Rejected then taken in by dad

Tuesday February 11 2003

"Amin's parents separated after suspicion that he was fathered by Kabaka Chwa" His childhood real names were Idi Awo-Ongo Angoo.

He was born on May 17, 1928 at about 4.00 a.m. in a police barracks at the present International Conference Centre in Kampala.

He was of the Adibu clan of the Kakwa ethnic group.
His father was initially Andreas Nyabire, a Catholic who converted to Islam in 1910 and became Amin Dada.

Andreas Nyabire Amin Dada was born in 1889 and died in 1976. He was a Kakwa from Adida in Southern Sudan.

The mother of Idi Amin was called Assa Aatte. Born in 1904, she died in 1970.

She was daughter of a Lugbara Sultan (Chief) at Leiko Iruna in the present day Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Aatte was a traditional herbalist dealing with pregnancy and fertility complications. Aatte had among her patients in 1924-1929, Lady Irene Druscilla Namaganda, the Nabagereka of Buganda and the Kabaka Sir Daudi Chwa.

Amin’s parents married in 1921 in Arua, produced their first son in 1922, a daughter in 1925 and Ango (Amin) in 1928.

Idi Amin’s father served in the 4th King’s African Rifles (KAR) from 1915 to 1920 and joined the Uganda Police in 1921. His job in the Uganda Police was to administer corporal punishments called kibooko to natives.

Idi Amin’s parents separated in 1931 while living at a new police barracks at Kololo. Apparently, the separation resulted from suspicion that Idi Amin, the baby, had been fathered by Daudi Chwa rather than by Dada.

Idi Amin’s mother got money from the Kabaka and built a house at Kitubulu near Entebbe. Amin’s father, Dada, rejected him.

He grew up with his maternal family. His brother and sister died in 1932.

Three decades later, in 1964, Amin’s father accepted him back.

In 1933 Idi Amin lived with his mother’s relatives at Mawale near Semuto in the present Luwero district. There he reared goats from 1936 to 1938. He then moved to the home of Sheikh Ahmed Hussein in the present Semuto town from 1938 to 1940 where he started reciting the Koran.

In 1940 he came to Bombo to live with his marternal uncle Yusuf Tanaboo. He tried to register for the equivalent of Primary One but Nubians were not admitted in schools.

As a twelve-year-old Amin participated in the Nubian riots against discrimination and was injured by Makerere College students at Wandegeya.

In 1941 Amin joined Garaya Islamic school at Bombo, and again excelled in reciting the Koran under Mohammed Al Rajab from 1941 –1944.

Amin and Abdul Kadir Aliga won honours in reciting the Koran in 1943.

At the end of 1944 Amin and fifteen other students at the Bombo Garaya were taken for conscription into the army. Amin and five others were released for being underage.

He then went to the present Kiyindi zone at Kalerwe near Bwaise and started doing odd jobs in 1945.
He got a job as a door hat and coat attendant at the Imperial Hotel at the end of 1945.

Later in 1946 a British army officer was impressed and offered to recruit Idi Amin in the army.

Amin served at Magamaga Barracks in Jinja as a laundry and kitchen army staff as he trained until 1947 when he transferred to Kenya for real military service.

He served in the 21st KAR infantry brigade at Gilgil, until 1949 when his unit moved to Somalia at Belet Uen to fight the Shifta animal raiders.

In 1950, Amin’s unit returned to Fort Hall in Kenya. There he trained in the Scottish military band.
In 1951 he returned to Jinja but went back to Kenya the same year.

In 1952 his battalion was deployed against the Mau Mau. Amin became corporal the same year.

In 1953 he became a sergeant for his role in starting the mobile foot patrols in the forests occupied by the Mau Mau.

While fighting the Mau Mau, Amin had a son and a daughter with two Kikuyu women.

Amin’s name appeared on the list of those soldiers who performed best against the Mau Mau. He was also nominated for promotion to the new rank of efendi (that is, warrant officer equivalent).

He returned to Jinja, Uganda in 1954 where he was selected best in the parade for Queen Elizabeth. In 1955 Sgt Amin again led the guard or honour to welcome Kabaka Edward Mutesa from exile.

He moved to Lango district in 1956 and successfully defended the Langi from the Karimojong raids as head of a platoon.

He got a child with a Langi woman.

The same year 1955, Amin’s unit was deployed to quell a military mutiny in southern Sudan. He again performed well by the standards of the time.

In 1957 Amin led requests for salary increment. It was denied. Amin also failed the intellectual (written and oral) tests for promotion. He was posted to the KAR band.

In 1958 Amin again failed promotional exams but passed field exercises in 1959 and was promoted in December of that year.

