Idi Amin Dada Oumee
(1925-2003)

Ugandan Field Marshal and politician, self-proclaimed "Lord of All Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular" born in 1925. The exact date of his birth is still disputed, as no birth records exist. Idi amin himself has revealed very little about his childhood other than the fact that he came from a poor family where he helped herd goats, carry water and till the soil to earn money for his parents. But these reminiscences are not to be accepted as true, as Idi Amin often portrayed himself to be close to the destitution of his own people.

In 1946, he joined the King's African Rifles, an African unit of the British Armed Forces. Amin's size (230 pounds) and height (six feet three inches) made him stand out among other recruits. From the time he entered the army, up until Ugandan independence, Amin has been building up a reputation as conscientious soldier. He enthusiastically carried out orders. He mirrored his British officers and impressed his commanders with his zeal. Amin was alert, stiffly starched and polished. He excelled as a marksman and had remarkable eyesight. Overall he was perceived as a splendid and reliable soldier. Only, there's more to the picture than meets the eye. When Amin was implicated in the killing of three Turkana tribesmen allegedly engaged in cattle rustling , the British high command decided not to court-marshal him. Instead, a severe reprimand was recommended. The reason for the decision was Amin's admirable previous record, as well as his excellent connections among British officers. Amin had the reputation of a brilliant clown and in that quality he was often nothing more than an amusement oddity in the hands of the protective British officers. He was also using his buffoonery when caught in a tight spot. Exposed for keeping two wives in his quarters instead of one, Amin explained to the inquiring British officer that one was his wife and the other her elder sister, or dada in Swahili. This explanation sends the British officer snickering in amusement. Since, Idi Amin was known as Idi Amin Dada.

The highest military position held by Amin during the colonial rule was the rank of Effendi. Effendi (meaning in Turkish "sir") was a rank used by the British to designate an African position higher that a noncommissioned officer, but not quite on the same scale as a British commissioned officer. By the time of Ugandan independence, Amin had risen to a major. Now, he realized that he had some political cards to play. No longer were the British in control. He had to contend with his fellow Ugandans. In 1966, Amin threw his support to Prime Minister Milton Obote when the people of Buganda tried to oust the PM. Amin led the army on an attack of the king's palace in Buganda, forcing the "kabaka" or king to flee into exile in Britain. The attack was bloody with several hundred killed. But, because of it, Obote owed Amin a favor. Despite an impending charge of embezzlement that implicated Amin in the gold and ivory trade with Congo nationalists, he was promoted by Obote to army chief of staff.

For five time-consuming years Amin longs for absolute power. Finally, in 1971, during a military coup, Idi Amin overthrew his protector Obote. He was now the "top man". He insisted that the European residents kneel in front of him and take an oath of allegiance. He began claiming his Moslem heritage. This was particularly apparent after he visited Colonel Quathafi inLibya, and subsequently threw out the Israelis. He started visiting Mosques and encouraging Moslem organizations. He carries on a constant war against the Christian communities in Uganda. His battle against the Christians is hardly the result of a Moslem crusade. It is merely a lashing out at any group or institution that might pose some threat to his regime. However, the main focus of his brutality has been the black people of Uganda. He seemed largely satisfied in humiliating the Europeans residing in Uganda and expelling the Asian and Jewish population. Of course, Idi Amin was responsible for the killing of two Americans, Robert L. Siedle and Nicholas Stroh in July 1971. But that's nothing compared to the torture and murder of over one hundred thousands Ugandans. Amin never hid his admiration for Adolf Hitler (qv). His methods however were very similar to Stalin's (qv). He has not only eliminated his adversaries, but also his potential opponents.

Idi Amin's reign has been by fear and diversion. The killings have not only been numerous, but also brutal and torturous. It is the classical example of ongoing genocide. There are those who suggest that he is an African hero. Yet, he has shown no respect for African traditions, nor has he made any efforts to help the poor and afflicted of his country. The enormity of Amin's crimes against human rights and his utter disregard for any form of democracy, even a rudimentary one, is such that he has a well-deserved place in the panoply of ruthless dictators…with a cannibal sui generis touch, of course.

(Amin has been supported by several external sources. They include the Soviets, who have provided him with extensive amounts of military equipment; the Libyan government, who has supplied him with financial aid; the Palestine Liberation Organization and other assorted extremists groups, who supplied personnel and counsel. They are to be considered his accomplices.)

Length of Rule - Nine years

In any country there must be people who have to die. They are the sacrifices any nation has to make to achieve law and order

Idi Amin

Related Links

Interview with Amin

Books/Films

Last King of Scotland

Giles Foden

Amin's Uganda

Bob Measures/Tony Walker

Talk of the Devil

Riccardo Orizio

General Idi Amin Dada

Barbet Schroeder

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