Coutoucou Hubert Maga (August 1916 – May 8, 2000) was a politician from Dahomey (now known as Benin). He arose on a political scene where one's power was dictated by what region in Dahomey they lived. Born a peasant in 1916, Maga served as a schoolmaster from 1936 to 1945, during which time he gradually gained considerable influence among the uneducated. He was elected to Dahomey's territorial assembly in 1947 and founded the Northern Ethnical Group, later renamed the Dahomey Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique du Dahomé). In 1951, Maga was elected to the French National Assembly, where he served in various positions, including premier from 1959 to 1960. When Dahomey gained its independence from France on August 11, 1960, Maga was appointed to the presidency, and was officially elected to that post on December 11.
During Maga's term of office, Dahomey's economy collapsed; there was little foreign investment and unemployment rose. In response, he launched a four-year plan in January 1962, the basis of which was to increase agricultural production by forcing the nation's youths to work on the land. Maga also faced a national crisis of unity, culminating in a failed assassination plot against him in May 1961 led by the main opposition leader, Justin Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin. Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin was jailed, and by the time of his release in November 1962, a single-party state had been established and the opposition press had been restricted. In 1963, convicted murderer Christophe Bokhiri was released from prison, prompting riots around the country, but the focus of the rioting soon shifted toward Maga's problems as president. The riots became so serious that the Chief of Staff of the Dahomeyan Army, Christophe Soglo, took control of the country in October to prevent a civil war. After forcing Maga to resign, Soglo gave him, Ahomadégbé-Tomêtin, and vice president Sourou Migan Apithy, the titles of Minister of State.
Shortly afterwards, Maga was convicted of plotting to assassinate Soglo and of corruption, for which he was incarcerated. Following his release in 1965, he took refuge in Togo before moving to Paris. In 1970, he returned to Dahomey to serve as head of a rotating three-man presidential council, which included Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin and Apithy. On October 26, 1972, Mathieu Kérékou was installed by a coup, overthrowing then-chairman Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin. Maga and the other members of the council were imprisoned until 1981. Maga retired from public life after his release, only making an appearance at the National Conference of 1990, which gave amnesty to all Beninese political refugees. He died on May 8, 2000.
Read more about Hubert Maga: Education and Teaching Career, Political Background, Early Political Career, Deputy To The French National Assembly, Premier of Dahomey, Minister of State and House Arrest, 1970 Election, Later Life and Death