'Good old days' under Bokassa?

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For more than three decades his name has been synonymous with the worst excesses of the sort of dictators who have bedevilled post-colonial Africa.

History largely remembers Jean Bedel Bokassa - or Emperor Bokassa I as he crowned himself in 1977 - as one of the continent's most colourful yet bloodthirsty monsters.

He was a demagogue as ruthless as Mobutu and more flamboyant than Amin.

When Bokassa was overthrown in 1979, jubilant crowds vented their hatred on a giant statue of the tyrant who for almost 14 years ran the Central African Republic (or the Central African Empire as Bokassa had renamed it) like a modern-day Nero.

But for Jean Serge Bokassa - one of the emperor's several dozen children - history and the mob have got it wrong.

He argues that his father was"a patriot" who served his country well and who has been smeared by those who wanted to topple him.

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