What do we learn about the character of His Excellency (Sam) in the novel "Anthills of the Savannah"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of the three friends, Sam is the least developed in this novel.  He represents the archetypal corrupted leader - not a man that started out bad, but one for whom power has been a negative force, fueling his ambitions and removing his conscience.  Sam, like Chris and Ikem, is western educated.  He has become fully accepting of western imperialism in the sense that he, too, wants to control and expand his dominion, regardless of the wishes of the people.  Like the colonizers who first came to his country, Sam is ignorant of his people's needs and culture.  This is demonstrated in his tyrannical behavior.  He will not allow dissent because he does not care what the people think - he only wants to stay in power.  As is true of most dictators, however, the more Sam tries to hold on to his power, the closer he gets to losing it.

According to Ikem, Sam ‘‘is basically an actor and half of the things we are inclined to hold against him are no more than scenes from his repertory to which he may have no sense of moral commitment whatsoever.’’  According to Chris, Sam is a "baby monster".  Both reiterate the feeling that Sam is caught up in this game of leaderships and does not intend to do harm.  However, both characters fail to understand the threat of Sam.  He is just as dangerous as an evil leader, and even more so, because he does not think of consequences.