Idi Amin

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Idi Amin (1973)

Idi Amin Dada (* allegedly May 17, 1928 as Idi Awo-Ongo Angoo in Koboko near Arua , Uganda ; † August 16, 2003 in Jeddah , Saudi Arabia ) was Uganda's dictatorial head of state from 1971 to 1979 .

As a full, self-chosen title he used at the time: "His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross, 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 "(German" His Excellency President for life, field Marshal Hajj doctor Idi Amin Dada, the Victoria cross , Medal for outstanding service , Military cross , Lord of all the animals of the earth and all fish the seas and conquerors of the British Empire in Africa in general and particularly in Uganda ”).

Amin is considered the epitome of a brutal ruler. Between 300,000 and 400,000 people are said to have fallen victim to his eight years of tyranny .



Amin's origins are surrounded by many myths. His date of birth is given in some sources as January 1, 1928 and also with the years of birth 1923, 1924 and 1925. According to some sources, his real name is Idi Amin Dada Oumee . He comes from the Adibu clan of the Kakwa people in South Sudan . His father Andreas Nyabire converted from Christianity to Islam and called himself Amin Dada. He was a soldier and a policeman. His mother Assa Aatte came from a people in what is now the Congo. She was a medicine woman . The parents separated in 1931. Idi Amin had five wives.

He weighed more than 100 kg with a height of 1.93 meters. From 1951 to 1960 he was boxing champion in his country.


Amine's military career
British Army
1946 Entry to the King's African Rifles
1947 Private
1952 Corporal
1953 sergeant
1958 Sergeant Major (deployed as Platoon Commander )
1959 Efendim Abi ( Warrant Officer )
1961 Lieutenant (one of the first two Ugandan officers)
Ugandan Army
1962 Captain
1963 major
1964 Deputy and Deputy Commander in Chief
1965 Colonel and Commander in Chief
1968 Major General and Commander in Chief
1971 Head of State and Commander in Chief
1975 Field Marshal

In 1946, Amin joined the King's African Rifles (KAR), a unit of the British colonial army made up of Africans. Initially employed only as an assistant cook, his military advancement began with his service in the so-called Mau Mau uprising in Kenya . In 1953 he became a sergeant (sergeant), in 1958 sergeant major (chief sergeant). In 1959 he was promoted to Effendi ( Warrant Officer ) - the highest rank that an African could achieve in the British colonial troops. In 1961, a year before his homeland became independent, Amin was one of two Ugandans to be promoted to British lieutenant ( officer ) for the first time in history .

His penchant for brutality was already known at that time. When he was commissioned to arbitration a dispute between rival nomadic, he solved the problem by having the contestants with their mutilation genitals threatened.

After Uganda's independence in 1962, Amin had a quick career: thanks to his patron, Prime Minister Milton Obote , he was made captain and promoted to major in 1963 . In 1964 he was already deputy army commander and in 1965 he received the rank of colonel . In 1966, during a military training session in Israel , Amin acquired his paratrooper badge , which he always wore on his uniform from then on. In 1968 Amin became Major General and in 1971 Chief of Staff .

Amin now secured control of the army by increasingly recruiting members of his tribe as well as Muslims from the north of the country.


Idi Amin on state visit to Mobutu in 1977 during the Shaba invasion
Caricature of Idi Amin

On January 25, 1971, Idi Amin seized power in what was initially a bloodless coup , while Milton Obote attended a conference of the Commonwealth of Nations in Singapore . After a few days , intellectuals, high officers and judges " disappeared ". Entire villages that Obote had supported were razed to the ground and the residents murdered.

Amin became a symbol of the brutal African ruler. According to estimates by human rights organizations, between 300,000 and 400,000 people fell victim to his eight years of tyranny after the civilian population was banned from carrying firearms under the Firearms Act in 1970. A prominent victim of Amine's despotic rule was Janani Luwum , the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, who protested in 1977 against the arbitrary rule.

According to eyewitness reports and statements by former members of the army, Amin had the bodies of his victims thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile to eat because mass graves could not be established at short notice.

In 1971, Amin had good relations with several Western countries. After Israel refused to deliver arms, he broke off relations with several western states and expanded economic relations with the Arab and Islamic states as well as with the Eastern bloc.

Relations with neighboring Tanzania , whose leadership did not recognize Amin's coup government, were tense from the start. The Tanzanian government suspected that Amin's coup was made possible by Britain and Israel and that Western countries were trying to use Amin's help to set up a puppet government in Uganda. In fact, the CIA supplied bombs and other military equipment to Uganda through front companies and covertly participated in military operations for the Ugandan rulers in the 1970s.

Milton Obote was granted asylum in Tanzania and helped to build a guerrilla army. As a result, Ugandan troops repeatedly crossed the border with Tanzania from August 1971 and tried to force the Nyerere government to recognize the Amin's regime through this military show of force. In return, Tanzania supported an invasion of Obote and his guerrilla army ( Uganda People's Army ) in Uganda in order to be able to carry out a counter coup. This war, the so-called First Uganda-Tanzania War , ended on October 7, 1972 after Somalia mediated . In 1972 Amin expelled the Asians , especially Indians, from the country as part of an Africanization campaign . Foreign companies were expropriated. He stayed in power as the West continued to trade with him and also supplied Uganda with arms to the Soviet Union . The Federal Republic maintained good relations with the Amins regime until 1975. Uganda was granted development aid of 22.6 million DM by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975.

