Idi Amin

Idi Amin ,

“His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”



Idi Amin was part of the Kakwa people group, located in Northern Uganda. His birthdate is estimated to be somewhere between 1925 – 1927. His mother, a herbalist, raised him and his siblings without the help of Amin’s father, who left their family when Amin was young.

Amin was educated up through Primary 4 (4th grade) and was raised in the Islamic faith. He grew up to be a strong, 6’4″ athlete who was involved in rugby, swimming and boxing. He eventually went on to become the light Heavyweight boxing champion in Uganda.

Young Idi Amin, pictured with (one) wife, Mariam in 1961. Copyright Ugandans at Heart


In 1946, Amin joined the “King’s African Rifles,” a regiment of the British Army. He served as an assistant cook. In the army, he fought for the British in Somalia and also in Kenya against the Mau Mau freedom fighters. He became well know for his cruel interrogation methods, and eventually rose in the ranks.

Amin became friends with Uganda’s president at the time, Milton Obote, who was the first president put into power after Uganda gained independence from the British in 1962. Together Obote and Amin smuggled coffee, gold and ivory out of the Congo.

Amin (left) and Obote (middle). Copyright Daily Monitor
Amin tests weapons. Copyright Daily Monitor

Over time, Obote began to suspect Amin of being power-thirsty, and ordered that Amin be arrested while Obote was abroad attending a meeting. However, during Obote’s absence, Amin staged a military coup and overthrew Obote, putting himself in power as Uganda’s new president in 1971.


Amin eating a piece of chicken. Copyright Independent

One of Amin’s first moves as president was to free political prisoners to gain popularity among the people, many of whom supported the overthrow of Obote.

Amin also decided to target people who had supported Obote, specifically the Acholi and Lango peoples of Northern Uganda. Amin became know as “The Butcher of Uganda,” eventually killing an estimated 300,000 civilians during the period of his 8-year regime.

Amin also called for the deportation and exile of Asians from Uganda in 1972. He specifically targeted Indians and Pakistanis.

Amin exiles Asians from Uganda, 1972. Copyright The London Evening Post

Among his other atrocities, Amin became famous for aiding Palestinian terrorists in 1976 when they hijacked an Air France flight from Israel and landed at Uganda’s main airport in Entebbe. Amin offered support and weapons to the terrorists, while 104 hostages remained in captivity for a week. Ultimately, a special task force from the Israeli Army rescued the hostages, in an event that came to be known as “Operation Thunderbolt.”

Shortly after, Amin has been linked with the murders of many of the airport workers, Kenyans suspected in aiding the Israeli Special Forces, and a British-Israeli hostage who was wounded and taken to the hospital.


The Israeli crew of Hercules One after rescuing hostages during “Operation Thunderbolt.” Copyright Lockheed Martin


In 1978, Amin led his army to attack Tanzania. In return, Tanzania’s president pushed Amin out of Tanzania and took control of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, in 1979.

Amin sought exile in Saudi Arabia.

There, he spent his time  reading books, playing his accordion, swimming, fishing, and watching T.V. (his favorite show was Tom and Jerry).

He went unpunished for his war crime.

In 2003, Amin died of (what is believed to have been) multiple organ failure.

Amin (left) in Saudi Arabia, where he lived comfortably and studied Islam. Copyright Magnum Photos
Daily Nation. 2006. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from–nearly-caused-East-African-war/1056-3277804-1327oaiz/index.html
Ethnographic Uganda. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2017, from
Idi Amin Biography. (n.d.). Retrieved January 31, 2017, from
Idi Amin. (2014, July 08). Retrieved January 31, 2017, from
Ghosh, P. (2012, November 08). Uganda: The Legacy of Idi Amin’s Expulsion of Asians in 1972. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from, Staff. (2009). Idi Amin. Retrieved January 31, 2017, from
K. (1970, January 01). IDI AMIN; THE LEGENDARY UGANDAN DICTATOR. WAS HE ALL EVIL? Retrieved January 31, 2017, from 

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