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History of Africa Otherwise
On August 4, 1972, Amin gives 60,000 Asians, mostly Indo-Pakistani in the territory within 90 days to leave the country. It extends this measure to 80,000 Asian countries. 50,000 holders of British passports to leave the country, others were deported from the cities to the countryside. Most settled in Canada. During this period, Ugandan soldiers looting and abuse them Asians.
Ms. Minacdave, widow Madhvani had the Supreme désobligeance to refuse her favors. "Big Daddy" who had only three women, had proposed marriage. The poor widow had just lost her husband, the millionaire Hindu, Mr. Jayant Madhvani Muljibhai (1922-1971).
The founder of the dynasty, Prabhudas Madhvani Muljibhai (1894-1958) settled in Jinja in 1912. He was 18. A few years later, he had a store chain in western Uganda. He acquired ten thousand acres of land, began to plant sugar cane. With his sugar production, he also manufactures candy. Later, he set up a steel plant and produces oil.
In October 1962, the independence of Uganda, the family employs twenty thousand employees and relates to the state Ugandans more than ten per cent tax. At that time, Asian traders hold more than 60% of trade in Uganda. They have one defect: They do not want to marry Ugandans.
The wild ougandisation or wild nationalization.
Idi Amin attributes stores and property of Asian illiterate and military officers "Nubians." Of personal dictator, the property of Madhvani are looted, distributed to troops or auctioned in Jinja. He himself takes the three sumptuous residences and all the beautiful cars. The Uganda Shilling is losing its value. Uganda's economy collapses.
The record of his "ougandisation" is disastrous. The Pearl of Africa is broken. In 1978, the country's survival depends on using the oil monarchies of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia. His power began an inexorable decline.
Idi Amin’s Torture Chamber
Idi Amin’s torture chamber is one of the ideal areas located in Lubiri Mengo the palace of the king of the kingdom of Buganda 3 km from Kampala city centre near Kabaka’s Lake and St Lawrence University. The torture chamber was set up in 1971 by Idi Amin dada who was then the president of Uganda and a military officer instead of a politician. Idi Amin was the third president of Uganda but before he became president he was one of the leading soldiers who formed the first Uganda independence army before Uganda got her independence and by 1964 he had been named the deputy army commander. Idi Amin was then deployed by Milton Obote to help him in the Katanga rebels who were fighting against Zaire government where he sold gold and diamonds given to him by the rebels in return for arms.
He later became a colonel of the army and in 1966 Obote sent a force commanded by Idi Amin to attack the Lubiri in order to bring the Kabaka alive or dead and Idi Amin carried out the order diligently. As he obeyed obotes orders he had his personal ambitions where he was recruiting hundreds of his kinsmen into the army and by 1970’s Idi Amin had created a sizeable force within the Uganda army, Obote recognized this and wanted to arrest him for various cases including murder. Idi Amin used his men to stop the arrest and was soon declared the president of Uganda while Obote was attending a Common Wealth Conference in Singapore. Idi Amin ordered the construction of the torture chamber which took about eight months and the construction was done by the Israelites because they were best engineers at the time. He told them to build a place for armory but when the building was complete he turned it into a military base or barrack and later on he decided to use it as a torture chamber
Idi Amin’s torture chambers main purpose was to act as an armory for ensuring the better keeping of the gun power and it’s a great place to visit during your safari in Uganda because you will be able to know events in Uganda which took place from 1971 to 1979. Idi Amins torture chamber was comprised of a dark tunnel with five cells which had an electric door at the entrance and were separated by an electric pool of water in the corridors so that whoever tried to escape from the cell he /she would be shocked by electricity. Each cell had an electrified entrance, no window or ventilators and was accommodating more than a hundred people who died due to suffocation and lack of food and water supply.
The torture chamber operatives would first blind fold the person and drive him/her around the ring road in the palace road from morning to evening so as to be confused and by the time they bring him or her he wouldn’t realize where he or she is being taken. The road in the area still exists and during your safari in Uganda you will be able to go through it. Idi Amin’s secret agents would go around in the villages in their land rovers and private automobiles and take a person who was dishonoring his governance and upon arrival at the entrance electricity would be switched off before the person entered into the chambers that were filled with water connected with electricity. Both women and men were put together without any food and its believed that over 200,000 people lost their lives from the chambers due to hunger, others died because they were badly beaten, gunned, others put in electric water while others were tortured.
Though Idi Amin died in 2003 and his activities no more, his torture chamber is a living testimony for his brutality and the people who have heard a lot about him in history. Visitors who want to know more about his governance can go on a Ugandan safari and visit the torture chamber which is a rewarding site that gives you lifetime memories. The water in the chambers has gone and the cement is wearing out but the writings of despair on the walls that were written with blood and charcoal by former prisoners reading Cry Far Help Me The Dead alongside several handprints are the things that you will be able to see during the tour.
