Idi Amin

Idi Amin: The Man, The Madness, and The Mayhem

This above Video is a Documentary of Idi Amin

Idi Amin, also known as Idi Amin Dada Oumee, has written his name in modern history as one of the cruelest dictators. From being a cook to being the president of Uganda, Amin took the steps of success gradually, but chose violence and brutality as a door. With the demonic sense of humor and horrific actions, he was given the name of “Butcher of Uganda”.

Born in Koboko, British Uganda, around 1925, Amin’s life was marked by a meteoric rise through the ranks of the Ugandan military, culminating in his seizure of power in a military coup in 1971. While he initially enjoyed popularity, Amin’s rule was soon characterized by a reign of terror, marked by widespread human rights abuses and genocide. This article by Academic Block explores his rise to infame and ultimate fall.

Early Life: A Humble Beginning

Idi Amin was born to a Kakwa father and a Lugbara mother, two ethnic groups in Uganda. He received limited formal education, only completing four years of an Islamic school named Bombo. His early life was marked by a blend of tradition, family, and poverty, which provided little indication of the horrors he would later perpetrate. During fourth grade, he left the school and started joining odd jobs. He was not educated and intelligent but his cunning mind led him to be successful in his future.

Military Career: Rising Through the Ranks

After doing many odd jobs, in 1946, he finally became a cook at British King’s African Rifles (KAR) in exchange of which he received the military training till 1947. His impressive physical stature, standing at 6 feet 4 inches, earned him the nickname “Big Daddy” during his army days. From 1947 to 1949, he served as a Private, in Gilgil, Kenya Colony at 21st KAR infantry battalion. Later, from 1952 to 1956, he stood with Britain as a rival to Mau Mau Revolt in Kenya. Soon, in 1959, Amin rose to the Effendi class 2 which basically means a Warrant Officer. It was the highest position an African could get in British Military. He was swiftly rising in power. Later, when he returned to Uganda, he was positioned as a lieutenant in 1961. His techniques and way of handling things came out of his military trained mind which contributed in his sharp-minded reputation among Ugandan people. Not only he was growing professionally, but he was also a man of hobbies. One of such hobby was boxing. During his time in army, he used to do boxing and was famously known as the light heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda. His other hobbies were swimming and rugby.

Finally in 1962, Uganda got Independence from British rule. Till then, Amin was the first soldier who got the rank of officer before the Independence of Uganda and had close acquaintance with the Prime Minister of Uganda, Milton Obote. Soon after, he was promoted to the position of chief of air force and army. He served this position from 1966 to 1970. Just after few years, the smuggling of ivory and gold into Uganda was started through the deal in between the Obote and Amin. These alleged activities were later investigated by parliament of Uganda. To save himself, Obode introduced a new constitution and forced it on Ugandan people. He destroyed the ceremonial presidency of Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda and ceased the position of the president. He then gave position of colonel and army commander to Amin, who later was directly ordered to attack Mutesa and Mutesa, who was later forced into an exile to UK.

The 1971 Coup: Amin Seizes Power

Soon, a dispute between Obote and Amin started seeding. It became serious after some action of Amin like recruiting people from West Nile region to strengthen the Ugandan Army, his support towards West Nile region, and finally, in 1969, his attempt to kill Obote. Obote was then forced to take strict actions, so he ceased the armed forces from Amin and took away his position. Amin later got to know that Obote was planning to arrest him with the allegation of embezzlement of Army Funds. In result of which, Amin took control over power when Obote was out of the country. On January 25, 1971, Idi Amin staged a military coup that ousted President Milton Obote. His ascent to power initially garnered popular support from various segments of the population, as many Ugandans hoped for a positive change after years of political instability.

The Reign of Terror: Brutality and Human Rights Abuses

Amin declared himself as the President of Uganda. He also gave himself the position of Chief of staff in Uganda Army, Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, and Chief of Air staff. He also made many changes in the Ugandan constitution. He demoted civil laws lower than to military tribunals. His used to rule by decree and he made possible the issue of approximately 30 decrees. He made many changes during his rule like changing the name of Government House to “The Command Post”, and replacing General Service Unit (GSU) with State Research Bureau (SRB). For some years, SRB was a constant place of torturing and punishment for people who opposed him. While Amin was busy in establishing his foot in Uganda, Obote went to Tanzania for Refugee. He was provided a sanctuary by Julius Nyerere, Tanzania President. Later, 20,000 people of Uganda joined Obote and tried to regain Uganda but failed.

The real ravaging and fear started, when Amin started annihilating people. Soon after seizing power, Amin’s rule took a dark turn. His regime was characterized by extreme brutality, state-sanctioned violence, and widespread human rights abuses. Amin’s erratic behavior and authoritarian rule led to the persecution of perceived political opponents, intellectuals, and minority groups. Thousands of people, including military personnel, politicians, and civilians, were executed or disappeared during his rule. Once the power was in his hand, he performed mass execution of people in Christian tribes who were supporters of Obote. These people mostly include ethnic groups from the Acholi and Lango. Some 5,000 people from Lango and Acholi were killed and some 10,000 civilians were disappeared at that time. His list of victims just kept rising after that. There is no exact number of people that were killed under his rule. Later, with the estimation of International Commission of Jurists, it is estimated that there were approximately 80,000 to 3,00,000 people were killed. After this mass killing the economy of Uganda came to a downfall. The agriculture, the manufacturing and the commerce fell down quickly.

