President Idi Amin Dada Oumee was the third president of Uganda, arguably the most popular or notorious president of Africa at his time as well the most well-known historic president of Uganda.  Idi Amin as a six foot four and, at his peak, 20 stone,  was the former heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda, skillful Rugby  player, swimmer, soldier and a politician.

                 General Idi Amin Dada Oumee, being sworn in as a president of Uganda

Idi Amin styled himself 'His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular'.
General Idi Amin 1971. The Prime Minister Mr Edward Heath at No 10 Downing Street tonight with General Idi Amin, President of Uganda. The President, who seized power in January, is to have lunch with the Queen and to discuss ministers arms for Uganda, trade and financial aid

He was viewed in the West as a murderous buffoon, a jovial psychopath. In eight bloody years, from 1971 to 1978, his brutal regime has been blamed for the deaths of up to 500,000 people in mass executions and tribal purges.
Idi Amin and his wife Sarah during the good times.
Uganda’s President Idi Amin, center, and his wife, Sarah, leave the Grand Hotel in Rome, Italy, on their way to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo for their private audience with Pope Paul VI on Sept. 10, 1975. At right, wearing traditional African costume, is Bernadette Olowo, the Uganda envoy who is the first woman ambassador to the Vatican. (AP Photo)

Some political prisoners were forced to kill each other with sledgehammers. His extraordinary physical presence was legendary, as were his unnatural appetites. Rumours of cannibalism swirled around the despot and it was claimed he kept the heads of his most powerful enemies in his fridge. The West claim Amin's blood-lust was matched only by his craving for women simply because he fathered about 60 children - the exact number is unknown - none of whom has ever spoken publicly.
Idi Amin at the pool side

Before becoming president of Uganda by overthrowing president Milton Obote, Idi Amin was the darling of the West, particularly Britain. Once, as a Lance-Corporal in the King's African Rifles, he had embodied the British notion of the reliable native, fulfilling his superiors' prejudiced expectations. "Not much grey matter, but a splendid chap to have about," said one British officer. His willingness to obey without question, his ability at sport and his spotless boots brought him promotion.
He was popular with his English officers, who appreciated his skill on the rugby field, unquestioning obedience and touching devotion to all things British.
White diplomats bowing down to president Amin whilst reciting "Oath of Allegiance" to him as a ruler of Uganda

The serious question that has raged people`s mind about Idi Amin as cannibal, torturer, ruthless dictator and womanizer, was Amin without any good side at all? The answer could be found in professor Ali Mazrui academic piece "BETWEEN DEVELOPMENT AND DECAY: ANARCHY, TYRANNY AND PROGRESS UNDER IDI AMIN." Ali Mazrui writes on Amin`s positive side:
There is, however, a positive side to the saga of someone like Idi Amin. No one
who fired the imagination of so many millions of oppressed people in different
parts of the world could have been entirely evil. For at least the first few years of
his rule, Amin was a towering symbol of naive but heroic resistance to the mighty
nations of the world - a symbol of the semi-literate standing up to the pretensions
of sophistication, a symbol of the underprivileged standing up to the all powerful.
And yet, this same Amin was one of the most brutal rulers of the 1970s. On the one
hand, he was clearly a villain of Uganda; on the other, he seemed to have risen to
become a hero of the Third World.
What did this tell us about the 'New International Moral Order'? Was there
indeed a moral cleavage, as well as an economic gap, between the developed and
industrialised countries of Europe, North America and Japan on the one side,
and the developing countries of the rest of Asia, Africa, Latin America on the

It would, of course, be quite untrue to suggest that the Third World approved of
Amin's brutalities against his own people. What needs more explaining is the
ambivalence of the Third World about Idi Amin, rather than any unqualified
approval of him. Much of the West was quite clear in its verdict - the man was evil
and should disappear from the scene as soon as possible. For much of the Third
World Idi Amin, at least for part of his period in office, was not a case of
unmitigated evil. He had that profoundly dialectical quality of heroic evil. And
whether one applauded the heroism or lamented or denounced the evil depended
upon one's priorities. In other words, Amin's significance in the 1970s was more
positively in international affairs than in domestic affairs. The degree to which
the Third World was ready at times to forgive his domestic excesses provided he
remained in resistance to the mighty, was indicative of a major moral cleavage
between the northern hemisphere of the affluent and the southern hemisphere of
the exploited and underprivileged."


On why the African-Americans saw Idi Amin as a hero despite international portrayal of Amin as a despotic butcher of his people, Mazrui averred that:
The black American response to the phenomenon of Idi Amin arose partly out
of black enthusiasm for Amin as a black nationalist. Amin's expulsion of the
Asians in 1972, in the face of massive opposition from Britain, whose citizens the
majority of the expelled Asians were, was to many black Americans a stroke of
nationalistic genius. Amin seemed determined to put Uganda's destiny into black
hands. His dedication was not necessarily to the creation of a kinder or more
humane Ugandan society, but simply the creation of a situation where black
people of Uganda wrenched their economic destiny from the hands of non-black
people. Amin's economic war against foreign control of the Ugandan economy
aroused memories of black leaders in the western hemisphere like Marcus
Garvey, who had similarly been dedicated to black self-reliance.
But what about all that brutality which Amin committed against his own black
people within Uganda? Some black Americans simply did not believe the reports,
which were after all derived from the white-controlled media. On the other hand,
those who believed the stories about Amin's brutality-could always say, 'What is
the big deal? We have been experiencing brutality right here in America for 300
years, and continue to do so in ghettos and police cells. What does it matter if a
black ruler has to be brutal at times in order to be effective in his struggle against
white power?"

    General Idi Amin, president of Uganda and "Conqueror of British Empire" being carried like a king by white diplomats in Kampala,Uganda

In an attempt to portray Idi Amin as not only an evil person as the West sought to do, a web page has been dedicated to reveal the good side of Amin and also how the West connived "forcing him to be a president at a gun point."
Below are some of the issues raised in the webpage.

"Did you know that Idi Amin has two grown twin sons by a Former Female Israeli Secret Service Agent?

Did you know that there are people who think Idi Amin was framed for the murders he allegedly committed in Uganda?

Did you know that some people think Idi Amin was “set up” and “slandered” because he couldn’t be controlled by "super powers?"

Did you know that Idi Amin’s father was a Police Officer and not a peasant as told by many people and he served as a soldier in the First World War?

Did you know that Idi Amin was guarded by a snake as an infant while being subjected to an unusual paternity test practiced by ancient Kakwa?

Did you know that Idi Amin wrestled a crocodile in Somalia during a tour of duty when he was in the Kings African Rifles?

Did you know that Idi Amin disobeyed orders from his British Superiors to shoot Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta on sight during colonialism and saved his life instead?

Did you know that Idi Amin’s superiors held him in high regard during his time in the Kings African Rifles?

Did you know that Idi Amin was forced to become the President of Uganda at gun point?

Did you know that Idi Amin had a “rock solid” relationship with Israel before he crossed over to the Palestinian side?

Did you know that Idi Amin gave a 10,000 dollar tip to a Black American cleaning lady while on an official trip to New York City, to ease her suffering from racism?

Did you know that the novel and film "The Last King of Scotland" is fictional?

Did you know that during the war that led to his ouster, Idi Amin travelled to the war frontline and waved to the opposing soldiers and they excitedly waved back instead of shooting him?

Idi Amin's Father Mzee Amin Dada Nyabira and 1st wife Sarah

Did you know that Idi Amin’s Presidential Guards “wrestled him to the ground” to get him out of harm’s way because he wanted to die in Uganda like a true soldier during the war to overthrow him?

Did you know that upon his release from decades of imprisonment on Roben Island, South Africa’s hero Nelson Mandela thanked Idi Amin for the role Idi Amin played in overthrowing Apartheid in South Africa?

Did you know that Idi Amin became a devout Muslim after fleeing Uganda and regularly denied that he committed the atrocities attributed to him?

                      Idi Amin holding his son in army uniform

                                                  Ali A Mazrui 
A major aspect of world history is the rise and fall of great heroes and great villains. The corridors of time echo the applause and denunciations of yester- years. Fused into the paradox of heroic evil was Idi Amin - at once a hero and a villain, at once a subject both of applause and denunciation. As a villain he was a 
symbol of tyranny. Hundreds of thousands of his compatriots died under his rule. 
As a hero, Amin has four meanings for Africa and the Third World. Economically he attempted to strike a blow against dependency and foreign control of his country's economy. Culturally, he signified a reaffirmation of cultural authenticity. He helped to foster cultural self-discovery among Africans - for better or for worse. Politically, Amin was often in rebellion against the northern- dominated power structure of the twentieth century. He made fun of the mighty and sometimes helped to inspire self-confidence in the ranks of the Third 
World. Morally, Amin signified a basic leverage between the liberal values of the western world and the nationalistic concerns of much of the Third World. Let us first examine Amin the villain, before we explore the dialectical anomalies of his heroism. 
White diplomats bowing down to president Amin whilst reciting "Oath of Allegiance" to him as a ruler of Uganda

Tyranny Versus Anarchy 
It is important to remember the ancient distinction between tyranny and anarchy. How much of the anguish of Uganda between 1971 and April 1979 was due to the tyranny exercised by Idi Amin? How much of it was a consequence of sheer anarchy and normative collapse?
 Tyranny involves centrally-directed force; anarchy entails decentralised violence. The two processes could reinforce each other. Governments scared of what appear to them to be anarchic trends could get more tyrannical. On the other hand, groups which are dissatisfied with the credentials of a government, and are unwilling to concede its legitimacy, could destabilise society as a whole. A third possibility is when groups take advantage of either governmental weakness or general erosion of public morality - and create even further arbitrariness and insecurity in society at large. 
The precise balance between tyranny and anarchy in the Third World as a whole varies from country to country. In Amin's Uganda the tyrannical factor was by far the more publicised, partly because of the flamboyant personality of Idi Amin and his capacity to attract international notoriety. But in fact by 1977 
Uganda had become as much a case of sheer decentralised violence as one of purposeful tyranny. 
This is not to deny the argument that many of the more publicised murders were indeed centrally-directed, often instigated by Field Marshal Idi Amin himself. The murder of Chief Justice Kiwanuka in 1972, the murder of Vice- Chancellor Kalimuzo of Makerere University in the same year, and the murder of Archbishop Luwum in 1977 along with two cabinet ministers, were almost certainly ordered by Idi Amin himself.

Decentralised Brutality 
But far less publicised were the far more numerous cases of wanton decentralised brutality - of individual soldiers 'executing' a man behind a dance hall in order to 'inherit' his girl friend for the night, or of civilian criminals wearing army uniforms on loan from real soldiers as a strategy of extorting money. On balance many more people must have died, or been mutilated in Uganda as a result of decentralised violence than in response to purposeful brutality by the regime. 
Atocities of Idi Amin

This is not a defence of the regime. After all, a government which is incapable of preventing such lawlessness should long have abdicated and let others try their luck in restoring decency and order. But when we are trying to understand the real causes of violence in a society it is not enough to focus on the bizarre brutality of a simple individual, no matter how powerful. It is tempting to reduce all causation to the personality of Idi Amin. But just as it is simplistic to attribute the birth of Protestantism to the constipation of Martin Luther, so it is simplistic to attribute the collapse of decency and order in Uganda to the reported venereal difficulties 
of Idi Amin. The personalistic approach to the study of Uganda's recent history has been aggravated by the fascination that Amin commanded in the international mass media - a bizarre symphony of shrieks of pain, sighs of despair and thuds of fatal finality.

The Makerere 'Incident' 
A related obstacle in the effort to understand what was going on in Uganda was the problem of assessing the reliability of the news which came out of Amin's Uganda. One item of news in 1976 illustrated this issue dramatically for this writer. This was a bad story about Uganda which became one more Amin headline item in the world press. In August 1976 it was reported that a massacre of students had taken place on the campus of Makerere University in Uganda. The report was detailed. It included the precise place where the massacre took place (on Freedom Square in front of the main Administration Building), the approximate number of casualties (at least 100 and conceivably up to 800), the details of other brutal atrocities (mutilation of breasts of girl students), the usual sexual assaults (soldiers raping girl students), et cetera. 
I was in Kenya when this story broke in British newspapers. I flew to Dar es Salaam. I had dinner the same week with the former President of Uganda, Dr Milton Obote, at his residence-in-exile in Tanzania. Also at Obote's dinner was David Martin, the British journalist mainly responsible for the story of the 'massacre' on the Makerere campus. I expressed puzzlement at the dinner over the apparently exclusive nature of such a news 'scoop'. A massacre in front of the main building of the only university of a country, situated in its capital city, seemed unlikely to remain unnoticed to all but British observers. Even the Kenya newspapers, next door to Uganda, seemed to be citing only British sources. Obote and Martin assured me of the veracity of the story. The following week The Observer, London, carried another Martin story about the 'massacre' on the campus in Uganda. The story was carried worldwide by western networks. My wife first heard the story on her car radio in a local Canadian broadcast. She was so disturbed by the news and by its likely impact on me that she immediately put through a transatlantic telephone call to me in Dar es Salaam to find out how I was taking it. (We lived on the Makerere campus for about ten years.)
Dr. Milton Obote being welcomed by Idi Amin Dada back in the day. Then minister Wakholi learnt from radio that Amin had overthrown his boss, President Obote.

