In Ghana there was Jerry Rawlings.
In Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara.
It seems West Africa in the 1980’s saw the emergence of some young, adventurous and over-the top military figures who stepped out to seize power because they felt their respective countries were in the mud.
There was another one.
Enter Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe.
In April 1980, 28 year-old Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, assumed power in Liberia in a blaze of glory. In a surprise night-time attack on the Executive Mansion overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Doe and his accomplices brutally murdered President William R. Tolbert Jr, ending 133 years of rule by black American settlers and their descendants (known as Americo-Liberians). Having discarded with Tolbert, Doe became Liberia’s first president of “exclusive indigenous heritage”.
He would take charge of the affairs of the country with virtually no experience in governance. A few days after they killed the president in their uprising, about eleven senior ministers in the previous government were arrested, stripped naked and taken through town before they are summarily executed at a Monrovia beach.
Doe’s government will enjoy backing from the U.S government which will be culminated in a state visit to the United State.
But he did not enjoy this support for long,the backing he had, all but evaporated by the end of the Cold War.
He will rig the 1985 general election and win with a very close margin.Liberia erupted into civil war, Doe was left vulnerable.
Doe would have his day.
9th September, 1990. After a raging conflict with rebels,Doe was made to believe the the recently deployed ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Monrovia wanted him to meet the rebels and probably have a truce. He agreed.
He arrived at the venue with protection due a president, but his troops were made to put down their weapons. The ‘mediators’ would sneak out of the premises just before Prince Yormi Johnson and his armed men arrived at the venue. Doe had been trapped.
He would be stripped down to his underwear and interrogated amidst extreme torture which was being filmed. He was cut up with his ears removed. They even asked him to chew his sliced off ears. After a long unending torture, the naked, cut up president was taken to the beach where the sea water worsened his plight. A few rounds of bullets are pumped into him and that was it. The President of Liberia was dead.
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