It is also stated by Henry Kyemba, Ugandan minister, that Amin enjoyed to eat the flesh of his enemies. In his statements, this cannibalism came from Amin’s tribal background where Kakwa tribe practice blood ritual by slaying their enemies.

It was in August 1972, when Asians and Europeans became the victims of his rules. He introduced “economic war” where he provided policies in which expropriation of properties of all of the Asians and Europeans was introduced. There were approximately 80,000 Asians from Indian subcontinent that were living in Uganda. In the same month, he declared the elimination of 50,000 Asians who held British passports. He took control over all the assets of Asians and Europeans, and handed their properties to his supporters. This again led to the huge downfall of Ugandan economy. He also killed around 500 people who were Yemeni Hadrami Arab merchants. Later on 25 June 1976, the Defense Council declared him as “President for Life”.

Amin had so much support from west, from the countries like UK, West Germany and Israel. When in 1960, Obote turned to the socialism, it made the west a little disturbed because of the possibility of the unity of Soviet Union and Uganda. As, Amin was a trusted companion of Britain, he received financial and military support from Britain as well as Israel. But these countries backed off when Amin asked for advance military equipment, and the request was denied. Due to this, Amin turned his request to Libya in 1972. Then leader of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, asked him to denounce Zionism (a national movement), in exchange of $25 million loan. Amin fulfilled his promise of denouncing Zionism and got an immediate loan from Libyan–Ugandan Development Bank.

Later, Soviet Union also showed interest in availing military hardware to Uganda in exchange of Amin’s support. This proposal was accepted by Amin, and Uganda got supplies of artillery, tanks, missiles, arms and jets. Later, Soviet Union even provided the economic assistance of $12 million to Ugandan government. Amin got every kind of support from different countries and states after that.

The Entebbe Hostage Crisis: An International Incident

Amin’s erratic behavior extended to international relations. In 1976, he masterminded the infamous Entebbe hostage crisis, during which a group of Palestinian and German terrorists hijacked an Air France plane and held Israeli hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda. A daring Israeli military operation successfully rescued the hostages but strained international relations and further isolated Amin’s regime. In result of which he ordered the killing of many airport personnel and many of Kenyans who were secretly involved with Israel.

War with Tanzania: The Beginning of the End

During his presidency, it is estimated that around 3,00,000 civilians were killed, just because they stood against his tyranny. As quickly as he took the steps of success, the more excruciating and gradual was his downfall. With time, most of his troops stood against him. All of his allies took a step back and broke all the relations. Some of his troops fled to Tanzania and Amin blamed Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere for conspiring against him and attacked Kagera Salient in 1978. Nyerere was forced to take action to handle the situation, so two weeks later he drove the Ugandan Army away with the help of Ugandan people that found refugee in Tanzania. The Tanzanian forces, supported by Ugandan exiles, overran Amin’s military and eventually captured Kampala, the capital of Uganda, in April 1979.

Exile and Decline

Amin had to flee from Uganda after the capital was captured. He found refugee in Libya and after some time moved to Saudi Arabia. He never returned to Uganda and never got to fulfill his position of “President for Life”. All of his people, that were in his support, started hating him and this became the downfall of all of his success. Later, he turned away from politics and promised to never participate again. His exile was marked by isolation and obscurity, in stark contrast to his years as Uganda’s dictator.

Last Days and Death

It was in July 19, 2003, when Amin was found in Coma and was near his death. He died on 16 August 2003 due to the multiple organ failure and was buried in in Jeddah at Ruwais Cemetery. He was not allowed to move back to Uganda even on his last days. Many celebrated his death and it became a national news that one of the cruelest leader that ever existed has finally died.

Final Words

Idi Amin, the man who rose from humble beginnings to become one of Africa’s most infamous dictators, remains a dark and troubling chapter in Ugandan and world history. His reign of terror, characterized by brutality, human rights abuses, and a complete disregard for the well-being of his own people, serves as a chilling reminder of the potential horrors that can be unleashed when power is concentrated in the hands of an authoritarian leader.

Understanding Amin’s life, the madness of his rule, and the mayhem he unleashed is essential for future generations. By studying this dark chapter, we honor the memory of the victims, learn from history’s lessons, and work to prevent the rise of such destructive figures in the future. Idi Amin’s legacy should serve as a stark warning that the pursuit of power without accountability and empathy can lead to unimaginable suffering and devastation.

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Idi Amin
Personal Details
Date of Birth : 17th May 1925
Died : 16th August 2003
Place of Birth : Koboko, West Nile region of Uganda
Father : Andreas Nyabire
Mother : Aisha
Spouse/Partners : Sarah Kyolaba
Professions : Military Officer

Famous quotes by Idi Amin

“I am the hero of Africa.”

“I am the best president ever. I don’t want anyone to challenge me. I want to be the president for life, like a king.”

