Hoare was old, bold sol­dier

The Citizen (KZN) - - Opinion -

You get old sol­diers, so the say­ing goes, and you get bold sol­diers … but you don’t get old, bold sol­diers. When he passed away peace­fully in his bed this week – some­thing nei­ther he nor many who knew him ex­pected would hap­pen – “Mad Mike” Hoare proved that say­ing wrong.

His pass­ing re­minds us of an­other era, aeons ago, when Africa was in post-colo­nial tur­moil and would-be lead­ers were pay­ing for­eign – and mainly white – mer­ce­nar­ies to keep them in power, or to seize power.

Hoare’s ex­ploits in the then Congo in the 1960s – sup­port­ing Moise Tshombe against com­mu­nist rebels – have be­come the stuff of mil­i­tary leg­end … but also a chill re­minder of how mil­lions have died.

He and a band of mer­ce­nar­ies botched an at­tempt to over­throw the gov­ern­ment of the Sey­chelles in 1981, flee­ing the is­land in an Air In­dia jet they hi­jacked at the air­port.

Mer­ce­nar­ies still ex­ist, al­though they are now known as em­ploy­ees of pri­vate mil­i­tary com­pa­nies, and many are highly trained spe­cial­ists – a far cry from the rag tag lot fol­low­ing Hoare.

To­day, these sol­diers do the dirty work gov­ern­ments don’t want to do.

It’s still a dan­ger­ous life, but it can be a lu­cra­tive one.

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