by Navya Mohindra
In Winston Churchill’s book, “My African Journey” he describes Uganda as the ‘Pearl of Africa’; however, there were dark times in its history that remain etched in the country’s legacy.
Idi Amin was a military officer, who forced his way to become the President of Uganda. His reign is famous for brutality and filling people with fear and terror.
Idi Amin Dada Oumee more commonly known as Idi Amin was born in Koboko, Uganda to a Kakwa father and Lagbara mother, and raised by his mother’s family post his parents’ separation.
He had received only rudimental education and very little formal education before associating himself with the King’s African Rifles (KAR). The KAR was a multi-battalion British colonial regiment founded in 1902.
Rise to power
Amin's rise through the ranks was exponential. He was appointed commander of the armed forces. Known for his dynamic and magnetic personality, he grew very close to President and Prime Minister of Uganda, Milton Obote.
However, with time, conflicts arose between the two, culminating on January 25, 1971, when Amin successfully orchestrated a military coup, toppling the Milton Obote regime. He seized control of the government and consequently exiled Milton.
Reign of the dictator
Idi Amin was known to be a hyper-nationalist and a patriot. People, however, were quick to catch a glimpse of the other side of his personality, the merciless, unpredictable, and ruthless side.
He was busy creating his own clandestine ‘’Killer squads’’ disguised as State Research Bureau (SRB) and Public Safety Units (PSU) whose main motive was to terrorize and eliminate people who opposed his regime.
Economy and International Relations
In 1972, he ordered to expel Ugandans of Asian origins, whose population was estimated between 50,000 and 70,000.
This prompted the collapse of the economy as manufacturing, agriculture, and commerce came to screeching halt without adequate resources to back them.
India severed diplomatic relations with Uganda after the expulsion of Ugandan Asians, most of whom were of Indian descent. His impulsive behavior led to Uganda also abandoning diplomatic ties with Britain.
After relations turned sour with Israel, who provided them with arms, Amin turned to the Soviet Union and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya for support.
Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi of Libya
Colonel Gaddafi of Libya was a Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He transformed Libya into a new socialist state called Jamahiriya.
Amid the 2011 Arab spring, protests broke out against widespread corruption and unemployment.
NATO had to intervene militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafi National Transitional Council (NTC), as the situation came down to a civil war, resulting in the government being overthrown and Gaddafi retreating to Sirte, only to be captured and killed by NTC militants.
Gaddafi has been accused of sexual abuse and is condemned by many as his authoritarian regime violated human rights and financed global terrorism.
Amin’s Dark Side
Amin continued to oversee an increasing number of his citizens being killed. Thousands of Ugandans were being tortured and violently murdered on political, ethnic, and financial grounds.
His methods had become more and more sadistic and gruesome, he reportedly even ordered 4,000 differently-abled people to be thrown into the Nile, to be feasted upon by crocodiles.
On several occasions he has confessed to cannibalism: “I have eaten human meat, it is very salty, even more salty than leopard meat” he supposedly said in 1976.
The torture chambers were camouflaged inside a lush hillside and Amin’s torture ‘playthings’ were taken there blindfolded. It is said that once one was taken there, the only path of escape is death.
According to Amnesty International, approximately 300,000 people out of a total of 12 million people were killed during his dominion.
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