Idi Amin’s torture chamber creates long lasting memories o your Ugandan safari and it can be visited all year round alongside Uganda gorilla trekking safari, Uganda birding safari, wildlife safari in Uganda, cultural tours in Uganda among others. For safari bookings or more information about Idi Amin’s torture chamber you can contact Achieve Global Safari .
A not-so-great Scot
If you saw the spellbinding portrayal of Idi Amin's outlandishness in The Last King of Scotland, or read any of what was written about him above, you might get the distinct impression that the dictator was too loony to see the Forest Whitaker for the trees or notice that a thicket of delusions were invading his brain like kudzu. In 2003, though, former BBC Africa correspondent Brian Barron wrote that the Idi Amin that he knew "was by no means stupid." Barron remembers him as "an obvious bully who was capable of menacing charm." And he was utterly ruthless and obscenely lethal.
Born in 1925, Amin had a basic education at best, via History, but he was very well-versed in hurting and murdering people. He had quickly risen through the ranks of the King's African Rifles (KAR), fighting in multiple conflicts and attaining the rank of commander in 1966. He also brutalized people in the boxing ring, becoming Uganda's light heavyweight champion for a nine-year stretch lasting from 1951 to 1960.
In 1971, Amin seized power from Milton Obote, the first prime minister of the newly independent Uganda. He quickly used his knack for brute force to devastating effect.
Idi Amin Biography
Born c. 1925, in Koboko, Uganda died from multiple organ failure, August 16, 2003, in Jidda, Saudi Arabia. Dictator. Idi Amin ruled Uganda for eight years through terror and mayhem. He drove the once–prosperous nation over the brink of financial ruin and initiated a level of chaos from which Uganda has struggled to escape. A global pariah, Amin was sanctioned by countless nations and condemned by human rights organizations. His place in history was guaranteed by a combination of unfortunate timing and charismatic bullying.
Born Idi Amin Dada in northern Uganda, near Sudan and Congo, his father was a member of the Kakwa tribe while his mother came from the Lugbara tribe. Amin lived with his mother after his parents separated. She is said to have worked as a cane cutter and lived with several different military men. In the cities in which they lived, they stayed within the Nubian settlements—tribes with which he eventually became closely linked during his rule.
Amin had very little formal education reports vary on the actual grade level that he reached. In his early 20s, between 1944 and 1946, he joined the King's African Rifles, the British colonial regiment of East Africa. One report states that he joined as a cook, another that he was a private. Because he had not been well educated, Amin found it difficult to advance within the ranks. This obstacle was eventually overcome and he was made corporal in 1949.
In the 1950s he reportedly fought against the Mau Mau guerrillas in Kenya. By the end of the 1960s, as Uganda was facing the end of British colonial rule, Amin was promoted several more times. In 1957 or 1959 he was promoted to sergeant major. The British military considered Amin a possible candidate for a leadership role and gave him the rank of ndi"—reserved exclusively for noncommissioned officers native to Uganda. From 1951 to 1960, Amin used his 6' 4" frame to hold the title of Ugandan heavyweight boxing champion, a title that earned him some amount of fame and respect in his country.
In 1963, Uganda gained independence from Britain and its first prime minister took control of the country. With Prime Minister Milton Obote's approval, Amin was promoted to major and sent to both Britain and Israel for further training. During this time he earned his paratrooper wings. Obote found a helpful ally in Amin and in 1964 promoted him to colonel. Amin was also given command over the army and air force.
In February of 1966, members of Parliament brought charges of misappropriation of funds against Amin. He was accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold and ivory from guerrillas in the Congo whom he was supposed to be arming. In reaction to the charges, Prime Minister Obote suspended the Constitution and Amin arrested the ministers who had originally brought the charges. Amin was now in complete control of the military and the police. By April of that year, Amin and Obote had forced the King of Baganda, with whom the prime minister had a power–sharing agreement, into exile and consolidated power under Obote. Obote promoted Amin to brigadier general and then major general.
Amin and Obote worked closely together for several years but eventually Obote began to harbor suspicions regarding Amin's intentions. The prime minister initiated an inquiry into the whereabouts of millions of dollars missing from the military budget. In January of 1971, while Obote was away at a conference in Singapore, Amin took control of Uganda. The power grab was initially looked upon favorably by other African nations as well as some in Britain and Israel who had lucrative business contracts with Uganda. Eventually this pleasure would turn to horror as Amin's death squads took their toll on the country's population and his bizarre public behavior dissolved international opinion, leading some to call him a buffoon, sociopath, and murderer.
