Idi Amin Dada

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Idi Amin in 1973.
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Idi Amin is a splendid type and a good [rugby] player… but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter.
—An unnamed British official's assessment of Mr. Amin's capacity for leadership

Idi Amin Dada (17 May 1928–16 August 2003) was the ruler (although it might be better to say destroyer) of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Like many batshit insane dictators, he generated his own excessively aggrandizing title: His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular), Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas; however, Time has shortened this to The Wild Man of Africa.[1]

Track record[edit]

During his term as the ruler of Uganda, he helped destroy the nation's economy and reduce its population. According to the estimates of exile organizations and Amnesty International, approximately 500,000 Ugandans were murdered under Amin.[2] He ordered the expulsion of Uganda's Asian[notes 1] population, numbering about 60,000, which resulted in the collapse of the economy as Uganda's Asian community made up a large share of its professional and middle classes. Amin's inept rule resulted in an influx of refugees into Britain, which led to increased racial tensions during the 1970s and rising support for the National Front.

His main policy for the country (outside of personal aggrandizement) was an attempt to convert the population to Islam. This attempt failed because of his methods, which included assassinating an archbishop, not normally considered a wise move in a Christian country. He also practiced polygamy and fathered an estimated 45 to 54 children, and there were persistent rumors he also engaged in cannibalism, although nothing concrete was ever proven.

In 1976, he unwisely and bizarrely labelled himself "the last King of Scotland", dressed to kill in a kilt and held lavish receptions, alienating many socialist African allies in the process. This would be crucial when his country attempted to annex the Kagera Region of neighboring TanzaniaWikipedia's W.svg and was repelled. Finding his army outnumbered and outgunned, he was forced into a bloody retreat back to Kampala. It was during the advance on the city that Tanzanian forces with Ugandan exiles uncovered torture and execution cells and burial pits used by the Amin regime.

He fled from Uganda in 1979 by helicopter, first to Libya where he was granted asylum by fellow megalomaniac Muammar al-Gaddafi and eventually winded up in Saudi Arabia, where he died in 2003.

Amin's antics were depicted fairly accurately in the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland (although parts of the film, including the main character of the Scottish doctor, were fictional[3]). They were less accurately, but more hilariously, depicted by Richard Pryor in his skit showing Idi Amin posting a rebuttal to Western news stories.[4]

Relations with Israel and antisemitism[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Antisemitism

Initially the West and Israel supported Amin's rule, but by 1972 Amin expelled Israeli military advisors.[5] In 1972, Amin sent a bizarre telegram to Kurt Waldheim, UN Secretary-General, and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, which said in part:[6]

Germany is the place where when Hitler was the prime minister and supreme commander, he burned over six million Jews. This is because Hitler and all German people knew that Israelis are not people who are working in the interest of the world and that is why they burned the Israelis alive with gas in the soil of Germany.

Amin's overt hostility to Israel did not stop him from claiming in 1974 that he had the solution to bringing about peace in the Middle East.[7]

In 1976 a hijacked Air France flight from Paris to Tel Aviv was brought to Entebbe airport; this brought the wrath of the Israel Defence Force, who mounted a commando raid to free the hostages. A 75-year-old female hostage, Dora Bloch, who had been hospitalized in Kampala and was not at Entebbe during the rescue, was executed in reprisal. Probably because he didn't have the means to retaliate against Israel itself, Amin decided to take out his anger by starting a war with Tanzania.Wikipedia's W.svg

See also[edit]

  • Joseph Kony — probably an even worse plague upon Uganda

Notes[edit]

  1. If you are an American reading this: Most of said Asians are / were of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi descent

References[edit]

  1. Time - Amin: The Wild Man of Africa
  2. Patrick Keatley, Idi Amin obituary, 18 August 2003, The Guardian
  3. Based on True Events: What exactly is "true" about The Last King of Scotland?, Kim Masters, Slate, 26 Jan 2007
  4. As seen here.
  5. "Notes on the Civil and Political Strife in Uganda" by Mamadou Tall (1982) Issue: A Journal of Opinion 12(1/2):41–44. doi:10.2307/1166537.
  6. Quotes: Idi Amin Dada. Quotations from the President of Uganda 1971–1979 ThoughtCo.
  7. The Middle East Crisis: His Excellency the President Al-Hajji General Idi Amin Dada's Contribution to the Solution of the Middle East Crisis During the Third Year of the Second Republic of Uganda by Idi Amin (1974) self-published.