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Africa’s youngest Dictator becomes a pauper

Valentine Strasser at 25 when he took over the leadership of Sierra Leone

Valentine Strasser led a successful coup in Sierra Leone at 25. Today, he lives in poverty and is an alcoholic.

Valentine Strasser. If you weren’t conversant with West African politics in the early 90s to the mid-90s, then there are chances that you do not know who this is.

It’s quite understandable. During this period, West Africa had its fair share of military dictators/autocratic rulers from Ibrahim Babaginda, J.J Rawlings, Sani Abacha, Charles Taylor, and others.

Tucked somewhere in this all-star list of warlords, generals and generals turned civilian rulers is Valentine Strasser who holds the continental record of being Africa’s youngest military ruler.

Valentine Strasser came into power on April 29, 1992, at the age of 25. The junior military ruler along with six other young military officers led the charge to overthrow the Sierra Leonean government headed by Joseph Saidu Momoh.

To put things in perspective, Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria (the most populous country in Africa) came into power when he was 32 years old. J.J Rawlings of Ghana came into power at the age of 31.

Just like every other typical coup in Africa, the new military junta in Sierra Leone were welcomed by the masses who came out on the streets and celebrated the youthful soldiers.

Under Saidu Momoh’s leadership, the economy of Sierra Leone fared badly. There was hardly gas and water for the country’s citizens and civil servants were owed months of salaries.

Known as ‘The Boys’, the leading officers in the coup formed the National Provisional Ruling Council to rule the country. The early months of the military rule were positive. The economy bounced back and people were generally happy. Strasser and his gang even planned to hand over to a democratically elected government. Read More on Pulse

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