In 1972, only a year after taking power, he began to exhibit the behavior that eventually earned him scorn and condemnation. He asked Israel for monetary and military aid. When they refused he expelled as many as 500 Israelis from Uganda, launching invectives against Zionism and the Jewish people. That same year he deported more than 40,000 Ugandan born Indians and Pakistanis. Since they comprised the majority of the business and merchant class in Uganda, the economy was severely disabled.
As his rule continued, his behavior became more erratic and bizarre. He presented himself with so many awards and medals that at times his uniform ripped from the weight. He publicly humiliated a group of British businessmen by forcing them to carry him on a throne. Others he forced to bow before him and swear allegiance. He offered to become king of Scotland. All the while he also hurled insults at world leaders.
Beneath the show of buffoonery Amin showed himself to be a calculating and frightening dictator. Those who opposed him or were from rival tribes were often the focus of death squads. Hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, executed, or disappeared during his rule. He campaigned against the Anglican Church, arresting and murdering its leaders and deporting many of the clergy. The number of Ugandans killed during his tenure is estimated to range anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000.
His confidence was severely shaken in 1976 when Israeli commandoes successfully rescued 102 hostages from a hijacked plane that had landed in Uganda. The commandoes had subverted Ugandan forces and destroyed war planes owned by the Ugandan Air Force. In retaliation he killed a 73–year–old woman who had been a hostage and was recovering in a Ugandan hospital.
As his tenure continued he faced mounting internal pressure. Several unsuccessful takeovers were put down. His army had become restless and ready for rebellion. In 1978 he decided to invade Tanzania, to keep his army occupied and focused. Tanzanian troops, along with the help of Ugandan exiles, were able to stop the invasion and mounted a counter–invasion that led to the takeover of the Ugandan city of Kampala on April 12, 1979. Amin was forced to flee. In exile, Amin was granted asylum in Saudi Arabia under the condition that he refrain from politics.
Amin remained in Saudi Arabia until his death, living in the city of Riyadh. He spent his exile reading from the Koran, watching television, and playing the accordion. Amin is reported to have had at least four wives and more than 30 children. David Lamb of the Los Angeles Times described Amin as follows, "More a tribal chief than a president, he was a master showman who loved center stage and knew how to use the international media." He died on August 16, 2003, without ever facing charges for the crimes he committed in Uganda.
Extremely charismatic and skilled, Amin quickly rose through the ranks. His stature was rather notable. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall and was a Ugandan light-heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, as well as a swimmer. He soon became notorious among fellow soldiers for his overzealous and cruel military interrogations. Eventually, he made the highest rank possible for a Black African serving in the British army. From 1952 until 1956, he served in the British action against the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya.
Before Uganda&aposs independence in 1962, Amin became closely associated with the new nation&aposs prime minister and president, Milton Obote. The two men worked to smuggle gold, coffee and ivory out of Congo, but conflicts soon arose between them, and on January 25, 1971, while Obote was attending a meeting in Singapore, Amin staged a successful military coup. Amin became president and chief of the armed forces in 1971, field marshal in 1975 and life president in 1976.
Idi Amin and the Uses of Political Buffoonery
From the beginning of my research into the life of the notorious Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, I noticed the frequency with which contemporary commentators (especially but not only British ones) described him as a “buffoon.” So I was interested when, sometime around 2015, the same word became increasingly applied, by opponents and the media alike, to two political figures who were just becoming internationally known—a British ex-journalist and mayor of London turned right-wing anti-Europe MP (Boris Johnson), and a former US game show host with the ridiculous ambition of becoming President (Donald Trump). We know what happened next. It all made me think about the meaning of this strange word, what it implies, and why it is applied to a specific type of politician. Could “buffoonery” perhaps even be a useful political strategy for such people?
“Buffoon” does not in fact mean an idiotic or foolish person. Its roots lie in a Latin word, later found in French and Italian forms, which suggests “puffing” or a puff of wind. The Oxford English Dictionary speculates that this might imply something light and frivolous, or else refer to the puffed-out cheeks of a gurning jester. Dr. Johnson’s dictionary defined a buffoon as “a man whose profession is to make sport by low jests and antick postures.” A more recent definition, from Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, says a buffoon is: “One who sets himself to amuse by jests, grimaces, etc a low, vulgar or indecent jester, one without self-respect.” Buffoons, then, are not stupid fools, they are acting the fool in order to amuse people, perhaps as part of their job.
So how does this apply to politicians—what is political buffoonery? For Amin, it included making absurd grandiose statements and sending insulting personal messages to world leaders. In the case of the UK, for instance, he set up a “Save Britain Fund” to send Ugandan financial assistance to his country’s former overlords, while declaring in several telegrams to the Queen his support for Scottish, Welsh, and Irish national liberation struggles and denouncing British neo-colonialism. He repeatedly declared his intention to visit the country, each time sending the Foreign Office and military authorities into frenzied and detailed planning to keep him out. When Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party, he told her he was “deeply impressed by [her] appearance,” which he described as “charming” and “fresh.”
