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Idi Amin and Donald Trump: Recollections by Neil Bonnell and Interpolations by Bbuye Lya Mukanga

Idi Amin and Donald Trump: Recollections by Neil Bonnell and Interpolations by Bbuye Lya Mukanga

 Introduction: Neil Bonnell taught at King’s College Budo from 1965 to 1971, and was also House Master of Australia House and Cricket Master. Bbuye lya Mukanga was a student at King’s College Budo from 1966 to 1970.



Idi Amin


NEIL: I believe that you had left Budo before Idi Amin took over as President of Uganda.  This happened in my final year at Budo.  On the morning of the coup Radio Uganda was playing martial music – usually a sign of unusual events.  We kept our children at home, but the Budo timetable operated as usual.  During the morning, we could clearly hear  machine-gun fire coming from the direction of Kampala, but we kept lessons going even though we knew that the fathers of some students would be imprisoned or worse, while other fathers would be promoted or released from jail. 


We had learned the lessons of 1966 when, you will remember, that the attack on the Kabaka’s Palace (Lubiri) took place on Wednesday, the day we always had a half-holiday.  The students had nothing to do and little organized activity during the afternoon.  There was plenty of time for rival groups to be formed,  emotion to build up and rumours to be spread.


BBUYE: I left Budo in November 1970. The Secretary to the Treasury in those days was a visionary (and I thought very hard drinking) man from Kisoro named A Z Hitimana. He was supported by a Chief Accountant named George Kabaziguruka who seemed to be equally visionary (and also may be as hard drinking). These two men had gone around Uganda schools looking for potential future economists in the graduating Senior 6 classes of 1970. They offered about 20 of us clerical jobs in the Treasury for the period until universities opened (December to June). They hoped that we would learn something about real world economics before going to university and that may be we could come back and work in the Treasury or the Planning Ministry after that.


Being one of the “victims” of this head-hunt, I was working in the Treasury Department, located on the southern side of Parliament Buildings when Idi Amin took over the reign of government in Uganda. This was during a time when getting anywhere could become difficult if one did not have the right password to the question: “Ggwe, oli mwaana w’ani?” (“You, who are your parents?”) Yet, never in 6 months of working with Mr Hitimana and Mr Kabaziguruka did I see even a trace of favouritism, nepotism or ethnic prejudice.


During January 1971, I saw and interacted a bit with Yoweri Museveni. He was working in the President’s Office in Parliament Building. Some of the people working in the Parliament and the Treasury used to have lunch at Nalongo’s Kitchen. Nalongo’s was an open roof enclosure next to the Kampala City Council Headquarters. She served the most delicious matooke, groundnut stew, beef, chicken, ntula / garden eggs. (By the way, entula is actually a variety of eggplant -  solanum aethiopicum L, and  is hence a member of the night shade family of plants together with potatoes and tomatoes.)


Museveni used to come to Nalongos. He did not eat, but just talked non-stop trying to convert all and sundry to communism. Grace Mukasa, one of Museveni’s friends from Ntare told me that he (Museveni) considered Nalongo to be a petty bourgeoisie. Museveni hence chose not to eat lunch in order not to support Nalongo’s capitalistic tendencies. I once tried to argue with Museveni. I think it was a simple questioning of something he had said. He had no answer, and instead shut me up by declaring that I was the “son of a petty  bourgeoisie” – and therefore not qualified to say anything to him!


The coup took place during the night of Sunday 24 January 1971, and was confirmed by a statement read out by Warrant Officer (Class II) Samuel Aswa on Monday 25 January. I recall the events that ran by me during those days quite well. On that fateful Sunday evening, I had gone with my oldest brother Nathan (Budo - South Africa House – 1958) and his wife to spend the day with our parents in Entebbe. We stayed until dusk, having planned to treat ourselves with some drinks (Fanta for me those days) at the nice restaurant/bar at the new Entebbe Airport. We had not even sat down at the Airport Restaurant when we were greeted by one of the senior officers of the “Israel Military Training Mission to Uganda”. This man knew me very well because I was friends with Israeli children with whom I had attended Lake Victoria School. ….


ASIDE è : When the Israelis first started coming to Uganda soon after Independence, schools in Entebbe, which went only up to Grade 6 (Primary Leaving) or Grade 8 (Junior Secondary), were segregated. The Europeans went to the European School. A few African, Goan, Indian, Seychellean and other children went to what was at first called Entebbe Mixed School. (Really!!! – My mother and some others called the school “Kintabuli” – derived from the same toot as Butabika.) The time tables of the two schools were staggered by 15 minutes to make sure that European and non-European children did not meet on the way to and from school or during break time.


