Monday, August 27, 2007


Idi Amin - The Greatest Ugandan: Part II
By Dennis Matanda
In Part 1, I argued that Idi Amin was the Greatest Ugandan because he came to epitomize brutality and negativity in leaders – alongside Caligula, Mussolini and Hitler. He, in simple terms, Africanized and Ugandanized state impunity. Because Black People allowed themselves to be led by this buffoon [and others still at large], the buffoon is greater than his equals. In Part II, we continue the discussion and delve into statistics, figures and fantasy.
A Buffoon’s Requiem
The Passing of a Giant
On August 16, 2003, at 8:20 am, Idi Amin passed on to the next life from multiple organ failure. He had been in the hospital since July 18 2003 when he was admitted with high blood pressure. It is rumored that he refused to be treated and wanted to die and be buried in Uganda. Unfortunately, this specific need was not honored; and he was, instead, interred in Jeddah’s Ruwais Cemetery a few hours after his death – a devil’s hole compared to his ancestral resting grounds in Northern Ugandan. And just like that, the Ugandan dictator – Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada was seemingly forgotten. In Kampala, his children and other relatives had hoped that he would be returned and given some kind of official send off. Speaking at the time, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni is quoted to have said:
“If Amin comes back breathing or conscious I will arrest him because he committed crimes here,” adding that if his body [was] brought back for burial “… we shall not give him state honours. He will be buried like any other ordinary Ugandan…”
Dude, Where is Your Country Now?
Personal Suffering
At about that time, I chanced to meet one of Uganda’s literary bigwigs, Professor Timothy Wangusa through Michael, one of my best friends - his son. That social evening, we talked of Uganda’s history and Idi Amin inevitably came up. His death being fresh in our minds, I upset the good and gentle professor by basically saying that Idi Amin’s body should have been brought back to Uganda for burial and that Ugandans would, in seeing the Great Dictator dead in real life, move on to other things. The world would subsequently make peace with the man and so lead their roads elsewhere.
I did not realize the discomfiture I had caused until Michael and I were chatting later. Michael said I should have been more sensitive to his father who ‘suffered’ under Idi Amin and that I should not have touched on the subject. I was, to be honest, taken aback for I thought that I was being intellectually engaging and opining something that had merits and demerits.
But then, that was Idi Amin in real life – a juxtaposition of so many things – and like ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ on 18 August 2003 said: “He was a product of multiculturalism, African-style, and able to use relatively advanced methods to achieve brutal, primitive ends. Like every African dictator, he was confusion’s masterpiece.”
Confusion’s Masterpiece & Statistics
Whether he was ‘Confusion’s Masterpiece’ or not, there are a few ghosts we need to exorcize before moving on to the crust of the matter. Amnesty International [who alongside the ICJ and other sources said Amin deliberately created four rival and overlapping agencies to carry out his mass killings - the Military Police, the Presidential Guard, the Public Safety Unit and the State Research Bureau] estimates that between 1971 and 1979, about 500,000 people were killed by Idi Amin and his State of Blood. Other estimates take the numbers to as low as 80,000 – although my friend Timothy Kalyegira believes that not more than 50,000 people lost their lives.
First, if 500,000 people lost their lives to Idi Amin in those 8 years [averaging 62,500 deaths a year]; if you divided the number of the dead; 500,000 by the number of days; 2,920, you will find that about 170 people were killed daily. If you divided this number further by the 24 hours of a day, you will find that about 7 people were killed each hour. Crude as this is, the supposed amount of death and blood on Amin’s hands is amazing.
Secondly, in 1980, Uganda’s population was approximately 12.6 million people – growing at an annual rate of 2.8%. If I was to calculate backwards to 1971, there is a chance that Uganda had about less than 9 million people. If 500,000 were killed between then and 1980, this would have been almost 4 – 5% of the population. These are not small numbers and should be taken seriously.
While I do not mean to dispute the numbers [for it does not seem respectful to the people who lost their dear ones in those days - My Uncle Paul was shot dead in a spate of soldierly indiscipline], there is need to get to the bottom of this – and short of a commission of inquiry, history will slip us by – like it did in 2003 when Uganda’s government failed to see the value in doing everything it could to get Idi Amin buried in Ugandan soils. Because this was not done, its not difficult to have certain people believe that he is still alive in their heads. They have not seen his grave – so how can they know that he is dead? That Idi Amin business is incomplete.
PR & Advertising – An African Fantasy
If the Government, on the other hand, had insisted on bringing Idi Amin’s body back to Uganda, this is what I think would have happened:
a) BBC would have picked up on the story and sent their then reporter Will Ross to Kokoko in North Western Uganda – which is where Idi Amin was born
b) The Americans would have sent someone from Voice of America to cover this story
c) CNN would have, like BBC, sent one of their best – either the now fired Jeff Koinange or Femi Oke [who at the time was not there]
d) Interviews would have been done of people who knew Amin of the day – and how he really was in real life
e)His children who are currently living free and square in Uganda would have been asked to testify to their father’s sins and they would have humanized him in a way that only death can
The whole public relations bonanza would have ultimately benefited Uganda [as part of a world that competes for tourists] and what these TV channels would have covered is the ‘return’ of Idi Amin to his final resting place. They would have followed the cortege from the Entebbe International Airport – showing Uganda as it really is today - different from the Uganda of the 1970s. Our current President – with the pressure of international cameras – would have been forced to be outrageous and upset with the Idi Amin legacy: but because Africans do not speak negatively about the dead, Museveni would have been courteous – even extending support to the Idi Amin family and so getting political and general good will mileage from Ugandans and international people of good sense.
