Dictatorship defined the 20th century, an era that was characterized by death and slaughter of unprecedented scale. During this period, the world was a blood bath, experiencing two world wars, the holocaust, and the uprising of military dictators, who between them caused over 100 million deaths.
In my opinion, such a state of defiance and its consequences should have taught future leaders the importance of democracy and peaceful governance. Instead, some of those leaders borrowed a leaf from these past rulers to begin dictatorships of their own.
These dictators went ahead to marry wives, some even more than one, who not only enjoy the good times, lavish lifestyles and upper hand in everything, but also stand by their husbands during uprisings and revolutions.
Seemingly in an effort to reduce the hatred, some first ladies have undertaken noble initiatives such as charity for women and children, and advocacy for women’s rights. Others have also added ‘fashion icon’ to their resumes, while others have used their ‘golden’ opportunity to amass as much wealth as possible.
So, let’s look at 15 wives to dictators, who’ve had the strength to see the various atrocities their husbands have committed, and some, who actually became as ruthless as the head’s of their families.
15. Constancia Mangue
Constancia Mangue is the first lady of Equatorial Guinea, hence wife to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Her husband is the longest serving president in Africa, having taken power after the August 1979 military coup. Before the coup, President Mbasogo had served as the head of the National Guard, under the last dictator’s reign. The president has been rumored to be a cannibal, eating his opponent’s parts in order to gain ‘power’. Additionally, there are also rumors that he is terminally ill, suffering from prostate cancer, an allegation that his official website has refuted.
14. Anna Paula Dos Santos
Arguably one of the sexiest first ladies ever, Anna Paula Dos Santos is actually a dictator’s wife. A former fashion model and flight attendant, Ana met her husband, Angolan President, José Eduardo dos Santos, while on duty on a presidential flight. The two started a friendship that culminated into a marriage in 1991. President Dos Santos has been in power since 1979, making him the second longest-serving president in Africa, after Equitorial Guinea’s, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
President’s Dos Santos rule has been marred with repression and torture of ethnic minorities, mass murders, and a 27-year long civil war. Despite all these domestic issues, the couple has been named a handsome couple, who are always expensively and elegantly dressed.
13. Ri Sol Ju
Married to North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jon Un, Ri Sol Ju has been nicknamed the Kate Middleton of North Korea. Little is known about the first lady, mainly because she was hidden, off cameras, until 2012. Even after, she has remained away the public eye, being on and off the spotlight. In 2016, the First Lady went missing for 8 months, with many speculating that she was either pregnant, or had fallen out with her dictator husband. Kim Jong Un has been reported as a merciless killer, with one popular story claiming that he ordered the execution of 9 musicians who were spreading rumours that Ri Sol once shot a homemade adult film.
12. Sara Nazarbayeva
Sara Nazarbayeva is a trained economics engineer, as well as chair and founder of Bobek, an international children’s charity fund. In 1997, her work actually earned her the Ihsan Doğramacı Family Health Foundation Prize, from the World Health Organization. Sara is also the wife to Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is unfortunately a dictator. Nazarbayev’s government has been accused of a wide array of human rights abuses, including pervasive corruption, limits on freedom of speech and political will, as well as violence against women. What’s worse are the reports that Nazarbayev’s regime had paid Washington’s think-tanks to only issue glowing reports and ignore the atrocities.
11. Chantal Biya
Known for her statement hair and high fashion sense, Chantal Biya is the second wife of Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya. Her very large and bubbly personality has led her to meet various famous people such as Paris Hilton, Michelle Obama, and the Pope. Her sense of style has made her a fashion icon, to the extent that there is a Tumblr devoted to her hair-do. On the flip side, Chantal is a wife to a dictator who has been in power for over 30 years. In 2008, President Biya actually removed restrictions on term limits, making him eligible to run for office indefinitely. He has also been reported to use security forces to oppress and execute protestors in order to minimize opposition.
10. Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa
Sabika bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, is the first wife of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She is an outspoken activist for both children’s and women’s rights, as well as the head of Supreme Council for Women in Bahrain, encouraging them to actively take part in the country’s voting process. Sabika’s passion in women’s and children’s affairs is crowned by her participation as chief patron of the Society for Women and Children in Bahrain.
Despite her good work, her husband has marred the family reputation by declaring himself king in 2002, and causing an uprising against him in 2011, almost running the country into anarchy.
9. Hinda Déby
Chadian president, Idriss Déby Itno, is a proud husband of Hinda Déby, who is not only renowned for her beauty, but also her high sense of fashion and education levels. Hinda is actually considered as the new first lady, since her husband has been married several times. She has however done justice to herself by being the most well known of the president’s wives. Although Hinda is well-loved, her husband’s government, which came into power after a 1990 military coup, has been stained with child right’s issues, especially for using child soldiers in the army. He was also reported to have escalate the blood proxy war between Sudan and Chad.