Mixed School was changed to Mugwanya Road School in 1962 as Independence loomed. There was also a Goan school named St. Theresa’s School which grudgingly took in some Africans, and an Indian school, with only Gujarati pupils. Two CMS (Church Missionary Society) schools (Kiwafu Primary School and Chadwick memorial School at Namate) and one Catholic School (Bugonga) catered to the remaining African population. Lake Victoria School and Mugwanya Road School were integrated in October 1963, keeping the former name. ….. When the Israelis had started arriving in the months before the school integration, there was a great kerfuffle about which school they should go to. The European did not want them in the European School.


We (children and parents in the Mixed School) did not understand what all this kerfuffle was about. – To us, the Israeli skins were as white as any Muzungu!! So, why were they being sent to the Mixed School? The kerfuffle ended when Joshua Luyimbazi Zake, the  Minister of Education, laid down a decree that the schools should be integrated. But even in the integrated school the Israeli children found closer affinity with the “mixed” children than with the European children. So, Col Baruch Bar-Lev, the Israeli Military Attache to Uganda, knew me, and through me, he even met my parents. ç ASIDE


 ……. As soon as the Isareli had greeted us, he told us that we should not be out at night. … He mentioned some things about “bad drivers and kondos (robbers)”. He literally pushed us out of Entebbe Airport and pointed us towards Kampala. With no desire to be robbed of our Sunday night out, instead of going home, we went to Silver Springs Hotel along Port Bell Road. We met friends there and stayed until at least until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. That is when, quite unexpectedly, one of our cousins showed up.


Richard was a Lieutenant and Pilot in the nascent Uganda Airforce (trained in Israel and Czechoslovakia). He was stationed in Gulu. So, it was a surprise for us to see him in Kampala. But even our cousin (like the Isareli officer) had no time for niceties. He told us to go home immediately. He also literally pushed us out of Silver Springs Hotel.  …. So we went home to Naguru to sleep. Nathan’s home was less than one kilometre from the Uganda Police Special Forces Barracks. Some time in the night, we started hearing commotions outside and gunfire in the distance.


NEIL: At 4.15 pm on 25th January, 1971 I was coaching cricket on the top field when a student, whose name I have forgotten, ran out of Nigeria House (your house) announcing that “Amin has taken over.”  I felt most apprehensive, but in my best imitation of the British stiff upper lip, gravely informed  the messenger that he could field at square leg and bowl the next over at the other end.


BBUYE: By around dawn (on 25 January) we were sure that some of the gun fire was coming from the Special Forces Barracks. By daylight, we could see men running, as if for their lives, from the Barracks. Nathan and Mary decided to lock and barricade the doors. We took the occasional peak through the ventilators (kamooli).


Around 7:30 a.m. there were some children trying to make their way to school and some men trying to get to work. Through the ventilators, we could see adults being forced to take off their clothes and hand them over to the policemen who were fleeing from the Barracks. The policemen would force themselves into the civilian clothes and then match off. We saw one of our neighbours, an engineer, returning to his house with practically nothing on!


After some time, no civilian dared go out. …. There was nothing but “European music” on Radio Uganda. The BBC called it martial music. Having lived through the 1966 Mengo Crisis and the 1969 Obote Shooting Incident, we kept calm and waited. To this day I do not recall what time it was when Warrant Officer II Aswa made the announcement that Obote had been overthrown. Neither do I recall when Idi Amin spoke to the nation. … But late that afternoon, Nathan and I walked as far as Lugogo Roundabout. To this day I have never seen people participating in mass celebration to the scale and with the unreserved joy that I saw then.


Nathan, who was then the Scholarships Officer in the Ministry of Education, told me that Uganda would live to regret this day. He was not an Obote supporter. He just expressed his objections to the way that Ugandan leaders had decided to do away with CONSTUTIONAL AUTHORITY AND THE RULE OF LAW.


For weeks after that, Nathan kept explaining to me why “The Constitution” was important and why NOBODY SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW – not even Obote or Amin or the Queen. He started sounding like Mr Anthony (my A-level teacher in Economics and Public Affairs) and like Mr Burkitt (the Canadian Chemistry teacher who used to spend his free time educating us about “civil rights” and “the evil of colonialism”)


NEIL: There was some cause for relief for British expatriates, as the week before the coup was the only time we had ever felt that we may be in some danger as part of a group.  Obote, who was in dispute with the British Government, had announced that unless the UK Government became more co-operative, he could not guarantee the safety of British citizens in Uganda.


