Preparations are underway for what some say is the most bizarre event ever seen in Africa's post-colonial era -- the coronation of the Central African Empire's self-proclaimed Emperor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa the First.
Preparations are underway for what some say is the most bizarre event ever seen in Africa's post-colonial era -- the coronation of the Central African Empire's self-proclaimed Emperor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa the First. He heads one of the continents's poorest states and yet is planning an elaborate and expensive coronation ceremony in December of this year.
SYNOPSIS: A major part of the preparations is taking place in Gisors, in france. A gilded stage coach, to be drawn by eight white horses, is being built near there -- as is a jewelled crown, orb and spectre. But perhaps the most spectacular item being prepared for the coronation is a massive golden throne. It's in the shape of an eagle with a ten foot wing span. Renowned french sculptor, M. Oliver Brice, has designed it -- in bronze -- and it will eventually weigh almost two tons.
M. Brice employs 12 people to work on the throne -- and he's also responsible for planning a large part of the ceremony. He made his name originally by sculpturing bronze statues.
Emperor Bokassa plans to have about 55 statues carved depicting him, and the ceremonies will cost millions of pounds sterling.
The Emperor seized power in what was the Central African Republic 12 years ago, but it wasn't until late last year that he elevated his country to Empire status. At the time, other African leaders said he was setting Africa's image back by a century. Emperor Bokassa was recently in the news for his treatment of two foreign journalists who went to interview him about the celebrations and were imprisoned.
Bokassa is also considered similar to Uganda's President Idi Amin. He has been putting together his own "imperial family" -- and recently named his 29th legitimate child Princess Anne of Berengo.