On June 25, 1976, Idi Amin was appointed president for life. In the summer of Uganda made headlines when a plane of Air France on the flight from Tel Aviv to Paris after a stopover in Athens by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine , as well as a command of the German Revolutionary Cells hijacked and with support from Uganda to Entebbe was kidnapped . The liberation of the hostages by Israeli special forces on Ugandan territory, in which around 25 Ugandan soldiers were killed and a substantial part of the Ugandan air force was destroyed, is seen as a violation of Uganda's sovereignty and a severe humiliation for Amin. He had the Israeli hostage Dora Bloch , who was in a hospital because of a previous emergency at the time of the military operation and therefore not flown out, murdered. He also had hundreds of Kenyans living in Uganda murdered because Kenya had supported Israel's liberation campaign.

Idi Amin wanted to erect a memorial on Lake Victoria in honor of Adolf Hitler ; This idea is said to have been talked out of him by the Soviet ambassador Alexey Sakharov .

Fall and escape

In October 1978, Idi Amin gave the order to invade Tanzania (Operation Magurugur) , thus triggering the Second Uganda-Tanzania War . With this war he was able to divert attention from domestic political problems and to unite his military, threatened by internal disputes, with a split through a successful campaign. By occupying and annexing the Kagera area, Uganda provoked a reaction from Tanzania . In the counter-offensive on April 11, 1979, the capital Kampala was taken by Tanzanian troops together with troops from the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). This also ended Amin's term as President of Uganda. First he fled to Libya and then to Iraq . He eventually went into exile in Saudi Arabia , where the government provided him with a villa in the city of Jeddah on condition that he was not involved in politics . There the ex-dictator, dubbed the butcher of Africa, died after a long period in a coma on August 16, 2003 of high blood pressure and kidney failure.

Film and literature

  • 1974 was directed by Barbet Schroeder , a documentary entitled General Idi Amin Dada (Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait) , of the standing at the height of his power amine at various performances, in the private sphere, in interviews and in monologues with the Camera portrayed.
  • In the film ... who know no mercy (English Raid in Entebbe ) from 1977 about the aircraft hijacking in Entebbe, Uganda, Idi Amin was portrayed by Yaphet Kotto . Directed by Irvin Kershner .
  • In 1981, the native Indian Sharad Patel made the film The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin , which was sold in Germany under the title Idi Amin - Der Schlächter and in which the African Joseph Olita played the leading role. The British-Kenyan co-production only roughly used Idi Amin's résumé and presented his reign of terror only to a limited extent historically correct. Rather, it was a political drama with strong elements of the exploitation film , in which above all the killings and torture were in the foreground.
  • In the 1988 comedy Die Nackte Kanon , he (played by Prince Hughes ) is one of the leaders of the "Axis of Evil" at the beginning of the film . Frank Drebin ( Leslie Nielsen ) is about to be defeated. Amin is hit on the head and falls through a window.
  • In the short story Dada by the writer TC Boyle , a young New York artist persuades the dictator to take part as a "living work of art" in an exhibition on Dadaism in the USA, which he gladly agrees to do because he believes the exhibition is named after him be.
  • In the film adaptation of The Last King of Scotland - In the clutches of power from 2006, directed by Kevin Macdonald played Forest Whitaker the role of Idi Amin. The script for the film was written by Peter Morgan .
  • In Victory at Entebbe 1976 Idi Amin is from Julius Harris embodies. The film deals with the Air France hijacking in 1976 .
  • In the film 7 Days in Entebbe from 2018, which also deals with the Air France hijacking in 1976, Idi Amin is played by Nonso Anozie .


  • Erich Wiedemann: Idi Amin, a hero from Africa? Zsolnay, Vienna 1976, ISBN 3-552-02821-8 .
  • Henry Kyemba : State of Blood: The Inside Story of Idi Amin. 1977, ISBN 0-448-14640-1 .
  • Semakula Kiwanuka: Amin and the tragedy of Uganda (= Africa Studies , Volume 104). World Forum, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-8039-0177-4 .
  • Dan Wooding, Ray Barnett: Under the Torture President. Factual report on the persecution of Christians in Uganda and the torture methods under Idi Amin. Verlag der Liebenzeller Mission, Bad Liebenzell 1980, ISBN 3-88002-108-2 .
  • Harald Kleinschmidt, Amin Collection: Bibliographical Catalog of Materials relevant to the History of Uganda the Military Government of Idi Amin Dada. Kivouvou Verlag, 1983, ISBN 3-88827-025-1 .
  • Dolores Bauer : My Uganda. Mandelbaum, Vienna 2003, ISBN 3-85476-189-9 .
  • Giles Foden : The Last King of Scotland. Structure paperback, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-7466-1932-7 .
  • Jean-Pierre Chrétien: L'Afrique des Grands Lacs. Deux milles ans d'histoire. Paris 2011.
  • Mark Leopold: Idi Amin: The Story of Africa's Icon of Evil. Yale University Press, New Haven 2020, ISBN 978-0-300-15439-9 .

Web links

Commons : Idi Amin  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Died - Idi Amin . In: Der Spiegel . No. 35 , 2003, p. 162 ( Online - Aug. 25, 2003 ).
  2. ^ The bloody antics of Idi Amin , of March 13, 2007
  3. How did Idi Amin become a butcher? from August 18, 2003
  4. Firearms Act 1970, Uganda Legal Information Institute, December 1, 1970, accessed July 11, 2016 .
  5. a b c Cut off the head of this snake . In: Der Spiegel . No. 16 , 1979, pp. 126-140 ( Online - Apr. 16, 1979 ).
  6. ^ Paper Cites CIA Aid To Amin's Army in 70's New York Times, December 17, 1986
  7. Peter Beaumont: Idi Amin Dada, VC, CBE .. RIP. The Guardian , August 17, 2003, accessed July 11, 2016 .