Since then I have checked out the story meticulously, receiving confidential evidence from about fifteen witnesses who were on the campus on that day. The witnesses were of six different nationalities - ranging from Ugandan to West German. I am now completely satisfied that there was no 'massacre' on the Makerere campus in the first week of August 1976. There was indeed an 'invasion' of soldiers, seemingly invited by the university authorities themselves in the face of student unrest. The soldiers did get out of hand and started beating up students, kicking them, injuring them with rifle butts. But nobody was killed. And apparently no girls were raped, let alone mutilated. In short, there was no massacre' in the sense of killings.

                                                          Idi Amin`s victims

David Martin probably sincerely believed his story. But his first story was datelined Lusaka in Zambia, and his second came from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He had never been to Uganda since Amin took over power in 1971. Yet one bad story by a sincere but mistaken British journalist captured the attention of much of the world press. No retraction or correction has ever been made by The Observer.
Clearly there was enough brutality committed by Idi Amin without our inventing fictional instances as well. The man was guilty enough to qualify for the most torrid recesses of hell. Yet one lurid error by a British journalist was enough to misinform the world. The 'information gap' was playing games with both the
obscenities of an African tyrant and the credulousness of the rest of the world.

                                  Kay Adroia Amin, wife of Idi Amin who disappeared

We are all caught up in the contradictions of 'the information gap' under a military tyranny. Was Amin as bad as the international press portrayed him? Precisely because Amin was a tyrant we may never know for certain. David Martin was reporting from Zambia about Uganda partly because he simply could not do it within Uganda. He would have been killed on Amin's orders anytime he chose to arrive in Uganda - not least because of his prior anti-Amin reports, let alone his book General Amin.
Amin's brutal control of the media in Uganda - including the execution of some editorial personnel of Uganda television and of the Luganda newspaper, Munno - denied the tyrant even the mitigation of some of his own offences. The 'information gap' did at times earn him worse publicity than he deserved, though he did deserve a lot of negative coverage all the same.

                             President Amin. Circa 1974

The Sacred and the Secular
In addition to the problems of distinguishing fact from fiction, and tyranny from anarchy, there was the third problem of distinguishing the religious from the secular in the Ugandan situation. How far was Islam a factor in the behaviour of Idi Amin? How salient was religion to our understanding of the wider social forces in Uganda? Many commentators have given religion high political salience. Some of those analysts seem to forget that only a small minority of Ugandan Muslims are indeed Nubi or Kakwa or from the Sudan, the three overlapping groups that were supposed to form the basis of Amin's power. The majority of Ugandan Muslims belong to none of these three categories. But are these analysts in any case correct in seeing religion as a major factor behind the tensions and brutalities of Amin's Uganda?
1977 Press Photo of Uganda Vice President under Idi Amin, General Mustafa Adrisi in Military Uniform 

Here a comparative perspective is in order. What has been happening else- where in Africa on the religious front as Muslims and Christians in Uganda have been 'confronting' each other? The month of February 1977 witnessed two highly publicised acts of brutality reportedly committed by Africans against the clergy. First came the news that seven white Roman Catholic missionaries including four nuns, had been gunned down in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. The sole survivor, Father Dunston Myerescough, 65 years old, was convinced that the murderers were African nationalist guerillas. The second event less than two weeks later was indeed the murder of the Most Reverend Janani Luwum, Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, while in custody under the charge of plotting to overthrow the government of President Amin. The government claimed that the Archbishop and two of Amin's own Cabinet Ministers under a similar charge were killed in a car crash, but most of the world was understandably sceptical. In the case of the murder of the seven missionaries in Zimbabwe, it was assumed that they died as casualties of a racial war - rather than as martyrs in a religious crusade. But in the case of the Ugandan Archbishop, the worldjumped to the conclusion that he was a martyr to his faith as a Christian. Was the world justified in assuming that Archbishop Luwum died for religious reasons?
In contemporary Africa, tensions between religious groups are never purely religious. Religious tensions are usually an aspect of either ideological conflict between militants and moderates (as in parts of Ethiopia), racial conflict between white and black (as in Southern Africa), ethno-cultural conflict between different African tribes and communities (as in Uganda), or class conflict between the haves and have-nots (as illustrated in virtually all cases).
Image of General Idi Amin Dada, year 1974
                              General Idi Amin. Circa 1974

Three African Wars
At least three major civil wars in Africa within the last decade have had a religious dimension. For seventeen years (1955 to 1972) Southern Sudan waged war against the government in Khartoum for reasons which included religious differences between the Muslim North and the Christian-led South. (The southern leaders were indeed mainly Christian, but the majority of their followers were neither Christian nor Muslim. They were still adherents of local ancestral religions of their own communities.)

In the case of the Nigerian civil war (1967-70) the North was identified with Islam while 'Biafra' (or the East) was identified with Christianity. In reality the Nigerian civil war was mainly ethnic - but Biafra's public relations machinery successfully created the impression among many westerners that Ibo Christians were fighting a war in defence of Christianity. In spite of the fact that General Yakubu Gowon, the head of the Federal Government of Nigeria, was a Christian, and much of his support came from other non-Muslims, Biafra brilliantly managed to suggest that a jihad was being waged against the Ibo. Even the Vatican seemed for a while to have bought that version.
The third major civil war with a religious dimension is still under way. This is the struggle by Eritrea to break away from Ethiopia. The majority of Eritreans are Muslim. There are large numbers of Muslims in the rest of Ethiopia as well, but the country had many centuries of Christian theocracy. The military rulers of Ethiopia since the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie have gone further than their predecessors to concede that Ethiopia is not a purely Christian country. My last visit to Addis Ababa in December 1976 coincided with the Muslim Festival of Eid al Ha]]. It was being celebrated as a national holiday in the whole of Ethiopia.
That would have been inconceivable under the late Emperor. But while the new military rulers have made concessions to Islam, they have simultaneously cut the Coptic Christian Church of Ethiopia down to size. Indeed, the Marxist-Leninist orientation of the rulers has paradoxically been at once more tolerant of Muslims (outside Eritrea) and more suspicious of Christian church leaders as potential sources of 'ideological reaction'. Ethiopia is certainly one case where religious tensions are interwoven with the tensions of secular
ideology - as well as with the tensions of ethnic separatism in Eritrea.

The Class Dimension
The class dimension is also persistent all over Africa. Sometimes new military rulers are opposed to older church leaders partly because the religious leaders once belonged to the political establishment - whereas the soldiers were recruited from some of the poorest strata of the old society. This is certainly true of both
Ethiopia and Uganda. The soldiers in power in both countries are essentially 'lumpenmilitariat'  disorganised recruits from sectors of society which were once disadvantaged and often uneducated, and have since become callous and insensitive.
The class dimension has also been relevant in race relations. In Southern Africa it has certainly not been easy to determine where race differences end and class distinctions begin. In the words of the late radical black thinker, Frantz Fanon, who is popular among many liberation fighters in Southern Africa, 'You are rich
because you are white - but you are also white because you are rich.' The Japanese after all are honorary whites in the Republic of South Africa; they are 'white because they are rich.
Idi Amin

Blacks Against Blacks
But the most perennial problems in Africa may well turn out to be ethnic ones involving blacks against blacks. When we therefore hear of a black Archbishop killed, it would be important to investigate not only issues of religion, class and ideology - but also issues of ethnic affiliation. Certainly all four factors seemed to be present in the death of the Archbishop of the Congo (Brazzaville) in March 1976.
As for the Ugandan situation, certainly ethnic factors continue to be very strong. When the news of the Uganda Archbishop's death broke, it reminded me of a night in Kampala six years earlier when my wife and I gave refuge to girls who were running away from potential rape by Amin's soldiers. The girls were either
Langi or Acholi. The previous night some soldiers had broken into Mary Stuart Hall at the Makerere University and demanded to be taken to the Langi and Acholi girls. On that occasion they did take away two girls, one of whom was saved from a serious fate by the fact that she was in her monthly period. The next
night Langi and Acholi girls were of course terrified, and some of them came to our house for refuge. Vice-Chancellor Kalimuzo and I had urgent consultations about the other girls left in Mary Stuart Hall. President Amin agreed to send us his more reliable soldiers to patrol the campus, and keep the military rapists at bay. The situation was indeed eased - but periodic terror continued to be an aspect of the life of every Langi and every Acholi from then on.

When six years after that night of 'rape terror' Archbishop Luwum was killed, the question sprang to my mind, 'Did Luwum die because he was Acholi or because he was Anglican?' If those Roman Catholic missionaries were casualties of an unfolding racial war in Southern Africa, why could not Janani Luwum have been a casualty of continuing ethnic strife in Uganda?
After all, Cabinet Minister Oryema who was killed with the Archbishop was also an Acholi. Before long further news seemed to validate ethnic factors rather than religious ones as dominant behind the new atrocities in Uganda. Leading Langi and Acholi, including some at Makerere University, were either rounded
up, brutalised, or at least briefly harassed. Hundreds of refugees from Lango and Acholi were soon reported to be pouring intaTanzania and Kenya. As for Amin's own statements, they seemed to echo some of the accusations he levelled against the Langi and the Acholi way back in the first week of his assumption of power in Uganda in January 1971.

A Religious Crusade
Yet the All Africa Conference of Churches, and the World Council of Churches, preferred to turn the latest Ugandan calamity into a religious crusade. The same church organisations had been 'discreetly silent' for six years while Amin tortured and butchered other Langi, other Acholi, and indeed other Ugandans, both
Christian and Muslim. Yet it took the murder of a fellow churchman to arouse the conscience of organised Christianity. With all other professional groups, it might be understandable to sit back until a fellow professional is killed before being aroused, but with churches such a record is just not good enough. Canon Burgess Can, leader of the All African Council of Churches, should have taken a public stand against Idi Amin years before Archbishop Luwum met his fate.
Idi Amin and Archbishop Luwum

But once the churches were aroused, and were busy 'converting' ethnic strife into a religious crusade, there was a danger of their 'prophecy' becoming self-fulfilling. Indeed, more people in Uganda have died since the Archbishop. The strife in Uganda could indeed become increasingly religious, as well as ethnic. Christian has already turned against Muslim, Catholic against Protestant - as well as Kakwa against Acholi, Bantu against Nilote. The ominous clock of convulsion starts ticking as the pendulum of sectarian and tribal revenge is set
in motion. The history of Uganda both before and since Amin has enough religious, as well as ethnic tension, to provide a basis for further convulsion. It may be too late to stop the deepening linkages between 'tribalism' and sectarianism in Uganda.

But why did Amin turn against the Langi and the Acholi in the first place? Dr Milton Obote, the man Amin overthrew from power on 25 January 1971, was from Lango. The largest single group of soldiers in Obote's army was from Acholi. These two northern communities were indeed related linguistically and culturally - and under Obote's regime, they were relatively united. But there were also jealousies and rivalries between them which could have been exploited by Amin at the beginning had he been astute enough. Indeed, one of my first public criticisms of Amin after his takeover concerned his mishandling of the Acholi behind him and against Milton Obote. I still believe that Amin would have been less afraid of the Langi on their own than he was of an alliance between the Langi and the Acholi. Although the Langi were Obote's own people, they
were not as numerous in Obote's army as the Acholi had been. Nor had the Langi enjoyed the same reputation as the Acholi in terms of'warrior skill and military valour'.

In reality, the Langi were at least as valiant and skilful as anybody else, but the Acholi had more of a 'martial' reputation according to precisely the popular mythology which Idi Amin was likely to share. If I and other unofficial advisers had succeeded in time in persuading Amin to rally the Acholi behind him and against Obote, Amin would have felt less insecure about the Langi as well. Both groups might have suffered less precisely by being separated within Amin's fearful imagination. Amin had a phobia about the Acholi. Exactly one year to the day before Amin took over power, he had apparently engineered the murder of his own second-in-command within the army, Brigadier Ocoya. On 25 January 1970, Ocoya was murdered with his wife in Gulu, Acholiland, seemingly because he had aroused the ire and suspicion of his superior officer, Idi Amin. Ocoya's murder had disturbed both Langi and Acholi within Obote's army; and Obote was soon to suspect Amin of being implicated in the crime.

             King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and Idi Amin at the Source of the Nile,Jinja, Uganda. circa 1972

Obote began to reduce some of Amin's responsibilities - and Amin interpreted this as a prelude either to his own death or at the very least to losing his command and spending years in prison. Amin's homicidal suspicion of Ocoya, and the preponderance of the Acholi in Obote's army, combined with Obote's moves against Amin, all contributed to Amin's persecution complex in fear of a Langi-Acholi alliance. By being scared of their presumed alliance, he brutalised both communities. I still wish we had succeeded in breaking the obstinate linkage between the two groups in Amin's mind. The Most Rev Janani Luwum might still be alive today. Who knows? However, fearing the Langi-Acholi alliance with such desperation, Amin might well have brought it into being.