Obote was at the time already at CHOGM in Singapore.  Defence Minister Felix Onama issued a reassurance, but tension remained.  We often listened to the BBC news on our short-wave radio and often heard evacuation advice to British nationals working in other countries.  “Fill your bath with water” was one and “When driving to the airport, cover the car windows with pillows” was another.  In that week while Obote was in Singapore, the BBC evacuation advice was directed at the British residents in Uganda.  I was counted as British, as my father was British and I had been employed as part of the Teachers for East Africa scheme.


BBUYE: …. In his determination to educate me about the Constitution and Rule of Law, Nathan also pointed out that “the Israeli man” at the airport and our cousin at Silver Springs Hotel must both have known what was afoot when they told us to scoot home on the Sunday night of the coup d’etat. …… In the days since 25th January 1971, I have become convinced that the coup in Uganda was engineered, planned and executed by the British and Israelis.


For the Brits, it was mainly pride and economics. Obote was “foolishly” veering into socialism, daring to stand up to Edward Heath, and nationalising British companies. For the Israelis, they had managed to infiltrate  and destabilise Sudan through Uganda. Sudan had been an organised country with a large army before the Israelis came to Uganda. After the Israelis infiltrated Sudan from Uganda and fermented a civil war, Sudan could not take part in Middle East affairs any more.


By 1970, Obote had realised that the Israelis were not in Uganda to help but to play their Middle East games. Obote wanted them out. But it was easier for the Israelis  to oust Obote than for Obote to throw them out of Uganda. They controlled the Airforce (including, I presume, my cousin!), and they had saturated the Uganda Army with Anyanya mercenaries – cousins of Idi Amin and the other Nubians that Lord Lugard had brought to Uganda to “stabilize” it in 1898 and 1903.


By the way, some time in the issuing chaos of Amin’s ascendance, my Airforce pilot cousin was shot by someone and ended up as paraplegic.


NEIL: Some would say that with typical arrogance, the Budo students made fun of the stumbling English which Amin used in his speech accepting the post of President.  The part they really liked was when Amin said “parsipitate’  instead of “participate.”  Budonians were “parsipitating” around the Hill for weeks.  Both staff and students found it hard to accept a leader with such a poor educational background.  I am rather inclined to agree with the Budonians. Amin was probably a great platoon commander. With help he might have made an effective company commander as long as someone else did the paperwork.  Beyond that he floundered.


BBUYE: Some time in July or August of 1971, a group of us were invited back to Budo from Makerere for the opening ceremony of the new Australia House buildings. The new (first) Ugandan Headmaster, Daniel Musisi Kyanda, gave his little speech. Then towards the end, as if being prompted by my brother Nathan (they were classmates at Budo), Kyanda decided to give vent to his thoughts on leadership.


His statement was to the effect that in spite of what was going on in the country, at Budo “we teach that to be a good a leader one must command respect, not demand it.”  He zipped it up with something to the effect that since Independence we had never had leaders that fit his vision.


Neil, I am inclined to go beyond what you said about Idi Amin and say that in post-Independence Uganda, we have never had a leader that could remotely emulate Daniel Kyanda’s criterion. Obote, with his trade unionist rhetoric, was more of a rubble rouser than anything else. Of course some people mistake a rubble rouser for a great orator.  


Yusufu Kironde Lule? May be he would have done better had he been offered the opportunity earlier.  Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa?? The day he became Pulezidenti was the day that I realised that Uganda was not the country for me and I would likely have to live out the rest of my days in foreign lands.


When I arrived in the USA, Binaisa was so broke and had become such a nonentity that he used to ask students to give him some spare change!! He would always add that his own money was going into the fight against Idi Amin. “Mutabani, mpaako z’olinawo!” (“Son, give me whatever you can!”)


Give me  break – without breaking my arm, of course! Just how did Binaisa end up as Pulezidenti of a country??  Bazilio Olara Okello and Tito Okello Lutwa?..... I reserve my comments! …. Yoweri Museveni? ….. In spite of his violent rise to power, he had the chance to pull it off as a great leader. Uganda was scratching the bottom of the dustbin in 1985. Anyone who could pull it up from the bottom would be a hero. But then, may be because of his violent roots, Museveni has turned out to be so myopic that he cannot see anything beyond the barrel of his gun! He seems to have no interest beyond clinging on to power and, likely, passing on the leadership of Uganda to a member of his family. 