In July 1960 a British officer called Ronald Cedric Weeding was defeated and killed by the Turkana in Karamoja.

Amin was sent to Karamoja. The army spokesman described Amin as having “restored the prestige of the forces of law and order in the region of Karamoja”.

Subsequently, Amin was commissioned to Lieutenant in July 1961 by Sir Frederick Crawford.

The same year Amin and Daudi Ochieng were assigned the duty of negotiating with Sir Edward Mutesa for a political compromise.

He convinced Mutesa that the Uganda army in which Amin was part, would never move against the Kingdom. The mission was a success.

Idi Amin then moved against the Turkana in 1962 with two convoys of the 4th KAR. Using the threat to cut off their penis, Amin disarmed the Turkana without a fight.

He was again part of the initiative to placate the unhappy Mutesa when in 1963, he proposed that the Kabaka becomes Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the army.

Ironically, the same year, Amin prevented the recruitment of Kabaka Yekka and Uganda People’s Congress youths into the army. He instigated complaints about the drive for educated people to take over army leadership.

Early in 1964 Idi Amin complained that the army was doing all the heavy work of the independence government of the Rwanda where it was helping to keep law and order. He said that they were also working in the Rwenzoris and on the Sudan border but had not benefited from Uhuru like the civil servants and the politicians.

The British army commander Lt.-Colonel W.W. Cheyne blocked Idi Amin’s request for a salary increment. Idi Amin instigated the February-March military mutiny.

Idi Amin was proposed for the role of mediator between the mutineers and the UPC-KY government for the mutiny he had started.

The end of the mutiny saw the British officers lose their jobs to Amin. He also got a salary increment, the promotion to Major and the command of the First Battalion.

Idi Amin who in 1962 had been discontinued from a platoon commander course at Wiltshire in the U.K and who in 1963 failed to complete a paratrooper course nevertheless became a deputy Army Commander in 1964.

In 1965 Idi Amin was given the task of supporting the Congo nationalists to resist the foreign supported government of Mobutu Sese Seko.

Idi Amin benefited financially and invested in a bus company called Trans-Nile.

At the end of 1965 the Congo mercenaries defeated the Idi Amin-backed rebels in the Congo.

In Uganda Amin was identified with Prime Minister Obote who was being pressured to leave office.
Idi Amin on February 22, 1966 resisted the military coup to oust Obote and helped execute a counter-coup to give Obote absolute power.

Idi Amin proceeded to Makindye and convinced Mutesa to order the soldiers under Brigadier Shaban Opolot not to fight. Amin promised to mediate between Obote and Mutesa.

Idi Amin was promoted to Colonel and became the Army Commander replacing Brigadier Opolot in 1966.

Amin led the assault on the Lubiri but contrary to orders from Obote seized only one side instead of encircling the Lubiri.

Mutesa escaped.

In February 1967 Idi Amin started attending English lessons under the adult studies programme at Makerere University Continuing Education Department.

In the same month Idi Amin was given powers to increase the size of the army by two more battalions. Idi Amin used the powers to recruit from West Nile and southern Sudan.

In April 1968, Obote promoted Amin to Major General – a reward for his loyalty during the Republican Monarchist crisis.

In 1968 as Army Commander Idi Amin involved Israeli-sponsored operations to support the rebellion in southern Sudan.

In 1969 Idi Amin was challenged over his capacity to lead the army during a revolutionary Socialist UPC Move-to-the-left period.

Amin lost control of the army units under Acholi and Langi command. He joined UPC and attended lessons in Socialism in 1969.

At the end of 1969 Idi Amin was accused of cowardice in the incident of Obote’s attempted assassination.

In January 1970 Idi Amin organised through a man called Christopher Luutu the assassination of Brigadier Okoya who had accused him.

Later in 1970 the assassins of Okoya while hiding for fear of Amin eliminating were arrested and revealed their role in the assassination through Luutu, a brother to Captain Smart Guweddeko.

Idi Amin was also found to be linked with the loss of Shs 40m from the Military Operation Fund. Obote removed Amin from direct command of the army at the end of 1970.

In January 1971 Obote ordered for a prosecution file on Idi Amin to be prepared.

On January 24, 1971 Idi Amin fled Kampala to avoid arrest. Soldiers led by Sergeant-Major Moses Ali received a misinterpreted message from a signaller and they resisted preparations to arrest Idi Amin.

Power was seized in Kampala and Idi Amin was sought to take over.

Idi Amin appeared just as Captain Charles Arube was volunteering to become president. Amin accepted to become president on January 25, 1971.

In April 1971 Acholi soldiers who survived the coup started fleeing to southern Sudan fearing for their lives.

In July 1971 Idi Amin visited the UK where his speechwriter James Namakajo caused embarrassment by failing to provide a speech at one of the functions.