                    Idi Amin Dada at Fruitmarket Jebel Arafat Makkah Al Mukaramah 1983

Domestic and External Factors
But the problems of Uganda are not only a mixture of ethnic and religious factors. They are also a mixture of domestic and external factors, of national and regional variables. This is where the analogy between Uganda and Lebanon becomes striking. For both countries part of the problem concerns the issue of where the
imperial powers that ruled them decided to draw the boundaries. Lebanon was carved out of Greater Syria partly because the French wanted to create a separate Christian enclave - a kind of 'Christian Israel' even before the Jewish Israel came into being. But the carving out of a Christian enclave was somewhat messy - there were still far too many Muslims around in Lebanon. And although the Muslims were at the time a minority, their birth rate was higher than that of the Christians. Since then the Muslims of Lebanon have caught up with the Christians - and have begun to outnumber them. The boundaries which the French had so
carefully drawn for their Christian enclave served to provide a setting for a sectarian confrontation.
The boundaries which the British drew up in East Africa were similarly messy. The British split up Amin's tribe, the Kakwa, between Uganda and the Sudan - and helped the Belgians annex a third portion of Kakwaland into Zaire. Some commentators kept on referring to non-Ugandan recruits into Amin's army as
'black mercenaries'. But was this not an oversimplification? The Ugandan army under Amin reflected precisely the messiness of the colonial boundaries. Amin recruited into his army 'ethnic compatriots' (fellow tribesmen) even if they were not national compatriots, and were Sudanese or Zairean instead.
Similarly, while the Lebanese crisis was deepened by the presence of the Palestinians in Lebanon, so was the Ugandan crisis aggravated by the Nubian factor in Uganda. Lebanon has suffered because of two partitions - the partition of Greater Syria by the French in order to strengthen a Christian enclave and the partition of Palestine in order to create a Jewish state. Uganda has suffered because of ethnic partitions rather than denominational fragmentations. But both countries are now landed with a legacy of hate and recrimination which past imperialism and current militarism have bequeathed to their unhappy people. When hate is militarised, and sectionalism is armed partly as a result of cynical imperial frontiers, at least one entity is allowed to extend its ominous boundaries - the graveyard.

For eight years in Uganda Islam had a new status. Muslims rose from being among the most socially despised of the nation's people to being among the most powerful. Contrary to journalistic estimates, the Muslim population of Uganda was not 3 per cent but closer to 12 per cent. But even that was a minority. Until Amin came, the Muslims were an underprivileged minority. After Amin they became over-privileged. Now Islam in Uganda is on the defensive. A new cycle of religious reprisals is discernible. But while the politics of religious policy in Uganda is a familiar item in the world press, the politics of the language policy
has been far less publicised. Let us turn to this aspect.
Idi Amin, driving, and the late Mobutu Sese sseko, who was then president of Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo. Picture: File
Idi Amin, driving, and the late Mobutu Sese sseko, who was then president of Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Language Policy and Social Change
In his own limited and erratic way, Idi Amin was the innovator of a language policy in Uganda. He helped to edge the country a little closer to the rest of East Africa by giving Swahili a new and politically more significant status. In the cultural field Amin helped to forge deeper East African integration precisely by
creating conditions for the more rapid spread of Swahili in Uganda and for its rise in national standing. In 1967, in a lecture at Makerere, I predicted that the future of Swahili in Uganda depended on the decline of the Baganda and the rise of the military. The Baganda had been the greatest opponents of Swahili; the soldiers (mainly from northern Uganda) were the greatest champions of the language. It turned out to be true that one of the very few cultural gains brought about by Amin's rule was the greater use of Swahili in national affairs in Uganda.
President Milton Obote once described English as 'the political language' of Uganda. In his day no person could be a Member of Parliament who was unable to speak English. Why was English necessary for parliamentary life? In order to ensure that Members of Parliament from different linguistic groups could be
mutually intelligible to each other as they discussed national issues. Each back- bencher in Parliament before Amin's coup had at least two basic audiences. One audience consisted of his fellow parliamentarians, and the other audience was his constituents. For as long as the parliamentarian had only one constituency, he could rely on one local language in addressing his constituents, while retaining English for his fellow MPs.
Is Amin's rule so hated in the Uganda of today that the hatred will be extended to Swahili as the language of the soldiers? This is not very likely, but we should remember how the Afrikaans language in South Africa has come to be associated with apartheid. Will Swahili in Uganda become identified with militarism? The
children of Soweto in South Africa refused to learn Afrikaans because it-was the voice of apartheid. Will Ugandan kids now refuse to learn Swahili because it was once the language of the barracks? The analogy may be distant - but not entirely far fetched. Fortunately the liberators of Uganda have themselves been Swahili speakers. The liberators have been Tanzanians allied to precisely those Ugandan`s who have lived long enough in Tanzania to have improved their Swahili. Prospects for Swahili in Uganda are, therefore, still relatively good, and the Amin years were a major contribution to the consolidation of this language in the
country. The slow Swahilisation of Uganda is in turn a crucial process in the broad cultural integration of East Africa as a whole.

General Idi Amin eating a piece of roast chicken, while watching a parade, 1978

Amin's Positive Side
There is, however, a positive side to the saga of someone like Idi Amin. No one who fired the imagination of so many millions of oppressed people in different parts of the world could have been entirely evil. For at least the first few years of his rule, Amin was a towering symbol of naive but heroic resistance to the mighty nations of the world - a symbol of the semi-literate standing up to the pretensions of sophistication, a symbol of the underprivileged standing up to the all powerful. And yet, this same Amin was one of the most brutal rulers of the 1970s. On the one hand, he was clearly a villain of Uganda; on the other, he seemed to have risen to become a hero of the Third World.
What did this tell us about the 'New International Moral Order'? Was there indeed a moral cleavage, as well as an economic gap, between the developed and industrialised countries of Europe, North America and Japan on the one side, and the developing countries of the rest of Asia, Africa, Latin America on the other?
It would, of course, be quite untrue to suggest that the Third World approved of Amin's brutalities against his own people. What needs more explaining is the ambivalence of the Third World about Idi Amin, rather than any unqualified approval of him. Much of the West was quite clear in its verdict - the man was evil and should disappear from the scene as soon as possible. For much of the Third World Idi Amin, at least for part of his period in office, was not a case of unmitigated evil. He had that profoundly dialectical quality of heroic evil. And whether one applauded the heroism or lamented or denounced the evil depended upon one's priorities. In other words, Amin's significance in the 1970s was more positively in international affairs than in domestic affairs. The degree to which the Third World was ready at times to forgive his domestic excesses provided he remained in resistance to the mighty, was indicative of a major moral cleavage between the northern hemisphere of the affluent and the southern hemisphere of the exploited and underprivileged.
Almost six years after Amin took over power in Uganda, President Carter rose to power in the US. Carter decided to become a new moral voice of the North. His proclaimed crusade for human rights in different parts of the world was intended to be global. On the one side, it turned out to be a continuation of the ideological battle between the Soviet bloc and the West; but instead of simply proclaiming himself anti-communist - as the America of John Foster Dulles tended to do - Carter led the more positive, normative crusade of favouring civil liberties, the satisfaction of basic human needs, and the promotion of liberal values and compassion. The North-South implications of Carter's strategy clearly had a bearing on southern rulers like Idi Amin. Let us first take a closer comparative look at these two leaders before we derive wider conclusions about their significance for the 'New International Moral Order'.

                                              Idi Amin`s family

Preacher Carter and Warror Amin
One of the first differences one noticed in a comparison between Carter and Amin was the huge difference between their respective bases of power. Carter was President of industrially the most powerful and perhaps militarily still the mightiest country in the world; Idi Amin was the ruler of a relatively small African country which had become under him one of the world's poorest countries. Carter came to power in a free competitive election; Idi Amin usurped power in a military coup. Once elected Carter was the political centre of one of the most stable political systems in the world; Idi Amin was for a while the political centre of one of the more chaotic and chronically unpredictable political arrangements of the 1970s. There was therefore a substantial difference in their power bases, as well as in the legitimacy of these bases.
The personal style of these two leaders is also at variance. It is possible to emphasise in Carter's style the metaphor of the preacher. With regard to Amin one could focus on the image of the warrior. In moral terms, Carter has been a preacher of human rights. To him and to most people, even among Amin's own admirers, the Ugandan ruler was one of the great violators of such human rights. And yet, even with these apparent differences there were areas of similarity.
From 1977 Carter headed a country which was at the centre of world politics, but he himself came from the periphery of that country, a little town in Georgia. From 1971 to 1979 Idi Amin headed a country which was peripheral in world politics, but in addition, he, like Carter, came from a peripheral part of his own society. Carter assumed power in a mood of moral righteousness after Watergate. Idi Amin also assumed power in a mood of moral righteousness after abuses of power and political excesses under President Milton Obote. Carter declared his readiness to purify the nation and restore its moral purpose. Idi Amin made similar proclamations in his own society, and moved in the direction of imposing a new national code of conduct, ranging from control of drinking hours to insistence on moral decorum in dress. Carter came to power, seemingly influenced by religious fervour; he is after all among the twice born. Idi Amin also came to power seemingly motivated by religious aspirations, ranging from the ambition to create a truly ecumenical state in Uganda to the apparent conviction that he was in communion with God and was His instrument for social and political reform. Carter aimed to lead a moral crusade in Washington DC itself and beyond. Idi Amin sought to lead a moral crusade within Uganda and then to link it to a political crusade against imperialism worldwide.

 Idi Amin, seen here with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Col Gaddafi

Significance for Blacks
In comparing Carter and Amin, one should also examine the significance they held for black people within America. Black America is, after all, practically the second largest black nation in the world. It is second only to Nigeria in population, unless more reliable figures for Ethiopia than those we now have show a larger black population than that of America - assuming, that is, that Ethiopia as we know it today survives. Uganda, on the other hand, is one of the middle-range African countries in terms of population, and definitely one of the smaller ones in area. Both the ascent of Jimmy Carter to power and the activities of Idi Amin in
power raised the hopes and sometimes stimulated the imaginations of black Americans. In the case of Carter, the optimism was partly based on the role that black Americans had played to bring him into power at alL. Carter's margin of victory over Ford was narrow, and he would not have been elected if the vast
majority of black American voters had not chosen him.

The optimism of black America when Carter came into power was also based on his being a southerner who had dared to be liberal within the South, and so,it was presumed, understood black people and their aspirations much more than northern politicians tended to. Carter's commitment to a moral approach also
seemed to augur well for the underprivileged in the country, among whom blacks were the largest single section. The Carter appointments after he assumed power disappointed many blacks, but the eloquence of Andrew Young as US Ambassador to the UN partly compensated for major gaps elsewhere in Carter's
administration. The job which Andrew Young held was not especially powerful in policy-making within the US, but it tended to command considerable publicity. An Andrew Young highly visible but not very powerful went some way towards giving black Americans a sense of participation in global events.
The black American response to the phenomenon of Idi Amin arose partly out of black enthusiasm for Amin as a black nationalist. Amin's expulsion of the Asians in 1972, in the face of massive opposition from Britain, whose citizens the majority of the expelled Asians were, was to many black Americans a stroke of nationalistic genius. Amin seemed determined to put Uganda's destiny into black hands. His dedication was not necessarily to the creation of a kinder or more humane Ugandan society, but simply the creation of a situation where black people of Uganda wrenched their economic destiny from the hands of non-black people. Amin's economic war against foreign control of the Ugandan economy aroused memories of black leaders in the western hemisphere like Marcus Garvey, who had similarly been dedicated to black self-reliance.
But what about all that brutality which Amin committed against his own black people within Uganda? Some black Americans simply did not believe the reports, which were after all derived from the w4ite-controlled media. On the other hand, those who believed the stories about Amin's brutality-could always say, 'What is
the big deal? We have been experiencing brutality right here in America for 300 years, and continue to do so in ghettos and police cells. What does it matter if a black ruler has to be brutal at times in order to be effective in his struggle against white power?'
Many black Americans had become numbed to some extent by the heritage of brutality in America's own society. The overwhelming majority of them were descendants of slaves, and are themselves today among the poorest and most impotent sectors of the population of a country which is at the same time among
the richest and most powerful in the world.

General Idi Amin Dada of Uganda, seen here with President Kenyatta (and holding the hend of his small son Moses) watching traditional Kenyan dancers perform. 

