by John Pravin
History is filled with leaders who have shaped the world we live in – some for better, and some for worse. Many have been focused, forward-thinking role models. However, there are exceptions. From narcissism and ridiculous wardrobes to eating their enemies, these leaders can officially be classified as bonkers. Here are some of the world’s weirdest dictators, and evil is just one way to describe them.
Ferdinand Marcos – President of the Philippines
Ferdinand Marcos’ rule (1965-86) was infamous for corruption, brutality, and extravagance. They stole so much from the Central Bank that the couple earned a Guinness World Record for the largest-ever theft from a government. The country is still paying their debt. His wife, Imelda Marcos, was infamous for her extensive shoe collection – which coined the term “Imeldific.” This while citizens had to line up for rice rations due to rice shortage. The Marcos also kicked out the native Tagbanwa tribe to a former leper colony island. Why? Because they wanted to create a game reserve for some African animals they shipped in from Kenya.
Saparmurat Niyazov – President of Turkmenistan
Few dictators can top the man who named himself Turkmenbashi (meaning “Leader of All Ethnic Turkmen”). Declaring himself president for life, Niyazov named landmarks, streets and other public bodies after himself, and in some occasions, after his favourite horse. He also renamed the month of April as well as the actual word for “bread” after his mother. His face was also legally required to appear on every clock and watch in the country. He also made every civil servant in the country read his rambling memoirs – though reportedly an illiterate himself – as a prerequisite for a job.
Idi Amin – President of Uganda
Uganda’s dictator (1971-79) was almost certainly mentally unstable – which explains a lot about him. Reports claim he fed his enemies to crocodiles, and even ate people himself. He declared himself King of Scotland as well as Conqueror of the British Empire (despite having no relation to either). He forced white residents to carry him on a throne and then kneel before him so that they could recite an oath of loyalty. Asians were also banned from Uganda after a girl from an important Asian family refused to marry him. In his defence, rejection is pretty hard to deal with.
Muammar Gaddafi – Dictator of Libya
Dubbed the “Mad Dog of the Middle East”, Gaddafi was known for his outlandish fashion sense. He’d also pitch his Bedouin tent in the middle of fancy hotel lobbies, refusing to stay in rooms. He also banned all Italians from Libya and then hired 200 Italian women to convert to Islam. And he decreed that all his bodyguards had to be female virgins. He then arrested Swiss nationals and expelled Swiss diplomats after his son, Hannibal, was arrested by Geneva police for assaulting a hotel maid. Rumoured to be one of the world’s richest men, he ironically died in a sewer while running for his life in 2011. Definitely one of the weirdest endings.
Supreme Leaders Kim Jong-II & Kim Jong-Un
While individually crazy, North Korea’s father-son supreme leaders have earned themselves the tag team title for being bonkers dictators. The late Kim Jong-Il told his people that he invented the hamburger. He called himself the greatest golfer in history – reportedly averaging four or five hole-in-ones per game – at least according to anyone carrying his scorecard (they risked execution otherwise). According to legend, his birth was marked by the appearance of a double rainbow. Also that he reportedly never pooped, ever – which could explain why he was so full of s**t.
His son Kim Jong-Un’s achievements were plenty. Like being a 4-star general despite never having enlisted, and being a master race car driver by the age of 3 (as reported by North Korean media). He also continued the family business of running labour camps for anyone who questions his driving prowess.
Let’s not forget his haircut, or his penchant for executing officials with anti-aircraft guns. Craziest of all, he also has nukes at his fingertips.
“With great power comes great responsibility” or – in these cases apparently – incredible lunacy.