NEIL: At first, things seemed to settle down and normal trips to Kampala resumed.  One of my trips was to play cricket at Lugogo. Only when the match was half over did someone realise that the team waiting in the dressing room constituted an illegal meeting, as there were more than three of us.  


BBUYE: On Tuesday 26 January 1971 or Wednesday 27 January 1971 (not sure when), Nathan and I decided to venture out of Naguru to get to our places of work. In the exuberance of the coup, buses to the city centre were free. As I walked past Parliament Buildings, there was a small crowd of people gathered near the front steps – mostly policemen, other security types and civil servants on their way to work. I spoke to Grace Mukasa (Museveni’s Ntare School mate) who was on the outer edges of the crowd. Grace told me that Yoweri Museveni had just finished making a statement.


I asked Grace what Museveni had said. Grace told me, “Museveni said that he cannot live in a capitalistic Uganda, and that he is going away, but he will be coming back!” I asked Grace where Museveni was now. Grace pointed towards Nakasero Road and said, “Didn’t you see him? He is walking over there!”


I looked and saw the back of someone walking away from the Parliament Building towards Nakasero Road, with the skeleton of the Kampala International Conference Centre in the foreground. It was under construction.


Grace reminded me that I was at an illegal gathering of more than three persons. I scurried on to the Treasury Building. Mr Gafabusa, the kind, affable and efficient Chief Executive Officer of the Treasury, informed me that the Treasury was closed, and advised me to go home and stay home until I heard on the Radio that we could go back to work. I do not know when the summons to go back to work came. But I know for sure that I went back and worked at the Treasury until the end of June 1971.


NEIL: As a family, we had already made plans to return to Australia so that Andrew, our eldest son, could start his secondary education there.  Even so, the first few months of Amin’s rule appeared to be so promising that we considered staying for another tour.  There were events such as the release of political prisoners which gave cause for hope.  On the evening that the names were announced, we heard cheering from Kisozi and tuned in to local radio.  What we heard was a list of names, which in most cases, meant nothing to us.  We did, however, recognize the name of Abu Mayanja. 


BBUYE: My first night at Makerere was on Monday 5 July 1971. After supper, I ventured out to Wandegeya and the environs with three or so friends. At around 10:00 p.m.,  we were walking near the Mulago Round About when a Uganda Army Land Rover stopped and we were ordered to climb on to the back. I was so scared that my friends later said I was shaking like a leaf!!


The Land Rover drove only a short distance to Wandegeya Police Station. The soldiers told us to get down and led us into the Police building. They spoke to a policeman who was manning a front desk and told us to sit down. After about an hour, a senior police officer came into the building. He asked us who we were and what we were doing at the police station. We explained how we had got there. He spoke to the policeman at the desk. From what we overheard, it had become a common practice of soldiers to arrest people, take them to a police station, and then come back and take the people away and use them for “killing practice”!


Fortunately for us, the senior police officer had pity on us. He told us to get out and go straight to Makerere and never go wandering about at night again.  I went back to Makerere and became a kind of hermit for the rest of my undergraduate time there. I did my level best not to go dances and other “enjoyments” until I graduated.


My fear of Amin’s soldiers was confirmed when one night, my Budo classmate CJ was brought back to Northcote Hall having been beaten up so badly that he had broken ribs. As his friends told it, they had left a night club and were looking for a taxi to take them back to Makerere. Possessed of more courage than wisdom, CJ had been trying to stop cars by lifting his legs at them. One of those cars stopped and out jumped a group of soldiers. They asked CJ why he was raising his feet at them. Then they proceeded to kick and punch him to the point that his friends thought it was the end for CJ. …. CJ recovered and returned to nightclub hopping with a vengeance.


NEIL: Later, the return of the body of Sir Edward Mutesa to Uganda meant a great deal to the Baganda. What would have happened if Sir Edward had been killed is awful to contemplate.  We feared for the Northerners rather than ourselves.


BBUYE: One of the saddest oddities of the history of Uganda is the Baganda, my own people. We,  Baganda, are, collectively, the most cowardly and also the most gullible people that I have ever encountered in the world – and I have been to all continents.