Erosion of Wetern Hegemony
The role of Amin helped to erode the legitimacy of western hegemony by challenging it and defying it in a variety of ways. The myth of western invincibility was receiving severe knocks from Amin's sustained strategy of irreverence. The biggest act of defiance still remained the expulsion of British Asians and the nationalisation of some British firms and property. But there were other instances of calculated impertinence whose total effect amounted to the gradual erosion of the western mystique. He defied diplomatic protocol time and again. He was capable of sending a cable to Richard Nixon wishing him a speedy recovery from Watergate and another cable to Prime Minister Golda Meir telling her to pull up her knickers against the background of the October War in the Middle East in 1973.
Amin converted the whole world into a stage, trying to force some old imperial myths through the exit door, and to bring in new defiant myths of black assertiveness. His highly publicised picture, being carried on a big chair by four white men, ridiculing Rudyard Kipling and his vision of the White Man's Burden, was part of Amin's theatre of the absurd.
Another strategy to ridicule the world system was to keep the world guessing. His games with the world news media in the summer of 1977, in relation to the Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Government and Heads of State in London, was one such instance. Would Amin come to defy the diplomatic ban
against his participation at the Commonwealth Conference which the British government had decided to impose? His radio in Uganda issued statements which implied that he was about to land in France, and then go by boat to Britain; or was about to land in Ireland, and find his way to the Commonwealth
Conference: A deliberate comedy was unfolded upon the world stage, poking fun at the world and its ways.
Amin also employed the periodic strategy of holding a hostage or hostages, or permitting western missionaries and teachers within Uganda to be seen as a pool of future hostages against western power. In more than symbolic sense, much of the Third World right now is held hostage by the northern hemisphere. The superpowers in particular are in a position to destroy the rest of mankind in their own rivalries for hegemony. Economically, the Third World is held hostage by the capacity of the northern hemisphere to decide the destinies of the economies of the South. A decision by the North to drink half as much Ugandan coffee could have speeded up his fall - for better or for worse. In short, drinking habits among Western Europeans and North Americans, or how much chocolate the affluent North is interested in this year as opposed to last year, could either put economies in the South under severe strain or create a temporary boom here and there. Apart from the oil-rich Third World countries, almost all other Third World
countries are, in a fundamental sense, held constantly hostage by the tastes and consumption patterns of the northern hemisphere.
Therefore, when Idi Amin held a westerner like my friend and former col- league, Denis Hills, hostage, there was a profound reversal of roles. Or when Amin threatened to bring all Americans within Uganda to the Entebbe Airport, there was again a sense of the mighty being held hostage by the whims of a Third World tyrant, just as the Third World as a whole is held to ransom by the vagaries of western consumption patterns.

Symptom of Moral Cleavage
It is partly because of these considerations that Amin emerged as a symptom of the profound moral cleavage which both reinforces modern industry and the fumbling economies of the developing societies. And for this reason, Idi Amin was to some extent no less a preacher than Jimmy Carter, though much more of a warrior than the US President. In his own incoherent and naive flamboyance, Amin was preaching the song of greater equality in global terms. In his own simplicity and brutal responsiveness, Amin violated the canons of humanity in his own society. The domestic tyrant in Uganda was a voice of equity in world affairs. Amin was, quite simply, a case of heroic evil. The villain of domestic decay was a champion of international development.

Princess Bagaya of Toro Kingdom swears in as foreign affairs minister before a visibly attentive then-president Idi Amin. she was later allegedly sacked for refusing to marry Amin, see:princess-bagaya-was-fired-for-refusing-to-marry-amin.

But what should constantly be borne in mind when dealing with the decay in Uganda is once again that the problem was not just Amin but a general normative collapse. When the lights went out one night in New York city in the summer of 1977, a normative collapse occurred in sections of the population. There was
greed and looting, wanton vandalism, reckless plunder, and sheer violence. A mere mechanical lapse in the supply of electricity let loose the demon of anarchy in America's largest city.
Well, in Uganda under Amin the light went out and norms and values cultivated over generations came abruptly to an end. The nemesis of anarchy has its shadow over a society that once laughed and made merry. Now the tyrant is gone, the anarchy may still remain in Uganda for a while longer. It is because of these considerations that the world has found that it is not enough to destroy a tyrant. The successful action against Amin must be now accompanied by a dedication to the reconstruction of the society which produced him. It is easy enough to preach human rights. It is far more difficult to practise human partnership. Uganda is one compelling test case for all concerned.
This brings us back to the weaknesses and gaps of western approaches to human rights, on the one hand, and to the paradoxical moral stature of Idi Amin's rebellion against dependency, on the other. As we have indicated earlier, human rights cannot truly be divorced from the wider search for both political and economic equity. When Carter fell short of taking full account of the economic disparities between developed states and underprivileged societies, he weakened the moral basis of his crusade. In contrast, when Idi Amin became one of the persistent voices of anti-imperialism in the Third World, and played the role of demolition expert, he destroyed a substantial portion of the dependent structures that Uganda had inherited from colonialism. The brutal tyrant became a warrior of liberation.

                             Idi Amin Dada. Circa 2003

Third World Tyrants
To some extent, Third World tyrants are the illegitimate children of a marriage between domestic underdevelopment in their own societies and external exploitation by others. These bastards of an unholy matrimony are an indictment of both parents - the social fragility and weakness of will within the local society, on the one hand, and the social insensitivity and basic economic greed of the external suitors, on the other.
To blame the brutal side of Idi Amin on the bastard alone, and not on the true structural parents also, is to be a-historic. To blame the rise of Amin only on the forces of imperialism outside - as African Marxists sometimes tend to do - is to betray an inner psychological dependency, and to seek constantly the comfort of blaming all one's sins on some external Satan. To blame the durability of Idi Amin only on the people of Uganda and their incapacity to resume control of their own destiny until helped by Tanzania is to forget that the people of Uganda were not entirely free agents, not least because Idi Amin obtained his weapons of
destruction and repression from external sources, and received a considerable degree of legitimacy from the international state system as it had evolved since the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648.
The tantrums of Idi Amin were due to the man himself, to the nature of Ugandan society in a historical perspective, and to the consequences of imperialism and the continuing external manipulation of Third World societies at large.

The 'New International Moral Order' requires therefore at least three levels of conscience: the conscience of the individual, be that person ruler or subject; the conscience of each society, be that society powerful or weak; and the conscience of the world community as a whole.
The 'New International Moral Order' is in the throes of being born. The labour pains of the 1970s did indeed include the wanton brutalities of Idi Amin; they also included the moral experimentation of the Carter Administration in the US. What should be remembered is that the story is much bigger than the individuals
involved within it - and much broader in its ramifications than what we can perceive for the time being in our own lifetime.
This is an original press photo. Amin Uganda: Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada, Life President of Uganda. Over threw the previous government in military coup on 25 January 1971.Photo shows here in Kampala Feb. 1978


Log IX Al-Qadhafi Garrison, N44428

Tour of Duty 1939-1979:

•N-14610 1939-1946
•N-44428 1946-1961
•UO-03 1961-1979

Idi Amin’s claims to have participated in WWII has most often been ridiculed by all and sundry, however a most touching meeting took place on 7th July 2007 when I met one Rony Bai of the Leiko- Piza Kakwa Clan who claimed to have joined the Armed forces at the very time that one Idi Amin Dada (Alemi) and Ozo joined amazingly in the year 1939!
Idi Amin holding the British flag, Union Jack. by Tomeresu

He specifically asked to see me when he paid his respects at the cultural funeral vigil for the Late Flt-Captain Amule Kivumbi Amin in 2007, he claimed the following sequence of conscription numbers do exist:

1.N-14610 / Idi Amin Dada-Kakwa/Lugbara.
2.N-14611 / Ozo-Iyivu of Jiako Village
3.N-14612 / Rony Bai - Kakwa

Unbelievable as it may seem since Wisltow’s charming Biography Idi Amin clearly quoted the second conscription no. N-44428 when Idi Amin Dada joined the K.A.R. Navy in 1946?

            Sagt Idi Amin at a parade for the Queen`s Birthday,1957.

However there is compelling evidence and a key witness and ex-services man at that, who I put through a gruelling random examination (interrogation) Stazi fashion to corroborate the evidence he was giving and it turns out that they might have joined as Kitchen mess help under the above Conscription numbers in 1939, while Idi Amin was a lanky Under age Youth.

They were all stationed on the American Navy Ship SS Yoma which was under the E.A.-Overseas American 44th Battalion, 27th Division USA under the coalition under the initial command of C O General Smith, who was later replaced upon his death by General Damilion. Whose 2IC was one Major Smith.

SS Yoma plied the following Sea Sector Route :

•Mombasa Port,
•Cape Town,
•Mombasa Port,
•Port Sudan,
•Suez Canal and back between the war years right upto the end of the war 1945.

Amonye {Idi Amin} Claims he was on board a ship which was also downed by a U-Boat and they were rescued by an American Destroyer whether it was the SS Yoma which was downed ,I will never know.

The rescue team had wanted to send them all the way to the USA ! in jest he used to fondly say:’All my seeds , all of you would have ended up being {Niggers} ah ha ha ha ha he he he’…. with his usual teary laugh, Alas Africans tend to differentiate between Indigenous Afrikans and the lost souls who ended up either in The Arabian Peninsular or The Americas as far a field as the Caribbean, Brazil, Cuba and The United States of America not realising there was no difference between Colonialism in the Third World Countries and the Plantations in the Americas.

By 1953, Ian Grahame is seconded to the 4th (Uganda) Battalion of the KAR (Jinja)—Amonye later changes the garrison’s name to Khadhafi Garrison— back in 1953 Ian Grahame commands number 14 platoon “E” Company.

N44428 was Amonye’s KAR Conscription Number: —He is in this E Company but in a different platoon. Amonye becomes an NCO with the rank of corporal and is directed to fight the Mau Mau. He is one of several NCOs who show outstanding qualities of leadership, bravery and resourcefulness. However, Amonye is renown for perfect eyesight.

He is able to spot the Mau Mau at a distant mountain or gallery with his naked eye according to Mitchell. Amonye is bestowed with lemi (luck, instinct) which carries him far from a West Nile community right up to the pinnacle of power and dominion. This is a much longer journey than any American President has ever traced for it is a journey, not only through distance, and shear determination but seemingly also through time, and as if through centuries.

Amonye attempted primary school while at Bombo only sporadically combining this with Garaya [Qur'an Studies]. He has joined the army with no educational qualifications whatsoever; it is fair to say that until 1958 (when he was about 30), he could be regarded as semi- literate. During the early period of the Mau Mau in Kenya, as a young NCO, with out standing qualities of leadership, bravery, and resourcefulness,Amonye was naturally considered for promotion. Indeed, Amonye’s mercurial rise during his military career from Private right through to Major General on the eve of his coup de tat is a testament to the Laa na da or “Stepping over the KAR rifle” ritual by my grandmother.

That curiously Yakanye-like ritual was indeed a blessing in disguise. Amonye’s stint started his military career in the Kings African Rifles in the mid 1940s aged probably seventeen and was stationed at the Jinja based B Company 4th Kings African Rifles Battalion KAR (KEYA). Although he claims to have been with the KAR since the age of eleven or twelve, most probably in the Kitchen mess.

Amonye’s former CO has some complimentary things to say about this simple Kakwa soldier who was once his own company Sergeant Major and actually one of the first two or three indigenous Africans to attain the rank of Lieutenant (Commissioned Officer) together with Shaban Oppolot and probably Okoya the third in the KAR, thus Amonye became the Second in Command to the CO, Major Ian Grahamme.

Major Ian Grahamme once wrote “There was one particularly painful training exercise that every company was forced to carry out once a year and that was a ninety mile route march. Throughout that long and painful night, one man was an example and inspiration to us all. As we finally passed the finishing post, Idi Amin Dada was marching beside me at the head of the column, head held high and still singing’ Tufunge Safari Tufunge Safari, Amri yah nani? Amri yah nani? Amri yah (Keya) KAR! {Let us complete the march) for all he was worth. Across one shoulder were two Bren-guns and over the other was a crippled askari! (Swahili for Soldier).

In 1953 (Fall)
Major A.E.D. Mitchell arrives in Uganda and sets off to fight the Mau Mau. Amonye once amazes Mitchell with his amazing Hawk (Eagle) eyes during the notorious Mau Mau campaign when he spots Mau Mau at great distance which required the use of binoculars to confirm the reconaissance Dad had just indicated to his CO. His marksmanship is highly valued by the KAR; he once brings down 5 fleeing Mau Mau from a distance of 500 yards! In the US, he would have been a Hot Shot. The Mau Mau High command demands his head to be placed on the Rooftop of Mount Kenya..

Mitchel’s view of Amonye was that he was “very quiet, well mannered, respectful and loyal.” Amin is “a good shot, in fact, a remarkable marksman on the range.” Although he wondered why the Kakwa in the KAR are convinced that nothing will happen to them, in open fights they invariably put the Mau Mau gangs to flight. They are so confident that when we drive about the reserves—at the same time are not supposed to go into the Aberdere mountain forests—they sat in lorries, their legs dangling over the side, holding their rifles at the ready, but actually half asleep. But not Idi he is always alert, and notices the slightest movement. He has extra-ordinary eyesight.”

1954,The 4th Battalion of the KAR moves to Jinja for the visit of the Queen, Elizabeth II, of the Commonwealth, who opens the Owen Falls Dam. The Queen presents the KAR with new colours and the KAR entertained her. Amonye and his men are everywhere with their starched uniforms.

  Idi Amin, one time darling boy of the British Empire. Bob Astles with President Idi Amin in 1978. He was advisor and factotumto Amin Photo: CAMERA PRESS

The KAR performs an excellent drill as that of a Guards Battalion in Britain. Colonel Nott, Commander of the Jinja Battalion, had obtained dark green forage caps— dark green for the 4th Uganda Battalions especially for the occasion of the Queen’s visit. Sir Andrew Cohen, the Colonial Governor in Uganda, is present for the occasion. Sir Edward Twinning, Governor of Tanganyika also attends, and is entrusted to take the colours to Jinja’s St. Andrew Church.

