You may have forgotten Uganda’s etc etc titles, Idi Amin Dada, but the Gambian leader, Yahya AJJ Jammeh, is not about to the let the culture of presidents giving themselves titles die that easily.
In 1977, when Britain broke diplomatic relations with Uganda, Amin declared he had defeated the British and added “CBE”, for “Conqueror of the British Empire”, to his title.
Radio Uganda then announced his entire title: “his Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr. Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE”.
Likewise, over the weekend, the Office of the Gambian President announced that another title was being added to the already absurd long list of titles held by the president.
According to an official release, the Gambian leader will now be known formally as “His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa”.
This comes at a time the country celebrates the 21st Anniversary of the 22nd July Revolution under the dynamic and visionary leadership of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa.
Celebrations to mark the day begun with prayers in all mosques and churches.
Arrival of invited guests begun on Monday and a reception will be held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel today, Tuesday evening.
The climax of the celebration will be a parade of school children, security forces and voluntary organisations on Wednesday morning at the Arch 22 in Banjul where President Jammeh will deliver a landmark speech.
This will be followed by a state banquet in the evening to be hosted by His Excellency in honour of dignitaries at the State House Grounds.
African presidents and their titles
Babili Mansa, according to BBC, means “Bridge Builder, or Conqueror of Rivers”, in the Mandika language.
The practice of acquiring a long list of titles started with our earliest presidents as soon as independence came.
That, after all, is how our traditional chiefs are addressed and the new presidents saw themselves as big chiefs – that probably explains why they couldn’t come to terms with term limits and wanted to be presidents for life.
Ghana’s first president was the man who started the trend for presidents to add Dr to their title.
He was addressed: Osagyefo, (a chief’s title, said to mean Redeemer) Dr Kwame Nkrumah – Life President of the Republic of Ghana. The Life President bit was aborted when he was overthrown in a coup d’etat.
Joseph Mobutu gained the title “The Warrior who Goes from Conquest to Conquest Leaving Fire in his Wake” but kept the same hat
The sergeant-major-turned-president of Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Mobutu, took the trend a scale higher.
He became Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, meaning
The Warrior who Goes from Conquest to Conquest Leaving Fire in his Wake.
His Excellency the President, Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda-Life President of the Republic of Malawi.
His Excellency, The President, First Secretary of the Party, Head of State and Government, Commander-in-Chief of Zimbabwe Defence Forces remains in power
In Zimbabwe, state TV refers to: His Excellency, The President, Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
But at social events, ministers often add: Patron of War Veterans, First Secretary of the Party and Chancellor of State Universities.
And even: Supreme Leader, First Citizen of the Nation, Honorary Black Belt and Professor of Diplomacy.
According to BBC’s Elizabeth Ohene, “the official full title of the Head of State from which we got our independence is: Her Majesty, “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”.