Baganda have the highest population of any group in Uganda. They are the most centrally located, historically and geographically of any group. They had an early start on education. The concept of Uganda was built around them. Yet they failed to capitalise on any of these advantages. At the dawn and after achievement of Independence, Baganda and their leaders  made amazing major missteps and blunders. They walked into traps laid by Obote like a deer that had a wish to be cooked for dinner!!


Perhaps the biggest flaw in the Mmengo strategy, supposing that there ever was a strategy at all, was in 1960 to early 1962 as they negotiated with other national leaders about the constitutional form that Uganda would take as nation. Iain MacLeod, Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Reginald Maulding, his successor, called the shots on the British side. There was no serious attempt to pursue the path of establishing constitutional rights for Buganda as a region of Uganda. Instead, the Mmengo establishment decided to take cover behind the nebulous banner of “Kabaka Yekka”, and the elusive promise of “ebyaffe” (“our things”).


Kabaka Yekka was a completely fallacious concept as long as it was not backed up with a constitution that clearly said what Buganda was and what each of the other regions were in the context of a Uganda nation state. “Ebyaffe” implied that some entity somewhere owed Buganda some things. That is hard to believe.


Unlike Kenya, and some other places that were ‘colonies’, the British had not confiscated or expropriated land or other assets belonging to the Baganda. Neither had the British taken land or other assets from Buganda and given them to other groups. Instead, the British had taken land from Bunyoro and given it Buganda. So, one wonders: how did “ebyaffe” become such an important and emotionally charged concept in Buganda?


In a kind of misguided way, Mmengo campaigned against Benedicto Mugumba  Kiwanuka and the Democratic Party (DP) in the 1961 Elections. Nevertheless, Kiwanuka and DP won that Election and formed what would have been presumed to be the Independence government. In a forever regrettable sequence of events, Mmengo aligned with Obote and UPC, and with the help of the British, new Elections were called for March 1962. With Mmengo’s help, Obote and UPC gained a false majority based on 21 unelected MPs from Buganda.


By then, Kiwanuka had become anathema to the majority of  the Protestant and Muslim crowds in Buganda. I recall as a pre-teen hearing people derisively refer to Ben Kiwanuka as a Muziba (native of Bukoba). The litmus test for being a Muganda became a person who pledged unquestioning allegiance to the Kabakaship.


Earlier, when Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Kiwanuka wrote an open letter to the Baganda urging them to support the transformation of the Kabakaship into a constitutional position, he too was declared a non-Muganda. But when Obote went and knelt before the Kabaka, Obote was adopted into the Buganda fraternity and was given the name Bweete (from my own Mamba clan). Never mind that some four years later, the same Bweete would force the Kabaka to flee.


When Idi Amin took power in 1971, he was cheered around Kampala like a saviour. The Katwe rumour mill (Radio Katwe) even started trading the news that Idi Amin was the son of Kabaka Danieri Mwanga by a Nubian woman!!  Apparently, “fake news” and “alternative facts” are concepts that were invented and put to use in Katwe decades before Trump made them his signature identity in the early twenty-first century.


Neil, you need not have feared for northerners in 1971. There is no way you can have that kind of up-rising in Buganda. To paraphrase the words of Ali Simbule, my people are humble toothless bulldogs, who have been wagging their tails in front of Obote, then Amin, then Okello, then Obote again, and then Museveni, fear these dictators like hell.


NEIL: Then the cracks started to appear, partly as a result of the fomenting of unrest by Obote.  It became very dangerous to break the curfew.  Under the 1966 curfew I drove a pregnant servant into Mengo Hospital and then returned to Budo Hill without my excuse for curfew breaking. 


BBUYE: When Budo was closed in May 1966, I somehow just got on the school bus with my friends and headed for the Kampala Bus/Taxi Park and then home. I did not check with my brothers who were with me at Budo. I got home to a house with no occupants, and also my Budo brothers did not show up.


Later, I found out that mother had fled with my younger siblings to Mbale, Bugisu. My father was hiding somewhere “in the forest”. Someone had sent a message to Headmaster Robinson that we should not go home. My brothers had got the message, but I had already left The Hill when they did. A neighbour had the keys to our house, and let me into our house around 2:00 p.m. She told me not to be outside after 5:00 p.m. and also not to turn on the lights or radio. The soldiers enforcing the curfew wanted total darkness and no sound at all. It was a terrible night as I was hungry, and the soldiers outside kept making noises with their guns.