The “A Company” later goes back to Kenya. Amonye continued to show exemplary behaviour. Amonye served in all parts of the Battalion: mortar platoon, the transport company, and the signals. In 1954 he joins a special training school at Nakuru where he gains a certain degree of formal education, including a basic knowledge of English. On the grounds that he stands head to shoulders above all the other students in every aspect apart from education, an exception is made and Amonye was promoted to Sergeant.

1954Amonye’s physique is like that of a Grecian sculpture and no matter what form of athleticism he turns his hand, he excels and he conquered. He wins the 100 yards and 200 yards sprints against no main opposition; he is an anchor-man in the running tug-of-war team and he quickly puts on the canvas conquering all opposition in the heavy weight championships. He later goes on to win the national title at this event, and it is to be nine years before he finally hangs his gloves still undefeated!

Still, in 1954, a large proportion of the 4th KAR returns to Jinja along with one Sergeant Awoo Idi Amin Dada, the acknowledged Atlas of the battalion, and in 1955, Grahame returns to England. During his dominance as National Heavy Weight Boxing Champions, Amonye had one cardinal rule; much in the mould of Sonny Liston/Tyson: he loved to Knock Out (KO) opponents and in later years would advise the likes of the Beast Mugabi and his generation to aim for a Knockout if Africans were to beat what he termed the Rampant Cheating by Judges at International boxing meets. Amonye’s stay at Khadhafi Garrison, during his boxing career was memorable in every sense.
Lt Idi Amin. Circa 1961. Courtesy Jaffar Amin

Why Idi Amin Expelled The Asians

Agnes Asiimwe looks back at Uganda’s expulsion of its Asian community 40 years ago, under Idi Amin’s government. Brutal as the expulsion was, one beneficiary of the expropriated Asian properties, says: “I don’t think we shall get another Ugandan with Amin's kind of nationalism.”
Why Idi Amin Expelled The Asians
Idi Amin, the former president of Uganda, had a dream in August 1972. “I have dreamt,” he told a gathering in Karamoja, northeastern Uganda, “that unless I take action, our economy will be taken over. The people who are not Ugandans should leave.”
He left Karamoja by helicopter and stopped at the Tororo airstrip in eastern Uganda. He had sent word that he wanted to address the army. There, he announced the dream again to a hurriedly organised parade by the Rubongi military unit. Some Asians were thrown into a panic. Others thought Amin was bluffing.
P. K. Kuruvilla had just bought a building in Kimathi Avenue in downtown Kampala, the capital. It was a home for his insurance company, United Assurance. He says: “We invested all the money into buying the building. We took a loan from the bank, I had a house in Kololo and I mortgaged it to raise money for the building.”
Then President Amin announced the expulsion. “I thought he was not serious,” says Kuruvilla. “I had put all my money plus a loan into the United Assurance property. We had confidence that we were going into a new era.”
Idi Amin hugging a lady

But Idi Amin meant every word. Ugandan-Asians had to leave in 90 days. Kuruvilla first sent off his family and lingered around just in case Amin changed his mind. But Amin’s “economic war” was real.
The Asians had to make arrangements and hand over their business interests to their nominees. The arrangement among most Asian families was that one would be a Ugandan, another Indian, another British. So the non-Ugandans transferred their businesses to the Ugandans.
The British High Commission became a camp. Many of those with Indian passports wanted to go to the UK. The three months’ deadline was fast approaching.
Meanwhile many Ugandans celebrated and lined the streets daily to chant, “Go home Bangladeshi! Go home Bangladeshi!”
Colonial Uganda had strongly favoured Asians. Many arrived with the British colonialists to do clerical work or semi-skilled manual labour in farming and construction. They had a salary, which became the capital to start businesses.
Aspiring Ugandan entrepreneurs on the other hand faced many odds. The British colonial government forbade Africans to gin and market cotton. In 1932 when the Uganda Cotton Society tried to obtain high prices by ginning and marketing its own cotton and “eliminate the Indian middleman,” it was not allowed.
                                              Deported Ugandan Asians
The banks – Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, and Standard Bank of South Africa – did not lend to many Africans. As such, the Africans could not participate in wholesale trade because the colonial government issued wholesale licenses only to traders with permanent buildings of stone or concrete. Very few African traders had such buildings. It was clear that the colonial wanted native Ugandans to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water.
By 1959, when a trade boycott of all foreign-owned stores was pronounced by Augustine Kamya of the Uganda National Movement, Africans handled less than 10% of national trade. Ambassador Paul Etiang served as Amin’s minister for five years. He was the permanent secretary at the ministry of foreign affairs in 1972. In an interview with New African, he explained that the expulsion came about partly because of the racial segregation inherited from Uganda’s past.

British apartheid
Up till independence in 1962, there was an unwritten but trusted social order in the colonial administration where Europeans were regarded as first class, Asians as second class, and Africans as third class.
For example, in trains there was a first class coach for Europeans and a few Asians, and there were coaches for Asians, and coaches for Africans. Apartheid did not start in South Africa or the US; it started with the “mother country”, Great Britain.
The same order prevailed with other facilities such as toilets. The segregation was not supported by law but it was observed in practice. Africans were not expected to go to the Imperial Hotel (The Grand Imperial Hotel in downtown Kampala). There was a sign outside the hotel that stayed there until 1952. It read: “Africans and dogs not allowed”. The waiters were Asians.
“Come independence in 1962,” Ambassador Etiang explains, “one significant provision in the independence constitution was an article which stated that those people who were not Ugandans as at Uganda’s independence on 9 October 1962, had two years to make up their minds, whether to become citizens of the new Uganda or adopt the status of British-protected persons, in which case the latter would have a British passport.”
Many Asians at the time applied for British citizenship but because business was good in Uganda with no competition from the locals, many did not leave.
In 1969, Britain tabled a revised version of its Immigration Act, the Patriot’s Act. Commonwealth passport holders would need a visa to enter Britain. Britain was compelled to pass that Act as a condition for its entry into the European Economic Commission (EEC). Now, it was only citizens of member states of the EEC that had the right to travel to Britain without a visa.
“Commonwealth members reacted to it very strongly,” Ambassador Etiang recalls. “This is what brought about the immigration discussion in Uganda.”
The Ugandan government, then under President Milton Obote, started asking: “How do we deal with all these Asians? If Britain was making rules barring us from opportunities in Britain, then we also have the right to have our own rules to regulate those who are coming here.”
That was when Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania realised that they needed their own Immigration Acts, and the first Immigration Acts were subsequent passed that year in reaction to the British Patriot’s Act. By 1971, the issue of Asians being Ugandans or not, remained unaddressed beyond the provision in the 1962 Constitution. “But this is what I believe triggered the expulsion under Amin,” says Ambassador Etiang.
The spark
The head of the Religious Services at the time, Col Khamis Safi, was from the Nubian tribe and a Muslim like Amin. Safi was the son of a man believed to have walked to Mecca, on pilgrimage, in 1917. It is a popular Nubian story. Because he survived the treacherous journey by land, he was deemed to have been a holy man. And because he was holy even his children must be holy. Khamis Safi was therefore an obvious choice to be head of Religious Services.
“By 1972,” Ambassador Etiang recalls, “Khamis Safi was usually the last person to visit Amin every day at State House.  On 4 July 1972, I happened to be among the last three to leave. There was Khamis Safi and Mustafa Ramathan, who was the minister for cooperatives. We were having a light chat when Amin came in.
“Khamis posed a question to Amin: ‘Afande, have you ever asked yourself why God made you a president?’ Amin replied by asking Khamis: ‘What do you mean?’
“‘God appointed you president,’ Khamis repeated. ‘There are many injustices in this country. Each tribe has a place they call home. Even Etiang here, the Itesots have a place. But have you ever asked yourself, where do the Nubians come from? As far as I know God made you president to rectify the wrongs that have been handed to Nubians in this country. We are the ones who brought Captain Baker here, we are the ones who founded Kampala. Kampala is Nubian territory.’
“Amin was listening. You should have been there when this supposedly holy man was talking to Amin, he would be docile,” said Etiang.
Amin said, maybe it is true. But Mustafa Ramathan challenged the argument that Kampala was Nubian territory.
But Khamis insisted that Nubians too needed a place. “We brought the Muzungu (white man) here on our backs. He set up camp at Old Kampala. This place is ours.” 
Amin said, “OK, we’ll think about it.”
Three weeks later, Amin left for Karamoja by helicopter. There, he revealed that he had had a dream that what Khamis had said was true. That God had revealed to him that unless he obeyed the advice of the holy son, Uganda risked being taken over by the imperialists.
“I believe that was the origin of the expulsion,” Ambassador Etiang says. “Once you told Amin something and he liked it, he would keep it to himself and then later put it in his own way like it was his idea.”
When Amin told the cabinet about the expulsion, it was greeted with scepticism. The civil service received the implementation orders as a cabinet directive. The attorney general was directed to draft an expulsion order. Amin was later told he could not expel all the Asians because some were Ugandans.
“I met Khamis at State House again,” Ambassador Etiang remembers. “He told Amin in Kiswahili that what you have done is very good but if you want to remove this tree from here, you don’t just cut off the branches. The idea of only non-citizens leaving is like a branch. Remove the whole tree. An Indian is an Indian. He can have three passports at a time. All of them could be with two or more passports. Amin said okay.
“The Asians who suffered a lot are those who professed to be Ugandan because while the other ones had three months’ notice, the Ugandan-Asians had less than a month to leave.”
They had to abandon the property given to them by their departing relatives and friends. Says Etiang: “This man Khamis Safi is the single individual who brought all this up.”
The British foreign secretary at the time, James Callaghan, came to plead for the Asians, but Amin refused to change his mind. The harsh impact was felt by the native Africans. The Asians were importers, and most of the imported goods they had imported got stuck in Mombasa, the Kenyan seaport. Nobody claimed the goods and Kenyans got them for peanuts.
Uganda was hit by an acute shortage of essential goods. What saved the country was that coffee had the highest value ever at the time. One wagon of coffee was $1.8m.
“I remember 22 August 1977,” recalls Etiang, “that time we were acutely short of paraffin. Iraq gave us paraffin – from one Muslim brother to another – but Kenyans refused to allow it to transit. ‘This is very bad indeed,’ said Amin. Then he told me: ‘Go to your boss and see if he can allow it to transit through Dar es Salaam [Tanzania]’.”
Etiang, now the foreign minister, went to see President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania who agreed that the paraffin should transit through Mutukula – all two million litres. Amin’s government distributed the Asian businesses to Ugandans. Many of them collapsed in no time. One lucky recipient was the former Kampala City mayor, Hajj Nasser Ntege Ssebagala, who believes that Ugandans failed to run the shops because of lack of experience. Some sold the shirts by collar size where size seven would be sold at seven shillings.
“The point was to get Africans to start doing business,” says Ssebagala. “Out of the many failures, there were a handful of success stories. That’s how a middle class is created. Amin wanted people to get used to money, to learn to run a business. The idea was to give a chance to Africans to come up,”
Ssebagala says Amin demonstrated that he cared about Ugandans. “I don’t think we shall get another Ugandan with the kind of nationalism like Amin’s,” Ssebagala says, without blinking an eyelid.
In 1973, Amin’s government issued the Properties and Businesses (Acquisition) Decree. Under it, Asian properties were expropriated by the government and sold.
Amin agreed to pay the Asians who lost their property, and indeed set up a fund at the central bank, the Bank of Uganda.
The Asians who left for Canada and England were paid through the Uganda High Commission for the value of their properties and 30% as disturbance allowance.  However, in 1983, under a new president, Milton Obote, the Expropriated Properties Act was instituted to provide for the transfer of expropriated properties to their former owners. Then long after President Yoweri Museveni had taken power (he came into office in January 1986 after chasing out Obote’s second government), he returned the properties to their original Asian owners.
“That’s how some Asians came back and repossessed their properties, for which they had already been compensated,” explains Ssebagala. 
LR Gen Mustafa Adrisi, Feild Marshal Idi Amin Dada, Abdul-Nasser Mwanga Amin, Lt.Colonel Isaac Maliyamungu and Moses Kenyi Amin, 1975 OAU Summit Kampala.
Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda and self-styled "Conqueror of the British Empire" who died on Friday aged around 78, was one of the most reviled individuals in recent history.
Six foot four and, at his peak, 20 stone, the former heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda appeared to relish his monstrous reputation. Subject to "visitations from God", and reputedly boasting a collection of human heads extensive enough to require its own deep-freeze, Amin was popularly considered to be deranged.
This impression was reinforced by claims from one of his surviving physicians that he had at various times administered treatment for hypomania, schizophrenia, tertiary syphilis and general paralysis of the insane.
                 Idi Amin and his wife, Sarah
Amin, however, survived too long, exhibiting too shrewd an instinct for manipulation and too ruthless a capacity for cruelty to be dismissed as a mere madman.
Throughout his disastrous reign, he encouraged the West to cultivate a dangerous ambivalence towards him. His genial grin, penchant for grandiose self-publicity and ludicrous public statements on international affairs led to his adoption as a comic figure. He was easily parodied, and was granted his own fictional weekly commentary in Punch.
  Amin was also a national light heavyweight boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, besides being an excellent rugby player and swimmer. 
However, this fascination, verging on affection, for the grotesqueness of the individual occluded the singular plight of his nation. As many as half a million Ugandans died under his regime, in well-documented ways ranging from mass executions to enforced self-cannibalism.
In one of the most ugly incidents in post-war history, the majority of Uganda's Asian population was expelled. Uganda, the "Pearl of Africa", a "fairytale world" in the eyes of the young Winston Churchill, was pillaged and bankrupted. Amin's famous summation of his attitude towards opponents - "I ate them before they ate me" - was later given an unholy twist.
His exiled Health Minister, Henry Kyemba, confessed that "on several occasions he told me quite proudly that he had eaten the organs or flesh of his human victims".
Once, as a Lance-Corporal in the King's African Rifles, he had embodied the British notion of the reliable native, fulfilling his superiors' prejudiced expectations. "Not much grey matter, but a splendid chap to have about," said one British officer. His willingness to obey without question, his ability at sport and his spotless boots brought him promotion.
As dictator, the stereotype mercilessly mocked its former masters. Although he inspired laughter in the West, the joke was a savage one, and it was not at Amin's expense, but at the expense of those who laughed.
Idi Amin Dada Oumee was born around 1925 at Koboko, in the impoverished north-western part of Uganda, into a poor farming family of the small Kakwa tribe. A large child with a reputation as a playground bully, Amin received little formal education and, attracted by the mystique and power of the British military, joined the KAR aged 18.
He was attached first to the 11th East Africa Division, in which he fought as a rifleman in Burma during the closing days of the Second World War, and then to the 4th Uganda Battalion, in which he was dispatched to quell tribal marauders in northern Uganda. Subsequently, he was involved in operations against the Mau Mau in Kenya.
Amin was a sergeant-major by 1957, which represented solid progress within a regiment where intelligence was not necessarily considered a virtue. He was popular with his English officers, who appreciated his skill on the rugby field, unquestioning obedience and touching devotion to all things British.
Furthermore, he made them laugh. Once, persuaded by his commanding officer to open a bank account in which he deposited £10, he had within a few hours written nearly £2,000 worth of cheques, a prophetic indication of his future skill with figures.
In 1959, faced with the problem of finding potential officers among the African troops, the British Army established the rank of "effendi" for non-commissioned African officers who were potential officer material. Amin was one of the first.
Despite failing to complete courses of training in both England and Israel, he was a major by 1963, and by 1964 a colonel and deputy-commander of Uganda's Army and Air Force.
Amin's rise was greatly assisted by the patronage of Dr Milton Obote, a leader in the struggle for independence who became Prime Minister in 1962. Obote had consolidated his position by forming an allegiance with the royalist party of the Baganda tribe, the largest and most influential of Uganda's many, semi-autonomous, tribal kingdoms.
The Baganda King, Sir Edward William Walugembe Luwangula Mutesa III, otherwise known as King Freddie, was made President of Uganda.
But the various strands of Uganda's constitution were soon in conflict, following allegations that Obote and Amin had misappropriated large sums intended to support Congelese rebels. The National Assembly demanded Amin's resignation, and Obote, facing a Parliamentary defeat, used force to suppress the opposition.
Instead of dismissal, Amin was rewarded for his steely support by being given full command of the army and air force.
In 1966, Obote sought to secure his authority by abolishing the old tribal kingdoms. The Baganda rebelled, and Amin again proved his loyalty by personally assaulting King Freddie's Palace with a heavy gun mounted on his own jeep. The uprising was brutally curtailed, and King Freddie fled to England, where he died three years later.
In an atmosphere of growing corruption and discontent, Obote came increasingly to rely on Amin's forthright attitude towards political problem solving. Inevitably, Obote grew suspicious of Amin's ambitions.
Having supped with the devil until 1970, Obote decided the spoon was not long enough. He sent Amin to Nasser's funeral in Egypt and whilst he was out of the country, purged the army leadership in order to re-establish his personal control.
On his return, Amin realised that his power and life were threatened, and was compelled to show his hand. On January 25 1971, when Obote was absent attending a Commonwealth conference, key units of the army and police loyal to Amin staged a traditional coup, with Amin presiding over affairs from his imposing and heavily fortified residence on Prince Charles Drive, overlooking Kampala.
In the aftermath, Amin declared himself a populist devoid of personal ambition. He would provide free and fair elections and then return the army to barracks. He took to the streets and countryside, stopping looting and dispensing personal cheques to the people, propagating an eccentric but paternal public image.
The corrupt Obote regime had been particularly unpopular among the larger tribes he had discriminated against, and crowds chanting their approval of Amin thronged Kampala.
Obote's political prisoners were freed, and the body of King Freddie returned for burial. One British observer wrote: "I have never encountered a more benevolent and apparently popular leader than General Amin."
Upon reflection, however, Amin added that it would be at least five years before the population were ready for free elections. In the meantime, a military government would be necessary. He promptly abolished Parliament and announced he would rule by decree.
The fall of Obote was greeted with delight by many outside Uganda. The country had a huge budget deficit, and the interminable tribal disputes were a constant threat to stability.
Britain recognised Amin's government, though several African nations, including neighbouring Tanzania, were openly critical or hostile. Many international commentators were prepared to give Amin the benefit of the doubt.
The New York Times commented on his "gentle political deftness" and talked sympathetically of the problems now facing him. In short, he was taken seriously.
Whilst the West believed that Amin's priority would be to tackle Uganda's sinking economy, he devoted his energies exclusively to consolidating his grasp on power. His first objective was to ensure loyalty within the army.