Creating a national wall of shame attributed to Amin would have been the next logical step – for tourists, of course – and this would have ultimately worked as a pressure tool for the Government not to go to the depths that were buried with Idi Amin. Like the Germans did in creating the Hitler Historic Museum, there is no doubt that the first African dictator to have a ‘monument’ drawn in his wake would have done Uganda as a country wholesome good.
Crime & Punishment
I am a firm believer in punishment for evil and pain. I believe that Idi Amin should have faced the International Criminal Court. There is a chance that, like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu or the Gacaca Courts in Post Genocide Rwanda, exorcism would have been the way to go. I
The Greatest Ugandan?
But what is it that makes Idi Amin the Greatest Ugandan? I think it’s the overall pain that Ugandans and Africans at large have not followed the European and American [and slowly, East Asian and South American] example of not standing for the rubbish around bad governance. To illustrate: Although America is being run by a cabal of corrupt people, there are still those who will challenge them through institutions. President George W. Bush does not have a legacy. The system has, in simple terms, sentenced the reigning American president to the back of the Great Americans line. There are currently too many Great Americans [including Barrack Obama and Condoleezza Rice] who will gladly endear themselves to the world and replace one hawkish looking American President. Outgoing British Premier Tony Blair who was doing excellently until he touched Bush got his legacy burned beyond repair – but there is still Queen Elizabeth II and the Late Princess Diana if you are really searching for Great Britons.
Africa has, in simple terms, not manufactured enough heroes to ensure that a bad someone can be replaced with a hundred good ones. More than 1,000 ‘good and great’ Germans can replace Adolf Hitler and his dark Nazi legacy. In Uganda – and other African countries, the Great Ones like Archbishop John Sentamu the second most powerful person in Anglican Church – are in exile. Kenya’s former anti corruption Czar John Githongo was forced to flee his home and Chinua Achebe who just won another award for himself and his beloved Nigeria is practically, like his ‘brother’ Wole Soyinka, living off the fat of the American land. In this way, you cannot necessarily say that one of the Greatest Kenyans is Barrack Obama or Helen Folasade Adu a Great Nigerian. Their greatness was manufactured away from the Motherland – and so do not qualify.
A few years after Giles Foden’s work of fiction ‘The Last King of Scotland’ was published, a Scottish businessman who worked for the Saudi royal family rang Mr. Foden and said: “I’ve got a message for you.” It was from Idi. Amin had been read a Swahili transcript of the novel and had some views. “Too much of it is fiction. And the cover; it makes me look like an overfed monkey!”
Do I Look Fat In These
How could a man as uneducated, uncultured, unfettered and especially unskilled in governance have succeeded in making us see less of ourselves and fail to rise above the depths he sent us? Because we allowed him to do this to us, he deserves the Mantle of Greatness. I bestow this on him and he, to me, remains the de facto Greatest Ugandan until someone else does something to push him into the 30,000,000th place he deserves to be.
About this entry
You’re currently reading “Idi Amin - The Greatest Ugandan: Part II,” an entry on The sub-Saharan African roundtable
6.15.07 / 3pm
Leadership, East Africa
1 CommentJump to comment form comments rss [?] trackback uri [?]
tears of the sun 6.27.07 / 8am
this is a load of shit. yes he was brutal with what he did to people, but everything happens for a reason. he only wanted what was best for his country so he killed off all of the people who shitted on him. if you dont understand why he did it you have something wrong with you honey, im not giving him thumbs up that it was the right thing to do, it wasnt he could of done things differently, but he didnt.
Alemi Junior &. Family 8.28.07 / 5am
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Re my Late, Father was a good Father, A Wonderful Husband, A great Leader. he was A Founder of Economic Independence In Uganda, he did hold the country together. he keept all religious groups together, in his 8 years rules, no Ugandans kept in IDP. no HIV/AIDS in uganda. at his time, every child attend school. no hunger in the country, his oponents do writes negative stories about our late Father, but millions of Ugandans love him. check more wewrote about in our weblogs. our prayers to almighty allah to rest his soul in eternal peace. AAAmin. daddy, we love you, we missed you, and you will always remains in our hearts forever. From Mr.&.Mrs. Mariam Majid Alemi Junior, & Family, in Vancouver, Western Canada. The Elder son of Al-Haji Idi Amin Dada Alemi. August, 27, 2007. secondly, Happy Ramadhan Karim to all. The Fasting starts. sept, 13, 2007.

No comments: