Booh-Booh was born in Manak, Cameroon. Working at the Ministry of External Relations, he was Head of the Department of African Affairs, Director for Asia and Africa, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Ambassador to Morocco, Greece and UNESCO. He was Cameroon's Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1981 to 1983 and its Ambassador to France from 1983 until he was named Minister of External Relations on May 16, 1988. He also wrote a book, published in Paris in 1982, called The Decolonization of Namibia: a Usurped Mandate.
Booh-Booh's role in Rwanda has been the subject of harsh criticism, primarily by Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire and his supporters, contending that he played an instrumental role in forestalling any UN military preventive action against the Rwandan Genocide that appeared imminent in the country in mid-1994. For his part, in his 2005 book Le Patron de Dallaire Parle (Dallaire's Boss Speaks) Booh-Booh strongly criticized the account and actions of Dallaire, who was the commander of the UNAMIR forces on the ground in 1994.
In 1993, Booh-Booh was head of mission of a small force of UNAMIR military personnel (approximately 2,548) that was dispatched by the United Nations to Rwanda, in an effort to aid in the implementation of the Arusha Accords and to keep the peace between Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups. According to Dallaire's autobiography, Shake Hands With the Devil, Dallaire had been given warnings from a reliable government source of an impending extermination campaign by Hutu extremists against the country's Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus. He passed this information along to the UN's headquarters in New York and reported his intent to inspect alleged arms caches. He was ordered not to intervene, and his later requests to increase the UNAMIR force by 5,000 peace-keeping soldiers were also denied.
Shortly before President Juvenal Habyarimana's assassination, Booh-Booh was also criticized for spending Easter weekend 1994 with Habyarimana, raising questions about the SRSG's impartiality. While Booh-Booh claimed this was purely for fact-finding purposes, the Rwandese Patriotic Front filed a formal complaint regarding Booh-Booh's neutrality. This further worsened the RPF's confidence in UNAMIR.
The United Nations, restrained by the political interests of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and reluctance of the international community, remained passive before and throughout the predicted genocide of some 800,000 (some sources estimate one million) people that took place from April to July 1994, finally ending around the time the predominantly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front took the nation's capital, Kigali, on July 18, 1994. As the genocide was occurring, the UNAMIR peace-keeping force was reduced from over 2,500 to a mere 270 soldiers. Booh-Booh was replaced as Special Representative on 1 July 1994 by Shahryar Khan of Pakistan.
- ICTR Newsletter (Nov. 2005). 2005.
- Profile at Cameroonian government website (French).
- Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda: ISBN 0-679-31171-8, pg. 213
- "Massacres, 'Mindless Violence and Carnage' Rage in Rwanda". UN Chronicle. New York: United Nations Office of Public Information. September 1994. ISSN 0251-7329. Retrieved 2009-06-01.