The myths surrounding Idi Amin - Daily Monitor

The myths surrounding Idi Amin

Wednesday August 20 2003

The BBC in its Saturday broadcast announcing the death of former president Idi Amin Dada reported that he kept the heads of seven of his victims in a fridge in his kitchen.

The report said that Amin would display the heads every time he hosted visitors at the State House in Entebbe.

Researcher Fredrick Guweddeko of Makerere University says that this is just one of the myths that the Western media has propagated about the former president, especially after his fall-out with the British government.

Some of the myths about the dictator's eight-year reign were propagated in the movie, The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin, a biography of the former president acted by Joseph Olita, a Kenyan who was chosen for his striking resemblance to the dictator.

Says Guweddeko: "People should know that the creators of the film barred it from being shown publicly in Uganda. They knew that people here would corroborate the information and the film would lose its credibility."

The Rise and Fall was instrumental in propagating myths about the fallen dictator.

In one scene, the film features Amin opening a fridge and showing his visitors two heads of his former victims with a rather unnerving casualness.

Another scene shows Amin dismissing the coroner doing the autopsy, he picks up a scalpel, cuts a piece of his victim's flesh, mumbles some incomprehensible words and eats the flesh.

The Rise and Fall also portrays Amin as a playboy and a sex maniac. It features Amin having sex simultaneously with two women, one black the other Caucasian.

The dictator who was married to four wives during his reign was known for keeping a keen eye on skirts.

Guwedekko admits that Amin contracted a venereal disease in 1976.

Many young people whose only knowledge of the former dictator have formed their impressions around the negative things written about him or portrayed in the movie.

In this movie once more, Amin is depicted seeking the counsel of a witch doctor on how he can retain his grip on power. Amin was told to sacrifice one of his sons, three-year-old Moses, in order to achieve this.

Guweddeko disputes this.

"Amin never went to ordinary witchdoctors," he says. "Among the Islamic faith are authorities who use the Koran to foretell events."

He says that these are the people that Amin contacted rather than the native healers.

"The son they say was sacrificed went to France and read a university degree. He was even at his dad's bedside at the time of his death," adds Guweddeko.

In the memoirs that Idi Amin sent to Fred Guweddeko earlier this month, he denied all these allegations.

Many people have often said that Idi Amin killed his wife Kay Adroa, the sister of his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michael Ondoga. He is said to have killed her after suspecting her of committing adultery.

Henry Kyemba's book The State of Blood also says as much.

But Guwedekko absolves Amin. According to him, Idi Amin had divorced Kay and she moved on. She had an affair with a one Mbalu Mukasa, a medical doctor with whom she got pregnant.

However, Amin and Kay later made up. All the while she was afraid of what he would do if he discovered that she was pregnant. So she asked Dr Mbalu Mukasa to help her terminate the pregnancy.

The doctor was hesitant because the pregnancy was at an advanced stage - seven months and three weeks. But Kay insisted.

She died from heavy bleeding during the abortion. The doctor panicked.

He figured that if he made her death look like a typical Amin handiwork, he could get the fingers to point in that direction.

So he cut off her limbs put her torso and severed limbs in the boot of his car and then tried to dispose off the body. After failing to do so, Mbalu tried to kill his family with a drug overdose and committed suicide.