His erratic behaviour was by no means restricted to the UK he repeatedly taunted other international leaders, including fellow Africans, particularly his neighbour, Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, whom he challenged to a boxing match (and who overthrew Amin the following year). Today, many of his communications would be described as trolling, and his long, stream-of-consciousness telegrams show how much he would have enjoyed today’s social media. Amin also loved practical jokes, such as adding vast amounts of hot chilli pepper to a guest’s meal. His unpredictability confused and distracted his enemies, unable to tell when he was joking and when serious. Some thought he was insane, perhaps due to syphilis, but, as Machiavelli wrote, “it is a very wise thing to simulate craziness, at the right time.”
What, then, are the advantages of political buffoonery? Off-hand, considering Amin’s career, I can think of at least five:
1) It leads opponents to underestimate the ability and intelligence of the buffoon.
2) It provides deniability— “it was only a joke.”
3) It appeals to core supporters (many Africans loved Amin’s teasing of the former colonial masters).
4) It serves as a distraction from the more serious, perhaps frightening or incompetent, actions of the leader, what we now call the “dead cat” tactic.
5) It leads to ambiguity (was it a joke or not?), producing confusion and uncertainty about how to respond.
Behind all this is clearly what Freud recognized as the aggressive nature of joking. I suggest that buffoonery is, at root, a quintessentially masculine characteristic. In my experience, very few women are ever called buffoons. The jokes of a buffoon carry the stale reek of an all-male atmosphere—the barrack room in Amin’s case, perhaps the golfers’ locker room or boys’ boarding school classroom for others. The Tanzanian polymath Ali Mazrui, who knew Amin well, wrote at length about what he termed Amin’s “political masculinity,” and an open, even boastful sexual promiscuity is another part of the package. However, the appeal of the political buffoon seems to be very culturally specific non-Africans could not understand Amin’s appeal to the ordinary people of the continent, any more than non-Americans could ever grasp why so many of his voters loved President Trump, or non-English people what on earth causes the Brits to admire Boris Johnson.
One factor puzzles me a bit. I feel the word has something to do with body shape. Thin men are accused of being buffoons almost as infrequently as women. President Biden has been quoted as calling Boris Johnson the “physical and emotional clone of Donald Trump.” Why “physical”? The sheer size of Johnson, Trump, and indeed Idi Amin surely must have something to do with why they are all called buffoons, but it is hard to see exactly what. Perhaps it recalls the swollen cheeks of the puffing jester which gave the word its original meaning. It is probably, however, yet another aspect of aggression. The combination of physical bulk and unpredictable behaviour is a scary one, and political buffoons are always bullies.
Mark Leopold is lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Sussex. His research in Idi Amin’s home area led to the book Inside West Nile, chosen as an “outstanding academic title of 2005” by the American Library Association.
Idi Amin (1925-2003)
Idi Amin was the Ugandan military dictator and President from 1971 to 1979. During his reign Amin’s military forces are estimated to have killed 500,000 people and exiled roughly 70,000 non-Ugandan nationals (mostly Indians) from Uganda.
Idi Amin Dada was born in 1925 in the Koboko district of Northern Uganda. His father, Amin Dada of the Kakwa ethnic group and his mother, Assa Aatte of the Lugbara group, separated at his birth. Soon after his birth Amin and his mother settled in Lugazi, Uganda near Lake Victoria where he was raised as a Muslim. Amin did not attend school and in 1946 at the age of 21, he joined the King’s African Rifles as a cook’s assistant. Because of his size and willingness to use brute force, Amin was promoted within the British military. At the time of Ugandan independence on 9 October 1962, Amin was one of only two non-British officers in the King’s African Rifles which became the Ugandan Army.
Under the new Ugandan government, headed by Milton Obote first as Prime Minister then as President, Amin quickly rose from Captain at the time of independence in 1962 to Colonel and Commander of the Army in 1965. In this position Amin was able to recruit and promote people who would be loyal to him this combined with Obote’s increasing dictatorial control and growing unpopularity with the Ugandan people, ensured that when Amin seized control of the country he would have virtually limitless powers as leader in Uganda and that he would initially be seen as a popular liberator.
On January 25, 1971 the Ugandan Armed Forces took over control of Uganda while President Obote was out of the country. Amin was quickly asked by loyal military commanders to assume supreme command. He did so, declaring himself Commander-in-Chief. Amin further consolidated power through a series of political killings and exiles of potential opponents including those still loyal to Obote. He then embarked on a much larger campaign of intimidation of almost all of Uganda’s more than forty ethnic groups. During Amin’s eight years in power there were many failed coup attempts and assassination plots. Most notable was Obote’s attempt on September 17, 1972 to attack Uganda from his exile in Tanzania with 1,000 troops. Amin quickly crushed this attempt.
