By Emeka Obasi
Field Marshal Idris Deby died in battle on April 20, 2021. His son, General Major Mahamat Deby, is the new leader of Chad, a quick decision taken to stabilize the country which was almost captured by Nigerian forces about forty years ago.
This development in Chad sounds exactly like what happened in Congo Democratic Republic when Maj. Gen. Joseph Kabila succeeded his father, Laurent Desire Kabila, who was assassinated allegedly by his Aide de Camp (ADC), Eddie Kapend on January 16, 2001.
In Uganda nothing has happened yet. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, is sitting tight and his son, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi, may likely assume office should the old man walk away after a sixth term in office. Deby was killed just as he was to be sworn in for another tenure.
There is something about the trio of Museveni, Deby and Kabila. They received good education, fought their way to power and prepared their children for war. The same children also rose rapidly to the rank of general.
Museveni studied Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Tanzania. His son, Muhoozi was at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 2000. Further training in Egypt, United States and South Africa toughened the man who was born in 1974.
Deby possessed a Bachelor of Science degree and qualified as a pilot. His son, Mahamat, born in 1983, was at Aix-en-Provence, France. He distinguished himself fighting rebels in Northern Mali just like his father did before falling in Tibesti Region.
Kabila was well read. He acquired a doctorate and was also at UDSM, like Museveni. Joseph Kabila attended Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. He was also at PLA National Defence University, Beijing, China. Largely unknown at home before his dad became president, he was battle tested.
Nigerians will not forget Debby. He was the man that captured about 40 Nigerian fishing villages in 1983 before General Muhammadu Buhari and Col. Chris Ugokwe chased him back to the gates of Ndjamena. Nigeria also enjoyed superior aerial power with fighter pilots like Ben Ekele ruling the skies.
It is a big shame that under the present regime, Deby became a cowboy hero among Nigerians as he chased Boko Haram fighters away from Chadian territory while the insurgents took over local government areas in Borno and Yobe.
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Museveni owes a lot to Nigerian benefactors. Some of his teachers at UDSM were Albert Okwudiba Nnoli and Claude Ake. Nnoli flew to Tanzania from Stanford University. Chief Moshood Abiola was said to have known so much about Museveni’s rise to power in 1986.
Kabila was also in Dar es Salaam at the time. UDSM played host to many future leaders and revolutionaries. From Namibia came Sam Nujoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Hage Geingob. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique and Tanzanians, John Magufuli, Jakaya Kiwete and Benjamin Mkapa were there.
The campus attracted Walter Rodney who wrote ‘ How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’ there, Frantz Fanon and Che Guevara. Eduardo Mondlane, Dennis Brutus, Ayi Kwei Armah, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Oginga Odinga, John Garang and Ngugi wa Thiong’o also breathed life into Mlimani,as the University stood on the hill.
Kabila and Museveni were friends but turned enemies later. Their sons were born in Dar es Salaam although Joseph Kabila would not say it publicly as that would have cost him the plum position at home. The younger Kabila speaks better English than French.
Joseph Kabila’s twin sister is Jaynet. Both were born in 1971. Muhoozi was raised by his step mother, Janet after his mother died while bringing him into the world.
Laurent Kabila was in Katanga while Nigerian troops helped keep the peace in the Congo. Former Nigerian leaders, Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo were in that country and Ironsi commanded United Nations forces.
Carl von Rossen,one of the pilots who flew United Nations Secretary General, Dag Hammerskjold, found his way to Biafra with with five minicons that were labeled Biafran Babies. The day his boss died in a plane crash, the Swede was not on duty, thanks to a divine ailment.
Deby was Zaghawa, a warrior tribe well known to the Kanuri of Nigeria in the years of yore. The Bulala troubled them. In modern times, when General Felix Maloum fell from power, he was taken in by Nigeria where he lived and died.
Those who killed Kabila were arrested, tried and some sentenced to death. However, none of them was executed. Eddy Kapend, his alleged killer was his cousin. Kabila’s death did not bring peace to his country. It only emboldened the opposition.
Deby’s killers may also be tried someday. For now they are faceless as rebels of Front and Change for Concord in Chad (FACT). It is possible that like Kabila, an inside job was carried out. Mahamat Deby will have more than enough to handle.
Museveni is neither retired no tired. He has positioned his son as possible successor. His wife has been part of government. A younger brother was in the Army. Ugandans are not yet in champagne mood because opposition leader, Bobby Wine, remains caged. Who knows if it is friendly fire that will sound in Kampala.