Quiz on crazy leaders

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on January 11, 2018 Published on July 07, 2017


On July 8, 1994, Kim Jong Il assumed the dictatorship of North Korea upon the death of his equally irrational father, Kim Il-Sung. This quiz is about crazy leaders.

Mad men

1 In which country was the currency demonetised with notes of 50 and 100 kyats being replaced with 75-kyat notes to commemorate the 75th birthday of the dictator in power at the time?

2 Who managed to write 1,500 books during his three years in university in the early 1960s and also wrote six operas, considered to be better than any in the history of music by his biographer. He also had 11 hole-in-ones in his only attempt at golf?

3 This dictator took over his country after the collapse of the Soviet Union and decided to change the name of the month of April and his country’s word for ‘bread’ to Gurbansoltan Edzhe to honour his mother. He also banned lip syncing across the country. Name the dictator or the country?

4 Which 20th-century dictator declared himself Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and also conferred on himself the Victorious Cross, a medal he created to emulate the Victoria Cross. If it helps, Yasser Arafat was best man when he married a 19-year-old go-go dancer in 1975.

5 This leader gave himself titles like Geniul din Carpați (the genius of the Carpathians) and had a sceptre specially made for himself. His countrymen could be arrested for going out with a long face on January 26, his birthday. Name the man and the country he led.

6 With which leader would you associate a military unit officially known as the al-rāhibāt al-thawriyyāt, which literally translates to the ‘revolutionary nuns’. If it helps, he once arrived at a 1989 non-aligned summit in Belgrade with two horses and six camels.

7 When this leader recovered after a nine-hour coma in 1959, he tried to arrest his stand-in, Clément Barbot. When Barbot escaped, his people told him that Barbot had disguised himself as a large black dog. As a result, he ordered the execution of all black dogs in the country. Identify this leader.

8 General Mobutu changed the name of his country, and had the evening news begin with a scene of him descending from the clouds. He also paid two boxers $5 million each to come and fight in his country. Which country did he lead, and what was it called then?

9 Which 20th-century ruler stole a watch from Winston Churchill, and once went to the zoo to shoot its lions after having a nightmare. He is most remembered for having said that soon the only kings left would be the King of England, and the Kings of Spades, Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds.

10 Rafael Trujillo ruled with an iron hand and ordered all church signs in his country to read ‘God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth’. He campaigned for a Nobel Prize for Literature for his wife, who was illiterate. Name the country he led for 31 years.


1. Burma’s Ne Win, who also introduced 35- and 15-kyat notes

2. Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, though his son’s achievements are likely to be even more heroic

3. Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan

4. Idi Amin Dada of Uganda

5. Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania

6. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya

7. ‘Papa’ Doc Duvalier of Haiti, succeeded by his son, ‘Baby’ Doc

8. Democratic Republic of Congo, then called Zaire

9. King Farouk of Egypt

10. Dominican Republic

Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster and Project Director, FIFA U-17 World Cup; Follow Joy on Twitter @joybhattacharj

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Published on July 07, 2017
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