In response Amin launched a reign of terror. In a nation with an estimated 10 million people in 1970, nearly 500,000 died at the hands of Amin’s police and army during his rule. Also during Amin’s reign Uganda, previously one of the most vibrant agriculture economies in Africa, fell into a deep economic slump. Thousands of Ugandan people starved when Amin expelled most of the Indian community, eliminating many who were crucial to the business economy and who had often been the employers in the agricultural sector.
World opinion eventually condemned Amin’s brutal regime. On April 10, 1979 Kampala fell to a joint force comprised of Obote’s rebel supporters and Tanzanian troops ordered in by President Julius Nyerere. Amin fled with his wives, children, and some loyal supporters to Tripoli, Libya shortly before opposition forces took the capital city. Amin and his family finally settled in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Idi Amin Dada died on 16 August 2003 still in exile in Saudi Arabia. He never returned to Uganda to answer for the crimes he committed while in power.
Idi Amin, who has died at an age thought to be 78, was one of the most brutal military dictators to wield power in post-independence Africa.
While chief of staff of the Ugandan army, under Dr Milton Obote's civilian government, he seized power in 1971. He made himself president, with the rank of field marshal, and after eight years of power left Uganda a legacy of bloodthirsty killings and economic mismanagement. Parliament was dissolved no elections were held secret police - most of them in plain clothes - exercised absolute power of life and death and the courts and the press were subjugated to the whims of the executive.
The death toll during the Amin regime will never be accurately known. The best estimate, from the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva, is that it was not less than 80,000 and more likely around 300,000. Another estimate, compiled by exile organisations with the help of Amnesty International, put the number killed at 500,000.
For Tanzania's president, Julius Nyerere (obituary, October 15 1999), Amin was "a murderer, a liar and a savage". In the perspective of history he will go down as one who damaged the cause of African nationalism. His rule of Uganda became a synonym for barbarity.
Amin was neither well educated nor particularly intelligent. But he had a peasant cunning which often outflanked cleverer opponents, including Uganda's civilian president Milton Obote, who was displaced in the 1971 coup.
He also possessed a kind of animal magnetism a quality he used with sadistic skill in his dealings with people he wished to dominate. In his relations with women it brought him a succession of casual mistresses, longer-serving concubines, and six wives. Turned against men, this magnetism was used as by a snake on a rabbit Amin soon learned how to exploit it to frighten, dominate and command. It explains the otherwise bizarre decision by his last British colonial regimental commander to select Amin as one of the first two black Ugandans to be promoted to commissioned rank, when his educational background was virtually nil.
That was in 1961. With independence the next year and the rapid Africanisation which followed, he was elevated to army commander by 1964. He claimed to have been the officer who, virtually single-handed, put down the army mutiny at Jinja, Uganda's second city, in that year. Whatever the truth of it, Obote trusted him enough to put him in charge of the highly political military operation two years later: the attack on the "new palace" of the Kabaka (king) of Buganda on Mengo Hill. There was no military glory involved - Sir Frederick Mutesa and his supporters had only a few hunting rifles - but the victory of this Moslem officer of peasant origins over the Christian patrician ruler of the sophisticated Baganda, hitherto the dominant tribe, invested Amin with a mystique that was to make him a legend and carry him to the heights of power.
The Battle of Mengo Hill, as he liked to describe it, was something he never ceased to describe to visitors like myself, in greater and more gory detail with the passage of the years. It gave him the conviction he was not as other mortals that bullets could not touch him, that he was selected by God to walk with kings, presidents and prime ministers alike and, when directed by God in mystic dreams, to humble them. Indeed, the time was to come when, in the Denis Hills affair, he was to humble the foreign secretary of Great Britain, bringing him grovelling to Kampala to plead for a British resident's life.
Amin was born around 1925 - exact records were not kept for Africans in those days - in Koboko county in West Nile district, home of the Kakwa tribe. His father had spent much of his life in the southern Sudan, where the Kakwas, an Islamic people, had originated. His mother was from the ethnically related Lugbara tribe. Violence and bloodletting were observed, by early Victorian explorers, to be particularly marked among these Sudanic-Nubian peoples the homicide rate there is still one of the highest in Africa to this day.
Amin's first foot on the ladder was the traditional one for poor boys with little training, seeking to better themselves: he joined the army. He became an assistant cook in the King's African Rifles. He claimed to have fought with the regiment in the Burma campaign in the war. This was true of many Africans who joined the British colonial forces, but in Amin's case was an audacious lie. His record file shows his entry into the KAR took place in 1946.
A mere 16 years later, after training in Wiltshire, as a commissioned officer, he was to command a battalion of the 4th KAR and, when in civvies, wore the KAR tie all his life.