Next day, the kind neighbour came and told me that I must leave the house and go back to Budo to join my brothers. I made it back to the Kampala Bus/Taxi Park, but there were no taxis to take me any further. As I waited in horror, Mrs Gladys Wambuzi drove up to where I was and asked me what I was doing. She had recognised me as a Budo boy because of my school uniform. She told me to get in her car and she drove me right back to Budo.


Somehow, I had this feeling that Mr. Ian Robinson (the headmaster) was not so excited to have me back. But he was stuck with me, and told me to go and join the other “homeless” students in England House. Off I went to England House and joined my brothers and ten or so other students who had no homes to go back to.


Besides my brothers, I can only remember: Fred Musisi (5B), Edward Kannyo (5A), Abel Musebeni (5M) and Nkurunziza and Karasira (both 6M – and brothers-in-law of Mr. Frank Kalimuzo). Mr Kyanku (chief caterer) fed us the usual meals. I think we played some cricket with the staff, and we also went swimming when a teacher was available to go with us.


One day, the school workers killed a big python. Some teachers decided to have some snake meat. From our vantage point in England House, we were witnesses to the mini drama when Mrs Dorothy Robinson refused Mr Robinson to take python meat into the house. I am not sure which of the teachers partook of the python meat. For some unfurthomable reason, Mr Brewster’s name keeps popping at me.


One day, a Uganda Police Land Rover came to The Hill. Mr Robinson told us to go to England House while he spoke to them. Later, Mr. Robinson told us that the policemen said they had come because they had heard that Baganda students had killed Northern students!  He disabused them of that nonsense, and also told them not come again to the school without authorisation from the Minister of Education.


NEIL: Amin was clearly out of his depth.  He had allowed freedom of the press without realising it would allow criticism of him and public analysis of his policies.  Confiscations of property began.  The Entebbe Swimming Club and Kampala Club were two mainly expatriate clubs which were taken over eventually.  The threats to expel the Asians had begun.  I wrote references for two Hindu families who were considering emigrating to Australia.  The fact that so much of the economy depended on the skill of the Asians seem to have escaped Amin.  You will know that the soldiers became less disciplined.  The only time I was ever asked for money by a soldier was on Nakasero Hill during Amin’s time.  I pretended to be unable to understand Swahili, and gave him a charming smile as I explained in English, which he did not understand.  He finally gave up and fortunately for me did not understand that the only word he used, that is, “shillingi” was a word that any English speaker might have recognized.


BBUYE: Even before Idi Amin overthrew Obote, the Uganda Army had already become an undisciplined lot. The militarization of politics which Obote started as soon as he became Prime Minister was one of the major contributing factors to the decline of Uganda.


In spite of the East African Community, Obote started harassing Kenyans and Tanzanians who lived in Uganda. I remember meeting a Kenyan man who was an Assistant Secretary General of the Commonwealth. He had got his agriculture degree from Makerere and had decided to work in Uganda. He became an extension agent in Masaka and worked there for some years. Then, he said, he was suddenly told that he was being sacked from his job because he was not considered to be a Ugandan. That story is repeated by others.


By the time, Amin took the helm, the writing was on the wall for the India-origin community in Uganda. In the narrowness of his thinking Obote considered the India-origin people in Uganda to be subversives against his “socialist” manoeuvres – just like Museveni assumed that because I was a university student, my father was “petty bourgeoisie.”


By 1966, with the militarisation of life, the hatred of foreigners, the Common Man’s Charter and other hubris, Uganda had started sliding downhill on a journey of no-return. Obote abrogated the Constitution and made the rule of law a shambles. Once you get on that track it is difficult to get off it. If Obote can abrogate the 1962 Constitution, why can the Army Commander not abrogate Obote’s constitution.


Uganda needs to RE-BOOT. How do we get to the right set of circumstances to re-boot? Do not look to Museveni for an answer.


NEIL: Through it all, at Budo we continued to study Animal Farm.  We pretended that it only applied to Russia. After we had returned to Australia, I happened to meet the teacher, a Muganda, who had taken over my job while Amin was still in power.  I asked him if Animal Farm was still on the syllabus and if so why had it not been removed.  He explained that no one was prepared to tell Amin why he would not want it to be taught.


