Sunday, April 24, 2016

Djibril Bopaka: Profile of a man who epitomizes all that has gone wrong with Denis Sassou Nguesso

El hadj Abdoulaye Djibril Bopaka: he is the head of the Muslim or Islamic Council of Congo and also a former member of the Cobra militia of Denis Sassou Nguesso during the 1997 civil war. He is also the head of a parallel union of owners of enterprises, whose locations and official registry are not known at the ministry of Commerce or at the Brazzaville Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Artisans. The head of the Brazzaville Chamber of Commerce is Paul Obambi. Mr Obambi can’t stand Mr Djibril, because of the duplicity of the second. El Hadj Abdoulaye Djibril Bopaka has the attitudes of rogues or gang leaders. All he does is to impress. One sign is what passes for the head quarters of his many organisations, located near the airport, in street named after him, Avenue Bopaka. It is not clear whether people just decided to call it after him or whether it is official.  On this street, he has constructed a large building, painted Green and White and on and around it, are flags of several countries. This self imposed leader of the Islamic community can’t also tell you whether he is a Sunni or Shia Muslim.  Mr Bopaka is truly a unique character that I have come across on several occasions. Djibril Bopaka for also the noises that he makes about his role during the civil, he is not known for having carried out any act of bravery or fought in any of the battle fronts.

However what he is well known for, are his feats in extortions, even at the height of the civil war. He operated mostly in Oyo, the home district of the President during the civil war. It is reported that, he was almost lynched by members of the President’s family, because of rackets that, he began organizing within the family. He took parcels and pretended to take them to Gabon to give the late Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba and those parcels never reached their destination. He also did the way when Edith gave him money and gifts for her family and they disappeared along the border between Gabon and Congo.  Another occasion that he was almost lynched was by the traders and fishermen population at the port of Oyo, but the timely intervention of Ambende, the late elder brother of Sassou Nguesso, saved Djibril from being thrown into the Alima River. The traders and fishermen of Oyo were already tired of his racketeering. Djibril Bopaka is an unsuccessful businessman, whose businesses survive simply because he claims to be close to the President of the Republic. The strange man of God and a so-called devoted Muslim doesn’t pay  those who work for him and also misappropriates funds that Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar sends for the expansion of Islam, the building of Mosques, schools and hospitals in Congo. His attitude is the cause of perpetual intra-Muslim confrontations, especially in Pointe Noire, where his authority is rigorously challenged within the Islamic community.   

Within the Muslim community, that he has imposed himself as their leader, he is contested. But because of his proximity with the president of the Republic, he is still the chair of the Islamic community. He is also a strange businessman. He is known to have started business by selling paints. The paint selling business, which he created was called “Bopaka Painture”. He is a man who spends his time to want to speak or imitate the way the president speaks and also organizes rackets of the West African Muslim business community who besides paying taxes to the government and the councils where they operate, they also pays another special tax or levy to Djibril, who claims to defend them. This special tax is called the “Bopaka impot” in French or Bopaka tax in English. He is a corrupt man who spends his time singing the praise and virtue of the fight against corruption. But whenever takes loan from banks, he doesn’t reimburse those loans. His is among those who have contributed in running down most commercial banks in Congo, because they refuse to pay back their loans and nothing happens to them. Currently, he is campaigning for the change of the constitution, for he knows that, in a system which is honest and transparent; his rightful place will be in jail. Yet, these are the type of people who pass for actors or head of civil society organisations in Congo, fighting against corruption or electoral frauds.  He is also a very incoherent man. On one hand, he is calls or advocates for the respect of the rule of law, while other, he wants the president to change the constitution. The only coherent thing that he does best is to find ways and means to line up his pocket. Djibril Bopaka epitomizes all that has gone wrong with the systemic corruption and absence of accountability that Denis Sassou Nguesso has allowed to prosper in Congo, under his rule or should I say, misrule.

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