His only distinction in terms of overseas service was to be identified as leader of a scrimmage among Ugandan troops stationed in Mauritius, which was put down by British-led police. The other black mark in his regimental book was an entry indicating, in 1955, that he had been repeatedly infected and cured of veneral disease. He is said to have acquired his taste for bordellos, and for variety in women, when serving in army posts in the sheikhdoms of the Gulf, from Aden northwards, in colonial times.
The first sign of his sadism came after the fatal decision to make him a commissioned officer. In 1962, commanding troops of the 4th KAR, he carried out the Turkana Massacre, an operation that began as a simple assignment to check cattle rustling by tribesmen in the Turkana region of Kenya. Complaints from villagers reached the British authorities in Nairobi bodies were exhumed from pits and it became clear that the victims had been tortured, beaten to death and, in some cases, buried alive.
But Amin was lucky. The British authorities in Kampala, with Uganda's independence only months away, decided it was politically impossible to court-martial one of the country's only two black officers. The man who was later to be toppled by Amin, Dr Milton Obote, concurred.
In December 1969 came the mysterious episode when assassins, never identified, tried to kill Obote as he walked from a party rally. Badly wounded, he ordered an investigation while recovering in hospital. Amin could not be found but turned up later at the meeting where Brigadier Okoya, the deputy army commander, indicated that the net was closing in. A date was set for a second meeting, on January 26, when decisions would be taken and the guilty ones named.
At 11pm on January 25, shots were heard in the Kampala suburb where the deputy commander was living. Friends called police and went to the house, to find Brigadier Okoya and his wife both dead from multiple bullet wounds. Nothing had been stolen.
Later in 1970, while the Obote government was still in power, police investigating an armed hold-up, arrested a gang of kondos, the local word for thugs in illegal possession of arms. Under questioning, one of them indicated he took his orders from Brigadier Amin. This was embarrassing, as Obote was about to promote Amin to chief of staff, so the police commandant, Inspector-General Oryema, took no action.
The kondos were released from detention and were killed in unexplained circumstances soon afterwards. Amin took power, in the coup of January 25 1971, while Obote was attending a Commonwealth prime ministers' conference in Singapore. Oryema was arrested and executed in 1977
As this reign of terror got under way, the chief of Justice, Kabimu Kiwanuka, a former prime minister of Uganda, was arrested in his robing room and brutally killed by plain clothes thugs. The Anglican Archbishop, Janani Luwum, was killed in a simulated car crash in Kampala. Other leading figures were expunged in similar brutal circumstances, including the vice-chancellor of the university.
About six weeks after Amin seized power came the explosion at Makindye Prison in Kampala, when 32 army officers, crammed into a tiny cell, were blown up by a charge of dynamite. The group was made up of Christian tribes such as the Acholi and Langi, which had supported the government of the fallen President Obote. It now seems that two thirds of the Ugandan army's soldiers, out of a total of 9,000 men, were executed in Amin's first year of power. The pattern had been set for the mass blood-letting that was to come.
I myself had a glimpse of Amin's cruelty and cunning one morning in Kampala, when the police band were giving a concert as part of a major ceremony. The dictator, in full uniform, stepped forward at a break between numbers, seized the baton from a quivering conductor and barged into action. The official police photographer appeared on cue to record this "spontaneous event". Then came a trap.
Spotting me in the crowd, Amin declared: "There is my best friend, Patrick he will do the next number." With that, he signalled to the cameraman, who moved into position, ready to take the compromising photo that would have me standing next to the dictator. It was clever it would make me immediately suspect in the media world.
I hastily resorted to a coughing fit, face in handkerchief, and scotted. When I recounted this over lunch that day, sitting on the verandah of the Speke Hotel with Anil Clerk, QC, the acknowledged leader of the Ugandan bar, he discreetly pointed out a plainclothes police officer.
"Patrick," Clerk said, "the time to leave Uganda is now, this afternoon." I took his advice. I never say my distinguished lawyer friend again. His body was found a fortnight later, doubled up in the boot of a partly burned car, his throat cruelly bound with razor wire.
Some months later in Nairobi, I was tipped off by an old friend, an African airlines official, who advised me to avoid refuelling stops or even overflights in Uganda air space. My name had been added to the death list of those to be taken off any flight and shot.
According to Amnesty International, the ICJ, and exile sources, Amin deliberately created four rival and overlapping agencies to carry out his mass killings. These were the Military Police, the Presidential Guard, the Public Safety Unit and the Bureau of State Research. His bodyguards were drawn from his own Kakwa tribe and, with their special language and accent, they were well placed to detect any attempt by an outsider to infiltrate their ranks. This, combined with Libyan security experts, and Amin's own good luck, headed off seven major assassination attempts organised by dissident army and air force officers between 1972 and 1979.
Amin was a considerable linguist, and once explained to me that he was much more fluent in his own Kakwa or its two related northern languages, than in English, which he had mastered only after joining the army. He was fluent also in the language of southern Uganda, and in the East African lingua franca, Swahili.
In 1977, after Britain broke diplomatic relations with his regime and then withdrew the two remaining diplomats who had stayed on attachment at the French Embassy, Amin declared he had beaten the British and conferred on himself the decoration of CBE which, he said, stood for "Conqueror of the British Empire". Radio Uganda then solemnly read out the whole of his title: "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Alhaji Dr Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE". Frequently, when the national radio made an announcement, referring to "a military spokesman," the text had been dictated by Amin himself at the presidential lodge in Kampala, which he re-named the Command Post.
He was a man who acted on hunches and impulses. His decision to expel the 35,000 Asians of Uganda in the space of three months between August and November 1972 came to him, he said, in a dream. He expounded the dream the next day to troops at a military post in the north, and the policy came into effect before nightfall.
Until a bitter quarrel with Israel, when he ordered the diplomatic mission in Kampala to be closed, Amin was proud of the parachutist's wings which he wore above all his ribbons on his elaborate marshal's uniform. He brought back this badge from the course he took in Israel while still an army sergeant. Later another parachutist on the course, Reuben Cohen, declared that Amin had failed his tests but was given the wings for reasons of diplomacy at the time.
Then in 1976 came the hijacking of an Air France plane bound from Athens to Paris, initially by two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two from Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang. The plane was forced down at Entebbe and the crisis only ended with an audacious airborne raid by Israeli commandoes. But one passenger, the unfortunate Dora Bloch, who held joint Israeli-British citizenship, had been taken from the airport to hospital in Kampala.
After the raid, according to Uganda's minister of health at the time, Henry Kyemba, who later escaped into exile, Mrs Bloch was taken screaming from her hospital bed and brutally executed the same day. This incident did much to convince world opinion that, in Amin, the international community was dealing with a madman.
The Bloch affair loosened tongues in Israel and a doctor who had served in an Israeli medical aid team in Uganda told a newspaper correspondent in Tel Aviv: "It's no secret that Amin is suffering from the advanced stages of syphilis, which has caused brain damage".
When, in 1975, the then British foreign secretary James Callaghan, had to fly to Uganda to plead for the life of the British lecturer, Denis Hills, held hostage in prison after being given a death sentence by a military court, he was given a confidential file referring to the same theory: that Amin was infected and insane.
The Islamic religion became a fetish for this unbalanced man, and his uncouth espousal of it did great harm to the Muslim cause in Africa. Amin succeeded in enlisting the support of his Islamic near-neighbour, the Libyan leader Colonel Gadafy. But other Muslim leaders in Syria, Jordan and Iraq rebuffed him when he travelled to their capitals looking for alliances. However, contingents of Libyan troops and planes helped his regime survive, against the odds, on more than one occasion.
Amin's fanaticism came to a head in a bizarre telegram sent to the then United Nations secretary-general, Kurt Waldheim, when he purported to analyse the Middle East situation and focused his hatred on the Israelis.
The message contained these phrases, personally dictated by Amin to his secretary: "Germany is the right place where, when Hitler was the supreme commander, he burnt over six million Jews. This is because Hitler and all German people knew that the Israelis are not people who are working in the interest of the people of the world, and that is why they burnt the Israelis alive with gas."
Reaction in black Africa was profound. Leaders like Nyerere and Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda, who had condemned Amin from the start as a dangerous, unbalanced man, were vindicated.
Amin's family life remains cloaked in mystery. He divorced his first three wives at various times. A fourth, Kay, disappeared and her body, butchered into chunks and then reassembled, was seen at a mortuary by one of Amin's ministers, who then fled into exile. There were two other wives, the sixth being a nightclub singer, Sarah, whom he married when she was 19 and he 50. He claimed to have fathered 32 children.
Amin's downfall came in 1979 after some weeks when Ugandan troops crossed the frontier into Tanzania, looting and wrecking in villages along the Kagera river. The Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere, retaliated by despatching an armoured column, led by three tanks. Hundreds of Ugandan exiles volunteered to join it, and when it triumphantly entered Kampala, it was was led by a young Ugandan army officer, Colonel Oyite Ojok.
Libya's maverick leader, Colonel Gadafy, had begun sending troops to help shore up the regime, but hastily reversed the airlift after some 400 Libyan casualties. Amin followed them into brief exile in Tripoli and then moved on to Saudi Arabia, where he was given a villa in Jeddah on condition that he remain incommunicado indefinitely. The Saudi motive was to silence him because of the harm they believed he was doing to Islam.
