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Léon M'ba

President of Gabon

Died when: 65 years 291 days (789 months)
Star Sign: Aquarius


Léon M'ba

Gabriel Léon M'ba (UMM-bah) (9 February 1902 – 27 November 1967) 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 this 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.

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