“Sometimes people mistake the way I talk for what I am thinking. I never went to school. I never learned how to speak English well, but I can speak English as well as anybody. My deportment and my body language speak for me.”

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

“I don’t want to be controlled by any superpower. I myself consider myself the most powerful figure in the world, and that is why I do not let any superpower control me.”

“A coup is not successful when it is planned. A coup is successful when it happens.”

“Sometimes I don’t want to be friendly with anyone. I just want to be alone in my shell.”

“We Africans are not meant to live like rats, but like human beings. This may be news to some of you, but the human is an animal that lives in a place.”

“There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”

“We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.”

Facts on Idi Amin

Early Life and Military Career: Idi Amin was born in Koboko, British Uganda, around 1925. He came from the Kakwa ethnic group. He joined the King’s African Rifles, a British colonial army, in the late 1940s, and later became a sergeant in the Ugandan army.

Seizure of Power: Amin rose through the ranks of the Ugandan military and staged a military coup in January 1971, overthrowing President Milton Obote.

Brutal Regime: Amin’s rule was characterized by brutality and repression. Thousands of Ugandans, including political opponents, intellectuals, and various ethnic and religious groups, were killed or disappeared during his time in power.

Expulsion of Asians: In 1972, Amin ordered the expulsion of Uganda’s Asian population, giving them 90 days to leave the country. This resulted in significant economic disruption, as the Asian community played a vital role in the Ugandan economy.

Relations with Neighboring Countries: Amin’s regime was marked by hostile relations with neighboring countries. He ordered an invasion of Tanzania in 1978, leading to the Uganda-Tanzania War, which ultimately led to his downfall.

Decline and Fall: Amin’s rule came to an end in April 1979 when Ugandan exiles, supported by Tanzanian forces, captured Kampala, the capital. Amin fled into exile, first in Libya and later in Saudi Arabia.

Exile and Death: Amin lived in exile in Saudi Arabia for many years. He died in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in August 2003. His remains were never returned to Uganda for burial.

Controversial Legacy: Idi Amin’s rule is often associated with human rights abuses, mass killings, and widespread violence. His regime was characterized by erratic behavior, propaganda, and authoritarianism.

Various Titles: During his rule, Amin often gave himself grandiose titles, such as “His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, 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.”

Final Years of Idi Amin

Exile in Saudi Arabia: After being overthrown from power in 1979, Idi Amin fled Uganda and found refuge in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, under King Khalid, offered him asylum, and he lived in the city of Jeddah.

Quiet and Isolated Life: In Saudi Arabia, Amin lived a relatively quiet and isolated life. He was mostly kept away from the public eye and did not engage in active politics or military activities.

Controversial Status: Amin’s presence in Saudi Arabia was a source of tension and controversy, as many nations, including Uganda, sought his extradition to face justice for the human rights abuses and crimes committed during his rule. However, Saudi Arabia refused to extradite him.

Personal Life: While in exile, Amin reportedly continued to live a lavish and extravagant lifestyle. He had multiple wives, and his family members were known to be living with him in Saudi Arabia.

Medical Issues: In his later years, Amin’s health began to deteriorate, and he experienced a series of health problems. He suffered from various ailments, including kidney disease, and had to undergo medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.

Death: Idi Amin died on August 16, 2003, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He was reportedly in a coma before his death. The exact cause of his death was not publicly disclosed, but it was widely believed to be due to multiple organ failure.

Aftermath: After Amin’s death, his remains were not returned to Uganda for burial. Instead, he was buried in a modest ceremony in Jeddah. His death marked the end of a controversial and tumultuous chapter in Uganda’s history.

Academic References on Idi Amin

“A State of Blood: The Inside Story of Idi Amin” by Henry Kyemba: This book is written by a former Ugandan government official who served under Amin and provides an insider’s perspective on the regime.

“Idi Amin’s Conquest of East Africa: The Politics of International Relations” by Taban Amin: This book provides an analysis of Idi Amin’s foreign policy and interactions with neighboring countries.

“Idi Amin and Uganda: An Annotated Bibliography” by Holly L. Brown: This bibliography provides a comprehensive list of academic and non-academic sources related to Idi Amin and Uganda during his rule.

“Idi Amin: A Tribal Bigot” by David Martin: This academic paper examines the role of tribalism in Amin’s rule and the consequences for Uganda.

“The Idi Amin I Knew: An Anecdotal Account” by Mahmood Mamdani: Mamdani’s work offers a personal account of his interactions with Amin and his regime. Mamdani is a well-known scholar of African history and politics.

“From Soldiers to Insurgents: Social Organization and Transformation in a Sierra Leonean Insurgency” by Peter Uvin: This book discusses the broader context of African politics, including a comparison of Idi Amin’s regime and the Sierra Leonean insurgency.

“Uganda Since Independence: A Story of Unfulfilled Hopes” by Phares Mutibwa: This book provides a historical perspective on Uganda’s politics and governance, including the Amin era.

“The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin” by Philip Gourevitch: This article, published in the New Yorker, offers a detailed account of Amin’s rise to power and subsequent fall.

This Article will answer your questions like:

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