In the subsequent 24 years, he gave no interviews and stayed close to home. His life appears to have been a dull round of sports events, gym sessions and massage parlours. He had a Range Rover, a Chevrolet Caprice and a powder-blue Cadillac for his aimless shopping trips, and visits to the airport to clear through customs the parcels of cassava and other food items sent by relatives in Uganda.
Amin brought bloody tragedy and economic ruin to his country, during a selfish life that had no redeeming qualities.
· Idi Amin Dada, politician and soldier, born around 1925 died August 16 2003
This article was amended on 18 December 2015 to correct the spelling of Inspector General Oryema's name and the year that he died.
The two tied the knot in 1975 in a very lavish wedding which reportedly cost over $2 million with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat being the best man for the occasion.
However, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and death of Sarah’s ex-lover, Jessy Gitta Kasirivu, who openly registered his displeasure with Amin’s advances on his then girlfriend exhibited how far the dictator could go to get what he wanted.
Jessy’s relationship with Sarah, and Amin eventually coming into the picture and its aftermath has been featured in a recently released documentary titled Bwana Jogoo: The Ballad of Jessy Gitta.
Directed by Michiel van Oosterhout, the documentary focuses on the “love triangle” involving Amin, former Cranes band bass player Jessy Gitta Kasirivu and 17-year-old Sarah, who was a go-go dancer for the band.
According to The East African, the documentary features interviews and narrations by Jessy’s former bandmates, old musicians and family members, as well as, people who were close to Amin who knew about Jessy and Sarah’s relationship.
In the documentary, Jessy was abducted by agents from Amin’s State Research Bureau on August 4, 1974, forced into a car boot and taken away without a trace as Amin had shown interest in Sarah. That was the last time he was seen.
Jessy Gitta Kasirivu — Photo Credit: The East African
Jessy and Sarah’s love affair began when they were both members of The Cranes band where the former joined as a guitarist. Previously a dancer for the Suicide Mechanised Regiment army band, Sarah later joined The Cranes after she was hired by Clyde Mayanja, one of the founders of the band, The East African writes about the documentary.
“When Jessy and Sarah met they liked each other and eventually fell in love. They spent their all free time together after rehearsals going to the cinema,’’ Mayanja said.
“Of course we knew that Sarah was Jessy’s girlfriend. They were together even before Amin met and started dating Sarah. We told Jesse, ‘man you have to be careful. We have heard this and that.’
But he would be calm about it saying, ‘That is nothing, nothing is going to happen.’ I thought she was just fooling Amin who was a tough man, I would say. She was still coming to Jessy…,” another band member said.
The Cranes — Photo via Bwana Jogoo documentary on Facebook
Though Jessy told friends he was being monitored by state security agents because of Sarah’s involvement with Amin, he refused to back down. Meanwhile, Sarah was also in a dilemma.
“We had a meeting at Speke Hotel to discuss Jessy’s dilemma. We asked him if he was ready to stay away from Sarah. He said he was not because they were in love.
Then Jessy stood up and walked out on us. He later quit The Cranes because of the pressure from us to leave Sarah. But he later re-joined the band and we could tell they were wildly in love and their emotions blanketed their reasoning,” Mayanja was quoted by The East African.
Despite the danger he faced for refusing to end his relationship with Sarah, Jessy, who also did not heed to the advice of his friends, went as far as composing a song for Sarah. Titled Ggwe Nonze (my chosen one), Jesse begs Sarah to accept his marriage proposal and affirms he doesn’t mind losing his life for her.
“Jessy was stubborn and we all saw where the relationship was going. It was dangerous,” Tony Senkebejje, one of the founding members of the band said.
After Jessy’s disappearance, The East African reports that his relatives were warned to be quiet about it. His remains were never found and local media never reported it.
Idi Amin with Sarah Kyolaba on their wedding day — Photo via Jaffar Amin on flickr
According to the Independent, Sarah had a child with Jesse, but Amin “adopted” him after she conceived.
“Just imagine, a teenager forced to abandon the love of your life and get married to someone as old as your father. That bruised her emotionally and she has had to live with that pain all her life,” a friend of Sarah said.
After Amin was deposed by rebels in exile backed by Tanzanian forces on April 11, 1979, he sought refuge in Saudi Arabia where he lived until his death on August 16, 2003, at the age of 78.
Sarah left him in 1982 and moved to Germany before settling in London. She passed away in 2015 after suffering from cancer.
Sarah in the U.K. in 1999 — Photo Credit: Independent
After Amin’s death, Sarah described her ex-husband as a “true African hero” and a “wonderful father,” according to the Independent.
“He was just a normal person, not a monster. He was a jolly person, very entertaining and kind,” she said.
“I learned a lot of things from him, not because I was married to him but as a growing woman… things like leadership, self-confidence and initiative.”