2) Idi Amin’s birth date is unconfirmed, but estimated to have been in 1925, near koboko, west Nile province, Uganda. His mother (Assa Aatte), an herbalist and diviner, raised him after his father (Andreas Nyabire) deserted the family. Amin had little formal education before joining the King’s African Rifles of the British colonial army in 1946 as an assistant cook.
3) Extremely charismatic and skilled, Amin quickly rose through the ranks. His stature was rather notable. He stood six feet, four inches tall and was a Ugandan boxing champion from 1951 to 1960, as well as a swimmer. He soon became notorious among fellow soldiers for his overzealous and cruel military interrogations. Eventually he made the highest rank possible for a Black African serving in the British Army. From 1952 until 1956, he served in the Allied forces’ Burma campaign during World War II, and in the British action against the Mau Mau revolt in Kenya (1952–56).
4) Before Uganda’s independence in 1962, Amin became closely associated with the new nation’s prime minister and president, Milton. The two men worked to smuggle gold, coffee and ivory out of Congo, but conflicts soon arose between them, and on January 25, 1971, while Obote was attending a meeting in Singapore, Amin staged a successful military coup. Amin became president and chief of the armed forces in 1971, field marshal in 1975 and life president in 1976.
5) Idi Amin was initially welcomed both within Uganda and by the international community. King Freddie had died in exile in 1969 and one of Amin’s earliest acts was to have the body returned to Uganda for state burial. Political prisoners (many of whom were Amin followers) were freed and the Ugandan Secret Police was disbanded. However, at the same time Amin had ‘killer squads’ hunting down Obote’s supporters.
6) Idi Amin once declared himself King of Scotland and appeared at a royal Saudi Arabian funeral in 1975 wearing a kilt.
7) During his rule Idi Amin banned hippies and mini-skirts.
8) Idi Amin is reported to have kept the severed heads of political opponents in his fridge.
9) Idi Amin awarded himself many titles and honors, eventually styling himself as ‘His Excellency, President for Life Field Marshall Al Hadj Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC. Lord of all the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular’. This made him one of the most powerful men in the world, in his own mind at least.
10) Between 1951 and 1960, Amin held Uganda’s light heavyweight boxing championship proving his athletic prowess.
11) Amin gained a reputation for cruelty often being cashiered for becoming too violent in interrogations. Despite this, he rose through the ranks, as he was a skilled soldier.
12) Amin persecuted many members of many ethnic groups including religious leaders, journalists, artists, senior bureaucrats, judges, lawyers, students and intellectuals, criminal suspects, and foreign nationals. In this atmosphere of violence, many other people were killed for criminal motives or simply at will. Bodies were often dumped into the Nile River.
13) Amin became known as the “Butcher of Uganda” for his brutality. It is believed that some 300,000 people were killed during his presidency. In July 1976 he was personally involved in the hijacking of a French airliner to Entebbe. In October 1978 Amin ordered an attack on Tanzania. Aided by Ugandan nationalists, Tanzanian troops eventually overpowered the Ugandan army. As the Tanzanian-led forces neared Kampala, Uganda’s capital, on April 13, 1979.
14) Idi Amin died of multiple organ failure in 2003 and was buried in Saudi Arabia. By the time of his death, he had five wives, three of whom he divorced. Sources differ widely about how many children he had but it is between 30 and 45.
15) The ‘Butcher of Uganda’ has been portrayed several times in films including ‘Rise and Fall of Idi Amin’ (1991) and ‘The Last King of Scotland’ (2006). Actor Forest Whitaker portrayed Amin in the film and won an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
16) Spouse: Sarah Amin (m. 1975–2003), Madina Amin (m. 1972–2003), Nora Amin (m. 1967–1974), Kay Amin (m. 1966–1974), Malyamu Amin (m. 1966–1974) .
17) Children: Taban Amin, Jaffar Amin, Faisal Wangita, Ali Amin, Mwanga Amin, Moses Amin, Hussein Amin, Khadija Abria Amin, Haji Ali Amin, Maimuna Amin, Wasswa Amin, Iman Amin, Kato Amin.
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