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20th c Romanian History (I) – Ceausescu & Bokassa

April 4th, 2011 · No Comments · OPINION, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations

Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa greeting Ceausescu

Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa, a great and genuine fan of Ceausescu, came to Romania on several State visits, during which he particularly admired the blond  female dancers of the State Folk Dance Company “Ciocarlia ” (The Lark). The Romanian Secret Services obliged and dispatched one of the artistes to the Emperor’s stable to become his (third?) wife: she was duly ‘crowned empress’ and allocated her own impregnable palace intended as a secure gilded cage.

Ceausescu went on a State visit to Central Africa, whose diamonds fascinated more than one foreign head of state but instead, more modestly,  Ceausescu was impressed by the Emperor’s own sceptre. So on his return to Romania he passed a decree intended as a pretext of changing his titles from that of mere Secretary General of the Communist Party and  President of the State Council to that of  “President of Romania”. Such momentous political event required an excuse to allocate himself a symbolic insignia of office . So the ‘new’ President of Romania  awarded himself a ceremonial baton, which was none other than Marshall Antonescu‘s – Romania’s dictator during WWII: no inhibitions here, but who cared about such historical details?

HM King Ferdinand of Romannia Sceptre: Ceausescu preferred Marshall Antonescu's baton

Such “momentous” historical event (of “global” scale) had to be feted by all Heads of State around the world, who hastened to send Ceuasescu telegrams of congratulations… The political farce did not escape the sense of humour of Salvador Dali; the Catalan artist and wit sent Ceuasescu a telegram of congratulations praising the  Communist leader for his adoption of a scepter as part of his regalia. The Romanian daily newspaper Scînteia published it, without suspecting its mocking aspect. The jibe did not escape the Romanian public which caused the communist daily’s editor to be sacked: too little, too late, as the damage was already inflicted!

Salvador Dali poked fun at Ceausescu for "awarding himself a sceptre"

There was a glaring complicity between the two dictators, Bokassa and Ceuasescu: in spite of being worlds apart, they had a lot in common, in particular the cunning of the small-time village satrap, overblown to parody level. They also shared the same tribal feeling  by promoting family members in key positions, the same attraction for all that glittered, the delusions of grandeur.

Bokassa Coronation sceptre inspired Nicolae Ceausescu

In retrospect Bokassa outwitted all his contemporaries, including his French masters and returned from his  exile in France (where he was kept prisoner in a gilded cage – a chateau in the middle of nowhere), to be allowed to die a revered village elder in his native country.  By contrast Ceausescu was less astute than his African pal: Nick and Elena were outfoxed by their trusted lieutenants, who had them summarily ‘judged’ by a kangoroo Court and hastily dispatched in a carnage redolent of the parodic shoots of Carpathian bear in Romania’s mountains.
Both Nicolae and Elena claimed their innocence during their farcical  trial of 1989, but nobody came to rescue the once feted Hero, hailed in dithyrambic verse by his Court Poet, Adrian Paunescu:

“We love Him because this Country is free under the sun
The People of this country are free and the real leader
We love him because He embodies the conscience of the Working people
And that he makes us proud that as a man He is Romanian”

Reallly, incredible as it is in retrospect, the above ditty might  have been more suitable if it was dedicated to Emperor Bokassa instead: sadly, Adrian Paunescu, Ceausescu’s fawning Court jester,  had to make do with a ‘second best’!

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