Idi Amin Dada (circa 1925 - August 16, 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 launched a coup that ousted president Milton Obote from power. The British were glad to get rid of Obote, a socialist who was not aligned with their own political and economic interests. Support for the coup was also widespread among Ugandans, since Obote's governance was increasingly brutal and authoritarian. 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 among other grandiose titles (get a load of that Chest of Medals in his picture) and once arrived in the UK for an official state visit, only informing the Royal Palace of his arrival when the plane had just landed on the London airport. And when Britain was facing an economic crisis, he mockingly started a charity called "Save the British Fund" to humiliate them. 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 said to be a cannibal, which remains unproven, but heads of his victims were found inside his fridge. He also ordered many people to be executed by being fed to crocodiles.
All these reports turned Amin into one of the most colorful and frequently mocked politicians of The '70s. As the decade went on, he was subject of many sensationalized Exploitation Film documentaries and biopics that focused on his gruesome deeds, such as General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974), Victory at Entebbe (1976), Raid On Entebbe (1977), Operation Thunderbolt (1977), and the The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1981).
On 30th October, 1978, Idi Amin sent troops to invade the Kagera region of Uganda's neighbor Tanzania, starting the Uganda-Tanzania War. Unfortunately for Amin, however, Uganda's military was mostly trained to execute its own civilians and thus ill-prepared to actually fight a war against another country. As a result, Tanzania defeated Uganda's invasion with embarrassing ease, and, in turn, they invaded Uganda. Though he received military support from Muammar Gaddafi and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Tanzanians toppled Idi Amin's regime and he fled to Libya and then to Saudi Arabia (after getting caught by Gaddafi plotting to overthrow him), where he lived in comfortable exile until his death on August 16, 2003.
Appears in the following works:
- 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."
- Jimmys Bastards: Appears as a bartender in modern London, where the titular bastards are holding his balls hostage.
- The Last King of Scotland: Giles Foden's novel as well as the film adaptation, where Amin is played by Forest Whitaker.
- He appears in Raid On Entebbe (1977) (played by Yaphet Kotto), Victory at Entebbe (1976) (played by Julius Harris), and the Israeli film Operation Thunderbolt (1977) (played by Mark Heath), all about the historic Israeli rescue operation of the hostages being held at Uganda's Entebbe Airport.
- He is the subject of the sprawling, fantastically sleazy (yet surprisingly historically accurate) exploitation epic, The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin (1981), which included such scenes as the doctor protagonist discovering the heads of Amin's victims in his fridge. 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: A Self Portrait, 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.
- In Hannibal, Mason Verger mentions to Hannibal Lecter, and later Clarice Starling and his personal physician Dr. Cordell Doemling, that he befriended Idi Amin while visiting Uganda, executing victims in Ugandan villages on Amin's behalf with a portable guillotine (including women and children), and even assisting Amin to reenact the Crucifixion of Jesus using a live migrant worker as a substitute.
- "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 Alan 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. The album includes the catchy song "Amazin' Man," where Amin and his wives/backup singers (until he shoots them out of paranoia) literally sing his praises.
- He received an article in The Onion's Our Dumb Century: "Idi Amin Praises Former Ugandan Defense Minister As 'Delicious'"
- 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!"
- Richard Pryor once imitated Amin on his short-lived The Richard Pryor Show as a wisecracking, jolly psychopath.
- The Sex Pistols released a 1978 single, "No One Is Innocent", sung 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.
- Finnish humour rock band Sleepy Sleepers covered Chuck Berry song "Johnny B. Goode" under the name "Idi Amin" and made it a heavy-handed satire of him. This caused an incident with the Embassy of Uganda in Finland.
- Footage of him is included in Pink Floyd's original video for "Brain Damage"/"Eclipse", alongside footage of Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro, Henry Kissinger and Yasir Arafat.
- Folk singer Blaze Foley recorded a song called "Springtime in Uganda", a Take That! to Amin which played up the cannibalism rumors.
- The 2011 hex-and-counter wargame The Last King of Scotland is based off the Uganda–Tanzania War that brought about Idi Amin's downfall.