Background on Amin

Idi Amin Dada, born in 1925 in northern Uganda, lived a very normal life for a poor Ugandan boy. Born in Koboko county, in Uganda's West Nile District, Amin went to school only occasionally as he was needed to tended his family's goats and sheep. He was brought up a Muslim, and after his parents divorced, he lived with his mother. He was born in the Nubian tribal lands, and this is perhaps one of Amin's main influences and the reason that Amin was so forceful and violent. The Nubians are distinguished as the tribe with the highest homicidal rate in Uganda. This sadistic and uneducated clan had always lived in Koboko county, and there was a lack of integration between the Nubians and the other Ugandan people. Amin then joined the King's African Rifles in 1946 as an assistant cook. Amin would later claim that he was fighting in Burma in World War II at this time, and he then wore self-awarded metals for his "bravery" during this time. Amin was mostly notable for his large size and strength, and from 1951 to 1960, Amin was the heavyweight boxing champion of Uganda. At this time in Amin's career, he was known as the "grunt man" for the army; he did the bloody work that no one else wanted to do and did it quietly. In 1962, there was an incident where Amin was caught with blood on his hands. The shallow graves of several tortured victims from a raid by Amin's

 


troops were discovered, but this discovery was made on the eve of Uganda's independence, so Obote, not wanting any spots on his new government, dismissed the claims as false. Amin had learned his lesson, however, and for a while he covered his tracks better. While the rest of Uganda was in constant conflict after their independence, Amin remained in the shadows and attended to his own illegal business with Sudanese Anayan guerrilla fighters and other Ugandans. Amin was using state money to fund his "business," but Obote was too busy to notice until too late. Obote, meanwhile, rose Amin in rank, seeing him as the quiet official who always got the job done. Obote did not question Amin, and in fact even defended him under certain circumstances. When Obote finally did set a trial date for Amin, it was too late, and when Obote left, Amin had enough charisma, power, and money to take over the state himself.

Even when in the international spotlight after he seized control, Amin was seen as the quiet, humorous, and harmless general that might bring peace to Uganda. Even the British press found Amin very normal and even comic. " 'if a choice is to be made between quiet military men and noisy civil dictators, then I prefer, in Africa at least, the military.' (Spectator, 30 January 1971.)" Amin spoke in long, rambling speeches that were seen as humorous by the western press, he always smiled and was very polite, and to the outside world, Amin appeared to be a better leader that Obote. Most importantly, Amin was well-known within the ranks and a very charismatic figure. For the first part of his regime, Amin was the picture-perfect president.

 

 


[Amin invades the capital: the charismatic general waves to the crowd as he enters Kampala.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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