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Idi Amin’s never-seen-before photographs displayed at Uganda Museum

By Jacky Achan

Added 17th May 2019 07:23 PM

The unseen archive of Amin consists of 200 photographs drawn from the much larger collection held by UBC and is on display at the Uganda National Museum.

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Some of Uganda’s former president Idi Amin Dada’s photographs from the unseen archive displayed at the Uganda Museum in Kampala. Photos Jacky Achan

The unseen archive of Amin consists of 200 photographs drawn from the much larger collection held by UBC and is on display at the Uganda National Museum.

HISTORY|POLITICS

KAMPALA - During his eight-year rule, Uganda’s former president Idi Amin Dada is said to have been the subject of thousands of photographs.

However, for decades it seemed Amini’s photographs had been destroyed during the tumult of the early 1980s or misplaced during the subsequent relocation of the ministry information’s archives and were lost to future generations.

However, in 2015, researchers and archivists at Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) uncovered a filing cabinet full of thousands of photographic negatives.

Each envelope was carefully labelled with information about the date and subject of the photograph.

In January 2018, UBC launched a project to digitize the important collection.

 
With funding from the University of Michigan USA, the University of Western Australia and Makerere University, the dedicated team of archivists has digitized 25,000 images to date.

“We have also digitized eight film reels that were made by UBC,” Dr. Derek K. Peterson Professor of History and African Studies at the University of Michigan and one of the curators disclosed.

The unseen archive of Amin consists of 200 photographs drawn from the much larger collection held by UBC and is on display at the Uganda National Museum. 

The exhibition gives a timeline of Amin’s leadership and lifestyle from 1971-1979. “It traces the former Ugandan president’s extraordinary life, looking at Amin as a family man and the politician (president),” Dr. Peterson explained.

 
The photographs also testify to the passion and enthusiasm that his government cultivated.

The archive also includes many pictures of everyday public and cultural life in 1970s Uganda.

It also provides a unique insight into how Amin’s years in power were experienced by ordinary Ugandans, how people worked, played, loved and the indignities as well.

The images on display are unaltered and unedited. Where possible, curators have titled the photographs using the same titles assigned by the photographers at the time the negatives were developed.

 
In total, there are 70,000 negatives dating from the 1950s to the mid-1980s, none of the negatives has been published or displayed in a public venue; they were never published until now as an unseen archive.

President Yoweri Museveni will officially launch the exhibition at the National Museum on May 18, 2019, and it will be ongoing until November 30, 2019.

The exhibition that is open to members of the public curious about life in Uganda in the 1970S will also be taken to different parts of Uganda including Soroti, Arua, Kabale, and Mbarara and is a work in progress.

The curators in the near future hope to develop a fully representative exhibition about the experience of ordinary Ugandans in the 1970s.

 

 

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