Temporal Power

The Dadis show is unscripted, eerily brilliant and frightening in its madness, with derision, words flung around the room, in cataclysmic effect, hailing youth, deriding demagoguery, putting on a show trial of televised populism to great effect.
The sad reality is he actually speaks a lot of truths in what he says, but his cloak sends shivers, and madmen, whatever their shade, usually have a poor record when they assume too much power.
---Nico Colombant, The Dadis Show

The scene is in French and it takes place somewhere in Africa, yet there is something fundamentally Shakespearian in its universality.

I am talking about this youtube video in which Guinea's current head of state, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara publicly admonishes Anatoly Patchenko, Rusal’s representative in Guinea.

Everything Dadis says is true:

Patchenko is an international swindler.

And something is rotten in the state of Guinea: corruption is endemic.

But Dadis looks and sounds like a madman.

Dadis had his moment, but when all is said and done, and for all the posturing of the protagonists, the righteous anger of one, and the feint contrite humility of the other, there is little doubt who is the mouse and who is the cat in that particular game, or where the real temporal power actually resides. Hint: don’t look at the "monarchs" (the current head of state or his corrupt predecessors), or at the nation state. Don’t look at the people either: Guinea holds a third of the world's bauxite reserves but despite having bauxite resources worth about $500 billion even at current depressed market prices, Guinea has one of the world's lowest gross domestic products per capita, ranking it 210th in the world. The country also has large deposits of iron ore, gold and diamonds. But its infrastructure is poor, tending to focus on the area around mines and projects, and most of the population lives in poverty.

This is what I have always liked about Africa, everything is so clear and so simple, no pretense at democracy. Everything is condensed, drawn in broad outlines. All that remains is one situation acting as a parable of universal human fate. Dadis’s outburst is a protest against the world injustice. He is wild and drunk with indignation, almost childish in his transports. But in the end, his outburst cannot solve or alter anything. One thing is clear: he is in way over his head. His supporters expect him to be a game changer, but he is trapped. He is trapped into finding himself in a compulsory situation, a situation of local and international politics he doesn’t want but which is now thrust upon him.

There is there a perfect study of politics opposed to morality, and of the divergence between theory and practice.

Already events have been driving him into a blind alley.

Look at the audience and the high dignitaries in the crowd in this other video. They sit in silence; they avoid looking in each other’s eyes; they try to penetrate into the minds of others. Above all, they want to know what he, The Prince, is thinking.

Like him, they are actors in a drama they do not always wholly understand, in which they have become involved.


  1. The scene speaks for itself and needs no translation but, at the unanimous request of one patron (you know who you are), here is one rough translation of some of the video's highest moments:

    Dadis: Mr. Patchenko, the things he [Super Bobo] talked about, was he lying about that or wasn't he lying? In all objectivity?

    [FYI: Super Bobo, aka Mamadou Aliou Bah, is a major player in the trade, brokerage (bauxite), and transport sector.]

    Patchenko: Those are matters that pertain to Guinea's internal affairs. I don't get involved in politics.

    (With utter disbelief.)
    Keep talking that way and I am sending you away.
    Please! Come over here!
    (To the audience.)
    Just look at him.
    (Back to Patchenko.)
    A likely story from the like of you. You behave like mafiosi.
    (Back to the audience,)
    Just look at him.
    (Back to Patchenko,)
    You've walked all over the Guinean people.
    You were deeply in bed with the previous [corrupt] government.
    And you say, you don't get involved in politics? What's that supposed to mean? Are you but just a common thief then? That factory [and the full legal rights to the bauxite mines] is not yours. It belongs to our parents.

    Patchenko: Forgive me, Mr. President

    Dadis: Everything is political.

    Patchenko: I am sorry...

    Dadis: Selling that factory out was a political act. And what of the Guinean people? None of this disturbs your sleep, does it? You feel at peace with yourself. Why, this is worse than politics. Such [cold blooded] Machiavelism. Everything is political!

    Patchenko: ...

    Dadis: Was Super Bobo delivering a political speech? Is that what it sounded like to you? He spoke with great clarity! He wasn't even specifically talking about you. He spoke of the Guinean people.

    Patchenko: Forgive me, I can't understand everything you are saying...

    Dadis: I said, what Super Bobo just said is that false or is that real?
    (Pushing the microphone towards Patchenko)
    Answer the question.

    Patchenko: It's real, Mr. President.

    [Laughter and applause are heard in the room]


    Dadis: To you, it's all but just a game, isn't it?

    Patchenko: Forgive me, Mr. President.

    Dadis: I am asking you, were we talking partisan politics, here?

    Patchenko: No, Mr. President.

    Dadis: Weren't we talking about a factory? Isn't that economics?

    Patchenko: It is economics.

    Dadis: Indeed!

  2. There are similarities.

    Nasir, the fictional Prince in Stephen Gaghan's film, desires to utilize his nation's oil profits to diversify the economy and introduce democratic reforms, in sharp contrast to his father's repressive government, which has been supported by American interests. Nasir hopes to succeed his father as emir, but his younger brother (portayed in the video clip in the above comment) is willing to continue the status quo and American military presence, and is chosen as the King's successor instead even though he's clearly unqualified to run a nation. Nasir plans a military coup, but American intelligence plans to assassinate him via a remote missile attack on his convoy.

    Dadis, obviously, lacks the polish and political savvy of a Nasir. The young Captain is passionate and brutal in his anger, his inexperience is plain. He is no stateman and he was not groomed for politics. Clearly diplomacy is not one of his strong suite. There is a bit of a Hegelian tragic hero in him. He is aware of the camera, of course, and he is playing to it. But he also is deeply sincere in his indignation:

    I am not like those previous governments you have been dealing with. I am nothing like them. Because I have no need for your money. I won't be corrupted into giving away what belong to the state to people who couldn't care less about the wealth of this nation...I will never need one penny from you.

    On 3 December 2009, Camara was shot by men under the command of his aide-de-camp, Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite. A government spokesman said he was only lightly wounded, but anonymous junta officials said Camara was in a serious condition after being shot in the head. Camara's bodyguard and driver were killed in the attack.

  3. Syriana memorable quote: Corruption is why we win

    "Some trust fund prosecutor, got off-message at Yale thinks he's gonna run this up the flagpole? Make a name for himself? Maybe get elected some two-bit congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here? No, I tell you. No, sir! Corruption charges! Corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulations. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Corruption is why we win."

  4. Syriana is a wonderful film. Though I had to see it twice to put all the threads together.

    Another good one is Michael Clayton. Just saw it recently and am hot about it. A wonderful script and wonderful direction and acting. In some strange way similar to Syriana though a different time and place.