Headline Sep 03, 2014/

''' O ''' THIS BAD BAD MANN '''

THIS HORRIBLY TANGLED TALE purports to be the no-holds barred chronicle of a failed coup. The author is a former officer in Britain's Scots Guards and the Special Air Service.

His father captained England at cricket and his family had a  famous brewery.

In 2004 Mr Mann set off from South Africa to overthrow the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, a ghastly state in the armpit in Africa, part island, part mainland,......... -''drenched in oil''.

Alas, the book is neither exciting nor illuminating. If it has any lessons for the historian. the Africanist or the   would-be-coup  plotter,   it is that it is unwise to tell too many people about your coup before it happens.

And if it goes wrong,  you can expect to end up shot or in prison for a very long time. 

In the event. Mr Mann was nabbed in Zimbabwe, en route to the target island, before he and his  69  not so merry men had even taken off on the last leg of their invasion journey.

He spent four horrendous years in prison in Zimbabwe before being extradited to Equatorial Guinea itself, where he was incarcerated for almost two more years in marginally more salubrious circumstances.

In 2009  the author was freed by the Equatorian dictator, Teodoro Obiang, who has run the place since 1979.

Mr Mann now apparently gives him occasional advice. One wonder how valuable it is. 

The book not only describes the failed coup fiasco. To lend plausibility to Mr Mann's Equatorial plan. It bounces confusingly back and forth, between the disaster of 2004 and:

A couple of more successful ventures in Angola  -in 1993 and Sierra Leone in 1995, where mercenary operations led partly by Mr Mann helped secure the governments of of those two embattled countries.

Unfortunately the tale is written in grating Boy's Own jargon, presumably at the over grown schoolboys' market in books about martial derring-do and endurance. This is how he describes his feelings in the run-up to his Angolan operation:

''I was on my way to Amanda this wife to be.. How much I loved her. Fun, laughter, jokes. Beauty, Strength. Fine limbs. Wild hair.

Launching into the spray of speeding traffic, I grin to myself. All I have to do now is slay UNITA  -[an Angola guerrilla group], win the gold, then woo the girl. Piece of piss.''

The book is also riddled with omissions and evasions. The author says he changed some names, perhaps to avoid litigation. Ely Calil, a Lebanese tycoon who has admitted that he funded the Equatorian opposition leader, Severo Moto, and introduced him to Mr Mann, is referred to as  ''the Boss''.

The part played by Jeffery Archer, a thriller writer and disgraced British peer, is unmentioned. Despite the labyrinth of names and places, the book does not even have an index.

Nor does Mr Mann divulge how much he expected to make from the venture or how it was financed before it unravelled. There are barely three pages on why the coup failed and who might have betrayed it.

Apparently the C.I.A., in the know of if never in the driving seat, lost faith in the would-be-perpetrators and decided for the sake of oil to cosy up to Mr Obiang after it all went wrong.  

Mr Mann says he has not read the authoritative account of   ''the wonga coup'' , as it soon half jocularly became known, by Adam Roberts.

Mr Mann buccaneers were a tawdry lot, including Margaret Thatcher's son Mark, who admitted his involvement in court. It may be a pity, given the horrors that have befallen Equatorial Guinea's people since.

Spain gave them independence in  1968, that the coup failed. It is easy to say that it was doomed from the start. Its plan was ludicrously leaky. But with a bit of luck it might well have come off.

And Mr Mann would indeed probably be worth several million dollars more.

Whether the  Equatorians  would have been any less miserable seems moot.

So, don't miss reading  :  Cry Havoc, By Simon Mann.

With respectful dedication to the leaders of West Africa, Students, Professors and Teachers.  And with respectful dedication to the leaders of the developing world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' The Yearning To Breathe Free '''

Good Night and God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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