The grand master of the National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF) installed Ali Bongo as the head of Gabonese Freemasonry, a couple of weeks ago. The title was, until June this year, held by the former President Omar Bongo. About one thousand influential politicians practice freemasonry in Gabon. Just like his father, Ali Bongo is expected to mobilize the Masonic network in order to establish his legitimacy and authority in Gabon and the world.
Ali Bongo, the new Gabonese President, Wednesday, November 4, launched the World Conference of Regular Freemasonry in Libreville. His father, Omar Bongo, who kicked the bucket on the 8th of June, 2009, had vehemently fought for the organization of the masonic forum to take place in the central African country and would have naturally jump for joy to welcome his “brethren” from all over the world. Ali Bongo, his heir, not only inherited the opportunity to hold the conference but also mount the vacant Gabonese Freemason throne.
According to the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, the cream of French Freemasons in Libreville, including Alain Bauer – former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France (from 2000 to 2003) and special adviser for terrorism and crime at the French presidency – after participating in Omar Bongo’s funeral ceremonies installed Ali Bongo as head of the two local branches of the lodge, which count some one thousand members.
Francois Stifani, the grand master of the National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF), one of the largest Masonic orders with 38 000 members, was in Libreville two weeks ago to ordain Ali Bongo, who until then occupied the rank of Assistant Grand Master, i.e.; at least three levels below the peak of the hierarchy. At age 53, Ali Bongo has become the grand master of the Grand Lodge of Gabon (GLB) and the Grand Equatorial Rite, the two predominant Freemason orders in Gabon.
Ali Bongo and his father
For Ali Bongo, this promotion is as important as his presidential title. Having gone through a difficult election, the neophyte President needs the “fraternal” networking machine to help consolidate his authority. The strategy was developed and successfully applied by his father, the late Omar Bongo. Omar established the Masonic order as an ante-chamber to serve as a recruitment unit for his key allies, and also as an infallible source of allegiance to consolidate his power.
Initiated first as a member of the Masonic Lodge in 1953, that is, fourteen years before becoming president in November 28, 1967, Omar Bongo, – also regarded as a religious chameleon who switched from Catholicism to Islam, and vice versa, not by virtue of whim but by hidden interests, founded two separate Masonic orders in Gabon to bind his “brethren” across the French political sphere: the Grand Rite Equatorial – affiliated with Great Orient (GO) which is left wing oriented, and the Grand Lodge of Gabon (GLG), linked to the National Grand Lodge of France (GLNF), closer to the French right wing. To gain Bongo’s trust, a politician was expected to adhere to at least one of the two orders. Almost the entire Gabonese ruling political class is part of the lodge.
Those who refuse to submit to these dictates are banished or ridiculed. Interviewed by Le Nouvel Observateur, Ernest Tomo, pastor of an evangelical church and an unsuccessful presidential candidate in August, accused the Gabonese “brethren” of orchestrating his low electoral score (308 votes, or 0.09% votes).
Standing as a candidate in the 2005 presidential elections against Omar Bongo, Ernest Tome withdrew from the race after a “divine” intervention, he was later invited to join the government, where the former President appointed him as Minister of State and a member of the Presidential Cabinet, responsible for religious affairs. He was neither given a service car, an office nor a staff to work with. During a public meeting, Omar Bongo gave his reasons: “If you’re not there, we do not see you. And we do not consider you for what you are.” The man of God had blatantly refused to be initiated by the Freemasons.
Now holding the reins of Masonic power, Ali Bongo is almost certain to consolidate his power. Some of his fiercest opponents, like Andre Mba Obame, former presidential candidate and a childhood friend and a lodge member, may even come to their senses.
Just like in Gabon, Freemasonry is very present at the very top in many African states. Denis Sassou Nguesso, the Congolese president, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Congo – Brazzaville is linked to the National Grand Lodge of France; President Mamadou Tanja of Niger; Chad’s Idriss Deby and François Bozizé of the Central African Republic are among at least twelve African presidents linked to the “trois points” (three points) brothers.
Their adherence to this society is more often than not the cause of misfortune for their various countries. Their western counterparts on the other hand act differently. As their western counterparts do all in their power to consolidate democracy in their countries to enhance development, Freemasons within the African political circles mostly rule their countries with iron fists, while robbing the “widow and orphan”, contrary to the main objective of the Lodge, which seeks to protect the “widow and the orphan”.
After a 42 year rule in a country naturally blessed with oil resources, like one of the prosperous Gulf states, Omar Bongo left Gabon in economic shambles and among the very poor countries category (HIPC). His former father-in-law, Sassou Nguesso has also been accused of the same corrupt practices. Both appeared on a recent list which denounced African leaders with ill-gotten wealth.
Their godfathers from the French lodge, by virtue of their silence, have condoned these practices. The Nouvel Observateur article mentions how Omar Bongo, known for his generosity towards his friends showered his French “brethren” with gifts. Only a few years ago, a huge financial gift from Denis Sassou Nguesso to the GLNF was widely criticized. Equally linked to Masonic networks, although nothing is known of his adhesion to the Freemasons, Paul Biya of Cameroon recently donated a large sum of money to l’Ordre Souverain du Temple Initiatique, in a backdrop of poverty in his own backyard. Mr. Biya is known for his expansive generosity towards gurus and esoteric groups. Largesse made possible by Cameroonian taxpayers’ money.