8. Rania Al Abdullah
Queen Rania Al Abdullah is wife of Jordanian King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, Queen Rania is not only a highly educated woman, but one of the sexiest first ladies in the world. She has used her position as first lady to advocate for various areas of governance such as female empowerment, education, cross cultural dialogue and health. Although her husband has been praised as a progressive Middle Eastern leader, his government is still a dictatorship. He controls all of the country’s political power, hence many cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and government interference in the media.
7. Zineb Yahya Jammeh
Zineb Yahya Jammeh, also known as Zeinab Suma, is Gambia’s former first lady, and the main wife of Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh. Unlike other first ladies, Zineb shockingly has negative publicity, with several reports calling her a ‘hustler’, ‘gold digger’ and ‘devil’, who enjoys seeing Gambians suffer. In 2010, her husband took a younger, second wife, which was followed by Zineb’s protest by moving to the US and threatening to divorce, causing Yahya to divorce the new wife.
Her husband’s reputation is also negative, stained with human rights and freedom of the press violations. His extreme paranoia and superstition has also caused him to jail several people from his inner circle, on belief that they were plotting to overthrow him.
6. Tatyana Karimova
Tatyana Karimova was married to Islam Karimov, deceased former president of Uzbekistan. She was first lady from 1991 to 2016, when her husband unfortunately died. Although praised as an economist, Tatyana has had her own share of drama. In 2013, a major family feud led to speculations that Tatyana and Islam had separated. Still in the same year, the eldest first daughter picked fights with Tatyana, claiming that she practiced witchcraft. To add insult to injury, Tatyana’s husband’s reputation was not the best, with reports of ruthless repressions that subjected his people to poor living standards.
5. Cilia Flores
Cilia Flores is married to Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro. A feisty lawyer and politician, Cilia is most popular for her work as the first female president of the National Assembly, and attorney general of Venezuela. Her reputation is however stained by reports of nepotism, after putting almost 40 family members in positions of public administration. Her husband has also marred her image, by committing several economic crimes, such as hoarding consumer goods, price-gouging, and ordering arrests of ‘bourgeois’ businessmen. To kill competition from his opponents, president Nicolás has also created conspiracy theories, and also managed to have a law passed that will allow him to rule by decree, not legislative approval.
4. Leila Trabelsi
Leila Trabelsi is the second wife to Tunisia’s second president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years, from 1987 to 2011. Leila is mostly described as the woman who sparked the Arab Spring, and has been detested due to her many atrocities. She extorted cash from shop owners, owning a £3.5billion stake in the nation’s businesses. According to reports, she sacrificed chameleons to cast spells over her husband, and allegedly also put a chef’s hand in boiling oil, as punishment. Her husband, former president Zine, led an authoritarian regime, ruling with an iron fist, complemented by his wife’s mafia methods.
3. Grace Mugabe
Grace Mugabe is married to Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe. She is actually Mugabe’s second wife, an affair that began in the 80s, when she was his secretary. They went ahead to have two kids when the president was still married to his first wife, with the two tying the knot after the first wife died. Controversies seem to follow the first lady, with opponents calling her a ‘disgrace’, due to her lavish lifestyle and international shopping sprees. She also allegedly reaped benefits from the violence-plagued and corrupt diamond fields in the country, allegations that caused her to file a $15 million suit. Her husband has been accused of setting up ‘torture’ camps, and rigging elections.
2. Suzanne Mubarak
Suzanne Mubarak is the wife of Hosni Mubarak, who served as the forth president of Egypt from 1981 to 2011, when he resigned after the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Suzanne, whose mum was a nurse at Pontypridd, South Wales, enjoyed a fortune of more than £3million, while also benefiting from her husband’s £26billion stash. Unfortunately for her, she was detained in 2011 on allegations of illegal acquisition of wealth. Her husband, having stood trial on corruption allegations, was freed in March 2017, and sent back to his palatial home, which his wife was accused of acquiring illegally.
1. Simone Gbagbo
Simone Gbagbo is the wife of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. Once referred to as the ‘Hillary Clinton of the tropics’, Simone’s opponents preferred to call her the ‘blood lady’. Reportedly, she made sure that her husband held the reins of power in Ivory Coast by making sure that she appointed her own relatives and friends to government posts. Accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes, Simone has been found innocent by an Ivory Coast court, while her husband is still on trial at the International Criminal Court in Netherlands, accused of crimes against humanity after the 2010 presidential elections.
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