors 159
  • 8 - Myths, Chiefs, and Churches 161
  • 9 - Genocide 184
  • 10 - The Spit of the Toad 217
  • Part Four - New World, Old Order 249
  • 11 - Rogue States and Radicals 253
  • 12 - The Mogadishu Line 277
  • 13 - France, Africa, and a Place Called Fashoda 307
  • Epilogue - The Center Cannot Hold 327
  • Notes 335
  • Bibliography 355
  • Index 361
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