Idi Amin Dada was a Ugandan army officer who was the President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Popularly known as the Idi Amin- Butcher of Uganda, he is considered one of the most brutal dictators in world history.
Amin was born in Koboko, Uganda. In 1946, he joined the King’s African Rifles (KAR) of British as a cook. He rose to the rank of lieutenant. Amin took part in British actions against Somali rebels and then the Mau Mau rebels in Kenya. Uganda gained independence from the UK in 1962.
Amin remained as a soldier. He has been promoted to the position of major and being appointed Commander of the Uganda Army in 1965. He became aware that Ugandan President Milton Obote was getting to arrest him for misappropriating army funds, so he launched a military rebellion in 1971 and declared himself President.
During his years in power, Amin enjoyed considerable support from Israel, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko, the Soviet Union, and East Germany. As Amin’s rule progressed into the late 1970s, there was increased turbulence against his maltreatment of certain ethnic groups and political dissidents, along side Uganda’s very poor international standing. Amin’s supported terrorist hijackers operational Entebbe.
Operation Entebbe was a successful counter-terrorist hostage-rescue mission administered by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This operation took place at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976. Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere had his troops invade Uganda, because Amin attempted to annex Tanzania’s Kagera Region in 1978. Tanzania captured Kampala on 11 April 1979 and ousted Amin from power. Amin went into exile, first in Libya, then Iraq, and eventually in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia he lived until his death on 16 August 2003.
Amin was an athlete during his time in both British and Ugandan army. He was tall and powerfully built. He was the Ugandan light heavyweight boxing champion as well as a swimmer. Amin declared an “economic war”, a group of policies that included the expropriation of properties owned by Asians and Europeans, in August 1972. Uganda’s 80,000 Asians were mostly from the Indian subcontinent, their ancestors having come to Uganda in search of prosperity when India was still under British rule.
Ugandan economy was totally based on these owned businesses and large-scale enterprises. Around 30,000 Ugandan Asians immigrated to the UK. Others went to Commonwealth countries such as Australia, South Africa, Canada, and Fiji, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Sweden, Tanzania, and the United States.
Amin expropriated businesses and properties belonging to the Asians and therefore the Europeans and handed them over to his supporters. Without the experienced owners and proprietors, businesses were mismanaged and many industries collapsed from lack of operational knowledge and maintenance. This created a disaster for the already declining Ugandan economy.
On 19 July 2003, Amin’s fourth wife, Nalongo Madina, reported due to Kidney failure he was under coma and near death at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure. She pleaded with the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, to permit him to return to Uganda for the rest of his life. Museveni replied that Amin would need to “answer for his sins the instant he was brought back”. Amin’s family eventually decided to disconnect life support. As a result Amin died at the hospital in Jeddah on 16 August 2003. He was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah during a simple grave.
A polygamist, Idi Amin married a minimum of six women, three of whom he divorced. He married his first and second wives, Malyamu and Kay, in 1966. In 1967, he married Nora, and then married Nalongo Madina in 1972. In 1974, he announced that he had divorced Malyamu, Nora, and Kay. In 1974, Kay Amin died under mysterious circumstances, together with her body found dismembered. Nora fled to Zaire in 1979; her current location is unknown.
In July 1975, Amin arranged a 20 crore INR wedding to 19-year-old Sarah Kyolaba, a dancer. Before she met Amin, Sarah was living with a boyfriend, Jesse Gitta; he missing and it’s not clear if he was beheaded, or detained after fleeing to Kenya.
By 1993, Amin was living with the last nine of his children and one wife, Mama the mother of the youngest four of his children. His last known child, daughter Iman, was born in 1992. Amin married again a couple of months before his death in 2003.
Amin fathered up to 54 children. As the years progressed, Amin’s behaviour became more erratic, unpredictable, and loud. Amin declared that he had defeated British, and he conferred on himself the decoration of CBE (Conqueror of the British Empire) after the UK broke off all diplomatic relations together with his regime in 1977.
Amin became the topic of rumors, including a widespread belief that he was a cannibal. Amin claimed that he kept the decapitated heads of political enemies in his freezer. He said that human flesh was “too salty” for his taste. Some of the rumors, such as the disfigurement of one of his wives, were spread and popularised by the 1980 film Rise and Fall of Idi Amin and alluded to in the film The Last King of Scotland in 2006, a movie which earned actor Forest Whitaker an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Amin.
Amin’s rule was characterised by widespread human rights abuses, including political oppression, ethnic harassment and extrajudicial killings, as well as favoritism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement.