It reads like a work of fiction –
• Surprisingly a Prime Minister and the King cannot agree on the way forward for their country.
• The locals are unhappy with the Prime Minister and mutiny.
• A Prime Ministerial representative is sent to negotiate with the mutineers and he is also held hostage
• Promises are made to improve pay rates and army personnel are promoted.
• Neighbouring country Nationals are banned from government office and then finally removed from the country all together.
• Others of Indian origin, many of whom are successful businessmen are banned from running local business.
• The Prime Minister enters into secret deals to trade arms and munitions for gold with a neighbouring country.
• The parliament sanctions an investigation into corruption.
• The Prime Minister responds by suspending the constitution and appointing himself to the position of President with unlimited power.
• The President authorises the army to stage an armed attack on the King at his palace.
• The King is forced to flee from his country through the wilds of Africa. He holes up in a villager’s home for several days before making it all the way to England to live in exile.
• An army Major General, who fought alongside the British stages a military coup seizes power and appoints himself Field Marshall.
• The exiled King dies, apparently from poisoning.
• The new President’s rule is characterized by human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption, and gross economic mismanagement.
• An attempt to annex portions of a neighbouring country go horribly wrong and the President flees the country to live in exile.
• Two further presidents make short appearances before
• Elections are held and results disputed but the President ousted in the previous coup returns for a 5 year reign.
• A guerrilla war fought in the bushlands of the country brings a new President to power.
• 28 years on and this President is still in office.
And this is the story of Uganda over the past 40 years.
We toured the Kings Palace and received a fantastic narrative of recent history in Uganda from our tour guide. Alongside this story we also experienced the raw shock of being in one of Idi Amin’s torture chambers. Once used as the armoury this bunker, a thick concrete walled shelter built into the side of the hill facing Entebbe was eerily quite. But step back from the walls and you can see the writing etched in by previous occupants, it wasn’t difficult to imagine the shouts and screams of the estimated 15,000 who lost their life there during Amin’s rule.
As an uneducated man, Amin’s solution was to imprison those who he thought posed a threat to him and his rule. Estimates of the number of people killed under his regime range between 100,000 and 500,000.
This quote from an officer in the army says it all for me, “Idi Amin is a splendid type and a good (rugby) player, but virtually bone from the neck up, and needs things explained in words of one letter”.
Uganda is obviously still righting itself from social and economic impacts that resulted from the events that followed Independence in 1962. There are positive signs but there is still much much more to be done.