Léon M'ba

Gabriel Léon M'ba
Léon M'ba 1964.jpg
Léon M'ba in 1964
1st President of Gabon
In office
12 February 1961 – 28 November 1967
Vice PresidentPaul-Marie Yembit
Albert-Bernard Bongo
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byOmar Bongo
1st Prime Minister of Gabon
In office
21 May 1957 – 21 February 1961
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byLéon Mébiame (as Prime Minister in 1975)
Personal details
Born(1902-02-09)9 February 1902
Libreville, French Congo (present day Gabon)
Died28 November 1967(1967-11-28) (aged 65)
Paris, France
NationalityGabonese
Political partyComité Mixte Gabonais, Bloc Démocratique Gabonais
Spouse(s)Pauline M'ba[1][2]

Gabriel Léon M'ba[needs IPA][3] (9 February 1902 – 28 November 1967)[4] was the first Prime Minister (1959–1961) and President (1961–1967) of Gabon. A member of the Fang ethnic group, M'ba was born into a relatively privileged village family. After studying at a seminary, he held a number of small jobs before entering the colonial administration as a customs agent. His political activism in favor of black people worried the French administration, and as a punishment for his activities, he was issued a prison sentence after committing a minor crime that normally would have resulted in a small fine. In 1924, the administration gave M'ba a second chance and selected him to head the canton in Estuaire Province. After being accused of complicity in the murder of a woman near Libreville, he was sentenced in 1931 to three years in prison and 10 years in exile. While in exile in Oubangui-Chari, he published works documenting the tribal customary law of the Fang people. He was employed by local administrators, and received praise from his superiors for his work. He remained a persona non grata to Gabon until the French colonial administration finally allowed M'ba to return his native country in 1946.

In 1946, he began his political ascent, being appointed prime minister on 21 May 1957. He served as prime minister until 21 February 1961. In 1958, he directed an initiative to include Gabon in the Franco-African community further than before. He became president upon independence from France on 17 August 1960. Political nemesis Jean-Hilaire Aubame briefly assumed the office of president through a coup d'état in February 1964, but order was restored days later when the French intervened. M'ba was reelected in March 1967, but died of cancer in November 1967 and was succeeded by his vice president, Albert-Bernard Bongo.

Early life

Fangs in a Christian mission, c. 1912

A member of the Fang ethnic tribe,[5] M'ba was born on 9 February 1902 in Libreville, Gabon.[6] His father, a small business manager[6] and village chief,[7] once worked as the hairdresser to Franco-Italian explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza.[5] His mother, Louise Bendome, was a seamstress.[5] Both were educated[8] and were among the first "evolved couples" in Libreville.[9] M'ba's brother also played an important role in the colonial hierarchy; he was Gabon's first Roman Catholic priest.[7]

In 1909, M'ba joined a seminary[5] to receive his primary education. From 1920, he was employed as a store manager, a lumberjack and trader before entering the French colonial administration as a customs agent.[9] Despite his good job performance, M'ba's activism in helping black Gabonians,[9] particularly for the Fangs, worried his superiors. In September 1922, M'ba wrote to Edmond Cadier, Lieutenant-Governor of Gabon:

"If on the one hand, the fundamental duty of educating the Fangs is consistent with Gabon's evident economic, military, and even political interests, on the other side, growing in human dignity and the increase of their material well-being do stay, Mr. Governor, the first legitimization of the French authority on them."[10][11]

His remarks upset authorities, and he suffered the consequences in December 1922, when he was sentenced to prison after having committed a minor crime of providing a colleague with falsified documents.[10]

Other Languages
العربية: ليون إمبا
български: Леон Мба
brezhoneg: Léon M'ba
dansk: Léon M'ba
Deutsch: Léon M’ba
Ελληνικά: Λέον Μπα
español: Léon M'ba
Esperanto: Léon M'ba
euskara: Léon M'ba
فارسی: لئون امبا
français: Léon Mba
hrvatski: Léon M’ba
Bahasa Indonesia: Leon M'ba
italiano: Léon M'ba
עברית: לאון מ'בה
ქართული: ლეონ მბა
Latina: Leo M’ba
norsk: Léon M'ba
polski: Léon M’ba
português: Léon Mba
русский: Мба, Леон
svenska: Léon M'ba
Türkçe: Léon M'ba
українська: Леон Мба
Yorùbá: Léon M'ba