Idi Amin Dada born in 1925 and died on 16th August 2003 was a Ugandan military officer and politician who served as the third president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He ruled as a military dictator and is considered one of the most brutal despots in modern world history.
Idi Amin was born in Koboko in what is now northwest Uganda to a Kakwa father and Lugbara mother. In 1946, he joined the King’s Africa Rifles of the British Colonial Army as a cook. He rose to the rank of lieutenant, taking part in British actions against Somali rebels and then the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya.
Idi Amin did not write an autobiography, and he did not authorize an official written account of his life. There are discrepancies regarding when and where he was born. Most biographical sources claim that he was born in either Koboko or Kampala around 1925. Other unconfirmed sources state his year of birth from as early as 1923 to as late as 1928. Idi Amin son Hussein has stated that his father was born in Kampala in 1928.
Abandoned by his father at a young age, Idi Amin grew up with his mother’s family in a rural farming town in north-western Uganda. A historian Guweddeko stated that Idi Amin mother was Assa Aatte born in 1904 and died in 1970. She is an ethnic Lugbara and a traditional herbalist who treated members of Buganda royalty, among others. Some sources have also described Idi Amin as being of mixed Kakwa and Nubian origin. Idi Amin joined an Islamic school in Bombo in 1941. After a few years, he left school with only a fourth-grade English-language education, and did odd jobs before being recruited to the army by a British colonial army officer.
Uganda gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1962, and Idi Amin remained in the army, rising to the position of major and being appointed commander of the Uganda Army in 1965. He became aware that Ugandan President Milton Obote was planning to arrest him for misappropriating army funds, so he launched the 1971 Ugandan coup d’etat and declared himself president.
In 1972, Idi Amin expelled Asians, a majority of whom were Indian-Ugandans, leading India to sever diplomatic relations with his regime. In 1975, Idi Amin became the chairman of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), a Pan-Africanist group designed to promote solidarity among African states. Uganda was a member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights from 1977 to 1979. The United Kingdom broke diplomatic relations with Uganda in 1977, and Idi Amin declared that he had defeated the British and added “CBE” to his title for “Conqueror of the British Empire.”
As Idi Amin rule progressed into the late 1970s, there was increased unrest against his persecution of certain ethnic groups and political dissidents, along with Uganda’s very poor international standing due to Idi Amin support for the terrorist hijackers in Operation Entebbe. He then attempted to annex Tanzania’s Kagera Region in 1978. The Tanzanian president Julius Nyere ordered his troops to invade Uganda in response. Tanzanian Army and rebel forces successfully captured Kampala in 1979 and ousted Idi Amin from power. Idi Amin went into exile, first in Libya and then Iraq, and finally in Saudi Arabia, where he lived until his death in 2003.
Idi Amin rule was characterised by rampant human rights abuses, including political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, as well as nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. International observers and human rights groups estimate that between 100,000 and 500,000 people were killed under his regime.
On 19th July 2003, Idi Amin fourth wife, Nalongo Madina, reported that he was in a coma and near death at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, frm Kidney Failure. She pleaded with the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni to to allow him to return to Uganda for the remainder of his life. President Yoweri Museveni replied that Idi Amin would have to answer for his sins the moment he was brought back. Idi Amin family eventually decided to disconnect life support from him and Idi Amin consequently died at the hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 16th August 2003. He was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah in a simple grave, without any fanfare.
After Idi Amin death, David Owen revealed that during his term as the British Foreign Secretary from 1977 to 1979, he had proposed having Idi Amin assassinated. He has defended this, arguing that “I am not ashamed of considering it, because his regime as Ugandan President goes down as one of the worst of all African regimes”. He considered Idi Amin as the worst African leader of all time.
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