 Kampela, Uganda: Field-Marshal Idi Amin Dada seated at the opening of OAU Foreign Ministers meeting.  07-07-1975.
In secrecy, large-scale purges began. The initial targets were members of the Acholi and Langi tribes, from which Obote and other potential rivals sprang. Killer squads and a range of security departments with names of a chilling ambiguity sprang up: "The Public Safety Unit"; "The State Research Bureau".
When in doubt of whom to arrest, Amin's supporters simply picked up those whose names began with "O", a common feature of Acholi and Langi surnames. Thousands were massacred.
There were stories of soldiers being herded into rooms into which hand-grenades were hurled, of senior officers locked in cells and bayoneted at leisure, of a whole officer corps at Mbarara and Jinja barracks being summoned to parade and then being crushed by tanks.
In the prison cells of Mackindye, Naguru and Nakasero, prisoners were compelled to kill each other with 16 lb sledgehammers in the vain hope that they would be spared. Then the hammers were given to other prisoners, who were told the same, and so on, ad infinitum.
Nor was the killing restricted to the military. By early 1972, some 5,000 Acholi and Langi soldiers, and at least twice that number of civilians had disappeared. Two American journalists, Nicholas Stroh and Robert Siedle, vanished while attempting to investigate reports of massacres.
The rivers, lakes and forest around Kampala overflowed with human debris. From time to time the Owen Falls hydro-electric Dam on Lake Victoria became clogged with bodies, precipitating power-cuts in Kampala. The killing, for tribal, political and financial reasons, continued unabated throughout Amin's reign.
                                                 Idi Amin in Saudi Arabia where seek asylum
Amin launched himself upon the international circuit with the charming naivety of a debutante. In Britain, he was received by Edward Heath and the Queen. He made a visit to Scotland which had a lasting impression on him. Some years later, he was to declare that he would be happy to accept the Scots' secret wish to have him as a monarch.
One of his long-standing projects became the creation of a personal bodyguard of 6 ft 4 in Scotsmen all able to play the bagpipes. He also made a request that he be provided with Harrier Jets to bomb South Africa, Tanzania and the Sudan, all of which he perceived to be on the verge of invading Uganda. Relations with the mother country rapidly disintegrated.
Israel, where Amin had once received training, was delighted to find an approachable Muslim leader of an African nation, and Uganda was strategically of interest. They provided several hundred technicians, military instructors and engineers. Amin, however, doggedly pursued his demands for aircraft to bomb Tanzania.
When the hardware was not forthcoming, he switched allegiance to Libya, which offered extensive economic and military aid. Colonel Gaddafi was apparently under the mistaken impression, encouraged by Amin, that Uganda was a wholly Muslim nation, when only around a fifth were actually followers of Islam.
In return, Amin expelled the Israeli workers, and after terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, he sent an extraordinary telegram to Golda Meir, the Israeli Prime Minister.
"Germany is the right place," it read, "where when Hitler was Prime Minister and Supreme Commander, he burnt over six million Jews. This is because Hitler and all the German people know that the Israelis are not people working in the interest of the people of the world."
It was just one of an increasingly erratic and shocking series of telegrams and public statements issuing from Kampala. Sometimes Amin gave world leaders advice on their personal and political problems, sometimes he simply taunted them. Britain was naturally the favourite butt of his individual humour.
Among the more reasonable jibes was telling Ted Heath that Britain's economic crisis was a disgrace to the rest of the Commonwealth. He started the "Save Britain Fund", offering to send cargoes of vegetables to relieve suffering, and that he would organise a whip-round of Uganda's friends, "if you will let me know the exact position of the mess".
In 1975, he had himself inaugurated as President-for Life, and was borne aloft by 14 indigent whites, to symbolise the "white man's burden". He revelled in the acute embarrassment he caused.
President Julius Nyrere of Tanzania, whom Amin constantly provoked to the brink of conflict, was another unlucky object of Amin's attentions. "I love you very much," Amin wrote to him. "And if you were a woman, I would consider marrying you."
Later, when a Tanzanian invasion brought him down, he urged Nyrere to settle the matter with a boxing match, to be refereed by Mohammed Ali.
Economically, Amin's shameless incompetence was soon evident. He had no policies, bar extortion. Whilst he raised military spending by about 500 pc, inflation rose to 700 pc, fuelled by Amin's demand that, if the nation was poor, more money be printed.
The cabinet was subject to violent fluctuations in its size, presaged by radio announcements publicising the latest unfortunate motor accident to involve a civil servant. Such frantic activity led to the occasional hiccup.
One former Amin employee, Frank Kalimazo, was attending his daughter's wedding when he was informed that his demise had been announced on the radio. He was part of an administrative backlog.
On another occasion, Amin telephoned the wife of Robert Astles, an English emigre who became infamous for his intimacy with the dictator, to offer his regret for the accidental death of her husband and to tell her that she could collect the body from the city morgue. In fact, Astles had evaded the intended assassination.
It was one of four occasions when, bored of his company, Amin ordered his death. Years later, having finally returned alive to Wimbledon, Astles, himself a most unpleasant individual, said survival under Amin largely involved staying out of sight until he was in a better mood.
The country's predicament was not assisted by Amin's revelation that he was taking his economic advice from God, who appeared to Amin on August 5 1972, and ordered him to expel the Asians.
There were some 80,000 Asians in Uganda, who were responsible for up to 90 per cent of commerce and 50 per cent of industry. Some 55,000 of them had maintained their British citizenship, and it was on these that Amin turned, charging that they were "sabotaging the economy of the country, and do not have the welfare of Uganda at heart".
Initially he ordered the expulsion of the other 25,000 Asians who had Ugandan citizenship, but later relented. The Asians were told they could take their possessions but were habitually stripped of everything, even their bedding. Most were admitted to Britain, though limited numbers went to Canada and the United States.
Irrational though it seemed, Amin's move was in fact a calculated piece of populism, channelling the stored-up resentment of Ugandans at a time when his position was precarious.
Furthermore, it made available some £570 million-worth of property, most of central Kampala, in addition to innumerable businesses, which could be dispensed to cronies whose loyalty had been vanishing as the money dried up.
In spite of periodic attempts at insurgency from pro-Obote rebels and the increasingly dire predicament of the economy, Amin survived, shored up by what the New York Times Magazine described as a "State sinister that would startle fiction writers", allied to generous Libyan support.
African nations were reluctant to intervene openly and precipitate a bloody internecine conflict. Indeed, in early days, some perceived in Amin a public champion against the former colonial powers, a constant irritant who was at least noticed. He was for a time President of the Organisation of African States.
By the late 1970s Amin had outlived his novelty value. The event he intended as the re-launching of his international career ended in humiliation. In 1977, an Air France flight carrying 300 passengers from Tel Aviv to Paris was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.
Amin colluded with the PLO and allowed the aircraft to land at Entebbe, from where the hijackers demanded the release of 53 imprisoned terrorists.
All non-Jewish passengers were released, and the remaining hostages taken to the airport terminal, where Amin mingled benignly with them whilst Ugandan troops stood guard.
Dora Bloch, an elderly woman of joint British and Israeli nationality, fell ill and had to be taken to hospital. While she was away, Israeli commandos landed at the airport, routed Amin's troops, destroyed a flight of MiG aircraft, and flew out again one hour and 16 minutes later, taking all the hostages, with the exception of Dora Bloch. All seven hijackers were killed.
Amin was furious. Dora Bloch's body turned up on waste ground outside Kampala. It became a capital offence to joke about the affair. Amin was particularly upset about the destruction of the aircraft, and dispatched a telegram to Israel threatening an immediate attack unless compensation was paid, as well as expenses he had incurred "entertaining" the hostages.
In October 1978, Amin finally sent an invading force of 3,000 troops into Tanzania. They raped and massacred their way through the border countryside. Amin promptly announced he had conquered his neighbour.
However, by the spring of 1979, the retaliating Tanzanian forces were in Kampala, Obote was back in power and Amin found himself hiding in Libya.
Amin remained there until it was rumoured that even Gaddafi could stomach him no longer. From Libya he went to Saudi Arabia, which became his principal home. He was often to be seen in Safeway or Pizza Hut in Jeddah.
Periodically, he made attempts to return to Africa, once turning up in Zaire under a false name. He was sighted briefly in various African states, all of which spat him out.
      Idi Amin and his first ladies
Twice he applied for an American visa, first to visit Disneyland, and subsequently to enable him to pursue a new career as a professional 10-pin bowler. He was refused on both occasions.
After a coup in 1985 by Major-General Tito Okello removed Obote from power, Amin amused himself by telephoning journalists with the glad news that he was on his way back to Kampala. It was not to be.
At various times the Ugandan authorities considered extraditing him to face charges of murder, but their efforts were half-hearted. Robert Astle's telephone in Wimbledon became Amin's favoured means of communication until, incensed by the size of his telephone bill, the Saudi Arabians finally removed his international dialling facility.

Amin was married at least five times, and acknowledged at least 43 children. His second wife, Kay, died during a failed abortion she undertook to conceal an illicit affair. Amin reputedly ordered her body to be dismembered and re-assembled with the limbs reversed as a warning to his other wives.
His fifth wife, Sarah, was a member of the Ugandan Army's so-called "suicide" squad. Amin is said to have ordered the murder of her fiance Jesse Gitta. His head was one of a number that Amin's former housekeeper recounted seeing stored the refrigerator of his "Botanical Room".
Sarah went into exile with Amin, but he later banished her. In 1987, living penniless in a council flat in Germany, she publicly sought a divorce.
Amin fell into a coma on July 18, and although he was said to have emerged from it on July 23, he never recovered.

Mad Ugandan dictator's son reveals all about his 'Big Daddy'

Last updated at 21:02 13 January 2007

Top: 'Big daddy' dictator, Idi Amin. Below: His son, Jaffar.
The terrified prisoner screams as the large metal hooks are pushed through his chest by Idi Amin's merciless henchmen.
The hooks are attached to ropes which are slung over a roof-girder, allowing the bleeding victim to be hoisted off the ground, suspended only by his own skin.
Almost unconscious with agony, he is left hanging there, apparently to die.
It is one of the more gruesome scenes from The Last King Of Scotland, the acclaimed new film about the Ugandan dictator, and it underlines his barbaric image.
Amin died in August 2003, aged 78. He was buried in Saudi Arabia where he had spent the last 24 years of his life in exile, disgrace and silence.
He was viewed in the West as a murderous buffoon, a jovial psychopath. In eight bloody years, from 1971 to 1978, his brutal regime has been blamed for the deaths of up to 500,000 people in mass executions and tribal purges.
Some political prisoners were forced to kill each other with sledgehammers.
His extraordinary physical presence was legendary, as were his unnatural appetites.
Rumours of cannibalism swirled around the despot and it was claimed he kept the heads of his most powerful enemies in his fridge.
Amin's bloodlust was matched only by his craving for women. He fathered about 60 children - the exact number is unknown - none of whom has ever spoken publicly. Until now.
Idi Amin styled himself 'His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular'.
But to Jaffar Amin, the 6ft 4in dictator was known simply as 'Big Daddy'.
The 40-year-old English-educated son of the dictator has given The Mail on Sunday the first interview ever granted by a close family member.
In doing so he breaks the vow of silence sworn by the Amin clan since they fled Uganda in 1979. Jaffar and some of his siblings were finally allowed to return a decade later.
'This decision has been very difficult for me because my brothers and sisters did not want me to talk publicly about our father', he says from his modest bungalow in the suburbs of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
'When we left Uganda we fell from the highest of the high, from a position of extravagance and power, to the lowest of the low and it has been very difficult. My family want to keep a low profile but I feel it is time to speak.
'People can call my father a tyrant or a despot but I want to show the human face of absolute power.
'To show that my father was a human being and that, to me, he was and always will be a good father.'
                                            Idi Amin and his family

Jaffar Amin was born in 1966. That same year Milton Obote, Uganda's first prime minister after the country won independence from Britain, promoted Idi Amin to army chief of staff.
'My mother Marguerite was the sister of my father's first wife, Sarah', says Jaffar.
'She was the wet nurse to Sarah's children, so that's how they met. Although my father did not separate from Sarah then, the relationship between my father and my mother wreaked havoc, even though it was an informal relationship, and after my birth they separated.'
At the age of three Jaffar was farmed out to Idi's mother, Aisha. 'She was a very commanding figure,' says Jaffar. 'She called my father 'Awongo' meaning 'the one who cries a lot' because he did as a child. My father loved her completely. He was in awe of her, she was everything to him.'
President of Uganda Idi Amin Dada poses with his new bride Lady Sarah Kyolaba after their wedding in August 1975. Jaffar Amin

The move to live with his grandmother began a childhood odyssey that would see Jaffar eventually meet dozens of his father's offspring by six marriages and countless mistresses.
'We Africans are polygamous by nature. We accept children from inside and outside matrimony.
'Marriage is not important because in Africa we have a 'Bride Prize' where the parents of a woman who has become pregnant out of wedlock approach the family of the father and ask for compensation, maybe a cow. My father paid a lot of bride prizes in his life.'
When Jaffar's grandmother died in 1969, he was left in the care of a number of his father's close military allies.
The future president's children were housed in boarding schools in a series of army barracks that would become the scenes of dramatic military attacks - often witnessed by the young Amins.
'One of the schools was close to an armoury, which was the site of a confrontation between troops loyal to my father and the opposition,' Jaffar recalls.
'Everyone was in the dormitory under big metal beds with gunfire raging outside. It was unbelievable for a small kid.
'Our guardian eventually came in and told us everything was fine. The people trying to attack had been forced back.
'We were transferred to another barracks. I suppose you could say our father had put us in danger, but he always had key people to look after his affairs. He made sure we had guardian angels.'
Jaffar did not meet Idi face-to-face until 1970, when he was four and his father 45. As with most things in Amin's life, the encounter was bizarre and unsettling.
The bewildered boy was ushered into a stately dining room where, at the end of a large ornate table bedecked with finest British silver cutlery, sat a huge bear of a man wearing a multi-coloured African shirt and American khaki trousers. He did not raise his sweat-soaked face from his huge plate of steaming chicken.
'Go on then, taste it,' he commanded the boy in a booming baritone, gesturing to his plate. Jaffar hesitantly raised a forkful to his lips and ate it.
Within seconds he was clutching at his throat and gasping for breath: the dish was smothered in searingly hot chilli sauce.
His tears of shock and pain were mirrored by those streaming down his father's face: tears of mirth. Idi was convulsed with laughter. He had, Jaffar admits, an 'unusual' sense of humour.
Within a year of this meeting Amin had seized power from Obote in a coup and begun his brutal reign.

By then Jaffar was being brought up on Nakasero Lodge, another official residence, by his father's second wife, Kay.
'In Africa it is normal to have this extended network of family and friends who you can send your children to,' says Jaffar.
'That was when family life really started for me. My father used to love being massaged by his kids so one of us would take each leg and arm and another would be on his back.
'He was a playful and mischievous man and he was always Big Daddy to us.
'He loved jesting. One of his favourite jokes was to run at people with a spear. They would be shocked to see this huge figure hurtling at them. Then he would throw the spear so it landed at their feet.
'I hated it when people called him a buffoon. I thought of him as like Mohammad Ali he had that same sense of mischief. He was also a great fan of cartoons; he enjoyed slapstick. Tom and Jerry was his favourite.'
Idi Amin at the pool side

Amin was particular about his clothes, Jaffar reveals. 'He had a butler to deal exclusively with his wardrobe. He had to have cravats, was obsessed by them.
'I have no idea of the difference between Louis Vuitton, Hermes or Dior, but he could tell at a glance.
'He had Church,s shoes flown in from Britain. He loved anything British, if it was well made.'
This passion extended to his car collection which included Land Rovers, Range Rovers and Rolls-Royces.
But it was not exclusively British. A Mercedes 300 coupe, a gift from Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, was a particular favourite.
Another plaything was an amphibious car. 'He would take his wives or girlfriends out in it and head towards a lake,' says Jaffar.
'The girls would start screaming as they thought they were going to drown, but the car just floated. This tickled my father.'
Jaffar was sent to the elite missionary schools to which his father had once been denied access.
Dictator Idi Amin Dada bathes at the Hilton Hotel's swimming pool between two OAU session

Idi had been born in about 1925 into a marginal ethnic tribe, the Kakwa, on the Sudan border.
Because they were not considered Ugandan, the young Idi was denied formal education and Jaffar believes that resentment later fuelled many of his father's actions.
'He felt Uganda's elitist system denied an equal chance for so many poor children,' he says. 'He would eventually dismantle that social set and put it back together again in the way he wanted.'
In 1937, Idi spent time working cutting sugar cane, an unpleasant and difficult job. 'The people who worked there were effectively indentured labour and the people who owned the fields were Asians.
'They did not treat the indigenous Africans well,' says Jaffar. 'This is why my father eventually expelled Asians who refused to take up Ugandan nationality.
'He thought, "I've had enough of this". He threw out more than 80,000.'
By 1975, Jaffar, now nine, was enjoying the perks of being the President's son.
'That year my father took us to Angola,' he says. 'It was a really nice day trip. My father was friends with a CIA agent who had new equipment from the US, including planes for our trips.
'We had a shooting range at one of our houses and all us children were taught how to shoot, and how to strip an AK-47.
'My father liked us to compete against each other to see who could dismantle the weapon quickest. My record was nine seconds.
'Dad was a great swimmer and he would tell us, "Whoever can hold his breath underwater for two minutes wins 100 shillings". He said it would help us be good marksmen.
'Basketball was another sport he loved. He would watch films of the Harlem Globetrotters and then organise games with his troops but, although basketball is a non-contact sport, whenever my dad played it ended up being more like a wrestling contest. Things got pretty rough.'
Amin's resentment of the West stemmed from his unrequited love for Britain. He had served in the King's African Rifles, a British colonial regiment, attaining the highest possible rank for a black African, effendi.
'My father was a real Anglophile,' says Jaffar. 'He had a love-hate relationship with Britain. He wanted to be a loyal servant, despite his mannerisms.
'Don't forget that he took power with the help of the British. I am an example of what he wanted, because he dumped me in England for my education when we went into exile.
'When he felt rejected by the British Government he focused on Scotland. A lot of the colonial and Army officers early in my father's career were Scottish.
'They were the backbone of the British Empire. My father even offered to help them win secession from the UK.'
As Uganda staggered from one bout of bloodletting to another, Amin would take his children out to the provinces in his Mercedes cars.
Jaffar remembers his young brothers Moses and Mwanga being dressed in mini military uniforms on these trips, as he donned a safari suit.
'My father was very shrewd. He would take with him his children from local mothers to show his loyalty to the area. He would say, 'This is your child.'
But Amin's regime was becoming increasingly paranoid, with Christian ethnic groups being purged from the army in favour of those largely Muslim tribal groups who shared Amin's own background.
                                            Children of Idi Amin

Even Jaffar was beginning to see the writing on the wall.
'My father sent the people from his own tribe for specialist training abroad, but they would come back from Russia or the United States thinking they were better educated than my father and start getting ideas that they wanted to rule.
'The superpowers started creating tensions between his trusted lieutenants.
'My father stamped down on these coups because he had a very good intelligence service that had been set up by the US and USSR, and before that by the Israelis and the British.'
But the conflict was taking its toll and in 1978 Amin ordered the invasion of neighbouring Tanzania while trying to quell a mutiny.
The decision would cost him his crown. 'I was in the room when he took the call,' Jaffar recalls.
'He picked up the phone then slammed it down. He looked at me and said, 'They have attacked me again. The Tanzanians. It is a big force this time.'

