CENTRAL AFRICA: Death of a Strongman

The small, twin-engined plane had apparently been flying low, and investigators guessed that the distinguished passenger in the copilot's seat must have ordered the pilot to do so because he wanted to get a closer look at the coffee plantations he owned in the area. The plane never reached its destination. Two days later a search party found its wreckage—and with it the body of the distinguished passenger: Barthélémy Boganda, 48, Premier of the Central African Republic.

Boganda was the son of a witch doctor and he liked to make offhand references to the fact that his father's rites included the...