Whether in the streets of his Chadian homeland or behind the scenes at the latest Munich Security Conference, his name is whispered by people from all walks of life. They talk of his extraordinary wealth and influence, fleet of private jets and stories of his impressive international career since the turn of the century. His name is Abakar Manany.
Most recently, French philosopher Bernard Henri Levy told the story of their last encounter in Dublin. He was described as "this Chadian Arab and Muslim who is French in language, heart, and soul, also a friend of the Jewish people who never fails to send his friends a message on Passover and Yom Kippur". The two first met in 1994, when Manany interrupted one of his meetings about Bosnia to warn about the upcoming massacre in Rwanda. A few years later the future businessman became the special advisor to the Chadian president. There he built bridges between Ndjamena and Jerusalem, Beijing and other European capitals.
Two decades later, Manany has become somewhat of a legend. As the chairman and owner of Amjet Group, he leads investments in energy, transport, technology, and infrastructures, although he always keeps a close eye on his first endeavor, the European air charter company Amjet Executive SA. A few years ago, one of his planes flew the French international football team from Paris to Montevideo for a tour before the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Months later, the company made headlines again with another surprising achievement: chasing the 2015 solar eclipse, 49,000 feet above the ground. Today, he continues to fly himself.
An unusual destiny for a man born fifty years ago in the small Chadian city of Bongor. He has become an internationally recognized figure, friend of world leaders and famous athletes alike. If you speak to him about football, you’re sure to hear him praise his friendly dream trio – Messi, Xavi, and Iniesta. That’s unless you get onto the topic of basketball, where he will revere basketball figures Magic Johnson and late Kobe Bryant. His conversation with Elie Wiesel early in 2005 convinced him of the importance of the Holocaust memory. A chameleon with an address book on all five continents and a phone always ringing with calls in French, Arabic or English, he still finds the time to think about his homeland.
Lately, Chad has been hopelessly waiting for good news. Its failing economy and the authoritarian regime still raise doubts from neighbors and analysts. The Economist ranked it as one of the five worst authoritarian regimes, and Transparency marks the country as one of the most corrupt in the world. Reporters Without Borders explained "Reporters are often arrested because of what they write" and deemed Chad one of the worst cyber-censors in 2018. In addition to this, the country has the third-lowest Human Development Index alongside Niger and the Central African Republic. According to Manany, democracy must be the first step, before building the New Deal Sahel and his country desperately need.