The Tanzanians, helped by Ugandan rebels, eventually toppled Amin in April 1979.
As the end approached, Amin became increasingly mistrustful of his commanders.
'A long convoy of fancy cars brought the high command up to a resort in Kampala for a meeting with my father,' says Jaffar.
'He took us up there with him and it was a very tense time. I realised something was wrong because there were hordes of soldiers around whom I did not recognise.
'They were trying to convince him to stand down. He said, 'How can you ask me to do this?'
Jaffar and his siblings were sent back to their missionary school outside Kampala, but the advancing Tanzanian forces cut them off.
His father eventually despatched a rescue mission.
'I was in my pyjamas when they came into the dormitory,' recalls Jaffar. 'I was not scared. I used to watch The Famous Five.
'It was an adventure. When we got into the truck I was amazed by the amount of military equipment in there.
                          General Mustafa Adrisa, Idi Amin`s number two man

'In the middle of the night we set off for the Rwandan border, but we broke down in the middle of this national park. We could hear the hyenas laughing in the pitch black.'
The following day the convoy made it back to Kampala. 'We could hear the artillery shells in the distance getting closer. It was amazing and there was a sense of disbelief.
'This huge convoy set out from Kampala to Entebbe airport. There I started to realise how many children my father had because he was having 80 seats installed in a plane for us all.
'He was talking to Gaddafi on the phone, telling him, "My children are coming". He wanted to stay on to make his last stand, even though he knew the war was lost.'
Instead, Amin fled to Libya where he spent the next 12 months. But he was restless. Jaffar says: ' We had come from absolute power to almost nothing. My father felt like the man who was once a corporate executive in New York but was now retired in Florida and had only the fishing to look forward to.
'Although Gaddafi was most generous, my father eventually felt betrayed by his socialist agenda and felt he could not trust him. Instead he began to talk about going to Saudi Arabia.'
In 1972 Amin took up a Saudi offer of refuge. The Saudis feared his dreadful reputation was damaging the image of Islam and hoped that if he was based in their country they could guarantee his silence.
                       General Idi Amin Dada. 1974

Jaffar went with his father and remembers the luxury well. 'There was marble everywhere in our 15-room house,' he says.
'My father was paid $30,000 a month by the Saudis. He had more than 30 of us kids with him and he would tell us, 'You have to liberate Uganda with the fedayeen [Islamic soldiers]. All his children were given commando training.'
When not plotting coups, Amin indulged his other great passion: shopping. 'He loved to shop,' says Jaffar. 'He would go down to Safeway - that was his favourite - and all the kids would grab a shopping trolley and pile them high with goods. The Lebanese security guards would stare at us in disbelief.'
Already a bear of a man, Amin allowed himself to become even fatter in exile. 'It became an issue because our family suffers from arthritis,' says Jaffar. 'It put a lot of strain on his ankles and knees.'
'My father was fond of pizza and loved meat but his favourite was Kentucky Fried Chicken. In Jeddah, he loved us to go as a family to fast-food restaurants.'
Amin also spent a lot of time playing the accordion. 'He played mainly Scottish military music as he was in a Highlanders band in the Fifties,' says Jaffar.
Exile afforded him the opportunity to take stock of his life, 'but I do not believe he would express remorse or regret,' says his son.
'He would put it this way, 'The people will appreciate what I was trying to do for the indigenous African. He was not defensive. He was simply saying, 'God will be my judge.'
'Absolute power destroyed his good intentions. He could make any decision because there was no one to advise him. That is where this nonsense about the Hitler of Africa stems from.
'Uganda was elitist, and the elite left under my father's rule because they did not feel safe. The peasants took over but were not trained enough to deal with the situation.'
Instead, the great and the good of Uganda were murdered with impunity - a fact that appears to escape Jaffar, who dismisses estimates that 500,000 people died under Amin's regime.
'These figures do not add up,' he claims. 'My father would say they were propaganda. No one has ever produced lists of all these people who are supposed to have died. Why?
'My father felt he was serving his people but the elite felt he was taking away their privilege and they fought back. It was not a picnic. They wanted him out and chose a guerrilla insurgency to do it.'
The Amins paid a heavy price, says Jaffar. 'Exile is hell. I have taken a culture on board that is more English than Ugandan. I cannot even speak my father's tongue.'
Jaffar's exile ended in 1990 when he returned to Uganda. Many of his siblings have chosen to live abroad, often shunning their father's name.
Now a father of five, Jaffar is editing a book of his father's thoughts in a bid to improve Idi's reputation.
He recently gave up his job as a logistics manager and is now using the rich baritone he inherited from his father to find work as a voice-over artist for advertisements.
During the Eighties, he lived in the UK, studying for O- and A-levels in London and Leicester. He says he was discreet about his identity while in Britain.
'I did not go out of my way to make it known who I was. I used to enjoy going to the cinema,' he says. 'I loved film. That's one of the reasons why I will be going to see The Last King Of Scotland.'
The film, which stars Oscar-tipped Forest Whitaker as Amin and James McAvoy as his Scottish adviser Nicholas Garrigan, opened in Britain last week.
Garrigan is loosely based on Robert Astles, Amin's British-born right-hand man whose privileged position did not prevent Amin ordering his death whenever he tired of his company.
Jaffar remembers Astles well. 'He was a watcher, a control freak,' he says. 'I don't believe my father ordered Astles's death. They were chums.
'Actually I think Astles was MI6, briefed to do whatever was necessary to protect British interests. However, in a way, I have a lot of respect for him. He stayed the course.
'But I wish the film-makers had stuck to the facts rather than fiction. Forest Whitaker should have talked to me about my father.
'Maybe then they could have made a documentary reflecting the facts rather than perpetuating the stereotypes.
'It is so easy to make my father a simple caricature but he was a complex man.'

Idi Amin’s son relives his father’s years at the helm

The Last Days. Thursday April 11 marked 34 years since Idi Amin was overthrown by a combined force of Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and Ugandan exiles. Over the years, we have heard the story of the victors and the epic battles that led to the toppling of the once feared Amin. But we have heard little from the vanquished. In a series of articles in the following weeks, one of Amin’s children, Jaffar Remo Amin, recounts the events that went on around his father as he desperately tried to stem the tide.
When Idi Amin was not confronting neighbouring countries and dealing with internal problems, he took time off to attend social functions. 
By Jaffar Amin
Beginning in April 1978, there was trouble for dad as there was infighting, cronyism, rivalry and opposition to 
his rule in Uganda. Dad also seemed to falter in his control of the armed forces as mounting “friction” occurred 
in the Uganda Army, leading to his ouster on April 11, 1979.
That same month, April 1978, dad had relieved a close associate Brig. Moses Ali of his post as Minister of 
Finance. My father accused Ali of nepotism and mismanagement in the distribution of newly acquired Honda Accord and Honda Civic cars.
The cars were officially supposed to sell for Shs30,000 but were reportedly selling to some individuals for as 
much as Shs120,000. However it was the purported loss of US$40 million meant for the construction of the Grand National Mosque at Old Kampala from the State coffers that immediately triggered the sack.
My father was also unhappy with Maj. Gen. Isaac Lumago, the Chief of the Armed Forces, as well as with Nasur 
Ezega, Commanding Officer of Masaka and Abiriga 99 of Masindi Artillery Regiment (both members of the Aringa 
tribe). He dismissed them from the armed forces.
In late April 1978, Mustafa Adrisi, then vice president who hailed from the Aringa-Kakwa clan of Gisara, was 
injured in a car accident. To some members from the Aringa tribe, this was the final plot by my father’s regime 
and people from the Kakwa tribe “to rid the Aringa tribe of all individuals in important and top positions in 
Seeking safety
Following the car accident, Mustafa Adrisi was taken to Cairo for treatment in the company of Haruna Abuna. He 
did not return to Uganda until December 1978, at the height of mounting border incidents between Uganda and 
Tanzania that escalated into the full blown war that led to dad’s ouster on April 11, 1979. They joined my elder 
brother Ali Juma Bashir who was undergoing extensive preservation of a shattered leg following a shooting
incident involving smugglers on Lake Victoria as he was part of dad’s elite Marines Anti-Smuggling Unit.
We were only able to meet our brother Ali Juma Bashir when we went to Tripoli, Libya after dad’s government had been overthrown. He joined us there upon his release from the hospital in Cairo. Relations between dad and Julius Nyerere had continued to deteriorate, despite dad’s attempt to extend a hand of peace to Nyerere at the 1973 OAU (Organisation of African Unity) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Between September 1972 and October 1978, tensions had continued between dad and Nyerere with the threat of war continuing to be imminent. Units of dad’s army were regularly placed on high alert in readiness for war and suspicion ran high.
Everyone in Uganda was always aware that as long as dad was the president, it was just a matter of time before a 
full-blown war erupted between Uganda and Tanzania. Beginning in 1978, tension between Uganda and Tanzania 
increased with rumours of an impending attack on Uganda by Tanzania running wild! This led members of dad’s high command to call for an immediate attack on Tanzania, which eventually happened in October 1978.
Before the attack, the Chui and Simba Battalions were rumoured to have mutinied over pay also in October 1978. 
At this time, dad made his biggest mistake and as it turns out, the final disastrous gamble by sanctioning the 
attack on Tanzania and occupying its territory although with hindsight, a close associate Juma Oka Rokoni, was at 
the centre of this most unfortunate of blunders.
Juma Rokoni – nicknamed Butabika – was the grandson of the former Kakwa paramount chief Sultan Ali Kenyi Dada who was a cousin to Idi Amin’s father. He is the same army officer who put a gun to dad’s head back in 1971 when dad became reluctant about taking over the presidency following the military coup against Apollo Milton Obote on January 25, 1971. According to reports, on October 27, 1978, sporadic border clashes and attacks ensued at the border town of Mutukula between the Uganda Army and the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces.
Then on October 31, 1978, the Uganda Army crossed into the Kagera Salient and attacked Tanzania. Juma Oka 
Butabika, one of dad’s officers, led the initial attack. He is reported to have phoned dad and claimed that 
Tanzanian troops had invaded Uganda, which forced him to take charge of Ugandan soldiers stationed at the border areas in order to repel the Tanzanian invaders. According to reports, dad fell for the information given by Juma Oka Butabika and sanctioned more attacks on Tanzania.
After the attacks by Butabika, dad went on air and declared “a world record” of 25 minutes in capturing some 700 
square miles of Tanzanian territory. He announced that his government had annexed the Kagera Salient.
More details have now emerged about the circumstances surrounding the war between Uganda and Tanzania. These include allegations that dad and his senior officers were given false and misleading reports by saboteurs and 
subversive elements operating within the State Research Bureau (SRB) in order to start a war between Uganda and 
Tanzania so that dad could be overthrown.
There are also allegations that others and not dad or his senior officers orchestrated vicious atrocities on 
innocent civilians in Tanzania following the attack by Butabika which was sanctioned by dad and made it look like 
dad and his senior officers sanctioned these atrocities. They allegedly did this so that Tanzania could be 
“pushed” to the limit and declare an all-out war on dad’s government to defend itself and its citizens and to
completely overthrow dad.
In essence, the people making the allegations suggest that dad, Butabika and dad’s other senior officers were 
duped into attacking Tanzania under false pretenses and on false information that was given deliberately so that 
they could attack Tanzania and start a war.
In addition, the same saboteurs and subversive elements allegedly went on to commit the most gruesome atrocities. Some cynics have boldly stated that: “The widespread looting, murder and destruction in the border towns of Tanzania that followed the clashes between Tanzanian and Ugandan soldiers and the attacks by Uganda on Tanzania were committed by the same saboteurs and subversive elements that operated within Uganda and murdered innocent Ugandans throughout Idi Amin’s rule.
They did this to continue to tarnish Idi Amin’s reputation and make him look like a maniacal murderer. They are 
cold hearted killers who were only interested in achieving their own agendas.”
Needless to say, the horrific atrocities committed against innocent Tanzanian civilians provoked Nyerere and his 
government to declare war on dad. These atrocities indeed pushed Tanzania to the limit and necessitated the 
country’s military to defend its innocent citizens against murders and other atrocities allegedly committed by 
others and not dad’s soldiers.
Moreover, powerful governments around the world had allegedly gone along with the propaganda that was ongoing against dad and fully supported Tanzania and the exiles in their bid to overthrow dad’s government. Well, in response to the “careless blunder” by Butabika, a force comprising Tanzanians, Ugandan exiles and 
mercenaries launched an attack on Mutukula.
They were determined to overthrow dad’s government and the Ugandan exiles were about to realize the objectives of the meeting they held in 1976 in Lusaka, Zambia to lay a more systematic strategy for overthrowing dad. Uganda and Tanzania were now entangled in an all-out war. The casualties would be many and the damage immeasurable!
Meanwhile, roughly 10,000-15,000 mainly young Uganda Army recruits passed out at Ngoma, northwest of Bombo and prepared to fight the guerrillas. Having recently obtained armaments from the Soviet Union, Tanzania was more than prepared for the war against dad and angry and determined enough to want to not only drive the so-called invaders out of Tanzanian territory but to overthrow dad.
Launching counter-attack
So in November 1978, Tanzania launched a counter-attack on Uganda and on December 9, 1978, the country’s 
President Julius Nyerere announced that the Tanzanian army had had a victory. He told Tanzanians that dad’s 
soldiers had been driven out of Tanzanian soil.
Yet this was not true. Apparently after the attack sanctioned by dad and the announcement that his government had annexed the Kagera Salient, nations from the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) convinced him to 
withdraw back to the original borders that existed when each country achieved “Independence.”
Dad had done that but Tanzania attacked Uganda in retaliation nonetheless. Dad’s soldiers were not driven from 
Tanzania as has always been reported. They had withdrawn from the Kagera Salient when Tanzania attacked Uganda.


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