BBUYE: If Idi Amin ever thought that a situation or a person did not hold him in high regard, he quickly pounced to snuff them out. In 1977, Uganda’s then leading drama artist, Byron Kawadwa, was dragged from a rehearsal in the National Theatre and killed. Popular opinion says that Idi Amin thought that Kawadwa’s Oluyimba lwa Wankoko was satirising the state of bad rulers in Uganda.   


NEIL: At the time Amin took over, apparently in self-defence, I was enrolled as an MA candidate at Makerere.  I terminated my candidature when Amin  appointed himself Chancellor.  Professionally, the degree had been rendered worthless in Australia, but what a collector’s piece the testamur would have made!


BBUYE: In 1972, I obtained an Association of African Universities Scholarship to go to the University of Ife, Nigeria for a degree  course in Land Economics. I was getting crazy from being a hermit on Makerere Hill. Things seemed to have been worked out, and I only needed the Minister’s permission to leave for Nigeria.


Mrs Sarah Nitiro offered to take me to her friend and Budo schoolmate Andrew Adimola who was the Permanent Secretary of Education. We paid Adimola a visit. By then, things in Uganda had reached a touch-and-go stage. Amin’s slaughter machine had already killed many people. Adimola advised us to move cautiously: young man, he said, finish your Makerere degree and then apply for graduate studies abroad. … I trudged on. ….


In a way, it was just hanging on by the thread. The Vice Chancellor, Frank Kalimuzo, “disappeared” one day. Idi Amin went on UTV and declared that he was sorry that the Professor had been influenced by “confusing agents and Zionists” and had decided to “run away with them”.  … One Saturday afternoon, in the centre of Kampala in broad day light, my friend and classmate Lwasampijja was bundled into the trunk of car and never seen again.  On 9th October 1974, Amin presided over my graduation ceremony! 


NEIL: One other memory which is connected with Amin is that I spent about half an hour at Lugogo Stadium attempting to have an intelligent conservation with a Brigadier Hussein.  Finding out that he was a keen golfer helped out, but he had trouble grasping the idea that in a dry climate, it was wise to use a sand surface on putting "greens" instead of grass.  At the time he was Amin's second in command, presumably in the Army, rather than the government.  Anyway, a fortnight later he died in mysterious circumstances.  This was after another brigadier had been killed in the North. Strange times.


BBUYE: When one of my brothers came back from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1972, he got a job with RANK XEROX (Uganda Ltd). Rank Xerox has a contract to supply copiers and services to the Army. The Army was not paying. My brother went to Malire Barracks (Lubiri) to remind the Army about their obligation. He was taken to one Brigadier Hussein Malera. My brother explained his mission to Malera. Feeling cornered, Malera lost his head, and shouted at my brother, “Who told you to come and speak to me when you have a beard? Get out of my office and come back when you have shaved!” My brother left for an overseas course soon after. Brigadier Malera went on ran the notorious torture chambers at the Military Police barracks at Makindye.


NEIL: One of the saddest spectacles we witnessed during our last few months in Uganda was the huge number of people who lined the Kampala-Entebbe Road on the day Amin summoned members of the Royal families to Government House in Entebbe.  We were wildly cheered, as were all cars, as we drove to our Saturday morning swim at Entebbe.  Many Baganda obviously believed that the monarchies would be restored, but they were to be sadly let down.


BBUYE: This paragraph sums up the gullibility of the Baganda so well!! – And their tendencies to be parochial  ….. and oh, boy!


Donald Trump


NEIL: Despite their many differences, Donald Trump and Idi Amin do share some attributes.  Both had a total lack of experience of government before becoming leaders of their respective countries.  Neither had any ability to forecast the consequences of decisions they took.  What they said today might be quite different from what they uttered on the following day.  Trump’s lies are probably more obvious than Idi’s.  It’s difficult to work out whose were the most frequent.  On immigration, they followed the same tactics; Amin expelled the Asians and Trump plans to deport Muslims and Mexicans.  No significant amount of planning appears to have preceded their announcements.


Amin had the power to control the mainstream press; Trump has to resort to attempting to discredit the media.  To my mind, Trump fails the most basic tests of character and integrity.  America First is simply a re-run of fascist campaigns so common in the last century. 


Unfortunately, in Australia our Opposition Leader also lacks integrity.  He is prepared to run scare campaigns with no evidence to support his claims.  He has a disregard for truth similar to that of Donald Trump and has all the attributes of a demagogue.  As things stand, he may well be our next Prime Minister.


BBUYE: I never thought I would see the day when a US leader would be compared to idi Amin Dada. But that day is today!



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