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Aspects of Amin's life that you missed

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th August 2015 04:27 PM

August 16 marked 12 years since former President Idi Amin Dada died in exile at the 985-bed King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Aspects of Amin's life that you missed

August 16 marked 12 years since former President Idi Amin Dada died in exile at the 985-bed King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

By Muwonge Magembe

August 16 marked 12 years since former President Idi Amin Dada died in exile at the 985-bed King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

His journey to exile emanated from the 1978 counter-attack by Tanzanian army against Operation Magulugusu orchestrated by Amin’s soldiers like Lt. Col. Juma Ali Oka Rokoni alias Butabika. When the Tanzanian forces, alongside the Uganda National Liberation Army, were close to overrunning Kampala on April 11, 1979, Amin held a crisis security meeting in the second floor lounge of his three-storeyed residence at Cape Town View, Munyonyo. It was attended by Maj. Luka Yuma, the head of the Presidential Strike Force, Capt. Asio, the head of signals and Sgt. Yosa, the head of operations in State Research Bureau.

After they resolved to leave for exile, Amin armed himself with a 15-rounds machine pistol he nicknamed Kyalaani (sewing machine) in 1975 after Yasser Arafat donated it to him during his wedding to Sarah Kyolaba.

Amin accordingly sat in the co-driver’s seat of his two-door Mercedes Benz 280CE whose bonnet and top were painted black while its two sides were grey. His signaller Sgt. Kivumbi sat behind as Adan drove.

The escorts’ cars included among others two Mercedes Benz of 280 SEL 6.9 model driven by Sgt. George William Kabera and Sgt. Abas Moroto. Sgt. Tirikwendera drove the white Land Rover (communications car) in which Capt. Asio sat.

From Munyonyo, the convoy manoeuvred through Mutajaazi, Mukwano Road until Jinja Road at Lugogo as Amin received situational updates from Capt. Muzamir Amule.

On reaching Owen falls Dam, Jinja, Amin found the trouble causer Lt. Col. Butabika in a jeep mounted with 106mm recoilless gun.

Amin spent some time there until Kenyan authorities’ refused to release fuel supplies through Busia and Malaba. His convoy hence proceeded through Teso, Lango and Acholi where he encountered militia hostilities that attempted to block his course before his escorts fired back.

Ultimately, Amin arrived in Arua amidst a grand reception of gunfire in the air. He went straight to his three-bed-roomed-house at Tanganyika near Arua airstrip, where he held meetings with his Education minister Brig. Barnabas Kili whom he named acting president of Uganda on his final departure.

On April 23, 1979, Amin, his wife Zam Zam Nabirye (the last he married while still president) left Arua by a C130 plane along with a Russian military attaché.

They headed to Iraq where Nabirye, an expectant mother was admitted in the same hospital with Amin’s other wife Madina Najjemba who was undergoing an eye operation. The plane proceeded to Syria for refuelling before arriving in Benghazi, Libya.

Amin was received by Gadaffi’s second in command before heading to Medina al Siyahiya in Tripoli to meet his 35 children that had left Uganda in March 1979 with his wife Kyolaba.

On July 16, 1979, Amin received a phone call from Iraq from his wife Madina who informed him of her planned relocation to the Central African Republic after Saddam Hussein took over power.

Later on September 1, 1979, Amin made a conspicuous public appearance in Libya commemorating Gadaffi’s liberation day.

On September 20, 1979, Madina informed Amin of her relocation to Paris along with Bokasa’s wife Catherine after a French-supported military coup against Bokassa. Later, Madina relocated to Zaire with her son Abdul Nasser Mwanga.

Mobutu offered her a residence at Mbinz. Amin’s other wife Nabirye was also in Zaire before returning to Uganda to rejoin the Police; leaving her daughter Kasfa with Madina now living in Egypt.

In Libya, Gadaffi relocated Amin and his family from Tripoli to an isolated Madina Al Khoms, Murqub district along the highway to the Tunisian border. Amin did not like the new place and thus contacted Saudi Arabia for asylum.

Consequently, Amin and his family boarded a DC9 plane to Saudi Arabia after the November 20-December 4, 1979 incident in which Juhayman al Otaybi-led extremists attacked the Great Mosque of Mecca (Al-Masjid al-Haram) hoping to overthrow the ruling House of Saud.

Amin was received at Jeddah airport by the director of general intelligence, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saudi, who offered Amin a Cadillac limousine. Amin’s drivers there were Abubakar Kenia and Abdurazakar Konda, a Pakistani national fluent in Swahili who lived in Uganda in 1960s.

Amin, among others, resided at the prestigious Sands Hotel, Jeddah while drawing his regular upkeep of $30,000 from Citi bank and Arab Bank in Amman, Jordan.

In 1983, Amin separated with Sarah Kyolaba. Thus, Amin kept consoling himself by repeatedly listening to Fred Kigozi’s 1967 Luganda song Sarah Ondesewo. Later, he married Sawuya Leila Nassali Kabejja Kiggundu at a simple wedding presided over by Sheikh Sharif Abu Alama. With the new youthful wife; Amin every week went to Makarona saloon in Jeddah for haircuts and the dyeing of his grey hair to black. Also during their blossoming love; Amin started dancing to ‘rock and roll’ music especially to songs like The monkey’s uncle of Beach Boys band.

Amin regularly got updates about Uganda’s politics by reading local newspaper cuttings sent to him by his former security aide Maj. Luka Yuma who lived near Moi stadium in Kenya. Even, some of Amin’s former operatives’ alias macho mingi that stayed in Uganda also regularly briefed him on phone. At one time, Amin tried to reconcile with Dr. Milton Obote. Hellen Etchi Amin’s former wife was a niece to Dr. Obote.

In Saudi Arabia, Yasser Arafat often visited Amin, especially since 1982 when Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba allowed the relocation of Palestinian Liberation Organisation headquarters from Lebanon to Borj Cedria near Tunis. Amin occasionally travelled outside Saudi Arabia like to Hong Kong, Jordan and to Zaire in 1989 with his son, Issa Aliga.

In 2001, while weighing over 200kg, Amin’s hypertension and diabetes worsened. He often went to the 420-bed King Fahad Armed Forces Hospital for treatment.

However, in July 2003, Amin was admitted at King Faisal Specialist Hospital attended to by his children; Iman Chumaru, Kato Moga, Mwanga, Lumumba, Mao, Maimuna and Rajab along with Amin’s friends; Brig. Bashir Juma and former minister, Ismail Sebi. A carbon date test was conducted which estimated that Amin was born in 1928.

Before slipping in a coma on July 18, 2003, Amin in Swahili delivered his last message to his kids numbering about 60 from 21 mothers that: “My, children, I have no issues with any of you. All I want of you is to love each other. If you are united, you will get everything and the future will be bright. I want you to be steadfast in prayer. I love you all”.

Amin murmured as well the names of his late mother Aisha Aate Chumaru and his two sisters; De and Rafah before he breathed his last at around 7:00am on August 16, 2003.

Prince Bin Abudallah Aziz co-ordinated the cleaning (janaza) and burial of his body measuring 6 feet and 3.5 inches long. Then at around 6:00pm on the same day, Amin was laid to rest at Ruwais cemetery with about 300 mourners in attendance.

The writer is a researcher

Aspects of Amin’s life that you missed

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