Britain demanded commitment from Idi Amin without them promising to meet his needs on weapons and drilling the Lake Albert Basin oil.

In August 1971 Idi Amin re-engaged John Bikobo as Presidential Advisor. Bikobo had been working under Obote and was responsible for the Move-to-the-left, the Common Man’s Charter, and the
Nakivubo Pronouncements.

With Bikobo at his side, Amin took similar an even more radical political stand than Obote. He turned on the Israelis, British, and all other imperialists and even changed from the promoted 18 months caretaker period to five years so as “to put the country’s politics in order.”

Idi Amin showed clemency to former Obote government ministers and operatives. He allowed them to stay and live as private citizens. In November 1971 and February 1972 he released Obote’s former intelligence operatives.

In July 1972 Idi Amin received a petition from Augustine Kamya to place the economy of Uganda into the hands of the indigenous people.

On August 1, 1972 Idi Amin declared the economic war.

On that day Asians were to start leaving Uganda. The country was attacked by Obote and Museveni troops with the intention of engaging Idi Amin’s troops as the British landed to prevent the Asian exodus.

From October 1972 Idi Amin started eliminating all the people linked or suspected of working with the British, Obote, and Museveni against his government.

Idi Amin established the State Research Bureau into a killing machine targeted at his opponents and those with links to imperialists.

In July 1973 Obote gave up fighting Idi Amin. In August 1974 Museveni also gave up fighting to start an internal guerrilla war against Amin.

The British government however continued undermining the economy under Idi Amin in Uganda.

In March 1974 Idi Amin eliminated Tanzanians seeking assistance from him to topple the government of Nyerere. Their crime was to claim that they had the support of Britain to fight an African country.

In July 1974 Amin rejected a budget increasing taxes by very high percentages. He said that he would never allow the overtaxing of the people at a time when they were involved with his government in a war against poverty.

In August 1974 Amin admitted that an economic war was probably much more difficult than a military war.

Amin declared a double production campaign and signed a decree to punish by death people sabotaging the economic war.

He also declared on behalf of all African countries war for the total liberation of South Africa from Apartheid. He offered himself as the first volunteer in the war to uproot Israel from Palestine.

In 1975 Amin became OAU chairman and immediately sought to use his position to rid Africa of all kind of imperialism from both capitalist and communist countries. During the OAU conference, General Gowon of Nigeria who had promised to support Amin was overthrown.

Idi Amin sought and won the title Doctor of Laws (PhD) from Makerere University. He sought to use this title to wear the intellectual authority necessary to advise the rest of Africa on policy vis-à-vis the unliberated regions of the continent.

In 1976 Uganda suffered from very poor economic conditions. Amin became more impatient dismissing ministers and civil servants by the day. Insecurity both real and imagined increased in the population as the SRB ensured the disappearance of more people.

Early in 1977 the UPC moved to take advantage of the pathetic situation in Uganda and cause an uprising with arms smuggled under the cover of the Church of Uganda Centenary (1877-1977). Amin learnt of the plot from the SRB and killed the people involved.

From March 1977 Amin became increasingly suspicious of the people around him including those from the Nubian ethnic groups.

Transfers in the army and temporary appointments became so common that by the end of 1977 more than 50 percent of ministerial and military posts were either vacant or occupied on a temporary basis.

To mitigate the economic crisis, Amin allowed imports to enter free. He started providing for the army directly through goods ferried by a chartered aircraft. To finance these ad hoc transactions Amin started selling coffee on cash basis – with money paid directly to him.

At the end of 1978 Amin launched a military exercise called Operation Magurugur on the Uganda-Tanzania border. The untrusted army units were not provided with planes and communications equipment.

When the artillery shells started falling the troops without communications fled to Tanzania. This triggered off the war that brought Amin’s mercurial regime to an end.

Amin fled to Libya in April 1979. While there he failed to maintain his leadership over his followers in Zaire and Sudan who accused him of causing their ejection from Uganda. His host Col. Gadhafi resolved to work through Brig. Moses Ali in alliance with Museveni’s NRM to restore the losses of Islam in Uganda.

Idi Amin fell out totally with Col. Gadhafi and had to find sanctuary in Saudi Arabia in 1981. In 1989 he however, did try to return through Kinshasa to lead an armed group organised by Col. Juma Oris.

The attempt was a failure. Idi Amin remained in Saudi Arabia sending financial assistance to his brother Ramathan (RIP) and six other relatives and friends. Until his deatg from a combination of hypertension and kidney complications.

Right up to his death, Amin believed in the mission of his leadership that problems of Africa are caused by imperialist interest particularly US and Britain with “their local agents” calling themselves politicians.