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SPECIAL REPORT
The myths surrounding Idi Amin
By Moses Serugo

The BBC in its Saturday broadcast announcing the death of former president Idi Amin Dada reported that he kept the heads of seven of his victims in a fridge in his kitchen.

The report said that Amin would display the heads every time he hosted visitors at the State House in Entebbe.

Researcher Fredrick Guweddeko of Makerere University says that this is just one of the myths that the Western media has propagated about the former president, especially after his fall-out with the British government.

Some of the myths about the dictator's eight-year reign were propagated in the movie, The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, a biography of the former president acted by Joseph Olita, a Kenyan who was chosen for his striking resemblance to the dictator.

Says Guweddeko: "People should know that the creators of the film barred it from being shown publicly in Uganda. They knew that people here would corroborate the information and the film would lose its credibility."

The Rise and Fall was instrumental in propagating myths about the fallen dictator.

In one scene, the film features Amin opening a fridge and showing his visitors two heads of his former victims with a rather unnerving casualness.

Another scene shows Amin dismissing the coroner doing the autopsy, he picks up a scalpel, cuts a piece of his victim's flesh, mumbles some incomprehensible words and eats the flesh.

The Rise and Fall also portrays Amin as a playboy and a sex maniac. It features Amin having sex simultaneously with two women, one black the other Caucasian.

The dictator who was married to four wives during his reign was known for keeping a keen eye on skirts.

Guwedekko admits that Amin contracted a venereal disease in 1976.

Many young people whose only knowledge of the former dictator have formed their impressions around the negative things written about him or portrayed in the movie.

In this movie once more, Amin is depicted seeking the counsel of a witch doctor on how he can retain his grip on power. Amin was told to sacrifice one of his sons, three-year-old Moses, in order to achieve this.

Guweddeko disputes this.

"Amin never went to ordinary witchdoctors," he says. "Among the Islamic faith are authorities who use the Koran to foretell events."

He says that these are the people that Amin contacted rather than the native healers.

"The son they say was sacrificed went to France and read a university degree. He was even at his dad's bedside at the time of his death," adds Guweddeko.

In the memoirs that Idi Amin sent to Fred Guweddeko earlier this month, he denied all these allegations.

Many people have often said that Idi Amin killed his wife Kay Adroa, the sister of his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michael Ondoga. He is said to have killed her after suspecting her of committing adultery.

Henry Kyemba's book The State of Blood also says as much.

But Guwedekko absolves Amin. According to him, Idi Amin had divorced Kay and she moved on. She had an affair with a one Mbalu Mukasa, a medical doctor with whom she got pregnant.

However, Amin and Kay later made up. All the while she was afraid of what he would do if he discovered that she was pregnant. So she asked Dr Mbalu Mukasa to help her terminate the pregnancy.

The doctor was hesitant because the pregnancy was at an advanced stage - seven months and three weeks. But Kay insisted.

She died from heavy bleeding during the abortion. The doctor panicked.

He figured that if he made her death look like a typical Amin handiwork, he could get the fingers to point in that direction.

So he cut off her limbs put her torso and severed limbs in the boot of his car and then tried to dispose off the body. After failing to do so, Mbalu tried to kill his family with a drug overdose and committed suicide.

 
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Headlines

Museveni, Amin: Men who hated each other
Idi Amin, who died last month is best remembered for expelling Asians in 1972, and presiding over a government that destroyed Uganda's economy. Current President Yoweri Museveni called the Asians back and has tried to rebuild the country....[more]

Amin 'stole' NATO codes
The late Idi Amin stole the secret security codes of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a close aide has said....[more]

Let us mourn Amin's passing correctly
Choke if you will, but Idi Amin has in death, apparently, kicked Shakespeare in the mouth. The bard wrote that the evil that men do lives after them; the good is often buried with them....[more]

No minute of silence for Amin
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi, yesterday refused to grant a minute of silence in memory of Idi Amin. .... [more]

Amin books sell big
Demand for books on Idi Amin is high. The former president died of multiple organ failure on Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Booksellers at the on-going National Book Week Exhibition at the Constitutional Square in Kampala say literature on Amin is the most sought after....[more]

The two countries reconciled within weeks.
Amin had understood correctly that although the departing colonial power was Portugal and the Caribbean Island nation of Cuba would soon involve itself more closely in the geo-politics of Africa,...[more]

On the road to economic collapse
Mahmood Hudda, 5, was blown by the winds of tumult to the cold of Canada. Roni Madhvani, 8, to a 1970s England he could hardly comprehend....[more]

Amin as the chancellor: A Makerere VC's story
I could say he couldn't probably even pronounce his name both in English and Kiswahili. But by the time he left, he was actually expressing himself quite fluently. And he wanted to learn French...[more]

A foreign policy disaster
Idi Amin Dada came to power when he overthrew Apollo Milton Obote's government on January 25, 1971....[more]

When dying was easier than living
Luwum was arrested in February 1977 together with two cabinet ministers, Charles Oboth Ofumbi and Lt. Col. Erinayo Oryema, for conspiracy in a coup plot....[more]

Who were Amin's victims?
Benedict Kiwanuka; Democratic Party leader, first Prime minister of Uganda and Chief Justice at the time of his death...[more]

A girl called Esther Chesire
On March 5, 1976, a student of the Faculty of Law at Makerere University, Paul Serwanga, was shot dead by an army captain who had developed an interest in his (Serwanga) girlfriend....[more]

Big Daddy and his women
"The story of Amin and his women is one that turns bizarre, comic and brutal."...[more]

The myths surrounding Idi Amin
The BBC in its Saturday broadcast announcing the death of former president Idi Amin Dada reported that he kept the heads of seven of his victims in a fridge in his kitchen...[more]

Rejected then taken in by dad; a timeline
He was born on May 17, 1928 at about 4.00 a.m. in a police barracks at the present International Conference Centre in Kampala....[more]

‘The Hitler of Africa’
State of Blood is a book that is written by Henry Kyemba, a man who served as principle private secretary to Milton Obote and as a minister in Amin’s government....[more]


 

 
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