Uganda’s Idi Amin and how he became one of the world’s most hated men

Mildred Europa Taylor August 16, 2018
Idi Amin

On April 11, 1979, the military dictator and Ugandan President Idi Amin was deposed as rebels in exile backed by Tanzanian forces, seized control of the country. He sought refuge in Saudi Arabia where he lived until his death on August 16, 2003, at the age of 78.

Several hundred thousand people are believed to have been killed during the 8-year regime of Amin, who has since been renowned for the wrong reasons.

After seizing power from the then president of Uganda Milton Obote in 1971, his dictatorial style of leadership made many see him as a monster.

He had come to power with good intentions for his people but as time went on he became power-drunk and started abusing people, historians say.

Many have attributed the character and leadership style of Amin to his background. Born in northern Uganda in 1925, Amin hardly went to school.

Idi Amin

He came from a poor home and was raised by his mother. In an effort to escape poverty, Amin got a job with the British colonial army as a cook, where he subsequently got the opportunity to join the army in the 1940s.

Amin did marvellously well in the military so he got series of promotions. He got his first fame in the country after becoming Uganda’s light heavyweight boxing champion for almost a decade.

But things changed when he took over power from Obote. He became ruthless and brutal, repressing the Ugandan people and ignoring their human rights.

Amin in 1972 sacked over 80,000 Asians living in Uganda

Historians said he ruined the economy of the country when in 1972, he ordered the dismissal of over 80,000 Asians living in Uganda.

Amin believed that the country was being dominated by foreigners, and so sacked the Asians who were then small but were contributing two-thirds of the national economy then.

Following his directive, business activity came to a standstill in Uganda and people had barely anything to live on. Nevertheless, one dared not question his decision for fear of being killed.

The self-styled conqueror of the British Empire further ceased the opportunity to make a mockery of the country’s former colonial master, Britain.

Idi Amin was said to have made some white diplomats kneel before him

In what is believed to be a publicity stunt, Amin got a group of British businessmen in Uganda to carry him shoulder high and declare him the conqueror of the British Empire.

In another instance, he made some white diplomats kneel before him and swear an oath of allegiance.

The former Ugandan leader, Obote at the time had sought refuge in Tanzania but was keenly observing occurrences in Uganda.

Milton Obote

He subsequently succeeded in preparing an army that attacked Kampala in 1979 and Amin was overthrown.

The “President for Life” sought refuge in Saudi Arabia where he lived until his death on August 16, 2003, at the age of 78.


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