Peterson says since the mid-1980s, when the Oder Commission convened an investigation into criminal acts, there have been scant opportunities for Ugandans to learn about the period of Amin’s government.
AMIN EXHIBITION MUSEUM PICTURES
An exhibition dubbed The Unseen Archive of Idi Amin: Photographs from the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, was held last week at the Uganda Museum.
According to Prof. Derek Peterson, it consists of 200 photographs from the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation archives. The professor of history & African studies at the University of Michigan, says none of these images have previously been published or displayed.
“The pictures here are part of a much larger collection of photographic negatives recently discovered and digitised by the UBC, the University of Michigan, and the University of Western Australia,” the professor, whose scholarly work is about the intellectual and cultural history of eastern Africa, said.
Peterson’s colleague, Richard Vokes, is a senior lecturer in anthropology and development studies at the University of Adelaide. He has a long-standing research interests in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, especially in visual and media anthropology.
“As curators, we are mindful that these photographs were produced by official photographers who had an interest in portraying the Amin government in a positive light,” Peterson said. “We have presented these photos in a way that does not reinforce the regime’s propaganda.”
He said one-half of the exhibition is laid out as a timeline, which includes portraits of deceased people organised according to the date on which they were killed. This is meant to remind the museum audience about the reality of violence that undergirded the public life of the 1970s.
“We have also highlighted particular episodes like the expulsion of the Asian community, the Economic Crimes Tribunal and the crackdown on magendo (smuggling), in which innocent people became victims of the regime," he said.
"At the end of the exhibition, we’ve put on display images taken by photographers of the Uganda National Liberation Front government, which cast light on the torture chambers of the State Research Bureau.”
The professor says since the mid-1980s, when the Oder Commission convened an investigation into criminal acts, there have been scant opportunities for Ugandans to learn about the period of Amin’s government.
“The exhibition is meant to provide a space for public reflection. Some people will find it a terribly difficult subject. Others will have a more contemplative response to it. Our role, as curators, is to present these historically rich photographs, for the first time, for Ugandans to learn from and think about,” Peterson said.