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Useful Notes: Idi Amin

Idi Amin Dada (1923? 1925? 1928? - 2003) was President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He was originally a former boxer in the army who rose to the rank of Colonel. In 1971 he committed a coup that ousted president Milton Obote from power. The British were glad to get rid of Obote, who was a dictator who didn't follow their own political and economical interests enough. Amin, however, would turn out to be far worse. The dictator became notorious in the international press for saying incredibly stupid and silly things on camera, almost appearing as a child in an adult body. For instance, in regard to the Watergate affair, he personally sent Richard Nixon a letter wishing him a speedy recovery and advising him to imprison the leaders of the opposition when his nation's stability was in danger. He was fond of watching children's cartoons, nicknamed himself the last king of Scotland and once arrived in the UK for an official state visit, only informing the Royal Palace of his arrival when the plane has just landed on the London airport! Many foreign media depicted him as a harmless clown and countless cartoons, parodies and comic strips only added to this image.

Behind the scenes however, Amin's regime was characterized by gross human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement. In 1972, Amin plunged his East African nation into economic chaos by expelling tens of thousands of Asians who had controlled the country's economy. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000. He was reported being a cannibal, a fact that remains unproven, but heads of his victims were found inside his fridge. He ordered many people to be executed or fed to crocodiles.

All these reports turned Amin in one of the most colorful and frequently mocked politicians of The Seventies. As the decade went on he was subject of many sensationalized Exploitation Film documentaries and biopics that focused on his gruesome deeds, such as Général Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974), Raid On Entebbe (1977), "Victory at Entebbe" (1976), "Operation Thunderbolt" (1977) and the Rise And Fall Of Idi Amin (1981)

Dissent within Uganda and Amin's attempt to annex the Kagera province of Tanzania in 1978 led to the Uganda–Tanzania War and the demise of his regime. Amin later fled to exile in Libya and Saudi Arabia until his death on August 16, 2003.

Works featuring Amin

Comic Strips
  • Nero: Featured in three albums. In the first, "De Wensring", the author was forced to make Amin unrecognizable by scribbling a beard on his face, because he was considered to be a "friend" of the Belgian government and the newspaper publishers didn't want to offend him. In later appearances, such as "De Zweefbonbons" and "Daris Doet Het" Amin had already fallen out of favor with the West and thus Sleen was allowed to portray him uncensored. Amin is portrayed as a dumb and cruel brute with boxing gloves that continually drip with blood. He considers Nero to be his friend, yet locks him up in "De Wensring" because he doesn't want him to leave. In "Daris Doet Het" Nero and Idi Amin have a fall-out because Nero takes away Amin's dinner to feed it to the hungry population. Later in the story Amin is eaten by crocodiles.
  • De Kiekeboes: Idi Amin is also a regular villain in this comic book series, yet named Bibi Pralin Gaga. Again he is portrayed as a dumb tyrant with a career in boxing. Creator Merho commented: "Amin was already a comic book character. I just put him back in his original environment."

  • The Last King of Scotland- Giles Foden's novel as well as the film adaptation
  • He appears in "Raid On Entebbe"(1977), "Victory at Entebbe" (1976) and the Israeli film "Operation Thunderbolt" (1977)'', all about the historic Israeli rescue operation of the same name.
  • He is the subject of the sprawling, fantastically sleazy (yet surprisingly historically accurate) exploitation epic, "The Rise And Fall Of Amin"(1981). Kenyan actor Joseph Olita, who played Amin, later reprised it in a cameo for the film "Mississippi Massala", about the 1972 deportation of the Ugandan Asians.
  • The subject of the 1974 documentary "General Idi Amin Dada: An Autoportrait", created by filmmakers who were careful to put his already infamous regime in context, but depicted it primarily through interviews with Amin in which he related his....colourful views on various subjects and was depicted in normal interactions with his subjects.
  • Depicted alongside other dictators in the prologue of The Naked Gun (1988), being fought off by Inspector Frank Drebin.

  • "The Collected Bulletins of Idi Amin" and "The Further Bulletins of Idi Amin" (1974 and 1975): Books compiled from the "Punch" magazine columns of the British humourist Allan Coren. While today they would no doubt be considered highly offensive, Coren's lampooning of Amin's famously garbled pidgin English (a consequence of his sadly illiterate upbringing), and penchant for public acts of buffoonery that mingled hideously with his known penchant for crimes against humanity guarantees a hearty (if somewhat guilt-filled) laugh to the contemporary reader. The books were later recorded as the 1975 album "The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin", recited with a suitably comically insensitive accent by the comedian John Bird.

  • Spitting Image: He was featured as a puppet on the show, but didn't appear that much, because his political role was already over at the time this series aired.
  • A skit on the Israeli satire show Nikui Rosh compared Moshe Levinger to him, calling him ‘Rabbi Levinger Dada’ and portraying him as a madman who encourages violence against IDF soldiers and talks to rocks. At the end of the skit, Levinger says, ‘Idi Amin? He’s just a madman! He’s all talk, talk, talk—I act!’

  • Comedian John Bird recorded an entire comedy album where he imitates Idi Amin, The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin, with the catchy song Amazin' Man.
  • The Sex Pistols released a 1978 single, Nobody Is Innocent, sang by criminal on the run Ronnie Biggs, where they praise various notorious people and also shout God Bless Idi Amin at one point. By the way, John Lydon had already left the group at this point and didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Tropes associated with Idi Amin

Akechi MitsuhideUsefulNotes/Military PersonnelAttila the Hun
Hideki TojoUseful NotesIsaac Newton
Carolus RexHeads Of StateAlfred The Great
Alfred The GreatHistorical-Domain CharacterJohnny Appleseed

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