When classical African dictators are being discussed the name Idi Amin Dada is always on the top of the list. This giant of a man who ruled Uganda for almost eight years presided over a regime during which about one million Ugandans disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
In the early years of his rule, however, ‘Field Marshal’ Idi Amin did register tremendous success for Uganda, some of which is still in evidence today. By expelling Asians from his country, and handing over their businesses to indigenous Ugandans, he began an economic boom that was sustained, unlike the situation in Zimbabwe.
This was actually the first time that Ugandans were truly exposed to the world of business, and their having taken to it so well is perhaps the reason that, in East Africa, the only country where the economy rests mainly in the hands of the indigenous people is Uganda. In Kenya and Tanzania, key businesses are managed by non-indigenouspersons.
Idi Amin also played a key role in the country’s sports. He made sure that Uganda’s national football team, the Cranes, excelled. It was during his reign that Uganda reached the finals of Africa Cup of Nations in Accra, Ghana. Although they eventually lost to the hosts in a 2-Nil score, the top scorer that year (1978) was Ugandan Phillip Omondi.
Interestingly, Amin, a Standard Three level drop-out, introduced the university quota system in Uganda, where every region and district was given chance to send students to well-renowned Makerere University. This many in the under-developed districts and villages a chance to send their children to university.
During the days of ‘Big Daddy’, as Amin was nicknamed, the word corruption could only be found in the dictionary. The punishment for corrupt officials was nothing short of death! Therefore, manyBgovernment workers were afraid of getting involved in any corruption… Today, Uganda ranks second in the list of the most corrupted countries in East Africa… after Kenya.
Finally, owing to his Islamic background, Amin was a moralist.During his time, it was an abomination for girls to dress provocatively or walk around half-naked, as is so often the case today.
So there you have it –a good side to the well known dictator!