Wednesday August 20 2003

‘The Hitler of Africa’

Idi Amin Dada’s regime has been described as one of the bloodiest in Africa’s history and most of the books written about him and his regime focus primarily on his brutality. Some are fictitious stories but most are narratives of people who lived in Uganda during Amin’s reign. This is a look at some of the reviews of the books that have been written about the man who one author calls the Hitler of Africa.

A list of other books that have been written on Idi Amin Dada.

Idi Amin (History’s Villains) By Tamra Orr

General Amin By David Martin

Idi Amin Dada: Hitler in Africa By Thomas Patrick

The collected bulletins of President Idi Amin as taken down verbatim by Alan Coren and published weekly in the pages of Punch By Alan Coren

I love Idi Amin: the story of triumph under fire in the midst of suffering and persecution in Uganda By Festo Kivengere

After Amin, The Bloody Pearl By Michael Lewis Richardson

Uganda Holocaust By Dan and Barnett, Ray Wooding

Idi Amin: Death Light of Africa By David Gwyn

Uganda: The Asian Exiles By Thomas Patrick Melady

I was Kidnapped by Idi Amin By Nefta Enzinga

War in Uganda: the Legacy of Idi Amin By Tony Avirgan

Uganda, the fall and rise of Idi Amin; From the pages of Drum

The White Pumpkin By Denis Cecil Hills

The Killing of Idi Amin By Leslie Watkins

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. He fled the country in May 1977. The author played an active role in Uganda’s post Amin reconstruction as a member of the National Resistance Council and minister in various portfolios.

Kyemba in his book talks about the happenings in Amin’s government and gives emphasis to certain issues. He highlights the 1976 Entebbe raid and what he says is the truth about Dora Bloch’s murder. He also lists some of the prominent people -- more than 100 -- who died during Amin’s reign. The book describes Amin’s private visits to the morgue and the gruesome tastes he personally described to Kyemba.

Kyemba devotes a whole chapter to Amin’s wives and he covers in depth the happenings that surrounded the dismembered body of Amin's wife Kay.

This book contains a graphic description of horror and terror that characterised Amin’s regime and reveals the story and personality of Idi Amin.

Kyemba’s description of that time is that it was a reign masked by violence, lawlessness, gross violation of human rights and the decay and disintegration of public institutions.

Peter A.J.P. Allen is a Briton who lived in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin Dada. His novel Interesting Times: Life in Uganda Under Idi Amin is written as a narrative and is an account of his survival in the Uganda Judiciary during the eight-year reign of Idi Amin in the 1970s and its violent aftermath. Allen's diaries of his three decades in Uganda catalogue Amin's rise to power and detail the dictator's excesses.

Mr Muniini K. Mulera describes the book as a very well written account of Uganda's most critical era, which shows the progress from the blissful days of a British Protectorate, through the horrors of Amin's rule to the anarchy of the post-Amin period.

It is the record of the experiences and observations of a man who was intimately involved with the story, yet one who was relatively detached from the political and military fighting that held the country in its grip throughout the entire period that he lived there.

The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden, on the other hand looks at this time through the eyes of a fictitious character, Nicholas Garrigan.

Garrigan is a Scottish physician who serves as the personal doctor and occasional confidante of Idi Amin. Having sequestered himself on a remote island in Scotland, Garrigan reflects, through a fog of self-deception and regret, on his stint as Amin's sidekick, from their first unlikely encounter after a back-road accident to his installation in the capital as the ruler's house physician.

Publishers Weekly describes the book as a vivid journey to the turbulent heart of 1970s Uganda. It goes on to state that Foden expertly weaves together Amin's life allowing serious questions to surface about the ethical boundaries of medicine and the crumbling Western influence in Africa. Garrison is the perfect foil for Amin, whose overwhelming physical presence, peacockish rhetoric and cold-blooded savagery are so well captured: it is also a forceful account of a surrealistic and especially ugly chapter of modern history.

In Idi Amin and Uganda: An Annotated Bibliography, Martin Jamison, compiles a volume that provides a descriptive bibliography of published material on Idi Amin and Uganda during the Amin years. Arranging the entries topically within chronological sections, Jamison covers the span of Amin's reign from 1971 to 1979. The work also includes entries providing background information on Amin and covering Amin in exile.

The International Journal of African Historical Studies states that the volume covers scholarly, research-level, English-language works. The literature covered includes journal articles, books, chapters within edited volumes, conference papers, government publications, audio-visual materials, and theses. The works included provide more than a passing glance at Amin, and speak directly to the topic of Amin or Uganda under Amin. With some exceptions, the bibliography excludes newspaper articles, popular or news magazine articles, fiction, encyclopaedias, yearbooks, and other standard handbooks. This slim but tightly packed volume begins with a concise introduction narrating the major events of Amin's eight years of haphazard rule in Uganda, followed by a brief discussion of sources and organising principles.

-- Compiled with notes from various internet sources.